Gus Kramer – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:35:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 Follow the money? https://martineztribune.com/2016/10/14/follow-the-money/ Fri, 14 Oct 2016 16:35:53 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=5461 Martinez City Council candidates turn in financial statements MARTINEZ, Calif. – Financial statements listing campaign contributions and expenditures for Martinez City Council candidates were turned in late last month and recently made available to the public. The statements show hairdresser and local businesswoman Noralea Gipner far in the lead for campaign contributions, with fellow candidates …

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Martinez City Council candidates turn in financial statements

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Financial statements listing campaign contributions and expenditures for Martinez City Council candidates were turned in late last month and recently made available to the public. The statements show hairdresser and local businesswoman Noralea Gipner far in the lead for campaign contributions, with fellow candidates John Stevens, Courtney Masella-O’Brien and incumbent Mark Ross trailing behind by tens of thousands of dollars.

Each candidate is required to return California Form 460 to the City of Martinez, detailing every gift, monetary donation and campaign expense. The first filing was due Sept. 29 and covers the period from July 1, 2016, to Sept 24, 2016.

Here’s a look at campaign contributions for each candidate, cumulatively to date:

Gipner received a total of $45,125 in campaign contributions. Donors include: Claudia Whitnah ($150), Bill Schilz ($250), Kathy Chamberlin ($25), Noralea’s Studio ($836), Absolute Air Inc. ($400), James Allen ($75), Dorothy Buffington ($100), Harriett Burt ($275), Cassandra Campbell ($400), Kris (MK) Carolock ($150), Suzanne Chapot ($150), Guy Cooper ($150), Paul Craig ($180), Lara DeLaney ($325), Charles Escover ($100), Tim Farley ($100), Tamara Gerlach ($230), Gay Gerlach ($700), Federal Glover ($200), Victoria Hobbs ($600), Bull’s Eye Drilling-Anne and Bill Mobley ($325), Donald Pallotta ($50), Kathleen Parker ($175), Timothy Platt ($75), Richard Rasmussen ($321), June Rogers ($430), Marilyn Thelen ($190), Gwenda Webster ($630), Kathleen Yates ($150), Gina Zagotta ($175), Patricia Corr ($75), LaVerne Denton ($25), Cynthia (Thomas) Peters ($100), Carol Castro ($100), Lifestyle Research Company ($100), Korie Turiello ($30), Kenneth Dothee ($250), Mary Clare Walsh ($50), Sandra Hall ($249), Suzanne Rudiger ($20), Barbara Turcios ($50), Patricia Telfer-Hector ($100), Roxene Leal ($100), Shoni Lekse ($50), Telfer Oil Company ($250), Wilma Telfer ($250); Amark, Inc. ($200); Lippow Development Company ($200), Dylan Radke ($150), Rebecca Mellott ($50), Peter Jones ($100), Cynthia Erickson ($90), Brenda Alvarado ($100), Bruce Chamberlin ($40), Linda Huffman ($35), Dennis Horack ($50), Janet Archibald ($50), Robert (Bob) Braun ($20), Kathy Braun ($20), Dan Corr ($25), Sarah Corr ($25), Elizabeth Corr Olson ($40), Barry (Evelyn) Cunningham ($20), Kathy Petricca ($5), Douglas Burgess ($175), Ralph Sattler ($40), Marty (Mary) Hoyer ($10), Vicki Anselmo ($20), Thomas Jordan ($100), Phil Raines ($200), William Wainwright ($180), Paul Mariano ($700), Donna Allen ($285), Barbara Chambers ($140), Carolyn Hill ($40), David T. Silva ($340), Claire Hayhurst ($180), Marta Van Loan ($350), Holly Parker ($50), Karin Spindler ($160), Brittany Chamberlin ($40), Rainbow Floor Covering ($120), Linda Martini ($120), Lisa Morrell ($140), Lita Gloor-Little ($45), Redmond O’Connell ($20), Gary Chan ($20), Roxanne Cole ($20), Odessa Caton ($20), Matthew Murphy ($20), Robert (Bob) Hanson ($20), Patti Hanson ($20), Larry Hanson ($20), Cynthia Shelby ($110), Lesley Stiles ($270), Pete Sabine ($20), Lynda Kilday ($55), Marian Aldridge ($20), Sharon Riccobono ($50), Teddi Alexander ($20), Dean McLeod ($40), Barbara McCullough ($20), Kim Poyadue ($125), John Remenarich ($20), Babette Hopkins ($120), Cindy Muth ($20), Kenneth Robb ($20), MJ Robb ($25), Beth Churchill-Raines ($40), Sheryl Justice ($20), Paul Murry ($20), Valarie Spessard ($20), Ron Swenson ($20), Olivia Martini ($20), Andrea Hector ($20), Dianna Martini ($20), Mark Hughes ($20), Cha Cha Hughes ($20), Betsy Sweaza ($20), Ellen Anderson ($125), Bianca Olson ($20), Irene Bergamini ($20), Bruce Dye ($20), Zandra Balderama ($20), Michael Anseimo ($20), Kathy Anselmo ($20), Tom Coleman ($20), Terri Coleman ($35), Alistair Kettlewell ($20), Susan Kettlewell ($210), Scott Curtis ($20), Mary Hatch ($245), Keith Tate ($20), Wendy Koerber ($20), Barbara Hannafan ($20), Michael Thomas $220), Terri Stormer ($100), Susan Waterman ($25), Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 District 20 Pac ($500), Susan Stewart ($100), Dolores Wix ($200), Martha Hummel ($25), Nancy Jordan ($100), Richard Duncan ($250), Ann Cochrane ($200), Sally Figueiredo ($50), John Funk ($100), Barbara Crowell, Inc. ($225), Jerry Kramer ($50), Melissa Mussano ($50), Rosemary Garrick ($100), Robert Trebino ($100), Bisio and Dunivan ($300), Bryan Berthiaume ($100), 1000 Friends of Martinez ($2,500), Suzanne Hatch Schroder ($100), Carol Hatch ($200), and Margaret Carter ($200).

A loan in the amount of $830 came from Gipner herself.

Non-monetary contributions received include a calalily necklace from Eloise Cotton (valued at $160), pedicures from Oliva Thompson (valued at $180), portrait sessions from Franci Lucero (valued at $1,155), Natural Healings product baskets from Natural Healings (valued at $170), painting by Susan Kettlewell (valued at $120), food by Susan Kettlewell (valued at $20), a glass heart from Carol Rose (valued at $45), several jewelry items from Marion Vaeth (valued at $275), necklaces, earrings, wine and cookies from Nancy Peacock (valued at $374), a quilted wall hanging, quilt, salad and flowers from Gipner (valued at $60, $75 and $25), gift certificates from White Rabbit Boutique-Anne Mobley (valued at $30), a purse with hair products and gift certificate from Youphoria-Kelly Duarte Sumrall (valued at $205), use of Gay Gerlach’s house (valued at $500), bbq meals from Jim Tompkins (valued at $492), wine at fundraising auction by June Rogers (valued at $280), postage stamps and food by Stacey Carver (valued at $47 and $12), tote bag filled with MAC supplies and five classes at MAC by Martinez Athletic Club (valued at $150 and $100); wine, cookies and flyers from Richard Rasmussen (valued at $106), a wine basket by Dave Silva (valued at $100), a bowl cozy and wall hanging from I’ve Been Framed-Cathy Riggs (valued at $110); mason jars, cookbook, wine, wine coaster and wine journal from Kim Poyadue (valued at $105), dessert set and bundt cakes by Korie Fagen (valued at $138), a wine basket from Bray’s Vineyard (valued at $75), a Giant’s tote from Cindy Shelby (valued at $45); a Parents Night Out, Dance Tuition and Friday Fun Night from Encore Gym (valued at $246), yardwork from K&J Landscape Care (valued at $50), a candy basket from Main Street Sweets (valued at $50), A Doterra giftbasket from Tamara Gerlach (valued at $90), food from Beth Churchill-Raines (valued at $20), a quilt and food from Cindy Tilton (valued at $660), food from Claire Hayhurst (valued at $20), food from Donna Allen (valued at $45), See’s Candy gift certificate from Joyce Cid (valued at $15), food from Lesley Stiles (valued at $250), food from Leslie Walsh (valued at $10), wine from Linda Kilday (valued at $25); tickets for Home Tour, Lemon Grass certificate and wine and food from Marlene Haws (valued at $115), a garden basket from Mary Hatch (valued at $125), food from Michelle Hall (valued at $30), food from Penny Fagen (valued at $12), use of Armando’s from Roy Jeans (valued at $400), and music from The Floor Dogs (valued at $500).

Gipner’s campaign expenditures thus far include $10,143 in consultant fees and services, $4,803 for campaign sign, and other expenses for walk cards, printing, advertising, photography, office items and a mail piece.

Gipner had many miscellaneous increases to her cash, which were proceeds from the sale of auction items.

John Stevens, a Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit, has received a total of $31,739.64 in contributions, but that total includes a loan of $22,000 by Stevens to his own campaign. Donors as of the Sept. 29 filing date include: Kevin Greeley ($100), John Lill ($100), Stephen Fretz ($200), Michael McKay ($25), Annelyse Klapperich ($100), Dan Griffin ($40), Marty Bender ($25), Gary Hernandez ($200), Steve Bonham ($50), Anthony Cerbone ($100), Laura Lawrence ($50), Dorothy Buffington ($50), Richard Duncan ($100), David Lee ($50), Tony Angelo ($25), LG Galleries ($100), Elizabeth Bloom ($25), James Cunniff ($200), Thomas Vandewater ($100), Anthony Rishell ($250), Scott Busby ($1,600), Jerry Miller ($50), Mark Linnett ($256.70), Robert Poirier ($25), James Paulsen ($300), Larry Lippow ($800), Joseph Palmer ($40), Bambi Barker ($100), Rachel Unpingco ($200), William Schilz ($600).

Non-monetary contributions of food/beverage (valued at $215) were made to Stevens by Rachel Unpingco. Food was also provided to Stevens’ campaign by Marty Ochoa, valued at $30.

Stevens’ largest expenditures were for campaign signs.

Attorney Courtney Masella-O’Brien comes in third for campaign contributions, receiving $6,435 in donations. Donors include: Anthony Bettencourt ($100), Build Jobs PAC ($500), Michael Farrow ($100), Remy Goldsmith ($100), James Herrity ($250), Gus Kramer ($500), Erin Masella ($100), Brian McDonald ($250), Lisa Nevares ($100), Courtney Nicholas ($300), Bill Schilz ($500), Scott Busby Construction ($1,600), William Shrader ($250), Scott Tester ($250), Nadine Verrilli ($100), Lisa Winn ($100), and Doreen Yerkes ($100).

Masella-O’Brien’s expenditures were for office supplies, filing fees, campaign literature and mailings, and professional services (legal, accounting).

Incumbent City Councilman and Realtor Mark Ross trails with a total of $8,700, including a loan of $7,500 Ross made to his campaign. Donors include: Operating Engineers Local 3 ($1,000), and Colin Coffey ($200).

Aside from a filing fee and small bank fee, the bulk of monies from the Ross campaign have gone toward mailers and signs.

The next filing date for campaign donations and expenditures is Oct. 27.

Click on the candidate name to see their complete California Form 460 in pdf format:

John Stevens Form 460

Mark Ross Form 460

 Noralea Gipner Form 460

Courtney Masella-O’Brien Form 460 (Forthcoming – unavailable due to technical difficulties)

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City honors memory of accident victims https://martineztribune.com/2016/05/27/city-honors-memory-of-accident-victims/ Fri, 27 May 2016 08:00:44 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=4296 By DAVID SCHOLZ Martinez Tribune Forty years have passed but frozen in time are the faces of the 28 Yuba City Union High School students who perished in a local horrific school bus crash that made international headlines. Black and white photographs adorned the permanent memorial at the Martinez Regional Shoreline Park last Saturday as …

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Black and white photos of students who died in the Yuba City Union High School bus crash were placed on the permanent memorial as part of a 40th anniversary observance at Waterfront Park, Saturday, May 21, 2016, in Martinez. (DAVID SCHOLZ / Martinez Tribune)
Black and white photos of students who died in the Yuba City Union High School bus crash were placed on the permanent memorial as part of a 40th anniversary observance at Waterfront Park, Saturday, May 21, 2016, in Martinez. (DAVID SCHOLZ / Martinez Tribune)

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

Forty years have passed but frozen in time are the faces of the 28 Yuba City Union High School students who perished in a local horrific school bus crash that made international headlines.

Black and white photographs adorned the permanent memorial at the Martinez Regional Shoreline Park last Saturday as local residents and first responders again marked the anniversary of the May 21, 1976, accident.

Along with personal recollections of that fateful day, speakers spoke of the invaluable improvements to infrastructure and emergency services that emerged from the tragedy.

According to media accounts at the time, the bus, carrying the school’s 53-member choir and two adult advisors, took the Marina Vista exit off I-680 after crossing the Benicia Bridge and crashed through a guardrail. The bus then plummeted 30 feet to the ground below, flipping onto its roof.

The choir was headed to Miramonte High School in Orinda where it was slated to participate in a choral exchange program.

Those at the scene recalled it not as “grotesque’’ but one of “serenity’’ as if the victims were acknowledging they knew they were in good hands with the emergency personnel who quickly arrived to do what they could.

In contrast to the sunny skies of 40 years ago, cool conditions and overcast skies, even a brief downpour, accompanied the latest anniversary observance at Waterfront Park, Saturday, May 21.

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder, who was neither mayor nor even a Martinez resident when the accident occurred, regarded this anniversary on par with 9-11.

“Everyone remembers where they were on that day,’’ he said. Recalling that he was traveling in Europe with his wife, Schroder remembered reading about the crash on the front page of the London Times.

Sharing a proclamation of the city that remembered those who died and the victims who were spared, Schroder also noted the positives that came out of this painful episode, including the reconstruction of the Marina Vista exit to be “longer, flatter and safer.’’

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer, who was a Contra Costa Sheriff Coroner’s aide at the time of the crash, lamented the 28 young people and their advisor sadly paid the price for one individual’s negligence. “They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’’

“Whenever I see a school bus, I still think of them,’’ he said.

The shortcomings and deficiencies for adequately responding to emergency situations also were revealed with the accident, but lessons were learned and today a first-rate system is in place.

“That day helped us to create partnerships with emergency management services,’’ said Patricia Frost, who spoke on behalf of Contra Costa County Health Services and Dr. William Walker, director of Emergency Medical Services.

But for all the memories shared during last weekend’s memorial observance, the increasing reality is there are generations that have grown up with little or no recollection of the magnitude of this disaster.

Deputy Coroner Tim Biggs noted he was in that company. But, citing a six-inch thick file of notes, documents, and photos in his office related just to this accident, he spoke of his efforts over the years to learn about the accident.

“Now when I walk down the hall and see the photos on the wall, I can’t help but be reminded,’’ he said.

So, voiced those in attendance on Saturday, it is important to remember for the benefit of the victims, and their families and friends, and first responders who were touched by this accident.

The younger generations were also there, trying to learn about the past.

Being of the same relative age as those who died drew Bryanna Shields and her friend to the memorial observance.

“It shows you never know what might happen, so you have to live in the moment,’’ she said.

Health issues precluded former Martinez Mayor John Sparacino, now in his early 90s, from attending. But with the assistance of his close friend Marty Ochoa, Sparacino’s prepared remarks echoed other presenters’ about the importance of keeping the promise of showing humanity, compassion, and grit that the city and its citizens exhibited in the wake of this tragic event.

“Today, you are keeping a promise made 40 years ago,’’ wrote Sparacino. “We will never forget these precious children and their sweet teacher.’’

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Martinez property at pre-recession levels https://martineztribune.com/2016/02/26/martinez-property-at-pre-recession-levels/ Fri, 26 Feb 2016 16:53:34 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=3402 By D.B. WEILENMAN Martinez Tribune When Contra Costa County tax bills went out Nov. 1, Martinez property owners learned something the county’s assessor, Gus Kramer, already knew. Property values in this city are back at their pre-recession level. Some parts of Contra Costa County experienced rough times during the recession, Kramer wrote the Board of …

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An aerial view of Martinez, California. (WIKI COMMONS)
An aerial view of Martinez, California. (WIKI COMMONS)
By D.B. WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

When Contra Costa County tax bills went out Nov. 1, Martinez property owners learned something the county’s assessor, Gus Kramer, already knew.

Property values in this city are back at their pre-recession level.

Some parts of Contra Costa County experienced rough times during the recession, Kramer wrote the Board of Supervisors through those years. Although Martinez wasn’t shaken as badly, it saw declines, too, he said.

During the recession, Martinez saw its property values drop 20 to 25 percent, Kramer said. Values hit their lowest point in 2010 and barely bounced above the bottom the next year.

In recent years, property values started their upswing, he said.

“They’re up to what they were before the recession,” he said.  At least 95 percent of Martinez parcels are at that point; some have seen even more improvement, he said.

Each July, Kramer must report to the Board of Supervisors, and those reports tell the story of how the recession impacted Contra Costa County and how the county struggled toward its current economic recovery.

This past year, he was able to tell the Board that the countywide tax base for the 2015-16 year reached more than $12 billion.

“This represents a 7.53 percent increase in assessed value and brings the total assessment roll to more than $171.3 billion. The 2015-16 assessment roll is the highest to date in Contra Costa County’s history,” he wrote.

Cities with the largest increases in assessed value from the prior year include Brentwood at 12.29 percent and El Cerrito at 9.96 percent. Moraga, Hercules and Pittsburg had the lowest assessed value increases. Moraga and Hercules each had a 5.7 percent assessed value increase and Pittsburg had an assessed value increase of 5.48 percent.

“Contra Costa County real estate continues to improve from the recent decline in the economy,” Kramer said in his letter. “The county assessment roll now consists of 367,689 parcels, an increase of 1,059 over the previous year.”

Notably absent from Kramer’s annual reports, however, are any mentions of Martinez. He said there’s a reason for the omission – relative stability.

“Martinez has been the middle of the road,” Kramer said, adding that his annual report focuses more on highs and lows in property assessments. “There haven’t been extremes in any direction in Martinez.”

This city was spared wilder fluctuations experienced by other cities in Contra Costa County because it’s situated along California Highway 4 and Interstate-680, Kramer said.

That puts Martinez in the crossroads between San Francisco and Sacramento, and situates it ideally to be a bedroom community for the region’s metropolitan areas.

However, Kramer said, Martinez also is considered a cul de sac, and it’s hard to get non-governmental major employers interested in moving to the city.

“Costco couldn’t wait to move to Concord. You’re lucky to have Walmart,” he said.

Kramer said the Martinez downtown business district has been struggling since 1959, when the Park’n’Shop shopping center opened on Willow Pass Road in Concord.  “And it won’t get any better until you get some upscale housing,” Kramer said.

However, much of Martinez property already has been developed, the assessor said.

There still is space on Alhambra Hills south of California Highway 4. East of Alhambra Avenue, there is more vacant land, “but it’s steep land,” and would be difficult to develop, he said.

Kramer said he specifically liked the 99-unit housing development once proposed for the land that was home to Pine Meadow Golf Course.

He acknowledged there are those who would prefer the land remain open space or become a park, but explained the years-long delay in development of the project “truly hurts property values,” because prospective home purchasers currently don’t know what’s going to happen to the land.

Elsewhere in the city are slim opportunities for infill construction, he said.

Under California’s Proposition 13 passed in 1978, parcels are reappraised after ownership changes or after new construction is completed. An exception is the transfer of property between spouses, including changes caused by a death, and refinancing doesn’t prompt a new appraisal.

Otherwise, property assessments can’t be increased more than 2 percent each year, based on the California Consumer Price Index. The property tax rate is 1 percent plus any bonds, fees or other special charges that have been approved by voters.

A property owner who believes the assessed value of a parcel is greater than its market value may request a Contra Costa County review.

Meanwhile, the median sale price of a Martinez home between August and November was $474,000, based on numbers gleaned from 150 local home sales reports.

The average price per square foot is $328. That represents an increase of 9.3 percent compared to the same period in 2014, according to information provided by Trulia, a company that tracks and publishes the real estate market and other community statistics.

The company’s statistics show home prices are up by $66,500, and home sales increased 4.2 percent when compared to last year’s sales.

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