Current Issues

                             Doctors Medical Center Property Tax Transfer

Since my election two years ago I have suggested that Doctors Medical Center (Doctors) needs to come up with a sustainable plan for its operation or close and cease operations. Doctors is not a County run hospital, but is run and funded through a special district, the West Contra Costa County Healthcare District which has its own governing board.  Our County Hospital in Martinez requires $30 million in subsidy from our County General Fund.  The County is not in a position to takeover Doctors. 

On June 3rd I voted against hiring a consultant for $45,000 to poll voters in order to place a County wide sales tax measure on the November 2014 ballot.  I viewed the sales tax option as a way to continue Doctors’ "business as usual" model and force the rest of the County to subsidize a hospital which can't break even because it has a poor, outdated model.  Thus, I opposed the polling and the potential for a sales tax, and still do.  A majority of the Board of Supervisors approved spending the $45,000 and a consultant was hired.

The following week Doctors' Board Members approached me and told me that West County Healthcare board members and the heads of various hospitals were working together to fashion a plan to have Doctors "live within its means" and create a new model of operation.  Something very scaled back, potentially even a stand-alone Emergency Room which would not be dependent upon a countywide sales tax.

However, in order for them to implement the plan they need to wind down operations and could not entirely cease doing business or they would:  1) Lose their Medicare Number, which is how they are paid for rendering services to many patients, and if lost, could take several years regain it; and 2) Lose all revenue from one of their current parcel taxes as it would immediately cease if the hospital closed.  The opportunity to create a new model would be lost.

On June 17th, with my support, the Board of Supervisors approved an advance on the Healthcare District’s property taxes in the amount of $6 million.  Up to $6 million can be transferred from our General Fund and will be repaid to the County through a property tax transfer from the Healthcare District.  When the property taxes are collected, they will go directly to the County, not to Doctors.  It will automatically be paid back to the County in an amount of $8.2M.  Legal Counsel opined that should Doctors file for bankruptcy, the chance of our obligation being discharged was very remote.  Even if the hospital was to close, until the Special District is dissolved, those property taxes would still be collected by the County.

Thus, I felt the risk to the County, and especially taxpayers, was very low and there is finally a possibility that Doctors can reinvent itself to be sustainable and still provide some higher level of medical care to that part of our County.  It should be noted that there are also two County operated medical clinics in West County which will continue to provide medical services to residents.

On June 24, 2014 the results of the $45,000 sales tax survey were received.  The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed that a County wide sales tax should not go on this November’s ballot. The polling confirmed my belief that there would not be enough support for it to be successful.  I continue to be hopeful that Doctors and its partners will come up with a new model of service delivery which will be sustainable without additional taxpayer subsidy.


                                 Board of Supervisors Delta Water Platform

The Board of Supervisors approved an updated Delta Water Platform on May 13th of this year as a way of advocating the County’s views about stewardship of the Delta. The Delta Water Platform was first adopted by the Board of Supervisors in August of 2008 and establishes the County's policy positions. Staff and elected officials representing the County and the County Water Agency use the Delta Water Platform to guide comments and advocacy positions on legislation, policy, programs, and projects that may have an effect on the Delta.  The Platform has been updated to better address current events in and around the Delta.  This updated Platform enables the County to more effectively advocate for reliability, restoration, and resilience in California water.  Supervisors Karen Mitchoff and Mary Piepho have provided great leadership on Delta issues for Contra Costa County. Supervisor Piepho is Chair of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, sits on the Delta Protection Commission, the Delta Counties Coalition and the East County Water Management Association. Supervisor Mitchoff sits on the Delta Protection Commission and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy Board. To view the Contra Costa County Delta Water Platform, click here

                                      Alternatives to Toxic Pesticides

Growing up in Hawaii it was common for me to encounter a wide range of insects and pests both inside and outside my home. Weeds grew quickly in the warm tropical environment. Our response? My family had a monthly contract with a pesticide company to spray both the inside and outside of our house with a thick layer of toxic chemicals. Fortunately, these pests and fast growing weeds aren’t as prevalent here in California, but how I manage them now is very different from my childhood in Honolulu. There are some great alternatives available to using highly toxic pesticides.

It is important for us to do our part to preserve our environment for future generations. We also want to keep our children, pets, and wildlife safe from harmful chemicals. Since 2001, Contra Costa County governmental departments have reduced their pesticide use by 60%. However, the County’s use of pesticides is only 2% of all reported use in Contra Costa.

Before using pesticides or rodenticides around your home or business, consider other options. There are great resources available to help you make an informed decision about how to handle any number of pest problems, whether it is insects, rodents, or weeds. Some that I have found very helpful include the following.

The Our Water-Our World program is a partnership between many different water pollution prevention agencies and stores that sell pesticides to the public. Their goal is to help you manage home and garden pests in a way that protects the health and safety of your family, pets, and the environment. Visit their website at www.ourwaterourworld.org to find materials designed to assist you in finding non-toxic and less-toxic solutions for managing pests in and around your home, including helpful fact sheets, and their booklet, Pests Bugging You? Choose Products Less Toxic to People, Pets and the Environment! Click on “promotional materials” and then on “booklets.”

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program has numerous fact sheets on managing pests in and around the home with a minimum amount of pesticide. You can find the fact sheets at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/index.html.

The Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program also has a variety of links to inform you of the types of pesticides on the market with their risks to the environment and your family. They offer non-toxic methods, disposal suggestions and more. Visit their site at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/GENERAL/pesticides_urban.html.

Trained volunteers from the Contra Costa Master Gardener Program answer questions from Contra Costa County residents about pests and pesticides during their Help Desk hours, Monday through Friday from 9am to Noon. You can visit them at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2nd Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523; call them at 925-646-6586; or send an email to ccmg@ucanr.edu. Visit their website at www.ccmg.ucanr.edu/ for more information about gardening in Contra Costa.

The Contra Costa Agriculture Department can also answer questions about pests and pesticides. They have a biologist on-call from 8am to 5pm at their Concord office, 2366-A Stanwell Circle. You can bring your pest problems into the office or call 925-646-5250 for advice.

The Mt. Diablo Audubon Society has information on their website regarding a variety of issues that affect our wildlife such as DON'T TAKE THE BAIT! AntiCoagulant Rat Poisons Kill, which you can read on their site at www.diabloaudubon.org/conservation.php#RatPoison. There is also a link to their brochure called Who Will Save Us?, which you can print and distribute to others, also on their site at www.diabloaudubon.org/WhoWillSaveUs-E.pdf.

Finally, if you have any of these toxic products on hand, please dispose of them safely by taking the materials to your hazardous waste facility. In Contra Costa County, call 1-800-750-4096 for locations and information or go to www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/depart/cd/recycle/.

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Navigating through the County’s large volume of programs, services and information can be difficult, but help is just a click of the mouse away. Contra Costa County’s website includes a LiveChat program, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. You can access it right from a button on the County’s homepage (and just to your left). You will also find the LiveChat button on every page of the County’s website. Thousands of county residents have taken advantage of this service, posing questions ranging from how to access property information, where to pay taxes, or how to license a pet. Tap into the Live Chat team and you’ll be talking in real time with staff at Contra Costa’s Libraries trained to help answer questions that might be tough to resolve just by searching online.

Response to the service has been overwhelmingly positive, from both citizens who have used it and from staff who have expressed how rewarding it is to be able to help residents navigate the sometimes complicated maze of County government information. Much of the information is actually available on various pages of the County website. Your inquiries through LiveChat, which are tracked and reported to the County’s departments, will help to organize the information so that it will be easier for future visitors to find.

My staff works hard to make my own District 2 website informative and up to date with many useful resources for my constituents. In addition to links to all of the District 2 city websites, you will find links to many local, county, and state organizations such as East Bay Regional Park District, Contra Costa Water District, local CERT training groups, and the California Secretary of State for voter registration. You will be able to see the advisory boards I make appointments to, where there are vacancies, and learn how to apply for those openings. You can also quickly access the Board of Supervisors’ agendas for the current and past meetings, view past issues of my e-Newsletter, as well as sign up to receive a copy each month via email. If you’re not already, I encourage you to become one of our many regular e-Newsletter subscribers. Each month’s edition showcases local events and includes short, informative articles about what is going on in the County. Join my mailing list by clicking on e-Newsletters in the left navigation list. Along with my Facebook page and Twitter account (@AndersenCandace), my e-Newsletter is another way of communicating with you on a regular basis.