Month of Momentum is Now! Defend Immigrants

After 30 days of daily protests outside ICE to close the camps, hosting organizations invite EVERYONE to attend a culminating protest on Saturday, August 31 at Noon.

Meet up at El Cerrito Plaza and Del Norte BART stations at 11:00 am. ECP will have two banners: Abolish ICE and Close the Camps. Let’s travel together to 630 Sansome St., SF – ICE Headquarters.

Music by:
•Emma’s Revolution – https://emmasrevolution.com
•Diana Gameros – https://www.dianagameros.com
•Betsy Rose & Bonnie Lockhart – https://www.betsyrosemusic.org
•La Peña Chorus (with Lichi Fuentes) – https://www.lapenachorus.org

Speakers:
•Maria Xiomara Dorsey, Idle No More
•Sandy Valenciano, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
•Frankie Free Ramos, Bay Area Boricuas
•Others TBA

And food

**Sponsoring hosts will be raising funds that day for Freedom for Immigrants Bond Fund. Bring some money to donate!
https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/national-bond-fund

EL CERRITO CLIMATE EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

7:00 pm

El Cerrito City Hall, City Council Chambers

10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

The El Cerrito City Council will be voting on a Resolution to Declare a Climate Emergency and to endorse emergency mobilization efforts to restore a safe climate.   The core elements of the proposed Resolution include:

– citywide climate emergency education and actions that can be taken to transition to zero greenhouse gas emissions;

-reduction of city greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible within the forthcoming Climate Action Plan Update; and

– support for climate emergency mobilization and collaboration efforts to reverse global warming at the City, regional, state, national and global levels.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last fall that we had 12 years to maintain the global temperature increase below 1.5C, and that to do this we needed to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.  Governor Brown issued an Executive Order in September 2018 to achieve Carbon Neutrality no later than 2045. We must ACT NOW to address the Climate Emergency!

Support the city council members in joining the 9 other Bay Area cities* and over 900 jurisdictions across the globe that are providing leadership and taking action to address climate change as the global threat that it is. Come to the meeting or write the Mayor and City Council members about why this issue is important to you and encourage the city to follow-up with actions as rapidly as possible:  Mayor Pardue-Okimoto rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca, and city councilmembers jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us;gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.uspfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.usglyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.   If you would like your letter to be part of the public record, cc it to the city clerk atcityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.

The link to the city agenda materials can be found here.

Toward a safe and sustainable climate for all,

The Environmental Justice Committee of the El Cerrito Progressives

*Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward, Fairfax, Petaluma, Cupertino and Richmond.  (Other CA jurisdictions include Santa Cruz and Mendocino Counties and the cities of Chico, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.)

URGENT ACTION–AIR QUALITY AT STAKE: Stop AB 617 Implementation defunding

Governor Newsom released the May revised budget last week and we are facing a complete de-funding for AB 617 implementation. We need your support to advocate for necessary funding for AB 617 implementation throughout environmental justice communities in California. Your voice can influence this decision and we need to act fast!

Thankfully there are numerous ways that you can help!

  1. Provide written comment or verbal testimony during the Budget Subcommittee THIS THURSDAY from 10am-1pm.

Click here to access the meeting agenda

Click here for access to the live stream

Here is how to provide testimony:

Written testimony, the event on the Assembly’s website for the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3 states: 

“We encourage the public to provide written testimony before the hearing. Please send your written testimony to: BudgetSub3@asm.ca.gov. Please note that any emails sent to that address are considered public comment and may be read into the record or reprinted.”

 Be sure to clearly state that you are supporting AB 617 implementation! 

For constituents wishing to participate during the budget hearing’s public comment period:

At the beginning of the hearing (as well as the start of the public comment period) there will be a call-in number and passcode listed on the Assembly website, the agenda and on the livestream of the hearing.  By dialing into this number, it will place you in the queue to make public comment.  Once your queue number comes up (NOTE: the numbers are not always called in order), the operator will direct that caller how to activate their line.  Callers need to be sure to mute any background audio devices so there is not an echo/competing background noise. 

 You will not have a lot of time for public comment, so we recommend following this script:

My name is [YOUR NAME], I live in [CITY] and am here representing [ORGANIZATION OR GROUP]. I support funding AB 617 implementation because [BRIEF REASON].

 

Be sure to clearly state that you are supporting AB 617 implementation!

  1. Send a letter to the Governor. I have attached the Air District’s letter for reference and our key talking points are below. If possible, please submit the letter on letterhead by the end of this week. Next week may be – but the sooner the better as decisions could be made very soon.

To make it super easy for you, please send your letter to our legislative colleagues Alan Abbs aabbs@baaqmd.gov and Annie Hargrove ahargrove@baaqmd.gov and they will package them and send them to all of the relevant folks at the state capitol.

 

Here are Air District key talking points and rationale:

·         We are facing a complete de-funding of the AB 617 implementation after this coming fiscal year. We will not be able to make up the difference with local funds. That means we may have to significantly scope back the AB 617 implementation effort as soon as this July to stretch out what money we have now.

·         In the Bay Area, the zip codes most impacted by COVID-19 overlap with our high priority AB 617 communities. We also know that long term exposure to air pollution increases COVID-19 mortality. We understand that the State of California is having a terrible budget crisis, but funding community-led solutions to improve respiratory health should be a top priority.

·         Good News: AB 617 has been listed by the Governor as a high priority for Cap-and-Trade funds.

·         Bad News:

o    Mobile source incentives to reduce emissions are listed as a higher priority than community-led work.

o    With gasoline use down 50% and refineries cutting back and/or shutting down, there may be very little Cap-and-Trade money available.

o    So, there’s no guarantee that any money will be available for AB 617 implementation. We can’t hire staff or provide grants to work on this program if there’s no certainty that there will be money to pay for it.

Please contact Kristen Law (klaw@baaqmd.gov) or Azibuike Akaba (aakaba@baaqmd.gov) with any questions.

The City takes some budget actions

At the City Council meeting on May 5, 2020 some budget announcements were made. The link to the video is below and the budget discussion started 4 hours in.

The city announced furloughs for management and SEIU staff. That is 45 SEUI staff and 25 Management staff. They will be furloughed one day every two week pay period after the noticing period. Essentially it looks like this will manifest as now having every Friday closed at city hall as this is the easiest way to manage the time. This furlough will last at least through the end of the calendar year and is projected to most likely go on through the end of the next fiscal year (June 2021) Management staff will also now pay in 1% of the employer part of their CAL-PERS contribution. The City Management will take the same furlough and pay in 3% of her CAL-PERS contribution.

I have copied the some of the slides from the presentation and put them below.

This cost savings is if the furloughs go on through the end of the next fiscal year (June 2021)
There have now been 4 million dollars in budget cuts for next year

I am happy to see the council and staff begin to take the aggressive actions needed to address this situation. Much more needs to be done and they do seem to be accepting that. I still have a few areas of concern

  1. We will be ending this fiscal year with a deficit in the 2 million dollar range (subject to change) While these cuts are working on balancing the budget for 20/21 nothing is being done to reduce that deficit as of yet. The Mayor said that not addressing it would make getting the TRAN loan more challenging next year. Without these TRAN loans the city cannot pay it’s bills.
  2. The Finance Manager is not making projects of a recession which seems pretty well guaranteed now. The Mayor did bring up the need for better forecasting using different models. The city has engaged Management Partners to further assist in that. While I have been critical of use of consultations Management Partners does seem to have expertise in this area.
  3. CAL-PERS costs will rise. The Mayor did also say in his remarks that this needed to be factored into projections in the future. This could leave a HUGE hole in the budget.
  4. The Fire Department overtime budget still has not been publicly addressed. The Fire Chief spoke at the meeting and was not enthusiastic about charging for EMT services for those with insurance. Councilperson Quinto did push hard on this issue so hopefully that will move forward. Most local cities do this.
  5. The data accessible to the public is still confusing in many cases and many of us are spending hours looking for and analyzing data. Councilperson Fadelli pushed for this information to be more accessible and clearer so I am hoping that they will continue to request this. We should not have to be posting these blog posts. The information should be readily available on the city’s website.
  6. We still need more information on the TRAN loan. The City Manager and Finance Director stated that they would be meeting with their financial advisor on May 6th and would report back next council meeting. We need specifics on this loan including the cost of the loan this time and how that compares to last year.

The video of the meeting is found here.

https://elcerritoca.civicclerk.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=302

Library Hours Slated for Cuts While City Braces for Bankruptcy

The City of El Cerrito currently contracts with Contra Costa County Library for an additional 15 hours of library service, resulting in adequate hours for full-time staff to increase programs and accessibility to the community.    For detailed information on the benefits of this budget decision, please see a report from the Library Commission on page 78.  https://elcerritoca.civicclerk.com/Web/UserControls/DocPreview.aspx?p=1&aoid=291

The discussion of the  library is in the forefront as the city grapples with a larger issue – bankruptcy.  For a brief but thorough history of our city’s financial mess, please follow the blog posts https://elcerritocommitteeforresponsiblegovernment.com/blog-2/  or a previous posting on the State Report by El Cerrito Progressives https://elcerritoprogressives.com/2018/12/08/auditor-findings-to-el-cerrito-city-council-raises-red-flags/.

The City Manager continues to target the library while management salaries and overtime costs for public safety are off limits. When the City Manager produced a budget scenario for a 5% reduction in expenditures on April 7th, a proposal now irrelevant due to a further collapse of revenues with a pandemic and state-wide closure, the library hours were on the list and highly recommended to be cut by the City Manager. The City Manager reasoned that the employees to be cut were not City of El Cerrito employees, and that if these hours were not cut, we would have to find $129,000 elsewhere. 

So what do the non-El Cerrito employees do for the library? According to the Library Commission report, the staff increased library programs from 89 per quarter to 137 per quarter- an increase of 54%.  Attendance rose from 1,880 per quarter to 4,141 per quarter, an increase of 120% or an increase of over 9,000 visits per year. Valuable programs such as Storytimes, Read to a Dog, Computer Tutoring and Teen Book Clubs and ESL tutoring make the library a vibrant community center, offering access regardless of income.  

Mayor gives directive for priority of cuts

By the end of the April 7th City Council meeting the City Council did not have a clear consensus on action for library hours. The Mayor instructed the City Manager to provide the City Council with budget scenarios to include a reduction of library hours at different levels such as elimination of Sunday or other times that might be frequented less by the community.  

Although the City Council are unanimous about the positive value of offering adequate library hours, the dismal financial picture overshadows the discussion. The City is now faced with the need to balance  close to a 4 million dollar deficit or a 10% reduction of the original proposed budget for 2020/21. To address the deficit the Mayor suggested some actions including voluntary reduction of pay by staff, reduction in benefits, suggesting that everyone should share in the reductions together.  He suggested that there could be personnel changes at the senior level, and that all departments should be considered. The priorities he laid out are as follows: reduce personnel costs (salary cuts), reduce personnel that don’t reduce services (lay-off), and finally, reduce services. The City Manager retorted that she would  be looking at a scorched earth budget….eliminating positions and library hours.  

What to expect for Tuesday’s Council meeting?

It is worthy to note that for the April 21st meeting, the Staff Report to the City Council does not include a “scorched earth budget”.  However, the City Manager once again recommends full elimination of the City’s contract for the 15 hours of library service. You can see the packet here, starting on page 281 (7.d) Agenda Packet April 21st  The City Manager proposes  to monitor revenue and expenditures for the next two quarters and adopt a new budget for 2020/21 come October.  

Editorial:  The City is in a dire financial condition.  The City is trying to get a short term loan to cover payroll expenses for 60 days in order to remain solvent. It is still not clear if the City fully repaid a previous 9 million dollar loan taken out last fiscal year.  When the landscape looks like this, it is easy to cut services first. However, we believe that before we cut a essential services to our most vulnerable in our community, we focus on areas of historical overspending – management compensation and overtime.  What do you think?

Here are ways to connect with your City officials. 

Please make a public comment for the meeting. 

You can submit testimony by emailing the city clerk, at cityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. Your email must contain have a subject line which either states

public comments –not on the agenda

or public comments –agenda item #. So for the library, it would be 7D for the general budget it is 7A. You can make comments on both items!

Comments sent up until noon on the day of the meeting will be given to the council before the meeting. Comments sent in during the meeting and up until the public comment period on the relevant agenda item is closed, will be read into the record and will be limited to a maximum of 3 minutes. It is important that comments become part of the public record of the meeting. This creates a record of community concern.

You can also comment via voicemail at (510) 306-2558. The caller must start the message by stating public comments –not on the agenda or public comments –agenda item #followed by their name and place of residence, followed by their comments.

N-95 Masks in Short Supply-Can You Help?

Reports from the health field, from Facebook, from television news and Twitter, all substantiate the need for N-95 filter masks for our health care professionals. Locally, we have learned that Kaiser Richmond is facing a N-95 mask shortage. Can you help? Consider looking through your Emergency Kit for fires and earthquakes and donate some of your masks. We will be collecting them at several local homes. Please email us and we will send you the address for drop-off. elcerritoprogressives@gmail.com

Suppotr our first responders! N-95 Filter Masks needed.

Budget Woes in El Cerrito Amidst A World Pandemic

City Council to consider $2,000,000 cuts for 2020 budget.

It’s difficult to write or think about “business as usual” while the messaging sweeping across the nation leads with the Corona Virus – and rightfully so. Today, our city officials, cancelled public functions and closed programs throughout the city in an effort to responsibly respond to the health crisis facing our community and communities throughout the world.

El Cerritans, we do have another crisis and it will not simply go away. Our city is desperately underfunded, with limited reserves for any type of emergency, and as much as City staff has minimized the threat in the last two years, the time to act is now. Next week the City Council will be meeting on March 17th to begin discussion on making a 2 million dollar reduction to the 2021 budget. For more details on the history of this crisis, please follow the blog post from the El Cerrito Committee for Responsible Government.https://elcerritocommitteeforresponsiblegovernment.com/blog-2/

Due to the Corona Virus, the Council meeting will be limited to no more than 40 community members in attendance and individuals over the age of 50 or with underlying health conditions will be prohibited from the meeting. We urge all residents to watch on line at home. Please open the following document for complete information and access to online broadcasting of the meeting.

This is a time to come together to support our elected officials in making some difficult decisions. As progressives, we believe that cuts need to be made with consideration of our families and the most vulnerable in our community. Please join the conversation, watch the meeting and send your feedback to the City Council and the City Manager. Below is a flyer with more information as to how you can move forward.