Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scam in Brentwood

Today, on the sidewalk in front of the post office on Oak Street, hubby saw a small booth set up with a sign that said "Impeach Obama" and another poster with a photo of Obama with a Hitler mustache on him. There was a third poster but he can't recall the exact wording.  As he passed by, he overheard a woman talking to a young man that apparently was "in charge" of the booth. There were 2 women and a guy in the booth. The gist of the conversation was that these people were from San Francisco, they were taking donations to "impeach Obama" but admitted to the woman speaking to them, that they were taking donations FOR Obama's re-election campaign.
I don't know how the woman figured out their scam but I say, "good for her!"  I am not clear how this group set up on a city street but I intend to call the Brentwood Police Department to find out the procedure and to report this fraudulent behavior.
If I was donating to a specific "cause" or person, I'd expect my money to actually go to that cause and/or person. I believe it is fraud.  We'll see what Brentwood PD says. In the meantime, please be aware of these people and, if you see anyone collecting money for a political cause or even a non-profit medical research cause, ask questions like this smart woman did.  Make sure your money is going where you want it to go.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Local Government Counts

With the latest happening in Washington regarding Fast & Furious, it just drives home the importance of starting locally making a stand for issues that come up in city and county government and doing my homework on those that represent my community. 
When I lived for a short while (4 years) in San Luis Obispo County, I worked for the county as a clerk.  During that time, the Superior and Municipal courts merged and became a part of state government. Oh, it was a wonderful time!  California had a surplus and we could get anything we asked for.  Ergonomic chairs were given to every employee in the court to the tune of $800 a piece, for example. 
But here is the deal, both hubby and I worked for the county and we saw the waste of not only buying expensive items (those same chairs were half the price at a well-known office supply chain) but the time wasted by everyone.  See, it does start locally.  I am not saying all county offices were wasting time because some of them like the District Attorney's office and Family Court Services were over-whelmed and could never get caught up.  But certainly, money was wasted. Here is an example, one courtroom had to be completed gutted and re-done for a certain criminal trial due to the defendants being opposing gang members.  Not only did it take months to do, but everything from the electrical, paint, jury box, spectator section had to be re-done to the tune of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, the defendants were cooling their heels in the county jail, mind you, on the county dime. This is the stunning part: just days prior to the start of the trial, all of the defendants took a plea bargain.  So all of that money spent and resources used was for nothing. 
This kind of thing happens all over the state, in all the counties and I would bet in most of our cities and towns.  I know some of it can't be helped but, as a tax-paying citizen, I need to know what is going on and see how I can educate my neighbors, family and friends.
The truth be told here is that I really didn't pay all that much attention to local government until the last ten years. I am not proud of that. Something woke me up.  Maybe it was 9/11 or maybe it was the presidential election of 2000.  I am not sure but awake I am and I hope that my little piece of the blogging world will open other's eyes too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Update on Brentwood things

After becoming a member of Twitter last week, I was pleased to see either through it or Facebook, a blog post of a fellow Brentwood citizen, Carrisa Pillow.  Not only does she report on the City Council meetings, she is now running for a position on that Council. I say, good for her! We NEED women on that council!
I have lived in Brentwood since 2004 but have lived in the Bay Area for most of 40 years (with occasional moves here and there).  Back in 1976, when we lived in Concord, my then mother-in-law and sister-in-law went with my children and me to Brentwood to pick apricots. This was my first visit and I fell in love with the town. Then it was a small farming community.  During the 80's, I came out here for fruit and vegetables during summer picking season, and I could see the development starting to take place.  I lived in Antioch then and the growth of Antioch had already doubled much to my alarm!  I commuted to Martinez and Walnut Creek on Highway 4 and kept asking the question of my friends: how are all these people going to get to work?  There was no industry out here except farming.  Some of the manufacturing that was in Antioch were either shutting down or cutting way back.  The blue-collar jobs were disappearing and the white-collar commuters were moving out here.
There was good reason for it - land/property and therefore, homes were reasonable to buy. We bought our first house in 1980 in Antioch for 79K (which was a bit high even then but that is another story).
By 1990, and some personal changes, my new husband and I bought a home in Mira Vista Hills for (I think) $134K.  Of course, it is a bigger and newer home but still, that is a huge jump.  Meanwhile, Lone Tree Way which was a two-lane country road was changing dramatically and homes were being built as rapidly as could be. I was shocked just to see how close together they were then and that's nothing compared to what I see in Brentwood today.
I moved away to San Luis Obispo county in 1997 and returned in 2001.  I could not believe what had happened to Antioch and was appalled at what was happening to Brentwood!  My husband and I moved to a condo in Antioch but the population changes, budget cuts, etc. made us both feel unsafe.  My daughter and her husband bought a home out here and we moved here in 2004.  I still shake my head at what is happening to Antioch.  I don't understand it at all.  However, there was so much building out here, I wondered, is this going to be another Antioch?  Well, we all know what happened to the economy but, frankly, I think that the slow down in developments out here was the only thing that saved Brentwood.
It gave all of us a chance to take a breath and start asking some hard questions. A lot of seniors, like my husband and I, were concerned and we don't even have children in schools here! I don't want the City Council to become like other government agencies that only think of who helped them get elected.  I hope that is not happening here so please don't think I am accusing the Council of it - just hope it isn't.  I wondered, however, when the Council decided that the new Civic Center had to be so huge!  I didn't understand how Oakley was able to build their new Center for a fraction of what Brentwood paid. I still don't and I am not happy at what happened to the city park. I truly feel the City reneged on the commitment made to the woman who donated the land. 
I did get a chance to meet Steve Barr when he was running for City Council and was pleased to discuss my concerns with him as did my husband.  So far, so good but I am still uneasy at the decisions made not just by him but by the entire Council.  For these reasons, I am happy that Carissa is running and I hope to meet her too. I plan on attending a Council meeting soon depending on my health.  Please be sure and read her blog post dated June 12 for her description of events that took place.  I hope to have more input on the Council soon.