Recap of Aug 28 membership meeting


  • The library is introducing new events.
    • September 4th the library is introducing the first ever LGBT collection.
    • The library now has a full staff for children’ programs.
    • Don’t forget to visit the library because it has much more programs.

Fossil Fuel Money Resolution Proposal

  • Hari submits “Draft Resolution on DNC Not Accepting Fossil Fuel Money”.
    • Crosby/Liz in favor
    • There are comments that it may not work.
    • Another comment was made regarding the source of individual money.
    • Vote count: 13 for, 8 against, 4 abstentions.

Environmental Proposals

  • Hari announced the latest environmental legislation including Senate Bill 100 on seeking Clean Energy by 2045. SB 100 calls for all energy produced to be renewable energy.
    • Bill just passed assembly with over 100 votes.
    • See handout.
    • SB-100 California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Hari proposes Action #1: urge more California senator to vote for SB100. See for more links because it needs to vote for SB 100
  • Hari proposes Action #2: Urge senators to also pass AB-1775 (State lands: leasing: oil and gas.) and SB-834 (State lands: leasing: oil and gas) to prevent offshore drilling of the coast.

John Gioia Presentation

  • Thanking club for support on projects that the club and John accomplish together.
  • Accomplishments are results of teamwork with current club members.
  • John came in person to thank the club for all the accomplishments from the past such as:
    • Voting for a more progressive DA in the county.
    • Fighting the Sherriff on expanding the jail (even if it passed),
    • But ended ICE contract.
    • Contra Costa Cares passed.
  • Current projects include:
    • Producing Video to visit Canadian Tarzans – to fight proposal to restore pipeline to bring oil to California.
    • Air Quality Work.
    • Climate Change – sued EPA for trying to take away our authority on climate change.
  • Thanked us, again, for partnership on projects that we work together on.
  • Just before finishing, John noted that Greg Lyman would make a great member of the local Air Quality Board.

Ten day Notice Waiver Request

  • Greg requests waiving of 10 day notice rule to present the endorsements listed below:
    • Andy Katz
    • Endorsing all Democrats in statewide races
    • Endorsing El Cerrito’s Measure B for the Charter City Amendment
    • Endorsing statewide ballot measures
  • Motion made by Peter and seconded by Dwight to waive the 10-day notice rule on the four endorsements listed above.
  • Motion Passed with most present raising hand with one abstention.

Waiver/Endorsement Discussion

  • Michael requests clarification on Andy Katz’ party registration. Has Andy Katz re-registered as no party preference as of July 10th?
  • Hilary says don’t even vote on it.
  • Peter says that he emailed Andy Katz, asking him about his party registration, and there was no response.
  • Greg says to skip the Andy Katz vote.
  • Andy Katz is not endorsed, today, because he now filed as independent.

El Cerrito Charter Amendment Endorsement

  • Yes 29 votes

Endorse Democrats

  • Yes, 32 votes list of democrats

Diana Becton, Contra Costa District Attorney (DA)

Diana’s comments:

  • “Thank you, Janet, and thanks for letting me go out of order. Thank you very much for all your support that allowed me to be selected by the Board of Supervisors to fill an empty seat. I am the first woman, black, African American to fill the DA seat. So many things working on, while in office:
    • Governor signed SB-10 for bail reform.
      • Taking one step on addressing money and why people can’t get ahead.
    • Youth reform: Visiting youth ranch, which is full of black and brown children.
    • Working to bring diversion and supportive programs.
    • Addressing mental health issues, and
    • Implementing new efficiencies.
  • Thank you all from bottom of my heart.”
  • This is the first time that we had a DA Candidate visit our club.

Stege Sanitary District Candidate Forum


  • Juliet Christian-Smith is introduced first.
    • Over thirty thousand women running for office this year.
    • First reason to support Juliet is: 1. Represent a different perspective instead of being plagued by uncontested stagnation.
    • Check out three books from the library on the Stege Sanitary District.
    • Second reason to support Juliet is: she is focused on climate change and she wants waste water agencies to adapt system infrastructure to meet drier dry periods and wetter wet periods.
    • The district is heavily dominated by engineers that do not have climate change experience.
    • PhD UCB in Environmental Science.
  • Dwight Merrill, running for re-election

    • Chemist and has been running a company.
    • Is smart and used a targeted approach to spend less money and achieve better results.
    • Is pro-active and innovative.
    • Implemented innovative contract.
    • Sewer lines are replaced cheaply under this innovative contract.
  • Jay James, Director
    • Engineering professorship in South Korea lives in Kensington, past Stege Director, Director of California Waste Water, Waste management facilitator for Oakland Airport.
    • Experience with sewer upgrades.
    • Has financial management skills and full management training.
    • Lower technical innovation, has not raised sewer rates in past three years.
  • Al Miller – running for Stege re-election
    • Appointed to Stege in 1985 and has been on Board since then.
    • BS in Chemical Engineering, Post-Doctoral Master’s degree in Naval Acoustics.
    • EPA sued us and it resulted in EBMUD building weather facilities for inflow infiltration.
    • The work caused an investment from $750k to over $2 million now.
    • Will continue without bonded indebtedness.

Questions and Answers

  • .Question #1: How to deal with draught
    • Juliet Christian-Smith – Be aware of Climate Change. EBMUD is about to get regulated by the EPA on nutrient filtration. We need to create a horizontal levee to hold nutrients back to treat them with natural filtration methods. Maintain water where it falls. Work with different filtrations.
    • Dwight Merrill – Juliet is correct; we will continue to cooperate with EBMUD. We currently work with Richmond to recycle water. Recycling water is currently very popular.
    • Jay James
      • James was asked if he was a registered democrat? No, Jay James responded that he is not a registered democrat.
      • Club members voiced that they would like to hear from all candidates running for boards.
      • How to guard against drought. EBMUD is not interested in our water so only way to improve is to use less of it ourselves. Work with EBMUD to persuade consumers to use less flushing water because it is also hard on our sewers.
    • Al Miller – Stege is focused on the wastewater. Stege was first water district to use recycled water to clean sewers. In first suit from EPA, the district response was to create a special sanitary district with cooperation from other districts in: Albany, Alameda, and Berkeley to respond to suit. The same group still exists with the same level of participation. Will continue to work with other cities and EBMUD to continue working on that effort.
  • #2: Proposition 218 created a situation where you cannot use one ratepayer to subsidize other ratepayers. How would you handle low-income payers?

    • Dwight: We are an enterprise district so look at factors such as amount of sewage discharge, distance to run mains to service, look at departments with short laterals, apartment units per foot of main. Have some flexibility to interpret rates.
    • James: Look at sewer usage. Apartment dwellers use less of the sewer and apartment units get 25% discount because they are closer to main line and have less sewer. It is based on cost of service.
    • Al: Never thought of this question. Similar to PGE, pay less if use less to support those that need it less.
    • Juliet: Agrees with Al. Offer voluntary programs on gas bill and electricity so one ratepayer can help. Offer programs to opt in to defray costs for others customers. There is another interesting infiltration and inflow (INI) suit taken over by the EPA. Infiltration due to large lots and other choices that homeowners make that can have costs for sewer system. Are there huge differences in rates between different customers? Stege was charged over $28k for being out of compliance and for having an overflow.
  • #3: What are major budget issues and how do we solve them?
    • Jay: We are over target reserves. Trying to get reserve funds down to target, which is a nice problem to have. We have this problem because we are getting great contract prices for rebuilding sewers. We get these rates because we are more flexible on using contract work and can be used as fill in so get half (1/2) the rate as Berkeley. We charge $17/month compared to Berkeley, because we have consent decree construction pricing. This is a nice problem to have.
    • Al: Yes, don’t agree with question because we don’t have a budget issue. We have a great savings rate and we are not raising rates.
    • Juliet: Consent decree is based on normal conditions and those predictions are changing. What was a five-year flood is now a yearly flood. So we need a performance based standard. We have too much flow going through the system. We need to consider replacing all the sewer laterals; because, we have a leaky system especially with being on a fault zone. We need to accelerate that.
    • Dwight: Financial condition is good. We are an enterprise system. We have tried to be efficient.
  • #4: What is your Five-Year Plan?
    • Al: Replace main line sewers as recorded by video van. This will cost over $2 million a year. Not contemplating to use public funds to replace private laterals until see it as a benefit to the district as a whole. Operate with lower rates. Maintenance crew of five has less worker’s compensation claims that other organizations. Wastewater collection operators are considered dangerous work and the ten (10) employees at Stege are long term working workers.
    • Juliet: 2020 is next check; so don’t have to waive benefits or costs. You get three votes for this position. You have 20 or more years of experience on this board. I have an environmental scientist perspective. Not functional but also safe for the fish and for the environment.
    • Dwight: The latest rate structure is based on ten-year infrastructure improvement plan. Do have 20-year infrastructure plan and don’t like to show it because things change. 7 cities and EBMUD share infrastructure improvements.
    • James: Doing now what will be doing for next five years. Replacing five more feet per year just to keep the ratchet in. Still have a target rich environment. Not replacing systems that do not need to be replaced. System is aging as it is getting replaced. Sewers are 30 years old now. It is working. Not sure that it will work in the long run because the structure of the consent decree is the real source of the problem.
  • #5: Now that the baby boomers are retiring; how will you recruit a diverse workforce for all 10 people?
    • Juliet: Very competitive to find people with the required background in this field. Very exciting job. Bay Area Water Supply association has series of training in High Schools and elementary schools to raise profile of Stege. Understand the pool of applicants. Use social media to promote district. Free advertising for people.
    • Dwight: We do have a diverse work force. Don’t know how it happened but staff have diverse backgrounds. Pay $12,000 per year to work with school outreach program to teach wastewater to young school children and do promote careers in sewage treatment.
    • James: Stege staff have an average rate of 12.7 years in the job. This is the highest since we started tracking. Don’t have tons of turnover. Have a diverse work force. Stege is known in the Bay Area sewer community as a place to work; because, management listens to labor and board listens to management. Stege is careful not to have toxic members in the board, management and work force.
    • Al: Good question. It does not reflect condition of work force. Only Special district that does not have a union. One employee tried to organize union and existing workers voted it down. Plan ahead and have someone lined up to backup general manager. Also trained senior maintenance managers as backups.

Final: Closing Statements

  • Al: Posters from City about San Pablo avenue development; spending $14 million on San Pablo development area. Wants to run again so that developers pay cost of expanding system instead of existing ratepayers paying higher fees to increase costs to expand system. Asking for endorsement to do just that.
  • James: Stege Mission statement is to plan and operate a safe and efficient system. It is a Utility function. In charge of a utility, to run a safe, efficient, and low cost operation of the sewage. Have done that for the past 35 years.
  • Dwight: The San Pablo Specific Plan fee is probably too high. 10% of $9 million was $480k. It does not look like good math. Will review impact fee and perhaps adjust it. I am the 4th member of longevity. Jay, Al, and Beatrice O’Keefe have been doing a good job.
  • Juliet: Very happy to be running. Tried to be a scientist for a long time and doing it because it is good. The district could be done better and new ideas could help. Want to help community. It is not a spectator sport. Appreciate endorsement. I offer: 1. Different perspective 2. Understand challenges, and am 3. Qualified.

Endorsement Results

34 ballots distributed. 20 is 60%, so need at least 20 votes for Endorsement

  • Al Miller, 29 endorsements
  • Dwight, 28 endorsements
  • Juliet, 29 endorsements

California State Propositions

  • Proposition 1. Housing Bond
  • Proposition 2. Millionaire’s Tax
  • Proposition 3. Water Bond
  • Proposition 4. Bond for Children’s Hospitals
  • Proposition 5. Assessment transfer for elderly/disabled
  • Proposition 6. Repeals
  • Proposition 7. Repeals daylight savings time
  • Proposition 8. Dialysis Refunds
  • Proposition 9. Not on ballot
  • Proposition 10. Allows local rent control
  • Proposition 11. Ambulance employee break restrictions
  • Proposition 12 Farm Animal meet/egg ban

Proposition 1. Housing Bond

Issues $4 billion in bonds for housing programs and veterans home loans.
State club said, Yes.

Proposition 2. Millionaire’s Tax

Authorizes state to use revenue from millionaire’s tax for $2 billion in bonds for homelessness prevention housing. Could be Prop 63 money.
State club said, Yes.

Proposition 3. Water Bond

Issues $8.877 billion in bonds for water-related projects.
• Hillary recommends supporting Proposition 3. Some environmentalist like /don’t like.
• Hillary makes motion that it be moved to September Agenda
State club has no position.

Proposition 4. Bond for Children’s Hospitals

State club said, Yes.

Proposition 5. Assessment transfer for elderly/disabled

Opposed by California Teachers association
• Al has questions about proposition 5.
State club said, NO.

Proposition 6. Repeals – Negative because it would repeal Vote

Repeals 2017’s fuel tax and vehicle fee increases and requires public vote on future increases.
Vote No so that it does not repeal.
State club said, NO.

Proposition 7. Repeals daylight savings time

• Dwight would like pull and request that it be discussed in September
State club said, Yes.

Proposition 8. Dialysis Refunds – state and county

Requires dialysis clinics to issue refunds to revenue.
Pro labor, SEIU supports this.
State club said, Yes.

Proposition 9. No go Splitting California into three

Not in ballot.

Proposition 10. Allows local rent control

Would get rid of Contra Hawkins, which limits local city rent control.
State club said, Yes.

Proposition 11. Ambulance employee break restrictions

Opposed because against labor
Allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain
Require that employees that take a break they still be on call. Employers got this on there.

  • Greg Motions that it be moved to September agenda.

State club said, NO

Proposition 12. Farm Animal meet/egg ban

Ban sale of meat from animals confined in spaces below specific sizes
These are already in the door handles.
State club said, Yes

  • Janet moves that we consent and endorse county and state endorsements except for: To Be Discussed in September Meeting
    • Proposition 3. Water Bond
    • Proposition 5. Assessment transfer for elderly/disabled
    • Proposition 7. Repeals daylight savings time
    • Proposition 10. Allows local rent control
  • Peter seconds
  • Motion Passed

Precinct Walking

  • Walking will be printing the endorsement pages on Wednesday September 26th;
  • Get together on Thursday night 9/27 after 7 pm at Janet’s House.
  • Need more walking volunteers.