Mt. Diablo trustees OK administrator raises

The Mt. Diablo school board on Wednesday approved about $1.1 million in administrator raises and bonuses but, in a 4-1 vote, excluded four top managers covered by contracts.

Board President Barbara Oaks and trustees Brian Lawrence and Cheryl Hansen agreed that the chief financial officer and assistant superintendents should negotiate raises when their contracts expire June 30. Trustee Linda Mayo voted against amending the motion to exclude the top managers, but sided with the majority on the final vote.

Trustee Lynne Dennler voted against excluding the contract administrators. The deal provides an ongoing 3 percent raise along with a one-time 2 percent bonus retroactive to July 31.

The board also approved layoffs for 27 noncertificated positions.

-- Theresa Harrington, Staff


BART taps consultants to smooth labor woes

BART directors agreed Thursday to spend $225,000 to hire consultants to figure out how to prevent the type of problems that bedeviled last year's labor contract negotiations.

Workers staged two four-day strikes to protest contract talks. After negotiators reached a settlement, BART said it discovered an expensive family leave benefit had been mistakenly put in the written deal.

The board hired Rhonda Hilyer of Seattle-based Agreement Dynamics Inc. to re-examine how BART negotiates contracts and the checks and balances used to prevent errors.

Hilyer will work with a BART board ad hoc committee charged with recommending ways to improve labor negotiations.

"Obviously in this last negotiation, BART was not at its finest," Director James Fang said in a written statement. "Today's hire will help ensure that such future inconveniences to our riders and the public are avoided."

-- Denis Cuff, Staff


Gas leak prompts college evacuation

Contra Costa College was briefly evacuated Thursday morning because of a gas leak.

The leak was reported at 10:20 a.m. near the campus library when construction crews working on a new campus center project hit a gas line, according to Lt. Jose Oliveira of the college district police.

All classes before 1 p.m. were canceled. By 12:15 p.m., the evacuation order was lifted, Oliveira said.

No injuries were reported. The college is part of the Contra Costa Community College District that includes Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

-- David DeBolt, Staff


Firefighters find fridge full of burning pot

A refrigerator full of packaged marijuana caught fire Thursday morning inside an East Oakland warehouse, authorities said.

The fire was reported at 6:01 a.m. at the building in the 400 block of Pendleton Way, not far from Oakland International Airport.

Battalion Fire Chief Coy Justice said a 23-cubic-foot refrigerator caught fire for a still undetermined reason, causing the sprinkler system to activate.

About 30 firefighters responded and had the smoky fire contained in 20 minutes. No one was injured.

Inside the refrigerator, firefighters found marijuana packaged in plastic cylinders, Justice said. The exact amount and value of the drug was not immediately determined. Information on the owner of the site was not released.

No more marijuana was found, officials said. Police are investigating.

-- Harry Harris, Staff


'Mandated reporter' legislation makes gain

Two bills -- one to strengthen teachers' mandated reporting requirements and the other to provide additional funding for new state education standards -- were approved by the Assembly Education Committee.

Both pieces of legislation were authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and are now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 2319 provides additional funding for the implementation of Common Core standards. It was amended by the committee to eliminate the allocation of some money for career technical education.

AB 2560 requires teachers to sign statements regarding their mandated reporting obligation to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement or child protective services when they renew their credentials.

The Concord Police Chief and a Mt. Diablo school district teacher spoke in support of AB 2560, citing administrators' failure to report suspected abuse after alerted by teachers.

-- Theresa Harrington, Staff


Free e-waste event honors Earth Day

The city will celebrate Earth Week with its annual free community e-waste collection April 18-19.

Residents may drop off items 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. that Saturday at the city's operations service center, 3333 Busch Road. An ID must be shown to verify residency.

Among items to be accepted for recycling are cellphones, video game consoles, computer components, digital cameras, power cables, MP3 players, keyboards, TVs, DVD and VCR players and other electronic items, batteries and fluorescent light bulbs.

Go to for a complete list of items that can be accepted. Among the items that will not be accepted are large appliances, kitchen appliances and packaging for those items.

For collection day details, call 866-335-3373.

-- Kelly Gust, Staff


Raptor show caps off annual Science Week

A live raptor show will be the featured attraction Saturday as the city concludes its annual Science Week activities at the Ironhouse Sanitary District headquarters.

The free event, co-hosted by the Delta Science Center, offers environment-themed booths and activities for all ages from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 450 Walnut Meadows Drive.

Included will be a bird handling demonstration with owls, hawks and falcons, designed to teach children and adults the importance of these birds in the ecosystem.

The sanitary district will also offer tours of its wastewater facility. Several stations will be set up for water testing and other experiments.

For details, call Cindy Coelho at 925-625-7044.

-- Staff