Category Archives: Solano County Board of Supervisors

Solano County Sheriff refuses to share FBI report clearing deputies

Community Group Slams Sheriff For Lack Of Transparency, by John Glidden, April 15, 2021
Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara

Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara has come under fire from critics claiming he hasn’t been completely transparent when he said federal law enforcement cleared several of his deputies of being members of an extremist organization.

Ferrara told Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM) in a letter this week that the FBI “confirmed none of my employees are members of any extremist organizations.”

This includes the Three Percenters militia group, which advocates for the Second Amendment and the right for private gun ownership, along with active resistance toward the U.S. government.

Ferrara and the Sheriff’s Office have not released any official reports or documents supporting Ferrara’s claim that his deputies were absolved of being part of an extremist organization.

“I’m not comfortable with the sheriff’s response,” said Nimat Shakoor-Grantham, co-founder of BBLM, on Thursday. “(Ferrara) has proof that deputies in his office supported these groups in the past. You can take off the uniform but you can’t take off the bias.”

Three Percenters are an anti-government militia named after the mistaken idea that only 3 percent of the American colonists fought in the revolution against Great Britain.

Shakoor-Grantham pointed to the firing of a Fresno police officer after he allegedly participated in a rally held by the far-right extremist group Proud Boys in mid-March. The officer was placed on leave the following day and then subsequently terminated.

“What other proof does this sheriff need?” she added. “The FBI has deemed militia organizations like this as terrorist groups.”

In its letter, which was also directed at the Benicia City Council, BBLM demanded that Ferrara and the council “not only visibly and vocally condemn right wing extremism, but also pledge to conduct afull investigation both at the County level and at the City level to ensure that policies and procedures – including those focused on recruitment and disciplinary actions – are in place to actively expel these extremists from the ranks of law enforcement and to prevent their recruitment in the first place.”

Brandon Greene, co-founder of BBLM, said Ferrara’s letter showed his unwillingness to weed out extremists in his office and be transparent about his investigation.

“Where is this FBI report?” asked Greene on Thursday. “Put it out to the public and community for scrutiny.”

The county did not respond to a request from this news organization to see the FBI report.

Both Greene and Shakoor-Grantham said the Solano County Board of Supervisors’ decision not to get involved is frustrating.

“The sheriff is almost emboldened by the lack of Board of Supervisor action,” Greene added.

Greene said BBLM sent a letter asking the board to do something, with Supervisor Monica Brown the only one to respond.

“(Supervisor) Monica Brown said the board didn’t have the power to investigate,” Greene said.

Greene says that isn’t true, as a newly enacted law, Assembly Bill 1185, allows the board to create a civilian sheriff oversight board and inspector general position. The board and inspector general would have subpoena power to investigate issues within the sheriff’s office.

Shakoor-Grantham and Greene said they have approached the board to have an item placed on the agenda to discuss the issues raised by the Open Vallejo investigation.

“So far, it’s been crickets,” Shakoor-Grantham said. “They won’t talk about it.”

A request for comment sent to the clerk of the Solano County Board of Supervisors wasn’t immediately returned on Thursday.

Ferrara continues to reject the findings from Open Vallejo’s investigation, claiming he found “no merit” in the allegations made in the report.

Open Vallejo originally reported that members of Ferrara’s office displayed imagery and support to the Three Percenters over social media during the past few years. Former Solano County sheriff’s Public Information Officer Daniel “Cully” Pratt, who owns a wood-working business, made a gun display rack for his colleague Sgt. Roy Stockton in 2016. Cully Pratt’s brother is well-known actor Chris Pratt.

The piece includes Three Percenter imagery, like 13 shotgun shells arranged in a circle around the Roman numeral III. It also has “WILL NOT COMPLY,” at the bottom of the display. Cully Pratt used the hashtag “#3percenter,” and “blackgunsmatter,” among others in the Instagram post.

Cully Pratt told The Vacaville Reporter in response to the Open Vallejo article that the symbols in the post were “believed to be strictly in support of the 2nd Amendment and Pro-America — not in any way extremist anti-government views.”

However, in the same year Cully Pratt unveiled his art on Instagram, Three Percenters from Idaho sent some of its members over to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon during an armed standoff with federal officials.

Stockton, who was recently elected to the Vacaville City Council, also sold leather products under the name High Brass Leather and another business. As of Thursday evening, the High Brass Leather website had been taken down. For a time, a product was displayed on the site showing a coiled snake and a Roman numeral three surrounded by 13 stars.

Open Vallejo also uncovered that Ferrara’s office homeless outreach coordinator, Deputy Dale Matsuoka, under the name Matt Daley posted Three Percenter imagery over his social media.

With the lack of information coming from the Board of Supervisors and Ferrara’s office, Shakoor-Grantham says she is fearful interacting with sheriff’s deputies.

“I can’t call the sheriff’s office for support,” she said. “I don’t want them coming to my house. I’m a Black woman. It scares me.”

Anti-mask protesters flash Nazi salutes at Solano board meeting

Covidiots Give Nazi Salute at Solano County Meeting

San Francisco Chronicle, by Michael Williams Nov. 19, 2020

Members of the Solano County Board of Supervisors meet on Nov. 17, 2020. Prior to the meeting, a small group of protesters angry at mask requirements extended their arms in Nazi salutes and compared the board to the Third Reich.
Members of the Solano County Board of Supervisors meet on Nov. 17, 2020. Prior to the meeting, a small group of protesters angry at mask requirements extended their arms in Nazi salutes and compared the board to the Third Reich.

A small group of anti-mask protesters extended their arms in a Nazi salute and yelled “sieg heil” before a Solano County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, angry that they were required to follow virus-prevention guidelines.

Supervisor Skip Thomson said the members of the group were the same four or five people who go to the meetings every week to “regularly oppose anything that Gov. Newsom puts in place the week before, and to criticize the board for requiring masks and social distancing at meetings.”

For those requirements, members of the group compared the council to the Third Reich — which was responsible for creating the Holocaust that killed at least 11 million people. Thomson said Tuesday was not the first time the protesters had done so.

The debacle was first reported by the Solano County news site Daily Republic, which identified the protesters as members of the Solano County Committee of Correspondence, formed to “document all past, present and future usurpations of our God-given rights by this body.”

Attempts by The Chronicle to reach members of that group were unsuccessful Thursday. Other members of the board declined to comment or did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Thomson said some members of the group told him they had medical conditions that prevent them from wearing masks. He said he understands that position — but doesn’t understand why the protesters tried sitting on chairs that had been blocked off for social distancing.

“That is their mentality,” he said. “They don’t want to mask, they don’t want to social distance, and they don’t give a darn about some of the folks sitting next to them,” he said.

He blamed the protesters’ attitudes for contributing to the issue, and said his job was to protect everybody else in the room during the meeting.

“It is because of this attitude that this economy is not being open,” he said. “Until we get the coronavirus under control, our economy will not be coming back,” he said.

State restrictions likely to keep Solano from opening higher-risk businesses this week

The Solano County Board of Supervisors meeting commences, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (Courtesy photo)
Fairfield Daily Republic, By Todd R. Hansen, May 13, 2020

FAIRFIELD — Solano County will continue to open businesses that present a low risk for transmitting the novel coronavirus, while assertively lobbying the state to allow more local control on deciding what kind of businesses can be opened and when.

However, what was anticipated as a possible easing of restrictions on medium-risk businesses in the county this week, including restaurants, is not likely to happen because of conflicts with the state’s “roadmap” for reopening the economy.

Terry Schmidtbauer, assistant director of the Department of Resource Management, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that there is a disconnect between the county’s approach – based on transmission risk – and the state’s approach, which is largely based on business sectors.

The state additionally has varying levels within each stage, while the county basically has three risk categories: low, medium and high.

Dr. Bela Matyas

“It’s like saying you can’t cook the food at home unless you show all the food has been grown in the state,” Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer, told the board. “So we find ourselves in a state of confusion.”

Matyas noted that the county is ready to open some activities – such as churches and fitness centers – because Public Health officials believe there are relatively simple ways to enforce social distancing. The state, however, places them in an even higher-risk category.

Churches, for example, could space out where people sit, and even offer additional sermons so smaller crowds could attend each. Collection plates would not be passed from person to person, and instead, stationary donation receptacles would be provided.

To go against the state guidelines, however, could mean the loss of relief funds to reimburse the county for its Covid-19 costs. The state typically picks up the 25 percent that is not covered by the federal reimbursement.

Supervisor Jim Spering noted that the costs related to closing down businesses far exceeds the estimated $2 million the county anticipates it will have spent by the time the worst of this crisis is done.

Supervisor Jim Spering

“There is a sensitivity to those individuals, to those businesses that are being destroyed,” Spering said.

But the costs are also being seen in more suicides, an increase in domestic violence and other similar results.

Vacaville High School freshman Amanda Moe, 15, said prior to the meeting that she had a friend who overdosed, although he did survive. She said her friend was in a dysfunctional family environment, and with the schools shuttered, he did not have that “safe place” to go.

She later told the supervisors that students, particularly seniors, have missed out on so much with the schools closed.

The Public Health Division reported another death in the county related to Covid-19, bringing the total to 11. It was the fourth death since the Friday afternoon update, and like the last seven deaths reported in the county, the individual was under hospice care at the Windsor Vallejo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The number of cases increased from 379 to 388, according to the county’s Tuesday afternoon update. The number of active cases increased by one, to 47, while the number of residents who are hospitalized remained at 13.

There have been 5,669 residents tested, up from 5,576 Monday as the county’s testing capacity continues to increase.

Vallejo accounted for eight of the nine newly reported confirmed cases, bringing the city’s total to 230. The other new case was reported in Vacaville, now at 37 cases. Fairfield remained at 67 cases, while Suisun City, at 20, and Benicia, at 18, also stayed the same as Monday’s report. Dixon, Rio Vista and the unincorporated areas of the county each report fewer than 10 cases.

A group of nearly two dozen protesters, including Moe and her mother, gathered in the lobby as they entered the government center Tuesday. Members of the public were allowed to attend the meeting for the first time in five meetings.

Cheri Moe said she believes the Covid-19 numbers are being skewed purposely.

“I think if it was as severe as they want us to believe, we would all know more people who (have Covid-19),” she said.

Individuals carried signs urging that all businesses be open, and at least one man warned that the county, state and the nation are facing a “deep recession” or “depression” if something is not done soon.

Ted Hunter, 80, called the response to the Covid-19 an “arrogance for power” at all levels of government, though he said the county was only a small part of the problem.

In fact, much of the criticism, including from supervisors, was leveled at Gov. Gavin Newsom and what was described by Spering in more general terms as the state’s “heavy hand” in dealing with the business community.

Those comments were largely focused on state threats to take alcohol licenses away from some bars that have opened in other counties in direct defiance of the state’s guidelines. The threat of not releasing disaster funding also was noted.

However, the county also carries a stick when enforcing its guidelines, ranging from civil fines to criminal misdemeanor charges. To date, the county is only aware of one business that has been cited, and that was a barbershop that Vacaville issued a cease-and-desist order to based on not complying with the county health order.

Most people who have the novel coronavirus experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health problems, experience more severe illness such as pneumonia and at times, death.

The vast majority of people recover. The World Health Organization reports people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Solano Supervisors to allow some businesses to open Thurs, deviating from State coronavirus guidelines

[Editor: View video of the Board’s discussion and vote: Solano County Board of Supervisors hears verbal COVID update and votes to open some businesses.  – R.S.]

Solano may open some businesses as early as Thursday, more next week

Fairfield Daily Republic, By Todd R. Hansen, May 5, 2020
The Solano Town Center parking remains almost empty Tuesday, May 5, 2020. The Solano Board of Supervisors approved a draft guide Tuesday for re-opening certain businesses as early as Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — Business offices, some retail outlets and manufacturing sites could open as early as Thursday, and even more businesses – including restaurants, salons and dentists – may be opened next week.

The phasing largely depends on the risk those businesses’ operations create for further spread of the novel coronavirus – whether because of the proximity of customers to each other, or because the nature of the business requires direct contact with clients.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a draft guide for reopening the business community, and in some cases, it deviates from the state guidelines.

Dr. Bela Matyas

That deviation is one of the reasons Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer, sought the board’s consensus. He said he did not object to taking those steps, but wanted the board’s backing.

“Our goal should not be to lock people up in their homes, but to stop the transmission (of the virus) person to person,” Matyas said.

The county will still require businesses to adhere to social distancing and other regulations, including the use of barriers in some instances. The businesses will also have to post what they are doing to meet the county directives.

Just how well this transition works will depend greatly on the businesses, but also the common sense of customers and clients.

“I can issue the guidelines, but I cannot make people follow them,” Matyas said.

He advised anyone who feels uncomfortable about going to the businesses when they reopen to just not go.

Supervisor Jim Spering

Supervisor Jim Spering also said the directives should include a warning for those high-risk populations, most notably seniors with underlying health issues – to stay home until a final all-clear is issued.

The county will spend the next day or two rewriting the stay-at-home heath order to reflect the policy decision, just as it did for Friday’s action to open up most outdoor activities. Community pools and beaches, however, remain closed.

Those activities, such as playgrounds and large gatherings, will have to wait.

“The higher risk (activity) is going to have to wait until I believe there is no longer a significant transmission (rate) in our community,” Matyas said.

The Public Health Division will come back to the board Tuesday with a recommendation on what are viewed as medium-risk businesses and activities.

Supervisor Monica Brown. (Robinson
Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Supervisor Monica Brown said she would hope a mandate for face masks will be part of that, but other supervisors indicated they were not willing to support that for a variety of reasons, one of which is not everyone has a mask.

However, everyone agreed that even if masks are not mandated, anyone who wants to wear one, should.

“I’m not going to feel safer when (businesses) reopen,” Brown said. “I see us having a second and third wave (of a disease outbreak) . . . so I’m going to be wearing a mask.”

Another issue that was raised was child supervision.

As more people return to work – because schools are closed and most day care centers have also been shuttered – what is to be done with children who would be left without supervision?

Although some programs have been operating day care in a limited capacity, the board was told that even at its full capacity, Solano County did not have enough day care providers anyway.

The board was told that steps are being taken to help with day care issues, and some funding is being made available to help providers.

Getting people back to work is viewed as a critical part of determining what kind of fallout there will be from the Covid-19 crisis.

“Jobs are going to be the biggest thing,” Robert Eyler, president of Economic Forensics and Analytics out of Petaluma, said in his presentation on the annual Index of Economic and Community Progress. “Job losses can beget business losses.”

What was going to be a glowing report on Solano County’s economy from 2019 and projecting forward, is now a series of unknowns about how the economy is going to respond to what amounts to a virus-caused recession.

Just how deep of a hole that Solano County, the state and the nation will have to climb out of depends on a variety of factors. Eyler said the county could be looking at the loss of five years of economic progress.

However, it was also noted that unlike most recessions when the reaction period is defined in months or even years, in this situation, the policy reaction was really a matter of weeks.

“We (started) this crisis in a very good situation,” Eyler said.

For one thing, it was noted, there has also been a huge influx of government money to offset some of the problems, and even more funding is expected. What impact that funding will have is one of the unknowns, but Eyler said the best scenario is that it will lessen the shock.

“It may not feel like we are back until 2022,” said Eyler, who added that could extend out to 2023.

The deaths of six people have thus far been attributed in Solano County to Covid-19 since the novel coronavirus pandemic made its way to the region.

Most people who have the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health problems, experience more severe illness such as pneumonia and at times, death.

The vast majority of people recover. The World Health Organization reports people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.