ALAMO -- The longtime leader of an Alamo police services advisory committee is upset he hasn't been picked to continue, saying it was retaliation by Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho for opposing an elimination of the group.
Though Bill Nelson, who had been a member of the nine-person P2-B Police Services Area Citizens Advisory Committee for 15 years and chairman for the past 10, wanted to be on the board, he was picked over despite there still being one spot to fill. Piepho's office denied the allegation.
"Political manipulation is the term I use," Nelson said. The committee oversees funds that are currently used to pay for a Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy to focus on youth issues. He said they have a budget of about $200,000 a year -- about $36 coming from their normal residential property taxes and a special $18 tax. Businesses pay more. Patrol and other services are separate.
Committee members are recommended by the local supervisor and then confirmed by the full board of supervisors. The board confirmed the recommendations, which were made in consultation with Sheriff David Livingston and the Alamo Municipal Advisory Council, on Feb. 8. It included four who were already serving on the police committee, two council members and two newcomers. Some got one-year terms and others two, with future appointments lasting two years so the terms would be staggered.
Nelson had been outspoken on concerns the committee would be eliminated with its duties absorbed by the council, which Piepho's office started in 2009. Members of the council are picked similarly to the committee's and advise the county on various issues affecting the area. Nelson wanted the committee and council separate, saying the council works only with the Sheriff's Office through Piepho's staff -- unlike the P2-B group that deals directly -- and noted the law enforcement agency is largely separate from county government. He also protested that in 2009 committee appointments were for one year instead of the normal two so that all terms expired at the end of 2010, claiming Piepho's office was already looking to eliminate the group.
Last fall the council decided two to three members of the council should serve on the police committee, and would see how the change played out before revisiting whether to assume the responsibilities completely.
"She's obviously got it out for me," said Nelson. "I'm sure that's why she didn't reappoint me."
Nelson's position is also supported by Gary Rogers, a committee member for 20 years before the recent appointments. He said generally members were asked if they wanted to continue when their terms expired. Though he can't say if politics had anything to do with him not being asked back, he believes Nelson's was, and said he wouldn't have wanted to serve again without him anyway.
"There has never been anyone else who came close to his qualifications," Rogers said. "It smells awfully strong of political maneuvering by Mary Piepho."
Jennifer Quallick, field representative for Piepho's office, said there was no retaliation in Nelson not being reappointed. Many members had been there a long time, and Piepho's office wanted new blood, she said.
"It was just a time for change," she said.
Piepho's office is in the process of filling the vacancy. An application is at http://contra.napanet.net/maddybook. For more information contact Piepho's Deputy Chief of Staff Lea Castleberry at 925-820-8683 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Eric Louie at 925-847-2123