Archive for February, 2012

First-Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Divine Voices and Show Choir First Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

Divine Voices and Show Choir

By Walter Ruehlig

Truth be told, when the vision was first introduced, many people thought it was truly the impossible dream — to pull off a first class, both kid- and adult-captivating Black History Celebration at an elementary school. With scant resources and nagging constraints of time, given burdensome teacher loads to address the ever pressing No Child Left Behind test mandates, the task seemed formidable.

DVHS Dancers First Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

DVHS Dancers

If you were within hearing distance of the Jack London Elementary School multi-use room the evening of February 28th you quickly discovered, though, the doubters proven wrong. A packed and enthusiastic crowd witnessed a soul-soaring tribute that was themed as “A Taste of African American Influence Through the Eyes of the Future”.

second grade students First Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

Second grade students

PTA Treasurer Velma Wilson was the visionary of the event and the spirited Mistress of Ceremonies. Behind the scenes making the event look easy, which these events never are, were PTA Board Members Principal Debra Harrington, Teacher Liason Carin Pantell, President Tanossa Miller, Vice President Debra White, 2nd Vice President Amy Diaz, and Secretary Marcita Enis.

1st grade students First Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

1st grade students

In attendance were A.U.S.D. Superintendent Donald Gill, Board President Diane Gibson-Gray, Joy Mott and Walter Ruehlig. We were honored by the attendance of Brijet Finister, Miss Black USA 2011 – California, who gracefully took photos until her smile must have hurt. We were also gifted by the presence of actress and singer Bre’ly Evans, who is currently starring with Whitney Houston in the soon-to-be released movie ‘Sparkle’.

2nd grade performers First Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

2nd grade performers

Acknowledgments go to the California PTA, NAACP, Clap Yo’ Hands Audio Production, Sticky Chicken & Ribs and, most importantly, to the children from all grade levels who performed so awesomely.

Kudos as well to Tanossa Miller for the peach cobbler, which I could have died for.

The program started with the National Anthem and then Mrs. Pantrell led the third graders in singing “My Country Tis of Thee.” The Negro National Anthem was performed by 5th graders Claryssa Wilson, Mariah Thomas and Sianne Enis, accompanied on keyboard by Darrel Thomas.

Principal Deborah Harrington and PTA President Tanossa Miller gave a history of the PTA followed by the Kucheza Ngoma II Dance Company performing a stirring dance and a surprise call on Superintendent Gill to strut his stuff to audience hoots and hollers.

Interspersed in the program were student performances; Jesse Wilson and Ezra Enis shared selections from MLK’s ” I Have a Dream” speech. The first graders sang Michael Jackson’s “We are the World”; the 2nd graders reprised a folk song from Ghana; the third grade did Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World”: and the fourth-fifth graders recited from biography posters of famous African-Americans.

Deer Valley High School Divine Voices and the Show Choir, led by Michelle Stark, then mesmerized the audience with a variety of numbers, culminating in a heart-grabbing blend of the civil rights classic “We Shall Overcome” and “Lean on Me.”

The Deer Valley High Advanced Dancers, led by Sharlene Sabonis, further electrified the audience.

It was a joyous night to remember and the naysayers obligingly ate crow, in between bites of sticky ribs. I look forward to Act II next year; by then the goose bumps may have settled.

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State Mandating More Low-Income Housing in Antioch

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Watchdog Logo 300x95 State Mandating More Low Income Housing in AntiochThe Planning Commission of the City of Antioch will hold a public hearing at City Hall at 6:30 P.M. March 7th on Issues and Options for Antioch’s next 7 Year Housing Element Plan required by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). An excellent staff report on the subject can be downloaded from the City’s web site.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

AGAG calculated Antioch’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) to be 2,282 units, including 516 very low-income and 330 low-income units.

ABAG also concluded that since the previous 7-year planning period (1996-2006) did not identify enough sites to accommodate the entire allocation of low and very low-income units, the City’s adjusted RHNA be increased to 3,310 units.

As the City was unable to find enough land to meet its share of the regional need for lower income units, it will probably need to amend its existing ordinance to allow some residential projects to be approved WITHOUT A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT OR DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL.

Projects that include lower income units to be entitled to a density bonus under State law and thus would be entitled to provide reduced parking. Parking requirements could also be reduced by providing shuttle or van service to shopping, social services and transit stations or limiting the areas where parking reductions apply to neighhoods or districts closer to transit or shopping. (Rivertown projects, for instance, could offer the option of paying an in-lieu fee to be used to construct a future parking structure.)

The City has hired Dyett & Bhatia as consultant to assist in adjusting our Housing Element program to become in full compliance with State law and make regulations consistent with the State density bonus requirements and establish new zoning districts and programs to accommodate new dwelling units.

Two options are suggested to help the city rezone sufficient land to accommodate its allocation for lower income units at the so called ”default density” (30 units per acre for Antioch and other suburban cities with more than 100,000 population).

One is to rezone 106.5 acres to establish a zone where multi development is permitted at 20 units per acre and rezone sufficient land at a minimum density of 30 units per acre. (Six sites with more than 50 acres in the Rivertown/Urban Waterfront Focus Area could be rezoned from PBC to allow residential development of a minimum density of 20 units per acre.)

The other option is to rezone 59.47 acres at a density of 30 units per acre and continue to require a conditional use permit or planned development approval for some or all units.

The zoning ordinance also needs amending to establish fixed standards and requirements in regard to development features. Some of the changes to be considered include: Reducing the existing 25-30 foot setback from collector streets and establish front yard build to or set back zones that would allow homes about 10-15 feet closer to the street, requiring parking to be located to the rear instead of instead of in front of buildings, etc.

Because Antioch does not have sufficient facilities to accommodate the need for emergency shelters, it must identify a zone or zones where at least one year round shelter can be established. It is proposed to amend our current ordinance to allow such a shelter on City owned land near Delta Fair and Century Blvd., including a site that the Bay Area Rescue Mission had considered for a transitional housing facility.

Based on an estimated density of 200 shelter beds per acre, the sites could accommodate both the 124 emergency shelter beds the City needs to meet the State requirement as well as 100 units of transitional housing and associated services.

Among other options is amending our zoning ordinance to define Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units as a form of multi-family housing and allow SROs in the Rivertown High Density Residential and Transit-Oriented Residential Districts subject to specific limitations.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m tired of government intervention, e.g., being told what light bulb I can use or having to bring an reusable bag to the grocery store. We all need to protest the proliferation of proposed parcel taxes on future parcel ballot measures and the imposition of zoning mandates on local communities by MTC and ABAG, the latest scheme which is entitled ONE BAY AREA PLAN, one of the many mandates touted to reduce greenhouse gasses but which in reality are just meant to overturn local control of zoning.

Please attend this planning meeting because as Abraham Lincoln once said “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

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Chamber of Commerce Events

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

SALVATION ARMY RIBBON CUTTING
The Salvation Army’s ribbon cutting has been changed to between 4:00 and 4:30 pm followed by refreshments and tours. They won’t be walking from their old location to their new location as stated in our earlier email.

Sunday March 4th, 2012 from 4:00pm at their new location: 620 East Tregallas Road, Antioch Ca 94509

Antioch Chamber Inaugural Gala – March 9th

Date: Friday, March 9, 2012
Time: 6pm Social Hour, 7pm Dinner
Where: Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center
4800 Golf Course Road
Antioch CA 94531
Register Online on the Antioch Chamber Gala Event Page on the Antioch Chamber website.

Delta Toastmasters Open House March 6th

Do you have a fear of public speaking? Would you like to become a better speaker? Toastmasters can help you! Attend the Delta Toastmasters upcoming open house and meet great people that strive to improve on their speaking skills. Food and refreshments will be provided.

When: Tuesday, March 6, 1012
Where: Mimi’s Café
5705 Lone Tree Way Antioch, CA 94531
Time: 7AM – 9AM
Meeting: 7:10am – 8:10am
Social time: 8:10am – 9:00am

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Education Meeting at St. Ignatius

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Calling all parents and students!! Are you interested in furthering successful outcomes for the Antioch schools? Come and share concerns and suggestions for your children’s education; envision what equitable and quality education looks like; explore what you know and don’t know about the education system; identify possible solutions to improve the school district.

Meet at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church Social Hall Tuesday, February 28th at 3351 Contra Loma Blvd. from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information contact Sara Aceves of CCISCO Education Focus Group at (925) 322-9070.

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COMMUNITY GARDEN PROJECT Meeting Thursday

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The St. Ignatius of Antioch Community Garden Project inaugural meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 1st at 7:30 p.m. at 3351 Contra Loma Blvd. St. Ignatius of Antioch Church is considering establishing a garden on the parish grounds this summer with the primary purpose of producing fresh vegetables for distribution by St. Vincent de Paul to families in our area. It’s a heady challenge but many hands can lighten the load.

St.Ignatius is looking to expand upon an already vigorous social outreach program that includes projects targeted at foreclosure relief, educational equity, local jobs, immigrant opportunity, aiding the mentally challenged, feeding and housing the homeless, Habitat for Humanity, Mexican home builds, disaster relief, backpacks and school supplies for needy kids, Relay4Life, bloodmobiles, unwed mother assistance, street cleanup, etc.

For more information on the garden project contact Vicki or Brian at 778-4092 or e-mail walter.ruehlig@gmail.com.

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Delta Region Opposes ‘Dangerous’ Delta Bill

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Sixteen Delta-region environmental, business, and municipal organizations have signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner voicing strong opposition to H.R. 1837, “The San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act,” sponsored by south San Joaquin Valley Congressman Devin Nunes and scheduled to be heard by the house on February 29.

Opponents have also written to area congressional representatives Tom McClintock and Jeff Denham, both of whom support the measure.

“The environmental community, fishing groups, and the Business Industry Association of the Delta all recognize how dangerous this bill is,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “It would strip away 150 years of water rights law and public trust protections in California.”

H.R. 1837 would relax water pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These restrictions have been the last line of defense for protecting water quality for Delta farming and urban users.

The bill would create a new system that would give a handful of southern San Joaquin Valley corporate farmers all the water they want at any time at the expense of Delta farmers, urban communities, and fisheries.

Co-signers of Restore the Delta’s opposition letter include the California Striped Bass Association, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the California Delta Chambers and Visitors Bureau, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, and the City of Stockton.

A coalition of 190 environmental, environmental justice, tribal and fishing organizations from around the state also sent comments in opposition to H.R. 1837 to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“It is rare for so many diverse groups to be on the same page about an issue,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “That’s a clear indication of just how bad this bill is.”

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DeSaulnier Bill to Stop Unfair Parking Tickets

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) announced that he has introduced Senate Bill 1388, sponsored by AAA, to allow motorists to park at broken parking meters for the posted time limit without getting a ticket.

“When parking meters are broken or a payment center is inoperable, motorists should be allowed to park for the posted time limit without getting a ticket,” said DeSaulnier. “Motorists should not have to wonder whether it is OK to park in a particular parking space and for how long. Motorists already think that increased parking enforcement is because of tight municipal budgets. Let’s not make things worse by wrongly ticketing motorists.”

SB 1388 is sponsored by AAA (AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah and the Automobile Club of Southern California). AAA has 10 million members in California and reports that member complaints are on the rise as meter technology is changing and ticket fines are getting bigger.

“Right now, motorists don’t know what to do when they find they’ve parked at a broken meter,” said Steve Finnegan, Government Affairs Manager for the Automobile Club of Southern California. “That’s because rules change from city to city and they aren’t always posted. Senator DeSaulnier’s bill fixes this problem by simply allowing drivers to park at broken meters (up to the posted time limit) and making clear what the rules are so motorists are not unfairly ticketed.”

“We view this as a simple matter of fairness for the motoring public,” said Bob Brown, Public Affairs Director for AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, which represents nearly 4 million members in Northern California. “Motorists should be entitled to park in open parking spaces for the allotted time period, even if the meter is broken, unless they are clearly notified otherwise that they will be subjected to a parking ticket.”

The issue of broken parking meters has arisen in other areas of the country including Detroit and Atlanta with claims of irregularities and situations where people couldn’t pay and then were ticketed. Earlier this month, WXYZ TV in Detroit reported various problems with the same kinds of electronic pay stations used throughout California. “In some cases, when people try to pay, the stations won’t accept money, either cash or credit cards. When the parking meter enforcement workers come by, they write tickets even when the pay stations aren’t working.”

“This common sense preventative measure will help assure that California drivers are not ticketed based on unfair or unknown parking rules,” said DeSaulnier. “It is a simple measure to make sure the rules are clear and drivers have notice of what they are before they get a parking ticket.”

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) is the Chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and represents the Seventh Senate District, which includes Antioch and most of Contra Costa County.

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Council to Consider Eliminating Elected Mayor

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

City Council Agenda for Tuesday, February 28 at 7 p.m.

2. LONE TREE GOLF COURSE CITY COUNCIL SUB-COMMITTEE REPORT
Recommendation: 1) The Antioch Golf Corporation payment of the 2001/02 ABAG loan shall
be the top debt service priority. Review annually
2) Defer all other loan payments until after the ABAG loan payments are
current. Review annually
3) Seek an alternate funding source for the reclaimed water costs for the
course (Approx. $90,000 per year). Review annually
4) A review the golf course operational budget to be done annually by the
Ad-hoc Subcommittee, prior to approval by their Board of Directors.
5) Review “Summary” section of this report and provide direction.

3. BUDGET DISCUSSION RELATED TO POLICE DEPARTMENT STAFFING
Recommended Action: Motion to provide direction to staff

4. COMPUTER GAMING AND INTERNET ACCESS BUSINESSES
Recommendation: It is recommended that the City Council approve a:
1) Motion to read the Interim Zoning Ordinance, Urgency Ordinance, and
Regular Ordinance by title only;
2) Motion to adopt the attached Interim Urgency Zoning Ordinance
prohibiting the issuance of permits, approvals or licenses for
construction, establishment or operation of any computer gaming and
internet access business within the City of Antioch
3) Motion to adopt an Urgency Ordinance amending Title 5 of the Antioch
Municipal Code by adding Chapter 11 pertaining to the licensing
procedures and regulations for Computer Gaming and Internet Access
Businesses and making findings declaring the urgency thereof
4) Motion to introduce a Regular Ordinance amending Title 5 of the
Antioch Municipal Code by adding Chapter 11 pertaining to the licensing
procedures and regulations for Computer Gaming and Internet Access
Businesses
5) Motion to adopt a resolution to initiate an amendment to the Zoning
Ordinance to address computer gaming and internet access businesses

5. BALLOT MEASURE TO MAKE THE OFFICES OF CITY CLERK AND CITY TREASURER
APPOINTED
Action Item: Resolution calling a Special Municipal Election on June 5, 2012 for the
submission to the voters of a local ballot measure to make the Offices of City
Clerk and City Treasurer appointed and requesting that the Board of
Supervisors of Contra Costa County to consolidate a municipal election on a
local measure with other elections to be held on the June 5, 2012 Regular
Election

6. BALLOT MEASURE TO ELIMINATE THE DIRECTLY ELECTED MAYOR
Action Item: Resolution calling a Special Municipal Election on June 5, 2012 for the
submission to the voters of a local ballot measure to eliminate the position of a
directly elected mayor and requesting that the Board of Supervisors of Contra
Costa County to consolidate a municipal election on a local measure with
other elections to be held on the June 5, 2012 Regular Election

7. SHOPPING CARTS RECOVERY
Recommended Action: Motion to receive and file report from the Commercial Code
Enforcement/Shop Antioch subcommittee and provide direction on letter to
merchants

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