Archive for September, 2014

Watchdog: Voters were hoodwinked on Measure C, should oppose Measure O

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

Voters in Antioch will shortly be selecting two new city council members and voting as to whether or not to update the existing business license tax and to impose a residential landlord business license tax.

Note for the record that this ballot measure comes one year after Antioch voters were persuaded to approve Measure C, touted to enable the hiring of 22 new police officers and one year after the County Assessor informed the Board of Supervisors that “The increase to the local tax base for 2013-14 is over $4.87 billion. This represents a 3.45% increase in assessed value and brings the total local assessment roll to over $146 billion, just 6.92% away from the County’s record assessed value, which was set in 2008. Richmond had the only percentage loss in assessed value at 14.61%, Cities with the largest increases in assessed value from prior year include: Brentwood (8.45%), Clayton (8.24%, Oakley (7.44%), Walnut Creek (7.38%) and Antioch (7.34%).”

It’s my belief that taxpayers were hoodwinked in regard to Measure C, a 7 year half cent sales tax increase) because, shortly after an accelerated swearing in, Mayor Harper, Councilman Tiscareno and Councilwomen Rocha and Wilson, knowing the city had a $59 million unfunded pension liability, voted to amend the signed September, 2012 contract agreement with police officers and misc. employees and restore more lucrative pension formulas for lateral sworn hires. (The rush to do so was to side step California’s new voter approved law which would become effective on January 1, 2013, setting a 2.7% retirement formula at age 57 for safety employees and 2% at age 62 for miscellaneous employees.

The reason voters should reject Measure O is because it’s another attempt to pickpocket voters in order to deal with the afore mentioned lucrative under funded spiraling pension costs.

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Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi winery hosts 12th annual California State Championship Chili Cookoff benefit

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Mondavi chiliWHO: Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Winery hosts the 12th Annual Chili Cookoff, the official Chili

WHAT: Appreciation Society International (CASI) California State Championship, where approximately 35 teams from around the country will compete for a top prize. Proceeds will benefit the local California-based Lodi Public Library Foundation.

The Chili Cookoff is open to the public and admission is free, inviting families of all ages to attend. Tasting kits are available for purchase, priced at $3.00 for five tastes. Guests are invited to try the various chili recipes and vote for their favorite to win the People’s Choice Chili award.

While the centerpiece of the contest is a traditional bowl of red chili, the cookoff will feature competition in five categories (listed below). This event will be sanctioned by CASI, with the winning CASI-Sanctioned Chili cook, in addition to the top three California-resident cooks, automatically qualifying to compete in the prestigious Terlingua International Chili Championship (TICC) in Terlingua, Texas in November 2015.

2014 California State Chili Cookoff Categories:

1.      CASI-Sanctioned Chili

2.      People’s Choice Chili

3.      CASI Showmanship

4.      Salsa

5.      Guacamole

To enter the Chili Cookoff and/or receive a complete list of rules and requirements, call (209) 365-8081. Entry deadline is October 13th, 2014.

Guests attending the Chili Cookoff will also have the opportunity to enjoy a unique car show featuring classic cars from Ford, Chevy and Mopar. To participate, car show entry is $20 per car.

WHEN: Saturday, October 18, 2014, 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. PT

WHERE: Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Winery, 5950 E. Woodbridge Road, Acampo, CA 95220

SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook: Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi; Twitter: @Woodbridge_Wine; Pinterest: Woodbridge Wines

About Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi founded Woodbridge Winery near his boyhood home in Lodi, California to encourage a growing wine culture in the U.S. by making quality wines that could be enjoyed by Americans as part of daily life. Combining traditional winemaking with state-of-the-art innovation, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi raised the standard for everyday wines in America, and has become one of America’s most loved wines. For more about Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, including food and wine pairings and recipes ideas, please visit www.woodbridgewines.com.

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Antioch Election Forums on Comcast Channel 24 beginning Tuesday night, September 30

Monday, September 29th, 2014

The 2014 Antioch Election Forums co-sponsored by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and Antioch Herald will air on Comcast Local Cable Access Channel 24, beginning this week.

The schedule is as follows on each of the following dates: starting Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, 7, 9, 21 and 23.

County School Board Candidates Forum Areas 4 and 5 – airs at 6 p.m.

Measure O Campaign Forum – airs at 7 p.m.

Antioch City Council Candidates Forum – airs at 8 p.m.

Antioch School Board Candidates Forum – airs at 10 p.m.

The forums can also be viewed on the Antioch Chamber of Commerce website at www.AntiochChamber.com.

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Antioch citizens confront Mayor Harper on crime, threaten recall

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Council considers budget adjustments

By John Crowder

At the September 23 meeting of the Antioch City Council, two residents spoke out against Mayor Wade Harper for what they considered his inability to address spiraling crime in the city.

Rich Buongiorno, who earlier this month posted an open letter on Facebook to the mayor on the same issue, spoke first.

Mr. mayor, I’m not happy,” he said. “When it comes to the bad stuff, you’re not there.” Calling the mayor, “MIA,” Buongiorno added, “Crime and violence is getting worse… now it’s a constant. It’s a daily occurrence.” He concluded by saying that he and others, “intend to seek your recall and removal from the office of Mayor in Antioch, California.” His presentation was twice interrupted by applause.

A little later during comments, another resident, Ken Turnage II, also spoke out, specifically referencing the crimes being committed at Deer Valley Plaza by Deer Valley High School students every day after school.

Violence has become a constant, and businesses are closing their doors because they cannot be protected,” he said. Turnage asked for the mayor’s resignation.

Harper interrupted Turnage when asked to resign, saying, “That won’t happen.”

Everyone’s entitled to their comments, and their opinion, and we respect other opinions,” Harper stated, after Turnage concluded his remarks.

When it was time for the Mayor’s Comments on the agenda, Harper again addressed the negative feedback he had received. He laborating on some of the things he did as mayor, which he said were largely unseen in the press.

As long as the community wants me to serve, I will serve, and put my heart into it,” he said.

Regarding the problems at Deer Valley Plaza, he said that he had been meeting with the police chief and the superintendent of schools about the matter.

Public Hearings

A public hearing was held regarding the Planning Commission’s decision to approve a use permit for Mission-Hope Day Program, which provides services for developmentally disabled adults. Residents of the Lake Alhambra Homeowners Association were appealing the decision because of concerns with “traffic, parking, and the intensity of the use.” The program is to be located at 10 South Lake Drive.

Former State Assemblyman Guy Houston spoke to the council on behalf of the program. Following his presentation, Antioch resident Martha Parsons spoke in opposition. After a lengthy discussion, including rebuttals and an intermission in order to allow time for new condition language to be drafted, the council voted 4-0 to approve the use permit. Three conditions were made a part of the approval, including the installation of “no parking” signs restricting parking in front of the building during operational hours, the securing of an off-site parking location for employees, and limits on the size of vans.

In other matters, public hearings were held on two housing development plans.

Oakley Knolls is a project proposed by Discovery Builders to put 31 single family homes on approximately five-and-a-half acres on the north side of Oakley Road.

Quail Cove, proposed by West Coast Home Builders, would also result in 31 single-family homes on the west side of Heidorn Ranch Road at the eastern terminus of Prewett Ranch Drive. Property owner Richard Johnson expressed concern with the project infringing on five acres he owns adjacent to the proposed development.

Both the Oakley Knolls and Quail Cove projects are preliminary. They were placed on the agenda in order for the city council to provide feedback with respect to city requirements prior to final proposals being submitted. On both sites, the city council, on 4-0 votes, provided feedback to the applicants and city staff, asking them to look at certain design aspects in order to ensure sufficient parking, good traffic flow, and recommendations submitted by the Contra Costa Fire Protection District. They suggested that the developers of Quail Cove meet with property owner Richard Johnson in order to mitigate his concerns.

Another suggestion by the council addressed concerns with the rising cost of police services. Mayor Harper said that he would, “like to see a facilities district for police.” Harper also expressed a desire to require the builders to use project labor agreements in construction of the homes.

At the conclusion of the public hearings, a presentation was made, and the council approved, on a 4-0 vote, a proposal to approve a study and adopt a plan to implement a project for steps to be taken to prevent the flooding that repeatedly occurs in the vicinity of West Antioch Creek. Concern was expressed by council members about the proposed closing of West 10th Street between L Street and Auto Center Drive during construction.

Toward the end of, what turned out to be a very long meeting, City Manager Steve Duran addressed the council concerning potential mid-year budget priorities. His comments centered around recommendations he had for spending the additional money that would be coming to the city should Measure O pass. If the measure does pass, the city is estimating additional annual revenue of approximately $2.7 million.

The first priority brought forward by Duran was to spend approximately $1.3 million in order for the Antioch Police Department to buy in to the East Bay Regional Communication System (EBRCS). He said that Antioch was the only city in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties not participating in the system, which is designed to allow for effective communications between law enforcement and first responder agencies within the two counties.

Other proposals were for the elimination of furlough Fridays, at a cost of $800,000, body cameras for police officers, at an undetermined cost, and start-up costs related to new enforcement activities for the Business License staff at a cost of $100,000 per year.

Mayor Harper spoke in favor of EBRCS, police body cameras, and the end of furlough Fridays. The rest of the council echoed their concurrence, and a motion to approve the report was passed on a 4-0 vote.

Finally, in closing comments, both Mayor Harper and Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha addressed the violent behavior of Deer Valley High School students in Deer Valley Plaza. Among other things, including notification of parents by the school district when a child is found to be involved, both talked about the responsibility of the owner of the Plaza. “If we need to pass an ordinance requiring a certain amount of security for such a location, maybe we need to do that,” Harper said.

Maybe we need to have an ordinance on the books that triggers some effort on the owner of that plaza,”stated Rocha.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno concurred with their sentiments, and spoke further about the responsibility of the school district.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 14. Meetings are held in the Antioch City Council chambers, 200 H Street, and begin at 7:00 pm. They can also be viewed live on the city’s website at www.ci.antioch.ca.us.

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Citizen groups, Antioch school district, reach understanding on accountability plan

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

By John Crowder

At the September 24 meeting of the Antioch School Board, the trustees and the public heard a report on changes made to the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) before voting, 5-0, to approve the revised LCAP budget.

Michael Ricketts, Associate Vice President of School Services of California, Inc., a private company providing, among other things, consulting and legislative advocacy services to California school agencies, presented the LCAP report to the board.

Ricketts began his presentation by emphasizing the changes that the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) had made with respect to the spending distribution of Supplemental Funds, funds provided by the state to local school districts that are designated for providing help to high needs students, such as English Language Learners, low-income students, and foster children.

Three changes to the LCAP were noted. First, the raise that AUSD employees received for the current fiscal year was shifted to Base Funds (funds provided to local school districts for all students). As Ricketts explained, the money for raises had been moved because, including it in Supplemental Funds had become a divisive issue with community groups.

The second change noted was the addition of “more than $1 million,” described as “new money,” realized when AUSD recently completed their analysis of actual revenues and expenditures, and found that income was greater than anticipated, and expenses were less. Ricketts said that this money would all be “earmarked for services directed toward the goals of students with the greatest need for support.”

The third change was the identification of actions being taken by AUSD, “supporting goals for English learners, students eligible for the meals program, and foster youth.”

With these changes, Ricketts’ presentation showed, the $9 million AUSD expects to receive in Supplemental and Concentration Grants for the 2014-2015 school year will be designated for: Economic Impact Aid ($2.3 million), technology upgrades ($1.4 million), counseling services ($1.3 million), special education ($1.1 million), vice principals ($751,000), and new services ($1.67 million). About $581,000 is set aside for security services, summer schools and programs, and an English/Spanish translator position.

Following the presentation by Ricketts, two speakers who had been involved with community groups advocating for changes to the LCAP, addressed the board.

Yuritzy Gomez, Community Organizer with the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) said she was, “very excited” about the changes. She said that she was thankful that AUSD had been open to collaborating with her group, and that she was looking forward to continuing her work with AUSD in the future.

Angelica Jongco, Senior Staff Attorney with Public Advocates, Inc., a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that, in part, seeks to “strengthen community voices in public policy” and achieve “tangible legal victories advancing education,” also spoke. In her statement, she recognized the progress that had been made.

In a statement released by Jongco, she commented further on the talks between AUSD and the community organizations, such as CCISCO.

Persistence paid off,” she said. “Because community members stood up on this issue, Antioch Unified has a much improved local spending plan.”

The district is no longer seeking to fund last year’s across-the-board salary increase with money that is supposed to serve high-need students,” Jongco continued. “This really shows the power of community collaboration. Together we were able to win significant changes in the LCAP. We commend the district for having the flexibility to listen to community concerns and generate a better LCAP as a result.”

We expect the district to follow through on its commitment to work closely with parents and students in planning for the future years. A hallmark of the Local Control Funding Formula is increased transparency around spending and programs. The district must do a better job going forward of making sure that community members can understand and meaningfully participate in discussions around how future money should be spent to best serve the kids.”

School board President Joy Motts responded to comments at the board meeting, thanking the community groups for collaborating with AUSD on improving the LCAP.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for October 8. Meetings are held at the AUSD School Services Building, located at 510 G Street. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m.

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Cavallo undercrossing of Highway 4 closed through Monday night for demolition work

Sunday, September 28th, 2014
Demolition crews tear down the old Highway 4 overpass above Cavallo Road, and clean up the debris on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Demolition crews tear down the old Highway 4 overpass above Cavallo Road, and clean up the debris on Saturday, September 27, 2014. photo by Allen Payton

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Antioch man arrested for marijuana cultivation on Tuesday

Friday, September 26th, 2014
Shubaio Deng

Shubaio Deng

By Sergeant Mortimer, Antioch Police Investigations Bureau

On Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at approximately 4:40 PM, Antioch Police Department patrol officers responded to a residence in the 3000 block of G Street on a report of a residential fire. Patrol officers and Contra Costa Fire arrived and located a fire inside the garage of the home. Contra Costa Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire and in the process of securing the home, located a large scale marijuana cultivation inside. Investigators arrived on scene and ultimately served a search warrant seizing approximately 635 marijuana plants from the home.

Investigators developed information leading to Shubaio Deng, a 45-year old Antioch resident, as a suspect in the cultivation. Deng was later contacted and arrested without incident for the marijuana cultivation and arson. The case is still being investigated by the Antioch Police Department’s Special Operations Unit.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Koch with the Antioch Police Department at (925) 779-6895. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Community College Board invites community for State of the District meetings this week, next

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Governing Board meetings

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