Archive for March, 2015

Honda to launch automated vehicle test site at new GoMentum Station in Concord

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

To reduce traffic fatalities, accidents and congestion. Could mean jobs for Antioch residents.

The Johnny Cab, as seen in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Total Recall,” could be a thing of the near future, with automated vehicles showing up at your door, picking you up, taking you to where you want to go, and then returning you to your home, when you’re done. But, without the annoying Johnny animatron at the wheel.

Today, Honda announced, at a county transportation summit in Concord, that it has commenced testing of its automated and connected vehicle technology at the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS).  Under the terms of an agreement reached with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) in conjunction with the City of Concord, Honda will use the newly branded “GoMentum Station” test-bed site at the CNWS to advance its technologies.  Honda also plans to participate in a consortium committed to making Contra Costa County home to a premier testing facility for automated drive technologies.

GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre facility, is the largest secure test-bed of its kind, located at the CNWS.  The CNWS was officially closed in 2007 and is currently in the process of being transferred to the City of Concord.

The Concord Naval Weapons Station is an ideal proving ground to augment Honda’s research and development efforts because it is a controlled environment that can be continuously modified to represent a wide array of settings that an automated vehicle must navigate, especially for urban operation,” said Paul Cummings, Group Lead for Systems Integration, Automated Vehicle Research, Honda Research Institute USA. “This program will bring a new level of robustness to Honda’s industry-leading efforts in the area of automated and connected vehicle technology.”

GoMentum Station contains 20-miles of paved, city-like roadway grids, buildings and other urban infrastructure, providing a realistic environment that will help accelerate the development of automated and connected vehicle technologies.  The public will not have access to the test-bed site, and the automated vehicle testing will be restricted to GoMentum Station.

“The City of Concord is very pleased to see Honda bring its advanced automated vehicle research to Contra Costa,” stated Concord Mayor Tim Grayson.  “We’re very hopeful this partnership will continue to support economic growth and spur excitement for hi-tech jobs in our community.”

Honda will leverage modified versions of Acura’s flagship RLX sedan for development and testing at GoMentum Station.  New prototype sensors and cameras added to the vehicle will work hand-in hand with the extensive array of forward, reverse and corner sensors that enable a suite of AcuraWatch™ safety and driver assistive technologies on the production RLX.

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is committed to supporting innovative research that will influence transportation and enhance safety for all road users,” said Executive Director Randy Iwasaki.  “We are very excited to add Honda as a partner as we prepare for the launch of GoMentum Station.  Their impressive study of automated and connected vehicle technology will help us accelerate the next generation of transportation infrastructure that will make the future of driving safer around the world.”

Honda Advanced Technology Leadership

Honda is steadily building its automated and connected car technology portfolio, while bringing industry-leading capabilities to current generation vehicles.  In September 2014, the company demonstrated several of its latest innovations, including a vehicle capable of automated freeway merging, exiting and lane changing, as well as a unique vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) “virtual tow” capability for assisting a driver in distress, at the ITS World Congress in Detroit. 

Consistent with its pursuit of a collision-free society, Honda is also broadly deploying advanced driver-assist and early-stage automated driving technologies in current vehicles that help improve drivers’ situational awareness, such as Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Collision Mitigation Braking System™ and Road Departure Mitigation.  Honda is also leading the industry in the deployment of rearview cameras, to be offered as standard equipment on all model year 2015 Honda and Acura vehicles.

Complementing this new effort in Northern California, Honda is also a founding partner in the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), a major public-private R&D initiative that aims to lay the foundation for a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles, including the implementation of a working system in Ann Arbor by 2021.

We saw the great opportunity in Concord,” said Matt Sloutscher of Honda’s Communications and Corporate Affairs. “We’re going to start testing next week. We have the test vehicle. We have the engineers. It’s turnkey with all the infrastructure in place.”

About GoMentum Station

GoMentum Station in Concord, California is where the Contra Costa Transportation Authority leads and facilitates a collaborative partnership among multiple automobile manufacturers; original equipment manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers; communications suppliers; technology companies; researchers and academia; public agencies and other partners. At GoMentum Station, technology, innovation and commercialization will converge to define the next generation of transportation network infrastructure. More information about GoMentum Station is available at gomentumstation.net.

Part of the intent of the GoMentum Station is workforce development and job training,” said Dr. Robert Bertini of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a panelist at today’s summit and a partner in the effort.

Those jobs could be filled by Antioch and other East County residents, who now commute beyond Concord for work.

About Honda Research Institute USA

Honda Research Institute USA (HRI-US) conducts research in the areas of computer and materials science, and develops strategic partnerships with public and private institutions to foster innovation.  HRI-US was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Silicon Valley.  Learn more at honda-ri.com/HRI_Us/.

About the Contra Costa Transportation Authority

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is a public agency formed by Contra Costa voters in 1988 to manage the county’s transportation sales tax program and oversee countywide transportation planning efforts.  CCTA is responsible for planning, funding and delivering critical transportation infrastructure projects and programs that connect our communities, foster a strong economy, increase sustainability, and safely and efficiently get people where they need to go.  CCTA also serves as the county’s designated Congestion Management Agency, responsible for putting programs in place to keep traffic levels manageable.  As a transportation leader, CCTA is working to create a stronger economic future for Contra Costa County by building partnerships that make transportation safer, more reliable and increasingly efficient.  Rather than exclusively trying to “build our way” out of congestion, CCTA’s vision centers around the use of emerging technologies and public-private partnerships to meet transportation demands and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Contra Costa County. More information about CCTA can be found online at ccta.net.

About City of Concord

Concord, California is located 29 miles east of San Francisco, adjacent to beautiful Mt. Diablo.  The city covers 31.13 square miles.  With a 2010 census count of 122,067 residents, it is the largest city in Contra Costa County.  For more information about the City of Concord, or the redevelopment of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, please contact Leslye Asera at 925.671.3272 or Leslye.Asera@cityofconcord.org.

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Antioch School Board, NAACP sign settlement agreement to avoid lawsuit

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

By John Crowder

At the March 25, 2015 meeting of the Antioch School Board, the trustees approved, in closed session, an “Interim Settlement Agreement” with the East County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) over a complaint against the district by the civil rights organization. The agreement was approved on a 4-1 vote, with board Vice President Diane Gibson-Gray casting the sole vote in opposition. Board President Claire Smith and Trustees Barbara Cowan, Walter Ruehlig, and Debra Vinson all voted in favor.

Reporting out of closed session at the beginning of the meeting, Smith informed those attending that an agreement had been reached between the District and the NAACP in order to prevent a potentially expensive lawsuit by the latter. The agreement, according to the settlement document, which can be viewed, here AUSD-NAACP Settlement Agreement, was in response to allegations of violations of parts of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

According to a press release issued by the Equal Justice Society, “African American students in the Antioch Unified School District represented only 24.8% of the student population, yet received 57.3% of all suspensions and 61.4% of all expulsions.” The press release further quotes Willie Mims, Education Chair of the East County Branch of the NAACP as saying that the, “disproportionate suspension of African American students greatly harms their chances for a quality education.”

Essentially, the agreement puts the potential lawsuit on hold until at least December 31, 2015, while the District engages specified, “experts for purposes of the settlement agreement.” A final settlement agreement is to be negotiated following the receipt of reports by the chosen experts.

The experts to be engaged by the District include:

  • Dan Losen, Director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies (CCRR) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to review District disciplinary data, policies and practices.

  • Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D., of the University of Oregon, to review IDEA/Section 504 practices, including child find, assessment, behavioral and academic services.

  • Professor john a. powell and Ingrid Melvaer Paulin of the University of California, Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, the Center for Policing Equity, and Professor Rachel D. Godsil, Director of Research for Perception Institute and Seton Hall University School of Law, along with other researchers, to examine the relationship between psychological phenomena (e.g., implicit bias, racial anxiety, and stereotype threat) and disproportionate outcomes.

In addition to the above, Losen and Sprague are charged with coordinating “a joint review of the District’s PBIS and RTI systems (current and planned).”

According to the agreement, both Losen and Sprague are expected to spend some time on-site at AUSD. For their work, each is to be compensated by an amount that, “may not exceed $60,000, excluding travel expenses,” for a total maximum cost of $120,000 plus travel costs for their portion of the work.

In addition to the above-mentioned fees, the District has acknowledged that the “initial analysis” undertaken by the social psychology experts, “may cost the District up to $20,000.”

As part of the agreement, the District has also agreed to “work in good faith to make administrators and teachers available for participation in survey, interview and other examination.” Further, they have agreed that participation by District staff, “shall be voluntary,” and those participating shall be allowed, “reasonable on-duty time…to participate.”

The combined cost of all fees to be paid for the analysis is a maximum of $140,000 ($120,000 + $20,000) plus travel expenses. Presumably, other costs would be incurred in order to arrange for substitute teachers to fill in for teachers participating while “on-duty,” and costs for administrators participating would also be absorbed by the District.

Dr. Donald Gill, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools for AUSD, responded to a request for a statement concerning the agreement.

We have taken an honest and hard look at our programs, in the context of social justice and civil rights, and while we have many great initiatives in place, we agree that there is much more work to be done. We hope to be a model for positive, student focused problem-solving,” Gill said. “Lawsuits are, by design, confrontational and engender defensive behavior, but we chose to look at the broader theme, where we can agree to take a step toward building shared goals to help improve education for our under-served students.”

To say we lost a legal battle is misrepresentation, we see it as an agreement to share goals and commit to improved services for our students. I hope education leaders across the nation will see this approach as a model of humble, honest, student-focused collaboration,” Gill added.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the AUSD Board of Education will take place on April 15. Meetings are held at the AUSD office at 510 G Street, and begin at 7:00 p.m.

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Antioch School Board hears about district budget, declining enrollment

Monday, March 30th, 2015

By John Crowder

At the March 25, 2015 meeting of the Antioch School Board, the trustees heard from Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent-Business & Operations, and his staff as they presented the 2014-2015 Second Interim Budget Report. Following and during the presentation, board members raised questions about declining enrollment and whether or not expenditures were in line with the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) mandates.

One of the first items addressed in the report was the continuing trend of declining student enrollment within AUSD. According to one of the slides used in the budget presentation, entitled “Enrollment and ADA (Average Daily Attendance),” student enrollment in the district is expected to continue to decline over the next two years from 17,792 in 2014-2015 to 17,506 in 2016-2017, a loss of another 286 students over the next two years.

The two newest board members, Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, both raised questions related to the enrollment numbers and average daily attendance, which are major factors in determining District revenue. Vinson, after stating that “A couple of things are not clear to me when I look at the budget,” expressed concern that, “I don’t see a dollar amount attached to that. The numbers seem off, based on ADA.”

As part of his response to Vinson, Forrester said that vacant homes in Antioch, and changing demographics related to the recession were factors driving down enrollment.

Ruehlig questioned Forrester on this analysis, saying, “I’m not seeing the vacant homes. How do you calculate this?”

Forrester responded, “We look at it internally.” He then talked again about losing students in the District due to foreclosures.

Ruehlig continued questioning that assumption, asking, “Is some [of the loss of students due to them moving to] private school, homeschool, to Brentwood?”

Forrester agreed with Ruehlig that, “Some is.”

A quick look at statistics regarding population numbers by age for the city of Antioch seems to lend some credence to Ruehlig’s concerns. According to demographic information contained on the city of Antioch website, declining enrollment was occurring as early as a decade ago, even while the school age population continued to grow. According to information found on the website, while the number of school age children in the city increased from 21,783 in 2000 to 24,088 in 2007, the number attending AUSD decreased from a peak of 21,628 in 2003-2004 to 19,422 in 2008. As noted by Forrester, the number of students attending AUSD continues to decline, and is expected to drop to about 17,500 within the next two years.

Local Control Accountability Plan

Following that discussion, board member Barbara Cowan raised concerns about the budgeting process in light of the LCAP and LCFF. “How are you going to balance LCAP?” she asked. (An ongoing concern with residents and local advocacy groups has been the distribution of Supplemental and Concentration funds. According to a report given out at the meeting, “…supplementary amounts are added for the economically disadvantaged, English learners, and foster students; and additional concentration amounts are added for these student populations when their numbers exceed 55% of total enrollment.” Local education advocates have been particularly concerned that this money is not being spent on new programs or improvements in programs for these targeted groups.)

Forrester said that $5.9 million of new revenue for 2015-2016 was from Supplemental and Concentration funds.

Cowan then asked for an estimate of how much of this money would be spent on new programs.

Forrester said he was unable to provide this information until a new budget was in place.

Cowan reiterated that she wanted to see what money was to be spent, “for new [programs], not the same old, same old.” “When will you have the numbers?” she asked.

Forrester replied that the numbers would be available in May.

Cowan then addressed Stephanie Anello, Associate Superintendent, Educational Services, asking whether or not AUSD staff was looking at specific needs when determining LCAP spending.

Anello responded, “Yes, we’ve been having stakeholder meetings and prioritizing.”

Following this exchange, Vinson said that she had been looking at the State website, and wanted to make sure that their numbers matched the numbers she was being given by the District. Saying she agreed with Cowan, she emphasized spending, “on programs where specifically designated.”

After further exchanges between the board members and staff, Forrester said that the June budget would reflect the most currently available information.

A separate article about the settlement agreement between the district and the East County Branch of the NAACP, approved at the meeting, will be posted, soon.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the AUSD Board of Education will take place on April 15. Meetings are held at the AUSD office at 510 G Street, and begin at 7:00 p.m.

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Sounds of explosion in Antioch turn out to be fireworks that injured boy, Wednesday morning

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

By Sergeant K. Ouimet #2031, Antioch Police Field Services Division

On Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 7:59 AM Antioch Police received calls of an explosion heard in the apartment complex located at 2200 Sycamore Drive. Similar callers reported hearing the explosion and that a child had been injured. The child’s mother called 911 and reported that her nine-year-old son was playing with fireworks inside their apartment and injured his hand.

Antioch Police along with Contra Costa Fire and AMR responded and located the child inside his apartment. The child had severe trauma and burn injuries to his right hand and finger tips. Contra Costa Fire requested an air-ambulance to transport the child to an area hospital.

No one else was injured during this incident and the investigation is continuing into how the child obtained the fireworks.

Any further information or additional press releases will be provided by the Investigations Bureau at (925) 779-6939. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Child Safety Fair and Easter Egg Hunt in Antioch, this Saturday

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Easter Egg Hunt FREE event

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Music by the Green at Lone Tree Golf & Event Center, Thursday evening

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

6:00pm to 9:00pm: Music, Food, Fun and Libations

Featuring the music of David McClellan

An award winning actor/singer, David has performed on stages throughout the Bay Area, toured as a singer with professional shows throughout the USA, Canada and toured Japan as “El Gallo” in “The Fantasticks”.  David recently appeared in Brentwood’s “Broadway Under The Stars” production of “Guys & Dolls” as Arvide, and “Hot ‘n’ Cole, a Cole Porter Celebration!”

For more information visit www.LoneTreeGolfCourse.com.

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World of Outlaws sprint car races at Antioch Speedway Sunday night

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Antioch Speedway 3-29-15

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Antioch Council to hear Measure C tax report, study then discuss homeless programs at Tuesday meeting

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Police staffing back down to 87 sworn officers

By Allen Payton

The Measure C Sales Tax Citizens’ Oversight Committee will provide their Annual Report to the Antioch City Council at their regular meeting, Tuesday night, March 24.

The half-cent sales tax passed by Antioch voters in 2013, was planned to be spent on hiring additional police, Community Service Officers and Code Enforcement Officers.

The report, which is included in the Council’s Agenda packet, states that a total of $2,927,251 from the additional half-cent sales tax, between (04/01/14 – 01/31/15) has been received by the City.”

The report also states, “At present Antioch has 87 Sworn Police Officers and one per diem Police Captain. This is 5 more officers than Antioch had in October of 2013 based on the information given to the committee. We were informed by the Chief of Police that hiring of qualified officers as quickly as needed is constrained by shortage of qualified officers and competitive demand by other cities. Attrition has been happening almost as fast as hiring.”

The report further states “If fifteen more officers are hired to bring the police Department to its goal of 102 officers, it would add about $2,400,000 more in annual salary or about $1,000,000 for this year’s budget assuming a March 1 hire date. This would still keep us below our initial Measure C Budget of $32,658,799 by about $2,000,000.”

Also, on Tuesday night, at 6:00 p.m., before the regular meeting at 7:00 p.m., the Council will “hold a Study Session to receive an update on the needs of Antioch’s lower income residents and areas,” for housing, homeless and community services, “and draft goals to address those needs in the 2015-20 Consolidated Plan period” according to the meeting agenda.

Then, during the regular agenda, under Item 4, City staff is recommending the Council “1. Adopt the Contra Costa County Homeless Strategic Plan, ‘Forging Ahead Towards Preventing and Ending Homelessness’ which was approved by the County Board of Supervisors on 11/4/14; and 2. Approve Priority Needs and Goals for funding during the 2015-20 Consolidated Plan period for Affordable Housing, Homeless Programs, Public Services, Economic Development, Infrastructure and Administration.”

To read the complete Measure C report and Council meeting agenda, click here.

City Council meetings are held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 3rd and H Streets, at 7:00 p.m. or they can be viewed online via live streaming at www.ci.antioch.ca.us.

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