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Antioch Council hears from residents on student violence, gets Measure C update

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

By John Crowder

Questions and answers on law and order dominated the proceedings at the October 28 meeting of the Antioch City Council. Several residents spoke during the time set aside for public comments, most addressing student violence, both in and out of local schools. A few of the speakers who addressed the council had also spoken at the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) board meeting that took place last week. In addition, the council heard a report on the status of Measure C, and actions being taken to stem the violence at Deer Valley Plaza (DVP).

Comments generally followed two themes. One was that innocent students, and even adults, are being bullied, harassed, and are not being afforded adequate protection, from violent students who are out of control. The other theme was that the students who are acting out and causing the violence need the help of the community in order to redirect their actions. Some speakers touched on both themes.

Gil Murillo, who called for the removal of Principal Ken Gardner from Deer Valley High School (DVHS) at the last two AUSD board meetings due to a lack of confidence in his leadership, was the first to address the issue of student violence. “I’m here again to talk about the safety for our kids in the schools. It’s really hard to see 8-year old, 12-year old kids, being fearful of going to school,” he said. After acknowledging that the council was, “working on some programs with the school district,” he said, “but we really need some results sooner [rather] than later.” He said some kids were so scared that they were even dropping out of middle school. “I plead [with] you to visit a school board meeting,” he concluded, “your words speak louder than mine.”

Dorothy Marshall spoke after Murillo, saying she came forward because she was, “really concerned about our community.” Referencing DVHS, she said, “We have quite a few problems,” and went on to call for community help to resolve them. She said she sees students, “shooting dice, smoking marijuana, fighting,” and that, “they need to be introduced to programs that enlighten and enrich them.” With the police there, she said, “We’re just filling the jails with the students [who do] not have to go there if they’re shown the love and help they need.” She also said, “The mayor can’t do it by himself, we need help from everyone.” She volunteered her time to help, saying senior citizens, of which she is one, have a lot to offer, and could teach canning and quilting, among other skills, in order to help both the senior citizens and the troubled students feel useful.

Cindy Carter-Hodges said, “I’m here as a concerned citizen about my kids, they’re being bullied. There’s a serious problem going on.” “My child’s safety is in jeopardy each time I send her to school, and it seems like the officials at school, basically aren’t concerned,” she continued. “There is a mob of girls that continue to bully my daughter,” she said, referencing problems at Black Diamond Middle School (BDMS). “I don’t feel like the school district or the police department is really doing anything to resolve this issue,” she concluded, “and each day it’s getting worse.”

Victoria Lenihan concurred with Carter-Hodges, referring to an attack she said took place at Black Diamond on September 26 by a girl who had previously been expelled from another school.

[BDMS administrative staff] pulled my daughter…out of the last period of school for three days, and said, ‘your daughter’s not safe, you need to come pick her up,’” Lenihan said. “I said, ‘my daughter can’t miss school each day, for a girl that has been expelled. This isn’t fair.’” She also said that on October 26, when she went to pick up her daughter at school, “we were attacked by 50 children.”

Lenihan said the children from Black Diamond have even come to her house and tried to kick down the door, that some have been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon for throwing rocks at her head, and that some of the mothers of these students have come to her house and threatened her life, and the lives of her children, and continue to do so over social media. She also said that the school had refused to honor restraining orders that had been issued.

These schools have let down me and my children. I don’t know what else to do,” she added.

Mayor Harper responded to Lenihan, asking her to give her information to Captain Tammany Brooks, of the Antioch Police Department (APD), who was in the audience, waiting to give a presentation to the council. Harper also called for the community to come together to deal with the violence issue.

We’re in this together guys,” he said, “we’ve got to work these problems out together.”

Jeffery Swietlik, a teacher at DVHS, was more positive about the matter than other speakers.

These are good kids,” he said. “These students need a lot of love. I’m not excusing in any way, some of the behavior that’s happened inside Taco Bell and McDonald’s, it’s not excusable, but it is forgivable. I ask everyone to bear in mind the maturation of our children is the highest priorit.”

Other speakers also spoke on the two themes, some decrying the lack of safety at the schools, and others calling for more community involvement to help troubled students. One speaker, Velma Wilson, said that she had personally seen parents drop their kids off at DVP in order to start fights. “These are parents that are letting their kids fight like they are banshees,” she said.

Mayor Harper addressed the violence during the time set aside for Mayor’s Comments, saying there had been a recent meeting with fourteen people participating to address the issues at and around DVHS and DVP in particular. He again called for the community to come together to deal with the problem. Harper relayed how he has been spending time at DVP engaging students.

Measure C Status Report

At the conclusion of his remarks, Harper said that Captain Brooks would be giving a presentation on the status of Measure C. Harper also said that a lot of the information people had been receiving recently about the measure were, “flat out lies.”

Captain Brooks and Michelle Fitzer, Administrative Services Director, provided the Measure C status report.

After explaining that Measure C is a half-cent sales tax, Fitzer said that collections of receipts only started in April of this year. The measure is expected to generate $4.3 million in general fund revenue annually, and there is a citizen’s oversight committee that has been meeting regularly to ensure that the money collected is spent only on police services and code enforcement.

Fitzer said that 100% of the anticipated revenue is allocated to police and code enforcement. As of October 14, about $1.7 million has been collected (about six months worth of collections).

Fitzer said that as of October 15, one additional contract Code Enforcement Officer has been hired. From October 2013 to October 2014, police department staffing has increased by almost 20%. Sworn Police Officers actual headcount increased from 76 to 91, while total police department staffing increased from 97 to 116.

We are recruiting as quickly as we can,” Fitzer said. The budgeted targets of Sworn Officer staffing are 97 by June 30, 2015, and 104 by June 30, 2016. Five additional new Officers are in process to be hired in November.” But, she said, with reference to people who question why it is taking so long to get additional Officers, “We cannot make people apply, and we cannot stop people from leaving.”

Fitzer also told the council that the state had recently provided a grant to help fund five additional Officers, and APD is doing continuous recruitment.

With respect to crime statistics, she said that, from January to September, 2014, compared to the same period last year, violent crime is down 9.8%.

In response to a question by council member Monica Wilson, Fitzer said that Antioch received its first check for Measure C funds in June, and it wasn’t until September that the full allotment began to be received.

Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha asked when traffic patrols would begin again. Brooks said the Chief would make that determination for such special programs. Brooks also said three priorities of Chief Cantando were, “areas with increased violent crime, schools, and traffic.”

Council member Tony Tiscareno pointed out that, “a good number of officers were hired over the last few months.”

Mayor Harper noted that city crime rankings always run a year behind, and that current ratings reflect data from before implementation of Measure C.

Brooks also noted the success of specialized details in removing criminals from the street.

Brooks specifically addressed the problems that have been occurring at DVP. He said that representatives of several groups, including Probation, the district attorney’s office, AUSD, the school board, APD, and DVP management, have all been meeting to resolve problems at the Plaza.

Brooks said that, from the police department perspective, they are looking at “enforcement actions that can be taken. We are responding on a daily basis, when calls for service allow, and providing security for the area, and taking a zero tolerance approach to any criminal activity that occurs. We’ve also streamlined the process of reporting people that engage in criminal activity, both to the D.A.’s office and to Juvenile Probation.” He said other steps included Juvenile Probation looking into getting a “stay-away order,” from the plaza, as part of their stipulation if a person is on current probation. DVP management is looking to increase and improve security and upgrade their video surveillance system. The school district has talked about after-school programs, conflict resolution groups responding out to the school, and educating and informing parents as to the problems that are occurring.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 13, 2014. The meeting was rescheduled from the Tuesday of that week so that it would not conflict with Veteran’s Day. Meetings are held in the Antioch City Council chambers, 200 H Street, and begin at 7:00 p.m.

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BART announces more service for Giants parade on Friday; trains run until 2 AM

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

BART is gearing up to carry hundreds of thousands of baseball fans to downtown San Francisco on Friday, October 31 to celebrate the Giants World Series Championship. BART will run its rush hour service all day–using every available train possible. To ensure that everyone can get home safely, trains will run until 2AM. Trains to and from the city will be at maximum length and frequency.

About 100 extra BART employees in yellow vests will be stationed throughout the system to help with crowd control and to assist passengers. BART Police will have extra patrols and extra train technicians were also on hand just in case. Ticket sales tables will be set up at Fremont, Dublin, Bay Point and Millbrae stations to help speed up ticket purchases.

Large crowds are expected and passengers should anticipate long lines and crowded trains. BART will have additional staff on hand to help customers who need assistance and offer crowd control. BART officials are urging fans to buy their round-trip tickets or load up their Clipper® cards before Friday’s ticker tape parade in San Francisco. 

Travel Tips

BART wants everyone to have fun and get to the parade safely. New riders need to know that everyone who rides BART needs a BART ticket or Clipper card to enter the system. 

Here are other Giants parade day tips:
o    Load your Clipper card with extra value or, if buying a BART ticket, purchase a round trip ticket before parade day.
o    Avoid peak commute hours (6AM-9AM and 4PM-6PM).
o   If possible, leave your bike at home or double lock your bike at the station. Trains will be very crowded.
o    Allow extra time to get to San Francisco before the parade begins at 12 Noon.
o    Parking rules and restrictions will be enforced. Consider getting to the station by alternative means such as carpooling, walking, biking (and parking your bike at the station) or taking a bus, as parking lots will fill up very early. Do not park in permit spaces if you don’t have a permit. (Even if you have a reserved space, we cannot guarantee eager fans won’t park there—we will be ticketing).
o    Plan your trip using the BART QuickPlanner but for the most accurate information about the added service, use Real Time Departures.
o    You can get automated BART Service Advisories (BSA) on your phone. BART offers both email and text options. To sign up for BSAs, please visit us at www.bart.gov/alerts.
o    For on-demand service information, you can use our mobile site m.bart.gov or request BART real time departures, service advisories and more via text message. To get started text “BART go” to 468311 or jump right in and text “BART” + your station name. We’ll text you back in seconds. Follow us on Twitter @sfbart for news or @sfbartalert for automated service advisories.

- See more at: http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2014/news20141030#sthash.TcFPJYbI.dpuf

 

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Ogorchock opposes City Council’s decision to spend Measure O funds to eliminate Furlough Fridays

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Will use funds to hire more police, instead

By Allen Payton

In a news release on Wednesday, October 29th, candidate for the Antioch City Council in the November election, Lori Ogorchock stated, that she opposes the City Council’s unanimous decision to spend more than a third of the funds from Measure O, if passed, to eliminate Furlough Fridays. Instead, she will spend those funds to hire more police to help make Antioch safer, if elected.

During the September 23rd City Council meeting, the Antioch City Council, on a 4-0 vote, approved recommendations from the city staff, to spend $800,000 each year of the annual estimated $2.27 million from Measure O, to return city staff to a five-day work week.

I will vote to spend those funds to hire additional police officers, if I’m elected,” Ogorchock stated. “To spend over a third of Measure O’s funds on anything but police to reduce crime in Antioch, is just irresponsible.”

According to the staff report:

If Measure O passes and provides $2.27 million in additional annual funding, staff recommends the following spending priorities:

Between January 2015 and the end of Fiscal Year 2015-16, use approximately $800,000 for the elimination of “Furlough Fridays” so that City Hall, Police Department reception, and the Public Works office can once again be open to the public for a five day work week. All field staff would also return to 40 hour operations. When implemented in 2009, the furlough program was intended to be a temporary fiscal solution to the downturn in the economy, not an indefinite service reduction to the public. Although a five day work week would be implemented, restoration of afternoon counter hours in Community Development and the Police Department will be dependent upon staffing resources. This will be an ongoing cost.

If elected, I will work with the Mayor and the rest of the city council to reverse that decision and do what the people want the Council to do with the additional tax revenue generated by Measure O,” she added. “That’s to spend the majority of it to hire more police officers to fight crime.”

A longtime Antioch resident, Ogorchock is a Realtor, a former Police Reserve Officer and graduate of the Police Academy. This is her first campaign for public office. For more information about Lori or her campaign, visit www.LoriO4Antioch.com or call (925) 628-7764.

She is one of seven remaining candidates in the race for two seats on the City Council in next Tuesday’s election. One of the eight candidates, Steven Bado, whose name will still appear on the ballot, dropped out of the race on Sunday and endorsed Ogorchock for elction.

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Antioch School Board splits 3-2 to approve new position of school safety supervisor

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Hears from public on school violence, budget issues

By John Crowder

At the October 22 meeting of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees, board members heard from the public on issues of school violence and school finances.

As it has for months now, school violence remained a major focus of the meeting. The first person to address the issue at the board meeting was Superintendent Don Gill. During his regularly scheduled agenda item, entitled, ‘Superintendent’s Thoughts for the Evening,’ Gill took the opportunity to provide his perspective on the matter.

We’re committed to student safety,” Gill said, “our highest priority has to be safety.”

Later in the evening, he added that the board would be asked to approve a new position, Supervisor – Site Safety and Emergency Preparedness. He said that the person in this position would provide oversight and support for all Antioch schools.

Gill also spoke about suspensions and expulsions as a means of dealing with unruly students. While AUSD leads other Contra Costa County school districts in suspensions and expulsions, according to Gill, “Suspending a child that doesn’t want to be in our schools isn’t effective.”

Gill later elaborated on his comments, explaining in more detail his thinking on school discipline.

District administrators have been working with our school administrators on an ongoing basis to find ways to address discipline issues that will create lasting, meaningful results,” Gill said. “Despite these efforts, the number of suspensions and expulsions are up over the same time period from last year. The increase is of concern to both staff and district administrators, and we continue to monitor and examine this situation closely.”

We have worked hard to build a discipline process that is effective, and that is fair and objective. Our discipline, and everything we do in our district, is built on the belief that no child, regardless of circumstances or background, is expendable in our community. I think educators recognize that all forms of discipline have limitations to their effectiveness, and that what works in one situation may not work in another. For example, suspending a child who doesn’t want to be in school in the first place – and who sees no consequences at home for the suspension – is not a lasting solution. Many expulsions, by law, are not permanent. So, while school site administrators certainly use suspensions and expulsions as a mean of discipline, they represent the top end of the discipline spectrum, and in some cases, neither may be truly a lasting solution.”

The work of keeping our schools safe for our students and our staff is our highest priority, and it is a task that requires constant attention and focus. Meaningful, lasting solutions will require the participation of everyone involved, and we are pleased our community is engaging in the kind of dialogue that is necessary to find the answers to a complex problem.”

During public comments, several people spoke on safety-related matters, expressing a wide-range of views. Gil Murillo, for the second time in two board meetings, called for the removal of Principal Ken Gardner from Deer Valley High School (DVHS). Murillo said that many parents had, “lost confidence” in Gardner’s leadership, citing teachers, parents, and students speaking out repeatedly at school board meetings about violence at that school.

A student who said she attends Dallas Ranch Middle School expressed similar concerns. There is, “uncontrolled violence in our school,” she said. “Kids are terrified to come to school,” she continued, “the [incidents] get more violent all the time.” She also said, “The students do know the blind spots. We need more teachers and more site security.”

Another aspect of school discipline was addressed by Willie Mims, Education Chair of the NAACP. Speaking after a presentation by Principal John Jimno of Park Middle School, Mims said, “The African American subgroup had tremendously disproportionate suspensions last year” at that school. Mims asked, “What have you done to address this problem that you have here?”

Jimno asked for the opportunity to respond to the question posed by Mims, and the board granted his request. “It’s a fact, I agree, I don’t duck away from that,” said Jimno. “Students of color are suspended more than anyone else. We’ve had policies in place that unintentionally caused that. The answers will come from trying different things. I don’t have the answers for you yet.”

Another student, Alejandra Amigo, a junior at DVHS, and cofounder of a group called Students in Action (SIA), announced a meeting that her group was planning for 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 31, at the DVHS amphitheater.

We will be discussing the recent negative news about our school so that we can help the problems stop and also get the word out about a Peace Walk that the Student in Action program is planning,” she said in a subsequent statement. “This meeting will also express to the community that Deer Valley High School has many students that want to learn and are positive members of our community.” Amigo invited all present to attend the meeting.

Amigo’s mother, Candi, also spoke on the problems with some students. She said that it was the responsibility of the teachers to focus on education, “not to teach our children manners and respect…that is our job as parents.” She went on to say that parents should be held responsible for how their children behave in school.

DVHS Chemistry teacher Jeffery Swietlik offered yet another view. Focusing on what he considered a disproportionate amount of negative reporting, he said, “Stories about violence sell a lot more newspapers.” He said that, in his classroom, “In terms of behavior, there is basically no room for improvement. I never, ever, felt unsafe in my classroom.” One of Swietlik’s colleagues also spoke up, expressing his support for Principal Gardner.

Concerns regarding finances, and the oversight of district spending, were addressed by parent Julie Young when it came time for the board to approve the Consent Calendar. Young addressed three items, each of which was pulled from the Consent Calendar and discussed by the board and/or administrative staff.

The first item Young addressed was an amendment to an agreement with Comcast which would allow that firm to lease property at Antioch Middle School for only $1 per year. Staff said that Comcast was generous with help offered to AUSD schools, and this was a way the district could return the favor.

The second item Young addressed was an agreement with School Services of California, Inc. (SSC), for professional and consulting services. Young noted that this group had, at a previous board meeting, given a presentation regarding the LCAP, and wondered why, with the amount of deficit spending the district has been doing, we couldn’t find somebody on the AUSD staff to make such presentations. Young was particularly concerned that the firm would be paid, “hundreds of dollars per hour” for such mundane tasks as, “making copies.” She also noted that the contract was for three years and had no cap on expenditures.

In response to Young’s comments, Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent – Business & Operations, said that he didn’t think the district would spend more than $30,000 on services provided by SSC and, in any event, he and Dr. Gill had authority to spend up to $50,000. With respect to the group advising on the LCAP, Forrester went on to say, “They’re the leading experts, because they’re writing the legislation.”

Board Member Claire Smith, however, did not appear satisfied with the explanation, or the contract in general. “A lot of under $50,000 purchase orders are being signed for,” she said, “but cumulatively they could go over $50,000.”

Board Member Diane Gibson-Gray also spoke out against the contract. “We’re relying on consultants, over and over again,” she said, “and we have highly paid experts here.”

The final item Young spoke about from the Consent Calendar was the aforementioned Supervisor for Site Safety position. Noting the cost of the position ($109,598 for salary and benefits), Young said the position amounted to extra spending for more bureaucrats.

Two board members, Claire Smith and Diane Gibson-Gray, expressed concerns with the item. Smith said that the proposal submitted by staff was not only costly, but, “void of any kind of qualifications.” Smith and Gibson-Gray both also stated that the board should have more input for such hiring decisions.

But two board members disagreed with Smith and Gibson-Gray on delaying the hiring. “I’ll trust you,” Board President Joy Motts told staff, “there is an urgency here.” Board Vice President Gary Hack echoed her comments, telling staff, “I have faith and trust in you.”

Following the discussion on the items, each was ultimately passed by the board. The Comcast contract was approved 5-0, the SSC agreement was approved 4-1 (Smith dissenting) and the Supervisor position was approved 3-2 (Smith and Gibson-Gray dissenting).

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 12, at the AUSD office at 510 G Street. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m.

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County School Board candidate Jeff Belle responds to allegations about 2007 arrest, education and career claims

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Jeff Belle 300x291 County School Board candidate Jeff Belle responds to allegations about 2007 arrest, education and career claims

Jeff Belle in his home office.

By John Crowder & Allen Payton

Jeff Belle, a candidate running for the position of Governing Board Member for Area 5 of the Contra Costa County Board of Education (CCCBOE) against incumbent Cynthia Ruehlig, has responded to allegations that he has a criminal past, has made false statements regarding his education, and has engaged in medical-related practices without being properly licensed, mainly by accusing one of his ex-wives, Casey Jones, of New Mexico, of herself being a con artist with a vendetta against him. Belle also held a media event on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, at a gazebo on the grounds of the Antioch Historical Society. Though he called the event a press conference, he repeatedly refused to answer questions about his past after reading a prepared statement.

However, in a follow-up interview on Sunday, October 26, Belle finally gave more of a detailed explanation.

Recent articles in the local news media have indicated a long history of legal problems, both civil and criminal, for Belle. Interviews conducted by the Herald with law enforcement personnel and research of public records in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and California confirm Belle’s legal entanglements.

According to Celina Espinoza, Public Information Officer with the Santa Fe, New Mexico, Police Department, Belle was arrested in Santa Fe on December 31, 2007. According to Espinoza, Belle was picked up on a “fugitive from justice” warrant. The outstanding warrant was issued by the state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma County, for a fraud case. Belle was booked into the Santa Fe Adult Detention Center, where he awaited extradition to Oklahoma.

Both he and Jones agree that she set him up for the arrest, by luring Belle back from California under the false pretense of getting back together, just a month after they were divorced, on New Year’s Eve, 2007, after being married for just 87 days.

Matt Steadman, an investigator with the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office, remembers Belle being extradited to Oklahoma. Steadman referred us to oscn.net (Oklahoma Supreme Courts Network), where a records search lists thirteen entries, from 1991 through 2002, both civil and criminal cases, involving Belle. For example, a criminal felony case for an offense dated 8/29/1992 involved one charge of “obtaining money or property by means of a false and bogus check.” Another criminal case for an offense dated 5/29/1997, to which Belle pleaded guilty, is for the same charge. A civil case, filed 4/24/92, involved indebtedness. Another case filed 8/29/1997 was for “forcible entry and detainer,” an action taken by a landlord in order to evict a tenant who has not paid rent, or for some other breach of contract. Other records concern more cases involving indebtedness, and marriage and divorce from two different women in Oklahoma. At his press conference, Belle admitted to one of the bad check charges, but said he does not write checks any more.

Education Issues

Belle has also come under fire for making false claims regarding his education. For example, at one time he claimed to have obtained a Ph.D. From Harrington University, in London. The “school” is well-documented as a diploma mill, where, according to some reports, degrees could be obtained for as little as $1400, and have even been handed out to pet dogs and cats. During his October 22 press conference, however, Belle admitted he did not have a Ph.D.

Belle has repeatedly given conflicting statements regarding his education. On his application to serve as Antioch’s representative to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority – Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CCTA-CAC), received by the Antioch City Clerk’s office on July 30, 2013, Belle states that he is scheduled to complete a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) in 2014 from Grand Canyon University. On his Linked-in profile, though, he states that he received his MPA from American Public University System in 2014. At the media event he held on October 22, Belle admitted he has no Master’s Degree.

Also on the CCTA-CAC application, Belle states that he has a BS in Political Science from Oklahoma City University / American Public University.

A different statement appears on his linked-in profile, where he says that he obtained that degree from Oklahoma City University in 1988. But, according to The Office of the Registrar at Oklahoma City University, although Belle did attend the school, and did study political science, he did not receive a degree from them. At the media event he held on October 22, Belle was repeatedly asked by CBS Channel 5 television reporter Da Lin whether or not he had a Bachelor’s degree at all. Belle, at one point, mentioned having obtained a Bachelor’s degree from “Biosystems Institute,” but then quickly backpedaled, and refused to address the question further.

Belle claims he earned an Associates degree in Respiratory Care and graduated in 1980 from Biosystems Institute in Phoenix, AZ. He is registered as an Advanced Respiratory Therapist, the highest level possible in that field, which requires you to pass three national board exams, which Belle did November 22, 1980 in 1984 and the last one in 1996. He has his credentials from the National Board of Respiratory Care.

Belle explained that Oklahoma City University works with American University in a program called the Washington Semester, the hours from which applied to his degree in Political Science.

I still owe American University for room and board for that semester of almost $3,000,” Belle claimed. “However, in 1989 I walked in the graduation, and they acknowlege it, but they won’t confer the degree, until then.”

I don’t have to take any more courses,” he added. “That’s why I’m able to take the Master’s degree program in Public Administration, with an emphasis in Health Policy and Public Policy, from the American Public University System.”

I have a 3.74 GPA, as of today,” he stated. “I’ve completed all of my course work. Starting in January, I will be completing my Master’s thesis, which is all I need to graduate.”

Belle also claims, on both his CCTA-CAC application and on his linked-in profile to have a certificate in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, which, according to his posted profile, he obtained from 2012-2013 after completing an eight-week, online course. He also took another eight-week online course in the summer of 2012, earning him a certificate from University of Pennsylvania in Health Policy & The Affordable Care Act.

Employment & Career

When he came to California in December, 2007 Belle says he was under contract to the Veterans Administration to work in pulminary diagnostics at the VA Hospital in Martinez.

When you’re working at a federal facility, you’re not required to have a license from the state you’re in, just a license from any state in the nation,” Belle said. “I decided to maintain my Oregon license, which I had. Otherwise they would have never hired me.

When his contract expired two years, later he start his own company.

Belle formed Respiratory Clinical Institute, LLC to place students in hospitals, contracted with licensed therapists in hospitals to train them, and to tutor them at his office. He was not seeing patients at the hospital, so he was not practicing medicine.

However, on June 20, 2014, Belle was cited by the Respiratory Care Board of California for “misrepresenting himself as a respiratory care practitioner and engaging in the practice of respiratory care without a current and valid license in California.” He was ordered to “immediately cease and desist any and all unlicensed activities pursuant to the Respiratory Care Practice Act” and ordered to pay a fine of $8,200 for violating provisions of the Act. At his media event, Belle claimed the fine was inappropriate, and the result of an unfair interpretation by the Respiratory Care Board.

He has a hearing on the matter with California, next April.

Belle says he doesn’t need a license to mentor or tutor students. So, the issue is in dispute.

But, he is licensed in Oregon and have been in six other states, in the past. They expire in two years if you don’t keep paying the fees.

On his Facebook page he claims to be a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy and Leadership Development which is under the umbrella of the Political Leadership Institute, based in North Carolina and have a contract with Belle to help set up a civic and community engagement institute at Los Medanos College, where he plans to locate the new institute. He says he has been in negotiations.

Ex-wife’s claims

Herald staff made repeated requests, of Belle in an attempt to obtain an answer to the numerous allegations made against him. His response, until his media event, though, had been to send email statements regarding his aforementioned ex-wife. She created a website called “Women Against Con Men,” and wrote a book about her experience with about her life, as well as her experience with Belle, including her efforts to get him arrested in 2007.

In a statement released by Belle on Sunday, October 19, 2014, he says that Casey Jones, one of his ex-wives, and the woman who has made it her mission to expose his alleged wrongdoing, “boasts a checkered history,” and “continues to target and make the public believe that Jeffery Belle is a criminal and con-man.” He goes on to accuse her of conspiring with a “reputed con man to harass and intimidate his victims in California.” In a phone conversation with Jones, she volunteered that she suffered from a multiple personality disorder, but said that she had no criminal history and no judgments against her. Herald staff were unable to locate anything to the contrary.

An article referenced by Belle, which appeared online at the Santa Fe New Mexican website on December 30, 2012, details the crusade Jones has maintained against Belle for the last several years. In one part it reads, “You could label Jones an avenging angel for deceptive spouses, or an ex-wife from hell.” (See www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/abuse-survivor-shares-story-in-memoir.)

When asked in a recent interview why she continued to pursue Belle, seven years after they were divorced, Jones said, “I don’t care about Jeff Belle. I care about his victims.”

I Google Jeff’s name, randomly a couple times a year,” she added.

The final thing she said was “I wish him well.”

That’s the same thing Belle said about Jones, in a press release following his media event, last week.

Committee Appointments

As noted above, Belle’s past has not prevented him from obtaining appointments to various county committees. At the August 13, 2013 meeting of the Antioch City Council, Belle was appointed to the CCTA-CAC on a unanimous, 4-0 vote.

Belle has also garnered appointments to the county’s Emergency Medical Care Committee and the Tobacco Prevention Coalition. In addition, Belle states that he was involved with the Dallas Ranch Middle School PTSA as the “legislative chair” for two years.

Recent Bad Check Allegation

In a recent news article, Belle’s campaign was accused of writing a bad check to the Antioch Historical Society for the rental of the gazebo for his press conference. Belle does not sign on the campain account, but his wife Carmen does.

In a brief interview, today, Carmen said there were funds in the account and that she had deposited a cashier’s check into the account, the same day she wrote the check to the Antioch Historical Society.

I know that it takes a day for the funds to clear the account,” she said. “But we didn’t bounce the check. If they had deposited it into their account, it would have gone through, as it takes a few days to clear.”

But, I immediately dropped what I was doing and went and paid cash,” Carmen added.

On a positive note, Belle said that his youngest son, Joseph, just graduated from Cambridge University in England, with a Master’s Degree in Music Composition.

I’ve worked to inspire my children, as well as the students I’ve mentored and tutored, through the years, to be the very best and pursue excellence,” Belle stated. “I’ve made mistakes in the past. But, I’ve worked to live a life of an example and will continue to do so.”

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City of Antioch provides status report on use of Measure C funds

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

The City of Antioch has released a Status Report on the use of funds the City has received from Measure C, the half-cent sales tax passed by Antioch voters a year ago on November 5th. The Status Report is being mailed to all Antioch residents and a summary will be presented to the City Council by staff at the October 28th City Council Meeting.

Collection of Measure C funds began in April of 2014 and, as of October 15th, $1,706,336 of Measure C funds have been received. The Measure C Citizens Oversight Committee has been meeting regularly with the City’s Finance Director to ensure that Measure C funds are being spent as promised. Measure C sunsets in seven years.

City Manager Steve Duran said “Measure C has been a Godsend for the City of Antioch’s efforts to have a safer and cleaner community.” With approval of the 2014/15 budget, the Antioch City Council directed 100% of the projected $4,300,847 Measure C annual revenues to hiring and equipping more Police Officers, which is well in progress, and augmenting Code Enforcement services. The City allocated $4,111,947 to the Police Department and $188,900 to Code Enforcement for Fiscal year 2014-2015.

Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando noted “The passage of Measure C in November 2013 has enabled the Antioch Police Department to significantly increase our staffing and effectiveness. This is only possible because Measure C was passed by the citizens of Antioch.” Since October 31, 2013, the Antioch Police Department has expanded from 97 employees to 116 employees, a net increase of 19.6% (as of October 13, 2014). Sworn Personnel increased from 76 to 91, a net increase of 19.7%, in the same time period. Chief Cantando further stated “Our goal is to reach 97 sworn personnel by June 30, 2015 and 104 sworn personnel by June 30, 2016. That’s an increase of 28 sworn officers. We plan to bring on five new Police Officers in November, so we are well on our way to reaching our staffing goals.” Antioch’s crime statistics through September 30, 2014, show a 9.8% reduction in violent crime when compared to the same period last year.

Mayor Wade Harper stated “There has been a lot of misinformation being spread around about what the City is doing with the funds from Measure C, so it’s nice to have the indisputable facts in this Status Report that clearly demonstrate my colleagues and I have kept the promises we made to the community.”

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Tiscareno has major fundraising lead in Antioch City Council race with over $31,000 in contributions

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

By Allen Payton

According to financial reports filed by the candidates for the Antioch City Council, appointed incumbent Tony Tiscareno has a commanding lead in the fundraising among the seven remaining candidates running for two seats in the November election.

As of October 20, Tiscareno had raised $31,409, year-to-date, Lori Ogorchock was in second place with $10,541 in contributions, Diane Gibson-Gray was in third with $9,175, including $5,000 in loans from herself, and in fourth place was Lamar Thorpe with $8,750 in contributions.

UPDATE: The first page of Karl Dietzel’s forms shows he wasn’t going to raise or spend more than $1,000 in his campaign. But, he also submitted a Form 470 Supplement (see below) which states “This form is written notification that the officeholder/candidate listed below has received contributions totaling $1,000 or more or has made expenditures of $1,000 or more during the calendar year.” That shows a handwritten “Oct. 2, 2014″ on line 3 which asks “Date Contributions Totaling $1,000 or More Were Received or Date Expenditures of $1,000 or More Were Made.” That second page appears to have been submitted by mistake. Dietzel did not respond to a phone call to explain the discrepancy before this story was published. However, he has made comments below that provide clarification. He does need to submit a corrected form to the Antioch City Clerk to remedy his mistake.

The forms from Jeffrey Hall-Cottrell and Steven Bado, who withdrew from the race on Sunday, October 26, both show they did not plan to spend more than $1,000 on their campaigns.

As of October 21, Anthony Segovia had not submitted a financial report, although he has spent more than $1,000 on his campaign in both advertising and signs.

When we did not receive the pre-election Campaign Finance Report from Anthony Segovia, i sent him an email on October 9th letting him know that we had not received it by the October 6th deadline,” Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen stated in an October 21st email to the Herald. “He responded the same day saying ‘Thank you. I will do this tomorrow.’ When I didn’t receive his report, I sent him a follow-up email on October 17th and have not heard back from him since.”

According to the state Fair Political Practices Commission, “If a campaign statement is filed late, what are the potential consequences? The filing officer with whom the statement is required to be filed may assess a fine of up to $10 for each day that the statement is late (or up to $20 per day for a statement and a copy). In addition, filing officers are required by law to refer non-filers to an enforcement authority. If a matter is referred to the FPPC’s Enforcement Division for failure to file, the fine may increase up to a maximum of $5,000 per violation.”

According to the California Secretary of State’s website, “In addition to filing regularly required campaign disclosure statements, candidates, officeholders, ballot measure committees, political parties, PACs, and major donors may file late contribution reports and other special filings. These usually occur in the 90 days preceding Election Day. Contributions and independent expenditures of $1,000 or more are disclosed within 24 hours of the time they are made or received.”

The filings for Antioch City Council are made with the City Clerk’s office and copies can be obtained there as a matter of public record.

See copies of each of the council candidates’ forms, Form 497 No. 10-01 Amendment 1 10-17-14 – Ogorchock FPPC Form 497 – Tiscareno 10-16-14 FPPC Forms due 100614 – Bado FPPC Forms due 100614 – Dietzel FPPC Forms due 100614 – Gibson-Gray FPPC Forms due 100614 – Hall-Cottrell FPPC Forms due 100614 – Ogorchock FPPC Forms due 100614 – Thorpe FPPC Forms due 100614 – Tiscareno.

See the state’s campaign finance reporting requirements, CACampaignFinancialReportingFAQs.

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Parks Board candidate Foley claims endorsement of a group that may not exist

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

By Allen Payton

Antioch resident Mark Foley, candidate for the East Bay Regional Parks District Board of Directors in Ward 7, in the November election, is claiming an endorsement by Friends of Urban Creeks. There’s just one problem with that. The group may not exist.

Environmental leaders and those involved in saving the creeks in the East Bay say they’ve never heard of it, before.

Ron Brown, Executive Director of Save Mount Diablo, isn’t aware of any such organization.

I, too, saw the Friends of Urban Creeks endorsement on Foley’s web page and I have no idea who that is,” he said. “I tried to look them up with no success. There is an Urban Creeks Council, but I believe they are a 501c3 [non-profit ogranization] and not allowed to be engaged with candidate campaigns.”

In a voicemail message left for the Herald, on Monday, October 27, Seth Adams, the Land Conservation Director for Save Mount Diablo reiterated what Brown said.

“I’ve never heard of such a group,” he said. “Most non-profits can’t endorse candidates. So it would be unusual for an environmental group that’s not more political, like the Sierra Club. Most of us do not endorse candidates.”

Foley’s opponent, Oakley Councilwoman Diane Burgis is the Executive Director of Friends of Marsh Creek. She says she’s never heard of the organization, either.

He failed to respond to attempts by phone and email to contact him for this article.

Foley does have the endorsements of the county’s Democratic Central Committee, as well as of seven American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) unions and organizations The parks district employees are members of that union.

The full list of Foley’s endorsements can be viewed on his website at www.markforparks.com.

One interesting thing with endorsements in the race is that both candidates are “dual-endorsed” by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier and State Assembly Members Jim Frazier, Susan Bonilla and Nancy Skinner, as well as Antioch Councilman Tony Tiscareno.

Burgis has the endorsements of Parks Board Director Ted Radke who is not seeking reelection, retiring Congressman George Miller and County Supervisor Mary Piepho. The full list of Burgis’ endorsements can be viewed on her website at www.dianeburgis.com.

Ward 7 includes Antioch, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Oakley, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Martinez, Crockett, Hercules and Pinole.

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