Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Antioch City Council welcomes Auto Zone’s third location

Monday, March 31st, 2014

By John Crowder

Economic development, and especially the reputation of the City of Antioch as it seeks to bring in new business, was the dominant topic at the council meeting on Tuesday, March 25. Following a lengthy discussion and a public hearing, the Council approved, on a 5-0 vote, making the changes necessary to the general and specific plan that would allow Auto Zone to bring an additional store to Antioch.

Auto Zone, a leading automotive parts distributor, with over 5,000 locations in the United States and Mexico, made a proposal over a year ago to develop the vacant lot on the northeast corner of Lone Tree Way and Fairside Way in the city. However, their efforts to do so had been slowed as the company sought to meet various requests put forward by city staff with respect to the development of the property, and then the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny their application.

During the Council meeting, staff laid out their objections to allowing Auto Zone to develop the subject property. These concerns included a perceived incompatibility with the surrounding residential neighborhood, safety concerns with respect to traffic, and potential noise issues.

Following the staff report, Jeff Halbert, representing Auto Zone, addressed, point by point, each of the concerns that had been brought up by staff. He expressed some frustration in dealing with city staff over the time in which they had been having discussions regarding the project, stating that he “felt that he should be treated fairly, and given a fair hearing, and that hasn’t happened.”

He noted that Auto Zone had paid for a number of studies, all of which had concluded that Auto Zone would not have a significant negative impact. He stated that vehicle traffic estimates for the store were quite low during peak hours, and that Auto Zone would agree to changes that would alleviate any traffic concerns connected with the movement of automobiles on Lone Tree Way. With respect to noise abatement, he pointed to staff’s own comments, noting, “To say that there are noise issues is erroneous. Staff has pointed this out in response to comments.” He continued, pointing out steps that Auto Zone would take to mitigate any noise concerns.

Following Halbert’s comments, several local luminaries spoke in favor of Auto Zone bringing a store to the Lone Tree Way site.

Regular council attendee, Fred Hoskins was the first to speak.

I took the time to read the entire staff report, and the things that were discussed behind the scenes,” he said. “I think that our city planning commission, is basically anti-business. Maybe we ought to change our attitudes, the planning commission, and say, ‘maybe we need to change our attitudes here.’”

Don Freitas, a former Antioch mayor, also spoke in favor of the project.

We’re talking a lot about economic development…from my perspective economic development means [bringing businesses to our community.] The question before you, are we going to continue keeping [the lot] vacant, or bring in Auto Zone?” he asked. “We need to change our reputation with regard to being business friendly, or business unfriendly.”

Long-time resident and local Realtor, Ralph Garrow also spoke in favor of the project.

I think you need to look at the big picture on this. Antioch has a reputation in the commercial real estate business as being anti-business,” he shared emphatically. “We need to find a way to make this work, not just have staff go through their rule book and say, ‘no,no,no,no,no.’”

Dr. Sean Wright, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, also addressed the council, stating, “I’m here on behalf of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce in support of Auto Zone, today.”

Another former mayor, Joel Keller, who was a consultant on the project, also weighed in, saying, “I would urge you to support this proposal…If you approve this, people will know that the door is open for business in Antioch.”

Following the public comments, Council members discussed the matter. They questioned the Auto Zone representative, primarily with respect to what type of jobs the store would bring to the community. Mayor Harper directed some remarks toward city staff about being more welcoming to business, after asking them some pointed questions during their presentation.

Once the council members’ questions were answered, Mayor Pro Tem Rocha made a motion with several parts, in support of allowing the Auto Zone project to go forward. But even before the 5-0 vote, approving the project, Mayor Harper officially welcomed them to Antioch.

Council bans feeding feral cats

In another issue, the Council voted 4-1, with only Council Member Tiscareno voting against, an ordinance recommended by staff to ban the feeding of feral cats on public property. At the same time, the Council directed staff to continue to try to work with those groups who were opposed to the ban to find other solutions to the feral cat problem that might be considered “more humane.”

The ordinance banning the feeding of feral cats on public property generated a considerable amount of public comment, both for and against. Those speaking out in support of the ordinance noted the health and quality of life concerns associated with a feral cat population in the city. Comments made by Nancy Fernandez were typical. “The city has become one big cat box,” she said.

On the other side, many self-professed animal rescue volunteers spoke against the ordinance. Their main issue was what they perceived as an inhumane reaction to the feral cat problem.

During the discussion of the issue by the Council, Councilman Gary Agopian twice addressed the audience, asking them to show him some respect, and to stop interrupting him during his comments. Following his second attempt to outline his thinking on the matter, he introduced the motion that the Council ultimately passed.

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Delta Tunnel opponents respond to Secretary Jewell: Don’t support water export tunnels

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Stop the Delta Tunnels rally 2 Delta Tunnel opponents respond to Secretary Jewell: Don’t support water export tunnels

Opponents of the proposed tunnels under the delta rally during a visit by U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to the Byron pumping plant on Tuesday, March 11. Photo courtesy of Restore the Delta.

SACRAMENTO – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today called upon U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to not support the tunnels, to let federal scientists do their job without political interference, and to embrace better policies for a sustainable water future. Federal scientists have refused to sign off on the tunnels project, noting that it cannot achieve its goal of restoring the health of the Delta estuary while removing millions of acre-feet of water from the Delta.

Restore the Delta is disappointed that Secretary Jewell did not stop to speak with Delta protesters yesterday,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. “We call on her to meet at a later date with Delta farmers, Delta government officials, fishery experts, Delta water and reclamation districts, and community groups to learn firsthand about the impacts of the drought and water mismanagement by the State on the Delta economy and ecosystem health, and how the BDCP will lead to the destruction of Delta and coastal fisheries, the SF Bay, Delta family farms and the economy for the 4 million Delta residents. Secretary Jewell should not be misled that the BDCP would provide reliable water supplies nor restore the health of the Delta. This boondoggle benefits mainly a handful of unsustainable mega-growers.”

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Interior Secretary Jewell underscores Administration support for California during historic drought

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Tours Byron pumping plant with Federal and State Officials

SecretaryJewellPumpingPlantByron 1 1024x651 Interior Secretary Jewell underscores Administration support for California during historic drought

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (in blue) talks with Paul Stearns, Operations Manager and Frances Mizuno, Deputy Executive Director (San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority) at the federal C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant in Byron, California on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014. Jewell was touring the facility to examine the water storage and conveyance facility in response to the draught. Special to the Antioch Herald/Photo by Victoria Sheridan

SACRAMENTO, CA – During a visit to California this week, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell examined the on-the-ground conditions of the historic drought and related water issues and reiterated the full support of the Obama Administration to provide relief and support in partnership with California.

The visit comes on the heels of President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which includes $1 billion government-wide for a Climate Resilience Fund to invest in developing more resilient communities, and finding solutions to climate challenges through technology development and applied research. It also proposes $1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation, including $118.6 million to fund operations, management and improvements within the Central Valley Project in California.

The Administration remains committed to an ‘all in’ approach to the federal response to drought conditions in the West,” said Secretary Jewell. “I commend Governor Brown and state officials for their response thus far, and I will continue to work closely with the state to ensure a balanced and coordinated approach to providing for the water needs of people, agriculture, businesses, power, and the environment.”

California is working closely with its federal partners to deal with the drought and prepare our state for other extreme weather events,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “This current drought is just a portent of things to come and it underscores the importance of swift action on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”

Secretary Jewell and California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird today toured water storage and conveyance facilities in Central California and met with agricultural water users who rely on water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Jewell applauded the ongoing collaborative federal-state response efforts.

The Administration is committed to long-term water supply improvements and environmental restoration in California,” said Jewell. “We are working closely with the state to complete the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and take other important actions that will achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the state’s economy.”

President Obama’s FY2015 budget includes $66.5 million for WaterSMART programs, nearly a 17 percent increase from 2014, to assist communities in stretching water supplies and improving water management. This funding supports the Department’s goal to increase by 840,000 acre-feet the available water supply for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and environmental uses in the Western United States through water-conservation programs by the end of 2015. To date, WaterSMART projects have successfully produced 730,000 acre-feet toward that goal.

As called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the National Drought Resilience Partnership is coordinating federal preparedness for drought and is working closely with the state of California, local government, agriculture, and other partners to improve community preparedness and resilience to drought. The partnership includes the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Energy, and Commerce (NOAA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Environmental Protection Agency.

Following Governor Brown’s declaration of a Drought State of Emergency on January 17, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce began working with the state of California to provide operational flexibility to store and convey water, expedite environmental review and compliance actions, and pursue new or fast-track existing projects that might help stretch California’s water supplies.

I want to commend the state and federal teams on their response to the dry conditions through changes in water operations, promoting water conservation, water recycling and seeking every opportunity to provide the water needed for beneficial uses,” said Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley. “I also want to thank the water users of California, from the largest water contractors to individual businesses to each and every household for their efforts to reduce consumption. With the ongoing drought and long-term water resource challenges associated with a changing climate, increasing population and diminishing supply – protection and conservation of precious water resources is critical.”

Reclamation operates the Central Valley Project to provide water for more than 3 million acres of land in the top agricultural producing counties in the nation’s leading farm state. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported in its 2012 California Agricultural Highlights publication that farm production in the state totaled more than $43 billion. About a third of that production, or about $12 billion, came from the Central Valley. The Central Valley Project also delivers water supplies for municipalities, industrial uses, and fish, wildlife and environmental purposes.

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U.S. Interior Secretary to be in Byron on Tuesday, Stop the Tunnels rally planned

Monday, March 10th, 2014

All Hands on Deck! Stop the Tunnels!

Secretary Jewell from the Department of the Interior coming to the Delta; our side must be heard.

 Stop the Tunnels1 U.S. Interior Secretary to be in Byron on Tuesday, Stop the Tunnels rally plannedFrom Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta

Secretary Sally Jewell from the U.S. Department of the Interior will be at the Byron Pumping Plant Tuesday, March 11 at noon getting a tour of pumps that have contributed to the problems of the drought. Our side must be heard. Meet us at the entrance of the Byron Pumping Plant at 11:30AM with your sign!

We will Facebook/Tweet exact address Monday evening. You can call 209-479-2053 to meet us Tuesday a.m.

Bring shade and water!

follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook

For more information visit www.restorethedelta.org

Copyright © 2014 Restore the Delta, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is: Restore the Delta  10100 Trinity Parkway, Suite 120  Stockton, CA 95219

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Delta Twin Tunnels fight comes to Antioch

Monday, March 10th, 2014

By John Crowder

On Thursday, March 6th, Antioch was the scene of the latest attack on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), otherwise known as the Twin Tunnels Project. Restore the Delta, which describes itself as “a grassroots campaign of residents and organizations committed to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta” hosted the “Water Quality Impact Forum.”

The event, held at the Lone Tree Golf & Event Center was well attended, not only by concerned Antioch residents, but by several local politicians, including State Assemblyman Jim Frazier, County Supervisor Mary Piepho, and members of both the Antioch City Council and the Antioch School Board.

The first presentation on the agenda was given by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. She provided an overview of the BDCP, focusing on the proposal “to build two giant tunnels to funnel water from the Sacramento River out of the Bay Area.”

She was followed by Melinda Terry, Executive Director, North Delta Water Agency, who spoke on “significant and unavoidable impacts of BDCP.”

The two speakers outlined a host of problems they claimed would occur if the tunnel project were permitted to go forward. Chief among these were a decline in water quality in the Delta.

Water quality will unavoidably decline,” stated Terry.

She cited an increase in salinity in Antioch’s water supply, including a 51% increase in bromide levels and an increase in chloride. Other concerns included a potential decline in the fish population, and significant costs for the project that would be passed on to local residents.

We would be hit with higher water rates,” said Terry. “A rate increase of $200 per year over 40 years by urban water rate payers [is projected.]”

Following Terry’s presentation, Frazier, who represents Antioch, began by noting that, “I absolutely oppose the twin tunnels and the BDCP plan.”

He went on to say that the plan would have a “devastating effect” on Antioch. Frazier then spoke about Assembly Bill 1671, which he introduced last month, and would require “legislative approval prior to the construction of any tunnel or water conveyance system through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.”

I’m committed to working with each and every one of you to preserve the Delta and our way of life,” he concluded.

Piepho was the last speaker on the agenda, and she reinforced the comments made by Frazier.

We need legislative oversight,” she said, “otherwise it would just be the governor and Southern California water interests making decisions.”

She went on to characterize the tunnel proposal as “a failed, flawed plan.”

Piepho stated that the project was of particular concern to Antioch residents because, “in Antioch 100% of the drinking water comes from this river right out here,” and “BDCP significantly degrades water quality in the Delta.” She concluded by stating, “It’s a job killer, it’s a cancer causer, it’s bad news.”

Following the meeting residents lined up to take bumper stickers and yard signs that were on hand for them to use to exhibit their opposition to the twin tunnels project. To learn more about the arguments put forward by those against the tunnels, visit www.restorethedelta.org. Arguments in support of the project can also be found online. State agencies involved with water policy have established www.baydeltaconservationplan.com to make their case for the BDCP.

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Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School teachers vote to convert to a charter school

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

On Monday, February 24, 2014, in an effort to remain true to the original mission of an innovative California pathway high school whose vision is “Every student valued, every student challenged, every student prepared to succeed in a changing world,” a petition to convert to an independent public charter high school was filed with the Antioch Unified School District on behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.  This petition was signed by 88% of the tenured teachers at the site, well above the required 50% needed to file, and is expected to be reviewed by district leadership over the next 30 days.

Reasons cited for the conversion included, among others, diverging philosophies between the district and site staffs for program implementation at this dynamic health career–themed school. While faculty and staff at this close-knit school serving just over 600 students regret having to part ways with their school district, most are very optimistic about what the future holds for them and the students as a California conversion charter school. None of the teachers were opposed to the charter conversion. Teachers are looking forward to carrying out the original vision of the school that has been clouded by the district’s cumbersome management and decision-making process. The school will continue to offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, with a health care career emphasis, that exceeds traditional academic instructions with a focus on mastery learning and in-class supports for struggling students.

The school will remain a public school with the same admission and enrollment policies that existed under the district.  All students currently enrolled at DLMHS will be guaranteed admission to the charter once converted. As evidenced by the strong show of support for the petition by permanent certificated staff, almost all of the faculty is expected to stay on. Reasons for not electing to stay are largely due to personal and professional considerations. Without exception, DLMHS teachers are in support of the charter conversion.

Dozier-Libbey Medical High School opened its doors to 9th graders in 2008 and subsequently added a grade level each year until full enrollment in 2012.  Founded in response to overcrowding in Antioch Unified School District’s two comprehensive high schools, the Superintendent at that time saw an opportunity to open a different kind of school. He was interested in building a high school that had a career focus. He convened community leaders and business people to investigate the labor force needs and they discovered that health care would have the highest employment possibility and that the land adjacent to the space where the new school would be built was going to have a medical facility built on it at the same time. The district made the decision to open a new small school with a healthcare focus. An advisory committee comprised of teachers, district representatives, community members, school founders, and a CEO of the local hospital was formed to oversee the school’s development.

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Forum on railroads carrying crude oil, in Martinez Wednesday night

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

How will refinery expansions and transportation of crude oil by rail affect YOUR town?

A panel of experts and activists will inform residents of Benicia, Martinez, Rodeo, Crockett and Port Costa of Big Oil’s plans, both local and global.

Wednesday, Feb. 26th at 6:30 PM
Veterans War Memorial Building, 930 Ward Street, Martinez
(@ the corner of Ward and Court Streets)

Please join our panelists for presentations and Q & A:

  • Marilaine Savard: spokesperson for a citizens’ group in the region of Lac-Mégantic, Québec.  Last year, a string of exploding petroleum rail cars destroyed the center of the town and claimed 47 lives.
  • Antonia Juhasz: oil industry analyst, journalist, and author of “The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry and What We Must do to Stop It” and “Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill”.
  • Diane Bailey, senior scientist at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
  • Marilyn Bardet:  watchdog activist for the Valero refinery  and founding member of Benicia’s Good Neighbor Steering Committee.
  • Nancy Rieser: spokesperson, Crockett-Rodeo-Hercules Working Group, challenging Phillips 66 on its Propane Expansion Project.
  • Kalli Graham: spokesperson, Pittsburg Defense Council, fighting the proposed WesPac oil terminal.

Sponsored by:SunflowerAlliance logo 300x52 Forum on railroads carrying crude oil, in Martinez Wednesday nightIn partnership with:
Sierra Club, 350 Bay Area, Communities for a Better Environment, Richmond Progressive Alliance, ForestEthics, Pittsburg Defense Council, Pittsburg Ethics Council, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, and the Crockett-Rodeo-Hercules Working Group.

Download, print and distribute the FLYER

For those in other towns, we have related forums in Pittsburg and Richmond!  See http://sunflower-alliance.org/forums-on-the-new-dangers-of-extreme-energy/

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The Wall That Heals replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento this week

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Assemblymember Jim Frazier to Host Four-Day Event to Remember and Honor the Service, Efforts and Sacrifices of Our Nation’s Vietnam Veterans

Wall that heals The Wall That Heals replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sacramento this week

The Wall That Heals half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. – courtesy of www.hotbikeweb.com

Each year millions of people visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., which honors the thousands of heroes who served our country during the Vietnam War. But millions of Americans, young and old, have not been able to visit what has become known to many as “The Wall.” Some haven’t been able to make the journey to our nation’s capital for various reasons, and many others may find the war’s legacy easier to confront while at home in their own communities.

It is my honor and privilege to bring The Wall That Heals to the State Capitol, and I invite Californians of all ages to come and share in this moving and unique experience.

This exhibition features a 250-foot replica of the original memorial and travels across America. The Wall That Heals transcends the Vietnam War to help America renew its relationship with veterans of all wars. It helps veterans from all of our nation’s conflicts to find healing and a powerful connection through their common military experiences. Our society cannot forget those great sacrifices or the values those veterans exemplified through their service and heroism.

Millions of Americans answered their national call for service in Vietnam, just as they are today in operations worldwide. Among service members, a common thread of service bonds them no matter their era of service, branch or rank. Military families also feel camaraderie of mutual sacrifice. The connection, however, is so often lost among members of the general public who may never have had any direct experience with the military.

During stops around the country, The Wall That Heals helps Americans to honor its service members and allows those heroes enshrined on the Memorial to return symbolically to the places they called home, to exist among friends and family once more in the comfort and peace of familiar surroundings.

The Wall that Heals will be open 24-hours a day on the west side of the California State Capitol from Thursday, February 27, 2014 to Sunday, March 2, 2014. There will be an opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday and a closing candlelight memorial ceremony on Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m.

It is my hope that all Californians take advantage of this rare opportunity to honor the service of our brave Vietnam veterans and their families, all of whom have sacrificed everything to defend our country and protect our freedoms.

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