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Four Antioch School Board candidates to boycott tonight’s Herald sponsored forum, refuse to answer questions due to false assumption of bias

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

By Allen Payton

After informing the Herald that for various reasons, they couldn’t attend the twice-rescheduled forum, sponsored by this newspaper, for Antioch School Board candidates in the November election, those same four candidates signed and sent a joint press release, on Thursday, announcing that now they will not participate in the forum, nor will they answer the questions sent to them and the other three candidates, because of a “perceived bias.”

The forum, includes opportunities for each candidate to answer questions prepared by me, those submitted by the audience, as well as to ask and answer questions of fellow candidates, plus two rebuttals. Also, the  forum is the only one for Antioch School Board candidates that has been announced, so far, which will be televised on local cable access channels.

Incumbent and board president Diane Gibson-Gray, former school board members Joy Motts and Gary Hack, and challenger and news website publisher Mike Burkholder, each signed the press release, which states:

“The undersigned have agreed that we will not be participating in the Antioch Herald Forum due to a perceived bias that has been displayed by the editor of this publication in this school board election. In addition, we will not be responding to the Antioch Herald’s questions that have been sent to us for a response.

As candidates for the school board, we are expected and more than willing to answer questions from the community. However, the forums should be objective, unbiased and fair. In this case, the editor has crafted the questions, is sponsoring the event, acting as moderator and will be critiquing the candidate’s responses in his publication. In our opinion, we feel that is inappropriate, unusual and is a conflict of interest.”

Herald Coverage of School Board Race

There have been five articles and one letter to the editor about the Antioch School Board race written by Herald staff and posted on our website. The first article listed all the candidates for Antioch Mayor, Council and School Board, which can be viewed, here. It was also published in the September print edition of the Herald.

The second one was about the candidates forum on Thursday, September 8 sponsored by the Friday Morning Breakfast Club, which could not be recorded. So it was based on handwritten notes. It can be viewed, here.

A third article was about Burkholder’s complaint about Navarro’s comments about the district at both that forum and in a private conversation with Mayor Wade Harper. It was edited after Burkholder offered a correction about the public comments, and then provided an audio of Navarro’s comments at the forum. That article can be viewed, here.

The fourth article (which can be viewed, here) was about the endorsement of Gibson-Gray by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.  The fifth article included the endorsement of Burkholder by the Antioch Police Officers Association, can be viewed here.

Finally, the letter to the editor was from Burkholder and was published exactly as he sent it to us and can be viewed, here.

We encourage readers to view the articles and determine for themselves if they detect any bias.

Different Reasons They Couldn’t Attend

During efforts to reschedule the forum twice, to accommodate as many candidates as possible, these same four candidates said they couldn’t attend either Monday night or Friday night, this week, for various reasons.

Originally scheduled for Thursday night the 22nd, the forum was rescheduled to Monday night, September 19 to accommodate those candidates who said they were attending the 2016-17 County Teacher of the Year dinner in Concord, which would feature a speech  by outgoing 2015-16 County Teacher of the Year Maria McClain, a math teacher at Deer Valley High School.

Each of the candidates was sent an email on September 9 informing them of the date change.

Hack responded on Tuesday, September 13 in an email with “I have changed the date on my calendar to the 19th at 7:00 and look forward to being there.”  But, then last Friday, he wrote via email, ” I apologize.  I need to change my acceptance for the forum on the 19th.  When you changed the date from the 22nd to the 19th, I thought ‘no problem’.  However … this morning Diane [his wife] shared ‘her’ calendar with me … and a ‘reminder’ … that we have a family commitment that has been long standing.  So, I need to respectfully decline the opportunity to participate Monday evening.”

Gibson-Gray and Burkholder didn’t respond until Sunday, September 18 that they had previous commitments.

“I’m sorry for the late notice,” Gibson-Gray wrote in an email at 5:50 p.m. “I have a double header on Monday; first a work commitment, followed by a family commitment, so I will not be able to make the forum. I’ve been in Southern California last week and got home Saturday. I’m just now catching up on emails.”

When asked what his prior commitment was so I could inform those in attendance at the forum and who might watch the forum on TV, Burkholder did not answer.

Each of those who said they couldn’t attend were then offered the opportunity to send a surrogate to provide their opening and closing statements, but not participate in the forum.

However, at 7:47 p.m. on Monday night, during the time the forum would have been held, Burkholder was campaigning, posting a comment on his Facebook page “Getting out of my comfort zone is fun…Check out my video on Mike Burkholder for Antioch School Board.”

Ironically, in a post at 5:57 a.m. that day, Burkholder wrote on his Facebook page “My rant for Monday morning…SHOW UP!…half the battle is won when you simply show up to create the change you want to see.”

Asked if Friday night would work instead, Gibson-Gray responded via email Monday morning, “I’m sorry, I cannot attend. I have already made plans for Friday.” In response to an email offering her the opportunity to send a surrogate to provide her opening and closing statements, and that it would be good to let the public know what her plans were, she replied on Tuesday, “I will not be sending a surrogate. I have a prior personal commitment on Friday.”

Once it was learned on Monday morning, that the council chambers were available, the forum was rescheduled, again this time tonight, Friday, September 23 to accommodate the most candidates, as possible.

An email was then sent informing the candidates of the new date for the forum, with a list of questions attached, that will be asked at the forum, offering those candidates who could not attend that they could send a surrogate to provide their opening and closing statements, but could not participate in the rest of the forum, and the opportunity to answer the questions by 5:00 p.m. on Friday.

Motts responded, via text on Monday, “I am sorry but the 23rd does not work for me either…such a crazy busy time of year!”

Gibson-Gray responded via email, “I will try to make the deadline, but I have a full schedule this week due to an art opening on Saturday and events each evening. Is this a firm deadline? If I don’t get to you by Friday at 5 PM, would you still want it sent to you if I complete over the weekend?”

I responded that we needed her responses by 5:00 p.m. due to deadline issues and to “Please answer as many questions as you can. The ones at the bottom just require yes or no answers. It shouldn’t take you more than a half hour. The time we’ve allotted each candidate at the forum is 15 minutes.”

Hack responded on Wednesday, via email, with “Good Afternoon Allen! I appreciate your efforts to accommodate the candidates.  However – unfortunately for me – Friday evenings are always dedicated to family.  So I’ll have to pass on the forum this Friday evening.  Take care.”

Burkholder did not respond to the email but he and I spoke by  phone on Wednesday afternoon, and he didn’t say whether he would or would not be attending the Friday night forum.

Two Miss Two Forums

This will be the second forum that Gibson-Gray and Burkholder will not be participating in. Neither candidate attended the one sponsored by the Friday Morning Breakfast Club on Thursday, September 8 because they said they were attending the back-to-school night at Antioch schools, instead. Yet, two of the other candidates, Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry, both school board members, attended both the back-to-school night activities and the forum. Terry showed up late, but explained that he had previously committed to attending three schools, that night, which he fulfilled.

Questions Emailed to the Candidates

In a Word document attached to the email sent to the candidates on Monday, included the following:

Antioch Herald

2016 Antioch School Board Candidate Forum

September 23, 2016

7:00 p.m.

Panelist Questions

  1. What should be done to address the district’s annual deficit spending and do you have a copy of the district’s latest budget and have you read and reviewed it?
  2. What do you propose the district do to improve graduation rates?
  3. What can be done to improve proficiency of Antioch students in both English and math?
  4. How will you handle discipline problems and put the teacher back in control of the classroom?

Additional Questions (if there’s time)

  1. What is your number one goal for the district?
  2. What has been your greatest accomplishment for the students and schools in the district?

Lightning Round Questions (if there’s time) Yes or No responses

  1. Do you support either televising the school board meetings live on the local cable access TV channel like the city council does and/or at least live streaming them on the school district’s website? And will you take action on this in your first year in office?
  2. Do you support entrepreneurship classes in the high schools?
  3. Do you support bringing back shop classes to the high schools?
  4. Are you following the rules, have informed your volunteers to make sure your campaign is only placing your signs on private property where you have permission and no signs are in the public right-of-way which is illegal? And if not will you commit to following the rules for the remainder of the campaign?

Responses to Press Release

On Thursday, I emailed each of the candidates who are participating in the boycott, the following questions and information:

“How is it biased to ask the same questions of all the candidates, then use those responses as part of the basis for determining which candidates we will endorse?

I specifically have included our Associate Publisher in the forum to both ask the questions – since Paul Burgarino is not available, tomorrow night – and write the article about it, including the answers you give to both the questions I have developed, as well as questions from each other and those from the audience.

So, are you all lying to me, now or were you lying, before when each of you told me you were unable to attend the forum for your various reasons, either tomorrow night, tonight or Monday night?

This is very unfortunate for the voters of Antioch that you’ve chosen to play your game. But, go ahead and try to make this about me. It’s not. You’ll have to answer to the voters for what you’re doing.

If any (of you) had attended either of the forums on Tuesday night, you would have seen they were quite fair and unbiased.

Furthermore, how is asking you questions and getting your responses by this newspaper any different than an endorsement interview with the East Bay Times? Are those editors biased if they use your answers as the basis for determining their endorsements?

The answer is obvious.”

In another email, I wrote to the four candidates:

“The most ironic part of this is I thought I was being more than fair to each of you, and the other three candidates, by giving you four days to prepare your answers and send them back or provide them to the public at the forum.”

In another follow up email I wrote:

“Regardless of your press release, you are all still welcome to attend and participate in the forum, tomorrow night.

The funny thing is, I have been considering each of you for an endorsement for various reasons, including ensuring stability and experience on the board, because right now three of the current members have less than two years experience on the board, as well as bringing a new, fresh perspective to the board of a parent with young children who will be attending Antioch schools for many years.

An endorsement is still possible, if you will either participate in the forum or submit your answers by 5:00 p.m. on Friday.

Since your press release was received too late to make it into subscribers’ emails, today, you have until tomorrow, Friday at 12:30 p.m. to inform me of your participation in the forum or that you will be submitting your answers by the deadline, before I post the article containing your press release on our website, to make it into subscribers’ emails, tomorrow afternoon, and posted on our Facebook, as well.”

The final email on Thursday night sent to the four candidates, reads:

“In wracking my brain to try to figure out how any of you could perceive any bias in the Herald in the coverage of the school board race, it occurred to me that you might think I’m asking you to provide your answers by 5:00 pm so they can be shared with the other candidates, who are going to participate in the forum, prior to the forum, to give them an advantage.

While that would never happen and nothing could be further from the truth, to avoid even the appearance of the possibility that could happen, you now have until 8:00 pm, Friday night – at the time I expect the forum will end, at the latest – to provide your answers to the questions emailed to you and the other three candidates, on Monday.

Again, if you really can’t attend the forum for a legitimate reason, you’re welcome to send a surrogate to give your opening and closing statements, but not participate in the forum. Your answers will still be required by 8:00 pm to be considered for an endorsement.

Also, again, you have until 12:30 pm tomorrow (Friday) to let me know what you plan to do. Finally, if you plan to send a surrogate please provide their name for proper introduction.”

None of the four candidates responded to any of the emails sent in response.

The Real Reason – An Endorsement That Didn’t Happen

When contacted by the reporter for the Times, Friday morning, she said the reason the four gave her for boycotting the forum and the questions from the Herald was that they believe I have already endorsed Navarro for one of the school board seats. As I told her, that is not true. Neither I nor the Antioch Herald has endorsed any candidate for any office in the November election.

I also told the reporter that I have discussed the pros and cons about the candidates with some people who have asked my opinion. But, when they asked who I’m voting for and who I recommend they vote for I specifically told them I would not reveal who I’m supporting until it’s revealed in the endorsements in the October issue of the Herald.

I also said to her that I did speak with Burkholder on Wednesday and told  him that I hadn’t endorsed Navarro but, if I did end up supporting him it shouldn’t be a surprise since I was the one who recruited and encouraged him to apply for the appointment to the vacancy on the school board, last year. But, I also told Burkholder that I don’t agree with everything that Navarro has said or how he’s voted.

As I told the Times’ reporter, I have not told Navarro that I’m supporting him, voting for him or that I have endorsed or will endorse him.

Final Email to the Four Candidates

After learning the real reason for their boycott, I sent one final email message to the four candidates, at about 12:10 p.m., letting them know the bias they perceived is wrong and appealed to them one last time to encourage them to reconsider and either attend the forum or submit their answers to the questions, and to let me know what they planned to do by 12:30 p.m. before I posted this article on our website.

Following is that email:

“Candidates,

I was just informed by Rowena Coatsee of the Times what the real issue is. You all think I’ve already endorsed Fernando Navarro for election.

First, that is not true. I have not told him I would be voting for him or endorsing him in the race nor have I endorsed him or anyone else, yet.

While I have discussed the pros and cons of each of you in the race with Antioch residents who have asked my opinion, if they’ve asked me who I’m voting for or how I think they should vote, I’ve specifically told them I will not announce who I or the Herald – because I’m discussing the matter with our Associate Publisher to get her input – is endorsing until our endorsements appear in the October issue.

In a conversation with Mike Burkholder this Wednesday, I reiterated that, but I also said it might not be a surprise if I do end up supporting Navarro, since I’m the one who recruited and encouraged him to apply for the appointment to the vacancy, last year. But I also told Mike I don’t agree with everything Fernando says or how he’s voted.

But even if I had already endorsed him, there are two other seats up for election in the race, for which any one or two of you could get endorsed.

Why any or all of you couldn’t just have called and asked me about that I don’t know.

But I will say this, your press release was accurate, because it’s only a perceived bias. As I’ve said to others about the article our reporter wrote about Mike and Fernando, last week is I believe hurt both of them and Mayor Harper.

As for being fair, I edited the article after Mike pointed out something that my reporter got wrong about when he spoke at the board meeting. I also updated the article to add Fernando’s complete statement at the FMBC’s forum, after Mike provided the audio of it to me.

If I was going to be biased about it in favor of Fernando, I wouldn’t have published it. My reporter got both sides of the story and we published them in the article.

I encourage you to go back and look at that at article, the one about Diane’s endorsement by the Chamber, the one about the FMBC forum and the original article about all of the local candidates and please point out any bias you can detect in them. I’m always willing to correct the record it we get something wrong. In fact I edited Fernando’s quote I had for him in the article about the FMBC forum after receiving and hearing the audio of what he said exactly. As you know neither I nor anyone else was allowed to record the forum. So I had to take notes and write my article from them

Again, I hope you will reconsider and attend, tonight’s forum or submit your answers to the questions by 8 pm.

In the future, just call me. Come on, folks. We’ve all known each other for years. We all want to make Antioch and our schools better. While we may disagree from time to time on various issues, I don’t think any of us are that unreasonable that we can’t talk something out. What you’re doing is damaging our relationship and won’t reflect well on any of you.

Whether or not you attend or answer the questions is up to you. But I really don’t want to have to post the article about your boycott of the forum and the questions, as I’m afraid it will unfortunately further damage my relationship with each of you.

Again, please let me know by 12:30 what your plans are.

Thanks.”

Again, and unfortunately, none of the four candidates responded.

Reasons for this Article

I am in the newspaper business for a few reasons: to inform the public about their community and government, to hold the elected officials accountable and to help promote the businesses in Antioch so as to grow our economy, and to get the good and other news out about and to our community, and of course, make a profit, which allows us to remain in business.  The word “herald” means an announcer. Like the “herald angels” that pronounced Jesus’ birth, the Antioch  Herald is in business to announce what is happening. While that was the Good News, not all of our news is good, unfortunately.

The reason I wrote and published this article was because the integrity of the Herald, our reporters and specifically me were called into question and based on a false assumption and the record needs to be cleared. I will not sit by and have the integrity of the Herald or it’s reporters falsely accused in an attempt to either score political points or to undermine the effectiveness and credibility of this publication. Say what you will about me, as a Christian, I answer to the Highest Authority and do my best to live by His standards, as I have committed my life to do, and am willing to overlook an insult. We do our best to get the facts in our articles and ensure they are accurate. If and when we get something wrong, we are always willing to make corrections to articles, as we have done, when necessary.

We will continue to fulfill our mission, as long as the Lord allows us to remain in business and will continue to challenge, ask questions of and hold accountable our government officials and candidates running for office, and inform you, the readers and residents of Antioch.

Forum Will Happen As Scheduled

The forum for those candidates who wish to attend – and all are still welcome – and the same questions, provided via email to each of them, will be asked by the panelist, currently scheduled to be our Associate Publisher Connie Woods. Questions from the audience will also be asked, and the candidates can ask two questions of their competitors. The forum begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Antioch City Council Chambers at City Hall, 200 H Street, between 2nd and 3rd Streets in downtown regardless of how many candidates attend.

The forum will be televised beginning Sunday, October 2nd on Delta TV (Comcast Channel 24 and AT&T U-verse on Channel 99) and the schedule is as follows: Sundays at 1 pm, Mondays at 11 am and Thursdays at 6 pm.

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Friday night’s Antioch vs. De La Salle high school football game to air on ESPNU

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
Antioch's Najee Harris, the top running back in America, this season, hurdles a Foothill player, during Antioch's North Coast semi-final loss on Friday, November 28, 2015. photo by Michael Pohl

Antioch’s Najee Harris, the top running back in America, this season, hurdles a Foothill player, during Antioch’s North Coast semi-final loss on Friday, November 28, 2015. photo by Michael Pohl

By Allen Payton

In the works since the end of last season, as reported by Luke Johnson (see article, here), the high school, varsity football game between the Antioch High Panthers and the De La Salle Spartans, in Concord, Friday night, will appear on ESPN’s university sports channel, ESPNU.

The game begins at 8:00 p.m. and is the first rematch of the two schools, since 2006 when De La Salle beat Antioch 62-0. But, this year, things are different. With the number one, high school running back in America, Najee Harris and the rest of the winning Panthers’ team on the field, the Spartans should expect a different outcome.

Last year, Antioch was undefeated in regular season play, but lost 55-54 in the semifinals of the playoffs, keeping them from facing De La Salle in the North Coast championship game. However, the Spartans are coming off their first loss at home since 2008, when they were defeated 23-21 by East High School of Salt Lake City, last week. So, they have something to prove and probably can’t imagine losing two games in a row – especially on their home turf.

For those who want to watch it in person, De La Salle is located at 1130 Winton Drive at the corner of Treat Blvd. in Concord.

ESPNU can be seen on channels 420 and 788 for HD on Comcast Xfinity in Antioch. For other providers, check your local listings.

Go Panthers!

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Fernando Sandoval challenging Community College Board Vice President Greg Enholm in Ward 5 election

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
Fernando Sandoval

Fernando Sandoval

Pittsburg resident Fernando Sandoval is the seeking to oust incumbent Contra Costa Community College Board Trustee and Vice President, Greg Enholm in the Ward 5 race in the November election. Enholm is seeking his second term on the board.

In a press release sent Thursday from Sandoval’s campaign, it stated the following:

Fernando Sandoval is running for election as Contra Costa Community College Board Ward 5 serving the interests of Los Medanos College and Diablo Valley College.

He continues to meet with educators in the district, unions, college students, community members, non-profit organizations and elected officials to gather support and outline his position

A Pittsburg native, was raised and educated in East County. A Vietnam Veteran parent committed to improving the quality of education for all residents and for future generations in Contra Costa County. His experience and business background includes key roles in Finance, Collaboration, Financial Oversight, Innovation, Technology in the US and Internationally.

Fernando’s discussions in the community for serving and promoting the interests of the College District is resonating.

“We need fresh eyes, new ideas, and a leader who can bring people together in order to solve problems with practical ideas and future thinking”.

“Fernando has one of the most open and honest outgoing personalities I ever known, along with a people focused style and anyone who has the opportunity to meet and work with him will see that right away. I can say from personal experience with him that he brings his heart to the community and ideals to the table using his experience to bring a new wave of concepts to that organization”-  Valerie Romero Lopez

Fernando believes we need to:

- Support student success across the ward to enroll & complete their educational pursuits with access for education for all with ensuring financial sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

- Respond to our communities’ need for stronger collaboration with K1-K12, additional enrichment and vocational courses to prepare students for employment.

- Advocate for the inclusion of high demand Innovative and Emerging Technologies programs to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow for our community, today.

Fernando is listening to you, and your voice will be heard. Fernando has the education, experience, and commitment to bring needed change.

For more information about Sandoval visit www.fernando4collegeboard.com.

Ward 5 includes all or portions of the cities and communities of Concord, Clyde, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Bethel Island and Knightsen. View the ward boundaries map, here.

The election is November 8.

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Watch the Herald-sponsored candidate forums for Antioch Mayor, Council and School Board on TV in October

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The three forums sponsored by the Antioch Herald and held, this week, for candidates for Antioch Mayor, City Council and School Board can be viewed on TV in October. The forums will be televised beginning Sunday, October 2nd on Delta TV (Comcast Channel 24 and AT&T U-verse on Channel 99) and the schedule is as follows:

Antioch Mayoral Candidates Forum

Sundays at 5 pm

Thursdays at 2 pm

Fridays at 11 am

Antioch City Council Candidates Forum

Sundays at 7 pm

Tuesdays at  11 am

Thursdays at 4 pm

Antioch School Board Candidates Forum

Sundays at 1 pm

Mondays at 11 am

Thursdays at 6 pm

Efforts to post the forums for viewing on YouTube are also underway. Check back to the AntiochHerald.com for details.

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Governor signs Glazer’s “California Promise” bill, to increase four-year CSU graduations

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Sacramento, CA – Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 412, Sen. Steve Glazer’s California Promise, a landmark bill that will pave a new pathway for more California State University students to graduate in four years.

To bolster CSU’s four-year graduation rate – one of the lowest in the nation at only 19 percent – SB 412 will require CSU campuses to offer enhanced academic advising and priority registration to students who commit to 30 credits per academic year. Low-income students, under-represented minorities, first-generation college students and community college transfers will get priority registration in California Promise programs, which will begin in the fall of 2017.

Senate Bill 412, which Sen. Glazer jointly authored with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, marks an important turning point in California for CSU students, said Sen. Glazer, D-Orinda.

“We all know a college degree is a critical rung on the ladder of economic success,” Glazer said. “It is an especially proud day to know that we will now provide CSU students a better chance to do what most want to do, which is to graduate on time.

“California Promise students will now get what many students do not and that is a human touch,” Glazer added. “More academic advising will mean that California Promise students can chart a path with professional guidance and important follow up. It is unfortunate that there are more human touches in getting a piece of fruit to market than there is in student counseling on how to graduate in four years. We can turn that around with this new law.”

Ensuring that California students have all the tools to get through college in four years is a top priority of the Legislature, de León said.

“I congratulate Senator Glazer on the signing of SB 412,” de León said. “California continues to lead the way in implementing policies that support and incentivize students to graduate in four years. The state Senate will continue working to ensure all California students, regardless of race, income or ethnicity have access to higher education as it is the passport to economic success, not only for the student, but the state.”

Gov. Brown said that the legislation, “coupled with today’s action from the CSU trustees, creates conditions that allow students to timely graduate and avoid the burden of extra tuition.” The CSU Board of Trustees earlier Wednesday approved a new 2025 Graduation Initiative that aims to more than double the number of students graduating in four years to 40 percent.

Glazer added: “I applaud CSU for submitting newly enhanced goals of raising 4-year graduation rates to 40 percent by 2025. The California Promise, along with other innovative student success measures, will instill fresh momentum into improving four-year graduation rates.

“I look forward to being part of legislative oversight efforts to keep this program on track.”

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Antioch Police Officers Association endorses incumbents for mayor, council, Burkholder for school board

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

By Allen Payton

The Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA) announced via their Facebook page on Sunday, September 18, their endorsements for Antioch Mayor, City Council and School Board.

The statement reads:

“The Antioch Police Officer’s Association held a canidates [sic] night and invited all of the candidates running for Antioch Mayor and Antioch city council. Those who participated engaged with members of the APOA board in a Q&A type forum regarding; Public Safety, Economic growth, and a homeless resolution for our city.

The APOA has elected to support the following canidates,

Wade Harper (Mayor )

Monica Wilson (Council )

Mary Rocha (Council )

Additionally the APOA was contacted by Mike Burkholder regarding an open seat for Antioch School Board. The APOA has also decided to support Burkholder for Antioch School Board.

The APOA feels these incumbents can continue to address the serious issues which face the city of Antioch and with their hard work will make the city of Antioch safer.

Will Dee

Antioch Police Officer’s Association

President”

When asked which candidates the APOA interviewed for mayor and city council, Dee provided a list via email, of all four candidates for mayor, and five of the six candidates for city council, excluding Karl Dietzel.

In a comment on his campaign’s Facebook page on Sunday night, September 18, Dietzel wrote “…I was not contacted / invited to that round table.”

Asked which candidates for school board the APOA had interviewed, Dee responded via email, “Just Mike Burkholder.”

In a post on his personal Facebook page on Sunday night, Burkholder wrote, “I am truly honored to be supported by the men and women of the Antioch Police Officers Association!”

One more email was sent to Dee, but not until Wednesday evening, asking why did you just interview Burkholder and not the other candidates? And will you be endorsing for the other two seats?

In response via email, Sgt. Dee wrote, “Generally we do not get involved in the school races however Mike was the only candidate who approached the POA for an endorsement. Also we have had a long standing relationship with Mike and have sat down with him on numerous occasions regarding this race and shared ideas.”

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Antioch School Board Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray endorsed by Antioch Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Diane Gibson-Gray

Diane Gibson-Gray

By Allen Payton

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce, announced, today that the Board of Directors has voted to formally endorse Antioch School Board Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray for re-election in November.

“Diane has the experience and the leadership to move the Antioch Unified School District toward overall improvement and success as the primary educational resource for our City of Antioch,” said Richard Pagano, Chamber Board Chairman, President & COO. “Diane Gibson-Gray has provided critical leadership and direction as a Board of Trustee for the Antioch Unified School District for two terms and we endorse her re-election to that Board.”

In a press release from the Chamber, it offered additional reasons for their endorsement.

“Gibson-Gray has served as a board member for the Antioch Chamber of Commerce for the past six years. During that time she has been a part of reestablishing the Antioch Chamber of Commerce in both mission and effectiveness. The board has witnessed Diane’s dedication to the Chamber’s Gala, the summer concert series for the Arts & Cultural Foundation and her ability to understand and help oversee important financial decisions,” the press release stated.

Gibson-Gray is running for her third term on the school board.

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce is made up of about 350 Antioch area member businesses and organizations and is the largest Chamber in East County.

9/23/16 UPDATE: Asked if the board held interviews of any or all of the other candidates for school board, or if the Chamber will make any additional endorsements for the other two seats up for election, this year, Terry Ramus, chairman of the Chamber’s Government Affairs/Economic Development Committee responded.

“While the Chamber may make additional endorsements, it wasn’t our intent to interview all of the candidates,” he said.

The election is November 8.

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Rep. DeSaulnier announces bi-partisan bill to expand Pell Grants, eliminate taxes on non-tuition expenses

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Washington, DC – This past week, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced commonsense legislation to protect low income students from being taxed on using their Pell Grants for non-tuition goods and services. He is joined in introducing the Pell Grant Flexibility Act (H.R. 5764) by his Republican colleagues Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Thomas MacArthur (NJ-3), and Peter King (NY-2) as well as 16 leading education organizations including The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) and the National Education Association (NEA).

Federal Pell Grants can be used to cover both tuition and non-tuition expenses. However, when students use these funds for non-tuition expenses their Pell Grant is taxed, while strictly tuition costs are exempt. Each year approximately eight million students receive Pell Grant funding. A majority of these recipients have family incomes under $40,000 per year, and typically borrow higher amounts of student loans to cover the costs associated with higher education.
“When it comes to college affordability, paying tuition is not the only cost that worries students and families. Expenses like textbooks, off-campus housing, transportation, and child care account for roughly 60 to 80 percent of total cost of a higher education. We must allow students to use every Pell dollar toward focusing on their earning their degree,” said Congressman DeSaulnier

“The rising cost of higher education is a crushing burden to many families, but access to Pell grants offer substantial assistance. The ability to use Pell Grants for expenses other than tuition and to have access to those funds on a tax-free basis is vital. NEA applauds Rep. DeSaulnier for introducing the Pell Grant Flexibility Act,” said NEA Director of Government Relations, Mary Kusler.

“Pell Grants should not be treated as taxable income regardless of which qualified education expense they are used to cover. By eliminating the inconsistent tax treatment of Pell Grants, this bill will help to increase fairness, simplify the tax code, and improve coordination between Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC),” said TICAS President, Lauren Asher.

The complete list of organizational support includes: American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Council on Education (ACE), Association of American Universities (AAU) , Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU), Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), National College Access Network (NCAN), National Education Association (NEA), National Urban League, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), The Institute for College Assess and Success (TICAS), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Young Invincibles.

 

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