Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Ruehligs support new community college location, closer to Antioch

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dear Editor:

The September 10th meeting of the Contra Costa Community College Board was at least a partial victory for the voice of common sense. First, BART President Joel Keller and a number of supporting people spoke. They advocated exploring a possible land swap for the 17 acre proposed campus at Marsh Creek Road behind Trilogy Retirement Village.

After Board comment, the College Board President, John Marquez (Area I) formed a feasibility committee to assess the viability of Mr. Keller’s proposal. This consisted of Board Vice President John Nejedly (Area IV) and Trustee Greg Enholm (Area V). Since then the Chancellor, Helen Benjamin, has suggested hiring a professional consultant with site evaluation expertise.

I am heartened that the College Board is not blindly lurching forward as any final decision will have generational consequences.  The new site is five miles from Lone Tree on a dim two way road down the Highway bypass. A representative from Tri-Delta spoke adversely of the site saying, that at best, transportation would be spotty.

At the Board meeting my wife, Cynthia Ruehlig, a Trustee with the County Board of Education, but speaking as a private citizen, concurred. She stated that that those with disabilities and economic hardship would suffer most as many people in East County did not have cars.

On the other hand, the proposed new site, off Mokelumne Trail between Lone Tree and Sand Creek Roads adjacent to Highway 4, has acsessability.  An e-BART station is projected for that site and it is much more central to all area high schools. That weighs importantly as there is an increasing trend towards high schoolers taking concurrent college classes.

Lastly, we’re all hoping that our senior citizens be spared a horror show.  Picture up to 11,000 car trips daily streaming into the now peaceful retirement area of Trilogy and Sumerset.  Many of the students will, invariably, be late to class and rushing. Imagine the dangers of many taking ancillary side roads like Fairview.

For the interests of young and old, then, there are challenging questions to be answered.  Much rides in the balance.

Walter Ruehlig

Antioch

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Writer says Frazier scores low on tax bills

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dear Editor:

When Jim Frazier first ran for Assembly two years ago, he promised to put people before politics. Unfortunately, like most politicians, he has failed to live up to his campaign promises, too often putting politics before people (also known as taxpayers).

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has given Frazier the grade of ‘F’ on its report card for the 2013-14 legislative session. Frazier voted in favor of taxpayers only 21 percent of the time on 15 important bills, including votes supporting tax increases and attacks on Proposition 13.

Frazier did better on the California Taxpayers Association report card for 2013, voting in taxpayer interests 41.7 percent of the time. But this year Frazier has voted with taxpayers just 30 percent of the time. That’s based on 35 bills “that would have a lasting impact on California’s tax structure, and would affect economic certainty, equity, transparency and the complexity of California taxes,” according to CalTax.

Only six of the 80 Assembly members scored worse than Frazier on the CalTax report card. And only 12 Assembly members received a worse score from HJTA.

If you believe your taxes are too low and that government spends your money better than you do, then give Jim Frazier two more years in the Assembly. If you feel that you are over-taxed and prefer to keep your hard-earned dollars, then Alex Henthorn, who favors lowering sales and business property taxes, deserves your vote.

Dave Roberts

Oakley

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Writer says Measure O opponents are like Pinocchio

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dear Editor:

Pinocchio doesn’t live in Antioch.

Neither do the big money people behind the no on O campaign.

The City Council did not lie to voters. All of the Measure C funds are going to hire police officers. There is an oversight committee to insure that happens. The increase is off to a slow start because so many officers retired in 2014.

Every business in Antioch is expected to pay an annual business license tax. Landlords don’t. When someone rents a house, it’s for profit. That’s a business! Landlords need to pay their FAIR SHARE in Antioch. They do in most other cities.

A tax on seniors. What a lie that is. The majority of all seniors living in Antioch own their homes. NO HOMEOWNERS ARE AFFECTED BY MEASURE O. Measure O only applies to rental properties.

Most of Antioch’s public employees are still on a 4 day work week. Measure O will get them back to work full time. This will be a big step in getting Antioch back on track.

VOTE YES ON MEASURE O. IT”S FAIR AN HONEST.

Wayne Harrison, Antioch

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Writer says only two percent of students cause the problems at Deer Valley High, media should focus on the positive

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Editor:

These were comments given to the Antioch School Board at their October 8th meeting.

Hi, my name is Angie Jorgenson. I am the parent of a Deer Valley Junior and a Dallas Ranch 8th grader, the Deer Valley Band Booster Vice President, I help with the Deer Valley Girls Golf team, and am on campus weekly as a volunteer with Younglife, an international organization that works with kids. I am here in support of Deer Valley in light of recent events in the media and on campus.

I don’t want to try to discount anything that has been said tonight. There are valid concerns that have been brought up that need to be addressed. However, it has been my experience that many issues often stem from the fact that when something doesn’t happen according to a person’s idea of how it should be or should’ve been handled, they let their anger get the best of them. Sometimes it’s ok to get angry, but we need to move past the anger to solve issues at their root, instead of vilifying one person or falling prey to a knee jerk reaction caused by anger. We need to actively listen when something is said. We need to realize communication breakdowns and strive to communicate better. We need to own our mistakes and make corrections. We need to work to be true peacemakers in our school community, not just peacekeepers. We need to stop placing blame and start presenting solutions.

Deer Valley is a good school. I could spend a half hour telling you about all the high achievers, programs, clubs, sports, music, and high academics that exist at Deer Valley but I hope you already know about those things.

There are a very small number of kids, I believe about 50, which is only about two percent of the entire student body that are a problem for this campus. Unfortunately, so much attention is being given to this problem group that the general consensus of public opinion is that this is a terrible school with an ineffective administration and out of control kids where nothing good could possibly happen. I am here to tell you the opposite is true.

When you think of an out of control situation, what comes to mind? Syria, the Ebola crisis, a prison on the verge of lockdown, riots, chaos? I can tell you that at Deer Valley we are very far from the examples I just cited. I believe the pervasive negativity by the community and the media is taking a toll on our kids and teachers. The more you hear something the more you start to believe it. I am around quite a bit and have not seen anything that comes close to an out of control campus. I invite you to come hang out with me at lunch on campus if you don’t believe me.

Fighting is not acceptable, but I personally have seen fights on campus dealt with quickly by the administration. My child is good at communicating with me, as a Junior she has been privy to maybe three or four classroom disruptions (including fights), physical or verbal, total in all her classrooms over the course of the last 2 ½ years. That’s 20 classes and 400 school days with minimal disruption. Most of the kids I have talked to think Deer Valley is a good school. They’ll tell you about kids in their class that make it hard to pay attention or cause problems, but none of them are refusing to go to class because they feel unsafe. If you walk around campus when class is in session there is hardly anyone out and around. There is a security option in place that allows teachers to call for help when needed, and a number to dial if it is an emergency situation. The kids do not run the school, not even close, however the hands of the administration and staff have been tied due to past situations and lawsuits that have severely restricted what they are able to do to enforce discipline and order. We need to realize and admit that we have become hog tied by what is politically correct and by what the media portrays. We are so concerned we might get sued or portrayed as intolerant that we are unwilling to stand up for what’s right. We need to speak truth, we need to draw a line in the sand and call unacceptable behavior exactly that, we need to hold people accountable for their actions and there needs to be real consequences for those actions. This goes for kids as well as adults.

I will not deny there are problems. There are still fights, and we do have paid security guards on campus to help keep our kids safe. I’m sure the typical high school issues of sex, drugs, and alcohol are there. This is high school. There will always be problems as there will never be a perfect school. To my knowledge there never has been, mine definitely wasn’t. School is a place where you get an education, not just from books, but also from life experience. There are always things we can do better. Teachers and kids need to feel safe and supported. As hard as it is to accept, we won’t be able to reach every kid, and it won’t always be the greatest environment, but we can reinforce the positive instead of focusing so much on the negative and buying into half truths and generalizations. One, two, or even 10 out of control kids doesn’t not mean the entire campus of over 2,500 is out of control and unmanageable. My experience with this administration has been positive. I believe they are trying to do their best for the school. They have shown themselves willing to communicate as well as own mistakes when they occur. They have control of this campus as a whole, and are working hard to keep it that way. We need to trust them and support them so they can do their job.

We can’t stop every negative thing from happening, and sometimes those things happen just because of people interacting. Pitting people against each other never solves anything; it just sets the stage for a toxic environment. We all need to work together to keep things from being blown out of proportion. Deer Valley is it’s own community with many good teachers and parents involved in it that deserve our support. In the coming days I hope we can reverse some of the negative out there with some positive.

I would ask the school board to take a hard line with the media. I for one am tired of seeing positive interviews cut out or dismissed. If they can’t portray both sides, or are unwilling to report on positive occurrences as well as the negative, then don’t give them access to our schools. I also ask the board to look for viable solutions, not just those that are politically acceptable.

Make the hard choices that will affect real change.

Angie Jorgenson

Antioch

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Payton Perspective: Candidates who won’t debate show arrogance toward voters

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Payton Perspective logo 300x140 Payton Perspective: Candidates who wont debate show arrogance toward votersBy Allen Payton

Candidates who won’t debate their opponents during campaigns show arrogance and disdain to the voters they’re wanting to represent.

Usually it’s the candidate who is leading in the race, and usually it’s the incumbent or officeholder running for higher office against a less well-known candidate who is challenging them.

The other word that comes to mind is chicken. Those who won’t debate are afraid of either something about them or their record being shared by their opponent that they can’t defend, or questions from the media they don’t want to have to answer. Ultimately they’re afraid of losing votes.

Two current examples are Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and more locally, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier.

Newsom, in his bid for re-election, faces former California Republican State Party Chairman Ron Nehring in the November election. The former Mayor of San Francisco refuses to face Nehring to debate the issues and his record as Lt. Governor.

DeSaulnier, running for Congress against retired Federal Immigration Judge Tue Phan, wouldn’t appear at a Walnut Creek Sunrise Rotary Club debate, scheduled for yesterday (Tuesday, October 14).

I view campaigns as the time the public gets to decide whether to hire a new office seeker, renew the contract for an incumbent running for reelection, or give a promotion to a candidate running for higher office.

The election is the interview and job performance review process. We the people, as their employers, have a right to know what all candidates believe, hear all candidates share their positions on the issues and defend their records. All candidates have that responsibility.

Those who won’t debate their opponents fail their performance review and don’t deserve to be hired, have their contract renewed or promoted.

While it may be a clever campaign tactic, it’s just wrong and disrespectful to the voters.

It’s time Newsom and DeSaulnier show some respect to their bosses – those of us whom they want to continue serving – and debate their opponents.

 

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Watchdog: Overview of Antioch City Council candidates

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Overview of Antioch City Council candidatesBy Barbara Zivica

The following eight candidates are competing to fill two open seats on the Antioch City Council. Here’s my perspective on the candidates.

Steven Bado: Research turns up little info. States his age as 40 and occupation as sales manager. He failed to attend the recent debate or respond to a press request for comment. I’ve crossed him off my list.

Karl Dietzel: Retired commercial sales rep. Have corresponded with him since Measure C hit the ballot box in 2012. An involved knowledgeable citizen. Wants the city to hire a full time economic development director and rehire community service and code enforcement officers who can perform jobs the cops have had to assume in their absence. Good candidate.

Diane Gibson Gray: Former telecommunications executive, Antioch Unified School District trustee (seated in 2008, term ends in 2016). None of the current school board members warrant my vote for a variety of reasons e.g. 2 bond measures, desire to levy a special tax for fiscal 2014-15, opposition to Dozier Libbey as a independent charter school and, after the district received nearly $9.4 million this year in supplemental funds due to more than 55% of students being low income, English learners or foster youth, board members then ratified salary and health benefit adjustments, increasing compensation for members of all three labor groups by about $3.5 million.

Jeffrey Hall Cottreil: States his occupation as campus security for AUSD. Due to the fact he, too did not show up for the debate forum or reply to a press request, I’ve crossed him off my list.

Lori Ogorchock: Realtor with a varied background in business and community service. Unable to attend the candidate forum due to a previously booked and paid for real estate conference in Texas but sent a surrogate who spoke on her behalf. Has good ideas on economic growth and responsible spending. Former Walnut Creek Reserve Police Officer who states community safety as first priority. Good candidate.

Anthony Segovia: Age 27. States he’s a financial analyst and a small business owner. I ran his name with FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and didn’t come up with a hit. Recent press article states he’s currently on probation for two charges of insurance fraud and a grand theft. Doesn’t meet my standards for holding office.

Lamar Thorpe: Supported by the Contra Costa Labor Council and the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council. Said his major accomplishment in Antioch was running Councilwoman Monica Wilson’s campaign. I found his campaign flyer stating he was born in prison, etc. a big turnoff. Now he’s denying a sexual abuse charge which occurred when he was in college. Due to lack of testimony from the victim he was only found in violation of disorderly conduct for lewd and indecent behavior, according to a Findings of Fact report. Not a good candidate.

Tony Tiscareno: former steelworker, political director for the Contra Costa Labor Council and appointed city council incumbent. When then-Councilman Wade Harper became mayor in 2012, that left his council seat vacant. The council then decided to appoint an applicant to fill the remaining two years of Harper‘s term. Nine people applied, including former Mayors Jim Davis and Don Freitas, and former Mayor Pro Tem Manny Soliz, Jr. On a 3-1 vote (Gary Agopian dissenting) the council chose Tony Tiscareno. He’s done nothing on the council to warrant my vote.

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Ruehlig responds to letter supporting Belle

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Strong words are but noise if not verified.

Responding to an October Letter to the Editor [published in the Antioch Herald] by Rev. Austin Miles, a supporter of my opponent Jeff Belle, on criticism of a decision I made as Area 5 Trustee for the CCC Board of Education, here are the facts.

Contra Costa is a Class 2 county office of education (COE) serving 171k students.  Of the 10 Class 2 COEs in California, Contra Costa has the 4th highest cost of living; yet has the lowest compensated county superintendent.  In comparison, there are district superintendents in Contra Costa and Class 3 county superintendents in California with higher salaries/benefits than our own Class 2 county superintendent.

Yes, I voted to give a modest 2% salary increase for the county superintendent, similar to the salary increase provided to all other COE employees to adjust to cost of living changes.  Where does Rev. Miles get his information of a $40k salary increase?

Contra Costa COE is financially healthy with a positive certification and a 6+% reserve.  Although 7 employees were given layoff notices in March 2014; two voluntarily transferred with their career tech programs to the local district while the creative move to offer the Supplemental Early Retirement Program (SERP) allowed the agency to retain the other five.  SERP prompted voluntary retirement of 51 top-step salaried employees, replacing them with 46 lower-step salaried employees.  This reorganization will bring 1.3 million in savings over the next 3 years.  Rev. Miles is misinformed in claiming “38 school staff had to be laid off due to lack of funds”.

Education is a non-partisan issue.  From school, college and county board trustee, to county and state superintendent, no elected position in education is party affiliated.  I dismiss Rev. Miles’ reference to a political party for its divisiveness. 

Common Core is a serious issue and deserves serious consideration.  Mr. Miles‘ use of political rhetoric that Common Core “is so important to the Communists that a 500 million bribe was given to Tennessee to push it in” is delirious.  Irrational criticism of a system in its infancy exploits the situation for personal and political gain.  Mr. Miles does not offer solutions; only chatter that adds to the many challenges of implementing a new standard.  There are many intelligent questions that need to be asked about Common Core.  Why resort to silly?

Focus on policies, not politics.  Passing Prop 30 in 2012 guaranteed funding.  Adopting the Local Control Funding Formula in 2014 simplified financing.  Implementing the Local Control Accountability Plan decentralized goal setting and defined ten priorities to measure success.  California is at a crux.  To create the best comprehensive educational program for our children, we need the collaborative effort of stakeholders. Let’s stick to just the facts.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Antioch

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Writer says Jeff Belle will fight Common Core

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA), grabbed $1.6 billion from state funds to bring Common Core education to California. This money came from funds that the governor says are not there for assistance to homeless veterans, street repair, more police officers and firefighters.

Hundreds of classic textbooks have been thrown away and replaced with Common Core printed material. Now when facing a math problem, the student is told to figure out…now get this…“the most friendly answer.” How’s that again?

Common Core, pushed by Bill Ayers and Obama, has removed traditional history and literature, replacing it with, “information finding.” Their purpose is to dumb down our children. This is so important to the Communists that a $500 million bribe was given in Tennessee to push it in.

Fortunately, a California man, Jeff Belle, has hopped into the fray to put a stop to the madness and bring sanity back to the U.S. School system. He is running for the County School Board of the 5th District of Northern California, which includes, Bay Point, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood and Discovery Bay. He is determined to see Common Core hit the floor and to restore sensible education.

Mr. Belle said that he is committed to “restoring academic pride for students and their futures.” He feels that no matter what neighborhood a student comes from, with the proper teachers, that student can succeed.

What happens in California is usually picked up throughout the nation. One man can trigger this very positive chain-reaction which is sorely needed at this point to get our schools back to the classical education it was in the beginning. It is to be noted that the school system in America was started by the church.

A combination teacher/philosopher, Mr. Belle, in a personal interview, stated firmly that “A child’s future should not be determined by their zip code.” He says the teachers must set an example with this thought: “If you can’t see it—you’ll never be it.” That is a valid challenge for all of us, to be a positive example. As for teachers, he cautions, “Caring must precede teaching.”

Jeff Belle has solid experiences to back him up. He worked in D.C. for a Republican Senator and a Congressman. After Washington, he worked as city manager, coordinating five towns in Oklahoma, then, served as a registered lobbyist in D.C. and Oklahoma for tribal governments, universities and banks.

He currently serves on the County Transportation Authority Advisory Council, County Emergency Medical Care Board and, the County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, as well as being active in his church.

Mr. Belle’s opponent, Cynthia Ruehlig, whom I love and her husband, Walter, has made some moves that has cost her this vote. For example, an outgoing school superintendent whose salary was – and pension will be – $220,000 a year, voted to give this superintendent an extra $40,000 a year boosting that pension, while at the same time, 38 school staff members had to be laid off due to lack of funds. This was not clear thinking.

Candidate Jeff Belle thinks much differently. We need him. California needs him. The nation, who will follow this California example, needs him.

Rev. Austin Miles

Oakley

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