Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Letter writer upset about proposed state gas tax increase

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Editor:

Assembly Member Jim Frazier wants to add a 17 cent per gallon tax on gas in addition to our already outrageous cost of living. He wants this tax increase to cover transportation costs. This tax would generate $7.4 billion.

Illegal aliens cost California taxpayers more than $25 billion per year. Here is a novel idea, stop supporting these illegals (in some cases they receive far more than U.S. citizens), and many problems would be solved at the same time, by the same action. Most illegals would return to their country of origin or go elsewhere. This would relieve the strain on the state budget, the strain on the water supply, the strain on the judicial system, education, jail systems to name a few.

All of these positives and more could be achieved by actually enforcing current, existing laws. By doing so, we would not need a 17 cent per gallon gas tax increase and would still have more than $17.6 billion left from the $25 billion that illegals cost California taxpayers annually.

In an honest system, we could even receive a tax cut, but I just do not see this happening. By myself, I have supported more families than I have actual family members. I, for one, am growing extremely weary of it.

We are no longer citizens or constituents, only taxpayers or dollar signs.

Steven Payne

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Antioch resident thanks postal worker who rescued her from rattlesnake in home

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
Rattlesnake in letter writer's home.

Rattlesnake in letter writer’s home.

Dear Editor:

On July 29th, I came face to face with a four-foot-long rattlesnake. All my gratitude goes to my mailman, Patrick Dorn, who has been working for the U.S. Postal Service for thirty-three years. Pat, as I know him, has been safely removing snakes from homes all around the Mira Vista Hills where I live for years, always on his own time. In only the last five years, Pat has relocated at least seven snakes, protecting all the human (and reptile!) lives involved.

That warm July morning, I spent the early hours doing chores around my house. I stepped outside to water plants and feed the birds, and when I returned inside, I heard a strange noise I couldn’t place. It reminded me of a loud hiss, like air escaping a pipe, so I called my daughter to tell her about what I thought was a gas leak. Her husband suggested that perhaps a water pipe had burst under the house, a common issue in my area.

So I went about my usual business, tidying up my living room and cleaning my dining room table. For nearly two hours, the hissing continued, and I was completely puzzled, looking all around my house as I asked my daughter to come over and inspect it with me. When she arrived with a small search party, my tiny Japanese Chin was mysteriously quiet; usually, when I have visitors, my dog barks very loudly, but today she was whimpering. I never even considered why she was so silent.

Postal worker Patrick Dorn

Postal Carrier Patrick Dorn

Together with my daughter, her husband, and my son-in-law, we began to search for the source of the hissing. I was looking at the ceiling when suddenly, my daughter grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me backwards, her landing on top of me. We landed on a table, toppling it, sending remotes and snacks clattering to the floor. It happened so quickly I had no time to question her actions, no time to even feel pain, because from there on the floor, I could see the source of the bizarre noise.

There, under my dining room table — the very same table I had cleaned earlier that day! — was an enormous rattlesnake, curled up and shaking its tail. It was a huge, thick adult with at least eight rattles on its tail, and my heart jumped into my throat. My daughter helped me scramble to a safe distance, and all at once, my son-in-law and my daughter’s husband began to debate how to safely get rid of the snake. Animal Services was closed that day, and although we called the police, they never arrived. As the men in the room pondered the safest way to remove the reptile threat, I recalled my mailman Pat telling me to call him if I ever found a snake in my home. Fingers shaking, I quickly dialed his number.

Pat explained that he and his wife were “on vacation,” enjoying lunch at a Chinese restaurant and preparing to leave for Hawaii the next day. Nonetheless, not thirty minutes later, Pat arrived at my home with a borrowed snake stick. If the snake had come into my house just a day later, Pat would never have been able to come get him.

Exuding calm expertise, Pat set an empty trash bin beside my table and brandished the snake stick. Slowly, he pulled out one of the chairs, and the snake rattled again, the sound almost deafening in my echoing living room. With careful and practiced movements, Pat pinched the snake with the stick and lifted it, gently placing it at the bottom of the trash can before placing the top on. Now the snake could be relocated far away from my and other homes in the Mira Vista Hills.

I felt my body slump with relief, and all I could do was thank Pat over and over for coming to help me. No one should ever try what Pat does without the knowledge he has! He knows how to handle these snakes, how to read them and know if they are aggressive or lethargic. This is not a how-to guide for wrangling snakes. This is simply the story of how my kind and brave mailman saved me from a rattlesnake, and I am so happy that Patrick Dorn is my friend and now my savior.

The writer chose to remain anonymous.

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Fact Check: Crime statistics, police staffing during Harper’s term as Mayor support, undermine his claims

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

There’s an old saying that goes “figures don’t lie but liars do figure”. That can be said of some elected officials and candidates for public office. Unfortunately, Americans have come to expect our public officials to lie to us – and some do. More often is the case that candidates make exaggerations during their campaigns. It’s the media’s job to verify the truth and accuracy of their claims.

So, much like the major media does with the presidential candidates and their claims during speeches and press conferences (when they hold them), I thought I’d do a Fact Check of my own on the claims made by Antioch Mayor Wade Harper in his recent re-election campaign announcement. (Please read the article containing it, here).  In it, he stated “Under my leadership as mayor of the city of Antioch we have become a safer and more prosperous city.”

Following is a chart of annual Part I crime statistics in Antioch, as provided on the City’s website which generally supports that claim. Click here to view the details of each year’s crime statistics.

Antioch_Part_I_Crime_and_Arrest_Statistics_2012-JuMostly True

As you can see, between 2012, the year Harper was elected Mayor, and 2015, Part I crimes were down in six of the eight categories which are reported to the FBI. However, during the same time period theft increased 5.5%, rapes increased 82.8%, and Adult Arrests were up 35.5%, and 37.7% compared to 2013. Juvenile arrests, on the other hand decreased by 31.7% between 2012 and 2015. For the latest statistics, comparing crimes during the same time periods, murder, robbery and arson have all increased in 2016 over 2015.

While most of the serious crime categories have experienced decreases, total arrests have increased during the period, leading one to assume that overall crime has increased in Antioch. One argument for that has been because of the additional officers on the Antioch Police force who are available to make more arrests. However, the City had only a net two additional officers by June, 2016 with 91 sworn over August, 2013 when the City had 89.

Therefore, what Harper claimed in his re-election campaign announcement regarding the reduction in crime is mostly true. For Part I crimes through 2015, I give it at best, a rating of 75% true, since six of the eight categories saw a reduction. That’s a grade of C on any test in school, which is a passing grade. But, for 2016 over 2015, I have to give Harper’s claim a rating of 62.5%, which is equivalent of a D, because the decrease has occurred in only five of the eight categories. If you add the increase in adult and total arrests, those ratings have to be decreased, since other, non-Part I crimes must have increased.

Zero Tolerance for Crime?

Comparing the annual and total crime statistics during his term as Mayor to his 2012 campaign slogan “Zero Tolerance for Crime” – while a great goal, was surprising for any candidate to ever offer, since it requires a 100% reduction in crime – Harper’s claim is woefully lacking. The 35 murders, 155 rapes, 1,117 robberies,  1,653 aggravated assaults, 3,897 robberies, 6,631 cases of theft and 3,770 car thefts that have occurred in Antioch during his term as Mayor, clearly undermine his claim of a zero tolerance for crime. While we unfortunately expect candidates for public office to make exaggerations, this is a clear case of over-promising and under-delivering.

4 of 22 Promised Police Officers

More importantly, comparing what he promised in 2013, when he signed the ballot argument in favor of the half-cent sales tax initiative, known as Measure C (view it here), to what has actually occurred, Harper falls seriously short. He and the rest of the City Council, at that time, which included Mary Rocha and Monica Wilson, who are also up for re-election, this year, promised 22 more officers in addition to the 89 the City had at the time, if voters passed Measure C.

Here’s what the ballot argument stated:

A Yes on Measure C will allow us to immediately hire 22 new police officers, decreasing the time it takes to respond to 911 calls. It will also provide funds to reduce the number of gang-related homicides, assaults and robberies. Our police force has dwindled from 126 officers four years ago to only 89 today.

To date, the City has 93 sworn police officers giving us just four of the 22 additional officers they promised. That means Harper, Rocha and Wilson, as well as Tiscareno (who isn’t up for re-election, this year) have fallen 81.8% short of fulfillment. It’s another clear case of over-promising and under-delivering.

In his campaign announcement, Harper also stated “We’ve had the most aggressive hiring practice, recruiting about 40 police officers since passage of Measure C.  That’s a promise kept. That’s effective leadership.” What he failed to mention is the fact that the City lost 36 officers during the same time period, due to retirement, and others who quit or were terminated, leaving a net four additional officers. Thus his claim of a “promise kept” is false and is actually a promise broken.

As for Harper’s claim of “effective leadership” that is a subjective statement which I’ll leave up to the voters to decide.

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Royal Family Kids thanks those who helped make camp for foster children possible

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Dear Editor:

Our heartfelt “Thank you” to the following gracious donors who supported Royal Family Kids 2016! Your generosity allowed us to take 51 local foster children to camp this summer! On behalf of the children we serve and that you blessed, “thank you!”

JDK Realty, Terry Beyers, CMA-Christian Motorcycle Association, Linus Project, Delta Quilters, Rich Products, Great America, Deer Ridge Golf, Buffalo Wild Wings, Disneyland, Lucy’s Nail Salon, Twin Palms/Alicia Powell, Sweet Affair, Lauryn’s Jewelers, Vic Stewart’s, Brentwood Auto Spa, Kids-N-Cribs, Kevin Murphy Salon, Trinity Gunsmithing/Chris O’Connor, Shadow Lakes Golf Course, Movement Mortgage, Cornerstone Church-Brentwood & Walnut Creek, Of His Fold Photography- Rita Ortiz, Allen Payton & Antioch Herald, Delta RC Hobbies, Jenness Park, Audrey Hammel, Harvest Park Bowl, Battlefit Gym, Miettes, Crixa Cakes, CMA in Nashville, Daryle, Arnold Knoll, Eden Plains Nursery, Sofas 4 Less, Erica Turner, Mike Hester, Golden Hills Community Church, Pink Zebra, Good Scents Florist, GHCC Kairos Team, Brian & Anna Beakhouse, Rosa Franklin, Hook Line & Sinker, San Francisco 49ers, House of Charm, Starbucks-Antioch & Pittsburg, House Pet Sitting Services/Jenna Loewen, Spirit West Coast, James Andreggen/Pixar, Alert K-9, Jerry Theobald, Clif Bars/Mary Morris, Joanne Bell, Stockton Ports, Joslyn Fenyes, Tim & Cindy Demercurio, Karen Maze-Bettancourt, AMC Theaters, KorrieDidio, Big O Tires/Pittsburg, Lone Tree Golf Course, Tonic, Max Martial Arts/Matt Rosalez, Hair by Caitlyn, Revive Salon & Spa-Brittany Thorpe, Cushing & Gann Optometry, Robert & Susan Martinez, Amy Vasquez, San Francisco Ballet, Melissa Buell Photography,    Foster a Dream, Discovery Bay Yacht Club, Skipolini’s, ThirtyOne, Steve Todd, Mike’s Pastry Shop and Sweet Streets Desserts.

For more information about Royal Family Kids, please visit www.Brentwood.RoyalFamilyKids.org.

Dave & Sue Bowers, Directors

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Analysis: Antioch voters reject Council’s direction on ballot measures

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Last week, the people of Antioch voted the complete opposite of the intent and desire of the Antioch City Council by overwhelmingly passing one measure and rejecting the other, that the council placed on the June ballot. Measure E passed and Measure G failed, both by about two-to-one margins.

Measure E passes

First, Measure E, which made changes to the city ordinance on card rooms, and now requires an election for a second one, passed by 67.04% to 32.96%, according to the latest figures. Of course it helped that the owner of the California Grand Casino in Pacheco spent over $310,000 (almost all of it out of town) to eliminate additional competition for himself in Antioch.

Yet, only three of the council members actually put some of their money where their mouths were by helping pay for a newspaper ad and a few campaign signs. Councilwoman Monica Wilson abstained on the vote to place the measure on the ballot, after having signed the petition to force the council to either adopt the language or send it to the ballot. So, I didn’t expect her to do anything to help defeat it. But, after talking tough, saying “we will not be bullied” Mayor Wade Harper didn’t do a thing to help defeat it. That reminds me of his tough, but hollow campaign slogan in 2012 of “Zero Tolerance for Crime.” While three of the council members spent a total of $415 of their own money, that was it. Neither they nor the mayor raised money from any of their supporters, or even wrote a letter to the editor to try to help defeat it.

I urged the mayor and council members to step up and lead the charge. But, they left it up to the family members who own Kelly’s – which was the target of the measure – to form the committee and financially back the No on E campaign. The family spent about $9,000 of their own money (most of it in Antioch) to try to defeat the measure, in spite of the fact they’ve pretty much been out of business for years.

Even the local front person for the Yes on E campaign, Lamar Thorpe, didn’t contribute even $100 or raise any money to help pass his pet measure, based on the campaign finance reports. So, he didn’t put his money where his mouth was, either. Now, I guarantee you he will try to use the issue to help him run for City Council, this fall saying how he helped protect the people of Antioch. All he did was let that Pacheco casino use him to advance their cause of eliminating more competition. Antioch won’t be any safer as a result of the passing of Measure E. We were lied to. Plus, what a hypocritical message for him and his campaign to say “stop the expansion of gambling” by using money from a casino.

Measure G fails, again

The other item on the ballot was Measure G, another attempt by the City Council on a 5-0 vote, to turn the elected position of City Treasurer into an appointed one. Once, again the voters said “no” loud and clear by defeating it, according to the latest figures, by 63.17% to 36.83%. We sent them the same message just four years ago in June, 2012 when we voted to oppose changing both the City Treasurer and City Clerk to appointed positions by 70.85% to 29.15%.

Here, again, the council members did nothing to help pass the measure. They didn’t form a campaign committee, raise any money, pay for any signs, advertising or mailers, or even send one letter to the editor in support of the measure. Two of them were too busy running for higher office and raising money for that, to bother putting any effort into fulfilling their current positions – serving the people of Antioch.

It’s time that the current city council members and treasurer, Donna Conley, as well as all future council candidates and city treasurers got the message that we the people want a separate, independent set of eyes on the city’s books. That’s needed now, more than ever with the way Measures C and O monies are being collected and spent.

It’s also time the City Council gave back the necessary responsibilities and authority to the treasurer’s position to be the check and balance we want and need, and will hold the city staff and council accountable.

In fact, one thing the council should and can do immediately is create a seat on the Measure C Citizens Oversight Committee for the city treasurer, to help be a watchdog over the city’s finances.

But, even if the council doesn’t return any power to our elected city treasurer, the person who holds that position can still use it as a bully pulpit to keep us informed with clear explanations of how our money is being spent and/or wasted.

According to County Registrar of Voters, Joe Canciamilla, his department “provided the City of Antioch with a cost estimate range for these two measures of between $2.00 – 2.50 per registered voter in the City of Antioch.  We won’t have final billing information to them with the exact amount until August.  With some 48,677 registered voters as of the 15 day close of registration this would put the cost at between $97,374 and $121,692.”

So, basically, the results of the June election are as follows: First, the voters will now get to vote on approving a second card room in Antioch; second, the city treasurer will continue to be an elected position; and third, they sent a message to the mayor and council, clearly repudiating their lack of action which wasted as much as $120,000 of taxpayer money by placing both measures on the ballot, then doing little to nothing to pass or defeat them. If they weren’t going to make a serious effort to defeat Measure E, they could have just adopted the ordinance, instead. While it only cost a bit more to have Measure G on the ballot, it’s still our money that was wasted, since no campaign effort was mounted to pass it.

Note to current and future council members: if you’re going to spend taxpayer dollars to place a measure on the ballot, you need to be willing to mount a serious campaign to pass or defeat it. It’s one thing to talk tough. It’s another to actually take action.

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Rep. McNerney issues statement on Orlando nightclub shooting

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Washington – Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) issued the following statement in response to the horrific Orlando nightclub mass shooting that has so far left 49 people dead and 53 injured:

“Our entire nation is in shock after yet another senseless mass shooting devastates the Orlando community, and I mourn with the families and victims of this tragedy. Our mourning must be coupled with action. This is the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history where 49 Americans were killed and many others injured by an assault weapon. This was also an act of hate against LGBT Americans who were gathered together to celebrate Pride, like so many LGBT communities across America will do this month.  We cannot stand for these acts of hate, violence, and terrorism that cut short the lives of too many innocent victims. Gun violence is a problem that affects our communities on a daily basis and we must take steps to reduce it. This means passing commonsense gun reforms that will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and dangerous people and making sure our law enforcement officials have the tools and resources they need to keep our communities safe. I stand with the people of Orlando, the LGBT community, and all victims of gun violence to fight for solutions that will reduce violence and save lives.”

McNerney represents the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District which includes portions of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties. For more information on his work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.

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Letter writer wants to know who paid for The Wilson Watch ad

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Editor:

The campaign ads in the June 2016 issue are not surprising and all enjoy their freedom of expression.

I just have one question to ask.

The full-page ad for Hardcastle is identified as paid for by Friends of Hardcastle.

The quarter-pager for Amador is identified as paid for by Amador for Congress.

And the full-page No on E ad is identified as paid for by Antioch Friends for Local Control.

All these show either an active FPPC ID or a Facebook page.

So riddle me this:

Who paid for the full-page hatchet job on Wilson?

Neither group name, nor FPPC ID, nor any mechanism of contact is offered from this party, which ends its layout with a fusillade of well-worn dog-whistles concerning our economic refugees, nearly non-existent voter fraud, and any manner of advanced understanding of citizens of alternate gender classification. This following a ceremonial shaming of someone for being a member of the so-called “precariat”.

I have been lucky to work at my present employer for nearly 15 years, but my work record before this would not have passed this ad-maker’s muster of being employed somewhere longer than five-and-a-half years. What are we to make of these unnamed snobs who thumb their noses at those of us to have had to work to find work?

For a faction positioning itself as a watcher, they sure like their invisibility.

Avery Colter

Antioch

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Publisher’s comments regarding The Wilson Watch ad in our June print edition

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

By Allen Payton, Publisher

It has come to my attention that some people think the full-page ad about Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson who is currently a candidate for Supervisor, entitled “The Wilson Watch” in the June, 2016 issue of the Antioch Herald was paid for by me or was from the Doug Hardcastle for Supervisor campaign. This is to clearly state that it was not paid for by me, nor by anyone associated with Doug Hardcastle or his campaign, for which I am a paid consultant, as I explained in the March, 2016 print edition of the Antioch Herald.

The ad was purchased by a party who chose to place it in the paper, and remain anonymous, which is why I required the words “Paid Advertisement” be placed at the top of the ad.

While the purchaser is not required to be identified, because the ad is not considered a political advertisement under state law, as it does not advocate for or against a candidate, I informed the purchaser that if I am legally required to provide their name(s), I will. They accepted that fact before placing the ad.

Refusing to run such an ad would be considered censorship. However, neither I nor the Antioch Herald accepts any responsibility for the content of the ad.

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