Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Watchdog: Sign Harper’s recall petition, police staffing still too low

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Sign Harpers recall petition, police staffing still too lowBy Barbara Zivica

It’s April – time for spring cleaning. Start by signing the recall Mayor Wade Harper petition. We’ll deal with the rest of council later when they’re up for re-election. Please, folks stop re-electing the same people over and over. It’s obvious conditions in Antioch haven’t improved under their watch.

When Measure C, the seven-year, half-cent sales tax measure passed in 2013, the official ballot stated the measure was “to fund all essential city services, including increased police staffing to reduce crime and gang activities and improve 911 emergency response time; restored code enforcement to clean up blighted properties; and local economic development and job creation.”

At that time the police department was stating they had 87 full-time sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity, although they were authorized for 102 officers.

In 2014, Measure O, a business license tax which updated the existing business license tax to include a residential landlord business license tax, was passed. Again the sales pitch was to increase police staffing levels.

However, a recent report from the Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee, appointed to oversee disbursements of Measure C funds, states that at present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain, five more officers than Antioch had in 2013, based on information given to the committee.

Huh? True the city may have hired five new officers but, as the report states, attrition has been happening almost as fast as hiring, We’re back to the same number of officers we started with in 2013.

As for Measure C fund accounting, it appears the City is using Measure C money to pay for police pay raises and promotion costs. The city’s General Fund should be paying not only for the 87 police officers and their raises but for the 102 officers authorized for hire at that time. Measure C money should only be paying for the 103rd officer hired and so on.

As for the funds generated by passage of Measure O, the money, like the money generated by Measure C, technically goes into the General Fund and can be used for any legitimate governmental purpose. The reason the city never put a dedicated police tax measure on the ballot is because it would require 2/3 voter approval to pass rather than a 50% plus one vote. Only 11,175 residents voted in regard to Measure C and 10,236 in regard to Measure O (5,208 voting yes and 5,028 voting no).

Incidentally, the council just passed a resolution to use General Fund reserves to fund an expenditure of $1,827,000 to purchase, install, program, maintain and train on hardware, software and radio equipment in order to become a participating agency in the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority. The expenditure was not included in the approved LFY 2014-15 budget.

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Will L.A. businessman pass the $1 million mark in supporting Glazer for State Senate?

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Smashing state spending records, as of today, Los Angeles businessman Bill Bloomfield has now spent $799,597.04 to elect Steve Glazer to the California State Senate.

That includes $195,197.04 since the March 17th election. And it includes $596,000 in the first round of the election plus the maximum $8400 in direct donations to Glazer (including $4,200 from his wife).

Who is Bloomfield? A long-time Republican who made a convenient switch to being a decline-to-state voter when he unsuccessfully ran against LA Democrat Henry Waxman for Congress, Bloomfield has a huge backer of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger along with President George W. Bush and John McCain. Bloomfield also is an Obamacare critic www.billbloomfield.com/credibility.

This special interest money is on top of the $493,805.02 JobsPAC has spent for Glazer and $223,496.78 from the Charter Schools IE.

What are all these wealthy interests putting their money behind Glazer? Because he doesn’t support increasing the minimum wage? Because he favors tax breaks for millionaires? Because he hasn’t have a word about income inequality on his website or campaign materials?

No one knows for sure. But as Bloomfield’s support of Glazer reaches the million dollar mark, it’s time to begin asking those questions.

Steve Maviglio

Forza Communications

Sacramento

Maviglio represents and is a spokesman for unions in California

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Letter writer challenges Glazer’s environmental record

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Steven Glazer is no environmentalist; I did some research. He’s an experienced pitchman who can help a developer distort a land grab by labeling it “creating open space.” A “communications expert” he helped turn a local forest into a golf course when he won approval of a luxury Novato housing project known as Black Point over objections of the Sierra Club. He opposed environmentalists again to defend a developer on the Humboldt Bay Waterfront. These aren’t the only times he helped a developer suppress public protests; ask Orinda residents where he’s mayor.

Glazer claims that his environmental leadership has been recognized by the Trust for Public Land and Save to Bay. Glazer was asked to advise on a finance handbook produced by the Trust. I suppose that could be seen as recognition of his leadership. He made a monetary contribution to Save the Bay that was recognized in the Annual Report. I couldn’t find proof that “Steve led efforts that raised hundreds of millions of dollars to permanently protect open space in California and 25 other states.”

He’s successfully repackaged land deals, propositions, and politicians. Now he’s selling himself the same way.

Carol Weed, Walnut Creek

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Writer responds to Antioch resident moving to Montana to get away from crime

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Dear Editor:

I’ve experienced break-ins. I’ve even had a car stolen off my driveway. This did not happen in Antioch, but at my previous home in Bay Point. Since the last letter writer has made brutal honesty the order of the day, I live in Antioch now because it looked like the nicest place not too far from work I could afford. Some high-walled paradise of absolute safety is a thing few of us can afford these days.

I’ve been over here a couple years, long enough for an election cycle. And I will take perhaps a more controversial position, a frankly socialist one. I am wary of candidates who lead their campaigns proposing brute force crackdowns on stranger-on-stranger crimes, the great majority of which are born of economic desperation. And I think we’ve seen enough this past year, from places far off to right in San Francisco, to know that quality of police officers is at least as important as quantity.

I for one am very heartened to see news of this working group on housing and community services, and look forward to seeing their work progress. Poverty objectively drives people violently mad, and the bite of our taxes to keep such petty thieves caged in advanced criminal training schools for years often turns out to be greater than what we’d lose just giving a fellow citizen some aid before the madness goes toxic.

There is no escape from the question of the people whose poverty leaves them with so little freedom to deal with their issues. That is why when the most recent letter writer spoke of moving to some tiny town in Montana, my first reaction was, “You mean a place with no police department, and a couple of hair-trigger deputies standing between you and a trailer park full of meth labs? Yes, do write back and tell us how that works out for you.”

Avery Ray Colter, Antioch

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Letter writer says Barnes & Noble’s event with Belle sending wrong message to our youth

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Educators work hard for many years to earn their credentials. Educators spend thousands of dollars and begin their profession saddled with debts just to legitimately call themselves educators.

Ironically, educators will be hosted at Barnes and Noble on Educators Appreciation Day by Jeff Belle, a felon who falsifies his credentials mocking the profession as nothing but letters randomly chosen and strategically placed after his last name. www.jeffbelleconman.com.

Barnes and Noble was made aware of Belle’s lies to the community but has chosen to continue with this event. Is Barnes and Noble encouraging our youth to take the easy route; to blatantly falsify credentials instead of going to school and to claim honor when it is not deserved?

This is insensitive to our community.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Belle beat Ruehlig for County School Board in last fall’s election.

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Watchdog: Antioch Police still understaffed in spite of two tax increases, not buying excuses

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Force back down to 87 sworn officers. Reported numbers don’t match, again.

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Antioch Police still understaffed in spite of two tax increases, not buying excusesBy Barbara Zivica

The Antioch Police Department remains understaffed despite passage of Measure C, a one half cent increase in sales in 2013 and Measure O, a business license tax affecting rental properties in 2014. Excuses, excuses.

Back in June, 2013 the department was saying they had 87 full-time, sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity although they had money to hire 102 officers. The excuse was that the application process was so rigorous they couldn’t hire fast enough to replace those who retired or quit. I called the excuse absurd because the department has had the same hiring process for years.

In July of 2014 Chief Allan Cantando stated that staffing was currently at 88 sworn officers and “Antioch is the second most populous city in Contra Costa County. Concord, which is the most populous city currently has 148 sworn officers, Richmond, the third most populous city currently has 190 sworn officers.” The same month William Dee, President of APOA, stated that Antioch was recently deemed the 4th Most Dangerous City in California per FBI statistics.

According to the recently released Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee Report, “At present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain This is five more officers than Antioch had in October 2013 based on information given to the committee.”

This statement obviously does not jive with reports given by APD to Council. (see above) Note Chief Cantando’s excuse now is that the problem is not a lack of applicants, it’s a lack of quality applicants who fall out during the hiring process. I query this excuse also, although there may a kernel of truth in that quality candidates just may not want to work in Antioch. I can’t say I blame them.

Although the Bay Area economy is on the rebound, many Antioch residents have either moved to neighboring jurisdictions or have announced their intent to. Reasons include the higher sales tax, abundance of empty commercial spaces, lack of good restaurants and the continuing crime problems, none of which have improved since Wade Harper, who promised the hiring of 22 more police officers, took office. (The Mayor, who was recently served with a recall petition, just announced his intention to run for re-election in 2016.)

As for Chief Cantando, who has been on the force since 1987, I suspect he is at or nearing retirement age. When he does leave, despite many excellent officers on the force, I sincerely hope the City Manager and Council doesn’t promote from within the department, searching instead to hire a strong chief, like former Chief Jim Hyde, someone who has no prior alliances in the City and who can view our continuing crime problems more objectively and effectively.

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Antioch Police Officers share thoughts on police staffing, crime in letter to the community

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The Antioch Police Officer’s Association would like to take a moment and address concerns regarding crime and the hiring of additional police officers. We are extremely pleased to see the citizens have raised their voices regarding these issues. We appreciate the support we as police officers have received from both the community and our city council. It is grass root efforts that will make this city come together and reduce the crime in our community.

The APOA has had recent meetings with Mayor Harper and other council members in an effort to establish goals and continue to bring more officers to the fight. In the last year, we have made great strides in both hiring of new officers and lowering crime with directed patrol efforts and we are seeing a difference. We believe Mayor Harper and the council are dedicated to giving the Antioch Police Department the resources it needs to reduce crime.

The Antioch Police Department Administration along with the Human Resources Department have been working diligently to conduct interviews and hire the most qualified applicants for the available positions. It is imperative to understand that this is a very long tedious process but crucial to find the best officers. We the APOA want everyone to understand, the crime problem within our community, did not occur over night. The economic downturn, prison release programs, and poorly written propositions are all part of the equation. There is no one person to blame for the crime in our community and this includes Mayor Harper.

The APOA would like to ask the community to come together and use this grass roots momentum to reduce crime. There are several steps you can take which will greatly affect our efforts.

If you see suspicious activity or a crime in progress please call. You can remain anonymous but please remember you are our best witness. Become part of your neighborhood watch program, this will have a direct effect right in your own backyard. Volunteer within the community for events such as neighborhood clean up or become one of our many volunteers in Police Services.

In closing, the APOA feels that we do have the support of the Mayor and council as well as our community. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel and with your help can make great strides in solving this problem.

Thank you,

President
William Dee

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Writer says Bonilla has muddled record on gay rights

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Susan Bonilla must come out to voters on her gay rights record.

As a member of the LGBT community, I am appalled by Assemblywoman Bonilla’s muddled record on gay rights. Not once in her candidacy for the 7th State Senate seat has she explained why as Supervisor she voted for Contra Costa not to stand up against Proposition 8.

Bonilla’s deciding vote made us the only county in the Bay Area to not join the fight against Proposition 8, even though her district voted overwhelmingly against it. And while today she claims to be a support of gay rights, her endorsement of pro-life, anti-gay candidates flies in the face of her newly formulated positions.

There’s only one candidate on the ballot who’s consistently supported marriage equality since her first day in office, and that’s Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan. Joan opposed Proposition 8 when it was politically unpopular, and has a zero-tolerance policy for endorsing candidates who do not support equal rights.

Please join me in supporting Joan Buchanan for State Senate on March 17, 2015.

Robert D. Camacho, Concord

Camacho was a candidate for the Concord City Council in 2012 and a 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton Delegate from the 10th Congressional District to the National Democratic Convention.

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