Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

OP-ED: COVID-19 mitigation is not vacation

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

By Don Amador

With hospitals and emergency responders running out of masks and other PPE in California and elsewhere, it should come as no surprise that local, state, and federal land managers are expanding the scope of their COVID-19 temporary access restrictions to popular destination recreation sites that – are or have the potential to -attract large crowds of visitors.

For example, California State Parks issued a news release late last night that stated, it is taking additional safety measures to reduce crowds and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Many state parks and beaches received record visitation over the weekend which made it impossible for the public to implement appropriate social distancing practices.


The Nevada BLM issued a temporary closure order for the Sand Mountain Recreation Area near Fallon, Nevada.   As many of you know, the Sand Mountain OHV Area is a popular destination site for families and clubs that enjoy riding dirt-bikes, ATVs, SxSs, and 4WD vehicles.


Based on photos and stories posted on social media, it appears that many motorized and non-motorized recreationists have misinterpreted various “shelter-at-home” orders from state or county government as authorization for them to take a short or long-term vacation – often with large groups – on public lands.

Until we collectively “Flatten the Curve,”   recreationists should honor the stay at home directives and if they do go out for trail activities it should be close to home and/or in dispersed areas sans large crowds where social distancing is practiced. Respecting the seriousness of this issue will hasten its resolution and help expedite the withdrawal of closure orders and the reopening of public lands for both casual use and permitted events.

The professional healthcare workers, law enforcement officials, and park maintenance staff that I know, will be greatly appreciative of us doing our part to address the coronavirus.

Amador has 30 years in the recreation management and advocacy profession. Don is president of Quiet Warrior Racing, a recreation consulting company located in Oakley, CA. Don is also CEO of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance, a non-profit group that works with volunteers and land agencies to recover, restore, and reopen recreation facilities damaged by wildfires. Don may be reached via email at:

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OP-ED: Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order for 40 million Californians to Shelter In Place is not an order, it’s a recommendation

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

By Mark Meuser

Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20. The Office of the Governor of California’s official Twitter account said that “Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to establish consistency across the state in order to slow the spread of COVID19.”

However, a more careful look at the Governor’s Executive Order shows that he actually made no such order. ( The Executive Order reads “To preserve the public health and safety, and to ensure the healthcare delivery system is capable of serving all, and prioritizing those at the highest risk and vulnerability, all residents are directed to immediately heed the current State public health directives, which I ordered the Department of Public Health to develop for the current statewide status of COVID-19.”

The word “heed” is the important word in this order. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the word “heed” means “to give consideration or attention to”. As such, Governor Newsom has not actually ordered the people of California to obey the Public Health Officials but instead ordered “all residents are directed to immediately [give consideration to] the current State public health directives.”

While the Governor of California has broad powers to suspend laws and regulations while the state of California is under a State of Emergency, he does not have the power to abolish citizens constitutional rights. (Gov. Code § 8571).

California Constitution Article 1, Section 1 states “All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.

California Constitution Article 1, Section 7 reads “A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws …”.

The problem for Governor Newsom is that the Public Health Officials do not have the authority to quarantine someone who has not been infected. This violates Californians’ Constitutional Rights. The California Courts have held that people have a right of liberty from being quarantined unless the public health official has probably cause that they are infected. In Ex parte Arata, the California Court of Appeals ruled that “A mere suspicion, unsupported by facts giving rise to reasonable or probable cause, will not justify depriving a person of his liberty under an order of quarantine.”

Furthermore, in the case of In re Shepard the California Court of Appeals ruled that “Mere suspicion that an individual is afflicted with an isolable disease was not sufficient to give a health officer ‘reason to believe’ that such person was so afflicted, … making it the duty of health officers to protect the public against spread of such disease from persons whom such officers have ‘reason to believe’ were afflicted with such diseases.”

Public Health Officials do have the authority to quarantine someone who they have reason to believe has been infected by the virus. California law actually permits the Public Health Officials to quarantine such individuals without a court order. In Ex parte Johnson the California Court of Appeals ruled that “One infected with a contagious disease … might be subjected to quarantine regulations by the health commissioner of a city, without its first being judicially established by some proceeding in court that he or she was so infected.”

The reality of the situation in California is that Gavin Newsom has ordered the Department of Public Health to develop a policy for how to deal with the Corona Virus. However, the recommendations by the Department of Public Health are unconstitutional. Rather than ask the Department of Public Health to go back and rewrite the policies, Gavin Newsom tells everyone that he is ordering them to obey the directives of the Department of Public Health. However, regardless of what Gavin Newsom says with his mouth in press conferences or says on his social media accounts, the actual text of his Executive Orders are the laws. (Gov. Code § 8567).

The text of Gavin Newsom’s most recent Executive Order is merely a suggestion that the people of California obey the unconstitutional directive being published by the Department of Public Health. Whether or not it is advisable for people to stay home is not the question, the Department of Public Health does not have the authority to pass such a law, and Gavin Newsom does not have the authority to suspend Californians’ Constitutional Rights just because California is in a State of Emergency.

Meuser is a Constitution and elections law California attorney with the Dhillon Law Group. He is a former resident of Contra Costa County and 2018 candidate for California Secretary of State. You can follow him on Facebook.

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Writer supports Supervisor Burgis for re-election for her “integrity, brilliance and imagination”

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Dear Editor:

I writing to express my genuine respect, admiration, and appreciation for Supervisor Diane Burgis and whole-heartedly support her re-election.

We are blessed to have a leader with the level of integrity, brilliance, and imagination that Diane has demonstrated in serving the people of Contra Costa. She is a woman who is relentless in her efforts to bring innovation to our region and has made significant strides towards job and business creation to support our local workforce.

I have witnessed first-hand Diane’s wisdom and her dedication to regional improvement through her work on business-based drone development in far east Contra Costa, the creation of a multimillion-dollar light industrial park at the site of the former DuPont plant in Oakley, and the launch of the Family Justice Center in Antioch that includes job training and support for people who have been victims of human trafficking as well as those who seek skills training in technology employment through the work of the “Love Never Fails” project that has made significant impact throughout the Bay Area.

Diane is accessible and genuinely loves our communities and those of us who live here. Please cast your vote for Supervisor Diane Burgis, so she can continue with the amazing work she is doing for the benefit of our families. My husband Keith is fully in support of this statement.

Iris Archuleta


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Antioch Police Officer’s Association recommends Glover for Supervisor

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Dear Editor:

Our Antioch Police Officer’s Association is proud to recommend Supervisor Federal Glover on Election Day, March 3rd.

Please join us.

Under Supervisor Federal Glover’s leadership, Contra Costa County has opened a new Family Justice Center in Antioch to help victims of domestic violence, elder abuse and human trafficking. Supervisor Glover also fought for cameras to deter freeway shooters on Hwy 4. The Antioch Police Officer’s Association joins Antioch Firefighters and 911 personnel in supporting Supervisor Glover’s re-election.

Steve Aiello

President, Antioch Police Officers’ Association

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Antioch School Board Trustee Householder calls on Gibson-Gray to resign as Board President

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Open letter to Diane Gibson-Gray

Dear Diane,

Please resign as board president.

But before you do, allow me to explain why I am making this request.

In the hours, days, and weeks following the tragic murder of our student, Jonathan “Jon Jon” Parker, at Deer Valley High School, you were silent. While the community looked for leadership, action, and compassion, you were busy posting nonsense on social media. Your tone-deaf response highlights your character and lack of qualifications for your position. Given the magnitude of this moment, you have clearly demonstrated you are not fit for public office. While that is for the voters to decide, you have no business being board president.

You were nominated as board president with the claim that your experience would help us through a “tough” year. Well, here we are. After a horrific tragedy that traumatized our children and our entire community, you quite simply failed to act in a timely and appropriate manner.

At our February 12th board meeting, you cried for the public over the death of Jon Jon. What you failed to mention to the public, after your crocodile tear-filled “prayers,” were the multiple requests from other board members and demands from the public to discuss district safety procedures, to be allowed to grieve, and to have a voice after Jon Jon’s death.

This is appalling for a number of reasons.

First, as you have pointed out in past meetings, we are one board with one voice, not a board with five different voices. But as board president, it was your choice to not call an emergency meeting immediately following a fatal shooting that took place on school grounds. That means that you, independently, chose to “voice” our opinion as a board by not saying a single word and ignoring the public’s cries. It is because of this you have no business being board president.

Second, after multiple requests from your colleagues, you deliberately disregarded our calls to add safety as an item for discussion at the February 12th board meeting. If you can’t be bothered to add six words to an agenda, you have no business being board president.

Third, after refusing to put “safety” as an item for discussion, you chose to ignore the calls by colleagues–who represent the entire community–to talk about the death of Jon Jon. You said our superintendent didn’t have “enough time” to “prepare” for a discussion regarding safety. As I stated during the meeting, the superintendent works for us as a board, not the other way around.

If you can’t see that we are beholden to the community, not the superintendent, you have no business being board president.

Your behavior since being elected board president follows the same pattern that I wrote about in my last op-ed.

No words, anger, or action will ever bring Jon Jon back to us. What we can do, as a board, is take responsibility for our actions and hold ourselves accountable for the lack of protection we provided on that horrific night. But for that to happen, we need true leadership, the kind you are clearly unable to provide.

Please step down.


Fellow Trustee, Ellie Householder

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Homeless Antioch resident shares concerns, discussion group in downtown for mental health and wellness

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Dear Editor:

With pride, A Cup of Jo Bruno (ACoJB) presents a bittersweet blend of warmth and sacred space while providing an opportunity for delta life to be recognized for the unique attributes to downtown Antioch. While currently homeless, ACoJB is building a community with the folks who know the rituals of delta living. As seasons change, the early morning routines will be met with fresh coffee, baked goods and special guest appearances from local advocates and funders of upcoming development in the area. Before the normal business hours of downtown Antioch, there is a unique opportunity to strengthen what has since been lost; community. Community builds family, and downtown Antioch has lost family along the way because we have forgotten our community. We seem to have forgotten a lot.

Antioch is a shadow of what it once was. It’s at the dark side of the moon. The tides keep rising and falling and the fish are still biting, but downtown Antioch is the hidden gem that seems to be looked over. Surrounding cities, and even mid/up-town Antioch are being developed where folks are spending their money in the newly acquired space. However, from Highway 4 to the Delta waters and A Street to Auto Center Drive, not so much. I could even throw in the Antioch Mall to this region of Downtown Antioch. What’s really going on folks? Maybe we don’t want new people here. Maybe we don’t want the oldtown feel to change. Maybe we don’t trust outsiders. Maybe we are just too scared to open our arms to something that will change the unique beauty of our culture. As a matter of fact, it very well could be because we are still fighting amongst ourselves and blaming others for our inability to accept our unique culture for what it is. But, regardless of the reasons or opinions of others, we need to develop downtown Antioch.

There are layers here. There are dark corners, shady ledges, and some low-down places along these delta lines. The homelessness. The drugs. The death along the tracks. The hidden secrets of women and the most dangerous of situations. The missing girls and boys. Drug and human trafficking. The beauty of small-town business and their owners. The unseen truths of trade and barter. The respect and honor held between strangers as they share a joint and enjoy the colors of our delta sunrise and sunset. There are those who smell of the waters from coming back from a fishing trip and others who are still sleepy-eyed, going out for their first attempt at fishing that day. The piers have lines dropped every day. You’ll find, in some hidden corners, an attempt to take a life, save a life and even birth a life in the marshlands of the delta.

We are all shades of ghetto and rock and roll. We love low riders with miniature tires and hydraulic jumps. Don’t get us started with the sideshows and loud music. Or the spray paint tagging you’ll find along the train tracks. The trains themselves are constant with their horns, too. Road hogs, Harley’s, and crotch rockets can be found in parking lots all along the water line. There’s the industrial side of things where the dust is kicked up from outside forklift use. The semi-trucks are constantly in and out of our driveways. The grease is on our knuckles, mud on our boots, and weed in our pockets. In a blink of an eye, we’ve seen two dispensaries show up. Thank you! But we won’t ever forget the backwoods dank. Bottom line, we don’t do much, but we do it all together. We watch out for each other. We keep our distance when we need to. We are as dysfunctional as any other community family and it’s about time we show the Bay Area what we’re about.

The laughter, the tears, the anger and pain. The love, the compassion, the secrets and rewards. The humor, the slang, the language and cultures. We are a breed of river rats with foul mouths and a don’t-give-a-darn attitude. We’ll jump from pleasant to ratchet in a split second then buy you a drink. We are the misfits, the rejects and troublemakers. We don’t listen well, but we know how to talk. We break rules, create new ones, and we’ll change them regularly depending on the situation at hand. Those who live, work, and play along the entire delta are a special culture of folks. Within that delta line is the small corridor of downtown Antioch. We are like none other.

Many are ignorant and blind to the street life, however. Folks are consistent with their failure to shut their mouths and open their hearts. Or their wallets. The privileged don’t recognize the pain of the poor but the poor is rising in community. Watch out, y’all. Soon, you’ll see community gardens providing fresh food for our local schools. How about innovated solutions for our homeless? A place for our youth to kick it? Or what about a comfortable atmosphere to explore some of that deep-rooted delta trauma we’ve experienced? We’ll have workshops and trainings available to help with mental health wellness. We need it because, the truth is, those of us with roots along the delta know it’s a constant struggle. The old family roots come with new beginnings because things are changing so rapidly. Folks want to heal their ancestral pain. The development of oldtown Antioch is inevitable, and it’s intriguing to see who’ll succeed in bringing us new business. Where will the community decide to spend their money when the new developments come? Will these new developments try to kick us out?

If you pay close attention to the community of delta life, you’ll find a breed of folks who’ll love you deeper than anything you ever experienced. We watch out for one another and if someone’s in trouble, we tend to rally together and help. We are dirty but clean when we need to be. Sometimes we fight. Folks will pull a gun, shoot out your tires, talk shit all day long, but come to hug each other after smoking a blunt. And seriously, be careful. You leave your car running while you run inside to get something, it might get taken and later found along the backroads with no tires. We have that red, sippy cup lifestyle with straws and drinks on ice. You’ll find us taking shots, talking shit and playing pool. We’ll throw some dice, flirt with the visitors and maybe even hook up with a stranger. We love to eat. We’ll cook for you anytime. We know how to get something when we need it. You’ll find survivors out here.

And, one thing is for sure, what you won’t find out here, along the delta, is judgment. Sure, we may not like you but we ain’t gone judge you. Sure, we may ask you to leave our establishment, but you’ll never be judged. Most likely, you’ll become a story we tell the locals. Or maybe you’ll fit right in and become a local. The thing is, down here, you could be a person of color or transgender and come across someone who is uneducated who uses a derogatory word. It might make you mad. Or even piss you off. But it isn’t because we’re disrespectful, it’s just, truth is, we’re a breed of folks who don’t care. It’s not that we don’t care about you and your overall wellbeing, because we do want you to succeed in life. Truly. But what it comes down to is that we don’t care what you do or who you do it with or how you’re doing it. Just don’t interfere too much with our lives. It’s no joke down here, at the delta water line. You’ll find culture alright, just make sure you’re ready for it because we’ll never change. Or leave. Don’t come down here getting your feelings hurt. We don’t want your Starbucks. We don’t want your corporations. We don’t need any more liquor stores or mini markets. We have enough hair solons, tattoo shops, and thrift stores. Let’s calm down a bit with all the churches, huh. I don’t really want to get started on the massage industry either, but please stop. And seriously, the solution for restrooms at the marina are ridiculous. We can do better than outhouses and cement buildings that resemble a prison cell. Antioch, we can do better.

The new developments will be challenged by the locals if it doesn’t already fit into our culture. Some folks have tried, and they’re no longer in business. Sorry, not sorry? Folks from other parts of the Bay come into Antioch, thinking they can add to it by creating something new. Not quite. Stop trying. It doesn’t work. Learn the culture and community before you build here. Learn the voice of the delta before you start telling us to change our ways. Learn the pain of our homeless before you tell us to leave. This is our home, too. Take our word, trust us. Listen to us. We know. We’ve been doing this for many generations, and there is a new vision coming. Work with us.

We ask that you learn something before you come into our hood and try to rebuild us. City representatives and the old money still in this town need to learn from us, too. Y’all think you know what we want? Come talk to us and I bet you don’t. I’ll throw my money on any bar to bet that you have no idea what we want down here. Or what our interests are. Or how we see our own community being developed. Honestly, in some situations, we’re still arguing amongst ourselves. The bottom line is that it’s time y’all start throwing your money where it’s needed. Come talk us. We have answers. We have innovated ideas and solutions for the millions of dollars you’re confused about spending for your community’s needs. The land that is owned by the city needs to be used for proper structures, programs, and development. We’re such a unique culture down here, don’t try to change us.

This piece is solely the voice and opinion of Jo Bruno, a Pittsburg native who has called Antioch home since 2002. She spent many hours along the tracks as a young adult, working in the deep industrial side of delta life. Jo’s lived experience and education allows her the authority on Peer Support in Contra Costa County. Currently a Peer Action League Member for California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations (CAMHPRO), she is advising on how to build policy so Peer Specialists can finally be recognized in the state. California is one of only a few states that don’t recognize their Peer Specialists, so Jo is advocating for more Peer Programs in east Contra Costa County. Jo Bruno is also working with Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Department, Mental Health Services Act, and advising multiple committees and organizations (i.e. 211, Health Leads (BALI) and more). Together, throughout the Bay Area, they are working on changing the stigma of homelessness and mental health while encouraging advocacy and self-expression to change public policy in Contra Costa County. Jo is a significant bridge between millions of state and federally funded dollars and East Contra Costa County. The system is flawed, and she believes we can make forward movement without disrespecting the already strong community in downtown Antioch. Starting in the early morning hours of Spring 2020, ACoJB will be open for discussion and solutions regarding the topics of how we can develop our city together.

Tony’s Beer Garden is established by a long-time entrepreneur in the restaurant and bar business. The opinions, discussions and projects are in no way associated with Tony, but the Beer Garden’s outside environment will hold space for discussion and event planning. It’s where we will fundraise, have open forums, and concert events to bring awareness to our unique culture. At this establishment, we will begin providing Peer Programs that Jo is establishing with an up and coming peer community, The Delta Peers. The Delta Peers is a collaboration of Peer Specialists throughout Contra Costa County who have lived experience within the mental health systems. We are peers who have lived experience with many platforms and systems. We are trained professionals who can bridge resources to the community needs. Tony’s Beer Garden is located at 809 W. Second Street in Antioch

Jo Bruno

Antioch #CupOfJoBruno – a long time self-publication platform for mental health wellness and healing trauma

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The Herald recommends Martinek for Congress in District 9

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

William Martinek

There are two candidates challenging six-term incumbent Congressman Jerry McNerney, retired U.S. Marshal and L.A. police officer Antonio “Tony” Amador who is running for his third time and newcomer, financial advisor and decorated combat Army veteran William Martinek. I’ve compared the two to decide who to support and vote for. Both are good men and have already served our nation. Both want to serve our country, again as a member of Congress. Both offer a serious contrast to McNerney.

Martinek is from Brentwood and jumped into the race early, showing a sincere interest in serving the people of our district. Amador, from Lodi in the San Joaquin County part of the district, only entered the race after he met Martinek and thinks he would be the better Republican candidate. They have similar views on the issues: national security and defense, transportation, jobs and economic development, and working to solve the problems of illegal immigration and homelessness. So, the main differences are age and life experience, but also commitment to run a serious campaign.

Amador is in his 70’s, married, a father, grandfather and great grandfather, and has a long history of public service, which is great, and I applaud him for that. Martinek is a much younger, married father who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan defending our national interests, which I also applaud. He wants to take his energy to Washington, D.C. to work for us.

They both believe they can do better for our district than McNerney who is now in his 12th year in the House of Representatives.

But, the final, major difference I had to look at is which of the two Republicans will run a more serious campaign to replace the incumbent. In his first run for Congress, in 2014, Amador only raised and spent about $60,000, yet came within 5 percent of McNerney. Had he run a more aggressive campaign and raised more money to get his message out to the voters, Amador might have won. But, then in 2016, again waiting until the last minute, while the San Joaquin County Republican Party Chairman, he jumped in the race against Kathryn Nance, who had been campaigning for several months. Amador came in second in the primary, beating Nance by 2.6% of the vote, and making it into the general election. But, this time – during the presidential election year – he lost to McNerney by almost 15%.

If the Republicans hope to take the most winnable Congressional district in the entire nine-county Bay Area, plus San Joaquin County, it’s going to take a candidate who will be aggressive and raise the necessary funds, like Ricky Gill did in 2012, who raised and spent almost $3 million. But the candidate needs more life experience than Gill had, having just graduated from law school.

Martinek is that candidate. He’s serious about serving our nation and has already done so in the Army, and he wants to make things better for his family and ours, in both Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties. And he’s willing to do put in the hard work to campaign aggressively, and raise the needed funds to get his message to the voters so they can become familiar with him by the November election.

Please join me in voting for Republican William Martinek for Congress in the 9th Congressional District. To learn more about him read the Herald article, here and visit his website at

Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

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Antioch resident writes “that’s it” vote no on Measure T

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Dear Editor:

Did you get asked by the AUSD on how you feel about another tax? I sure didn’t as well as many of my neighbors. AUSD have alternative ways of raising funds for school maintenance and pushing for a 36-year tax is not the answer especially when 3 of our school board members will not be impacted by this tax if passed.

County Counsel has stated that “Approval of the measure does not guarantee that the proposed project or projects in the District that are the subject of bonds under the measure will be funded beyond the local revenues generated by the measure.” In other words, there is no guarantee that projects that start will be completed or even get off the ground.

Please review the County Counsel’s Impartial Analysis of Measure T:

“The California Constitution provides that school districts may issue bonds for the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of school facilities, including the furnishing and equipping of school facilities or the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities, with the approval of 55% of the voters voting at an election for that purpose.

By resolution, the Antioch Unified School District has proposed that bonds of the District be issued in an amount up to $105,000,000. This measure provides that proceeds from the sale of the bonds will generally be used to “provide up to date classrooms, renovate athletic fields and related facilities, replace underground water sewer and gas lies, and replace old and inefficient electrical, lighting, heating, plumbing and ventilation systems.” The specific projects are set forth in the bond project list attached to the resolution of the Board of Trustees. The measure provides that a citizens’ oversight committee will be established to ensure that bond proceeds are properly expended and that annual performance and financial audits will be conducted. The measure further provides that bond proceeds will only be used for the purposes specified in the measure, and not for any other purpose.

Approval of this measure authorizes the levy of ad valorem taxes upon taxable property to repay the bonded indebtedness, both principal and interest, in each year that bonds are outstanding. The Antioch Unified School District has prepared a Tax Rate Statement, which represents the District’s best estimates of the property tax rates required to service the bonds. The estimated highest annual tax rate required to be levied to fund the bonds is expected to be $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

Approval of the measure does not guarantee that the proposed project or projects in the District that are the subject of bonds under the measure will be funded beyond the local revenues generated by the measure. The proposed project or projects may assume the receipt of matching state funds, which could be subject to appropriation by the Legislature or approval of a statewide bond measure.

A ‘yes’ vote authorizes the issuance of the bonds and the levy of taxes as estimated in the Tax Rate Statement to repay the bonded indebtedness. A ‘yes’ vote by 55% of the voters within the District voting on the measure is required for passage of this measure. A ‘no’ vote on this measure disapproves the issuance of the bonds and the levy of the taxes for the bonded indebtedness.”

Tell the AUSD bullies “That’s It” and vote “No” on Measure T!

Gil Murillo

South Antioch Resident

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