Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

OpEd: Who will speak for me? Reflections of an Antioch classroom teacher during a pandemic

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

By Elizabeth Terry, Antioch High School science teacher

My day starts early, and I do mean early. Stumbling into my kitchen, groggily grinding the beans, trying to clear the leftover fog of sleep, I begin to think about the day ahead. It’s 3:30 am when that god touched ichor finally hits and I’m thinking clearly enough to do my daily crosswords. I find the Washington Post’s crossword extremely difficult, but the NY Times’ puzzle fairly mundane. At 4 I’m ready to get myself ready for the day, have breakfast, then make the 30 second commute across the hall to my digital school room readying myself for the day’s lessons. It is now 5:30. As I power up my computer, the new one which I purchased to meet the moment of this odd teaching year, I’m reminded of an earlier time when I would get to school at 6 am ready to prepare the day’s labs, and I again wonder at how drastically different, yet still similar this school year has been. I click on Facebook and begin to again read the hateful comments on our local “news” outlet about how lazy teachers are being. Despite an overwhelming sense of crushing depression, I snap out of it and begin the day’s grades, with the news on in the background.

My ears perk up when the anchors are talking again about school closures. The anchors are railing against teachers, and I sit stunned, when the guests on the program again echo the anchor’s sentiments. The familiar anger takes over and I wonder who will speak for us. Who will advocate for our lives? After all, I remember a few short months ago at the end of last year when my profession was lauded and celebrated. Now, I feel spat on daily, hesitant to declare that I’m a teacher. The depressing part is that this is oftentimes coming from our friends and our families. I question how a profession who has one of the lowest ratios of education to salary could possibly be the cornerstone of society, as if somehow the fate of western society rests on our underpaid shoulders. I, like many of us are angry, burnt out, and frustrated because no one in power, not in the government, not in the CDC, nor in the current administration is actually sticking up for our lives. Instead, we are being vilified, crucified on the altar of the economy. Our efforts over the last year aren’t even seen let alone recognized. It’s enough to make a person quit.

They say we aren’t working. These comments are made by folks who took what happened last year as their measure of what is happening this year in our virtual classrooms. But what many people don’t know is that teachers have actually very little voice in the decisions that county health and school board make. During the March lockdowns, we were told that we couldn’t teach any new concepts, instead it was review only. More importantly, the students were told that they would pass regardless of their activity. And as teenagers often do, they did nothing. There was no incentive to do anything other than that. As a classroom teacher, I worked very hard to put together lessons that would inspire my students, even in a pandemic, I created digital lessons which were fun and engaging. Lesson that few students even showed up for. This included my AP kids. We were told to offer grace, which we did, and we did what teachers always do, we made it work. This was, of course, not ideal, but we made it work with what we had. I look back and think of all the glowing praise of our efforts and smile. It felt good to finally be recognized for the hard work we were putting in. But as a veteran teacher of 17 years, I knew the public good will wouldn’t last.

During the summer, myself and several colleagues and friends trouble shot the new program that we would be working on. We learned entirely new platforms, we taught ourselves how to use the district tools that were provided (without training I might add). We then taught our colleagues their uses as well. We waited anxiously to know how, when, and in what form we would start school again – we were quite literally, the last to know. The school board decided to delay opening, which meant the following year we would not have much of a summer, but what the board wants, the board gets.

The start of school saw a steep learning curve. As our students had never had technology before, we are in a title-1 school district after all, they had zero knowledge on how a PC operates. It was a brand-new digital world for them. We taught them how to use their computers. Soon they were using Word, PowerPoint, chatting in Teams, saving, and using the new programs. It was a struggle, but we made it through. We had to create all of our lessons over again, this time figuring out how to make it work in a digital environment. I teach 3 laboratory sciences. I had to completely redo all of my documents so that students could use excel to graph their data. Then I had to teach them how to use excel. Though frustrated at the drastically slower pace of learning, our students were learning and progressing through our curricula. This was hard, but we did it.

On top of our teaching duties, we had to reach out to students who were not coming. We had to figure out a way to get them into the classroom. We had to simultaneously offer grace, while holding high expectations. We had to speak for our students and watch out for their mental health, while no one was watching ours. And still, we did it. My students have tracked horse evolution through 65 million years, they have learned how to calculate carrying capacity, they have made survivorship curves using gravestone data and compared it to covid numbers. My biotech students have done Gel electrophoresis, learned how to use a spectrophotometer and have done macromolecule assays. All online, all virtual. However, if you read the public comments, we are lazy, the students aren’t learning anything, and we should take our slothful butts back into work or quit.

It’s now 8 am. I’m done entering grades, and I need to set up the electrophoresis chamber for the lab I’ll be doing in 1st period. On tap today is a DNA fingerprinting lab for first, and we will be doing a case study in my ecology class on competitive exclusion of bullfrogs. At 8:40 I am in class. I teach for an hour, going back and forth between my kitchen/lab, to my office/classroom. At 9:40, I finish up my attendance logs, and take a break between classes. At 9:50 am I get an email about a student who won’t attend today because she’s feeling blue. I call her and we chat for a few minutes in between classes. At 10:20 its time for class number two, followed by a short lunch break. During my break, I catch up on emails and grade the class warm-ups that were submitted by the first two classes. At 12:30, I teach my last class of the day. But I’m not done yet. I have office hours in the afternoon where I tutor struggling students. I send chats to those whose homework I’m missing, in the vain hope that at least some in my fourth period will turn in their work. And then I make the mistake of checking my Facebook.

“DISBAND the CTA (California Teachers Union)” I see in emblazoned headlines across my news feed. I know I shouldn’t but I click it anyway. Apparently, as a teacher I am a do-nothing, morally bankrupt individual who just doesn’t want to work. Huh, I think, I wonder what I’ve been doing all day? I’m so tired of this. What the petitioner doesn’t understand is that teachers have little voice in the decisions to go back to school. This is a decision run by school boards. Additionally, it isn’t the school board’s decision either, rather the decision is made by the county health department. The county decides whether or not we can open based on the case data. The parents should be pointing the fingers at themselves. If they want the school to open, they should be wearing masks, using social distancing measures to drive down the cases.

The originator of the petition stated that “there has been no instances of Covid being transmitted from children.” You see I know, according to the Covid Monitoring project, that there ARE cases of high school students not only acquiring covid, but also transmitting it to their families in an asymptomatic way. As of this writing, 657,667 cases of students and staff have acquired Covid . Locally, I have 3 high school kids who are positive, and one was very sick. I also know that as a person who is on the older side, with an autoimmune disorder, I’m likely to die from this disease. If any of those three had come into school we would have all been on quarantine. In my house, which frankly I don’t go out from, I have zero chance of picking up COVID. Going back into the classroom increases my risk by 100%. Teachers are merely asking for two things before going back. One, to be vaccinated, have people in their households vaccinated and to have the safety items in place. I think to myself I didn’t sign up to be killed at work. Also, as stated, we don’t have anything to do with the decision to lock down anyway, but the public, frustrated, have no one else to blame but us. I’m just so tired, and I think, who will speak for us?

Teachers don’t want to be out of the classroom. We desperately want to see our students. However, we also don’t want to potentially die from our employment. Other professions have safety standards, why can’t we? Many of us work in dilapidated conditions, left behind from years of little to no improvements, left behind for getting equipment we need to do our jobs. As a science teacher I routinely spend at least 1000 dollars every year on supplies. No other profession is asked to pay for their supplies. Imagine telling a firefighter that she has to purchase her own hose…yet that is what we tell teachers to do. I had to purchase all the equipment I use to do my job. Why? Because the district laptops have 8gbs of ram, and the program we use, Teams require 8gbs, so you can’t have anything else running on your laptop, otherwise the whole computer crashes. Along with that computer, I bought two monitors, a webcam, and more. Yet, I’m being greedy and lazy, according to the authors of this asinine petition.

The CDC says teachers can go back to school, without being vaccinated IF proper mitigation is in effect. That IF is important, I can’t open my windows in my classroom, and neither can my friends because the one window pole we had has been lost. Therefore, no-one in my hall can actually open their windows. We are lucky that we HAVE windows as some of my colleagues teach in an interior classroom. Our school won’t have the “proper mitigation” any time soon. The good news is that the vaccines are starting to roll out. But it takes a minute to get an immune response. By the time our teachers are vaccinated, and we would have gotten immunity, there will literally be a month and a half left in the year. It is my suggestion to just ride it out. I think this for two reasons. First, the students are now used to the routine. If we came now, it would be a huge disruption, and if we went into quarantine due to a case, that would be worse. Secondly, hybrid offers us 1 day of instruction. I’m barely covering enough curriculum on 2 days per week, I can’t even imagine how little I will get through with one day of instruction.

I am sick of people, including folks in the Biden administration saying teachers should go back because “this is who they are.” As if we are all Mother Teressa. Um no, this is my profession. This is what I was trained to do, this is my art and my craft. But more importantly, this is my job. This job pays for my house, my children, my car, etc. I don’t work for free, and it is unfair to expect me to. We don’t expect doctors to work for free because its “who they are.” The only reason it happens to us teachers is because, in my opinion, teaching is viewed as “women’s work.” I guarantee if this profession was dominated by males, our salaries and our respect would rise dramatically.

Finally, I would ask the public to understand that unions, those that are meant to protect the health and well-being of our sector are made up of people. Men and women who sacrifice their sleep, their money, and their time to the education of your children. We are the people who make up the “union” and deserve some small measure of the respect that we are due. For all the days that we work during our unpaid summers, to the endless nights that we stay up grading papers, for the donated time we put in making phone calls to struggling students. Because if we don’t get that respect, if we are not recognized for the value that we bring to society, if we are not paid a fair wage that recognizes our talent and contributions, you may just find your students being educated by google – and that would be a tragedy.

It’s 5:25 I finally log out of my computer. That’s a 12-hour shift.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Terry is the Antioch High School Science Department Co-chair, Biology Chairwoman, Biotech program Lead, teaching AP Biology, Lab-Based Ecology and repeater Biology. She’s been a teacher at the school since August 2009. Terry’s education includes a Teaching Certification in 2003; BA Biological Sciences in 2002 – San Jose State;  AA Liberal Arts in 1998 – Foothill College; AA Liberal Arts in 1998 – De Anza College; and an EMT Certification in 1992 – San Francisco Community College.

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Payton Perspective: Equity is code word for socialism, what will be the cost for Antioch?

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Antioch’s new Councilwoman, Tamisha Torres-Walker and her supporters, including those from outside of our city, have been pushing to include the term “equity” in the City’s vision and goals, and want the council to establish a Human Rights and Racial Equity Commission, as well.

During last Saturday’s Vision and Strategic Planning session held by the council and city staff, Torres-Walker was asked to explain the difference between equity and equality. She basically said equality is the government giving each person the same thing while equity is giving more to one person who doesn’t have as much as another. The challenge is where does government get what it gives out? Taxpayers. So, what Torres-Walker is advocating is more redistribution of wealth. That’s pretty much the definition of socialism or even communism.

She used the example of a short boy standing next to a tall boy behind a fence, who are both trying to watch a game. Torres-Walker  said equality is the government giving each boy a box to stand on, which gives the tall boy a better view while the short boy still can’t see over the fence. Equity, she said, is giving the short boy two or three boxes to stand on to see over the fence.

Torres-Walker also mentioned later in the meeting that she wants the city “to make sure that the development of the waterfront that some of that equity or you know whatever revenue generation is spent to also revitalize some other parts of District 1” further defining the term as redistribution of city revenues. (See related article)

However, what our government in the U.S. is designed to do is offer equality of opportunity, that we all start off equal with regards to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or in other words ownership of property. But what Torres-Walker is advocating for is equality of result. That’s unrealistic and simply unattainable. There is simply no way that government can or should ensure we all end off equal.

I would love to have that happen to me, too. Using equity, I can claim that it’s not fair Bill Gates has so much more money than me. Therefore, I need the government to take half of his money and give it to me. Then I could have a nicer car, bigger home and invest in all the various causes like he and his wife have done. I would also like some equity in the area of pro sports. I can claim it’s not fair that I didn’t and don’t get to play for the Oakland A’s, the San Francisco 49ers or Golden State Warriors and earn all the money the players on those teams do. I need the government to offer some special dispensation for older, out of shape guys like me, without as much talent as the other players, so I too, can enjoy playing and earn a nice living.

See how ridiculous that is? Where does it end?

Why shouldn’t I have half of Bill Gates’ money? It would mean we would be equal and achieved equity. But would that be fair? Of course not, because I haven’t earned it. Why shouldn’t I have been allowed to play professional sports when I was younger or get to play, now? Because I didn’t make the effort or have the talent to do so, and because I’m certainly no longer in shape. (Maybe I could be a designated hitter, as long as I wouldn’t have to run around the bases! LOL) Seriously, why then, should the government step in and attempt to balance the scales that I chose to leave unbalanced by my own life choices?

Why should the government give the short boy more boxes to stand on? Why don’t his family and friends do that for him? Or some nice “box for viewing sports” charity? We need to stop looking to government to solve all our problems and let it focus on what it’s designed to do.

I have and always will support the efforts of churches and charities to help, as Jesus said, “the least of these” and as the Disciple James wrote, “to look after widows and orphans in their distress”. But that’s through voluntarily helping others, not through coercion by a larger and more powerful government.

Of course, government must treat all of us equally in the provision of justice and services, and the City of Antioch needs to ensure all residents are treated equally and fairly, as well. When and where that doesn’t occur, it must be addressed. But that’s equality, which our government can guarantee, not equity which it can’t, in general.

However, if it’s the government that has caused the inequity, then it is government’s job to address it in very limited circumstances. I believe the only way equity should be addressed in our country is at the national level through the federal government, specifically in the area of reparations for descendants of slaves – who for generations were denied, due to laws and other actions by the government, their God-given, constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty, property and in many cases life, itself, as well as an education and to earn from their labors. The descendants of slaves need to be compensated with land – as ordered by President Lincoln’s Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman but was later overturned by Lincoln’s predecessor, President Andrew Johnson, following the assassination – an asset that can be owned, used, earned from and passed on to future generations, which is a current, major challenge among African-Americans. That’s due to the fact their ancestors were denied the right to own property for 250 years because they were property! But that’s a discussion for another time.

While I recognize we already have implemented forms of socialism at the state and national levels through health and welfare programs (some of which have had questionable results), the issue for the council members to determine is how much would such an effort cost the City of Antioch? The city budget has already experienced a $3 million reduction due to the COVID-19 orders, this past year and that in spite of Measure W’s one-cent sale tax that we the people voted for. This at a time we’re trying to increase the number of police on our force to continue to reduce crime in our city. Stepping back, the council actually would first need to show that inequity exists in the dispensing of city services. That burden frankly rests on the shoulders of Torres-Walker and her supporters who are advocating for the use of the term and the commission’s formation.

The mayor and council members need to be very careful with the terms they include in the City’s vision, mission statement, goals or any and all other documents, and be sure what they mean and that the public understands them. Because equity is such a loaded word, with a broad definition, that it could end up either costing us taxpayers a lot more money or take away funds from the more basic services the city needs to be providing that serve all of us, specifically police – the number one reason our city government was formed in the first place, because the number one reason government is instituted in America is to protect your rights from me and my rights from you – Code Enforcement, streets, water, sewer, landscaping, parks and keeping things clean. Plus, recreation.

I’d like to see the city improve and be great in those areas, first before taking on more programs and efforts with unknown price tags.

If the council members want to ensure children and other residents from low-income households get to participate in city recreation programs that are too expensive for them, then the council members can work with local charities or their own Antioch Community Foundation to provide subsidies or scholarships.

As for forming a commission, Torres-Walker doesn’t seem to realize we already have officials in place to address any human rights or racial equity issues – that she has yet to provide examples of – and she’s one of them. The City Council as a whole and any individual member can take complaints that any resident or business owner might have and address them on a case-by-case basis, just like a commission could do. If the complaints begin to be too many, then that can be brought before the council. If the complaints are mainly police related, then perhaps increase the role of the existing Police Crime Prevention Commission as has been suggested during the Bridging the Gap sessions. Or the council might just need to ensure whomever on city staff is causing the problems is replaced.

But unless and until there is clear evidence that such a commission is needed, it shouldn’t be formed as the Board of Supervisors recently did. Let’s see what their county-wide commission does and how they deal with such matters that come before them, first.

The council should not include the term equity in their vision, goals or any other guiding document for the City of Antioch nor form the proposed commission. If they do, the council members will be opening a Pandora’s Box of all kinds of potential increase to the size and scope of our city government and will most likely lead to a decrease in the basic services the city already is and should be providing which benefit all of us.


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Letters: Writer says DA Becton is supposed to be an example, shouldn’t have violated COVID-19 restrictions

Monday, February 8th, 2021


An open letter to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

Ms. Becton, have you ever read John Chapter 8 about the woman who was caught doing something wrong? According to the law, she should have been punished.  No, she should have been killed because she went against the law. As a lawyer, a judge, and a manager, you are supposed to be a servant of the law in CCC.  You hold people accountable to the law and you punish them for breaking it.  But who are you to judge them when you put yourself above the law? Do you consider yourself “more privileged?” You are supposed to be an example.

In August 2020, when the governor mandated the county to avoid “gatherings of any size” because of a high health alert for Covid-19, you, nonetheless, disregarded that order and organized an event with 20 – 30 people in attendance.  In addition, you announced your plans to all of your neighbors so they could expect a lot of cars in the neighborhood.  You say, “I had a wedding in my yard that was really based upon the love that we shared.”  Really?  Love?  Not on the “scientific data?” Not on the state regulations? What about the love for a dying person in the hospital and the spouse is forbidden to be at their bedside? Shouldn’t they be allowed in “for love?” Are you the same person whose office is part of a task force cracking down on violators of state and county coronavirus guidelines?  How could you have not known “the rules” for public gatherings?  Really?

You are a violator. And you’re in the wrong profession.  You should step down.  You do not hold the line of integrity this county needs. You have broken trust with the public.  You are living a double standard and NOT living by the oath you took in September 2017.  You deliberately defied the governor’s order.  But the real question is this: Did you knowingly disregard the order because you really don’t believe the coronavirus is truly a serious threat to our society?  Perhaps you really believe that the governor is using Covid as an excuse to “mandate” his agenda for the state. Maybe you really believe that having a wedding reception IS a safe event for everyone who attended.  Maybe you shouldn’t be on the task force representing state and county “guidelines.”

You took an oath and said, “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” Your actions prove otherwise, and you now join the ranks of hypocrites with our governor and his co-horts.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real right and wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”

Laquetta Franz


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Rep. McNerney explains his vote to impeach President Trump

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Official photos.

Stockton, CA (Jan. 13, 2021) – In response to Wednesday’s vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President Trump on claims of inciting a violent and deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D, CA-09) issued the following statement:

“Today, I voted to impeach President Trump for the second time to protect our nation and our democracy against a would-be tyrant. This is a moment that will define our nation for generations to come. One year ago, the House took up articles of impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to seriously consider these charges and voted against impeaching the President. As a result, there were no repercussions for the President’s actions, which only served to further embolden him. He is a threat to our democracy, and yet Republicans in Congress have repeatedly excused and ignored his dangerous behavior and rhetoric.

“President Trump began his presidency speaking of American carnage, and as he ends his time in the White House, he has led his followers to lay siege at the seat of our government, directly inciting and provoking that carnage. In order to preserve our democracy, there must be consequences for sedition, and the rule of law must be upheld.”

McNerney represents a portion of Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives.


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Householder challenged over alleged open meeting law violation for only allowing 3 of 200+ public comments to be read

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Former school board president also threatens complaint with Fair Political Practices Commission

The following public comment was submitted to the Antioch School Board for the meeting on Jan. 13, 2021 and shared with the Herald:

Public Comment – Item # 2, Closed Session, #A. Superintendent Evaluation

This public comment also serves as a notice that unless the president of the board corrects the Brown Act Violation that occurred at the December 21, 2020 meeting regarding the same item, I will be filing a Fair Political Practices Complaint. I encourage anyone who did not have their comment read or are as outraged as I am that this has occurred, the complaint form is online at

Only three of over 200+ submitted comments regarding the superintendent evaluation were read and nearly 2,000 comments were not acknowledged. The situation was summarized in a Weekly Update (available on line at and I hope that the president follows advice of the attorney and the urging of the employees to “cure and correct” the Brown Act Violation.

Friday Weekly Update, January 8, 2021,

It appears that a Brown Act violation occurred that must be corrected. While the Board can limit public comment from time-to time, it is problematic to limit public comment as drastically as occurred at the December 21, 2020 meeting. Additionally, according to legal counsel, limiting public comment prior to closed session is especially problematic as the public’s only way to meaningfully participate in a closed session item is to make public comment unlike an open session item wherein the public can meaningfully participate via public comment and observing the Board’s deliberation. In an attempt to cure and correct the violation, all comments will be read at the next Board Meeting, January 13, 2021. AEA, AMA, CSBA Petition At the request of Trustee Hack, attached is a copy of the signatures from the online petition posted by AEA, AMA, and CSBA regarding the evaluation of the Superintendent

This was the first meeting with a new president, let’s hope she acknowledges and corrects this basic understanding of how the Brown Act applies and how important it is to listen to constituents. I also hope that union leaders, staff members and community pay attention to the actions of the new board president.

Diane Gibson-Gray



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Writer shares letter to Antioch Council on holding Torres-Walker accountable

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Dear Council Members,

I have watched the FB live videos from Ms. Torres-Walker and Mr. Thorpe.  I noticed that you both promote and are seeking “accountability” from the police department regarding the police interaction with Ms. Torres-Walker’s children (23-year-old and 13-year-old sons).  Your demand for accountability revolves around alleged racial bias, alleged police misconduct and excessive force by the Antioch Police.

The word “Accountable” is defined as: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

I agree that all parents have an obligation to protect their children.  We also have an obligation to model and teach accountability.  As an adult we have to hold ourselves accountable and admit our own wrong doings.  We must also hold our children accountable for their actions.

As City leaders, you are held to a higher standard.  You are “accountable” to your community!  You are expected to behave in a professional manner, a manner that does not bring disrepute to our city and does not create a division amongst city offices and the community.  Your personal beliefs and personal agendas are not to interfere with your job as a council member.  As elected officials; you took an oath to “bear true faith and allegiance to the United States and the Constitution of the State of California”, and you agreed to discharge your duties faithfully.

Your videos have displayed a blatant disregard of your oath and obligation to our community.  Ms. Torres-Walker renounced her position as a council member, she did not uphold her oath and she behaved in an unprofessional manner while spewing her discord toward our city government and community.  Ms. Torres-Walker’s threats of violence toward our police officers, threat to organize protests against our police department and threats of a potential lawsuit are inexcusable.  Ms. Torres-Walker’s rant and rhetoric serve only to deflect her accountability (along with the accountability of her children) and blame the police for the unlawful behavior of her “23- and 13-year-old children.”

Mr. Thorpe, your attempt to downplay, defend and excuse Ms. Torres-Walker’s rhetoric is inexcusable.  The fact that a council member under your leadership has behaved in such a horrific and divisive manner reflects poorly upon you and your leadership abilities.

As a longtime community member and business owner, I am asking that you publicly condemn Ms. Torres-Walker’s behavior/threats and that you ensure our community that her behavior or similar behavior by anyone will not be tolerated.

Ms. Torres-Walker admitted she allowed her 13-year-old (an unlicensed driver) to drive an off-road quad runner on a public roadway.  This is a clear violation of Vehicle code 12500 (a) which states: “a person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code.”  California Penal Code Section 273 (a) states: “Any person who willfully causes or permits that a child be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in a state prison for two, four or six years.” The discussions this evening would not be occurring had Ms. Torres-Walker and her 23-year-old child (who video recorded himself driving his off-road motorcycle in a reckless manner and endangered/abandoned his 13-year-old brother while evading the police on a public roadway) followed the law.

Mr. Thorpe, if you truly want accountability and unity within our community, then you must start by holding Ms. Torres-Walker accountable for her actions and decisions that led the Antioch Police Officers to come in contact with her children who were unlawfully operating motor vehicles on public roadways and subsequently decided to initiate a vehicle pursuit when the police arrived.  You must also hold Ms. Torres-Walker accountable for spewing hateful, divisive remarks, unprofessional behavior and threats of violence toward our police officers and community.  Your decision to justify Ms. Torres-Walker’s efforts to demonize our police department and divide our community is unacceptable!  Your decision to defend poor behavior has created a further division amongst community members.

This incident occurred while you were vacationing out of the country, during a pandemic that has our nation, state, county and city under strict COVID pandemic restrictions.  Your justifications of Ms. Torres-Walker’s poor decisions and your actions of leaving the country have given the impression that you believe you are “above the law.”

A true leader will always lead by example and will not excuse poor behavior.    Accountability is paramount and it builds trust and unity.  It is my hope that you will reflect upon your decision to support Ms. Torres-Walker’s poor behavior, you will hold yourself accountable and that you will make an effort to correct the division you created.

Everyone makes mistakes, but only a person with integrity owns up to them!

Jesse Zuniga Jr.

Community Member since 1989 and Antioch Business Owner since 2002


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Construction workers’ organization unhappy with “discriminatory and costly” PLA in Antioch’s desal plant contract

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Note: The following letter was sent via email to the five members of the Antioch City Council on Thursday, Dec. 24.

Antioch City Councilmembers,

When you placed a discriminatory and costly Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the Brackish Desal Plant in 2018 we warned you not only what it would do to discriminate against local construction workers but what it would do to your costs. Judging by the manner in which you snuck the approval for the contract to build it through on a Friday night before Christmas with no public notice, you obviously did not want us to remind you.

But here we are.

A reminder of the bigotry you approved: Your welfare for local union bosses in the form of a PLA forces all workers to pay union dues, pay into union pensions they’ll never vest in (that’s wage theft) and explicitly discriminates against young men and women in state approved non-union apprentice programs by banning them from working at all. Any union-free contractor who worked on the job would only be allowed a few of their own employees period with all others coming from union hiring halls. The result? Reduced bidders and increased costs. 85% of the local workforce is union-free, as is the state’s construction workforce. That number holds true for your contractor base as well. These companies simply don’t bid work with PLAs on it so the results are higher bids from those who do, as every major study conducted proves and as you just learned firsthand.

So, a project that you had estimated would cost $60 million before the PLA has now been awarded for $86,689,000. BUT THAT OF COURSE IS NOT ALL. There is a 5% contingency of $4,334,450 in case of “unforeseen costs” (count on it) for a total of $91,023,450. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL EITHER. In addition, you authorized city staff to increase the total budget for the desalination project to $110 million.

In 21 years of fighting PLAs we have never seen a PLA come in this far over budget. Ever. Congrats.

Of course, a body who took their fiduciary responsibility to ratepayers seriously would have rebid this with no PLA and compared costs but your canine affection for big labor special interests wouldn’t allow for this. So here we are.

We will continue to monitor this debacle and make sure citizens are kept updated. The story that recently ran in the East Bay Times about this last-minute cram down before Christmas did not mention the PLA. We will make sure the next one does.

Merry Christmas.

Eric Christen

Executive Director

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction


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Final reminder of the Herald’s endorsements and recommendations in Antioch races

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

ENDORSEMENTS in 2020 Antioch Elections


Read the endorsement editorial for Antioch Mayor and Council, here.

Read the endorsement editorial for Antioch City Clerk and Treasurer, here.

Read the endorsement editorial for Antioch School Board candidates, here.

See the editorial encouraging a No vote on Measure T, here.

For more information see the No on Measure T page, here.

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