Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Writer has problem with Barr being endorsed by Brentwood Police Officers, supports Hardcastle for Supervisor

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Editor:

Brentwood City Councilman and Supervisorial candidate Steve Barr’s endorsement by the Brentwood Police Officers’ Association is a clear example of what is wrong with California politics and government leadership.

A city councilman and/or supervisor is on the management side of the negotiation for pay, benefits, pensions, working rules, etc. with labor groups.  Having their endorsement and, in all probability financial support, during the campaign, leads to the distinct possibility of a pay back or reward for that support during contract negotiations.  The second problem with this arrangement is that the only people left out of that negotiation are the taxpayers, the people who have to pay for the results of that negotiation.  It is especially easy to give pay increases and other benefits when you are negotiating with other people’s money.

I support Doug Hardcastle for Supervisor in District 3.  Doug and his wife Linda have owned and successfully operated Hardcastle’s RV in the county since 1972.  He was on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board of Directors from 2000 until 2012 and a member of the Oakley City Council since 2012, serving as Mayor, last year.  He is Chairman of Transplan (the East County transportation board), Chairman of the State Route 4 Bypass Authority and is Vice Chairman of the Tri Delta Transit Authority. Doug is a successful, independent leader who understands the need for private sector economic development and jobs in East County and has proven his ability to lead in the public sector.  But, most of all, he is working for all the people of East County, not just a chosen few.

Hal Bray

Discovery Bay

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Writer opposes Harper and Wilson for Supervisor, not enough police, too much crime in Antioch

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Editor:

Antioch’s Mayor Wade Harper and Councilwoman Monica Wilson are failures.  Antioch is no safer or better off since their elections.  Their impacts haven’t been positive in many ways.  Their visions for Antioch have allowed Antioch to be a crime plagued community under their leadership.  Don’t vote for them for County Supervisor.

Some of Harper’s primary election campaign platforms was to improve Antioch’s public safety.  He boasted “The City of Antioch will be a safer city on my watch” and “Stopping crime now starts with Police Lieutenant Wade Harper.” It additionally crowed “How about we elect a City Councilmember who has experience fighting crime – well beyond talking about it.”

Harper also promised “more police” and “less crime” in his overzealous support for a YES vote on tax Measure “C”.  What a farce that has also turned out to be, he was one of the main proponents for its passage.  Same Police, similar crime results since.  Monica Wilson was right there going along and not pointing out the farce it’s been.

Antioch’s Police manpower has really not been increased, even with Harper and Wilson at the helm, with almost the same number of sworn Officers as before.  But, they did give big salary and benefits increases to some employee groups instead.  Antioch’s crime rate hasn’t really been reduced, it’s been a misleading dog and pony show when publicly discussed by them and others.

As an example, where are the 20 plus “more” Officers that were promised?  And where is the “less crime” they promised?  Not kept.  Antioch’s high crime rate situation is still way too high!  Antioch’s documented crime rate is higher than the California average crime rate and is higher than the National average crime rate.  Antioch’s is about 46% more than California’s average and about 49% more than the National average.

Let’s face it, Antioch’s Wade Harper and Monica Wilson are failures and should not be voted for County Supervisor.  We can do better without them. There are four other Candidates to chose from and should instead be considered for your votes.

Ralph A. Hernandez

former Antioch Council Member, and

Chair Citizens For Democracy

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Taxpayers Leader: BART contract another giveaway to unions

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Editor:

Here we go again, folks. Another giveaway contract to BART unions. After a 15.8% salary increase in 2013, the BART board has now agreed to another 10.5% increase.

For that, we taxpayers got very little in exchange except for an agreement not to strike while the contract is in force.  What should have been a no-strike ever clause wasn’t part of the deal.

Unfortunately since its inception BART has been plagued by financial mismanagement.  Among other things it has set little or nothing aside for eventual capital replacement.  Instead it gave away all the money in wages and benefits making it the highest paid transportation system in the country.  It also has the highest fares.

The outrageous benefits were left untouched.  Total compensation (wages and benefits) for the average worker is over $100,000.  For a system crying poor mouth this makes no sense at all.

This new contract is to set the stage for a huge bond measure on the November ballot.  Claiming the system has reached the end of its useful life, BART says it needs $10 billion for capital improvements.  BART claims “its cars are the oldest big-city fleet in the United States”.  The truth, it’s the fourth youngest among fifteen similar system nationally.

And let’s not forget that they spent $486 million on a link to the Oakland airport replacing a completely satisfactory and efficient bus system.

To summarize, BART financial management has been a disaster from its inception.  The BART board has rolled over to the unions, giving away outrageous wages and benefits.  It has both the highest fares and wages/benefits in the country.  It has set little or nothing aside for capital replacement.  It expects the taxpayers to make up for its financial follies.

Until the BART board and unions wake up and renegotiate the contract it should not be given any more money to mismanage.

The Board must develop a reasonable financial plan and strategy (of which it has none).  It must develop some “backbone” when dealing/negotiating with its unions.

We are giving enough taxpayer subsidies already in sales and property taxes.  We shouldn’t give them any more to mismanage.

It’s time to vote no on any bond measure.

Ken Hambrick, Chairman

Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers

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Watchdog: Overview of the Candidates for Supervisor

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

There’s an old expression about politics that goes like this “All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.” (James Reston). Let me reword it this way – “all politics are local and politicians count on the ignorance of voters.” Do your own research and remember that when candidates are endorsed and elected by unions or a particular political party, they are no longer “independent” legislators.  Newspaper endorsements can also be biased.  Be sure you know the rules.  June 7th is a primary race. The top 2 vote getters will move onto the November 8th general election.

Speaking of endorsements, let’s look at the candidates for District 3, an open seat due to incumbent Mary Piepho‘s decision to retire and District 5, where Federal Glover is again running for re-election.

DISTRICT 3 – Includes most of Antioch, all of south side of Highway 4

STEVE BARR – Current Brentwood City Council member (term expires November 2018)  Endorsed as best pick for Supervisor by the Contra Costa Times.   Here are a few facts you may not know:  Barr switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 2015 in time to run for the seat held by Mary Piepho, who is a Republican.   He is one of two Brentwood councilmen who replaced non-elected directors on the East Contra Costa Fire District Board.  The Board which gave its firefighter a 5% across the board raise, hasn’t solved the lack of fire services in Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Byron and Knightsen.  They tried to pass two taxes but failed both times.  My biggest beef with him is, although he was opposed to a project labor agreement the City used on its new city hall, he was seated on the council when they unanimously agreed to move forward with creating a project labor agreement to build the Brentwood library.  Should we call him a “flip flopper”?

DIANE BURGIS: Executive Director of Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed, sits on the Regional Planning Committee for ABAG.  Prior to being elected to the East Bay Regional Parks District Board in November 2014, she sat on the Oakley City Council, being elected just two years before in 2012. Burgis also served on the Delta Protection Commission, executive Board for the East Bay League of Cities and Transportation, Communications and Public Works Policy Committee for the League of California Cities representing the Woman’s Caucus.  She currently serves as Ward 7 Director of EBRPD and has Piepho’s backing.

DOUG HARDCASTLE -  Owner of Hardcastle RV Center in Oakley, for more than 40 years.  Served as Director on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board from 2000 to 2012 and President of Board from 2010-2011.  Elected to the Oakley City Council in 2012 and just completed a year as Mayor.  Endorsed by current Mayor Kevin Romick and Bill Baker, former US Representative for California’s 10th Congressional District.  Small business owners are the backbone of the U.S. economy.  Hardcastle is especially concerned about economic development, local jobs, public safety, improved roads and transportation and protecting the Delta and open space. First candidate to  enter the race to challenge Piepho, last fall, before she decided not to run in December.

WADE HARPER – Flip flopper.  In 2008 when getting appointed to the Antioch School Board he committed to running for re-election in 2010,  instead he ran for City Council and then for the Mayor’s seat.  In an accelerated swearing in ceremony in December 2012, held in order to allow  the new mayor and council members to reverse the previously signed contract with APOA, which changed the 3% at 50 pension calculation to a 3% at 55 formula.  This was done in order to avoid having to adhere to a new voter approved law which would take effect on January 1, 2012 reducing the pension formula for new police hires from 2% at 50 to 2.7% at age 55 and freezing benefit formulas for lateral hires.

After committing to being a full-time Mayor if elected, he got a job teaching for the Antioch school district. In June 2014 he implied commitment to allow a citizens group to move forward on plans for a park and event center on the former lumber yard site, then voted to sell it to a developer.  In October 2015 he made a commitment to Senator Steve Glazer to not run for higher office when hired as a field rep.  Two months later, he quit the job to run for Supervisor.  He is endorsed by the Antioch Education Association, the professional organization and bargaining unit for all the teachers of Antioch Unified School District, Councilwoman Mary Rocha, and Councilman Tony Tiscareno, and Rocha’s son, Louie Rocha, the principal of Antioch High where Harper teaches.

ODESSA LEFRANCOIS -  Retired Navy veteran, 12th year county health services employee and civil rights activist. Says her priorities are better health care delivery, especially to vets, better regional transportation infrastructure, unfair labor practices and community issues concerning seniors.  She is 2nd Vice President of Local Union 1 and President of the NAACP East County Branch.  Entered the race last Novemberl, to challenge Piepho.

MONICA WILSON – Elected to the Antioch City Council in 2012. Her press release states her successes include helping grow local businesses and making public safety a top priority, securing local measures to hire and support more police officers.  Frankly, she’s overstating her qualifications and accomplishments.  Residents are now paying for two tax measures and experiencing a continuing understaffed police, code enforcement and animal control department.  She has been endorsed by SEIU (Service Employees International Union and the Democrat leadership machine in the county.

DISTRICT 5 – Includes most of the portion of Antioch north of Highway 4

ANAMARIE AVILA FARIAS – current Martinez City Councilmember, elected in 2012, and current Board Member for the Juvenile Hall Auxiliary of Contra Costa County.  Was a member of the Martinez Planning Commission for 8 years and served on the Parks and Recreation and Marina Commission.  Employed for nearly 10 years with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community development and in 2015 was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown Jr. to serve as a Board Director for the California Housing Finance Agency.  She is currently a Board Member for the Latino Caucus and has numerous union endorsements.

CONRAD DANDRIDGE -  Former member of the Pacheco Municipal Advisory Council, This is 2nd time Dandridge, ran for the Board.  In 2006 he ran for District 4 Supervisor seat in unincorporated Martinez.   Susan Bonilla won that race.  Dandridge is a program analyst for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Oakland.  Claims to know District 5 well due to having worked s a Census Bureau field operations supervisor all over Contra Costa.  Doesn’t believe Glover is an effective advocate for District 5, especially the unincorporated areas.

FEDERAL GLOVER -  Former Pittsburg City Council Member, Served as Mayor from 1998 to 1999 and has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2000.  He’s now running for his fifth term in office (no term limits in local government but there should be). His campaign manager is Mary Jo Rossi, whose name has come up in regard to backroom deals concerning the Navy land plan.   Glover is another “flip flopper”.  In the past he promised voters he’d  “hold the line” on growth. However, campaign finance reports show he received at least $38,000+ from groups often seen to be in opposition to environmental concerns i.e. $$20,000 from Chevron and Tosco, $56,000+  from developers (the largest $15,000 from Homebuilders Assoc, $6,830 from Alves/Paramount, $5,000 from PROPAC and from Seeno $3,175.   He’s voted for over 6,700 homes – 1,500 in Alamo Creek, 200 in Discovery Bay, Oakley -  sphere of influence addition for homes (2,000 acres) in addition to over 5,000 homes he approved in Pittsburg.  He also told residents (Contra Costa Times 1/14/2000 ) “It’s time to stand up and own up to the fact that our ability to bring BART further east is not going to happen.”   Voted to give himself a 60% raise in 2006 then another 33% in 2014. But, after county staff and residents gathered enough signatures to force a referendum in 2015, Glover voted to reverse his vote on the 33% raise. Instead, he voted for a 14% pay raise, last year although the county employees only received a 4% raise. He’s endorsed by the Democratic Party of Contra Costa.

MIKE MENESINI – Former Martinez Mayor for 18 years and Councilman for eight years. He works in San Francisco as an Assistant District Attorney. Unsuccessfully ran for County Supervisor in 1992, Superior Court judge in 1994 and Contra Costa District Attorney in 2002. Left the city with a $30 million shortfall in pension and retiree health plans and only 64 percent of the funds they should have. Also allowed for pension spiking by the city’s police force and expensive, lifetime retiree health insurance benefits from their first day on the job, for themselves, spouses and children up to age 26.

DAN ROMERO – Mayor of Hercules. Joined the Hercules City Council in 2011 following the recall of previous members.  Reelected in 2012. Had to deal with the $38 million mess from redevelopment spending by previous councils. Weathered controversy and attacks by fellow council member over who should be Mayor. Supported 2004 Franklin Canyon Measure M, which down zoned the area to one home for every 40 acres. Side note for Antioch residents – Romero voted to hire Steve Duran, as City Manager, who later left to become Antioch’s City Manager. He owns an insurance agency in Pinole.

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Writer agrees, Antioch School Board should appoint Julie Young

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Dear Editor,

As one of the applicants some months ago to fill the empty seat on the Antioch School Board I want to state that I agree with your Payton Perspective that Julie Young should be appointed for the current vacancy.

I have listened to Julie at the previous selection process and also at other community meetings and she has a great comprehension of what the school system needs. Also, she was one of the most knowledgeable applicants.

It is also my opinion that she would give an excellent point of view concerning the selection of the new superintendent, one that may be different from the other Board Members. And, a different point of view always makes the discussion and decision more interesting.

Julie Young would be an excellent interim selection and would only benefit the Antioch School system.

Mark Jordan

Antioch

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Payton Perspective: Antioch School Board should appoint Julie Young to vacant seat

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Payton Perspective logo 2015By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board has to fill another vacancy with the recent resignation of Claire Smith.

This is the second time the Board members have had to fill a board  position in less than a year. Last fall, after Barbara Cowan resigned with a little more than a year left in her term, the Board appointed Fernando Navarro to the empty seat.

During the appointment process, the person to receive the second most votes was Julie Young, who attends almost all school board meetings.

She is very knowledgeable about the issues and can hit the ground running, should she be appointed.

The Board is in the midst of searching for a new superintendent. They need a full, five-member board to help in making the decision.

If the Board goes through another appointment process to fill the current vacancy, it could take another month or two to do so, and then the new member wouldn’t be seated until a month after that. The Board is wanting to hire a new superintendent by June.

It makes sense to appoint Young at their next meeting so there will be a complete board for the hiring decision.

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Guest Commentary: Ruehlig on Superintendent selection process

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

The jury has spoken. For two productive days, Leadership Associates, our superintendent search team, gathered public input at meetings targeted for parents, teachers, classified employees, business and city leaders, civic groups and the public at large. They also took feedback via phone, email and an on-line survey.

The input will be used to modify the profile framed in our advertisement.

The emerging themes were headed by the prevailing community desire that we find an educator with a passion for public schools. Some made the valid point, though, that proven leaders, from commerce or elsewhere, should not be excluded. Speaking for myself, I concur that our consideration should be as inclusive as possible.

Many echoed a belief that the appointee considers living in the district and certainly demonstrates a commitment to the values and culture of the community. As to be expected, honesty and integrity were greatly valued.

The need for high energy vision, innovation and the ability to communicate well and to inspire a team to reach for the extraordinary all scored high. Our citizens want a change agent but also a consensus maker who brings the community together and honors the good work already being done in the District, be it Linked Learning Pathways, the African American Male Initiative, Parents Connected, Positive Behavior Intervention Systems, the Math Initiative, etc.

Several community members echoed the importance of a Superintendent refusing to accept the status quo, especially when it comes to the achievement gap. Others affirmed the belief that zip code should not determine student success.

Another recurring theme on the wish list was the habit of calling things for what they were, albeit the good, the bad and the ugly. People want straight talk and not platitudes, nor lame excuses.

The community knows that we face huge challenges, what with so many broken homes, latch-key kids, transiency, growing societal permissiveness, and the demands of a mushrooming English language learner population; yet they want accountability and a frank acknowledgement of what is working and not working.

The biggest task a Board ever has is before it: Superintendent selection. The Board will look within our District as well as outside so as to make sure that we don’t overlook the best possible fit. To not look everywhere would be to ignore our fiduciary responsibility to conduct a comprehensive and competitive search. Our sole intention is to hire the best possible candidate, whether that person is from inside or outside the District.

On April 27th the Board will see the results of the recruitment process and reference checking and look at files to decide which ones we would like to ask for an interview. This year offers a bevy of nearby districts looking to fill Superintendent slots but we’re still hoping we have a nice array. Our goal is finding a leader to make us a destination point, because people move to a city for two reasons, safety and schools.

We need a Superintendent that knows the way, shows the way, and, boldly, goes the way.  That takes the kind of courage articulated by Thomas Aquinas, who wrote “If the highest aim of a Captain were to preserve a ship we would keep it in port.”

Walter Ruehlig

Vice President, A.U.S.D. Board of Trustees

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Residents urged to speak against Contra Costa Water District deal on Delta Tunnels, Wed., April 6

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Restore the Delta says to tell the Contra Costa Water Board “Say no to back room deals that sell out Delta water quality for the region”

By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta

The Contra Costa Water District Board of Directors will soon be reviewing the settlement agreement that they recently signed with the Delta Tunnels plan effort. The settlement drops CCWD’s protest against the tunnels plan in exchange for a separate pipeline to deliver drinking water to its customers. We are urging all concerned residents to attend the meeting.

This may be your only opportunity to register a public comment on how you feel about CCWD’s self-interested approach to secure a water supply at the expense of the community it serves.

What: CCWD Public Board Meeting

When: Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 6:30 to 9:00 pm. (Come at 6:00 pm if you would like to organize with us prior to the meeting)

Where: 1331 Concord Avenue, Concord   

The Contra Costa Water District is choosing to exchange its present contract for Delta water deliveries for an intake above the Delta that will remove even more fresh water from the estuary. This not only puts all other Delta communities at risk for even worse water quality, but also leaves their own customers within their own district with degraded Delta water for other uses. Additionally, their decision leaves the San Francisco Bay Estuary with degraded water quality which will negatively impact that magnificent ecosystem.

Contra Costa County residents recreate in high numbers in the Delta, live around its water ways, and have regular contact with the water.  Environmental justice communities and recreational anglers fish Delta waterways for sustenance and professional tournaments, and Contra Costa County farmers depend on quality Delta water for their businesses.

Furthermore, the impacts will be exacerbated for residents in Discovery Bay for all water uses — from toxic algal blooms to waterways polluted with salt, Selenium and human carcinogens. Reducing flow through the Delta will put the estuary in a state of “permanent drought.”

CCWD’s willingness to settle is an indictment of how bad the Delta Tunnels plan really is. The Tunnels Project will have egregious water quality impacts in the Delta. CCWD should drop the settlement, and rejoin the unified opposition to the Tunnels plan launched by the entire Bay-Delta community, not cut a self-serving back room deal!

Lastly, Restore the Delta and collaborating environmental groups have in the past supported an expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir (and an intertie between Contra Costa Water District and Santa Clara Valley Water District) as ways to meet water needs for the greater Bay Area.  However, we are reconsidering our support of such measures seeing that Contra Costa Water District would now become a party to depriving the Bay-Delta estuary of needed flows through the Delta tunnels project. CCWD is effectively transforming the expansion of Los Vaqueros from a solution to a tool of the Bay-Delta estuary water grab.

Read our opposition to this settlement here. If you have questions, about this alert, please feel free to call our office at 209-475-9550.  We will see you, our members, at 6 pm in order to organize before the meeting on April 6, 2016. If you cannot make the meeting, submit a public comment here.

Thank you for your continued support.

The Contra Costa Water District service area includes Antioch, Bay Point, Brentwood (portion), Clayton, Clyde, Concord, Martinez (portion), Oakley, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill (portion), Port Costa and Walnut Creek (portion). To find your Director on the Board visit http://www.ccwater.com/426/Division-Map—Find-Your-Director.  If you can’t attend the meeting you can also email your Director by visiting http://www.ccwater.com/416/Board-of-Directors . and clicking on their name and then link to contact them. Antioch is represented by Directors Bette Boatmun and Connstance Holdaway.

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