Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Watchdog concerned about Antioch Council’s request for union-only hiring on new housing project

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog concerned about Antioch Councils request for union only hiring on new housing projectBy Barbara Zivica

In 2001 the Antioch City Council approved a final development plan, tentative map, and Mitigated Negative Declaration for a 16 unit single family development on a 5.56 acre site located on the north side of Oakley Road, approximately 875 feet east of Willow Avenue. A use permit to develop the project, known as the Oakley Knolls Subdivision, was conditionally approved in May of 2003.
Now Discovery Builders Inc. is requesting approval to build 31 homes on the acreage, a 100% increase over the initial plan proposal, and residents of the area are understandably irate.

In August the Planning Commission provided feedback to the applicant, expressing concern in regard to the higher density and small lot sizes. Council discussed the project at their September 23rd in which they were presented a petition by Antioch resident Duane Shoemake requesting the project retain the same density and lot size of the original approval.

Following discussion Mayor Harper, recently served with a recall petition, and council requested the project include the following:

Traffic study

Project Labor Agreement (PLA), local hires and the Helmets to Hardcaps Program

Confirmation the sewer pipe can accommodate the proposed 31 units

Community Facilities District for Police Services

Owner occupied requirement for the standard duration

Some setbacks to accommodate boat or RV parking

NOTE to City Manager and Council: According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2013 the union membership rate was 11.3%, the same as in 2012. PLAs, which require union only workers and require all apprentices be hired from union apprenticeship programs (Helmets to Hardcaps) are discriminatory and drive up the cost of a project. In 2002 Council voted in support of a “Resolution of the Antioch City Council in opposition to city required project labor agreements and similar city imposed requirements. I suspect the council would have to rescind that Sense of Council Resolution in order to impose a PLA on this project. As for Helmets to Hardcaps, the non-union “merit” or open shop contractors association has a similar apprenticeship program.

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Parks Director Beverly Lane endorses Burgis

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Dear Editor:

When you vote, be sure to support Diane Burgis who is running for East Bay Regional Parks Director District in Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Oakley, Antioch, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Martinez, Crockett, Hercules and Pinole. Diane brings new energy, a knowledge of environmental education, and great experience working with Boards and Councils.

She is executive director of Friends of Marsh Creek and has a devotion to open space and parks which in unrivaled in this election. Both retiring Director Ted Radke and Congressman George Miller support her.

I am an EBRPD Board member whose Ward extends east to Round Valley and north through Concord who would love to welcome a new Board member with Diane’s dedication to public service.

Vote for Diane Burgis for EBRPD Director of Ward 7 on your November 4 ballot.

Thank you,

Beverly Lane

Director, EBRPD Ward 6 in Contra Costa County

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Walter Ruehlig offers an approach for kids who are acting out after school

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Dear Editor:

Student, staff and public safety is vital. Start with the parents. Face it, we are going around in circles if we don’t get their support. Reach out by home visits, phone calls, e-mails, evening assemblies.

Then implement a two-pronged approach of serious consequence mixed with serious rehabilitation, One without the other guarantees a revolving door. Yes, meter out the rules, but, being constructive, identify student offenders who are failing (which, I promise you, most of the acting-out kids will be). With parental support, put the kids in a period eight and nine tutoring and credit recovery class. Connect to individual needs: counselors, social workers, psychologists or simply adult mentors.

Now our at-risk kids are no longer out on the streets but raising their academics and getting guidance. Have guest speakers from the community talk on life skills and the consequences of wise and unwise life decisions. If they become repeat offenders, move students away from their buddies to an all-day credit-recovery site. No games or free pass, but tough love and a helping hand.

Walter Ruehlig, Antioch

Ruehlig is a candidate for the Antioch School Board in the November election.

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Retiring Board Member Radke endorses Burgis for East Bay Regional Park District Board

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Dear Editor:

I have decided not to run for reelection on the East Bay Regional Park’s District Board in 2014.  I would like to thank you for your years of support and I have been honored to serve you.

A friend and environmentalist, Diane Burgis, is running to replace me on the EBRPD Ward 7 Board, in November. Diane is currently Executive Director of the Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed and serves on the Oakley City Council.

Diane is the most qualified person to take my seat on the Board and I look forward to her environmental stewardship for our Parks. Her professional life is dedicated to conservation, protecting open space, habitat restoration, and clean water. In 2011, she was awarded the “Watershed Champion” award by the Contra Costa County Watershed Forum for her work to build partnerships and provide leadership in protecting, restoring and enhancing creeks and watersheds.

Diane has been endorsed by Congressman Jerry McNerney, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Assemblwoman Joan Buchanan, Assemblyman Jim Frazier, Contra Costa County Supervisors John Gioia, Mary Piepho and Federal Glover, Mayor Rob Schroder and other mayors throughout our area.

I can think of no one better suited than Diane Burgis to serve on the East Bay Regional Parks District Board. Diane’s commitment to bettering our environment and ensuring access to open space, conservation of habitat, and environmental education programs makes her an excellent choice to replace me on the Board. I expect Diane to inject new energy and ideas into the Parks District organization.

I urge you all to vote for her on November 4.

Ted Radke

Director, East Bay Regional Parks District, Ward 7

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Ruehligs support new community college location, closer to Antioch

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dear Editor:

The September 10th meeting of the Contra Costa Community College Board was at least a partial victory for the voice of common sense. First, BART President Joel Keller and a number of supporting people spoke. They advocated exploring a possible land swap for the 17 acre proposed campus at Marsh Creek Road behind Trilogy Retirement Village.

After Board comment, the College Board President, John Marquez (Area I) formed a feasibility committee to assess the viability of Mr. Keller’s proposal. This consisted of Board Vice President John Nejedly (Area IV) and Trustee Greg Enholm (Area V). Since then the Chancellor, Helen Benjamin, has suggested hiring a professional consultant with site evaluation expertise.

I am heartened that the College Board is not blindly lurching forward as any final decision will have generational consequences.  The new site is five miles from Lone Tree on a dim two way road down the Highway bypass. A representative from Tri-Delta spoke adversely of the site saying, that at best, transportation would be spotty.

At the Board meeting my wife, Cynthia Ruehlig, a Trustee with the County Board of Education, but speaking as a private citizen, concurred. She stated that that those with disabilities and economic hardship would suffer most as many people in East County did not have cars.

On the other hand, the proposed new site, off Mokelumne Trail between Lone Tree and Sand Creek Roads adjacent to Highway 4, has acsessability.  An e-BART station is projected for that site and it is much more central to all area high schools. That weighs importantly as there is an increasing trend towards high schoolers taking concurrent college classes.

Lastly, we’re all hoping that our senior citizens be spared a horror show.  Picture up to 11,000 car trips daily streaming into the now peaceful retirement area of Trilogy and Sumerset.  Many of the students will, invariably, be late to class and rushing. Imagine the dangers of many taking ancillary side roads like Fairview.

For the interests of young and old, then, there are challenging questions to be answered.  Much rides in the balance.

Walter Ruehlig

Antioch

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Writer says Frazier scores low on tax bills

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dear Editor:

When Jim Frazier first ran for Assembly two years ago, he promised to put people before politics. Unfortunately, like most politicians, he has failed to live up to his campaign promises, too often putting politics before people (also known as taxpayers).

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has given Frazier the grade of ‘F’ on its report card for the 2013-14 legislative session. Frazier voted in favor of taxpayers only 21 percent of the time on 15 important bills, including votes supporting tax increases and attacks on Proposition 13.

Frazier did better on the California Taxpayers Association report card for 2013, voting in taxpayer interests 41.7 percent of the time. But this year Frazier has voted with taxpayers just 30 percent of the time. That’s based on 35 bills “that would have a lasting impact on California’s tax structure, and would affect economic certainty, equity, transparency and the complexity of California taxes,” according to CalTax.

Only six of the 80 Assembly members scored worse than Frazier on the CalTax report card. And only 12 Assembly members received a worse score from HJTA.

If you believe your taxes are too low and that government spends your money better than you do, then give Jim Frazier two more years in the Assembly. If you feel that you are over-taxed and prefer to keep your hard-earned dollars, then Alex Henthorn, who favors lowering sales and business property taxes, deserves your vote.

Dave Roberts

Oakley

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Writer says Measure O opponents are like Pinocchio

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Dear Editor:

Pinocchio doesn’t live in Antioch.

Neither do the big money people behind the no on O campaign.

The City Council did not lie to voters. All of the Measure C funds are going to hire police officers. There is an oversight committee to insure that happens. The increase is off to a slow start because so many officers retired in 2014.

Every business in Antioch is expected to pay an annual business license tax. Landlords don’t. When someone rents a house, it’s for profit. That’s a business! Landlords need to pay their FAIR SHARE in Antioch. They do in most other cities.

A tax on seniors. What a lie that is. The majority of all seniors living in Antioch own their homes. NO HOMEOWNERS ARE AFFECTED BY MEASURE O. Measure O only applies to rental properties.

Most of Antioch’s public employees are still on a 4 day work week. Measure O will get them back to work full time. This will be a big step in getting Antioch back on track.

VOTE YES ON MEASURE O. IT”S FAIR AN HONEST.

Wayne Harrison, Antioch

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Writer says only two percent of students cause the problems at Deer Valley High, media should focus on the positive

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Editor:

These were comments given to the Antioch School Board at their October 8th meeting.

Hi, my name is Angie Jorgenson. I am the parent of a Deer Valley Junior and a Dallas Ranch 8th grader, the Deer Valley Band Booster Vice President, I help with the Deer Valley Girls Golf team, and am on campus weekly as a volunteer with Younglife, an international organization that works with kids. I am here in support of Deer Valley in light of recent events in the media and on campus.

I don’t want to try to discount anything that has been said tonight. There are valid concerns that have been brought up that need to be addressed. However, it has been my experience that many issues often stem from the fact that when something doesn’t happen according to a person’s idea of how it should be or should’ve been handled, they let their anger get the best of them. Sometimes it’s ok to get angry, but we need to move past the anger to solve issues at their root, instead of vilifying one person or falling prey to a knee jerk reaction caused by anger. We need to actively listen when something is said. We need to realize communication breakdowns and strive to communicate better. We need to own our mistakes and make corrections. We need to work to be true peacemakers in our school community, not just peacekeepers. We need to stop placing blame and start presenting solutions.

Deer Valley is a good school. I could spend a half hour telling you about all the high achievers, programs, clubs, sports, music, and high academics that exist at Deer Valley but I hope you already know about those things.

There are a very small number of kids, I believe about 50, which is only about two percent of the entire student body that are a problem for this campus. Unfortunately, so much attention is being given to this problem group that the general consensus of public opinion is that this is a terrible school with an ineffective administration and out of control kids where nothing good could possibly happen. I am here to tell you the opposite is true.

When you think of an out of control situation, what comes to mind? Syria, the Ebola crisis, a prison on the verge of lockdown, riots, chaos? I can tell you that at Deer Valley we are very far from the examples I just cited. I believe the pervasive negativity by the community and the media is taking a toll on our kids and teachers. The more you hear something the more you start to believe it. I am around quite a bit and have not seen anything that comes close to an out of control campus. I invite you to come hang out with me at lunch on campus if you don’t believe me.

Fighting is not acceptable, but I personally have seen fights on campus dealt with quickly by the administration. My child is good at communicating with me, as a Junior she has been privy to maybe three or four classroom disruptions (including fights), physical or verbal, total in all her classrooms over the course of the last 2 ½ years. That’s 20 classes and 400 school days with minimal disruption. Most of the kids I have talked to think Deer Valley is a good school. They’ll tell you about kids in their class that make it hard to pay attention or cause problems, but none of them are refusing to go to class because they feel unsafe. If you walk around campus when class is in session there is hardly anyone out and around. There is a security option in place that allows teachers to call for help when needed, and a number to dial if it is an emergency situation. The kids do not run the school, not even close, however the hands of the administration and staff have been tied due to past situations and lawsuits that have severely restricted what they are able to do to enforce discipline and order. We need to realize and admit that we have become hog tied by what is politically correct and by what the media portrays. We are so concerned we might get sued or portrayed as intolerant that we are unwilling to stand up for what’s right. We need to speak truth, we need to draw a line in the sand and call unacceptable behavior exactly that, we need to hold people accountable for their actions and there needs to be real consequences for those actions. This goes for kids as well as adults.

I will not deny there are problems. There are still fights, and we do have paid security guards on campus to help keep our kids safe. I’m sure the typical high school issues of sex, drugs, and alcohol are there. This is high school. There will always be problems as there will never be a perfect school. To my knowledge there never has been, mine definitely wasn’t. School is a place where you get an education, not just from books, but also from life experience. There are always things we can do better. Teachers and kids need to feel safe and supported. As hard as it is to accept, we won’t be able to reach every kid, and it won’t always be the greatest environment, but we can reinforce the positive instead of focusing so much on the negative and buying into half truths and generalizations. One, two, or even 10 out of control kids doesn’t not mean the entire campus of over 2,500 is out of control and unmanageable. My experience with this administration has been positive. I believe they are trying to do their best for the school. They have shown themselves willing to communicate as well as own mistakes when they occur. They have control of this campus as a whole, and are working hard to keep it that way. We need to trust them and support them so they can do their job.

We can’t stop every negative thing from happening, and sometimes those things happen just because of people interacting. Pitting people against each other never solves anything; it just sets the stage for a toxic environment. We all need to work together to keep things from being blown out of proportion. Deer Valley is it’s own community with many good teachers and parents involved in it that deserve our support. In the coming days I hope we can reverse some of the negative out there with some positive.

I would ask the school board to take a hard line with the media. I for one am tired of seeing positive interviews cut out or dismissed. If they can’t portray both sides, or are unwilling to report on positive occurrences as well as the negative, then don’t give them access to our schools. I also ask the board to look for viable solutions, not just those that are politically acceptable.

Make the hard choices that will affect real change.

Angie Jorgenson

Antioch

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