Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Writer provides update on Measure O campaign expenditures

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Dear Editor:

I am a 45-year resident of Antioch,a senior, a homeowner, a professional businesssman (Consulting Civil Engineer)and a member of the “Residents for Fairness – Yes on Measure O” campaign committee. I have been promoting a yes vote on Measure O by writing letters to both the Internet and paper news media, helping with placement of 200 small signs and 20 large signs about town, and distributing flyers to voters’ homes explaining Measure O. A total of 2,500 flyers were printed and distributed over the past week by our committee members. I personally distributed over 1300 flyers. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of volunteers to continue distribution, the program was discontinued after Saturday 10/25.

The “No on Measure O Coalition” has through 10/24 raised funds to out-spend the “Yes on O” committee by a ratio of 13 to 1. According to their Form 497 Contribution Reports filed with the City, they have raised $173,575 from eleven contributers with the funds mostly coming from out-of town real estate investors and associations located in Dallas Texas, Scottsdale Arizona, Los Angeles, Roseville, Sacramento, Oakland, and Walnut Creek. The California Apartment Association in Sacramento contributed $50,000 alone. Only two of the eleven contributing entities are located in Antioch: Oak Village Apartments and ENN Property Management.

In contrast, the Yes on Measure O committee has raised only $13,680 through 10/27 from Antioch citizens and local organizations. Fortunately, we do have a knowledgeable dedicated group of volunteers conducting a minimum cost campaign. I urge all concerned citizens of Antioch to jump-in and help during the final days until Election Day to get out the yes vote on O. Don’t let the big money outsiders tell us how to run our City with their slick cartoons, twisted facts, and outright lies!

Larry L. Harrison

Residents for Fairness – Yes on Measure O” Campaign Committee

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Walter Ruehlig offers reasons for running, again for Antioch School Board

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Dear Editor:

As Yogi Berra would have it, it looks like deja vu all over again. Seems once again that  I can’t escape my sanity being questioned. Ten years ago I contemplated a race for Antioch School Board. I asked the late,great, Mno Grant his opinion on my throwing a hat in the ring. He told me it depended upon how big the hole was in my head.

After all, Antioch had suffered a spate of scandals, including a 9.8 million dollar deficit and entry on the ignominious county Fiscal Watch List. Running for office was like asking to be tarred and feathered.

In the end, I threw abandon to the winds; ran twice; and was deeply honored to win twice.  I was fortunate to play a role in summarily getting us off the Watch List, restoring public trust, starting a streak of seven of eight years of API score increase and initiating the linked pathways, career themed model that shined the reform spotlight.

In 2012,  I began a two year hiatus from school governance. Again, friends question the size of the hole in my head as I now  vie for office. It certainly isn’t for the money that I consider giving up having a real life. Heck, by my calculation,  the $400 monthly stipend comes out to about $4.85 hourly compensation. That’s if you don’t deduct the spent  gas and the paying functions you attend. 

Why then entertain abandoning the return to normalcy and of enjoying time for family, exercise, reading and hobbies? I guess I’m guilty of caring. 

I care about the eight million dollar settlement and the six 5-7 year old autistic kids who were physically and emotionally abused. I care about the achievement gap of minority, foster kid and English language learner students. I care about the overwhelming majority of our kids who graduate unqualified for U.C. system entry.  I care for twenty six million dollars in deficit spending.  I care about having a chair at the table for students of all niches; traditional, alternative. academy, charter, home study, remote and independent, I care about the disconnect between downtown and the grassroots that has spawned teacher dissatisfaction and parental revolts.

And yes, I care to the point of a sick stomach about schools, from elementary upwards, reporting their classrooms and yards riddled with disruption as an admittedly small number of kids terrorize teachers and fellow classmates. That’s outright unacceptable. 

Surely, we can do better than denial. Yes, Houston, we have a problem.  In fact, an emergency. Transparency, communication, partnerships, common sense and consequences seem shortchanged.

I may not have all the answers, but I promise not to sit and hope that answers somehow drop in my lap; I’ll demand accountability, respectfully disagree when needed, ask questions, civilly poke and prod staff, and stir the pot with dialogue and best practice research. Together, we can start by breaking open the silos and getting all stakeholders to the table; students, parents, teachers and community leaders. We know it all starts at home, so we need engagement.

Simply put, I don’t want to wallow in, and wring hands over, our litany of challenges. I want, instead., to vigorously seek out solutions because our kids and teachers deserve the best education that we can give them and that begins with safety…and, your Honor, yes, if caring translates to a hole in the head, then I am guilty as charged.

Walter Ruehlig

Antioch

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Payton Perspective: Elections are about we the people hiring others to work for us

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Let’s hire those who have proven themselves, are trustworthy and are running to do something, not just seeking a title; beware of catchy slogans and empty promises

Payton Perspective logo Payton Perspective: Elections are about we the people hiring others to work for usI view campaigns as the time the public gets to decide whether to hire a new office seeker, renew the contract for an incumbent running for reelection, or give a promotion to a candidate running for higher office.

The election is the interview and job performance review process. We the people, as their employers, have a right to know what all candidates believe, hear all candidates share their positions on the issues and defend their records. All candidates have that responsibility.

The question we should all ask ourselves before voting is, what have the candidates done before seeking office to deserve getting hired or what have they done in office to deserve to have their contract renewed or get a promotion? Talk is cheap. Action and results are what matter.

I can’t understand why someone who has done nothing for the community they wish to serve wants to start out doing so in elected office. I say, accomplish something, make some improvements, prove yourself, first.

Some candidates, unfortunately, have just put their name on the ballot and have done little or nothing to let us know who they are, what they stand for, what they’ve done or what they’ll do, if elected.

Others, including those in office, already, have arrogantly refused to appear at candidate forums or debates and be held accountable by those who they seek to represent, or answer the questions of their opponents, as if they’re entitled to be elected. That’s just wrong.

Remember, candidates, you already or want to work for us – we the people.

Then there are the candidates who have serious issues in their backgrounds. The question is who is responsible for vetting those candidates? It’s not the City or County Clerks’ nor the California Secretary of State’s jobs to do so. They merely verify if the person is at least 18 years old, is registered to vote and, under penalty of perjury, lives where they say they do on the forms they complete, including the voter registration forms.

It’s the media’s job to vet the candidates, look into their backgrounds, verify if what they’re telling us is accurate and true, and inform the public about who they are and what they’ve done, both good and bad in their lives and for the communities they wish to represent, so voters can make an informed decision.

We’ve done our best to do our part to provide that information over the past few months. On our website we have published and in our November we will publish some news stories that have information that makes both the candidates and us as writers, editors and publishers, as well as you voters, uncomfortable. It’s not enjoyable dealing with those kind of issues, but it must be done for a fully informed electorate.

In 1988, nationally syndicated columnist George Will wrote that there are two types of candidates: those who run to do something and those who run to be something.

We’ve had enough of those, elected already who just want to be something, who then don’t speak out on the issues or accomplish anything, or just go along with the majority, while in office. We don’t need any more. And we surely don’t need any more of those with merely catchy slogans who overpromise during election time and underdeliver after they’re elected.

Good luck to all the candidates. May the best ones win.

But, those who don’t, should stay involved. Don’t lose and just go away, like so many before have done. That just shows you really didn’t care about the community, you just wanted to get elected, to be something. Trust me, serving in office isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work, many long hours and putting up with some rather unpleasant things, at times. So getting elected for a stroke to your ego is pretty foolish. You need to be running for office to accomplish things for and improve the community in which you want to serve. Seriously, who cares about a title or position if you don’t do something with it to benefit others? It’s just a waste. So, do something to benefit the community, whether you’re elected or not. Getting elected should be about wanting to help more people on a larger scale than you’re already doing. If you’re not already doing so, you shouldn’t have been running for office, yet. That’s my perspective.

For those who haven’t yet voted, please do so with the long-term, best interest of our community, in mind.

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Writer says Antioch needs to pass Measure O to avoid bankruptcy

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Dear Editor,

Voting Yes for Measure O is one of the most important things Antioch seniors, homeowners and business owners can do at this moment in time.  This city is on the brink of bankruptcy while thugs and filth try to turn Antioch into another ghetto.

Public records show that the California Apartment Association (CAA) in Sacramento CA along with other out of town groups have contributed over $173,000 to defeat Measure O.  Our group of seniors, the Friday Morning Breakfast Club has raised about $13,680.  It is hard to understand people that have business investments in Antioch demanding they should be exempt from paying for a business license.  The money they contributed to defeat Measure O could have been used towards the business license and the revenue could have gone for city services, paving the way for a safer, cleaner Antioch.

The CAA and their cronies lie when they say Measure O is dishonest.  Please don’t let out of town special interest groups deceive you.  You can go online to “antiochmeasureo.com” and read the facts.  Please vote Yes on Measure O.

Marie Livingston

Antioch

 

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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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