Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Former Council Candidate, Parks Commissioner writes against Measure W sales tax increase

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Dear Editor:

When I was actively campaigning for City Council I came out against Measure W.

I just like many of you have been inundated with pro Measure W advertising from the City of Antioch.

I can not support and will not vote for Measure W. For one the City has NOT delivered on the promises they made with Measure C. When we voted in Measure C we were told that it was to add police to the number we already had: not use it to be the primary funding source for police. We had 82 officers when C was passed. A month ago, we had 94 sworn in officers. That is a net gain of only 12 officers. According to some council members we have added 55 officers. Most of those 55 plus officers was to replace officers who left APD. They used Measure C funding for this. So, what happened to the city budget that had us at 82? Where did it go? Why was that funding that was already there not used to replace officers that left APD? Why, is Measure C being used to fund all police hires?

The City council also voted to approve a pay increase for cops on election night when Measure C passed? Has anyone read the Memorandum of Understanding the city has with the Antioch police? I suggest you do. It is public record. Pay attention to compensation they receive in the memorandum.  Too many questions need to be answered.  Let’s not forget that Measure C does not expire until 2021. Until it does expire, and the City honors the promises it made. How can our citizens support Measure W?

The city wants Measure W to replace C and make it a 20-year plan. Raising the Tax rate to 9.25%. Can our citizens afford that increase? Think of, a tax on a $40,000 car.

In one of the 5 council meetings the city manager stated that he and his staff conducted a survey of 800 people. Those surveyed supported Quality of Life programs, programs for kids 12 and younger, clean drinking water and maintaining police.  So, let’s think about those numbers.  Only 800 surveyed in a city of 114,000 people. That is less than 1% of our population. That is an embarrassing survey to use as a reason to put on the ballot and spend $60,000 to do so. Did they survey retirees on fixed incomes? Did they survey senior citizens? Did they survey our low-income families trying to make rent or mortgage payment every month? Or does that sector of our residents matter to the City? Where is the transparency of exactly how the money will be spent?  This sales tax revenue will go to our general fund.  Can we trust city to spend wisely when they haven’t delivered on promises already made? Yes, some council members have advocated for different ways to use the money. But none of this was voted upon by council.

This is poor leadership. What about businesses and growing our economy in Antioch with a 9.25% sales tax. If you are a contractor or home owner going to do home improvement project. Will you buy in Antioch? Or go to the Brentwood, Pittsburg, or Oakley to save money? Will anyone continue to shop Antioch? Or go to a lesser sales tax city?

Rodney McClelland

Antioch

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Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commissioner offers benefits of Measure W sales tax increase

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Dear Editor:

Antioch has a rendezvous with destiny. Our best days can be ahead. Look around town, people are landscaping their yards and starting new businesses, a true sign the community is improving.

I love Antioch.  I’m staying and seeing that we make this a better place for our children and grandchildren.

I support Measure “W”, the one cent sales tax measure on the November 6th ballot.

Measure W provides funds to address Antioch’s most pressing needs; 1) Safety and security – Police services are improving; we need that to continue; 2) Fighting blight- illegal dumping is rampant in Antioch. It hurts our civic pride and our economy. We need funds to clean it up and we need to encourage more suitable behavior; lastly, 3) Youth diversion – Antioch has a high percentage of youth and teens, Antioch need funds to create positive after school and summer activities to help our youths become fine contributing citizenry.

Please vote for Measure W on November 6th.

Dwayne Eubanks 

Antioch Police Department Crime Prevention Commissioner (Writing as a private citizen, not in behalf of the Crime Prevention Commission)

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Writer says Measure W is investment in Antioch’s quality of life

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Dear Editor:

Being a business owner, homeowner, husband, father and grandfather, I’ve learned the great advantage of investing in a future. It’s hard and takes sacrifice but, the end result is worth going all in. November offers a chance to invest in something worthwhile, improve our quality of life and that of those who follow.

Today, Antioch offers great opportunities. Antioch is rising with new   businesses, lower crime, blight reduction and landscape renovation. Real estate prices are a Bay Area bargain. A new and energetic City Manager, Police Chief and Mayor are working hard to make quality changes.

Antioch needs the work and investment of those who live and play here. Moving beyond the current sales tax measure, which has shown positive   results, and ushering in measure W, we will continue improving our city.

Measure W adds a half-cent local tax to what we are investing today, enabling continuation and increased funding to the police department but, also does much more.

W offers opportunity to a better quality of life. By increasing funding for reestablishing youth programs, water quality, maintaining 911 services and code enforcement, we can be a part of the solution.

If you spend $500 a week in taxable purchases in the City of Antioch,    Measure W increased cost to you would only be $2.50 a week! Some lose more in their couch while watching TV. This small amount will generate $7 million to improve our city. I’m hoping residents agree this small investment will make a very big dif  ference.

A city’s health depends on four factors: image; real estate market; physical condition; and management of quality-of-life issues. Measure W offers the    opportunity to improve each of these factors. Please join me and vote yes on W.

Tim McCall

32-year proud resident, small business owner, and Economic Development Commissioner.

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Antioch Chamber President and CEO endorses Measure W

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Dear Editor:

As a business owner in Antioch, Measure W affords a unique opportunity to improve this community, and thereby, your chances of business success here. Looking past the one cent tax increase, you will discover the many ways Measure W will positively impact your business.

Many of the problems affecting our city can be attributed to a handful of causes – insufficient police resources, blight and homelessness, and a lack of resources for our youth.

The major benefit to Measure W is that it targets all these factors.

For example, Measure W will help make Antioch safer by maintaining 911 police response and the number of police officers patrolling city streets, directly improving the efficacy of our Business Neighborhood Watch program.

The funds from Measure W could also be used to clean up illegal dumping, thereby reducing the unsightly blight and rampant homelessness that are ravaging this city.

By restoring after school and summer programs for youth, businesses can rest assured that they will be less encumbered by the many problems that unsupervised youth can bring to a community, especially in the afternoons and on school breaks.

When you consider that Measure W costs the consumer one cent for every dollar spent (except on critical food products like groceries and prescriptions), you will surely agree that it is a small price to pay to ensure our city is safe, clean, and well-maintained.

Richard Pagano, President and CEO

Antioch Chamber of Commerce

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OP-ED: 2018 test scores show need for charter schools

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

By John Crowder

Last week the California Department of Education released the 2018 test scores in English and math for all districts and schools in the state.  This is the fourth year of data from this latest testing scheme, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Test (SBAT), meant to align with the Common Core teaching standards and methods.  Students completing the test are placed into four broad categories in the subjects tested.  These are, Standards Not Met, Standard Nearly Met, Standard Met, and Standard Exceeded.  By combining the percentages from the latter two categories, we can compare how well schools and districts are doing in preparing students to, at a minimum, meet basic standards.

As has been the case since California began using this test in 2015, the results are not good for the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD).  AUSD students have the lowest scores of all eighteen school districts in Contra Costa County (See table below).  Further, the results for AUSD have remained, essentially, unchanged for the last four years.  In 2015, the percentage of students achieving success in English was 30%, while it is currently 31%.  In math it was 19% in 2015, and it now stands at 18%.

It is this low performance, combined with a lack of progress, that led hundreds of Antioch parents to sign the petitions and to turn out to the hearings held over the last couple of years to support bringing new charter schools, the Rocketship Elementary School and the Tech Academy Middle and High Schools, to Antioch.

The Charter School Act of 1992 was passed by the California legislature to address exactly the situation we find in Antioch.  Public charter schools, with longer school days, more interventions, and proven programs, bring hope to parents who want their children to have a good education, but who can’t obtain it from the district schools they find their children assigned to.

Parents only have one chance at ensuring their students learn the skills they need to be prepared for college and the job market.  They can’t afford to wait years, or decades, for change, especially when progress toward positive outcomes is nonexistent.  Each year of delay is another year lost.

Establishing high-quality, public charter schools in districts where students are not being adequately educated is imperative for communities where students are being failed by the education establishment when the district schools can’t, or won’t, change.

English Language Arts – Contra Costa County School Districts

Rank                            District                                                                        % Meet/Exceed

1                                  Orinda Union Elementary                                           88

2                                  Lafayette Elementary                                                  85

2                                  Moraga Elementary                                                    85

4                                  Acalanes Union High                                                 82

4                                  San Ramon Valley Unified                                        82

6                                  Walnut Creek Elementary                                           73

7                                  Canyon Elementary                                                    67

8                                  Brentwood Union Elementary                                    60

9                                  Liberty Union High                                                    58

10                                Byron Union Elementary                                            56

11                                Martinez Unified                                                        53

12                                Mt. Diablo Unified                                                     51

13                                Knightsen Elementary                                                43

14                                Oakley Union Elementary                                          39

15                                John Swett Unified                                                     37

16                                Pittsburg Unified                                                        34

16                                West Contra Costa Unified                                        34

18                                Antioch Unified                                                          31

Source:  https://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2018/Search

Mathematics – Contra Costa County School Districts

Rank                            District                                                                        % Meet/Exceed

1                                  Orinda Union Elementary                                           85

2                                  Lafayette Elementary                                                  82

3                                  Moraga Elementary                                                    79

4                                  San Ramon Valley Unified                                        77

5                                  Walnut Creek Elementary                                           71

6                                  Acalanes Union High                                                 69

7                                  Canyon Elementary                                                    65

8                                  Brentwood Union Elementary                                    50

9                                  Byron Union Elementary                                            47

10                                Martinez Unified                                                        42

11                                Mt. Diablo Unified                                                     39

12                                Knightsen Elementary                                                38

13                                Liberty Union High                                                    31

14                                Oakley Union Elementary                                          27

15                                John Swett Unified                                                     26

16                                West Contra Costa Unified                                        23

17                                Pittsburg Unified                                                        20

18                                Antioch Unified                                                          18

Source:  https://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2018/Search

Crowder is a candidate for Contra Costa County School Board, Area 4

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Writer supports Council Members Ogorchock, Tiscareno for re-election

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Dear Editor:

Election time is breathing down our necks. Like me, you may want to take a moment to reflect on the performance of those you’ve already elected to office and make some changes – or not.

Political signs are up, emails, Facebook, and other means of communication are being sent out on an almost daily basis, and it’s just going to get worse before it gets better.

I’ve received the election Voter Information Guide.  It’s full of useful information and you should take a moment to read up on what you’ll be voting on.  Many candidates have listed a way for you to communicate with them directly if you have any questions.

Two current councilmembers are up for reelection: Lori Ogorchock and Tony Tiscareno. They want our vote and I think they have earned it.

It’s been a rough couple of years.  But progress is definitely being made under the current council.  We may not have as many police officers as we’d like, but we do have hired more officers than we did have. It may not seem like a large number, but it’s astronomical when you see the competition Antioch faces from other law enforcement agencies in the state.

While we may be short on personnel in the police department, they are getting much needed help to identify and apprehend law breakers; K-9 police dogs assist our patrol units, Cameras have been added to the Sycamore Corridor and Cavallo Road, and license plate readers are all tremendous tools.  Antioch is definitely on the right path to making our community safer.

Frankly, I don’t always agree with all their votes.  It might even scare me a little if they always agreed with everything I said or did.  I’ve lived long enough to know that with good information anyone can be right, or grudgingly agree they were wrong, because they went with their gut instead of facts.

I’m not going to reward hard work and personal sacrifices by removing them from office.  They’ve earned reelection.

Barbara Herendeen

Antioch

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OP-ED: Antioch Police Chief explains need for Measure W sales tax increase

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

By Antioch Chief of Police, Tammany Brooks

It has been my honor to serve as Antioch’s Chief of Police for the past 16 months. Thank you to the residents who have provided me with comments, feedback, and perspectives on how we are doing and what your public safety needs and priorities are. Your support has been, and continues to be, truly appreciated.

I am extremely proud of my law enforcement family who, to a person, works diligently to keep the Antioch community safe. With the help of funds generated by a voter measure adopted in 2013, our department has made some significant progress over the last five years.

Since that time, we hired 58 police officers, working to reach our fully authorized staffing level of 104 police officers. We also hired four community service officers, freeing police officers to focus more time on enforcement related duties. The average response time for Priority 1 emergency calls for service has decreased by more than 1 minute 40 seconds. Property crime has decreased more than 27%, and violent crime has decreased by more than 40%!

Additional code enforcement officers and specialists have also been hired to fight illegal dumping, graffiti and blight.

But even with all that said, there is still a lot of work to be done to make Antioch safer and improve the quality of life for all its residents.

That is why the Antioch community needs to make an informed decision about Measure W – the proposed extension of Antioch’s previous voter-approved sales tax, at the one-cent rate.

In August, the Antioch City Council unanimously placed Measure W on the November ballot after receiving feedback from hundreds of residents on their safety and quality of life priorities.

If enacted, Measure W is intended to address, among other priorities: maintaining 911 emergency response, restoring/maintaining the number of police officers patrolling city streets, funding traffic enforcement patrols, and preparing public safety personnel for rapid, coordinated responses to natural disasters.

There are 11 state measures and numerous legislative and local candidates on your ballot. Familiarize yourself with your ballot from top to bottom, and remember to cast a vote on Measure W. 

For more information on Measure W and Antioch’s Police Department, visit www.antiochca.gov.

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Writer opposes Antioch’s Measure W sales tax increase, challenges proponents to debate

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Editor:

Wrong is wrong no matter who supports it. Antioch’s proposed Transactions and Use (Sales) Tax Measure “W” is a trick on the voting public! The Mayor and Council Members, and other select employees, have much to personally gain by its passage! Measure “W” is really nothing more than more taxes you pay that only go into the general Fund, period, with no required funding for anything they promise (City Attorney’s analysis). The Council’s picked and controlled “Citizens Oversight Committee” cannot enforce where the money goes, nor be able to punish anyone if the money is used for other purposes.

Antioch’s public safety and lack of inadequate manpower issues can also be pointed out as contributed to by certain greedy employee groups primarily looking out for themselves and their pocketbooks. The public’s safety/”quality of life” has not been at their forefront. I’ve known for many years, and complained regularly, that our City’s public safety was being jeopardized by certain self-serving employee groups. They preferred increases to their own existing members’ wages and overall benefits, not using the money instead to pay for more Police manpower to make our city safer!

The Antioch Police Officers’ Association, in particular, when given the choice of more Police manpower, or increases in their wages and benefits, always instead chose only the latter for themselves! The APOA’s support is again therefore only very self-serving and hypocritical. Their support for passage of Measure “W” also is so that they will receive their guaranteed raise(es), as other top-level employees also expect to receive soon! They are due for another raise this month. It’s obvious why they want the voters to pass the Tax Measure “W”. Of course, the APOA supports its passage!
Voters, consider for yourselves their total reported 2017 wages / total Pay and Benefits of a Policeman;

Chief = $232,164 / $430,928
Capt. = $209,292 / $392,114
Lt. = $181,440 / $332,252
Sgt. = $143,592 / $362,904
Cpl. = $129,228 / $301,723
Off. = $114,864 / $284,948

The APOA has a very good retirement plan, for which they previously paid none of their traditional 9% share (the City paid it for them, at great expense). Then their Retirement Plan was enhanced to the costlier “3% at 50” Retirement Plan, with the City once again fully paying for their share and additional greater costs! The APOA chose for themselves, not for more manpower or your “quality of life”. That expensive one hundred million ($100,000,000+) plus unfunded pensions debt is another major reason why the City wants Measure “W” passed. Most of the Tax money will be used to cover up for the Mayor’s and Council’s incompetent decision makings!

The Mayor and Council Members have had the power to change things for the better of our community for years but, chose not to do so! The public’s safety and “quality of life” has not really improved as it should have long ago! Crime essentially has been ongoing and unmitigated for too long! They’ve just given the public ‘feel good’ lip service and made unkept promises, just to look good to you! Even when I personally spoke out at many Council meetings, and in person on a one-to-one basis with the elected Mayor and Council Member, they have chosen to ignore the facts and recorded data given to them.

The two incumbents running for re-election should not be voted for. And, the Mayor and Council Members as a whole should be ashamed and step down if all they are going to do is continue to mislead the public and fool you with this nefarious and underhanded Measure “W” just to cover for their behinds! I believe that they are nothing more than incompetent tricksters, charlatans, insincere, phony, and a disgrace to the public they claim to represent. Measure “W” is a perfect example of their attempt to betray you once again!
Norma and I hereby challenge to a public forum debate any two of the signed Proponents of Measure “W”. Let’s let the public see and hear both sides (which they coincidentally did not allow for a Rebutal Argument by us within the to-be published ballot guide).

Signed,
Ralph A. Hernandez

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