Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Antioch School Board candidate offers ways district can improve public outreach

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Editor:

As someone who has built a business around communication and relationship building, if elected to serve on the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees, I plan to take those skills and find ways to create more opportunities for the school district to reach the public.

Often times, as publisher of eastcountytoday.net, I am asked why I did not cover this school event or that student’s achievement or share how a teacher was recognized. Sadly, it typically comes down to no one from the District providing the information.

While I admit new Superintendent Stephanie Anello has done an outstanding job with media relations when compared to the outreach done by her predecessor—which I might add was like pulling teeth—she cannot go at it alone simply performing social media duties. She needs a team around her and needs additional tools.

If elected, I will make it a priority to improve communication to students, parents and the community. After all, the City of Antioch has an “image problem” and what better way to improve the overall image of the city than highlighting the many wonderful things occurring within the school district.

For example, over the summer, several Antioch students worked on a project which was so brilliant, it’s now being used by NASA after the Antioch Rotary Club helped fund the effort. This is a perfect example of the community working with students to create success–unfortunately it never hit the newspapers because no one knew about it.  This is just one example of many that could begin to change the way at how the public perceives the school district.

Through improved communication, it improves the relationship between students, parents and teachers—it creates buy-in because goals can be achieved together. Thus, it brings back to the joy of teachers teaching and students learning because all parties can be on the same page.

My communication plan for the District includes the following:

Public Information Specialist

There are teachers and staff doing great things. Both parents and the community should know about it. I would like to see the District hire a public information specialist to assist the Superintendent in gathering information from all schools and showcase to the community what great schools and staff we have.

This position can also respond to issues as they come up and help improve transparency in a timely manner.  There are a lot of things occurring in a school district that both parents and taxpayers may not even be aware of that can be an opportunity to shine a positive light. With this position, the District can now tell its story with better uses of press releases, photographs, social media, newsletters, announcements and other tools.

Ultimately, this position is a rather small investment cost wise for the amount of public trust that can be built if implemented correctly.

Put School Board Meetings Online

Currently, if you want to know what occurred at a school board meeting, you can view the agenda and minutes online. That is not good enough.

The District, at the very least, should place the audio from all school board meetings online—the cheapest option. I would go a step further and invest in web-only cameras to record all school board meetings and place the video online which most local governments already do.  This provides much needed transparency to those in the community who seek it.

While some may argue the District should invest in “live television” of a school board meeting, that is expensive and money can be better spent elsewhere on students—especially given how the District is in deficit spending mode.

Take Advantage of the Web

Today, anyone and everyone can take advantage of the internet. The school district is no different. The district should not be forced to rely on a newspaper to tell their story; instead they should simply tell it using their own website.

As publisher of eastcountytoday.net, I’ve built a business around telling stories and providing information. The AUSD can do it too with the creation of their own “news site” to produce information for students, parents, and the community—the newspapers can even pluck stories and photographs right off the website.

Thus, this is where my goal of a public information specialist comes in to help manage this undertaking–students could even become involved in the form of internships.  The goal of this effort would allow the District to stop relying on others (or social media for that matter) to distribute the Districts own information and instead take control of what goes out and how it goes out. I see this as a huge win for the entire community.

Empower Principals and Teachers

The school district has 18,000+ students; the daily face of the district is each site principal and the teachers. We must find ways to better allow them to shine whether it’s a morning breakfast with the parents on campus, hosting off-site coffee meetings, forums, etc. The goal, here is to provide staff with the ability to “do them” and interact with parents as best they know how under the Districts message.

Each school has a different culture that should be embraced, not try to force a one-culture fits all mentality.

Communication within the school district should be more than “feel good” actions; it should be real and sincere. By using a mixture of technology and empowering staff, the school district can improve its public perception. For Antioch, there can be no better way to improve its perception than showcasing its very own students and teachers.

Michael Burkholder

Burkholder is a candidate for the Antioch School Board in the November election. He has a child at both Orchard Park School and Carmen Dragon Elementary School. For more information about his campaign, visit www.mikeburkholder.com or visit him on Facebook.

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Letter writer supports Frazier transportation bill

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Editor:

Thank you to the Antioch Herald for its recent coverage of the Frazier-Beall transportation plan, a smart, sensible bill that addresses our state’s transportation issues and provides a fair approach to funding provisions that will fix our roads and strengthen California’s economy. It is inarguable that our transportation infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating under the pressure of population growth that puts more vehicles on the road than the system was designed to manage safely.

The transportation funding plan put forth by Assemblyman Jim Frazier and Sen. Jim Beall offers a practical solution. It calls for an equitable distribution of funding responsibility among multiple sources, including gas and diesel tax increases and an annual fee for zero-emission vehicles. The bill encourages the use of public transit and other transportation alternatives. Frazier and Beall exhibit a commendable vision by balancing modes, understanding their net positive impact on relieving congestion and carbon emissions while off setting their impact on a corresponding net loss of gas tax receipts under the current program.

California’s transportation network serves as the lifeline for our personal mobility as well as an economic engine that makes the state the preferred originating point to move goods throughout the U.S.  We must fund consistent, long-term maintenance and expansion now to keep our lifeline open and ensure a safe, reliable transportation system that we can count on.

Art Hadnett

President, West Division at HNTB Corporation

San Francisco

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Letter writer upset about proposed state gas tax increase

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Editor:

Assembly Member Jim Frazier wants to add a 17 cent per gallon tax on gas in addition to our already outrageous cost of living. He wants this tax increase to cover transportation costs. This tax would generate $7.4 billion.

Illegal aliens cost California taxpayers more than $25 billion per year. Here is a novel idea, stop supporting these illegals (in some cases they receive far more than U.S. citizens), and many problems would be solved at the same time, by the same action. Most illegals would return to their country of origin or go elsewhere. This would relieve the strain on the state budget, the strain on the water supply, the strain on the judicial system, education, jail systems to name a few.

All of these positives and more could be achieved by actually enforcing current, existing laws. By doing so, we would not need a 17 cent per gallon gas tax increase and would still have more than $17.6 billion left from the $25 billion that illegals cost California taxpayers annually.

In an honest system, we could even receive a tax cut, but I just do not see this happening. By myself, I have supported more families than I have actual family members. I, for one, am growing extremely weary of it.

We are no longer citizens or constituents, only taxpayers or dollar signs.

Steven Payne

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Antioch resident thanks postal worker who rescued her from rattlesnake in home

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
Rattlesnake in letter writer's home.

Rattlesnake in letter writer’s home.

Dear Editor:

On July 29th, I came face to face with a four-foot-long rattlesnake. All my gratitude goes to my mailman, Patrick Dorn, who has been working for the U.S. Postal Service for thirty-three years. Pat, as I know him, has been safely removing snakes from homes all around the Mira Vista Hills where I live for years, always on his own time. In only the last five years, Pat has relocated at least seven snakes, protecting all the human (and reptile!) lives involved.

That warm July morning, I spent the early hours doing chores around my house. I stepped outside to water plants and feed the birds, and when I returned inside, I heard a strange noise I couldn’t place. It reminded me of a loud hiss, like air escaping a pipe, so I called my daughter to tell her about what I thought was a gas leak. Her husband suggested that perhaps a water pipe had burst under the house, a common issue in my area.

So I went about my usual business, tidying up my living room and cleaning my dining room table. For nearly two hours, the hissing continued, and I was completely puzzled, looking all around my house as I asked my daughter to come over and inspect it with me. When she arrived with a small search party, my tiny Japanese Chin was mysteriously quiet; usually, when I have visitors, my dog barks very loudly, but today she was whimpering. I never even considered why she was so silent.

Postal worker Patrick Dorn

Postal Carrier Patrick Dorn

Together with my daughter, her husband, and my son-in-law, we began to search for the source of the hissing. I was looking at the ceiling when suddenly, my daughter grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me backwards, her landing on top of me. We landed on a table, toppling it, sending remotes and snacks clattering to the floor. It happened so quickly I had no time to question her actions, no time to even feel pain, because from there on the floor, I could see the source of the bizarre noise.

There, under my dining room table — the very same table I had cleaned earlier that day! — was an enormous rattlesnake, curled up and shaking its tail. It was a huge, thick adult with at least eight rattles on its tail, and my heart jumped into my throat. My daughter helped me scramble to a safe distance, and all at once, my son-in-law and my daughter’s husband began to debate how to safely get rid of the snake. Animal Services was closed that day, and although we called the police, they never arrived. As the men in the room pondered the safest way to remove the reptile threat, I recalled my mailman Pat telling me to call him if I ever found a snake in my home. Fingers shaking, I quickly dialed his number.

Pat explained that he and his wife were “on vacation,” enjoying lunch at a Chinese restaurant and preparing to leave for Hawaii the next day. Nonetheless, not thirty minutes later, Pat arrived at my home with a borrowed snake stick. If the snake had come into my house just a day later, Pat would never have been able to come get him.

Exuding calm expertise, Pat set an empty trash bin beside my table and brandished the snake stick. Slowly, he pulled out one of the chairs, and the snake rattled again, the sound almost deafening in my echoing living room. With careful and practiced movements, Pat pinched the snake with the stick and lifted it, gently placing it at the bottom of the trash can before placing the top on. Now the snake could be relocated far away from my and other homes in the Mira Vista Hills.

I felt my body slump with relief, and all I could do was thank Pat over and over for coming to help me. No one should ever try what Pat does without the knowledge he has! He knows how to handle these snakes, how to read them and know if they are aggressive or lethargic. This is not a how-to guide for wrangling snakes. This is simply the story of how my kind and brave mailman saved me from a rattlesnake, and I am so happy that Patrick Dorn is my friend and now my savior.

The writer chose to remain anonymous.

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Royal Family Kids thanks those who helped make camp for foster children possible

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Dear Editor:

Our heartfelt “Thank you” to the following gracious donors who supported Royal Family Kids 2016! Your generosity allowed us to take 51 local foster children to camp this summer! On behalf of the children we serve and that you blessed, “thank you!”

JDK Realty, Terry Beyers, CMA-Christian Motorcycle Association, Linus Project, Delta Quilters, Rich Products, Great America, Deer Ridge Golf, Buffalo Wild Wings, Disneyland, Lucy’s Nail Salon, Twin Palms/Alicia Powell, Sweet Affair, Lauryn’s Jewelers, Vic Stewart’s, Brentwood Auto Spa, Kids-N-Cribs, Kevin Murphy Salon, Trinity Gunsmithing/Chris O’Connor, Shadow Lakes Golf Course, Movement Mortgage, Cornerstone Church-Brentwood & Walnut Creek, Of His Fold Photography- Rita Ortiz, Allen Payton & Antioch Herald, Delta RC Hobbies, Jenness Park, Audrey Hammel, Harvest Park Bowl, Battlefit Gym, Miettes, Crixa Cakes, CMA in Nashville, Daryle, Arnold Knoll, Eden Plains Nursery, Sofas 4 Less, Erica Turner, Mike Hester, Golden Hills Community Church, Pink Zebra, Good Scents Florist, GHCC Kairos Team, Brian & Anna Beakhouse, Rosa Franklin, Hook Line & Sinker, San Francisco 49ers, House of Charm, Starbucks-Antioch & Pittsburg, House Pet Sitting Services/Jenna Loewen, Spirit West Coast, James Andreggen/Pixar, Alert K-9, Jerry Theobald, Clif Bars/Mary Morris, Joanne Bell, Stockton Ports, Joslyn Fenyes, Tim & Cindy Demercurio, Karen Maze-Bettancourt, AMC Theaters, KorrieDidio, Big O Tires/Pittsburg, Lone Tree Golf Course, Tonic, Max Martial Arts/Matt Rosalez, Hair by Caitlyn, Revive Salon & Spa-Brittany Thorpe, Cushing & Gann Optometry, Robert & Susan Martinez, Amy Vasquez, San Francisco Ballet, Melissa Buell Photography,    Foster a Dream, Discovery Bay Yacht Club, Skipolini’s, ThirtyOne, Steve Todd, Mike’s Pastry Shop and Sweet Streets Desserts.

For more information about Royal Family Kids, please visit www.Brentwood.RoyalFamilyKids.org.

Dave & Sue Bowers, Directors

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Letter writer wants to know who paid for The Wilson Watch ad

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Editor:

The campaign ads in the June 2016 issue are not surprising and all enjoy their freedom of expression.

I just have one question to ask.

The full-page ad for Hardcastle is identified as paid for by Friends of Hardcastle.

The quarter-pager for Amador is identified as paid for by Amador for Congress.

And the full-page No on E ad is identified as paid for by Antioch Friends for Local Control.

All these show either an active FPPC ID or a Facebook page.

So riddle me this:

Who paid for the full-page hatchet job on Wilson?

Neither group name, nor FPPC ID, nor any mechanism of contact is offered from this party, which ends its layout with a fusillade of well-worn dog-whistles concerning our economic refugees, nearly non-existent voter fraud, and any manner of advanced understanding of citizens of alternate gender classification. This following a ceremonial shaming of someone for being a member of the so-called “precariat”.

I have been lucky to work at my present employer for nearly 15 years, but my work record before this would not have passed this ad-maker’s muster of being employed somewhere longer than five-and-a-half years. What are we to make of these unnamed snobs who thumb their noses at those of us to have had to work to find work?

For a faction positioning itself as a watcher, they sure like their invisibility.

Avery Colter

Antioch

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Former long-time Oakley School Board member and teacher endorses Doug Hardcastle for Supervisor

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Editor:

Honesty – Community Dedication – Fiscal Responsibility

I have known Doug Hardcastle for over 25 years. I know him to be hard working, honest and dedicated to the improvement of the whole community. His community work has always been based on what is best for the citizens.

Bob Kratina

Former Oakley School Board Member, 21 years

Retired Teacher, 38 years

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Former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem wants Burgis to stay on Parks Board, endorses Hardcastle for Supervisor

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Editor:

As a lifelong resident of Antioch, I have a few perspectives on the upcoming election for Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor. I have watched the political career of Diane Burgis for some time. She is one of the best representatives on issues involving our environment. I am concerned though with her recent candidacy: is she just someone trying to climb the political ladder?

She was recruited and is backed by Supervisor Mary Piepho which isn’t necessarily a good thing, at a time when Piepho is part of the county’s numerous problems. She voted herself a 33% pay raise and then defended it when voting to reverse that decision. Piepho then wanted to double dip and get both a car allowance and mileage reimbursement because her district is so big. She even wanted Walnut Creek in her district during the redistricting process in 2011, but the rest of the Board wisely said “no”.

Burgis needs to stay on the East Bay Regional Parks District Board, as she was elected to in 2014 (half-way through her first term on the Oakley City Council) where she can use her expertise in protecting creeks, open space and trails and actually fulfill a commitment and serve a full term in office.

We desperately need to elect someone with broader experience on major issues like transportation, job creation and economic development, as well as protecting and improving the Delta. I’m supporting Doug Hardcastle for this elected office. Doug has over 15 years of proven leadership in office, and in this race experience matters most.

Hardcastle entered the race, last September and was willing to take on the incumbent and will help clean up the fiscal problems created by her and the rest of the current board. Piepho facing the real possibility of losing, decided against running for reelection in December.

Steve Barr of Brentwood may be a nice guy, but he seems to be another political opportunist running for higher office. He announced his candidacy only after Piepho backed out. I’m concerned the real reason he’s running is because he couldn’t get elected mayor in Brentwood in 2012, and can’t beat Bob Taylor this year, either.

In virtually every race this year, experience matters most, and Hardcastle is the most qualified. As you make your choice, consider if the person you’re voting for is running to be something or running to do something. I’m tired of seeing people elected who want to be something. Doug Hardcastle is running to do something which is why I’m urging you to join me in supporting him for County Supervisor.

Manny Soliz

Former Mayor Pro Tem & Councilmember

City of Antioch

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