Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ 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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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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Letter writer defends Hillary Clinton’s qualifications to be President

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Dear Editor:

I was surprised by the negative comments about Hillary’s qualifications made by Mr. Ralph Hernandez (my good friend) in a letter to the Antioch news paper.  I think he believes the propaganda put out by Republicans to discredit her.

I believe she is well qualified to be president of the United States. She served under President Obama as Secretary of State and did a very good job, contrary to the what the Republicans say. She was in Washington eight years with President Clinton and is well aware as to what goes on there.

My wife and I worked for the Antioch Democratic Club for many years.  My wife represented this area in the Conventions in Washington and Florida. I served as president and treasurer of the Democratic club for years and supported the Clintons for years.

Sincerely,

Joseph T. and Carolina M. Zamora

Antioch

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Letter writer concerned about release of California public school students data

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Dear Editor:

Every parent with a child that has attended a California school should be aware of this important issue.

On February 1st, Judge Kimberly Mueller ordered that the CA Department of Education release the student records of all students that attended any CA school since January 1, 2008 to the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and Concerned Parents Association v. CA Department of Education.

The court ordered that only the parties, their attorneys and consultants and the court would have access to the records and when they were done they would be returned or destroyed.  They claim that no student’s identifying records will be disclosed to the public. I do not want my children’s information to be disclosed to some people in Morgan Hill involved in a lawsuit I know nothing about.

We should not be so naïve to think security breaches never happen.  We all remember Target or Bank of America. I do not want my children’s information to be disclosed to some people in Morgan Hill involved in a lawsuit I know nothing about.

There is no reason to believe that the security precautions taken here will be any better than those taken by large corporations which have been subject to security breaches.

Examples of information that is stored on CA Department of Educations’s databases and network drives includes name, Social Security number, home address, demographics, course information, statewide assessment results, teacher demographics, program information, behavior and discipline information, progress reports, special education assessment plans, special education assessments/evaluations, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), records pertaining to health, mental health and medical information, student statewide identifiers (SSID), attendance statistics, information on suspensions and expulsions, and results on state tests.

There is one way to make sure that your child’s information is not included in this and that would be to fill out an opt –out form and mail it to the court by April 1, 2016. The form can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/ws/documents/form2016jan26.pdf

Julie Young

Antioch

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Thorpe defends card room initiative, admits he’s a leader in the effort

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Dear Editor,

When the government fails to act to protect the people, citizens have a right to petition their government for changes. I deeply cherish and understand this right because I defended it for 8-years as a member of the U.S. military. In 2013, the Antioch City Council rushed to issue a gambling license after receiving campaign contributions from a well-connected businessman who soon after plead guilty to money laundering on behalf of drug dealers.

As a result, in 2014 more than 20 Antioch citizens signed a letter to the City Council asking them to close the dangerous loopholes in the City’s card room ordinance. The Council made a halfhearted effort that did not go far enough.

First, the Council failed to change the ordinance to keep card rooms from our churches and schools. The initiative I’m supporting keeps gambling 1,000 feet away from any school, place or worship, alcohol or drug recovery center, mental care facility, park, library or other card room.

Second, the Council failed to restrict the conversion of our traditional card rooms with poker games into mini-casinos. In other cities, card rooms have put in fast paced casino games with super-sized “tables” that can accommodate dozens of players at each table.My initiative requires at least half the card room tables to be used for poker games and no more than 10 players per table.

Third, one of the card rooms in Antioch, Kelly’s, which was going to be used as a front for drug money laundering, was closed by State officials. Under this measure it would stay closed.  This initiative would keep the 19th Hole card room and the games we have now, and allow modest growth unless voters allow more gambling.

And to that end, in December of 2015 the coalition we formed turned in more than 9,302 signatures of Antioch registered voters to enact the necessary reforms. Prior to collecting signatures, our representatives had face to face meetings and/or conference calls with members of the City council. As a matter of fact, one council member signed our petition.

In 2015, when the petitions were circulated, the title and summary on the petitions were prepared by the City and accurately explained how this initiative would change and improve our laws and gambling regulations.

This has been a 2-year effort. No one bullied the Council. Just like no one bullied Councilmember Lori Ogorchock in having a face-to-face meeting with our representative to discuss these efforts. The Council was asked in 2014 to close these loopholes but did not. This is why the voters need to be in control of gambling expansion and not politicians open to influence.

This measure will prevent future City Councils from foolishly pursuing gambling at the expense of other local businesses that better contribute to our overall economy. In that same vein, this should serve as notice to the City Council that enough is enough. We need to attract high-quality businesses to Antioch, not more gambling, smoke shops, 7-Elevens, liquor stores, etc.

The coalition behind this campaign includes community leaders, business leaders, taxpayers and citizens from all over Antioch. Responsible card club owners also back this campaign. They are concerned about ethically challenged casino operators who create a bad image for the entire industry.

Lamar Thorpe

Citizens Initiative Against Gambling Expansion

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Letter writer responds to Payton Perspective on Thorpe and card room initiative

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Dear Editor:

I wanted to respond to your “Perspective” concerning the Card Room issue and Commissioner Thorpe which will move to a ballot measure at a sizable cost to the citizens of Antioch.

I will not stand to criticize Mr. Thorpe or to analyze his position; nor will I defend him. I do not know if he was used or was an active participant, and truly I don’t care one way or another. What I do know is that Commissioner Thorpe serves at the pleasure of the Council and may continue or not based on an evaluation of his whole work for the City by the Mayor and Council.

The question is: How did the Council not see this coming? With the issues raised concerning Kelly’s Card Room, it’s failure and the reaction of the City something like this initiative was bound to come along.

There was a filing and a collection of signatures wasn’t there? This didn’t happen in a vacuum did it? Where was the City Administration to advise the Council? Where was the City Manager? Where was the oversight? Where was the leadership?

So we end up in a “bind”. “Bullied”? Well, that is because there is a lack of leadership and vision. After all, when you don’t keep your eye on the ball, you miss. Big miss here. Just swinging at air.

Throughout your article there is frustration almost to the point of anger. I understand. The cost to our City is substantial, but you and I both know businesses love monopolies and a lack of competition. It produces big profits. And there is obviously big money involved or an out of town Casino wouldn’t have stepped in and spent time and money creating this situation.

Bottom line this may be the most current time the City of Antioch is placed in this type of situation but without improvement in leadership and vision, I assure you that it will not be the last.

Mark Jordan

Antioch

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