Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Letter writer remembers Gary Agopian

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I could have been a stranger to Gary Agopian and yet known his sterling character by witnessing his three children, Heather, Corey and Jason deport themselves through the Celebration of Life held August 9th at Golden Hills Community Church. They projected the graceful affirmation their dad so emphatically embraced, “Let Thy Will Be Done.”

No way such a threesome developed by happenstance. This was nurturing at its best as Gary’s investment in faith and family reaped a stunning harvest.

Having worked beside Gary for four years on the Antioch School Board I offer a few reflections from the community lens. We might ask, what made Gary such a leader?

ACCESSIBLE.: Gary never dismissed a call or e-mail. It must have been his close to three decades in retail management and real estate sales. As the customer was king, the constituent was the Master and he the public servant.

HANDS-ON: Again, invariably his store background which led Gary to roll up his sleeves and get down from the podium. He was not a drive-by photo-op kid of guy. Whether it was the Graffiti Task Force, where he got out the paint can, or the Youth Intervention Network, where he mentored a family, Gary got in the trenches.

PREPARED: Gary lived the Boy Scout motto, ‘be prepared’. He kept you on your A-Game because in his world there was no slouching. He religiously studied his Board and Council packet and knew the issues. In fact, there seemed no issue, local or national, where Gary was at a loss for a studied observation.

CURIOUS: This was a man with an insatiable appetite to learn and to test his limits. He was the consummate risk taker comfortable pushing his comfort zone. If the mountain was out there Gary was game to climb it; be it the likes of running for Mayor or County Supervisor.

COMMUNICATOR: Gary was gregarious. He loved socializing and was an avid enthusiast of discourse. He thrived in the public square where ideas were vigorously debated.

CIVIL: I never knew Gary to demonize an opponent He could respectfully disagree.

INTEGRITY: Honor meant all to him.

INCLUSIVE: Gary always wanted to study the various ideas of an issue. He leaned on the conservative side but could surprise you as he was no ideologue. In this feverishly partisan society of overheated rhetoric, Gary was a refreshing breeze, outspoken but pragmatic. He sought solutions and balance.

Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Ford and of General Motors, wrote a book, ‘Where Have All the Leaders Gone?’ No doubt, there has been a recent paucity of them as any politician with spine seems a virtually extinct species. Nobody seems willing to tell us the truth or make the hard choices. Where are the Harry Trumans, ‘where the buck stops here?’

Agree or disagree with all his votes, Gary was a leader. He will be sorely missed.

My prayer is that his legacy be in setting the bar higher for us all.

Walter Ruehlig, Antioch

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Antioch to celebrate July 4th at County Fairgrounds, this year

Thursday, June 5th, 2014


There’s mixed news on Antioch’s Fourth of July. The downsides, for many, are the changes. The Parade route has been altered from the traditional E Street kickoff to a now L Street start. The fireworks have been moved from the riverfront to the County Fairgrounds.

I count myself as one who will miss the ambiance of floats and marchers passing the historic Rivertown storefronts and water view. I, too, will miss the excitement of aerial displays over the San Joaquin. It was vintage small-town Americana at its’ best.

The twin culprits forcing the change are two in number; safety and costs.

Despite all the fencing in the world, the crowds simply get unto the railroad tracks. Added to our police manpower shortfalls that spells nightmare. Also, after a two year lapse with the City stopping funding of the event, the strain of raising $65,000, much of which goes for police overtime, just got to be too much.

Let’s dwell, though, on positives. There is plenty to rejoice.

The core of the event is still alive and well. Private security will now man the festivities, aided by some Sheriff Department presence. Security will be less problematic in the more controlled Fairgrounds at Tenth and L. Admission remains free and, much to our delight, parking is ample. Free street lots will be announced and the Fairground lot is available at $5 a car.

The Parade starts at 11 a.m. at 2nd and L and proceeds to the Fairgrounds. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. This year the aerial show will actually be overhead , so it promises to be spectacular.

The Fairgrounds is a venue that affords great variety of activity. We will have substantial picnic grounds, a classic car show, more food booths than ever, beer booths run by community organizations, circus performers, face painting, pony and kids carnival rides, plus educational exhibits including a library area, fire truck, canine unit demonstration, remote controlled model airplanes and model railroad.

There will also be non-stop music in the band shell featuring such treats as Rick Stevens, the former lead singer of famed Power of Tower, and the acclaimed Vocal-ease group.

There’s definitely something for everyone in this family event.

If you wish to join the car show or to march in the Parade print out an application at or contact Betty Smith or me.

See you, family and friends on the Fourth.

Walter Ruehlig, Board Member

Celebrate Antioch Foundation

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Dozier-Libbey parents write about concerns, support for independent charter conversion

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

This February 23, teachers (88% of the teaching staff) from Dozier-Libbey Medical High School submitted a petition to the Antioch Unified School District to convert that school from one under AUSD control to an independent charter school. Since that time, AUSD administrative personnel have been working to prevent this change. They have frequently employed misleading statements in order to bolster their position. They have recruited school district personnel to speak against the teachers, and for the alternative “dependent charter” they created in order to keep Dozier-Libbey under their control. We, the undersigned, all parents of current Dozier-Libbey students, are writing to express our support for the dedicated staff at Dozier-Libbey in their efforts to convert the school to an independent charter.

As parents, we are concerned with the quality of the education that our children receive. This is our sole concern, not the politics of the issue. We want our children to have a rigorous educational experience, one that will prepare them in such a way that they will have a wide range of options available to them upon graduation from high school.

Dozier-Libbey was created as a college preparatory school with a medical theme focus. Students apply to Dozier-Libbey because they have a desire to learn and want to succeed at a high level. They make the decision to tackle the rigorous and challenging curriculum that Dozier-Libbey provides. That curriculum was established by the teachers of Dozier-Libbey. Indeed, some of the courses were developed solely by the teaching staff. We support the independent charter because we want to see these innovative programs continue for the benefit of our students, and for those who, in the future, will follow them.

As parents, we are concerned that the school that our children attend has all of the resources needed in order for them to have the greatest possible chance of success. As Mr. Jeff Weber stated in a recent newspaper article, Dozier-Libbey has not been treated equitably with respect to the resources that have been provided to like-size schools within the AUSD system. Dozier-Libbey is the only high school in the AUSD system that must make do with a part-time librarian. Under the independent charter proposed by the teachers, they would be able to employ a full-time librarian. The school only has one person dedicated to school safety, and only one administrator assigned. When the administrator is called away to District business, which happens frequently, teachers must use time that should be devoted to teaching in order to cover her responsibilities. Dozier-Libbey also has the highest student-to-clerical ratio in the district and only a part-time employee handling the career center. It is, quite frankly, astonishing that the teachers at Dozier-Libbey have been able to accomplish all they have in spite of these, and other, inequities. We support the independent charter because it will allow for direct funding of the school that will provide needed resources for student success.

As parents, we want to be involved in the education of our children. Under the independent charter, Dozier-Libbey would be headed by a board of directors which will be made up of parents of Dozier-Libbey students as well as other community members who have experience in areas such as education, fund-raising or accounting. For parents to have a direct voice in the direction that the school will take is an exciting opportunity that many of us wish to take advantage of. In contrast, while the AUSD has stated that they are the ones who will listen to parental input they immediately discredited themselves by appointing a new principal for their dependent charter without a single community meeting. We support the independent charter because it will allow for meaningful parental involvement in the school, leaving the Dozier-Libbey teachers free to do what they do best – educating our students for college and careers by living the Dozier-Libbey vision: “Every student valued, every student challenged, every student prepared to succeed in a changing world”.

In summary, there are many parents who support the teachers converting Dozier-Libbey to an independent charter school because it will so clearly benefit the students. At the end of the day, that is what matters, not politics, but the quality of education that our children will be able to receive.

Lara Lindeman, Jeanne Stuart-Chilcote, Angela L. , Lisa Backlund, Julie C., Robin M., Michelle Adams, Silvia Huerta, Duane & April Padilla, Lori Bonwell , Carol Monaco, Anna Morris, Janet McDaid, Jean Ruelas, Christine Loomis, Arthur & Ifeoma Metu


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Letter writer offers thoughts on Dozier-Libbey charter debate

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Dear Editor,

I have been following the Dozier-Libbey story in the Antioch Herald and have read every article and all of the comments that have populated under each one. I have noticed that about 99% of the comments strongly support the teachers and their Independent Charter Petition.

FACT: 1. The Independent Charter Petition came first.

FACT: 2. The Independent Charter Petition was developed by teachers, not administrators and is almost twice as long as the district counter-proposal. The Independent Charter Petition provides many more details and aligns with the existing programs since it was created by the people who made Dozier-Libbey what it is today.

FACT: 3. None of the people who signed the Independent Charter Petition were coerced into signing.

FACT: 4. The Deer Valley signers of the Dependent Charter Petition from the district, who signed that they were meaningfully interested in teaching at DLMHS were promised they would NOT have to go there to teach if they signed the document. (This was related to me by a teacher who was at that meeting).

FACT:5. The Dozier-Libbey teachers have the full support of the California Charter Schools Association and their Independent Charter Petition aligns with the California Charter Schools Act.

FACT:6. Principal Nancie Castro was the top candidate, selected by a committee for her Science background, two years before the school was even built. She designed the model from the ground up and built her team. Each person was chosen from a pool of candidates because they were a good fit for the school.

FACT:7. Principal Scott Bergerhouse, the newly selected Principal for the district dependent charter, according to his bio was an English teacher and was appointed “in house” by the Superintendent and the Board, without any input from parents or community groups.

FACT:8. The whole “sports” issue has been fabricated by the AUSD since they could choose to let the Dozier-Libbey Independent Charter students continue to play sports under CIF regulations at DVHS and AHS as they do now, simply by creating a MOU (memo of understanding) between schools. By choosing not to create an MOU, they have artificially created a situation that could easily be fixed should they choose to fix it.

FACT:9. The AUSD has already given Principal Scott Bergerhouse an office at Dozier-Libbey and he was introduced to the students as their “new Principal” on a room by room tour last week, in front of the current Principal, Nancie Castro. They also posted a banner on the front of the school stating his new role.

FACT:10. The DLMHS students staged a thirty-minute walkout last week in response to the disrespect shown to Mrs. Castro by the AUSD and teachers wore black as a way of “silent protest” since they cannot talk about the charter situation with students.

FACT:11. The teachers have established a Facebook page where they welcome all comments, pro and con. As of today, most of the comments have been supportive of the teachers. The district has also created a Facebook page where several parents and students posted critical comments yet all of the comments were removed and a disclaimer now sits in their place. That is their version of transparency.

FACT:12. DLMHS Parents had established a table outside the school with a sign about signing up for the Independent Charter for next year. They were giving out forms for parents to fill out and return. They were told to remove their tables and had to go stand outside of school property on the roadside to give out their forms. Almost immediately the AUSD administration set up their own table with an expensive banner and began giving out their own forms in the location vacated by the parents. Parents were led to believe that if they did not respond by 4/7, their students would lose their spot and it would be filled by someone else on the waiting list. Due to the next hearing in superior court, that date was extended to 4/28.

It does not seem fair that parents have to stand outside school and give out their forms on the roadside when AUSD officials can do it right next to the school building. What are they afraid of? It does not seem fair that the teachers cannot talk about the charter with students provided they present both sides of the issue. Again, what are they afraid of? What happened to freedom of speech?

Andre’ Epstein

Mr. Epstein is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, a 36-year veteran teacher (23 years with AUSD) and was the AUSD Teacher of the Year 2003-2004. He most recently taught Spanish at DLMHS until retirement.

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Former Antioch academy administrator writes about Dozier-Libbey charter conversion

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your continued well-balanced reporting of the contentious issue of the Dozier-Libbey charter conversion.

I know there are some issues where you and I do not, and probably will not ever, see eye-to-eye. However, the need for public school reform has never been one of them. I write today no longer a constituent of Antioch, but as a citizen of California and a school reform advocate. Mr. Crowder hit the nail on the head with his analysis earlier this week. This issue is far greater than Antioch and has the potential to stop the charter-movement, and the school-reform movement, dead in their tracks. Antioch politics have not given rise to an issue with greater state and national significance since I first moved there over ten years ago.

Charter school law is an example of the great power of political compromise. It accords parents and teachers the opportunity to take a direct role in the policies and procedures that govern their local schools while ensuring equal opportunities under the law to students regardless of class, race, or net worth. By vesting the power of school control in those who work with students on a day-to-day basis rather than a district office that needs to find some way of educating students with a disparate set of interests, needs, and motivations, charter schools can overcome the “Harrison Burgeron” effect of many district schools while remaining in the public sphere.

That said, charter school law is not a panacea. Plenty of charter schools fail – some from corruption and some from incompetence. Some commentators suggest that predicting charter school success requires some sort of precognition. This is why the conversion charter is such a strong model. A charter conversion typically requires a dedicated team of professionals with a proven track record of success. Districts (or counties when districts fail to do so) are encouraged to put their faith in a talented group of professional educators and release the reins on successful programs. By allowing self-governance by trusted leadership, school boards, and by proxy voters, are assured they will have successful, cutting edge opportunities for their students.

There could not be a better candidate for this type of success than Dozier-Libbey. Nancie Castro and her tireless, dedicated team have created a truly innovative and successful program—one that has shown excellence working within the confines of a district framework, but could truly soar if those regulations were lifted. There has been a great deal of press paid to specific policy decisions (for example the “no D” policy) that are rooted in research and best practices, but the real power of charter law is not in specific policies, but in the educators’ abilities to shape that policy quickly and efficiently as the need arises.

Even under an independent charter, there are checks and balances. The school must regularly return to sponsoring board to report on its progress and seek a continuation of its charter. A board of directors still has fiduciary duties and oversight responsibilities, and many meet Brown Act style public meeting requirements. Most charters are WASC accredited and require the continuous oversight that an accreditation board offers. Finally, charter schools are subject to state audits to ensure taxpayer money is being well spent and appropriately accounted for. Under this rigorous framework, there is certain to be accountability for public funds.

There has been much discussion in social and mainstream media regarding the equity and access issues to charter schools, specifically to the proposed Dozier-Libbey charter. One of the elements of a charter petition, and one of the most heavily scrutinized elements, is its plan to maintain balance and diversity. No doubt that oftentimes charters do not succeed in this regard. Maintaining true balance in a school of choice is a difficult undertaking and requires a great deal of planning and organization. Even then, it is not always possible.

With the conflicting data being thrown about, I am not comfortable saying whether or not Dozier-Libbey has entirely successful in maintaining a perfect racial/cultural balance in the few years since it has opened. What I can say is that there is no reason to suspect this data would be affected negatively by charter governance. A charter school can react quickly to demographic shifts and recruiting needs than a district school. I can remember many instances when Nancie was trying to get recruiting materials out more quickly, hold more parent meetings, and offer various times of day for parents to sign their kids up for Dozier-Libbey. Oftentimes the attempts were met with the lethargic complacency

of school district policy making. I firmly believe any perceived inequities have been exacerbated, rather than alleviated by district oversight.

It is important at this juncture to discuss the difference between elite and elitist. An elite school creates excellence; an elitist school requires it at admission. Dozier-Libbey is an elite school. Anyone can apply, and anyone lucky enough to be selected in the random lottery can attend. Once that student is on campus, it is up to him or her to succeed. A recent editorial in another publication mocked Dozier-Libbey’s “Cure” program. This program (that I believe no longer operates under this controversial acronym) is exactly what most parents and teachers want – additional one-on-one instruction and support for students who need it.

This is one of the many ways in which Dozier-Libbey is elite, rather than elitist – anyone that chooses to succeed is given every opportunity to do so.

I could go on-and-on about the virtues of the Dozier-Libbey charter petition (perhaps you think I already have). But I wanted to write this to you, personally.

While we disagree on some ideas, we have always respected each other’s minds and hearts. This is a good move for students, a good move for the community, and a good move for the state. I hope you will come out in support of Dozier-Libbey’s charter conversion petition.

Jason Miller

Miller is the Founder and former Administrator of the Delta Academy of the Performing Arts, which is part of the Antioch Unified School District, and is now located at Deer Valley High School.

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Why Dozier-Libbey Medical High needs to be an independent charter school

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Guest Commentary

By Jeff Weber

The ongoing effort to convert Dozier-Libbey Medical High School, a high-performing pathway school in the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), to a public charter school has swelled into a highly publicized, and at times ugly, battle in the court of public opinion.  Emotions are running high on both sides.  If there is a positive side to this political fight, it may be that the people of Antioch now have a much better understanding of their school district and of the wider charter schools movement in America.  Yet many are still asking, why is this all necessary?  Is this really in the best interest of our kids?  The answer is, it could be, if given the chance.  This article will attempt to explain in a rational way how Antioch could be better served by independent charter schools, and how we could get there with minimal disruption to our students.

Today more people in Antioch understand that an independent charter school is still a public school.  The general community will really see little change after a school converts from a district school to a charter.  The school will continue to serve the same students and meet the same state standards.  What will change is the governing board of the school.  A true charter school is independent and governed by a dedicated board of parents and community members that serve only that school.  A charter school’s board will not be distracted by the plethora of issues that the AUSD board of trustees must deal with in its 25-school district. 

It is also clear to most Antioch residents now that Dozier-Libbey teachers are not “stealing” their school.  In fact, the teachers are exercising their rights granted by the California legislature to convert a school to a charter if they feel doing so would better serve the students of that school. 

So why did the teachers of Dozier-Libbey take on this fight?  It was clearly going to be a David versus Goliath match-up from the start, with the district using its vast resources of public money and public employees, while Dozier-Libbey teachers worked extra nights and weekends and paid expenses out of pocket.  It was most certainly not so that teachers could stop giving ‘D’ grades to their students—a suggestion that has been highly publicized, but in fact does not exist in the charter petition objectives. 

The truth is, Dozier-Libbey teachers are risking a lot.  Most have decades of service behind them, and some are well within reach of a comfortable retirement.  They are giving up district tenure and seniority for an uncertain future and salaries that will stay on par with their previous district amounts, at best.  It would be impossible to argue that teachers are pushing the charter conversion for any reason other than the benefit of their students.

And their students do stand to gain a great deal from a charter conversion.  Here are some hard facts and numbers that show where Dozier-Libbey sits as a district school, and where it could be as an independent charter.  These are small examples among many that together represent a current system of educational management that is simply broken.

Early last year Dozier-Libbey teachers used grant money to purchase 15 new laptop computers to serve economically disadvantaged students.  Because of bureaucratic bumbling (an adequate cart could not be found), these brand new computers sat in a school district storeroom for over five months, despite repeated pleas from teachers, and have yet to reach the students who need them.  If Dozier-Libbey were a charter, this educational time would not have been lost.

This year, 20 students at Dozier-Libbey lost their job-shadowing opportunities with Sutter Delta Hospital because insurance forms were inexplicably held then mismanaged by the district bureaucracy, despite repeated calls from the Dozier-Libbey coordinator.  These valuable educational experiences would not have been lost if the necessary paperwork could have been handled in-house by a charter school.

Untold other educational opportunities have been lost to Dozier-Libbey, including real-time interactions with working doctors and nurses around the world, because district-wide policies could not be tailored to fit the needs of this unique school.  By their very nature, school districts like AUSD must operate on a “one size fits all” mentality in order to control such vast numbers of students and schools.  Dozier-Libbey was never designed to be a cookie-cutter high school.  It was created to be innovative.  Dozier-Libbey has numerous new programs ready to be implemented that address mastery learning of core subjects and credit recovery for struggling students, however these programs are not possible under AUSD, either because the other two high schools are not willing to embrace them (one size must fit all), or there is simply no funding to do so at Dozier-Libbey.

The state funding of public schools is based on the daily attendance at that school (known as “ADA”).  Schools like Dozier-Libbey with large percentages of economically disadvantaged students also receive additional federal funding, commonly referred to as “Title 1.”  All of this is taxpayer money that has been earmarked for educating our children.  However, school districts as large as AUSD have many layers of expensive bureaucracy that siphon off much of that student funding.  The combined salaries of the AUSD administrators (Don Gill, Tim Forrester, Stephanie Anello, Mike Santos, Louis Rocha, and Kenneth Gardner), who have spent so much of the past few months fighting the conversion charter, total over a million dollars.  That’s enough money to hire more than 20 librarians (DLMHS currently has one part-time librarian).  And there are literally scores of other administrators in Antioch being paid six-figure salaries who rarely venture near a classroom.  The more that schools operate independently, the less these central administration positions can be justified to the public—and that’s a very scary prospect for those individuals who enjoy them.

Dozier-Libbey receives from the district only a fraction of its ADA entitlements and none of its Title 1 monies.  The school site principal was given control of only $29,000 last school year, and of that funding amount $5,000 went toward paying a district-negotiated lease for the school’s copy machine.  Another $8,000 went toward paying the school’s librarian to stay an extra hour each day beyond the four hours for which she is contracted by the district.  Fortunately, many Dozier-Libbey teachers have been prolific in writing grant requests for their special projects.  Yet, even such grant money directed to Dozier-Libbey is occasionally siphoned off by the district for other uses.  And Dozier-Libbey suffers because of its own highly efficient fiscal management.  Antioch High School, a school only three times the size of Dozier-Libbey, receives eight times the operating budget from the district!  As a charter school, far more funding allocated by the state and federal government for Dozier-Libbey students would benefit Dozier-Libbey students.

So how does the charter conversion all turn out, and more importantly, what does it do for the kids?  At this point, there are two possible paths that the school district could take.

The first is for AUSD to continue with their current strategy.  The counter petition the district filed to make Dozier-Libbey a “dependent charter” stands on only the shakiest of legal ground, but it will serve to drag the conversion into the courts for possibly months or years—a stated objective made by the district at the school board hearing on their proposal.  They will spend untold thousands from public funds on litigation—money desperately needed by their own students.  (Dozier-Libbey charter petitioners are now receiving legal support from numerous pro-education organizations throughout the state.)  The district will undoubtedly also use this time to make staffing changes at the school, hamstringing a dedicated and highly professional team that has been years in development. 

However, another course of action could be for the leaders of AUSD to put the needs of the students of Antioch ahead of their own egos.  Allow the teachers of Dozier-Libbey, whom they’ve recognized as highly competent professionals, to run with their grand experiment unfettered and unchallenged.  If the charter succeeds, it will benefit not only the students at Dozier-Libbey, but will bring forth innovations and new ideas that can be shared with the entire district (as has been seen in numerous other charter-to-school district relationships).  But if Dozier-Libbey fails to meet its ambitious objectives as a charter, then the charter is simply revoked and the school returns to AUSD management.  These conversions, in either direction, do not need to be messy or expensive.  It is the district that is choosing to make it so. 

And so one can only wonder, what is the district really afraid of?

Jeff Weber is an 18-year veteran of AUSD, and currently teaches world history at Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and one of the organizers of the charter petition.

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Letter writer concerned about Antioch’s ordinance banning feeding of cats

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

In January, angry animal advocates packed the Antioch City Council Chambers to vehemently object to a ban on feeding community cats on public property and the requirement of a permit for households that own more than five cats. An annual application and fee of $108 is required for multiple pets and includes an agreement to have a home inspection if asked. The City Council delayed implementation and requested that the ordinance be discussed at a future meeting.

I have been told that the item is on the agenda for March 25 and the staff is coming back with the same recommendation with regard to a ban and a pet limit.

As an alternative to a feeding ban which has been ineffective in other communities, HARP and several organizations have proposed a community endorsed Trap/Neuter/Return (T/N/R) program in partnership with the city. No funding is being requested from the city. T/N/R has been going on for ten years. The groups humanely trap the cats, transport them for surgeries and immunizations, and recover them before they are returned to their original spot. Tame cats and kittens are placed for adoption. T/N/R decreases the number of kittens born and keeps the population from exploding.

One of the reasons the situation has gotten out of hand in Antioch is that an overwhelming number of cats and dogs are being abandoned by irresponsible people. This is a community problem and should be addressed. Pet abandonment will not be solved by a feeding ban.

Karen A. Kops, President, Homeless Animals Response Program (HARP)

President, Spay/Neuter Impact Program (SNIP)

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Letter writer congratulates council on voting down Seeno development

Friday, January 31st, 2014


Mayor Pro Tem Rocha and Council Members Gary Agopian and Monica Wilson, take a bow! You did the City of Antioch a great justice by your recent vote to deny the Pointe Project. That development would have ravaged 21 acres of hillside land at the western edge of the city, robbing God-given beauty and some wind barrier. 

More frightening for the future, it would have overturned a hillside development ordinance that has been in effect since 1981. That ordinance had been applied on at least six projects over the past three decades. It’s disregard would send a signal that agreements can be bent and broken when expedience dictates.

They say you can’t fight City Hall but in the Philippines, where my wife hails from, they call it ‘people power’. I applaud the residents of the Black Diamond Estates Project, Save Mount Diablo Organization and the Antioch Planning Commission for all standing tall and fighting the good fight.

Antioch takes its’ knocks. We can all agree it was overbuilt, is too saturated, too cookie cutter and in the case of our Malls, too boxy (how one wishes we had insisted on a pedestrian-friendly plan like the Streets of Brentwood, which has strolling charm). Be that as it may, our mistakes can’t be undone.  

We do, though, have three natural assets other locales don’t. One, obviously, is our seat at the Delta.  The River brings views, recreation and a cooling breeze. 

The second blessing is our undulating streets. Hillcrest and Deer Valley come to mind as a boon from monotonous straight lines! 

The third asset are the hills that we didn’t all chop off; some internal and some dramatically framing our town.  Guests visiting me who drive along Hillcrest marvel at the ambiance. It feels palatial.

Yes, more homes is easy money. We know and respect that the fees are tempting, what with city services having hit rock bottom. Things are on an upswing, though, and patience will be rewarded.  

In the meantime, let’s hope that whenever there is the next, let’s face it, inevitable ‘mini-wave’ the infrastructure is long set. Wouldn’t it be nice, then, to have something really different from the hum-drum, we’ve got plenty, tracts. How about senior developments like Trilogy in Brentwood; or McMansions on oversized lots that draw in the Blackhawk crowd who could set up needed business and light industry here? Now you’ve got my attention.

Yes, more city workers and a return to five days of City Hall service? Valued.

Respect for past agreements…. appreciation of the hills.

They are priceless.

Walter Ruehlig


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