Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Letters: Writer says DA Becton is supposed to be an example, shouldn’t have violated COVID-19 restrictions

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Editor:

An open letter to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

Ms. Becton, have you ever read John Chapter 8 about the woman who was caught doing something wrong? According to the law, she should have been punished.  No, she should have been killed because she went against the law. As a lawyer, a judge, and a manager, you are supposed to be a servant of the law in CCC.  You hold people accountable to the law and you punish them for breaking it.  But who are you to judge them when you put yourself above the law? Do you consider yourself “more privileged?” You are supposed to be an example.

In August 2020, when the governor mandated the county to avoid “gatherings of any size” because of a high health alert for Covid-19, you, nonetheless, disregarded that order and organized an event with 20 – 30 people in attendance.  In addition, you announced your plans to all of your neighbors so they could expect a lot of cars in the neighborhood.  You say, “I had a wedding in my yard that was really based upon the love that we shared.”  Really?  Love?  Not on the “scientific data?” Not on the state regulations? What about the love for a dying person in the hospital and the spouse is forbidden to be at their bedside? Shouldn’t they be allowed in “for love?” Are you the same person whose office is part of a task force cracking down on violators of state and county coronavirus guidelines?  How could you have not known “the rules” for public gatherings?  Really?

You are a violator. And you’re in the wrong profession.  You should step down.  You do not hold the line of integrity this county needs. You have broken trust with the public.  You are living a double standard and NOT living by the oath you took in September 2017.  You deliberately defied the governor’s order.  But the real question is this: Did you knowingly disregard the order because you really don’t believe the coronavirus is truly a serious threat to our society?  Perhaps you really believe that the governor is using Covid as an excuse to “mandate” his agenda for the state. Maybe you really believe that having a wedding reception IS a safe event for everyone who attended.  Maybe you shouldn’t be on the task force representing state and county “guidelines.”

You took an oath and said, “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” Your actions prove otherwise, and you now join the ranks of hypocrites with our governor and his co-horts.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real right and wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”

Laquetta Franz

Antioch

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Writer shares letter to Antioch Council on holding Torres-Walker accountable

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Dear Council Members,

I have watched the FB live videos from Ms. Torres-Walker and Mr. Thorpe.  I noticed that you both promote and are seeking “accountability” from the police department regarding the police interaction with Ms. Torres-Walker’s children (23-year-old and 13-year-old sons).  Your demand for accountability revolves around alleged racial bias, alleged police misconduct and excessive force by the Antioch Police.

The word “Accountable” is defined as: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

I agree that all parents have an obligation to protect their children.  We also have an obligation to model and teach accountability.  As an adult we have to hold ourselves accountable and admit our own wrong doings.  We must also hold our children accountable for their actions.

As City leaders, you are held to a higher standard.  You are “accountable” to your community!  You are expected to behave in a professional manner, a manner that does not bring disrepute to our city and does not create a division amongst city offices and the community.  Your personal beliefs and personal agendas are not to interfere with your job as a council member.  As elected officials; you took an oath to “bear true faith and allegiance to the United States and the Constitution of the State of California”, and you agreed to discharge your duties faithfully.

Your videos have displayed a blatant disregard of your oath and obligation to our community.  Ms. Torres-Walker renounced her position as a council member, she did not uphold her oath and she behaved in an unprofessional manner while spewing her discord toward our city government and community.  Ms. Torres-Walker’s threats of violence toward our police officers, threat to organize protests against our police department and threats of a potential lawsuit are inexcusable.  Ms. Torres-Walker’s rant and rhetoric serve only to deflect her accountability (along with the accountability of her children) and blame the police for the unlawful behavior of her “23- and 13-year-old children.”

Mr. Thorpe, your attempt to downplay, defend and excuse Ms. Torres-Walker’s rhetoric is inexcusable.  The fact that a council member under your leadership has behaved in such a horrific and divisive manner reflects poorly upon you and your leadership abilities.

As a longtime community member and business owner, I am asking that you publicly condemn Ms. Torres-Walker’s behavior/threats and that you ensure our community that her behavior or similar behavior by anyone will not be tolerated.

Ms. Torres-Walker admitted she allowed her 13-year-old (an unlicensed driver) to drive an off-road quad runner on a public roadway.  This is a clear violation of Vehicle code 12500 (a) which states: “a person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code.”  California Penal Code Section 273 (a) states: “Any person who willfully causes or permits that a child be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in a state prison for two, four or six years.” The discussions this evening would not be occurring had Ms. Torres-Walker and her 23-year-old child (who video recorded himself driving his off-road motorcycle in a reckless manner and endangered/abandoned his 13-year-old brother while evading the police on a public roadway) followed the law.

Mr. Thorpe, if you truly want accountability and unity within our community, then you must start by holding Ms. Torres-Walker accountable for her actions and decisions that led the Antioch Police Officers to come in contact with her children who were unlawfully operating motor vehicles on public roadways and subsequently decided to initiate a vehicle pursuit when the police arrived.  You must also hold Ms. Torres-Walker accountable for spewing hateful, divisive remarks, unprofessional behavior and threats of violence toward our police officers and community.  Your decision to justify Ms. Torres-Walker’s efforts to demonize our police department and divide our community is unacceptable!  Your decision to defend poor behavior has created a further division amongst community members.

This incident occurred while you were vacationing out of the country, during a pandemic that has our nation, state, county and city under strict COVID pandemic restrictions.  Your justifications of Ms. Torres-Walker’s poor decisions and your actions of leaving the country have given the impression that you believe you are “above the law.”

A true leader will always lead by example and will not excuse poor behavior.    Accountability is paramount and it builds trust and unity.  It is my hope that you will reflect upon your decision to support Ms. Torres-Walker’s poor behavior, you will hold yourself accountable and that you will make an effort to correct the division you created.

Everyone makes mistakes, but only a person with integrity owns up to them!

Jesse Zuniga Jr.

Community Member since 1989 and Antioch Business Owner since 2002

 

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Construction workers’ organization unhappy with “discriminatory and costly” PLA in Antioch’s desal plant contract

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Note: The following letter was sent via email to the five members of the Antioch City Council on Thursday, Dec. 24.

Antioch City Councilmembers,

When you placed a discriminatory and costly Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the Brackish Desal Plant in 2018 we warned you not only what it would do to discriminate against local construction workers but what it would do to your costs. Judging by the manner in which you snuck the approval for the contract to build it through on a Friday night before Christmas with no public notice, you obviously did not want us to remind you.

But here we are.

A reminder of the bigotry you approved: Your welfare for local union bosses in the form of a PLA forces all workers to pay union dues, pay into union pensions they’ll never vest in (that’s wage theft) and explicitly discriminates against young men and women in state approved non-union apprentice programs by banning them from working at all. Any union-free contractor who worked on the job would only be allowed a few of their own employees period with all others coming from union hiring halls. The result? Reduced bidders and increased costs. 85% of the local workforce is union-free, as is the state’s construction workforce. That number holds true for your contractor base as well. These companies simply don’t bid work with PLAs on it so the results are higher bids from those who do, as every major study conducted proves and as you just learned firsthand.

So, a project that you had estimated would cost $60 million before the PLA has now been awarded for $86,689,000. BUT THAT OF COURSE IS NOT ALL. There is a 5% contingency of $4,334,450 in case of “unforeseen costs” (count on it) for a total of $91,023,450. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL EITHER. In addition, you authorized city staff to increase the total budget for the desalination project to $110 million.

In 21 years of fighting PLAs we have never seen a PLA come in this far over budget. Ever. Congrats.

Of course, a body who took their fiduciary responsibility to ratepayers seriously would have rebid this with no PLA and compared costs but your canine affection for big labor special interests wouldn’t allow for this. So here we are.

We will continue to monitor this debacle and make sure citizens are kept updated. The story that recently ran in the East Bay Times about this last-minute cram down before Christmas did not mention the PLA. We will make sure the next one does.

Merry Christmas.

Eric Christen

Executive Director

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

 

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Opponent says Wilson offers more talk no action on Antioch’s downtown Rivertown and homeless problem

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Dear Editor:

Over five years ago, in 2015 the Antioch City Council approved the Downtown Specific Plan Update and finalized it in 2018. Yet nothing has happened to implement those plans since then. During Tuesday night’s Antioch City Council meeting incumbent Councilwoman Monica Wilson offered no action items for the rest of the council to vote on to help improve Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown. It was just more talk from the council’s Waterfront subcommittee that she serves on.

Worse, the committee did not include all the business owners that have been trying to improve the downtown Rivertown or would like to upgrade their buildings. They have not publicized their meetings so that other Rivertown business and building owners can attend and give their input and ideas.

Monica has done more harm than good for our city’s downtown. Earlier this year she marched with protesters all the way down the middle of W. 2nd Street to the police station, blocking the road to traffic in front of businesses that were struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some of those businesses boarded up out of fear of looting and damage to their store windows. But Wilson did not care about the Rivertown businesses and the impacts of the protests. She was trying to score points with the protesters for another future run for higher office, which is what she really wants. Wilson wanted to be mayor, this year, and was unsuccessfully when she ran for Supervisor in 2016.

What has Wilson accomplished in her eight years on the council? For Rivertown, only one thing, when she voted in August to spend $15,000 on barriers for the restaurants to have outdoor dining where the parking stalls are located in front of their businesses. They have barely been used so that was a big waste of money. But that is it. Plus, the portable toilets for the homeless who stay in Waldie Plaza and along the railroad tracks.

That’s another thing she has done nothing about, other than vote to apply for five FEMA trailers from the state which arrived in March but are still sitting in the city’s maintenance yard, and to spend our tax dollars on consultants and a new city staff member. Monica voted last December to allocate over $500,000 to do something about the homeless problem in our city but then voted to spend $73,000 of it to hire a consultant on homelessness to help develop a plan to hire an Unhoused Resident Coordinator at a cost of $100,000 per year. Then, before anything was done with the rest of the money, Wilson voted to spend as much as $1 million to create a homeless hotel on E. 18th Street.

We need people on the city council who are going to take action and quit talking about improving Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown and actually do something about the homeless issue in our city. Plus, not promise us 22 police immediately then take six years to deliver on that commitment.

That is why I am running. If you want action and results and not just more talk and delays and kicking the can down the road, eventually getting around to it, I ask for your vote for Antioch City Council in District 4.

Thank you,

Sandra White

Antioch

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Writers says Fernando Sandoval running for college board is an inspiring candidate and breath of fresh air

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Dear Editor:

Daniel Borenstein, in his editorial, endorsed candidate Fernando Sandoval for Contra Costa Community College Board of Trustees Ward 5. But he has left out very important assets and characteristics of Mr. Sandoval that I would like to mention for those who would like to hear of his good character and important background that he would bring to the college board which I have found to be very inspiring.

As a person of color, I’m excited to know that we have a chance to elect Mr. Sandoval who will bring equity, diversity and inclusion to everyone entering their first year of upper education in addition to faculty and staff. Mr. Sandoval’s priority will be to keep first year students engaged and motivated to move on to either universities or well-paying skilled jobs. I have worked on community education projects with Mr. Sandoval where he has displayed his motivation, passion, sensitivity, and creativity to work with youth or those wanting to go back to school to improve their jobs and careers.

He has also recently written a book that inspires those to move on and improve their lives. He has spoken on identity, motivation and achievement to young students using his book as his historical journey. He also provides this book as a gift to others. I am a retired person now and I was even inspired by his book.

In addition to his passion for education, Mr. Sandoval also has a 25-year career in information technology and finance consulting with worldwide banking institutions and research corporations providing management strategies and budgeting models for economic recovery.

With this background, Mr. Sandoval will increase fiscal accountability and transparency to manage District funding that will support our taxpayers’ investment in our community colleges.

With Mr. Sandoval’s background, he has inspired many of us to support him including Faculty and Classified Professionals including over 40 Community Educators and Leaders and many elected officials. These important individuals are gravely disappointed in the incumbent and are looking to replace him with all that Mr. Sandoval offers; finding a breath of fresh air, commitment and inspiration with Mr. Fernando Sandoval.

Linda Olvera

Martinez

 

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Letters: Former councilman opposes District 4 council candidate for including former police chief in campaign

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Editor:

Antioch Voters should not vote for Sandra White for the City Council. She has failed us as Chair of the Crime Prevention Commission and has chosen the wrong person as part of her campaign. Choose someone else!

Her choice of former Police Chief Allan Cantando as part of her campaign is telling. As Chief he did not do his job or carry out his responsibilities of protecting the public from wrongdoers, to include Felonious misconduct by some of his Officers. He, in actuality, instead berated and ‘shot the messenger’ whistleblower who submitted detailed reported various criminal acts by some of his Officers. He was interested only in covering for them and did little to investigate what they did or even contacting the Victims harmed.

Former Captain Allan Cantando I had pushed for him publicly early on to be appointed chief, believing he would straighten out the crimes and misconduct by his officers. Boy did he shortly after becoming Chief did he reveal his true colors. Under his watch and documented knowledge his involved officers continued with their misconduct and victimization of our documented citizens. They got away with it with his obvious uncaring inactions. It isn’t over yet though and with him behind her I suspect she will do as he would advise her, to the further detriment to our community.

As the Chair of the Crime Prevention Committee she has really done little in pushing for the safety of our city. Contrary to what she and the others claim the City of Antioch is not safer and the people are still being victimized like before. Really, what has she done but have a title, have meetings, rub shoulders even with those officers involved in misconduct, and we still are greatly undermanned in Police manpower. Is that what her relationship with Allan Cantando has accomplished? She should give it up and open her eyes to the realities, instead of the ‘shine’ of questioned certain persons.

She does not have what it takes to be a top elected leader official for Antioch. She may be a good person and one liked by a number of people. But being a councilperson in these times requires fortitude, integrity, and knowing when you are going to be used for the same directions that has gotten Antioch in the negative areas we know about.

There will be some very important Police matters that are going to be disclosed soon and her being backed by former Chief Cantando, who will be exposed also, makes her the least acceptable person who would have to deal with it. The ‘train’ is coming soon, and it will be ugly! The exposures involved may not exempt all involved, and it is about time that it happens. Once the public is informed, they will see the value of not voting for her at a minimum.

Ralph Hernandez

Antioch

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Op-Ed: Candidate for Antioch mayor shares concerns about incumbents, city, offers new leadership

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Our current mayor, Sean Wright and his partner, Councilman Lamar Thorpe have brought disaster upon our city, and nothing will change until we replace them.

They hired an Economic Development Director at a cost of $300,000. What do we have to show for his efforts?

Sears closed, Macy’s ran away, the AMC theaters closed down, the Big Kmart is gone, so is Staples  – even before COVID-19. Everywhere you look it’s a disaster.

Under their mismanagement, those and more businesses have closed. The city has become looking desperate. People are looking for hope, but they have made us hopeless.

They hired a homeless consultant and it ended up bringing more homeless to Antioch. Now Thorpe wants to spend $1 million on the homeless motel. We can’t afford that.

They approved the marijuana businesses, and Sean and Lamar appear to be acting like drug dealers to put Antioch in the pot business.

They’ve hired other consultants and a new assistant city manager for $100,000’s per year that we also can’t afford. In 2016 they asked for more police and they got them. Now they want 20 more police. Why? I don’t understand their failures. We cannot afford them.

They’re insulting us that we are the bad people in Antioch.

How can we trust it when these leaders give us a bad reputation and they want to run things, when they are the bad people.

Who is the bad and who are the good? You make the call, Antioch.

We can’t afford to have our reputation damaged day after day, thanks to their idiocy and mismanagement. They make us look so bad in the state.

They’ve let us down and they want to degrade Antioch more.

How can you trust that kind of leadership when they’re calling us the bad citizens and they’re wanting to run us? In fact, we are the God-fearing people, and we are a great community.

We can’t afford division, demolition, or degraded reputation for Antioch for no reason. This is the second largest city in Contra Costa County.

My job, I want to bring back the truth, build up the reputation of Antioch, that we are the great, God-fearing, law abiding people in California. Antioch is the best and I will bring the best of Antioch, so that it will be declared the greatest in the world.

With leaders like Lamar and Sean who have forgotten us, and they always have lame excuses, who don’t do anything, but they take no responsibility. But they’re blaming us, the citizens of Antioch. Underneath their watch the city has become worse and everywhere you see there’s garbage dumped, here and there.

They have no plans, at all. We don’t have new businesses or jobs.

We need to take action to get the city cleaned up, make it attractive to businesses, and I will make sure Antioch is recognized as the number one city with the best reputation.

I will bring a four-year university to Antioch with a full medical degree, B.S. in Nursing and an RN program. I want to also bring the skilled degree programs for rapid technology growth and computer science.

Antioch, I ask you to consider voting for me for new leadership. Help me to get things straightened out. For more information please email me at info@RakeshKumarChristian.com or call me at (510) 786-8909 and I’ll be glad to listen to your ideas to implement them.

Sincerely,

Rakesh Kumar Christian

Candidate for Mayor of Antioch

 

 

 

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Letters: Writer responds to Antioch police “untruths” about homeless issues

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Dear Editor:

In order to combat untruths from both the Antioch Police Officers Association and from the election campaign of Antioch’s current mayor, I offer the following facts relating to homeless issues in Antioch, particularly with respect to the proposal that the city convert to Executive Inn on 18th Street near Cavallo to transitional homeless housing.

  1. A city-wide survey of Antioch residents indicated that homelessness was among the top issues of concern in the city. The city declared homelessness to be a crisis last year.
  2. The Antioch City Council that was seated after 2018 elections voted to appoint an Ad Hoc Committee to study homeless encampments.
  3. The Homeless Encampment Ad Hoc Committee composed of Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and Councilman Lamar Thorpe began their research, visiting encampments and talking with homeless residents. They set up study sessions a.) to explore the impact and cost of homelessness on existing city services, businesses, AUSD, local hospitals, and BART; b.) to learn about the work of Contra Costa County Health, Housing and Homeless Services and community groups that serve the homeless; c.) to get information on programs that have had successes in other cities; and d.) to hear from homeless residents themselves and, very poignantly, from city leaders who themselves endured periods of homelessness. (These sessions were open to everyone; I attended nearly all of them.)
  4. The most obvious solutions for Antioch that came out of these studies were: a.) the need to coordinate the various organizations helping homeless in Antioch, thus the need for a city coordinator position; b.) the need for more drug abuse and mental health resources for homeless in Eastern Contra Costa; and c.) housing first is the most successful and least costly way to address homeless issues. Temporary stop gap solutions considered in Antioch included designated parking areas for safe overnight sleeping for homeless with cars or RVs, and managed camp sites.
  5. Antioch received five FEMA trailers from the state and began the process of finding a place to put them to house up to five people in each, most likely families.
  6. Ad Hoc committee member Thorpe met with the Executive Inn owners to discuss a bridge housing proposal and they were open to it. Currently the inn works with the county providing crisis housing to individuals and families with children. Golden Hills Community Church currently feeds homeless next door weekday evenings.
  7. Motts and Thorpe have proposed the city work with the motel to provide transitional or bridge housing to homeless. There are 32 rooms plus places to put the five trailers. The project would happen only with wraparound services such as meals, security, custodial, as well as essential behavioral health and health care services through other agencies and non-profits including COC, Sutter Health, Love Never Fails, Shelter Inc, similar to what the county is doing with Motel 6 in Pittsburg. These services help to incur a positive outcome. It is not permanent housing. It is a step towards permanent housing. Residents receive any needed mental health and/or addiction services as they recover from life on the streets, find employment, and move on to permanent housing elsewhere. The lease cost is approximately one million per year, about what the city spends now breaking up homeless encampments. Committing to and proceeding with the project means Antioch would likely attract financial support from other sources including the state. The council has voted to pursue a feasibility study. Cities such as Livermore and Santa Clara are going forward with similar proposals.
  8. The only school within a quarter mile of the Executive Inn, Rocketship Charter School on Cavallo Rd., has welcomed any children from families that would move in there.
  9. Some in the city say we should rely on the county and the state for homeless services. We have, but that has not got us very far. Rather we need to work with the county and the state. Those opposing the proposal have offered nothing in its place.
  10. Both the Antioch Police Officers Association and Mayor Sean Wright have claimed the Executive Inn is one quarter mile from four Antioch schools and the Antioch Youth Sports Complex. This is not true. There is only the one I named above, Rocketship. The next nearest school, Kimball Elementary, is one half mile away. The sports complex is over a mile and a half away. Antioch Middle School is seven tenths of a mile away, and the high school is a full mile away. Children of the newly housed families would not have too far to go. Also, the APOA said it was permanent housing. It is not.
  11. The motel would not be housing homeless, because with a place to live, the people are no longer homeless.

Homelessness is Antioch’s most pressing issue right now. We need to elect leaders who are actually addressing the issue with very doable solutions. Lamar Thorpe for Mayor, Joy Motts in District One are obvious choices, though other candidates may support the transitional housing plan. Nichole Gardner of the non-profit Fighting for the Homeless in Antioch is the best candidate in District Three, as Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voted against the proposal. Councilwoman Monica Wilson in District Four supports the proposal.

Lucy Meinhardt

Antioch

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