Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Letter writer: Eagle Scout Court of Honor in Antioch a nice respite from bad news

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Dear Editor:

In a season of terrorism, foreign and domestic, and of relentlessly bickering national politics, and other assorted bad news, attending an Eagle Scout Court of Honor November 7th, was just what the good doctor ordered. It was pure balm applied on the wounds of cynicism to applaud four young men dedicated to the pursuit of the Scouts’ charter virtues; trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

At the event held at Antioch’s Church of the Rock Travis Bartlett, Aaron Butler, Nicholas Gutierrez and Kendall Rowley accomplished what only 4% of all Scouts do; attain the highest rank of Eagle.

The four joined the ranks of two million others over the 105 year history of Scouting who have become Eagle. That distinguished group includes a large number of past Presidents, titans of commerce, military leaders, artists, sports legends and community leaders of all stripes. It includes the likes of Neil Armstrong, Hank Aaron, Steven Spielberg and 39 of the 312 astronauts the country has boasted since 1957. As a note, consider that 207 of the 312 pilots and scientists in the astronaut program have been in Scouting at some level.

Our four local young men earned their rank with requisite sweat and perseverance. As required, they donated hundreds of hours to community service; exercised progressively higher leadership roles; completed a major Eagle Scout service project that involved raising funds and organizing volunteers; spent scores of overnights on camping trips learning the use of a compass and navigating by the stars, as well as acquiring other survival skills, including how to treat things like concussions, fever, stomach cramps, and wounds. Furthermore, they met with parent advisers and earned a minimum of 21 merit badges from a field of over 100 in topics as diverse as astronomy, cooking, photography, changing a flat tire. personal finance, fitness and oceanography.

The young men stand on the shoulders of 83 years of Troop 153 history here in Antioch. The Troop was chartered in 1932 and, to their credit, the Methodist Church has supported the troop all these years. The first Eagle rank was earned in 1962 and now numbers 59 from the thousand plus young men who have passed through the Troop.

One of these young men, I am proud to say, was my son Joshua who earned Eagle in 2007. His maturing into a young man of confidence convinced me that the Scouts are the best thing since sliced bread; the organization is like a character catch-all; it covers such a myriad of practical, moral and leadership skills.

As a practical bonus and godsend to any parent, the camping trips help constructively channel all that pent-up teenage energy while building lifelong friendships in the process. When my son went on to high school and the close to 3,000 Deer Valley student campus, I didn’t fear he’d get lonely in the maddening herd, or corralled into the wrong crowd. He had, after all, an affinity group of friends that had his back as he climbed mountains, repelled caves, built snow caves and shot the rapids in their company.

Thanks to the Church of the Rock for all these years of unfailing support and to Scout Master Dave Johnson and all other parent mentors who give tirelessly in mentoring our youth. Just when you feel forlon on human nature, along comes an inspired group like the Scouts who champion the best in human nature and have a proven, time-tested program to back up their good intentions.

Thank you Messrs, Bartlett, Butler, Gutierrez, and Rowley for making my day at the Court of Honor by sharing your stories. Your family, friends and acquaintances are fortunate to have you in their midst as you make the world a better place,

There is a Scout saying that typifies the exuberance of the organization. My wish is it stays with you all your days.

It’s a good day for Scouting.”

Walter Ruehlig


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Delta Advocacy Foundation thanks all who helped with annual Roundup at Roddy Ranch

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Dear Editor,

A thank you to all for helping The Delta Advocacy Foundation by supporting our Charity Roundup at the Roddy Ranch held October 3, 2015.

The Sponsors were:

Blackhawk – Nunn Partners, Paradise Skate and Roller Rink, The Libbey Family, Stephanie Anello, The Green Family, Heritage Bank/Becky Manning, Scott Bergerhouse, Roddy Cattle Co., Roddy Ranch Racing, John Jimno, Umpqua Bank, John Ramirez, Painting by Stefan, K2GC Inc./Ken Turnage Construction, Houghton International, Contra Costa Electric, The Agopian Family in Memory of Gary, Twin Rivers Insurance/Twin Rivers Marine Insurance, and Patricia Bristow.

The In-Kind Sponsors were:

The Dinelli and Reeves Families, Antioch Lions Club, Far West Sanitation, Roddy Ranch Golf Club, Republic Services, Tom Hartrick and Crew, Fast Signs, Rev. Roger Kuehn, Umpqua Bank, Markstein Beverages, Boy Scout Troop 450, Brentwood Future Farmers of America, Antioch Herald, Contra Costa Fair Grounds, Walaine Hankins., C + R Memorabilia, Rivertown Impressions, Kids N Cribs, Divine Voices of Deer Valley High School, Frigard Chiropractic, Gexpro, Cummins Pacific LLC, Electrorep Inc., G and S Farms, and Mark Dwelley.

Our very special thanks to Jack and Donna Roddy for their generous support and to you, the people who attended this year’s Charity Roundup and braved the hurricane winds. Because of your generous support, The Delta Advocacy Foundation will continue to support local charitable, educational and cultural causes in Eastern Contra Costa County.

Nancy J. Green


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Writer supports Supervisors’ vote for renewable energy study

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Last Tuesday, (October 13) when the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pursue a study on Community Choice Energy (CCE), I was proud to state that my city – San Pablo — has already chosen to allow our residents and businesses to receive 50% or more renewable clean energy over dirty energy. It’s rewarding to know that I am lowering greenhouse gas emissions and also by me paying my utility bill it contributes to building the 10.5 MW Solar farm located in Richmond which is on a brownfield site and will be built by local union workers. It provides more local green jobs as well as clean air and health.

I hope the folks in Conta Costa will tell their leaders to support CCE so our supervisors can proceed without delay.

Lynette Robinson

San Pablo

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Writer asks why wait until 2030 to implement renewable energy plan

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Dear Editor:

CCA. Before long, everyone will know what these letters mean — just like we do PG&E. Community CHOICE Aggregation or CCE, Community CHOICE Energy. Lousy name, but a very good thing. The emphasis is on the word CHOICE. It’s the choice that residents, businesses, and schools in California have of 50% or more renewable energy instead of PG&E’s 28%. In case you’re keeping track of the numbers, that’s the amount of renewable energy the new California law mandates . . . by 2030. But, why wait?

Two Bay Area counties already have a CCA: Marin and Sonoma. Also a few cities: Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo and Benicia. CCA is available without putting solar on the roof, or buying anything. CCA provides solar and wind energy through the cables that we already have. In Sonoma county, most of the renewable energy is geothermal -– from the geysers. The renewable energy from a CCA does not include nuclear nor fossil fuels like natural gas. Certainly not coal. And you can always choose PG&E instead.

This past week, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors unanimously declared their interest in CCA. Nearly every county’s joining the trend: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Yolo, Mendocino, Humboldt, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, Los Angeles and San Diego.

CCA’s mean thousands of green jobs and an environmentally sustainable revenue stream for the economy. Lousy name, but a very good thing.

Carol Weed

Walnut Creek

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Writer says Antioch Mayor Harper has failed

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Antioch’s Mayor, Wade Harper, is a failure. Antioch is no safer since his election. Let’s take a look at the facts.

His claimed primary, election campaign platform 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.” His campaign crowed “How about we elect a City Councilmember who has experience fighting crime – well beyond talking about it.”

He also promised “more police” and “less crime” in his overzealous support for a “yes” vote on the Measure C tax. What a farce that also has turned out to be. He was one of its main proponents for its passage. Same Police, same crime results since.

Antioch’s Police manpower hasn’t really been increased, even with Mayor Wade Harper at the helm, with the approximate same number (90 currently) of sworn Officers, as before. Antioch’s crime rate hasn’t really been reduced, it’s just been an illusionary misleading ‘dog and pony’ show when publicly discussed by him and others. Mayor Harper should’ve been put to a more successful recall effort. Unfortunately it failed due to technical problems by the proponents, from the start.

Where are the 20 plus “more” Officers that were promised? And where is the “less crime” he promised? Fooled you, didn’t he? Antioch’s documented crime rate is 46% more than California’s average crime rate, and 49% more than the National crime rate average, as last reported.

Antioch’s 2014 total police reported person crimes proves it’s increased by an additional 30% more since his election. And Antioch’s 2014 total police reported property crimes proves it’s doubled (by an additional 101% more) during his Council tenure.

Let’s face it, Antioch’s Mayor Wade Harper is a failure and needs to be replaced. We can do better without him. His boasting promises to our community have been hollow and full of self-promoting emptiness that has cost Antioch overall.

Ralph A. Hernandez


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Antioch School Trustee writes of vacancy on Board, qualities he’s looking for in applicants

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Dear Editor:

The Antioch School Board will soon announce its application procedure for appointment to the Trusteeship position generated by Barbara Cowan’s move to Oregon. The Board, as a whole, will decide on the tactical selection process particulars. Speaking, then, only for myself, kindly allow for some ruminations on a Trustee’s ideal constitution.

I’ve been asked how much an educational background benefits a Board Trustee. Truth be, it sometimes helps, often hurts. One can know too much, which can lead to micro-managing. By contrast, an enlightened trustee hires the best Superintendent possible, sets a clear vision with accountable benchmarks, and then gets out of the way.

The best Trustees simply have strong communication and bridge-building skills, and a seasoned touch. They can seamlessly switch from publicly praising to, when needed, privately and diplomatically prodding. Being transparent, accountable, fiscally sober and hard-working can not be overstated, as well.

For my two cents, Trustees also need good-old fashioned common sense, with an appreciation of tough love. Yes, we need adopt creative, positive behavioral interventions but we can’t abandon fair but strict, no-nonsense, behavioral standards if our schools and society are not going to go to hell in a hand basket. If we don’t curb systemic behavioral outbursts, and all the attendant distraction, we will continually spin our wheel on attaining academic improvement.

School Board is the retail world of politics and governance; it’s up close and personal. As such, it’s not for the thin-skinned or faint of heart. It calls for unending give and take with the sometimes clashing interests of students, parents, teachers, Superintendent, administrators, community leaders and colleagues.

As you can guess, though nobody has to go along, in this hurly-burly arena it helps to get along. Pure ideology simply counts for naught if nothing tangible gets done in the crucible of compromise and pursuit of the Golden Mean.

Superintendents, administrators, union leaders and fellow trustees come and go with elections, retirements and moves. By freely adapting to each new configuration you can maximize complimentary strengths and leverage mutual goals. We quickly learn that there are no permanent alliances, just permanent interests. It’s inevitable that we fall to the short end of some 3-2 or 4-1 votes, but we endure. Cycles come and go and even a dissenting voice has some resounding long-term value.

Fact is, not everyone will be on our preferred dance card, philosophically or temperamentally. We must, though, tango with the partners we have.

I, for one, wish we could harken back to a more civil political climate typified by Democrat Majority Whip Hubert Humphrey and Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen retiring from a day’s vigorous debates to congenially tipping a few cold beers together.

Contrast this to the bitter enmity and hardened partisan divisiveness choking the corridors of power today.

Of late, the word loyalty surfaced. I welcome the discussion because loyalty is one of the enduring themes of man’s perennial philosophy. Nevertheless, I caution against blind loyalty at the expense of overarching principle or managing the collective good.

The three dicta of wise governance remain; balance, balance, balance. School Board cries for the amicable, not angry; the consensus builder, not partisan; the results-driven principled, not ideologue.

Granted, a tall order, but it can’t hurt to hope we get King Solomon, or an aspiring Solomon, to, pray tell, apply for the appointment.

Walter Ruehlig

Trustee, Antioch Unified School District

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Letter writer says Iran Nuclear Deal is deadly

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Polish a poison apple and it looks nice and shiny. However, bite into it and it can still kill.

The Iran Nuclear Deal is absurd. Since when did the United States of America negotiate with terrorists?

It violates the number one premise of negotiation; that everybody invited to the table share the same vision – peace in the Middle East.

Never, ever did Iran waiver from its belief that the “United States is Satan”; nor deny its ultimate goal to annihilate Israel.

Surveying a friend’s opinion regarding the issue, she said “two words that should never go together; Iran and nuclear”.

Political PR efforts marked by a thousand plus word stretch to explain the inexplicable failed to make me a bobblehead.

In a dozen words I can counter why the Iran Nuclear Deal is deadly. What part of Iran’s supreme leader’s chant “death to America” is unclear?

Cynthia Ruehlig


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Writer believes new math program will help Antioch students

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Dear Editor:

The numbers cry failure. In 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 32% of American 8th graders scored proficient in math. This earned a 32nd ranking among 65 nations participating in PISA, the math test administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

By contrast, Shanghai boasted a 75% proficiency rating and Korea, Finland, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands all scored above 50%. Distressingly, California, the Golden State, scored 24% proficiency. Little wonder our colleges are scrambling for interventions as a paltry 44% of American high school graduates are ready for the math needed in higher education and, ultimately, in higher paying careers.

Algebra, after all, is the gateway to academic mastery. It is the #1 trigger of dropping out in high school, with 70% of students who don’t pass algebra by ninth grade dropping out.

Given the crisis my summer visit to a tutorial program at Antioch’s Deer Valley High especially intrigued me. Walking into the classroom I was immediately struck by the fact that you could hear a pin drop as 20 some-odd students worked independently on fundamentals.

The program, called Math Intensive, is designed to take students markedly deficient in basic skills to grade level proficiency. Developed by John Crowder, a tutor, teacher, and private school administrator the class, with 21 three-hour instructional days, was open to everyone but was taken mostly by African-American males.

Crowder recently partnered with Angel Luevano, a teacher and leader of Todo Unidos. They then teamed with the education group Parents Connected to pilot this program at Deer Valley.

Twenty-one key concepts necessary for success in a rigorous Algebra program were both pre and post tested. The results were very encouraging. The average student’s score rose on Algebra I readiness rose from 35.4% to 49.6%, an increase of 0.7 per cent per instructional day.

Most promising was the transition out of ‘basic concepts.’ Students went from 64.7% to 90.1% proficiency in topics that included multiplication, fractions, math terminology, exponents, radicals, proportions and solutions of equations. Essentially, that’s a remarkable jump from a D to an A- level.

Crowder himself admitted shock by the results of the short program. Beyond the startling statistics he said he was most amazed that “Students who had given up on math, if not on their school prospects, and possibly even on themselves, had such a quick turn-about that they could not only learn but learn well.”

Bridget Swan remarked of her son Jordan, a DVHS Junior; “He has never before been so engaged with math.”

Jordan acknowledged he was finally understanding what was before him.

What’s working?

#1. Buy-in: After an introductory presentation prospective students and parents interview and agree on expectations. Nobody is begged. #2. Zero tolerance: Cell phones, electronics, back talking, goofing off, tardiness and excessive absence are disallowed. #3. Assessment: Students take a 260 question placement pre-test, daily quizzes, and a post test. #4. High expectations: 80% correct qualifies for moving on. #5. Immediate feedback: Results and corrections come in minutes, not days or weeks. #6. Teacher- student ratio: A supportive 8 to 1. #7. Continuous review: Every test is cumulative.

With a class of 24, and given that a student moves thru the program into 80% plus proficiency and Algebra 1 entry in generally anywhere from four to twelve weeks, one open entry class could cycle some 95 students a year.

Regrettably, we spend so much of our time and energy with high-risk students on traditional punishments or alternative behavioral intervention programs. Much, though, of misbehavior is fueled from an inability to keep up with peers in reading and math and the endless loop of simmering frustration and inadequacy that failure develops.

Two things can’t occupy the same place at the same time. Position academic success into the equation for failing students and positivity can help replace rage and acting out.

Math Intensive is the type of systematic, rigorous, no-nonsense, personalized intervention we need adopted. The alternative is to embrace the definition of insanity by doing the same things we’ve done before and expecting different results.

Walter Ruehlig

A.U.S.D. Trustee

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