Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Writer says Jeff Belle will fight Common Core

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA), grabbed $1.6 billion from state funds to bring Common Core education to California. This money came from funds that the governor says are not there for assistance to homeless veterans, street repair, more police officers and firefighters.

Hundreds of classic textbooks have been thrown away and replaced with Common Core printed material. Now when facing a math problem, the student is told to figure out…now get this…“the most friendly answer.” How’s that again?

Common Core, pushed by Bill Ayers and Obama, has removed traditional history and literature, replacing it with, “information finding.” Their purpose is to dumb down our children. This is so important to the Communists that a $500 million bribe was given in Tennessee to push it in.

Fortunately, a California man, Jeff Belle, has hopped into the fray to put a stop to the madness and bring sanity back to the U.S. School system. He is running for the County School Board of the 5th District of Northern California, which includes, Bay Point, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood and Discovery Bay. He is determined to see Common Core hit the floor and to restore sensible education.

Mr. Belle said that he is committed to “restoring academic pride for students and their futures.” He feels that no matter what neighborhood a student comes from, with the proper teachers, that student can succeed.

What happens in California is usually picked up throughout the nation. One man can trigger this very positive chain-reaction which is sorely needed at this point to get our schools back to the classical education it was in the beginning. It is to be noted that the school system in America was started by the church.

A combination teacher/philosopher, Mr. Belle, in a personal interview, stated firmly that “A child’s future should not be determined by their zip code.” He says the teachers must set an example with this thought: “If you can’t see it—you’ll never be it.” That is a valid challenge for all of us, to be a positive example. As for teachers, he cautions, “Caring must precede teaching.”

Jeff Belle has solid experiences to back him up. He worked in D.C. for a Republican Senator and a Congressman. After Washington, he worked as city manager, coordinating five towns in Oklahoma, then, served as a registered lobbyist in D.C. and Oklahoma for tribal governments, universities and banks.

He currently serves on the County Transportation Authority Advisory Council, County Emergency Medical Care Board and, the County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, as well as being active in his church.

Mr. Belle’s opponent, Cynthia Ruehlig, whom I love and her husband, Walter, has made some moves that has cost her this vote. For example, an outgoing school superintendent whose salary was – and pension will be – $220,000 a year, voted to give this superintendent an extra $40,000 a year boosting that pension, while at the same time, 38 school staff members had to be laid off due to lack of funds. This was not clear thinking.

Candidate Jeff Belle thinks much differently. We need him. California needs him. The nation, who will follow this California example, needs him.

Rev. Austin Miles

Oakley

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Writer says Antioch should require business licenses on rental properties like other East County cities

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

In June, the Antioch City Council authorized placing a measure on the November ballot to recognize the business of renting or leasing of residential property as a business subject to taxation. Landlords of single family dwellings have never paid a business license fee and apartment complex owners have not paid appropriate fees since the 1960’s in the City of Antioch.

The cities of Pittsburg, Oakley and Brentwood all require business license fees on the renting of residential property.

In 2007, the City of Antioch took severe actions to reduce costs and avoid bankruptcy, resulting in the loss or reduction of essential community services. As noted in a recent East County Times editorial, “Financial projections show a $3.4 million budget deficit in just two years that would be cut in half if voters approve a tax on rental units”.

The income from this tax will help stabilize the City’s finances. This income is sustainable, ongoing revenue, unlike the sales tax from Measure C which expires in 7 years.

We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to access the revenue generated by adding the renting of residential property to the Business License Tax ordinance. It’s only fair that these business owners pay their fair share. Our future depends on it.

For more information about Measure ‘O’, visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us or call 925-779-7011.

Carole Harrison, Antioch

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Writer supports Antioch’s Measure O

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

The voters of Antioch have an important issue to decide in this election.

Measure “O” seeks to close a loophole that has some business owners paying a business license fee while other business owners pay nothing.

The owners of residential rental units do not pay anything to the city for the right to do business here. Large budget deficits are projected for fiscal year 2016/2017, so closing this loophole will help Antioch avoid potential bankruptcy.

Before you vote, ask yourself this. “Is it fair that some businesses pay their fees and other businesses do not?”

Please vote yes on Measure “O”.

John Tiernan

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Writer supports new location for community college

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Editor:

The Contra Costa Community College District, as with every educational agency, is mandated to provide educational equity, ensuring every student equal access to tools and programs necessary to succeed in career and in life.

The current land area by Marsh Creek Road chosen by the Board to locate a new community college facility does not have the public works framework in place for disability access or public transportation.

How will the physically challenged be served?  Many students of Far East Contra Costa (known as the stepchild of the county) are minorities, English language learners or poor.  How will the socio-economically disadvantaged, dependent on the bus or train for mobility, be served?

Speaking as a private citizen and not for the CCC Board of Education for which I am the elected Trustee for Area 5 (Antioch, Bay Point, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Clyde, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Oakley and Pittsburg), I believe exploring the possibility of a land swap (for a more conveniently located and development ready area) is an exercise in good governance, responsive to the needs of the community.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Antioch

Ruehlig represents part of Antioch and other parts of East County on the Contra Costa Board of Education

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Writer addresses letter to Mayor and Council Members about crime in Antioch

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Posted on Facebook – Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Your Honorable Mayor and City Council members:

I write to you to implore you to make take immediate action regarding the violence in the City of Antioch. No doubt you are aware of the problems being dealt with by the Antioch Police Department on a daily basis. I also realize that they have enlisted the assistance of various law enforcement agencies in carrying out an aggressive effort to rid our city of criminals. In part, this has been successful and the numbers associated with these efforts has been significant. However, common logic dictates that the “tiny percentage” that you point out Mr. Mayor has either grossly underestimated or we happen to have acquired the worst-shooting, yet smartest criminals in the world since they have continuously been capable of holding this community hostage, burglarized all hours of the day/night, stopped traffic and brought business down to their knees at Deer Valley Plaza and changed the shopping habits of consumers at the same time.

Today again, another afternoon of insanity at Deer Valley Plaza. Yesterday was even worse, the crowd number around 100. Today it was smaller groups and Taco Bell and McDonald’s have shut their dining room for 1.5 to 2 hours after school let’s out. There was a significant police presence at DVHS and the area surrounding it. Of course there were fights at Deer Valley High School (tennis courts and parking lot), Deer Valley Plaza (Baskin-Robbins, etc.), across Lone Tree from the Chevron station, Burger King, as well as Country Hills & Hillcrest.

These types of incidents have a detrimental, far-reaching effect on the businesses, customers, traffic, reputation of the City, etc. If the businesses feel compelled for the safety of their personnel and premises, which Taco Bell and McDonald’s have both done, that is a loss of revenue to the business, that equates to the loss of revenue to the City of Antioch. The bad reputation has a direct effect on the housing prices and an unwillingness to move to a city that is the 4th worst city in the San Francisco Bay Area to live in. At this rate, more businesses will limit availability and even more businesses will end up closing. More revenues will be lost.

Almost daily we are allocating much-needed resources to an activity that should have been handled by parents a very long time ago. There is a complete lack of respect for the business owners and consumers, there is no respect for the people driving in the area. There is no respect even for the people themselves, the ones who who are creating the problems.

This problem extends far beyond Deer Valley Plaza. Daily you have the Antioch Police Department responding to 459 residential burglaries by juveniles, stolen vehicles by juveniles, armed robberies by juveniles. This list goes on and on. The same types of incidents include the young adult age group as well as adults. The calls for service is increasing on a weekly basis. We are now unaffectionate known as Grand Theft Antioch! Not too mention other no so flattering names.

Mr. Mayor, you reminded me that when you took on the position it wasn’t a full time job. That is quite apparent. However, part-time means less than full-time but it also entails having to get a job done at all costs. If not – GET OUT! You ran on a platform of, “zero tolerance”. You have been MIA when it came to addressing the violence and crime in the City until the people started yelling loud enough for you to realize something must be done. You did the Victory Outreach walk and then there was United Antioch on August 16th. Hello, is that it? Do you really believe you have supported and continue to support the Antioch Police Department? If you can honestly say yes then you have a transparency issue because nobody else is seeing it. If not – GET OUT!

Your leadership has a direct effect on the City Council. You action or inaction has a direct effect on the City Council. If you are hell bent about some feral cats and don’t appear to give a damn about the crime and violence in the city, well that is wrong – very wrong. I have pity for the feral cats but I have a tendency of cherishing human life more. Since you took office, again on the “zero tolerance” platform, how many people have died and how many shootings has there been? But feral cats were so important. Prove me wrong or GET OUT!

You and your hand picked City Manager tried to ramrod the Downtown East Transit Oriented Residential Development project through when you had gained even more control over the City Council and fortunately Mary Rocha delayed that, however, who could foresee the date changed to the end of October, just in time to have the new City Council vote on it. She did try, but it was evident you wanted to wait even longer. Transparency is one thing, but when your hand picked City Manager can’t even give one example of the three other city owned properties to potentially be used for the new Senior Center – AFTER BEING ASKED THREE TIMES, then that was truly transparent – we saw right through that sham. Actually, we didn’t we never got the answer on whether it would be Senior Center AND Community Center.

Let’s not be distracted by the City-Owned Restaurant Space. That too is another revenue producer that won’t do much good if people won’t put a foot inside the Antioch city limits. The priorities are all screwed up. Not that we should not be mindful of the ETORD Project or the CORS Project – we should. But is was obvious feral cats were more important than crime and violence. Now it’s two projects that are more important than crime and violence. When will THE important issue be addressed in a timely manner, that would be crime and violence? Address it, or GET OUT.

I have, on no less than 5 occasions demanded action in the form of emergency ordinances, declaring a state of emergency, get the reserves in here if necessary. It appears you will not take any action and we deserve better. We deserve to be heard. We deserve to know what actions you are planning to do. If we end up having to file bankruptcy due to your incompetence and inaction, trust me there will be repercussions.
A recall election is a long drawn out process. However, if that’s what it take, so be it.

Respectfully submitted,

Rich Buongiorno

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Letter writer wants Antioch Council to revitalize downtown

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Dear Editor:

The City of Antioch lacks a thriving economic community. New local businesses are needed in order to attract and satisfy both prospective and existing residents. Considering that our downtown is close to becoming a ghost town, I am particularly passionate about reviving this area.

In August 2006, according to the document entitled “Antioch Rivertown Waterfront Development,” found on the city’s website, our government also shared this same passion: “In order to revitalize downtown, a bold vision must be married with a developmental strategy. We envision the Downtown Village as the heart of town, a vibrant riverfront place to live and shop. Retail tenants, shops, cafes and restaurants will contribute to the goal of making downtown a highly attractive, vibrant destination.”

How exactly is it that this detailed vision for our city from 2006 is so far off from the current reality of our very un-lively downtown in 2014?

As a resident of Antioch and as an avid believer in our city’s potential, I urge our government officials to once again become passionate about restoring and revitalizing our downtown. Determination is needed in order for this vision to be fulfilled.

Taylor Pagan – 19 years old, Diablo Valley College student

Antioch

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Writer says the gloves are coming off in Antioch’s Measure O fight

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Measure O, placed on the November ballot by an unanimous vote of the Antioch City Council, will levy annual business license fees on residential rental units of $250 for houses and $150 for apartments. The measure also will increase the minimum annual license fee for other businesses to $100 except for home-based small businesses, which will remain at $25. It is estimated the measure will increase Antioch revenues by $2.4 millon annually for restoration of City services.

The Friday Morning Breakfast Club citizens group has established a campaign committee, Residents for Fairness – Yes Measure O, to alert residents of the need and benefits of Measure O. The committee members have written a number of informational letters to local newspapers and will be posting signs about town and distributing brochures and mailers.

Opponents of Measure O have chosen to wage a campaign of misinformation to confuse voters and convince them to vote against the measure. They are well funded with indications they plan to spend between $50,000 and $100,000 to defeat the measure. The opponents are primarily residential landlords, many of which are large businesses located outside of Antioch, represented by the “California Apartment Association – Contra Costa Division” (CAA). They failed to reach agreement on the provisions of Measure O in a number of joint meetings with the City Staff, the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FMBC), and other groups in 2013 and 2014. They are now attacking the ballot measure in an all-out effort to defeat it at the polls, claiming to be allied with seniors, homeowners and business owners. They falsely assert these groups will be substantially harmed if the measure passes.

The facts are that homeowners, including seniors and business owners not in the residential rental business would not be affected in any way if Measure O passes. Also, senior group housing and care facilities would be exempted from any fees under Measure O. Seniors living in rental housing that is not exempt could experience a minor increase in rent if Measure O fees are passed through by their landlords. However, most seniors own their homes rather than rent. Many others live with family members or in exempt senior housing, nursing homes, and other exempt care facilities. Therefore, the number of seniors affected at all by Measure O is believed to be only a very small fraction of all seniors.

The CAA and their allies have hired Media Associates, a high profile political campaign consultant from Sacramento to lead their campaign against Measure O. They have a reputation for winning at all costs – the truth be darned. Already the consultant has conducted a telephone survey of Antioch residents asking a series of questions designed to subtly convince people to vote no on O. Their callers do not identify who they represent and promptly hang-up when confronted by a knowledgeable resident in favor of Measure O. Media Associates’ President, Kevin Reikes, is scheduled as Guest Speaker to address Measure O at the September 26, 2014, Board Meeting of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association in Concord. Members of the Yes Measure O committee plan to be there to refute any misstatement of the facts.

It is obvious why the CAA opposes Measure O; they don’t want to pay the new fees out of their profits or, in the alternative, to pass through the additional expenses to their tenants. However, it is observed that even if 100 percent of the fees are passed on, the impact on rents will be small, only $12.50 per month for apartments, and $20.83 monthly for single family houses. This would be only about a one percent increase of average rental rates. The fees will be a minor increase in business expenses that are tax deductible for the landlords, thereby reducing the impact on their profits.

The Yes on Measure O committee has minimal funds coming, so far from out-of pocket contributions by the committee members who want to do what is in the best interest of saving our community from crime, blight and bankruptcy. Your contributions are needed to help pay for large 4’ x 8’ signs, yard signs, brochures, mailers, and postage. This is truly a grass-roots effort by citizens, and no contribution is too small. Just $10 will buy five additional yard signs, but please give more if you can. Checks should be made out to “Residents for Fairness – Yes Measure O,” and mailed to 3036 South Apple Court, Antioch, CA, 94509. A website will soon be available to also make contributions online.
I urge all Antioch citizens to register and vote yes for Measure O.

Larry L. Harrison

Member, Residents for Fairness, Yes Measure O campaign committee

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Letter: Measure O closes loophole in Antioch’s business license tax ordinance

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Dear Editor:

Measure O is an ordinance that will update the City of Antioch’s existing Business License Tax Ordinance. It will close the loophole that inadvertently allowed residential rental property landlords to not pay licensing fees.

I am a homeowner and a senior citizen and I’m writing to address the California Apartment Association’s (CAA) stated opposition to Measure O.  The CAA says; “Many senior citizens will ultimately be paying for the Measure O tax.”

That statement is untrue.  Many senior citizens will not be affected by this fee.  Most senior citizens are homeowners.  Sure, the fee will affect those seniors who are residential rental property landlords and some seniors who are renters of apartments or homes.  Their rent will be increased if the landlord adds the fee onto the rental rate.  The fee for landlords will be $20.83 per month for single family rental homes, or $12.83 per month, per unit in multi-family rental units.

Renters, homeowners, and businesses alike want increased police services and robust code enforcement.  This ordinance is an equitable solution, closing the loophole, and will require residential rental landlords be included in the business licensing structure.    

Voters: please support the Residential Rental Property Landlord Fee and vote YES on Measure O this November 2014.

Marie Livingston

Antioch

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