Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Writers concerned about $75,000 of school funds spent to improve AUSD public image

Monday, October 30th, 2017


Following is a letter sent to Antioch Unified School District Superintendent Stephanie Anello last week:

Dear Superintendent Anello,

We respectfully disagree with your proposal of spending $75,000.00 school funds, as well as the “yes” votes of Trustees Gibson-Gray, Hack, and Ruehlig on this matter.

We thank you for trying to use school money “wisely” and for your work on attempting to get our school district on track.

My husband and I have been AUSD parents since 2005, we’re appreciative that our children have access to quality education. All teachers we’ve encountered, dating from 2005 to today are intelligent and caring with a strong will to see their students succeed.

It’s our observation that our wonderful teachers aren’t provided the full support they need. We, parents/guardians, district leaders and staff must fulfill our obligations, so our teachers can focus on teaching. We feel the demands placed on them are unfair and unrealistic. We are asking too much – that they uphold rigorous instruction; that they provide peer-like support; that they nurture their classroom like a household; that they become counselors and therapists … all of which we expect them to do equally and simultaneously. In addition, it’s important to note that Students’ familial background plays a major role on behavior and academic performance which further amplifies the demand on our teachers.

The troubles of our district aren’t its negative image, it’s the crumbling support from district leadership to teachers which then dominos to students-parents/guardians. Such discord creates negative narrative that spreads in the community and beyond. Chasing a positive image through social media will not solve the problem. The problem is what’s causing the negative image in the first place.

We urge you to kindly reconsider the allocation of the $75,000.00 amount, please if it’s not too late.

Here are some thoughts we had, but we’re sure our community also has pertinent suggestions on how $75,000.00 of school funds can be better utilized within our schools.

  1. Hiring a well-established firm to survey the needs of our teacher through anonymous polling.

1a. Pouring attention and continuing / building genuine collaboration toward a resolution.

  1. Offering a bonus to a current district office employee serving within the public relations department to manage photo and media updates.
  2. Offering parenting support to parents/guardians by a licensed mental health and family professional.
  3. Increasing teachers’ stipend and/or giving year-end bonus.

Thank you for your time.


April Ussam-Lemmons

Joshua Lemmons


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Writer opposes community choice energy, warns people to not be fooled

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017


Don’t be fooled by “green energy” or “renewable energy” groups like Marin Clean Energy and others. It’s simple economics. When you add “middle men” in to the mix, you add additional costs because you’ve not created any more customers nor produced any electricity. Not only that but their “Renewable Energy Credit” system is deceiving. Get the facts. It’s not easy but here it is. These are the facts.

Community Choice Aggregates (CCA’S) including Marin Clean Energy (MCE) are unwilling OR unable to sign the Power Purchase Agreements necessary to generate the renewable power needed by the State to reach our Renewable Portfolio Standards goals (RPS).  In fact, there are currently several solar projects that have been fully approved, permitted (with Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s)) that have not begun construction because nobody is signing the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).  PG&E and the other Utilities, including public utilities like SMUD, have already bought all the power they need to meet the 2020 requirement of 33% RPS.

But the CCAs are NOT signing these agreements.

If we don’t build these projects now, as a State, we lose the benefit of the Federal tax credits (set to reduce to 10% in 2019) which means power costs go up.  It also means that MCE rates will go up noticeably while PG&E’s will remain moderate because of all the cheap long-term contracts they have signed the last 5 years.  MCE signed some of these, but the term is 3-5 years, not 15-20.

There was also a big conversation at the California Energy Commission about the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA*), which is the cost sharing mechanism that the CCAs are supposed to pay to compensate PG&E for the power PG&E bought under long term contracts for its customers that the CCAs have stolen.  Everybody, including the President of the CPUC, acknowledged that this PCIA is not accurately apportioning that cost.  PG&E showed that MCE is paying only 65% of what it owes every month.  That means you and I are subsidizing MCE customers.

*The PCIA ensures that the customers who remain with the utility do not end up taking on the long-term financial obligations the utility incurred on behalf of now-departed customers. Examples of such financial obligations include utility expenditures to build power plants and, more commonly, long-term power purchase contracts with independent power producers.

MCE and the other CCAs will have significantly higher rates (as much as 25%) than there rates today.  This means some customers will leave and threaten the ability of CCAs to operate.  Plus, their promises of cleaner energy are being proven false.

Michael DuPray


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Writer wants police to deal with Antifa, other radical groups that terrorize, injure, vandalize

Thursday, September 21st, 2017


The disguised and masked Antifa, other radical groups, and individuals must be dealt with immediately by the police when they appear to just terrorize, injure, vandalize, and overall break the existing laws.

They arrive united in purpose, similarly disguised, and with covered faces so they won’t be identified. Our California Penal Code laws clearly make it illegal to; Conspire together (PC 182), Wearing  Mask Or Disguise (PC 185), Assault (PC 240), Batter (PC 242), Assault With A Deadly Weapon (PC 245), to Terrorize/Threaten (PC 422 and/or 11411), Riot (PC 404), Incite To Riot (PC 404.6), Rout (PC 406), Unlawfully Assemble (PC 407), Participating In Rout Or Unlawful Assembly (408), Public Disturbance (PC 415), Threatening With Weapon (PC 417), Vandalize, Damage Or Destroy (PC 594), and so on.

And, it’s unlawful also for the police to willfully not suppress a Riot or Route (PC 410). In addition, any of their superiors who order them to not take action are guilty also.

So, the answer to all of their lawlessness is quite simple. Just enforce the laws immediately and shortly these things will cease considerably. There is your answer.

Ralph A. Hernandez


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Stand Down on the Delta 2017 organizer thanks volunteers

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Volunteers assist veterans during a visit by Assemblyman Jim Frazier (center) during the 2017 Stand Down on the Delta at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, Aug. 11-14. Photos by Genevieve Mann

Dear Editor:

Delta Veterans Group would like to thank all of the volunteers that served for Stand Down on the Delta, 2017.

With your help, our community was able to provide services for over 260 veterans and their families.

Over 1,150 volunteers came together over 10 days to set-up, serve and tear-down our encampment. Over 5,800 meals were served in just four days.

Veterans received much needed supportive services, medical services, dental care, vision care, and mental health services.  We also had barbers, beauticians, entertainment, spiritual guidance and much more over the four days.  Plus – their animals were cared for onsite by C.A.R.T. – the Contra Costa County Animal Rescue Team.

We were also able to take over 40 veterans fishing on our Delta Shoreline…and yes, they caught a lot of fish…The largest fish was caught by a female veteran for the second Stand Down in a row…

All of this could not have happened without you – the volunteer.


Gerald JR Wilson, President/Executive Director, Delta Veterans Group – Stand Down on the Delta

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Colleague endorses Graves for Contra Costa DA

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Dear Editor:

Colleen Gleason, a close friend and colleague of mine has written a wonderful endorsement on Facebook. I met Colleen 15 years ago and am humbled by her words. Here are a few sentences from my colleague’s social media post that I would like to share with you:

“I’m so excited and proud that my friend and mentor has decided to run for DA of our County. Paul was my homicide supervisor and currently runs the Sexual Assault/Family Violence unit. I also worked closely with him while he was the President of our Association – not only was he amazing at negotiating on behalf of our DAs, but he was instrumental in putting on a successful fundraiser for our local Rape Crisis/Children’s Interview Center every year.

Paul is the type of leader who inspires others; there is always a line of people seeking his solid advice born of experience and common sense. He is the type of leader that people want to follow; when he is heading a unit, other people want to work there…He has handled the pressures of our job in the public eye with grace and eloquence. But, more importantly to me, he is the type of person you can watch handling the little, every-day moments with kindness and integrity… the moments when the cameras aren’t on, when no one seems to be paying attention – the way he treats his staff, victim’s families, opposing counsel, his subordinates – those are the moments when he has impressed me the most.”

Paul Graves


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Criminal defense attorneys support Graves for Contra Costa District Attorney

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Dear Editor:

We are some of the criminal defense attorneys who practice in Contra Costa County.  We are the individuals who defend people accused of crimes.   We have worked with the District Attorney’s Office for decades, and are in a unique position to know what qualities are most important for the District Attorney to possess.

We believe in the Constitution, in fairness and colorblind justice, and that every person accused of a crime deserves competent and zealous representation so that the police, the prosecution, and the system are held to the highest standard.

As the top law enforcement official in the County, we believe our next District Attorney should share these values. They should keep our community safe, but also do the right thing even when it’s not popular.

We need someone honest, trustworthy, fair, ethical, diligent, and compassionate.

We need Paul Graves.

Paul Graves’ energy, ideas and fresh approach to the office as outlined in his public application to the Board of Supervisors reveals the dedicated and honorable public servant that we already know him to be.

What really sets Paul Graves apart is that he has dedicated his professional life as a prosecutor to Contra Costa County, and that he has earned the respect of all partners in the criminal justice system, because he treats every defendant as an individual and is fundamentally fair.

Paul Graves’ judgment has always made him stand out as a fair and ethical prosecutor we can trust.  Even though we represent opposing sides in the courtroom, we know Paul Graves is everyone’s partner in fair and equal justice.

Paul Graves provides the character, experience, and integrity our community needs to move forward.  We want the Board of Supervisors to know that as defense attorneys dedicated to the Constitution, fairness and colorblind justice, Paul Graves has our highest recommendation.

Blackie Burak

Derek Ewin

Dan Horowitz

David Larkin

Thomas McKenna

Tom O’Connor

Dan O’Malley

Chris Varnell

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Groups recommend process for appointing Interim Contra Costa District Attorney

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Following is a letter from six groups in the county to the members of the Board of Supervisors:

Dear Chairman Glover and Supervisors Andersen, Burgis, Gioia and Mitchoff,

Our community was shocked and angered last week to hear that former District Attorney Mark Peterson pled guilty to felony charges related to the illegal use of campaign funds, leading to his resignation. This unethical and dangerous abuse of power by the elected District Attorney is deeply concerning to us and we write today in the spirit of working to rebuild trust between local government in Contra Costa, including law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office, and the community they are meant to serve.

We believe a critical first step to rebuilding trust is for the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors to engage in a fully transparent and community-centered process for appointing an interim District Attorney.

On behalf of Contra Costa County voters, we urge our Board to commit to a transparent, community-first process in making its selection of an interim District Attorney. In addition, we believe it is important for the Board to only consider applicants who have not filed to run in the June 2018 primary.

The District Attorney is one of the most powerful elected officials in county government and is the most powerful actor in our criminal justice system. The decisions made by the District Attorney impact every county resident, not just those who are directly involved in the criminal justice system. From determining when and what charges to file in individual cases; to making policy decisions that affect local communities as well as county and state budgets; to holding law enforcement accountable for unfair policies and practices, the Contra Costa District Attorney holds significant power and responsibility for the protection of our civil rights and freedoms.

For these reasons and more, it is critically important that our Board protect and uphold the right of the people of Contra Costa County to an inclusive and transparent process for appointment of an interim District Attorney.

In a transparent, community-first process, the Board of Supervisors should consider the following:

  1. Publicly post a proposed process and timeline for appointment of an interim District Attorney;
  2. Allow for public comment on the proposed process for appointment, consider comments, and post final process;
  3. Only consider applications for interim appointment from individuals who are not currently running for District Attorney of Contra Costa County in 2018;
  4. Solicit applications from lawyers in the community to apply for interim appointment and make submitted applications available for review by the public;
  5. Hold public hearings at times convenient to working people with commute schedules, to receive input about nominees and other recommendations; and
  6. Hold a final public hearing to vote for the interim District Attorney.

Due to the recent resignation and guilty plea by former District Attorney Mark Peterson, the people of Contra Costa County deserve transparency and fairness in the appointment of the interim District Attorney. It is incumbent upon the Board to begin to remedy the breakdown of trust between the community and government by taking the lead to ensure a fair and community-first process. We welcome the opportunity to support the efforts of our Board of Supervisors to achieve these very important goals.

Thank you,

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Writer challenges previous letter writer to provide proof for his accusations

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017


It seems to me that if Steven Payne has information that leads to a discovery of wrongdoing on the part of city officials, then that information needs to be made public. Implied knowledge of wrongdoing or conspiracy is just BS.

Steven, in an earlier post to the editor, implied that he knows information and inside dealings. It is just silly to yell fire in a crowded place without proof. I am not one to normally defend those who I may not agree with, however I am also not one to defend implied blackmail.

Our city is a good city, full of many citizens who care about making it better. Yes, there is so much to do, so much to fix, so much to mend. Let’s us stay focused on that and not an attempt to sling mud.

If the proof is there, I challenge you, Steven Payne to publish each, and every substantiated fact and not just innuendo. There have been too many years of rumors and not nearly enough years of trust. Your opinion, without facts, just creates more mistrust among our citizens. Let’s see your facts.

Frederick Rouse


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