Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Diversity vs. Equality – letter writer questions 8th grade African-American promotion ceremony in Antioch

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Pastor/minister Dr. Lamont A. Francies, also Counselor for Antioch Unified School District currently at Black Diamond Middle School campus, is the subject of community outcry this week as word of his “Antioch Unified School District 8th Grade African American Promotion Ceremony” began to spread on blogs and social media.

Starting with a column by Barbara Zivica in the online version of the Antioch Herald, entitled “Watchdog – Black only graduation ceremony in Antioch violates Supreme Court decision” published Sunday, May 31st, 2015 at 12:43 a.m.Barbara Zivica provides as support for her piece a photo image of a flier for the event and of an wmail containing it. The email was from an ASUD email address and addressed to other ASUD email addresses and included the text of the flyer as well as contact Information for Dr. Francies at his AUSD email and phone number. The flyer, clearly stating that it was an “Antioch Unified School District 8th Grade African-American Promotion Ceremony” also, like the email, includes Dr. Francies as the contact at his AUSD Email and Phone Number.

A subsequent article in the Antioch Herald by John Crowder entitled “African-American 8th grade promotion ceremony in Antioch raises concerns, organizer explains” on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 at 5:33 p.m., related information from interviews and comments from various ASUD officials and Dr. Francies, indicating that the event was not intentionally sanctioned as an official ASUD sponsored event. Some even defending the event as appropriate, but not as an AUSD sponsored event. It was also noted that similar promotion celebration events have been held at Holy Rosary church.

In another Article on East County Today entitled “AUSD Explains ‘African American Promotion Ceremony’ flier” on June 6th, more comments as well as questions and answers from various AUSD officials were presented. The article includes an Editorial comment which expresses the opinion that the event was not endorsed or sponsored by AUSD and the district does not want to take any responsibility for it.

In further research I found an Article in the Contra Costa Times archive from 2/4/2014 by Trine Gallegos entitled “Antioch Middle School honors MLK and its top students, too,” in which were excerpts of an interview with Dr. Francies about an Antioch Middle School event honoring MLK combined with an “African-American Honor Roll Banquet”. Quoted in the article, Dr. Francies, repeated several times, the benefits to the community. He is sometimes referring to it as community and occasionally as African-American community as if they are synonymous.

It is my opinion that pastor/minister, Dr. Lamont A. Francies, who is also a counselor at Black Diamond Middle school, and as such a part of the school administrative staff for the school district, is the root of the controversy. I believe that this man is violating the trust of the community, by promoting his social and religious beliefs on the students under his and others responsibility. I believe that in his capacity as an educator, he is there to serve all students by furthering their education and achievements, regardless of their ethnicity or religious beliefs. I fear that the school district has been hijacked for one individual’s personal social and religious agendas.

The AUSD needs to take responsibility for the actions of its staff and deal with the problem by not only clarifying policy but acting on breaches of policy with expedience and authority. Dr. Francies should be fired from his position in order to bring the trust lost from all of the community back into the equation.

Lately, we hear the phrase “celebrate diversity” quite often, and I support the idea that we should celebrate the differences in us that makes us individuals. It is a very important cultural and heritage based concept. But we as a community are trying to make the celebration of diversity the evidence of equality. Diversity and equality by their standard definition are complete opposite concepts.

Dr. King was a very inspirational speaker and very significant catalyst to the creation of Civil Rights Act. His one speech, that I think is most often quoted is the “I Have a Dream” speech. In that speech he lays out what is his definition of equality. It was not treated “different.” It was not treated “better.” It was not “reparation.” It was “equality.” Equal treatment for all. I truly believe he is looking down on us now and shaking his head at what we as a community have done with his dream.

We are failing our community, children and future generations, by claiming diversity defines and demonstrates equality instead of doing the right thing inclusively by them. Civil Rights are about all of the things that we share equally and not about trying to compensate for current or historical inequities. Neither is it about celebrating diversity and emphasizing the individual or the group. It is about sharing and celebrating in equality, all of things that we have or should have in common. One nation created equal.

Doug Knowles, Antioch

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Letter writer asks Antioch residents for help on a “real” community watch program

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Dear Editor:

Hi, everyone I wanted to reach out and ask y’all what you think about an idea I have. I went by the Hudsons yesterday and had a moment to chat with a young lady that was collecting signatures for the recall and speed bumps. We chatted about how there is a group on the 11th block that looks out for the neighborhood and I expressed that I also was part of a smaller group on the 13th block. This made me wonder how I can make my city better. If I may digress slightly and briefly.

I’m an engineer, Eagle Scout and former Marine. The information that is being gathered is a huge asset to our cause of making our city a safe and desirable place to live. So, when I was over seas I was involved in some of the nastiest urban combat that our forces have ever seen but we made head way and took the cities back for the people to live safely and not in fear.

We would do things like walk and talks to get to know the people and show that we were approachable. We also frequently went to gathering places of the population, such as mosque, souks and bazarres to make contact with the population and the heads of households.

So, how can this help Antioch? Well, what I want to propose is if there aren’t any objections and that it’s all legal, why can’t we use the info gathered to start a real community watch program? This is an opportunity where we can have neighborhoods, all over the city, talking to one another and could work with our community policing officer with the APD to empower the people to take back our city.

I know from experience that if you empower the people and can get them all (the good guys) communicating you will have faster and lasting results that will make their communities safer and will give the enforcement agency, in this case APD, a better means in targeting problems and problem locations. This will empower us and create better community relationships with our police department and will make our city safe.

I would want to use this info to build on what formal neighborhood watch programs we have currently and do real meetings and classes once a month with APD and different parts of town to get the intel we can gather, to the people who can do something about it. So, if this sounds enticing let me know. Thanks for your time.

Patrick Wright

Antioch

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Writer claims independent effort to elect Glazer shatters $4 million mark

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Dear Editor:

During a debate with Assemblymember Susan Bonilla on KQED Forum, last week, State Senate candidate Steve Glazer claimed:

I have not sent out any mail. And I’ve not put on any radio ads or TV ads.”

That’s quite unusual for any campaign – even one for City Council or a Water Board, never mind a State Senate campaign in a competitive district.

How can Glazer not spend a dime on voter communication that’s part and parcel to nearly all political campaigns?

Because he relies exclusively on independent expenditures by special interests in a too-cute-by-half strategy that flirts with the law.

Those interests are shattering all records. As of last night, they have spent a record $4 million on his campaign:

- LA Republican developer Bill Bloomfield has now spent $ $1,771,013.95 [$596,000 in the first election, $8,400 in direct contributions from Bloomfield and his wife and $ $1,119,149.36since the March 17 election]

- JobsPAC, described by the Sacramento Bee as a political committee funded by tobacco, drug, and oil companies, has spent $1,242,322.85 [$376,476.53 in the first election and $865,846.32 since March 17]

- Charter Schools IE has spent $856,375.39 [$175,207.09 in the first election and $681,168.30 since March 17]

- EdVoice has spent $710,685.79  [$36,794.93 in the first election and $673,890.86 since March 17]

- Govern for CA Action Committee has spent $11,549.84, all since April 29

- Koch Brothers affiliated Independent Women’s Voice has spent $8,600 since May 6.

Meanwhile, as for the candidates:

- Glazer has raised $255,500.00 since March 17.

- Susan Bonilla reported $749,501.69 since March 17.

So how does the Glazer strategy work? Simple. Glazer posts information on his Facebook page and website. And bingo – they instantly become mail pieces and TV ads. In the last few weeks, this has included “letters” from his wife, his daughter, and even Glazer himself that turned into direct mail pieces. This is a far cry from the days when IE’s typically took images off a candidate’s website; Glazer knowingly posts this information directly for IE use since he admits his campaign has no direct mail, TV or radio effort.

(Glazer’s patron saint, GOP LA developer Bill Bloomfield, even owns and operates the website www.steveglazer.com).

So don’t believe Glazer’s consultant-talk about “special interests.” Without them, he’d have no campaign. And he knows it.

Steven Maviglio, Spokesman, Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015

Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015 is sponsored by labor organizations.  Major funding by California State Council of Service Employees Political Committee and California Teachers Association Independent Expenditure Committee.  Not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate. 

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Will L.A. businessman pass the $1 million mark in supporting Glazer for State Senate?

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Smashing state spending records, as of today, Los Angeles businessman Bill Bloomfield has now spent $799,597.04 to elect Steve Glazer to the California State Senate.

That includes $195,197.04 since the March 17th election. And it includes $596,000 in the first round of the election plus the maximum $8400 in direct donations to Glazer (including $4,200 from his wife).

Who is Bloomfield? A long-time Republican who made a convenient switch to being a decline-to-state voter when he unsuccessfully ran against LA Democrat Henry Waxman for Congress, Bloomfield has a huge backer of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger along with President George W. Bush and John McCain. Bloomfield also is an Obamacare critic www.billbloomfield.com/credibility.

This special interest money is on top of the $493,805.02 JobsPAC has spent for Glazer and $223,496.78 from the Charter Schools IE.

What are all these wealthy interests putting their money behind Glazer? Because he doesn’t support increasing the minimum wage? Because he favors tax breaks for millionaires? Because he hasn’t have a word about income inequality on his website or campaign materials?

No one knows for sure. But as Bloomfield’s support of Glazer reaches the million dollar mark, it’s time to begin asking those questions.

Steve Maviglio

Forza Communications

Sacramento

Maviglio represents and is a spokesman for unions in California

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Letter writer challenges Glazer’s environmental record

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Steven Glazer is no environmentalist; I did some research. He’s an experienced pitchman who can help a developer distort a land grab by labeling it “creating open space.” A “communications expert” he helped turn a local forest into a golf course when he won approval of a luxury Novato housing project known as Black Point over objections of the Sierra Club. He opposed environmentalists again to defend a developer on the Humboldt Bay Waterfront. These aren’t the only times he helped a developer suppress public protests; ask Orinda residents where he’s mayor.

Glazer claims that his environmental leadership has been recognized by the Trust for Public Land and Save to Bay. Glazer was asked to advise on a finance handbook produced by the Trust. I suppose that could be seen as recognition of his leadership. He made a monetary contribution to Save the Bay that was recognized in the Annual Report. I couldn’t find proof that “Steve led efforts that raised hundreds of millions of dollars to permanently protect open space in California and 25 other states.”

He’s successfully repackaged land deals, propositions, and politicians. Now he’s selling himself the same way.

Carol Weed, Walnut Creek

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Writer responds to Antioch resident moving to Montana to get away from crime

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Dear Editor:

I’ve experienced break-ins. I’ve even had a car stolen off my driveway. This did not happen in Antioch, but at my previous home in Bay Point. Since the last letter writer has made brutal honesty the order of the day, I live in Antioch now because it looked like the nicest place not too far from work I could afford. Some high-walled paradise of absolute safety is a thing few of us can afford these days.

I’ve been over here a couple years, long enough for an election cycle. And I will take perhaps a more controversial position, a frankly socialist one. I am wary of candidates who lead their campaigns proposing brute force crackdowns on stranger-on-stranger crimes, the great majority of which are born of economic desperation. And I think we’ve seen enough this past year, from places far off to right in San Francisco, to know that quality of police officers is at least as important as quantity.

I for one am very heartened to see news of this working group on housing and community services, and look forward to seeing their work progress. Poverty objectively drives people violently mad, and the bite of our taxes to keep such petty thieves caged in advanced criminal training schools for years often turns out to be greater than what we’d lose just giving a fellow citizen some aid before the madness goes toxic.

There is no escape from the question of the people whose poverty leaves them with so little freedom to deal with their issues. That is why when the most recent letter writer spoke of moving to some tiny town in Montana, my first reaction was, “You mean a place with no police department, and a couple of hair-trigger deputies standing between you and a trailer park full of meth labs? Yes, do write back and tell us how that works out for you.”

Avery Ray Colter, Antioch

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Letter writer says Barnes & Noble’s event with Belle sending wrong message to our youth

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Educators work hard for many years to earn their credentials. Educators spend thousands of dollars and begin their profession saddled with debts just to legitimately call themselves educators.

Ironically, educators will be hosted at Barnes and Noble on Educators Appreciation Day by Jeff Belle, a felon who falsifies his credentials mocking the profession as nothing but letters randomly chosen and strategically placed after his last name. www.jeffbelleconman.com.

Barnes and Noble was made aware of Belle’s lies to the community but has chosen to continue with this event. Is Barnes and Noble encouraging our youth to take the easy route; to blatantly falsify credentials instead of going to school and to claim honor when it is not deserved?

This is insensitive to our community.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Belle beat Ruehlig for County School Board in last fall’s election.

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Writer says Bonilla has muddled record on gay rights

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Susan Bonilla must come out to voters on her gay rights record.

As a member of the LGBT community, I am appalled by Assemblywoman Bonilla’s muddled record on gay rights. Not once in her candidacy for the 7th State Senate seat has she explained why as Supervisor she voted for Contra Costa not to stand up against Proposition 8.

Bonilla’s deciding vote made us the only county in the Bay Area to not join the fight against Proposition 8, even though her district voted overwhelmingly against it. And while today she claims to be a support of gay rights, her endorsement of pro-life, anti-gay candidates flies in the face of her newly formulated positions.

There’s only one candidate on the ballot who’s consistently supported marriage equality since her first day in office, and that’s Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan. Joan opposed Proposition 8 when it was politically unpopular, and has a zero-tolerance policy for endorsing candidates who do not support equal rights.

Please join me in supporting Joan Buchanan for State Senate on March 17, 2015.

Robert D. Camacho, Concord

Camacho was a candidate for the Concord City Council in 2012 and a 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton Delegate from the 10th Congressional District to the National Democratic Convention.

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