Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Letter writer congratulates council on voting down Seeno development

Friday, January 31st, 2014


Mayor Pro Tem Rocha and Council Members Gary Agopian and Monica Wilson, take a bow! You did the City of Antioch a great justice by your recent vote to deny the Pointe Project. That development would have ravaged 21 acres of hillside land at the western edge of the city, robbing God-given beauty and some wind barrier. 

More frightening for the future, it would have overturned a hillside development ordinance that has been in effect since 1981. That ordinance had been applied on at least six projects over the past three decades. It’s disregard would send a signal that agreements can be bent and broken when expedience dictates.

They say you can’t fight City Hall but in the Philippines, where my wife hails from, they call it ‘people power’. I applaud the residents of the Black Diamond Estates Project, Save Mount Diablo Organization and the Antioch Planning Commission for all standing tall and fighting the good fight.

Antioch takes its’ knocks. We can all agree it was overbuilt, is too saturated, too cookie cutter and in the case of our Malls, too boxy (how one wishes we had insisted on a pedestrian-friendly plan like the Streets of Brentwood, which has strolling charm). Be that as it may, our mistakes can’t be undone.  

We do, though, have three natural assets other locales don’t. One, obviously, is our seat at the Delta.  The River brings views, recreation and a cooling breeze. 

The second blessing is our undulating streets. Hillcrest and Deer Valley come to mind as a boon from monotonous straight lines! 

The third asset are the hills that we didn’t all chop off; some internal and some dramatically framing our town.  Guests visiting me who drive along Hillcrest marvel at the ambiance. It feels palatial.

Yes, more homes is easy money. We know and respect that the fees are tempting, what with city services having hit rock bottom. Things are on an upswing, though, and patience will be rewarded.  

In the meantime, let’s hope that whenever there is the next, let’s face it, inevitable ‘mini-wave’ the infrastructure is long set. Wouldn’t it be nice, then, to have something really different from the hum-drum, we’ve got plenty, tracts. How about senior developments like Trilogy in Brentwood; or McMansions on oversized lots that draw in the Blackhawk crowd who could set up needed business and light industry here? Now you’ve got my attention.

Yes, more city workers and a return to five days of City Hall service? Valued.

Respect for past agreements…. appreciation of the hills.

They are priceless.

Walter Ruehlig


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Letter writer thanks Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Dear Editor,

I want to thank Phil Robertson, patriarch of Duck Dynasty for contending for the faith!  In his interview with GQ, he spoke the truth that many of us God fearing Christians felt needed to be expressed.  Phil paraphrased the truth that can be found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.  If the liberal media and the LGTB community are at odds with this message, they can take it up with God!  The hypocrisy in the liberal and entertainment media was futher exposed!  A & E loves the money, but hates the message!

The mega-popular Duck Dynasty series is so refreshing in this dark world.  Heck, you can watch it with your 3 year old.  Our founding fathers would have loved it!  A family with deep reverence for God, family and country is such a rarity in today’s media!  My suggestion to those who find this message to be offensive:  exercise your constitutional right and change the channel!  Perhaps you can find a Myley Cyrus special!

Silent no more!

Michael Pollard


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Letter writer comments on “Thanksgiving Black Thursday”

Thursday, December 12th, 2013


Thanksgiving Black Thursday is now memories. It wasn’t the bust some retailers feared. I, myself, who have avoided Black Fridays like the Bubonic Plague, peeked into Wal-Mart on an evening walk working off curiosity and the second portion of pecan pie.

At best, it was organized chaos with snaking lines of brimming carts. Thankfully, shoppers seemed subdued, perhaps digesting the turkey tryptophan or glazed ham. The Pilgrims would be happy there were no stampedes.

While I don’t begrudge the retailer relief, I sigh, though, for the national gestalt. For my two cents, another incremental step of noise and distraction had been added to an already disquieted world. After all, Thanksgiving is more than just a day for family but for reflection and rejuvenation.

Everyday life is inundated with busyness, complexity, noise and incessant material urges. On a national day of gratitude for all our enduring gifts, need we fight the crowds for more ‘stuff’?

Could Christmas Day be the next to fall to the relentless economic machine of consumerism driving our world? Will people think, ‘hey, I went to morning service and it’s mid-day. I’m itching for a sale!’

Fanciful scenario? Admittedly so, but in a world where national retailers toyed with calling Christmas trees ‘holiday trees’ anything is possible.

Consider Joe Lieberman, the former Senator from Connecticut and Vice Presidential candidate under Al Gore, who wrote a compelling book called “The Gift of Rest; Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath.” Admittedly, Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, goes a great deal further in his observance than most people would ever consider. He not only not refuses working unless urgent, but turns off his Blackberry, avoids cars, and even darkens house lights.

What I find most interesting in his book, though, is the Senator’s less extreme argument for non-religious people. Lieberman says that having a day a week of rest not only aids spiritual rejuvenation but makes plain physical and psychological sense. After all, aren’t we always “on”, forever thinking, worrying, planning, wired and connected? Who couldn’t use a pause, a momentary break, to rejuvenate; maybe have some time to think on the greater import of life.

My wish for our great country, then, is not to dampen the shopping fever. No, there are plenty of days for cash register euphoria and now Black Friday never looked so good.

I submit, though, that for our mental collective well-being, if nothing else, we get back to the Sabbath, or if we will, Day of Pause. Meantime, I hope we can start by keeping at least a few days dear; Thanksgiving, Christmas (for those of other persuasions, the likes of Passover or Ramadan).

It’s a mad, mad, mad world. A little centering is maybe what the good doctor ordered.

Walter Ruehlig


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Letter writer argues against Measure C, wants gift of a “no” vote on his birthday

Friday, October 25th, 2013


A question has been asked about citizen’s viewpoint on ½ % sales tax increase in Antioch, it did not mention that it would last for 7 years.

Before I reply to the question, I believe that my observations are necessary to clarify my opposition to Measure “C”. It will be a single item on the Ballot on November 5th. I forecast a small voter turn-out which, unfortunately, will not fully represent citizen opinion on this major issue.

I make this plea: Please, please vote. We need a high count. That is very important. It sends a message to our politicians’ to consider before they attempt to raise more Taxes in Antioch. The Mayor has told me that he believes a large majority of Antioch support Measure “C”. If the count is something like 2000 YES and 1985 NO is that a real majority?

My desire is to give the reader background information (as a pseudo reporter) especially to those who do not attend City Council Meetings.

I have been sitting on street corners with a sign asking for “NO on “C”. I am amazed how many people have been asking “what this is about”. That is what prompted me to write this commentary.

I am going back to original items that were on agendas concerning additional money to hire more police officers. My reason is also to shed light on how our city manages business. Then the heading of this document will be obvious.

I have attended every Antioch City Council Meeting that had the Sales Tax issue on the agenda. In the beginning there were 2 measures being proposed. The one not on the ballot, was designed to collect additional money from business license fees on rental properties.

Let’s start at the very beginning to give you knowledge of “how” this Measure was allowed on a ballot in the first place.

The City Council declared a Fiscal Emergency using increase in crime to authorize Measure “C”. A consolidated statement to be used on the Ballot was sent to the CCC Elections Department. (CCCED). The CCCED required the City to agree to pay Ballot costs. The Council complied immediately approving the cost of over $22,000.00. That is charged even if the measure fails. A very costly deficit win or loose.


First agenda item proposed increasing income from Business Rental Fees. Currently Apartment and Multiple Dwellings are charged rental fees, Single rented Residences are not.

The idea was to charge a $20.00 monthly license fee on single rented properties. The money would be used for additional Officers.

A number of homes have been bought in bulk, are owned by investors for the sole purpose of making money, a return on investment (ROI). ROI from dwellings is certainly a Business and has made a large impact citywide.

Adding single or multiply owned individual property to require payment of Rental License Fees would equalize treatment to all parties in the rental business.

The second agenda item (it became Measure “C”) was also proposed. An increase in Sales Tax by ½% for 10 years was introduced. The money was also to go to the Police Department. It was amended to make it more “digestible” from 10 to “only” 7 years. This was done to obtain support by The City Chamber of Commerce, it was their idea. (Perhaps off the subject; in my opinion, The ACC group has not attracted new business into Antioch for years.)

Council members Harper and Agopain made many statements telling us that we need more officers to “prevent” and “reduce” crime. Police statistics were used to support their claims. The need for more safety stressed.

Both the Mayor and Council Members said that they were not going to “let criminals take over our city”. The solution is more police meaning more “boots on the streets”. They insinuated that criminals would not want to come into Antioch because added police would defer them.

There were never explanations as to “how” the additional officers could prevent or reduce crime. Unfortunately a set of new crime statistics had not reached their desks that might have enlightened them. Those statistics showed lower percentages crime (excluding murder from 3 to 5; I ask you, how can Police prevent murder?)

I made citizen comments at every meeting suggesting alternatives. I talked of more focus on developing cohesive neighborhoods instead of more police. I gave our Council documents about the city of Richmond’s applied efforts to reduce crime which was independent of police methods; something that Antioch might apply.

I stated that more officers would not “prevent or reduce crime”, it might reduce “response time” but Police intervention is after the crime has been committed.

There’ll always be criminals; they know consequences if caught in the act but have no fear of police. Suggesting that they will avoid Antioch because of additional officers is a farce.

The City Council (not listening to any input) was not sure how voters would react if both of the Agenda items were placed on the ballot. They feared defeat similar to Measure “P” three years ago. (Note: That measure required a 2/3 voter approval and failed.)

The Council placed an order for an Independent Survey of constituents to help them determine what to do. The cost of the Survey was $18,000.00. Only 400 Citizens were surveyed. The forecast resulted in an “estimate” that if both measures were on a ballot one would fail.

A well-known group up of citizens ‘The Breakfast Club”(which consists of former council members, Ex-mayor, and other businessmen) appeared before the Council and advised them that they were in support of applying the Rental Fees but were against any Sales Tax increase. I had also pleaded (twice) saying that the fee option was best because it was fairness in business, would provide a stable yearly amount of money, and it wouldn’t be limited to 10 years.

After the survey results were interpreted which indicated that if both items were placed on the ballot “one would fail” (and advice that a 2/3 majority vote would also be very risky). Our City Council deleted the Rental Fee idea and choose to go ahead with only the increased Sales Tax Measure.

Then with fear of failure placing it on the ballot with specific use of funds to the Police Department requiring a 2/3 majority vote. They modified the earlier decision changing direction to send the money into the General Fund. Measure “C” reasons changed! Can we still claim the “emergency” Read the ballot the reason for the tax has been changed! The tax is no longer going to the Police Department it will (supposedly) be divided into a fair distribution for ALL city service improvements. Manipulation?

To influence a yes vote by citizens the Council has promised to set-up (yet another) Commission as oversight of tax expenditures. The group of 7 will report once a year, will be appointed by the Mayor, and will have no power.

If you read the “Yes on “C” signs , and receive a big post card, and stickers on your newspaper you should take the time to find out where all of the money to pay for this massive advertising is coming from . Data is available at the City Clerk’s office. My investigation indicates that people owning multiple single unit rental properties have contributed over $30,000.00. Their Ads are propaganda. All placards tell you the money is for more police! This deception is supported by the Mayor and Council Members. I have reported $150.00 contribution for NO NEW TAXES signs without deception.

In closing I offer this for your consideration: The addition of Police Officers to “Prevent Crime” is pure speculation. The change directing income into the General Fund is a manipulation.

If Measure “C” passes the City Council will likely continue “deficit spending”, they have in the past and there is no reason to believe this will change. It is likely that hiring more police will start before money for tax has been collected and placed into the General Fund. The old “Buy now Pay later” repeatedly used by our “leaders” is one of the reasons that our city is near bankruptcy today.

Considering money contributed to influence the “WIN” compared to the amount spent supporting LOOSE makes me feel like it is a David vs. Goliath battle.

I assure you that I am not against any improvement of our Police Department. I supported the Rental Business Fee, I own and rent one property and had no problem with that proposal.

There is more to consider, just months ago Police Department benefits were increased. Retirement benefits cost went up. (Another “spend forward action”). The Police Chief pleaded for the extra money to lure (some costly) “experienced” officers. Some he had interviewed wanted more than our city was currently offering.

The Council moved without hesitation and approved that request and we will pay for it year after year. It is deficit spending! (Note: The Police Association can demand more when labor negotiations re-open and no ballot measure is required for increased in city spending.)

Placing “C” on the Ballot because we need more income to eliminate an “EMERGENCY” is wool over the County Elections Departments eyes. We have been in an “emergency” state for the last 5 (or more) years! Why the “emergency” now? Why wasn’t it declared before the huge reductions of all city services? That is a mystery to me.

I think our citizens should have been asked to send written ideas on possible solutions to reduce debt and used to develop and implement a strategy to solve our problems. That, however would require more than a 3 minute input at meetings and it might be considered as interference.

November 5th is my 79th Birthday. I have been a resident since I was 9 ½ years of age. I hope David mentioned earlier will prevail. I thank you for reading this to the end. I have tried to minimize insinuation, within this article, it is opinion, and everything written is based on my participation and observations of City Council actions for many months.

I will appreciate your Gift at the Ballot Box when you Vote “NO on “C”. Again, I thank all of you for reading this to the end.

Fred Hoskins, Antioch

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Letter writer opposes American intervention in Syria

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013


In April of 2011, there were serious negative implications towards citizens of Syria who challenged and protested against the authoritarian like government they lived in. Protesters were killed for their activism by troops, which caused many Syrian citizens to rebel and fight for their basic social rights. Ultimately, the controversy resulted in a civil war between these two parties who feuded over a style of government. Recently, there have been claims that Syrian officials have been using chemical weapons against their own citizens. The Obama administration felt that these acts by al-Assad were inhumane and that the United States needed to set a degree of limitation in the current civil war in the Middle East. Al-Assad’s regime has tested the supposed consequences of the Obama administration and will not back down to United States authority. Now, the United States is faced in a dilemma on whether a war on Syria should be declared.

According to the article titled “Syria Death Toll: More than 110,000 Dead In Conflict” by the Huffington Post in September 2013, “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the toll since the beginning of the 29-month uprising now stands at 110,371 people, with at least 40,146 civilians killed including nearly 4,000 women and more than 5,800 children.” The United States is trying to promote global peace and enforce their power as world police, but wouldn’t a war just add more violence to both Syrian citizens and American troops? According to October 2013 statistic on, there have been 32,021 American soldiers that have been wounded from the Iraq War. The United States needs to learn from its mistakes.

The national interests of the United States are to not invade Syria. Avoiding intervention will help save the lives of Syrians, as well as American troops. While the United States has made a red line that should not be crossed, it is not worth the unfortunate effects of war. Policy makers and government officials of the United States need to make nonintervention in Syria as a way to promote global peace, not to start another war.

Karan Arora


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Antioch School Board President writes regarding CPUC fine of PG&E

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Dear Editor,

As a member of the Antioch Unified School District Board of Education, I recognize that our primary goal as a board is to ensure the safety of all Antioch students. Our capacity to do that relies heavily on the partnerships within and outside the school system. PG&E has continuously provided support to our school by safely operating the Gateway Generating Station, rebuilding the Antioch City Park after a senseless act of arson, and supporting the development of the Antioch Community Center so that we can provide educational opportunities for our city’s youth through specialty programs focusing on the environment and sustainability.

Because of our successful partnership, the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion deeply saddened our board and the entire Antioch community. We were concerned about what this type of explosion may signal about the safety of our local infrastructure. It also left many parents wondering if an outdated pipeline existed near or around their child’s school.

Since then, I am happy to see the significant progress PG&E has made in rebuilding the trust of our parents and community members. After the disaster, PG&E has made critical leadership changes, paid over $70 million in restitution to victims, and, most important, has invested over $2.2 billion in pipeline and infrastructure safety upgrades.

Now that three years have passed since the tragedy, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) staff has recommended a fine so severe it ranks as one of the largest penalties on record, estimated at more than $4 billion including the $2.2 billion PG&E had previously made in pipeline safety upgrades. A large portion of the additional $2.5 billion fine, $300 million, will be directed to the state’s general fund; instead of the safety and infrastructure upgrades that so many of our communities desperately need.

I urge CPUC to focus its attention on safety and infrastructure upgrades and not the political needs of Sacramento. This is one opportunity where we can stand up and demonstrate to parents and families that their children’s safety matter to all of us.


Joy Motts

President, Antioch Unified School Board of Education

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Letter writer gives reasons to oppose Measure C

Friday, October 11th, 2013


Vote “NO” on Antioch’s proposed Measure “C” General Fund Sales Tax.  It’s not a dedicated Police Tax. This General Fund Tax can be used for whatever any Council majority (3) wants!  Measure “C” increases your Sales Tax to 9 cents on the $1 for the taxable items purchased.  Don’t be fooled by their misrepresentations, questionable claims on their misleading signs and mailers!

The claimed police manpower shortage situation has been greatly created and contributed to by the Antioch Police themselves!  It’s also been a result of the weak City Council majorities, City Manager, City staff, unknowing volunteer groups purposely misled, and even the news media who don’t investigate or expose their pretentious charades.  They’ve allowed this to happen, not you!

The APOA always vigorously insisted on pay and benefit increase for themselves, not more manpower when given the choice!  Once the highly paid Police got what they wanted for themselves they then cried out about the lack of manpower and pushed for the need for more taxes (e.g., - the APOA’s President Tom Fuhrman signed the Argument In Favor)!  Do you really know what they’re paid and compensated in Antioch?  Well, we do!  Police recently received 9% in wage increases and an additional 4% more effective on 9/1/13, with more guaranteed yearly increases, costly multiyear contracts, and are keeping their generous “3% at 50″ retirement package (where they can retire with 100% of their highest pay)!

Some outrageous Antioch Police and City estimated salaries’ and benefits’ costs are; City Manager $350,000; Chief $330,000; Lts. $285,000; Sgts. $240,000; Corporals $200,000; Officers $180,000.  The public gets far less, and some with no retirement pay at all. It’s disgraceful!

They’re again using scare tactics to just tax you more!  This tax increase is unnecessary!  Increasing existing taxes isn’t the solution!  More taxes benefits those favoring its passage and those receiving future increased raises, benefits, and extremely generous pensions!  You shouldn’t pay for their uncontrolled overspending and mismanagement!

Property values are continuing to increase and as adjustments are made the City will receive more tax revenue!  The State has recently raised gasoline taxes by 3.5 cents more per gallon!  We have continuing increases in costs for our foods, utilities, sewer, groceries, medical, and unemployment! Antioch’s already raised water, garbage rates, business fees, etc.  Enough already!

City officials must do more to cut costs, or get out and let others do the right things!  Stop overspending, and definitely cut back excessive salaries and benefits for those overcompensated employees.

Vote “NO” on Antioch’s Measure “C”.


Ralph A. Hernandez, Chairperson and former Antioch City Council Member

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Writer shares thoughts on Councilman Agopian

Friday, September 20th, 2013


Knowing City Councilman Gary Agopian as I do, I expected nothing less from the man than his spirited resolve to fight brain cancer with every ounce of his faith and his pledge to continue public service.

In four years serving with him on the Antioch School Board, through thick and thin, I never saw him flinch from challenge. I never saw him bitch, moan or whine, He’s a trooper and a certified positivist and if anybody can beat cancer, this warrior is the one to do so.

Knowing Mary Rocha, I again expected nothing less from this big-hearted woman than her glowing praise for Gary’s character. She, like so many of us, have grown to love Gary and to see him not as a towering 6’4” giant but as a teddy bear at heart.

You hit the bulls eye, Mary, when you characterized Gary as enormously dedicated to public service and a policy wonk who is always prepared. I found the same in him. There’s never any mistaking his unflappable commitment to homework, to the public goodwill, to speaking his mind and  to sticking to his conviction.

His charm is that beneath the passion is a gentleman’s soft streak. if Gary disagrees with you it is never personal and always respectful.

Certainly, all voters will, and should not, always agree on every policy decision but life is bigger than politics. I would daresay that all Antioch citizens of good faith are rooting for your recovery, Gary. You’re, after all, a good man, Charlie Brown. Antioch’s proud to have you.

Spit in the eye of this nemesis. Trust, a legion of prayers are with you.

Godspeed your recovery, my dear friend.

Walter Ruehlig


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