Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Writer challenges previous letter writer to provide proof for his accusations

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Editor:

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

Antioch

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Writer disagrees with positive information about Antioch shared at State of the City presentation

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Editor:

Exactly just what was passed off as the positives for the lifestyle for residents in Antioch, California? Was it the absolute takeover of Section 8 housing? Was it the decline in property values due to Section 8 housing? Was it the fact that Antioch police no longer respond to calls from concerned citizens, some in dire need of help? Was it that stolen vehicles parked in neighborhoods is no longer a priority? Was it that police radio channels being blocked so that concerned citizens would know what was going on in their neighborhoods has had such a positive effect? Or was it the line of B.S. that crime is way down in Antioch?

Someone is stuffing their pockets over this B.S. and I already know who. If you do not come forward on your own, I will be forced to blow the entire conspiracy all to he**. Names, dates, connections $ exchanged, promises of exchanges and not one soul will get a pass.

You cannot silence me as all files have been clouded and published. Want to try? Bring it as I owe you anyway. It would be my pleasure. Some on the other hand might find this most uncomfortable.

Game on. Who with nothing to hide would care to begin? I give you first shot, then all he** is unleashed.

Steven Payne

Antioch

Letters may be sent to editor@antiochherald.com or mailed to 101 H Street, Waldie Plaza, Suite 3, Antioch, CA 94509. Please provide your name, city where you live or work and phone number for verifying you are the one who sent the letter. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: Our policy is that we don’t allow the use of profanity in letters to the editor or comments on our website or Facebook page. Letters and comments on our website will be edited, and commenters must edit their own Facebook posts, or they will be removed. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

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Writers concerned with dangers of new PG&E gas regulator station in Antioch

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Dear Editor:

I submit for consideration a serious article regarding the PG&E gas regulator station located at Viera Ave. and Stewart Lane, an imposing, dangerous, and dreadful construction installed without due process or consideration to shared lot-line residents and neighbors, an upset that to this time has not been mitigated for noise, gas emissions, trespass, and damage to shared easement. Harm to property values goes without question. Our contacts with PG&E show promise in the extent they are words without deeds, and city, county and state agents have a hands-off stand, not because of the merit of our challenge, but that PG&E does as it wants. CPUC contacts appear to be formal stalling “motions”.

Understand, this East County (2B) annexation was a scheme between the City, County, and power generation on Wilbur Ave. against the vast majority of property owners. It would have been known to the powers involved that this construction and infrastructure was a necessary part of that plan, again, without due process or disclosure to residents, a serious damage to us all. Also, the payoff to annexation was to be sewer and water services, and as you may know, that money went instead

to police retirement funds. Done deed.

We think it an outrage that PG&E could oppress their neighbors with no push-back from those entitled to protect citizens of our fair City and County. We have all records, documents, and photos

in this regard. We need help.

Wayne and Shauna Eisenmann

Antioch

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Writer supporters community choice energy in Antioch

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Editor:

On 6/13 the Antioch City Council will decide whether to join the Community Choice Energy Joint Powers Authority of MCE Clean Energy. MCE offers to each customer in their service area a choice on how much (50% or 100%) of their electric service comes from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydro, thermal) versus a significantly lower percentage mix by PG&E.

If the City joins with MCE, the amount of Green House Gases (GHG) released into the environment attributed to the City will be lower, reducing the City’s contribution to climate change.  In addition, joining with MCE will significantly help the City to meet the target goal of 25% reduction of GHG by 2020 and 80% reduction of GHG by 2035, Antioch City Council Resolution 2009/57. There are other ways that the City could reduce its GHG impact but none are less invasive to rate payers or less expensive overall than joining with MCE.

It is estimated that the MCE monthly cost to each individual rate payer will be low. For discussion only, if the MCE rate should settle at 1% above current PG&E rates (expectation is that the rate will be lower than PG&E rates), the current PG&E monthly bill is $100, then the comparative MCE bill would be $101, an additional $1 is not much to pay in order to make an impact on slowing climate change.

It may seem that Antioch joining with MCE is an inconsequential action relative to the overall issue of global warming. However, I am reminded of how a single grain of sand, when joined collectively, lock together to form a beach against the waves of climate change.

So join me on 6/13, at the Antioch City Council Chambers, 200 H St., Antioch, 7 PM, to urge the Antioch City Council to pass an ordinance for the City to join with MCE.

If not for yourself, but for your children’s children along with all the other innocent life on this Earth.

Harry Thurston

Antioch

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Ruehlig wants city council to fund more Antioch library hours

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Dear Editor:

As the President of the Antioch School Board and as Antioch’s former (thirteen years) Representative to the County Library Commission and two-time chairman of that organization, I am no stranger to the needs of libraries.

Speaking, though, strictly or myself in the role of a private citizen, I am convinced that libraries are not a luxury but are an economic necessity. Great cities have great libraries. Libraries are simply a gateway to community engagement and cultural enrichment.

They are today’s veritable Meccas and crossroads, serving as a hub of traditional quiet reading, study and research while intersecting with modern technology. Call them the 21st century town square as they bring together people of all ages, interests and economic and social strata.

As people look to buy into communities with good schools they also take an interest in the available educational and cultural support system.

Libraries do, then, matter in the big picture and they matter on many levels.

Consider the tale of two cities. Deer Valley High has a great library and is fortunate to be across the street from Prewett Park and the modern library there. Our downtown library, though, suffers from wear and tear.

It is also cramped and in need of more hours of service because of the fact that, invariably, less families in the downtown have computer access than in more affluent S.E. Antioch. As  is, the downtown library is open 28 hours and Prewett Park 35. That’s, plain and simple, an inequity, particularly to our youth and seniors.

The City is now in the process of apportioning excess funds. I urge our Council at their next meeting to vote in favor of using some of the newfound money for extended library hours for the 18th Street location.

Walter Ruehlig

Antioch

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Writer, MCE manager, clarifies details on Community Choice Energy

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Dear Editor:

My name is JR Killigrew and I’m a community development manager at MCE, the CCE which the County, Danville and Oakley recently joined. I have worked with the City of Antioch on their climate action plan in my previous role. I did want to follow up and thank you for following the CCE movement in Contra Costa County. MCE is always happy to serve as a resource to media to help provide accurate information. We recently saw May 4th article about community choice and the County’s decision to join MCE. We wanted to clarify a few items in the article.

1) Feeling the heat from environmentalists, residents, and politicians, Contra Costa County supervisors took the big step Tuesday of picking a solar power plant developer that could potentially help consumers on average cut monthly bills up to 55 percent.

MCE strives to keep its rates competitive with PG&E and MCE has lowered its rates twice in the last 12 months. Since MCE launch, MCE has been less expensive 70% of the time compared to PG&E. MCE’s actual generation rate is much lower than PG&E’s but with additional CCE fees that are collected by PG&E, MCE normally is around the same cost as PG&E.

2) Other supervisors were more impressed with MCE’s seven-year track record, financial stability and $25 million in reserves and capability of generating good paying union jobs.

MCE has $50 million in reserves.

3) Some 285,000 residents residing in unincorporated Contra Costa County could see electricity rates decline in comparison to PG&E rates.  For a large solar power project generating 5 megawatts per hour, the average monthly bills could potentially decline from $105 per Megawatt Hour (MWH) to $85 per MWH.

We believe the point that was trying to be addressed was the difference between PG&E’s Feed-In-Tariff rates and MCE Feed-in Tariff rates. MCE currently offers solar developers $115/MWh which we purchase the electricity from the developer. This program is an opportunity to catalyze the local solar market place to create local jobs and ensure energy resilience. There is no correlation with our Feed-In Tariff program and our customers’ rates.

I hope this is helpful and please let us know if you have any questions.

J.R. Killigrew

Community Development Manager, MCE

San Rafael

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Letter writer: Antioch Council members who voted for employee contracts lied, should look for new jobs

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Dear Editor:

It seems some in Antioch are misinformed. I understand the budget woes of the city are considered a long-standing history of mismanagement, inappropriate side deals and cozy dealings with others which have placed the city in the financial stress it is in presently. I remember a City Council meeting in November where the sitting city council approved a nearly $2 million per-year budget increase (total of $9.2 million over the complete contract term). I further remember in January with those recently elected to the council abstaining, the increases were voted into place. There was pleading to please reconsider this increase and what it will do to the city but the measure still moved forward as the contracts were already negotiated.

At the November meeting, then Mayor Wade Harper and others praised the city workers for their patience. At the January meeting, the same information was provided by Lori Ororchock and Tony Tiscareno singing city workers praises. They acted like limited raises and the furlough day was such a burden for these individuals to suffer through. I am not sure how many of you have seen a recent raise, but in the real world raises are limited and based on performance.

Let’s see who voted for this salary increase in November: Mayor Wade Harper, Mary Rocha, Lori Ororchock, Tony Tiscareno and Monica Wilson. Isn’t it funny, the very people who were telling Antioch residents how much they loved and cared for this city and want it to succeed were behind the scenes selling the city into bankruptcy?

I believe the January vote with the newly elected city council members abstaining was perfunctory at best. The contracts were already negotiated and the deals/agreements made. If you would like to check out the archived news article on this (an interesting read) it can be found at: http://antiochherald.com/2017/01/p26117/

The new leadership elected to the City Council was a vote for change. I hope the incumbents recognize this fact. However, change is difficult when the former Council sells the city in bankruptcy before newly elected council members can take office. All of these council members should be looking for a new job in the future, because now your words and actions do not align. You lied to the people of Antioch and hopefully Antioch residents will show you how they feel at the ballot box.

I can only hope the newly elected leadership will roll up their sleeves and actually get the work done because it is evident; those who were in office (including Lori Ororchock, Tony Tiscareno and Monica Wilson) have no intention of fixing this city or making it easy on those who want to fix the city. I am wondering why these individuals remain in office.

Louis Renner

Antioch

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Payton Perspective: Facing does not mean filing for or in bankruptcy, but Antioch Council needs to take action to avoid it

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Chart from city staff report presented to the Antioch City Council on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

I was informed this week that there is some confusion in the community about the City of Antioch’s finances due to the headline for an article published on the Antioch Herald website, last week.

The headline read “City Council learns Antioch again facing bankruptcy” which is accurate, based on the staff report at the Council meeting on Tuesday, April 11,2017. The chart included with the article shows that in the 2021-22 fiscal year, without the city’s half-cent sales tax Measure C being re-approved by the voters, the city’s General Fund balance will cross the line from zero dollars. Even if Measure C is renewed that financial event occurs two years later.

I have since updated the headline to reflect that bankruptcy will occur “within five years.” But, the original headline was accurate and we stand by it. Folks, let me be frank. First, you need to understand the meaning of words and their use in a sentence. Second, you have to read the article to understand what’s going on, not just the headline.

When a government agency or a business is facing bankruptcy, it doesn’t mean it has filed for or is in bankruptcy. It means it has to make some changes to avoid it.

That’s exactly what needs to be done at City Hall and they have five years to do it.

Two things have caused this. As the article states, “Antioch’s $52.7 million General Fund budget is projected to begin deficit spending by $2.6 million in July of next year due largely to increased police staffing, pay and benefit hikes for all city employees and increased payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System.” (PERS)

The recent approvals, by the previous council and the current council majority, of the city employ contracts with increases to pay and benefits will cost the city over $9 million over the next five years. Those contracts extend one year beyond the sunset of Measure C in 2021. That council majority does not include current Mayor Sean Wright and Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe who both opposed the new contracts, but couldn’t do anything to stop them once they were on the council.

PERS is now requiring cities to pay more towards the unfunded liabilities of the pensions of past employees. That’s because for years, PERS has been projecting an overly aggressive and unrealistic return on their investments, and now reality has hit them in the face. The result is each city and government agency in California has to contribute more money to PERS to make up for the difference in what they projected and what is needed to pay for the pensions of current and future retirees.

At the end of Tuesday night’s meeting on April 25, Mayor Sean Wright said “Antioch is in fine financial shape. For those who ask if we are filing for bankruptcy the answer is no.  We have $25 million in reserves with no debt.”

His second sentence is correct, as I’ve pointed out, above. Wright’s first sentence is also correct – today. But, he’s aware and we all are, now with the staff report, that just because the city has $25 million in reserves, today doesn’t mean it will be in fine financial shape, just a few years from now. Wright is also aware that action must be taken to keep the city in “fine financial shape.”

As the city staff report on April 11, and above and below charts show, that even if we vote to renew Measure C, the city’s half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2013, the city’s General Fund balance will be zero dollars in less than seven years.

City of Antioch General Fund Projection Chart from city staff report to council on 4/11/17.

If the Council doesn’t do three things over the next few years, Antioch will run out of those reserves and be upside down financially, which means bankruptcy.

First, the council needs to reopen and renegotiate the employee contracts. The City of Richmond just approved new contracts for their police and firefighters without a pay raise. (That city is facing the same financial challenges as Antioch, also because of PERS and even with a new tax increase. See related article, here.) Antioch should have done the same, at least until they had hired the 22 additional officers we were promised “immediately” in 2013 if we passed Measure C. Plus, all the other city employees enjoyed 13% in pay raises just a few years ago when the council ended Furlough Fridays. The council majority must have forgotten about that.

Message to the council majority: we didn’t give you two tax increases, including Measure O, to give pay raises to city staff. That was nowhere in the ballot language of either measure.

Second, the city needs to fulfill its promise and hire the 11 additional sworn police officers. So far, they’ve given us a net 11 additional officers out of the 22. They need to start budgeting for 111, not 102 like they’ve been doing. There were 89 sworn officers on the force when that promise was made.

That will result in crime being reduced which will help Antioch be able to attract business, as well as an increase in property values, which gives the city more tax revenue, without raising taxes.

Third, the city needs to more aggressively pursue new businesses to locate in Antioch. Now that the eBART extension and Hillcrest station will be opening next year, that area should be prime for attracting new businesses.

That will result in more sales and property tax revenue to the city, and possibly without having to either renew Measure C or increase other taxes – and to be frugal and responsible, the council needs to plan for and base their budgets on the expectation that it won’t be renewed.

The time to develop a plan to implement these three actions is now. I trust and hope that with the new leadership on the council and inside City Hall with a new city manager, it can and will be done.

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