Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Watchdog: Concerns about Antioch School Board and Dr. Gill

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

You’ve probably been hearing about the Antioch School Districts search for  a new school superintendent. Dr. Donald Gill, whose contract ran through June 30, 2017, announced in September that he would be leaving at the end of June 2016.  Don’t know the details of  his contract with the district but the board voted 4-0 to put him on paid leave until the end of June. So, now he can spend more time with his family in San Diego.  How generous.

What I didn’t know and perhaps you didn’t either is that his family lives in San Diego and he has been commuting there every weekend the whole seven years the district employed him. Unbelievable.  What was the board thinking?  Couldn’t they hire someone from this county or at least a nearby one like Alameda?  The fact that he didn’t relocate here shows that his heart was elsewhere.

The school board also, now minus Barbara Cowan who also resigned in September, appointed Associate Superintendent for Educational Services Stephanie Anello as interim Superintendent during their search for a new superintendent.

The board did, however, decide to appoint Fernando Navarro, one of eleven candidates,  to the school board  as of December 9th .   He will serve the rest of Barbara Cowan’s term which ends December 2016.

I like Mr. Navarro’s  statement in regard to wanting the district to get back to basics, with additional emphasis on science and history and stop using students as “social engineering guinea pigs”.

Well said Mr. Navarro.  I’ll be keeping my eye on you.  Perhaps you can also influence the school board when it comes to selecting a new superintendent.  They’ve made a number of mistakes to date to the detriment of student scores.

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Letter writer: Eagle Scout Court of Honor in Antioch a nice respite from bad news

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Dear Editor:

In a season of terrorism, foreign and domestic, and of relentlessly bickering national politics, and other assorted bad news, attending an Eagle Scout Court of Honor November 7th, was just what the good doctor ordered. It was pure balm applied on the wounds of cynicism to applaud four young men dedicated to the pursuit of the Scouts’ charter virtues; trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

At the event held at Antioch’s Church of the Rock Travis Bartlett, Aaron Butler, Nicholas Gutierrez and Kendall Rowley accomplished what only 4% of all Scouts do; attain the highest rank of Eagle.

The four joined the ranks of two million others over the 105 year history of Scouting who have become Eagle. That distinguished group includes a large number of past Presidents, titans of commerce, military leaders, artists, sports legends and community leaders of all stripes. It includes the likes of Neil Armstrong, Hank Aaron, Steven Spielberg and 39 of the 312 astronauts the country has boasted since 1957. As a note, consider that 207 of the 312 pilots and scientists in the astronaut program have been in Scouting at some level.

Our four local young men earned their rank with requisite sweat and perseverance. As required, they donated hundreds of hours to community service; exercised progressively higher leadership roles; completed a major Eagle Scout service project that involved raising funds and organizing volunteers; spent scores of overnights on camping trips learning the use of a compass and navigating by the stars, as well as acquiring other survival skills, including how to treat things like concussions, fever, stomach cramps, and wounds. Furthermore, they met with parent advisers and earned a minimum of 21 merit badges from a field of over 100 in topics as diverse as astronomy, cooking, photography, changing a flat tire. personal finance, fitness and oceanography.

The young men stand on the shoulders of 83 years of Troop 153 history here in Antioch. The Troop was chartered in 1932 and, to their credit, the Methodist Church has supported the troop all these years. The first Eagle rank was earned in 1962 and now numbers 59 from the thousand plus young men who have passed through the Troop.

One of these young men, I am proud to say, was my son Joshua who earned Eagle in 2007. His maturing into a young man of confidence convinced me that the Scouts are the best thing since sliced bread; the organization is like a character catch-all; it covers such a myriad of practical, moral and leadership skills.

As a practical bonus and godsend to any parent, the camping trips help constructively channel all that pent-up teenage energy while building lifelong friendships in the process. When my son went on to high school and the close to 3,000 Deer Valley student campus, I didn’t fear he’d get lonely in the maddening herd, or corralled into the wrong crowd. He had, after all, an affinity group of friends that had his back as he climbed mountains, repelled caves, built snow caves and shot the rapids in their company.

Thanks to the Church of the Rock for all these years of unfailing support and to Scout Master Dave Johnson and all other parent mentors who give tirelessly in mentoring our youth. Just when you feel forlon on human nature, along comes an inspired group like the Scouts who champion the best in human nature and have a proven, time-tested program to back up their good intentions.

Thank you Messrs, Bartlett, Butler, Gutierrez, and Rowley for making my day at the Court of Honor by sharing your stories. Your family, friends and acquaintances are fortunate to have you in their midst as you make the world a better place,

There is a Scout saying that typifies the exuberance of the organization. My wish is it stays with you all your days.

It’s a good day for Scouting.”

Walter Ruehlig


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Watchdog: Questions about City of Antioch’s mailer touting Measure C funding of police gains

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

This week I received an unexpected mailer from City Manager Steve Duran and Police Chief Allan Cantando, printed on expensive stock. It was entitled City of Antioch 2014-2015 Measure C Status Report.

The 2013 Measure C ballot measure clearly stated that Measure C revenues would go into the General Fund and could be used to fund all essential city services including increased police staffing. Revenues from Measure O, also passed by voters in November 2014 , were also deposited into the General Fund, available for any lawful purpose.

Measure C Mailer 2The Measure C Status Report lists “Facts At A Glance” and “What Has Been Done With the Money So Far” along with personal messages from both the City Manger and Police Chief. Let’s look at some of the statements:

“Collection of Measure C funds started on April 1, 2014” and “Sunsets in 2021.”

The funds are “Expected to generate $5.7 million in General Fund revenue annually” but “Collections have exceeded expectations in fiscal year 2014/15,” with the City receiving “$1.093M more than budgeted.”

The “Facts At A Glance” states 100% of the money “has been allocated by the City Council to Police and Code Enforcement.”

Back in June 2013, the police department had 87 full-time sworn officers, although they were authorized to hire 102. Mayor Wade Harper, who assumed the role of Mayor on December 6, 2012, promised voters to increase the force by 22 sworn officers.

Measure C Mailer 1That’s why I have difficulty comprehending why, with 102 authorized sworn positions, we still only have 88 positions filled with two per diem Command Staff, although several Police Academy recruits are expected to join the department soon. That’s only three more sworn officers than the City had in 1998.

According to the Police Chief, since November 2011, 28 sworn police officers have been hired but 12 officers retired, six resigned, and four were terminated, leaving a gain of only six officers.

Measure C funds have also been used to purchase equipment for Police and Code Enforcement. The city recently used General Fund reserves to amend the Police Department budget in order to purchase, install, program, maintain and train on the necessary hardware, software and radio equipment in order to participate in the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority (EBRCSA).

Regrettably, although each agency using the system can choose whether to install an encryption key, our city council chose to do so making current police scanners obsolete which has considerably irritated a number of residents.

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Delta Advocacy Foundation thanks all who helped with annual Roundup at Roddy Ranch

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Dear Editor,

A thank you to all for helping The Delta Advocacy Foundation by supporting our Charity Roundup at the Roddy Ranch held October 3, 2015.

The Sponsors were:

Blackhawk – Nunn Partners, Paradise Skate and Roller Rink, The Libbey Family, Stephanie Anello, The Green Family, Heritage Bank/Becky Manning, Scott Bergerhouse, Roddy Cattle Co., Roddy Ranch Racing, John Jimno, Umpqua Bank, John Ramirez, Painting by Stefan, K2GC Inc./Ken Turnage Construction, Houghton International, Contra Costa Electric, The Agopian Family in Memory of Gary, Twin Rivers Insurance/Twin Rivers Marine Insurance, and Patricia Bristow.

The In-Kind Sponsors were:

The Dinelli and Reeves Families, Antioch Lions Club, Far West Sanitation, Roddy Ranch Golf Club, Republic Services, Tom Hartrick and Crew, Fast Signs, Rev. Roger Kuehn, Umpqua Bank, Markstein Beverages, Boy Scout Troop 450, Brentwood Future Farmers of America, Antioch Herald, Contra Costa Fair Grounds, Walaine Hankins., C + R Memorabilia, Rivertown Impressions, Kids N Cribs, Divine Voices of Deer Valley High School, Frigard Chiropractic, Gexpro, Cummins Pacific LLC, Electrorep Inc., G and S Farms, and Mark Dwelley.

Our very special thanks to Jack and Donna Roddy for their generous support and to you, the people who attended this year’s Charity Roundup and braved the hurricane winds. Because of your generous support, The Delta Advocacy Foundation will continue to support local charitable, educational and cultural causes in Eastern Contra Costa County.

Nancy J. Green


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Watchdog: Antioch citizens, circulating card room initiative, are front group for Pacheco casino

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

Did you see the Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition filed by Antioch residents Lamar Thorpe, LaTanya Harmon and Patrice L. Guillory of Antioch, published on October 24th and entitled “Antioch Coalition Against the Expansion of Gambling?”

Currently, the City only allows two card rooms to exist within the City at one time and requires persons who wish to operate a card room to obtain a license, based on an application, which the City Council may approve or reject. Only one card room, The 19th Hole, is currently operating in Antioch.

The initiative, which seeks to limit card rooms within the city, allowing only those card rooms that existed on September 1, 2015 to operate, would mandate that Council deny a license application if it finds the applicant has committed a felony, lacks good moral character, has submitted false information in support of the application, or the card room would be incompatible with surrounding land uses.

It would also change the regulations for licensed card rooms, including limiting the number of player-dealer games to half the card room’s tables, limit the number of players at a table to ten (except for poker tournaments) and require Antioch voter approval be obtained for any card room expansion or new card room (licenses granted to established businesses only) and prohibit card rooms from being located within 1,000 feet of another card room or of any school, hospital, medical clinic, alcohol or drug recovery center, mental/social care facility, park, library or place of worship.

Don’t be fooled by this initiative, which the aforementioned committee members are asking to be put on the ballot. It’s a back door ploy. The sponsor of the committee is the California Grand Casino in Pacheco, seeking to limit competition, and the committee treasurer is David Fried from Tiberon.

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Writer supports Supervisors’ vote for renewable energy study

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Last Tuesday, (October 13) when the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pursue a study on Community Choice Energy (CCE), I was proud to state that my city – San Pablo — has already chosen to allow our residents and businesses to receive 50% or more renewable clean energy over dirty energy. It’s rewarding to know that I am lowering greenhouse gas emissions and also by me paying my utility bill it contributes to building the 10.5 MW Solar farm located in Richmond which is on a brownfield site and will be built by local union workers. It provides more local green jobs as well as clean air and health.

I hope the folks in Conta Costa will tell their leaders to support CCE so our supervisors can proceed without delay.

Lynette Robinson

San Pablo

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Watchdog: Glazer should have better vetted Harper before hiring for Senate district staff

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) recently announced new staff members: Antioch Mayor Wade Harper, who’s up for a vote in November, 2016, Lafayette School District Board Member Teresa Gerringer, Pittsburg City Councilman Ben Johnson, and Elizabeth Patten of Oakland a former intern in Glazer’s 2015 Senate campaign. She will act as Constituent Services Coordinator.

I voted for Steve Glazer because I admired his public call for an end to BART strikes, which caused havoc to commuters and was critical of the system’s unions and management. I also give him kudos for having a number of Republicans on his staff. I criticize him now only because I think he should have done a better vetting job before putting Mayor Harper on his staff.

Perhaps Glazer is unaware that Antioch residents tried to recall the controversial mayor who campaigned on zero tolerance for crime and hiring 22 more police officers, which along with the 103 previously authorized by Council would have brought the force to a total of 125. However, despite passage of Measure C, a half cent sales tax which he said the city would dedicate to acquiring more police, as well as code enforcement personnel, the police force today, according to City Manager Duran’s monthly report on October 1, consists of 87 full-time sworn employees, four of which are in various stages of the field training program, five whom have medical conditions preventing them from full duty, and several police trainees currently attending the 78th Police Academy.

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Writer asks why wait until 2030 to implement renewable energy plan

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Dear Editor:

CCA. Before long, everyone will know what these letters mean — just like we do PG&E. Community CHOICE Aggregation or CCE, Community CHOICE Energy. Lousy name, but a very good thing. The emphasis is on the word CHOICE. It’s the choice that residents, businesses, and schools in California have of 50% or more renewable energy instead of PG&E’s 28%. In case you’re keeping track of the numbers, that’s the amount of renewable energy the new California law mandates . . . by 2030. But, why wait?

Two Bay Area counties already have a CCA: Marin and Sonoma. Also a few cities: Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo and Benicia. CCA is available without putting solar on the roof, or buying anything. CCA provides solar and wind energy through the cables that we already have. In Sonoma county, most of the renewable energy is geothermal -– from the geysers. The renewable energy from a CCA does not include nuclear nor fossil fuels like natural gas. Certainly not coal. And you can always choose PG&E instead.

This past week, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors unanimously declared their interest in CCA. Nearly every county’s joining the trend: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Yolo, Mendocino, Humboldt, Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, Los Angeles and San Diego.

CCA’s mean thousands of green jobs and an environmentally sustainable revenue stream for the economy. Lousy name, but a very good thing.

Carol Weed

Walnut Creek

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