Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Payton Perspective: Candidates who won’t debate show arrogance toward voters

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Payton Perspective logo 300x140 Payton Perspective: Candidates who wont debate show arrogance toward votersBy Allen Payton

Candidates who won’t debate their opponents during campaigns show arrogance and disdain to the voters they’re wanting to represent.

Usually it’s the candidate who is leading in the race, and usually it’s the incumbent or officeholder running for higher office against a less well-known candidate who is challenging them.

The other word that comes to mind is chicken. Those who won’t debate are afraid of either something about them or their record being shared by their opponent that they can’t defend, or questions from the media they don’t want to have to answer. Ultimately they’re afraid of losing votes.

Two current examples are Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and more locally, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier.

Newsom, in his bid for re-election, faces former California Republican State Party Chairman Ron Nehring in the November election. The former Mayor of San Francisco refuses to face Nehring to debate the issues and his record as Lt. Governor.

DeSaulnier, running for Congress against retired Federal Immigration Judge Tue Phan, wouldn’t appear at a Walnut Creek Sunrise Rotary Club debate, scheduled for yesterday (Tuesday, October 14).

I view campaigns as the time the public gets to decide whether to hire a new office seeker, renew the contract for an incumbent running for reelection, or give a promotion to a candidate running for higher office.

The election is the interview and job performance review process. We the people, as their employers, have a right to know what all candidates believe, hear all candidates share their positions on the issues and defend their records. All candidates have that responsibility.

Those who won’t debate their opponents fail their performance review and don’t deserve to be hired, have their contract renewed or promoted.

While it may be a clever campaign tactic, it’s just wrong and disrespectful to the voters.

It’s time Newsom and DeSaulnier show some respect to their bosses – those of us whom they want to continue serving – and debate their opponents.

 

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Watchdog: Overview of Antioch City Council candidates

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Overview of Antioch City Council candidatesBy Barbara Zivica

The following eight candidates are competing to fill two open seats on the Antioch City Council. Here’s my perspective on the candidates.

Steven Bado: Research turns up little info. States his age as 40 and occupation as sales manager. He failed to attend the recent debate or respond to a press request for comment. I’ve crossed him off my list.

Karl Dietzel: Retired commercial sales rep. Have corresponded with him since Measure C hit the ballot box in 2012. An involved knowledgeable citizen. Wants the city to hire a full time economic development director and rehire community service and code enforcement officers who can perform jobs the cops have had to assume in their absence. Good candidate.

Diane Gibson Gray: Former telecommunications executive, Antioch Unified School District trustee (seated in 2008, term ends in 2016). None of the current school board members warrant my vote for a variety of reasons e.g. 2 bond measures, desire to levy a special tax for fiscal 2014-15, opposition to Dozier Libbey as a independent charter school and, after the district received nearly $9.4 million this year in supplemental funds due to more than 55% of students being low income, English learners or foster youth, board members then ratified salary and health benefit adjustments, increasing compensation for members of all three labor groups by about $3.5 million.

Jeffrey Hall Cottreil: States his occupation as campus security for AUSD. Due to the fact he, too did not show up for the debate forum or reply to a press request, I’ve crossed him off my list.

Lori Ogorchock: Realtor with a varied background in business and community service. Unable to attend the candidate forum due to a previously booked and paid for real estate conference in Texas but sent a surrogate who spoke on her behalf. Has good ideas on economic growth and responsible spending. Former Walnut Creek Reserve Police Officer who states community safety as first priority. Good candidate.

Anthony Segovia: Age 27. States he’s a financial analyst and a small business owner. I ran his name with FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and didn’t come up with a hit. Recent press article states he’s currently on probation for two charges of insurance fraud and a grand theft. Doesn’t meet my standards for holding office.

Lamar Thorpe: Supported by the Contra Costa Labor Council and the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council. Said his major accomplishment in Antioch was running Councilwoman Monica Wilson’s campaign. I found his campaign flyer stating he was born in prison, etc. a big turnoff. Now he’s denying a sexual abuse charge which occurred when he was in college. Due to lack of testimony from the victim he was only found in violation of disorderly conduct for lewd and indecent behavior, according to a Findings of Fact report. Not a good candidate.

Tony Tiscareno: former steelworker, political director for the Contra Costa Labor Council and appointed city council incumbent. When then-Councilman Wade Harper became mayor in 2012, that left his council seat vacant. The council then decided to appoint an applicant to fill the remaining two years of Harper‘s term. Nine people applied, including former Mayors Jim Davis and Don Freitas, and former Mayor Pro Tem Manny Soliz, Jr. On a 3-1 vote (Gary Agopian dissenting) the council chose Tony Tiscareno. He’s done nothing on the council to warrant my vote.

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Ruehlig responds to letter supporting Belle

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Strong words are but noise if not verified.

Responding to an October Letter to the Editor [published in the Antioch Herald] by Rev. Austin Miles, a supporter of my opponent Jeff Belle, on criticism of a decision I made as Area 5 Trustee for the CCC Board of Education, here are the facts.

Contra Costa is a Class 2 county office of education (COE) serving 171k students.  Of the 10 Class 2 COEs in California, Contra Costa has the 4th highest cost of living; yet has the lowest compensated county superintendent.  In comparison, there are district superintendents in Contra Costa and Class 3 county superintendents in California with higher salaries/benefits than our own Class 2 county superintendent.

Yes, I voted to give a modest 2% salary increase for the county superintendent, similar to the salary increase provided to all other COE employees to adjust to cost of living changes.  Where does Rev. Miles get his information of a $40k salary increase?

Contra Costa COE is financially healthy with a positive certification and a 6+% reserve.  Although 7 employees were given layoff notices in March 2014; two voluntarily transferred with their career tech programs to the local district while the creative move to offer the Supplemental Early Retirement Program (SERP) allowed the agency to retain the other five.  SERP prompted voluntary retirement of 51 top-step salaried employees, replacing them with 46 lower-step salaried employees.  This reorganization will bring 1.3 million in savings over the next 3 years.  Rev. Miles is misinformed in claiming “38 school staff had to be laid off due to lack of funds”.

Education is a non-partisan issue.  From school, college and county board trustee, to county and state superintendent, no elected position in education is party affiliated.  I dismiss Rev. Miles’ reference to a political party for its divisiveness. 

Common Core is a serious issue and deserves serious consideration.  Mr. Miles‘ use of political rhetoric that Common Core “is so important to the Communists that a 500 million bribe was given to Tennessee to push it in” is delirious.  Irrational criticism of a system in its infancy exploits the situation for personal and political gain.  Mr. Miles does not offer solutions; only chatter that adds to the many challenges of implementing a new standard.  There are many intelligent questions that need to be asked about Common Core.  Why resort to silly?

Focus on policies, not politics.  Passing Prop 30 in 2012 guaranteed funding.  Adopting the Local Control Funding Formula in 2014 simplified financing.  Implementing the Local Control Accountability Plan decentralized goal setting and defined ten priorities to measure success.  California is at a crux.  To create the best comprehensive educational program for our children, we need the collaborative effort of stakeholders. Let’s stick to just the facts.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Antioch

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Writer says Jeff Belle will fight Common Core

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA), grabbed $1.6 billion from state funds to bring Common Core education to California. This money came from funds that the governor says are not there for assistance to homeless veterans, street repair, more police officers and firefighters.

Hundreds of classic textbooks have been thrown away and replaced with Common Core printed material. Now when facing a math problem, the student is told to figure out…now get this…“the most friendly answer.” How’s that again?

Common Core, pushed by Bill Ayers and Obama, has removed traditional history and literature, replacing it with, “information finding.” Their purpose is to dumb down our children. This is so important to the Communists that a $500 million bribe was given in Tennessee to push it in.

Fortunately, a California man, Jeff Belle, has hopped into the fray to put a stop to the madness and bring sanity back to the U.S. School system. He is running for the County School Board of the 5th District of Northern California, which includes, Bay Point, Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood and Discovery Bay. He is determined to see Common Core hit the floor and to restore sensible education.

Mr. Belle said that he is committed to “restoring academic pride for students and their futures.” He feels that no matter what neighborhood a student comes from, with the proper teachers, that student can succeed.

What happens in California is usually picked up throughout the nation. One man can trigger this very positive chain-reaction which is sorely needed at this point to get our schools back to the classical education it was in the beginning. It is to be noted that the school system in America was started by the church.

A combination teacher/philosopher, Mr. Belle, in a personal interview, stated firmly that “A child’s future should not be determined by their zip code.” He says the teachers must set an example with this thought: “If you can’t see it—you’ll never be it.” That is a valid challenge for all of us, to be a positive example. As for teachers, he cautions, “Caring must precede teaching.”

Jeff Belle has solid experiences to back him up. He worked in D.C. for a Republican Senator and a Congressman. After Washington, he worked as city manager, coordinating five towns in Oklahoma, then, served as a registered lobbyist in D.C. and Oklahoma for tribal governments, universities and banks.

He currently serves on the County Transportation Authority Advisory Council, County Emergency Medical Care Board and, the County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, as well as being active in his church.

Mr. Belle’s opponent, Cynthia Ruehlig, whom I love and her husband, Walter, has made some moves that has cost her this vote. For example, an outgoing school superintendent whose salary was – and pension will be – $220,000 a year, voted to give this superintendent an extra $40,000 a year boosting that pension, while at the same time, 38 school staff members had to be laid off due to lack of funds. This was not clear thinking.

Candidate Jeff Belle thinks much differently. We need him. California needs him. The nation, who will follow this California example, needs him.

Rev. Austin Miles

Oakley

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Writer says Antioch should require business licenses on rental properties like other East County cities

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

In June, the Antioch City Council authorized placing a measure on the November ballot to recognize the business of renting or leasing of residential property as a business subject to taxation. Landlords of single family dwellings have never paid a business license fee and apartment complex owners have not paid appropriate fees since the 1960’s in the City of Antioch.

The cities of Pittsburg, Oakley and Brentwood all require business license fees on the renting of residential property.

In 2007, the City of Antioch took severe actions to reduce costs and avoid bankruptcy, resulting in the loss or reduction of essential community services. As noted in a recent East County Times editorial, “Financial projections show a $3.4 million budget deficit in just two years that would be cut in half if voters approve a tax on rental units”.

The income from this tax will help stabilize the City’s finances. This income is sustainable, ongoing revenue, unlike the sales tax from Measure C which expires in 7 years.

We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to access the revenue generated by adding the renting of residential property to the Business License Tax ordinance. It’s only fair that these business owners pay their fair share. Our future depends on it.

For more information about Measure ‘O’, visit www.ci.antioch.ca.us or call 925-779-7011.

Carole Harrison, Antioch

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Writer supports Antioch’s Measure O

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

The voters of Antioch have an important issue to decide in this election.

Measure “O” seeks to close a loophole that has some business owners paying a business license fee while other business owners pay nothing.

The owners of residential rental units do not pay anything to the city for the right to do business here. Large budget deficits are projected for fiscal year 2016/2017, so closing this loophole will help Antioch avoid potential bankruptcy.

Before you vote, ask yourself this. “Is it fair that some businesses pay their fees and other businesses do not?”

Please vote yes on Measure “O”.

John Tiernan

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Writer supports new location for community college

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Editor:

The Contra Costa Community College District, as with every educational agency, is mandated to provide educational equity, ensuring every student equal access to tools and programs necessary to succeed in career and in life.

The current land area by Marsh Creek Road chosen by the Board to locate a new community college facility does not have the public works framework in place for disability access or public transportation.

How will the physically challenged be served?  Many students of Far East Contra Costa (known as the stepchild of the county) are minorities, English language learners or poor.  How will the socio-economically disadvantaged, dependent on the bus or train for mobility, be served?

Speaking as a private citizen and not for the CCC Board of Education for which I am the elected Trustee for Area 5 (Antioch, Bay Point, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Clyde, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Oakley and Pittsburg), I believe exploring the possibility of a land swap (for a more conveniently located and development ready area) is an exercise in good governance, responsive to the needs of the community.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Antioch

Ruehlig represents part of Antioch and other parts of East County on the Contra Costa Board of Education

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Watchdog: Voters were hoodwinked on Measure C, should oppose Measure O

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Voters were hoodwinked on Measure C, should oppose Measure OBy Barbara Zivica

Voters in Antioch will shortly be selecting two new city council members and voting as to whether or not to update the existing business license tax and to impose a residential landlord business license tax.

Note for the record that this ballot measure comes one year after Antioch voters were persuaded to approve Measure C, touted to enable the hiring of 22 new police officers and one year after the County Assessor informed the Board of Supervisors that “The increase to the local tax base for 2013-14 is over $4.87 billion. This represents a 3.45% increase in assessed value and brings the total local assessment roll to over $146 billion, just 6.92% away from the County’s record assessed value, which was set in 2008. Richmond had the only percentage loss in assessed value at 14.61%, Cities with the largest increases in assessed value from prior year include: Brentwood (8.45%), Clayton (8.24%, Oakley (7.44%), Walnut Creek (7.38%) and Antioch (7.34%).”

It’s my belief that taxpayers were hoodwinked in regard to Measure C, a 7 year half cent sales tax increase) because, shortly after an accelerated swearing in, Mayor Harper, Councilman Tiscareno and Councilwomen Rocha and Wilson, knowing the city had a $59 million unfunded pension liability, voted to amend the signed September, 2012 contract agreement with police officers and misc. employees and restore more lucrative pension formulas for lateral sworn hires. (The rush to do so was to side step California’s new voter approved law which would become effective on January 1, 2013, setting a 2.7% retirement formula at age 57 for safety employees and 2% at age 62 for miscellaneous employees.

The reason voters should reject Measure O is because it’s another attempt to pickpocket voters in order to deal with the afore mentioned lucrative under funded spiraling pension costs.

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