Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The Way I See It – Black leaders, Democrats wage political and class wars

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The Way I See It Lou logo 300x144 The Way I See It   Black leaders, Democrats wage political and class warsBy Lou Davis

Yes, you read right. Now we’ve reached a new low in politics, and we the people are suffering the consequences. If former Democrat President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could witness the undoing of their strides forward for black Americans they would be truly shocked.

That’s right, for the most part, these class and race wars are infecting both black and white politicians, mostly at the federal level. The resulting sad truth is that it’s crippling government and hurting its citizens.

People who have most to lose in this new kind of race and class separatism are black leaders and politicians, who are being castigated by members of their own race, simply because they belong to a different political party, and this is a new and unforgivable low. In the process, they are dragging ultra liberal white politicians along with them.

The way I see it, Democrats are mostly to blame; both black and white, and this is still another reason why all Americans are being unfairly victimized. Here is just one recent example:

During a recent statement by the official Democratic Congressional Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, he said South Carolina’s U.S. Senator Tim Scott, a Republican, does not “vote his color.” What’s that supposed to mean? Both men are black.

This is only one among many instances when black Democratic legislators have harshly criticized black legislators, who are members of the Republican party.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus do not welcome black legislators who are Republican. Big government (Democratic) advocates, such as Senate Leader Harry Reid, and Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi almost always cast their votes, in line with conditions approved by the Black Caucus.

With class wars such as these continuing, how can the average citizen expect to see laws passed that benefit all Americans, regardless of color.

Our history will show that it was President John F. Kennedy who did most of the work, putting the Civil Rights laws together, which were later signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. These laws, coupled with tireless fights, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., brought us to the point where we are today.

It is truly highly disrespectful of these great men, that today’s selfish lawmakers, joined by organizations like the modern day NAACP are taking so many steps to reverse positive advancements we’ve made in this country.

These class and race warfares are tearing down the American dream. It’s past time that our so-called “leaders” would recognize they’d be best off, by following those who want to reinstall the moral and productive activities which placed this country into First Place in the world.

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Antioch to celebrate July 4th at County Fairgrounds, this year

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Editor:

There’s mixed news on Antioch’s Fourth of July. The downsides, for many, are the changes. The Parade route has been altered from the traditional E Street kickoff to a now L Street start. The fireworks have been moved from the riverfront to the County Fairgrounds.

I count myself as one who will miss the ambiance of floats and marchers passing the historic Rivertown storefronts and water view. I, too, will miss the excitement of aerial displays over the San Joaquin. It was vintage small-town Americana at its’ best.

The twin culprits forcing the change are two in number; safety and costs.

Despite all the fencing in the world, the crowds simply get unto the railroad tracks. Added to our police manpower shortfalls that spells nightmare. Also, after a two year lapse with the City stopping funding of the event, the strain of raising $65,000, much of which goes for police overtime, just got to be too much.

Let’s dwell, though, on positives. There is plenty to rejoice.

The core of the event is still alive and well. Private security will now man the festivities, aided by some Sheriff Department presence. Security will be less problematic in the more controlled Fairgrounds at Tenth and L. Admission remains free and, much to our delight, parking is ample. Free street lots will be announced and the Fairground lot is available at $5 a car.

The Parade starts at 11 a.m. at 2nd and L and proceeds to the Fairgrounds. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. This year the aerial show will actually be overhead , so it promises to be spectacular.

The Fairgrounds is a venue that affords great variety of activity. We will have substantial picnic grounds, a classic car show, more food booths than ever, beer booths run by community organizations, circus performers, face painting, pony and kids carnival rides, plus educational exhibits including a library area, fire truck, canine unit demonstration, remote controlled model airplanes and model railroad.

There will also be non-stop music in the band shell featuring such treats as Rick Stevens, the former lead singer of famed Power of Tower, and the acclaimed Vocal-ease group.

There’s definitely something for everyone in this family event.

If you wish to join the car show or to march in the Parade print out an application at www.celebrateantioch.org or contact Betty Smith or me.

See you, family and friends on the Fourth.

Walter Ruehlig, Board Member

Celebrate Antioch Foundation

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Taxpayers Association: Vote no on Measure E – missing a critical piece

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Op-Ed

Bonds are an expensive form of debt and, like a home mortgage, are repaid with interest over time. Since 2002, Contra Costa Community College District voters have approved construction bonds totaling $406.5 million that, with interest, will cost taxpayers over one billion dollars. 

Now, with Measure E, the District is asking voters to approve a $450M bond that would update school facilities and add much needed infrastructure.

There’s just one huge hiccup. Measure E is missing language that secures equal opportunity for your friends, neighbors and family members in construction. The district had the opportunity to add this language back in February, but chose not to seize it sending a strong message to 83.5% of contractors in the community they need not apply here for jobs.

83.5% is the number of California construction workers who were NOT affiliated with a union in 2013.

So your friends, your neighbors and young, aspiring construction professionals don’t get a fair shot at local work under Measure E – at their livelihood, yet have to pay for it on their property tax bill. 

For years, Contra Costa Community College District operated with a construction bidding policy that ensured a fair playing field regardless of labor affiliation and delivered quality workmanship our community could count on.

Unfortunately, that ended in 2011 when a Project Labor Agreement policy that favors construction unions was adopted, discouraging 83.5% of local workers in the community from bidding on District jobs unless they signed on to the onerous union work rules required by the agreement.

On June 3, vote NO on Measure E for the Contra Costa Community College District. Give our deserving construction community a fair shot at local work.

Alex Aliferis

Executive Director

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

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Colangelo for Congress in 9th District

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

In the Republican Primary race for the 9th Congressional District, which includes about 70% of Antioch, there’s a clear choice.

Steve Colangelo, a long-time businessman in San Joaquin County is the only candidate who appears to be running a serious campaign to unseat incumbent Jerry McNerney.

His opponents include the former County Clerk of Stanislaus County, which isn’t in the district and who whose main claim to fame is that she’s received death threats for running.

The other is retired U.S. Marshall Tony Amador who is currently Chairman of the Republican Party of San Joaquin County.

Instead of fulfilling his role of recruiting and supporting good candidates, he’s running as one. Amador couldn’t even get the support of a majority of the members of his own Central Committee, which says a lot.

The top two candidates move on to the General Election in November. Colangelo should be one of them.

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Watchdog: Viewpoints on June ballot measures

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Viewpoints on June ballot measuresBy Barbara Zivica

June is a busy month for voters. The Contra Costa County official ballot asks voters to decide on various candidates and two ballot measures. One is the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act which deserves a yes vote. The second is a ballot measure in regard to public records, open meeting and state reimbursements to local agencies. Vote no on this one as it just frees the state from having to reimburse cities and counties for complying with a state mandate and potentially will cost local governments tens of millions of dollars annually.

Two other local agencies, the Contra Costa Community College District and the Delta Diablo Sanitation District, are seeking more money from district residents. The difference is you get to approve or disapprove CCCCD’s June 3rd Measure E bond measure which requires 55% vote approval but you don’t get to vote on Delta Diablo Sewer proposed service charge increase although the district is accepting written protests and will hold a Public Hearing on the $17.86 service charge increase on June 11th at 5:30.

A little background on both:

CONTRA COSTA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT’S MEASURE E: For the past twelve years the district has gone to voters time and time ago for more money and voters have approved bonds totaling $406.5 million that, according to the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association will cost taxpayers over one billion dollars. Now the district wants voters to approve another $450M in new bond debt.

In November 2012 the CCCCD asked voters to approve a bond measure to “maintain high quality education, support course offerings and instruction programs, including healthcare, technology and public safety, increase access to support services and prepare students for university transfer.” However, two months prior to seeking voter approval Los Medanos College put out a legal notice inviting pre-qualified contractors to bid on a $10 to $15 million student service remodel, project subject to a Project Stability Agreement (PSA) between the college district and the CCC Building and Construction Trades Council. Such agreements are discriminatory because they exclude non union workers and can raise the cost of a project by 12 to 18%.

This June’s Measure E states that bond proceeds will generally be used to upgrade school sites, school facilities and support facilities but doesn’t guarantee that all of the projects listed in the Bond Project list will be funded or completed. The measure also states that all projects will fall under district construction policies – Project Stability Agreements (PSA) limiting completion and increasing project costs. Vote NO on Measure E.

DELTA DIABLO SANITATION DISTRICT PROPOSED $17.86 SEWER SERVICE CHARGE INCREASE: The current sewer service charge is $273.10 annually per single family resident. An additional $17.86 per year would bring the total amount to $290.96 for tax year 2014. (2015 to be discussed at the public hearing.) Frankly, I’ve become opposed to what’s becoming increasing large annual increases on all special taxes and assessments on my property tax bill.

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Watchdog: Antioch residents hoodwinked on use of Measure C funds

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Antioch residents hoodwinked on use of Measure C fundsBy Barbara Zivica

Residents still don’t seem to comprehend that monies derived from the passage of Measure C, the half cent sales tax, are dedicated to the City of Antioch’s General Fund and can be used for any legal purpose.

Apparently, residents didn’t do their homework and were hoodwinked by the flood of mailers stating that passage of the ballot measure would enable the city to hire 22 more police officers. Now residents are asking “Where are they?”

The City Finance Director recently gave the council a budget presentation in which she hedged on the number of officers that might be hired with Measure C funds. The problem is projected revenues will be inadequate to meet projected expenditures like the hiring of more police officers.

The real problem folks is overly generous labor agreements. In fact there’s about $500,000 in pay raises/benefits for the current 82 sworn officers coming up in July that the City is going to use Measure C money to pay for rather than General Fund money. Fooled again.

Don’t be surprised if council members soon start trying to gather support for another tax measure, government’s easy solution to address overspending which results in budget deficits.

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Dozier-Libbey parents write about concerns, support for independent charter conversion

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

This February 23, teachers (88% of the teaching staff) from Dozier-Libbey Medical High School submitted a petition to the Antioch Unified School District to convert that school from one under AUSD control to an independent charter school. Since that time, AUSD administrative personnel have been working to prevent this change. They have frequently employed misleading statements in order to bolster their position. They have recruited school district personnel to speak against the teachers, and for the alternative “dependent charter” they created in order to keep Dozier-Libbey under their control. We, the undersigned, all parents of current Dozier-Libbey students, are writing to express our support for the dedicated staff at Dozier-Libbey in their efforts to convert the school to an independent charter.

As parents, we are concerned with the quality of the education that our children receive. This is our sole concern, not the politics of the issue. We want our children to have a rigorous educational experience, one that will prepare them in such a way that they will have a wide range of options available to them upon graduation from high school.

Dozier-Libbey was created as a college preparatory school with a medical theme focus. Students apply to Dozier-Libbey because they have a desire to learn and want to succeed at a high level. They make the decision to tackle the rigorous and challenging curriculum that Dozier-Libbey provides. That curriculum was established by the teachers of Dozier-Libbey. Indeed, some of the courses were developed solely by the teaching staff. We support the independent charter because we want to see these innovative programs continue for the benefit of our students, and for those who, in the future, will follow them.

As parents, we are concerned that the school that our children attend has all of the resources needed in order for them to have the greatest possible chance of success. As Mr. Jeff Weber stated in a recent newspaper article, Dozier-Libbey has not been treated equitably with respect to the resources that have been provided to like-size schools within the AUSD system. Dozier-Libbey is the only high school in the AUSD system that must make do with a part-time librarian. Under the independent charter proposed by the teachers, they would be able to employ a full-time librarian. The school only has one person dedicated to school safety, and only one administrator assigned. When the administrator is called away to District business, which happens frequently, teachers must use time that should be devoted to teaching in order to cover her responsibilities. Dozier-Libbey also has the highest student-to-clerical ratio in the district and only a part-time employee handling the career center. It is, quite frankly, astonishing that the teachers at Dozier-Libbey have been able to accomplish all they have in spite of these, and other, inequities. We support the independent charter because it will allow for direct funding of the school that will provide needed resources for student success.

As parents, we want to be involved in the education of our children. Under the independent charter, Dozier-Libbey would be headed by a board of directors which will be made up of parents of Dozier-Libbey students as well as other community members who have experience in areas such as education, fund-raising or accounting. For parents to have a direct voice in the direction that the school will take is an exciting opportunity that many of us wish to take advantage of. In contrast, while the AUSD has stated that they are the ones who will listen to parental input they immediately discredited themselves by appointing a new principal for their dependent charter without a single community meeting. We support the independent charter because it will allow for meaningful parental involvement in the school, leaving the Dozier-Libbey teachers free to do what they do best – educating our students for college and careers by living the Dozier-Libbey vision: “Every student valued, every student challenged, every student prepared to succeed in a changing world”.

In summary, there are many parents who support the teachers converting Dozier-Libbey to an independent charter school because it will so clearly benefit the students. At the end of the day, that is what matters, not politics, but the quality of education that our children will be able to receive.

Lara Lindeman, Jeanne Stuart-Chilcote, Angela L. , Lisa Backlund, Julie C., Robin M., Michelle Adams, Silvia Huerta, Duane & April Padilla, Lori Bonwell , Carol Monaco, Anna Morris, Janet McDaid, Jean Ruelas, Christine Loomis, Arthur & Ifeoma Metu

 

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Letter writer offers thoughts on Dozier-Libbey charter debate

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Dear Editor,

I have been following the Dozier-Libbey story in the Antioch Herald and have read every article and all of the comments that have populated under each one. I have noticed that about 99% of the comments strongly support the teachers and their Independent Charter Petition.

FACT: 1. The Independent Charter Petition came first.

FACT: 2. The Independent Charter Petition was developed by teachers, not administrators and is almost twice as long as the district counter-proposal. The Independent Charter Petition provides many more details and aligns with the existing programs since it was created by the people who made Dozier-Libbey what it is today.

FACT: 3. None of the people who signed the Independent Charter Petition were coerced into signing.

FACT: 4. The Deer Valley signers of the Dependent Charter Petition from the district, who signed that they were meaningfully interested in teaching at DLMHS were promised they would NOT have to go there to teach if they signed the document. (This was related to me by a teacher who was at that meeting).

FACT:5. The Dozier-Libbey teachers have the full support of the California Charter Schools Association and their Independent Charter Petition aligns with the California Charter Schools Act.

FACT:6. Principal Nancie Castro was the top candidate, selected by a committee for her Science background, two years before the school was even built. She designed the model from the ground up and built her team. Each person was chosen from a pool of candidates because they were a good fit for the school.

FACT:7. Principal Scott Bergerhouse, the newly selected Principal for the district dependent charter, according to his bio was an English teacher and was appointed “in house” by the Superintendent and the Board, without any input from parents or community groups.

FACT:8. The whole “sports” issue has been fabricated by the AUSD since they could choose to let the Dozier-Libbey Independent Charter students continue to play sports under CIF regulations at DVHS and AHS as they do now, simply by creating a MOU (memo of understanding) between schools. By choosing not to create an MOU, they have artificially created a situation that could easily be fixed should they choose to fix it.

FACT:9. The AUSD has already given Principal Scott Bergerhouse an office at Dozier-Libbey and he was introduced to the students as their “new Principal” on a room by room tour last week, in front of the current Principal, Nancie Castro. They also posted a banner on the front of the school stating his new role.

FACT:10. The DLMHS students staged a thirty-minute walkout last week in response to the disrespect shown to Mrs. Castro by the AUSD and teachers wore black as a way of “silent protest” since they cannot talk about the charter situation with students.

FACT:11. The teachers have established a Facebook page where they welcome all comments, pro and con. As of today, most of the comments have been supportive of the teachers. The district has also created a Facebook page where several parents and students posted critical comments yet all of the comments were removed and a disclaimer now sits in their place. That is their version of transparency.

FACT:12. DLMHS Parents had established a table outside the school with a sign about signing up for the Independent Charter for next year. They were giving out forms for parents to fill out and return. They were told to remove their tables and had to go stand outside of school property on the roadside to give out their forms. Almost immediately the AUSD administration set up their own table with an expensive banner and began giving out their own forms in the location vacated by the parents. Parents were led to believe that if they did not respond by 4/7, their students would lose their spot and it would be filled by someone else on the waiting list. Due to the next hearing in superior court, that date was extended to 4/28.

It does not seem fair that parents have to stand outside school and give out their forms on the roadside when AUSD officials can do it right next to the school building. What are they afraid of? It does not seem fair that the teachers cannot talk about the charter with students provided they present both sides of the issue. Again, what are they afraid of? What happened to freedom of speech?

Andre’ Epstein

Mr. Epstein is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, a 36-year veteran teacher (23 years with AUSD) and was the AUSD Teacher of the Year 2003-2004. He most recently taught Spanish at DLMHS until retirement.

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