Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Rep. DeSaulnier to boycott Trump’s Inauguration

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Mark_DeSaulnier.jpegWashington, DC – On Friday, January 13, 2017, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11) announced that he will not attend the Inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump, one week from today.

“The peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next is a uniquely American tradition that defines our democracy. Inaugurations are a time for our Presidents to ignite hope, demonstrate humility, and espouse faithfulness to the principles enumerated in the Constitution. The President-elect has yet to demonstrate these traits, and it is with a heavy heart and deep personal conviction that I have decided not to attend the Inauguration on January 20, 2017,” said DeSaulnier.

“Having watched, listened, and waited during this transition period, I was hopeful the President-elect would turn away from the divisive and contentious behavior exhibited during the campaign and embrace a message to unify all Americans. Sadly, we have witnessed one polarizing action after another. Since being elected, he has demonstrated hostility toward our free and open press, committed to gutting health insurance for millions of hardworking families, and is filling his cabinet with nominees more closely aligned with Wall Street than Main Street.

“Earlier this week, the President-elect acknowledged, but took no meaningful steps to mitigate his many personal conflicts of interest. The plan he outlined is wholly inadequate and leaves the American public with more questions than answers. It is the duty of the President of the United States to meet the minimum legal and ethical standards outlined in the Constitution. This makes his refusal to follow the precedent set by the last four generations of presidents from both parties gravely concerning.

“As President, the nation will look to him for guidance in times of turmoil and times of plenty. In these moments, the country must have full confidence that his sole focus is on protecting America’s interest – not his own. I believe when he places his hand on the Bible and takes the sacred oath that Presidents Washington and Lincoln did before him, he will in that very moment, be in violation of that oath and the Constitution.

“As a student of American history, I cannot sit idly by and normalize a President who has displayed disregard for our past traditions and Constitution. In this critical period of transition, I am reminded of when Benjamin Franklin exited the Constitutional Convention at its completion and approached a group of citizens, one of whom asked ‘Mr. Franklin, what have you given us?’ to which he replied ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ On Inauguration Day, I will not be in attendance, but instead preparing to do all I can to keep our republic.”

DeSaulnier represents most of Contra Costa County, including portions of Antioch, in the U.S. House of Representatives. To communicate with the Congressman, contact him through his website at https://desaulnier.house.gov/contact, call his Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2095 or District office in Richmond at (510) 620-1000 or his office in Walnut Creek at (925) 933-2660.

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Burgis sworn in as new County Supervisor, announcing final term Glover becomes new Board Chair for 2017

Thursday, January 12th, 2017
Former Congressman George Miller administers the oaths of office to new Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis, left, and re-elected Supervisors Federal Glover and Candace Andersen, Tuesday, January 10, 2017 as Supervisors Karen Mitchoff and John Gioia look on. photos by Jonathan Bash

Former Congressman George Miller administers the oaths of office to new Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis, left, and re-elected Supervisors Federal Glover and Candace Andersen, Tuesday, January 10, 2017 as Supervisors Karen Mitchoff and John Gioia look on. Photos by Jonathan Bash

By Veronica Hampton

Diane Burgis became a new member of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, and re-elected Supervisor Federal Glover was voted in as Chair of the Board for this year, during the board meeting on Tuesday, January 10. During the procedures, Glover announced this will be his last term on the board.

The meeting began with the presentation of colors by veterans groups from Pittsburg and Martinez. Oakley veteran, Randy “Smitty” Smith, led the Pledge of Allegiance and county Senior Deputy Administrator Julie Enea led in the singing of the National Anthem. Re-elected District 2 Supervisor and out-going Chair for 2016, Candace Andersen opened with an inspirational thought for the day by Michelangelo.

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it,” she said.

Former Congressman George Miller administered the oaths of office to both the new and returning Supervisors, Burgis for Supervisor for District 3, which includes portions of Antioch, Andersen who was re-elected without opposition and Glover who began his fifth term as Supervisor for District 5 which includes the other portions of Antioch.

Diane Burgis in her new seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Diane Burgis in her new seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Burgis, a long time resident of the county, was welcomed to the board and paid homage to her alma mater, saying “Go Bulldogs” and then thanked her family for their support. She expressed her eagerness to start working with the board and introduced members of her staff, stating she is confident with their help and support they can “help Contra Costa meets its full potential.”

Burgis recognized her predecessor, Mary Piepho, thanking her for her encouragement, saying they share the same goals for Contra Costa County.

“In my district, I want to grow our economy while protecting our natural resources, including our precious Delta, provide quality public service, [and] protect the most vulnerable amongst us, while practicing fiscal responsibility and prudence,” Burgis stated.

In her outgoing remarks as Chair, Andersen thanked the board, staff and family for their support and hard work during her term.  She stated she is “grateful” to be re-elected and welcomes collaborating with Glover, in his new role as chair, and with Burgis, as well as the other supervisors.

“I am looking forward to working with my colleagues, both new and old as we continue to serve Contra Costa County,” she said.

Anderson hopes that the county’s past accomplishments can continue to produce new accomplishments for 2017. Focus will continue on the research and resources for mental health for county inmates.

“Next Saturday, Board and County Members will travel to Sacramento to attend the Stepping Up Summit, to look at Best Practices on this issue,” Andersen shared. “With the reopening of Pittsburg Fire Station 87, focus will continue on reopening station 16 in Lafayette. The County will continue to further their alliance with AMR and continue to work on faster medical emergency response times.”

Anderson was presented a gift of appreciation by Glover and the board and he thanked her for “making a solid voice for Contra Costa and for handling difficult decisions with style and grace.”

County Clerk Joe Canciamilla swore Glover as the new Board Chair and District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff as the new Vice Chair of the Board for 2017.

The new Board of Supervisors for 2017 with Federal Glover as Chair. photo by Jonathan Bash

The new Board of Supervisors for 2017 with Federal Glover as Chair.

In his remarks, Glover announced “that this will be his last term, but it will be his best term.” He said he will continue to strive to make “one Contra Costa County,” and to maintain the county’s AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s. Focus will continue on developing employment opportunities.

He will continue to strive to make “one Contra Costa County,” and to maintain the county’s AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s. Focus will continue on developing employment opportunities.

Four years ago, Glover asked the Board to look into the revitalization of the northern waterfront in the county as a means of employment opportunities.  He will continue to pursue that but also as a means of goods movement.

“Revitalizing the waterfront will not only continue to bring us opportunity for job development but also open up an infrastructure that hasn’t been used in our waterway that will go good for goods movement that will allow us to continue roadwork that is so important,” he stated.

Glover hopes that this will eventually lead to other routes created within the state and other opportunities surrounding the Byron Airport. He then thanked the board, county and his family for their support during his term.

Glover reflected on his past health issues and thanked the county and board for their support during that time. He also thanked Miller and Canciamilla as inspirations and mentors in Glover’s political career.

Both Mitchoff and District 1 Supervisor John Gioia welcomed back their fellow board members, and Burgis, offering well wishes to each other for the New Year.  Both thanked their staff for their continued support.

Mitchoff recognized the new library opening this year in Pleasant Hill. Gioia reiterated the county’s success with the AMR alliance and faster medical response times. The Board joined together to sing Happy Birthday to Gioia and wished him well. Mitchoff stressed the importance of encouraging people to run for office.  Contra Costa County is one of the five counties, out of the 58 in the state, which have a female majority on their board.

“It is not a bad thing to put good people in office,” she stated.

During Public Comments, Marianna Moore, Director of the Ensuring Opportunity Campaign to End Poverty in Contra Costa thanked and congratulated members of the Board but also thanked Burgis for acknowledging her goal to protect the “most vulnerable amongst us.” Moore stressed the need to work together as the fear of the negative impact that will affect the county’s budgeting and programs, when the new federal administration takes over.  She stressed the need to create a sense of safety throughout the county and to continue to work as one Contra Costa County.

Debbie Toth, CEO of Rehabilitation Services of Northern California, which operates the Mt. Diablo Center for Adult Day Health Care, spoke after Moore and “echoed her sentiments” citing her major concern for the increase in senior homelessness, “that is the greatest number in poverty” and will continue to increase.

Pest Detection Specialist for Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture, Lindsay Skidmore of Lafayette, requested that when the labor contract between Local 1 and the County is reviewed, the A-2 medial plan not be removed.  Currently the new contract will not have this, leaving many without a subsidized health care plan, causing a negative impact on the income of many.

A motion was then passed to approve Glover’s nominations of Board Members to be appointed to various county committees and regional boards and commissions.

The meeting was adjourned in memory of former Danville Mayor Richard Waldo, and Richard “Brad” Nail, the former Director of Economic Development of Pittsburg.

Burgis in here new District Office in Brentwood, during a reception on Tuesday evening, January 10th. Photo by Allen Payton

Burgis in here new District Office in Brentwood, during a reception on Tuesday evening, January 10th. Photo by Allen Payton

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Community invited to new County Supervisor Diane Burgis’ reception, open house, Tuesday evening

Monday, January 9th, 2017

burgis-reception-graphic

Burgis, Glover, Andersen to take oaths of office as Supervisors, Tuesday morning

Newly elected County Supervisor Diane Burgis will take her oath of office, along with re-elected Supervisors Federal Glover and Candace Andersen, at a ceremony during the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors at 9:00 a.m. in Martinez, Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

Burgis will then hold a Community Reception and Open House later in the day.

“Thank you for electing me to represent you on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. I am incredibly honored to have this opportunity to fight for you and our local priorities,” Burgis said. “I hope you will be able to join me, my amazing staff and our neighbors in celebrating the new year at my first District 3 Community Reception and Open House this Tuesday, January 10, 2017 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“I promise to have an inclusive and accessible office so that we can strengthen our community together. The first step is getting to know each other,” she added. “See you soon.”

The oath of office ceremony will be followed by a reorganization of the Board, with the election of the new Chair, which is expected to be Glover and Vice Chair, expected to be Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. The Board will then vote on Glover’s nominations of the board members to various county committees and regional boards.

DETAILS:

Oath of Office Ceremony

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

Board Chambers, Room 107, Administration Building, 651 Pine Street, Martinez

Burgis Community Reception & Open House

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Office of Supervisor Diane Burgis, 3361 Walnut Blvd., Ste 140, Brentwood

RSVP appreciated at dist3@bos.cccounty.us.

District 3 includes most of Antioch, as well as Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Byron and Knightsen in East County, as well as Blackhawk and Camino Tassajara in the San Ramon Valley.

 

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Memorial service for Karl Dietzel to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 11

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
Karl Dietzel takes oath of office following filing his nomination papers to run for the Antioch City Council, in August, 2016.

The late Karl Dietzel taking his oath of office following filing of his nomination papers to run for the Antioch City Council, in August, 2016.

According to a Facebook post by Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2016, the memorial for Karl Dietzel, the tw0-time Antioch City Council candidate who passed away last week, will be held on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at10:00 AM., at the Delta Bay Church for Christ, 913 Sunset Drive in Antioch. A reception will follow.

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Former Antioch Council candidate, city watchdog, Karl Dietzel passes

Thursday, December 29th, 2016
Antioch resident Karl Dietzel holds a No on Measure C campaign sign at the entrance of In-Shape on Lone Tree Way, on Friday morning, October 11.

Antioch resident Karl Dietzel holds a No on Measure C campaign sign at the entrance of In-Shape on Lone Tree Way, on Friday morning, October 11, 2013. Antioch Herald file photo.

Karl Dietzel takes oath of office following filing his nomination papers to run for the Antioch City Council, in August, 2016.

Karl Dietzel takes oath of office following filing his nomination papers to run for the Antioch City Council, in August, 2016.

By Allen Payton

Two-time Antioch City Council candidate and regular council watchdog, Karl Dietzel passed away, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. It was announced by his daughter Kat on his Facebook page, Wednesday night.

A native of Germany, Dietzel ran for council, unsuccessfully, in both 2014 and 2016 and has been a regular attendee of council meetings over the years, as both a watchdog and a critic, usually of misspending public funds.

In an email from fellow council watchdogs, Mary and Nancy Fernandez on Thursday morning, they wrote, “with great sadness we pass on the sad news that Karl Dietzel passed away yesterday afternoon from a massive heart attack.  His wife said it was a blessing he knew nothing except to take a nap.”

Dietzel was also one of the two leading opponents of Measure C, the city’s half-cent sales tax for more police and Code Enforcement Officers, in 2013.

Antioch Mayor Sean Wright offered his condolences.

“My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time,” he said. “Karl’s love and concern for this city will be missed.”

Thursday afternoon, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe added his thoughts on Dietzel’s passing.

“Karl’s passing isn’t only devastating for his family but for our community as well,” he said. “I was going to name him my primary City Council alternate. Karl showed up at the last City Council meeting ready to roll up his sleeves and assist the City Council around crime, blight, ADA compliance and much more through the Sycamore Corridor Committee, while some politicians where advocating its dismantling. He was a committed family man, community advocate and spoke truth to power. He will be greatly missed.”

 

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Harper, Rocha say their goodbyes during final council meeting, Simonsen, Conley sworn in again

Monday, December 26th, 2016
Out-going Mayor Wade Harper is hugged by then-Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock as he leaves the Council dais for the final time on Thursday, December 8, 2016.

Out-going Mayor Wade Harper is hugged by then-Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock as he leaves the Council dais for the final time, as Council Members Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno applaud his service, on Thursday, December 8, 2016.

Publisher’s Note: This is the final of two articles on the December 8, 2016 Antioch City Council meeting.

By Allen Payton

During the December 8th council meeting, prior to the oaths of office for Mayor Sean Wright, Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe and re-elected Councilwoman Monica Wilson, out-going Mayor Wade Harper and Councilwoman Mary Rocha said their good-byes. In addition, City Clerk Arn Simonsen and City Treasurer Donna Conley were sworn in for another term, as they were each re-elected without opposition.

Steven Evans gave the invocation to open the evening’s ceremonies.

Harper jokingly said, “when I saw the large crowd I thought feral cats were on the agenda.”

City Clerk Arne Simonsen presents out-going Councilwoman Mary Rocha with a photo from First 5 of Contra Costa.

City Clerk Arne Simonsen presents out-going Councilwoman Mary Rocha with a photo from First 5 of Contra Costa.

Rocha was first to speak.

“You can feel the excitement in the air and also the sadness,” she said. “For my life it’s been 44 years. So you’re going to see me around.”

She thanked the former mayors she served with.

“I started on the school side where I served 16 years there,” Rocha continued. Thank you, again. I love all of you. This has been the best council that I’ve worked with. We haven’t all been on the same street. We’re very respectful. We’re rolling together and that’s for one thing. That’s the City of Antioch.”

Councilman Tony Tiscareno then offered his thoughts.

“I’ve known Mary since I was little. Rumor had it that I was her third son,” he said with a smile. “You know what. You are my mama. My second mother. To share this dais with you has been an honor. I’m proud to be a part of your life. I was proud to be part of the council with you.”

Next then-Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock shared about Rocha.

“I grew up down the street from Mary,” she said, choking up. “My husband’s the one who told her she had the 44 years. She’s done a lot for this city. She’s part of Antioch’s history. I’m very glad to have you as my friend. I’m glad you were here.”

Wilson then stated, “you care so passionately about this town. You’ve been a big, big major inspiration to me. Thank you for all you’ve done for Antioch.”

Harper spoke last.

“In the Social Justice room on the wall of Antioch High School, there’s a mural of the first Hispanic woman who served as Mayor of Antioch,” he said referring to Rocha. “Mary has a pure heart. When I first ran I called Mary and she returned my call. She told me she couldn’t support me but she gave me advice.”

Erica Rodriguez representing Assemblyman Jim Frazier then presented a framed certificate of recognition from him and one from Congressman Jerry McNerney.

State Senator Steve Glazer’s representative George Escutia presented a plaque, mentioning the fact that Rocha was the “first Latina Mayor in the county, as well.”

“I feel like I’ve died and gone to Heaven,” Rocha said.

She thanked her husband Louie for his support.

“I was told I was going to lose him. Latina ladies are not supposed to be in politics,” she added.

Diane Gibson-Gray, then the president of the Antioch School Board said, “You set the temperature and high water mark for what women in politics are supposed to be.”

Mary Rocha is hugged and applauded by friends and family, as campaign manager Ken Gray looks on.

Mary Rocha is hugged and applauded by friends and family, as campaign manager Ken Gray looks on.

She was joined by Trustees Debra Vinson, Walter Ruehlig, Alonzo Terry, trustee-elect Cystal Sawyer-White, and Superintendent Stephanie Anello to present Rocha with a plaque, as well.

“You’re my husband’s best friend,” Gibson-Gray continued.

“I’m his girlfriend, really,” Rocha said with a laugh.

“He’s run her campaigns,” Gibson-Gray added. “I expect you to pop up in other places.”

“Be ware,” Rocha responded with a smile.

Arne presented her with a photo of the ladies of First 5 and her original Council badge.

“The secret is I used that badge in Mexico,” Rocha shared. “Someone was giving me trouble. I showed it to an official.”

Simonsen then presented her with the photo of Rocha from the wall inside City Hall.

“A very young Mary Helen Rocha,” he said.

“And it doesn’t change,” she said with a laugh.

Rocha spent a total of 32 years in office in Antioch, including the 16 on the school board and 16 on the city council, including four years as Mayor.

Harper Says Farewell, But Not Forever

He said he was wearing “my favorite suit and my pocket watch my father left me.”

“This election could have gone either way,” Harper continued. “I made a phone call to Sean. He said hold off its still kind of close. I pledged to work with him and meet with him.”

“After I was elected Mayor a publisher of a newspaper asked ‘do you know how historic this is for you to be elected, without mentioning race?’ My comment was, ‘yes. I am the first Antioch Mayor who owns an iPad,’” Harper said with a grin.

“He published those comments and I knew that would be the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” he said wrily.

“I have endeavored to preach the gospel at all times and as it says if you must use words,” Harper continued. “I have been truly blessed to be the mayor of the great City of Antioch. I have been proud to have sworn in over 40 police officers. That was a highlight.”

“I want to thank those this council appointed to city commissions,” he added.

Harper then thanked City Manager Steve Duran and staff, Police Chief Allan Cantando and “the community partners.

“We have not always agreed,” he said to his fellow council members. “But I believe we were very effective.”

“I’m going to pass the torch but I’m going to keep my torch lit,” Harper concluded. “I’m going to pass the torch on to Sean Wright. He never needed a title to lead. And I know he’s going to do a great job.”

Presentations from Frazier and McNerney – Erica Rodriguez rep.

George Escutia, rep Sen. Steve Glazer, mentioning Harper’s “six years on the city council, two as council member as Mayor Pro Tem, for years as Mayor, before that two years as an appointed Trustee on the Antioch School Board.”

Gibson-Gray then led a presentation by the Antioch School Board, along with her fellow council members and Anello.

“I was always happy to sit by the best looking man on the school board,” she said, adding “Sorry, Walter.

“Once you moved on to the dark side,” Gibson-Gray continued, referring to the city council. “I’m kidding. The other side. Because it is a partnership between the district and the city. I’m sure our paths will soon cross again.”

“Absolutely,” Harper replied, and then hugged each of the school board members.

Special Presentation

Antioch High School student Clarissa Wilson then offered a special gift to Harper saying, “you’ve done an outstanding and inspirational job for this community. Thank you for being a role model for the youth of this community.”

She said she wanted to give him “something sweet for a bittersweet moment.”

“Clarissa’s one of my students,” Harper said who teaches in the Leadership Academy.

“Get off the phone, Clarissa,” he said to laughter from the crowd.

Simonsen then presented Harper with a photo of him with First 5, in which Harper was “wearing Willie Brown’s hat,” he shared.

A plaque with a gavel on it, as well as his photo from the wall inside City Hall were also presented to Harper.

“Another good looking, young man,” Simonsen said. “Thank you on behalf of the city council, residents and the staff.”

Tiscareno was the first of the council members to speak.

County Clerk Joe Canciamilla administers the oath of office to City Clerk Arne Simonsen.

County Clerk Joe Canciamilla administers the oath of office to City Clerk Arne Simonsen.

“Mayor Harper, I want to thank you for your service and for your friendship,” he stated. “I’ve admired you from day one. Your leadership. Your quality skills. You know how to run a meeting. I’ve never seen a council that’s worked so well together. My hat’s off to you. I think this council has accomplished a lot under you. We don’t wine and dine all the time but I think about you all the time. You’re young. You’re bright. Keep your head up high because you’re going places. I know you’re going to be involved.”

Wilson then shared her thoughts.

“Thank you so much for your service,” she said echoing Tiscareno. “I really admire your work with our young people. We didn’t always see eye to eye but I did respect your opinion.”

Finally, Ogorchock had her chance to speak.

“We have not always agreed but we always came to an agreement,” she stated. “I know God has a plan for you and I know you’re going to be around. Thank you so much for your service.”

Arne Simonsen Sworn In

Next, the evening’s festivities included the oath of office for City Clerk Simonsen, administered by County Clerk Joe Canciamilla, followed by City Treasurer Conley’s.

“I have the most important person, my grandson Gavin Simonsen,” Simonsen said, and then introduced the rest of his family.

“It was a rough election,” he said with a laugh, as he ran unopposed. “Antioch had a 72.4% turnout in the election. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

“I support the city council and the city manager but I represent you,” Simonsen added. “And if you like transparency believe me I’m going to give it.”

Donna Conley’s Oath of Office

City Treasurer Donna Conley is sworn in for a fourth term by City Clerk Arne Simonsen as her family looks on.

City Treasurer Donna Conley is sworn in for a fourth term by City Clerk Arne Simonsen as her family looks on.

Simonsen administered the oath for Conley, with her husband and former Councilman and current planning commissioner Jim and her family standing nearby.

She introduced her family.

“I couldn’t do anything without these people,” Conley stated. “I want to thank the citizens of Antioch. This is my fourth term. I do appreciate their confidence in me.”

“I pray you’re given the strength and wisdom to make the decisions for the city of Antioch,” she said to the new council members.

Public Comments

A few members of the public offered their comments following all of the oath of office ceremonies.

Marcel Caldwell of Glazer’s office offered congratulations “to Sean and Lamar.”

Robin Agopian said “thank you to both Wade and Mary for the work you’ve done.”

“Congratulations, Monica. I’m so proud of you,” she continued. “Lamar, congratulations. You’re grinning from ear to ear.”

“Sean, I remember when (her late husband and Councilman) Gary and I would have coffee together,” Agopian shared. “We would talk about people who could lead our community. Your name always came up. I can’t say thank you enough.

Then speaking to the audience about the council members, she said, “they’re still people. So if you have a concern, kindly send a note to them. So be very kind in your requests. It’s not easy to serve. Just pray for them.”

“I’m just so excited for all of you,” Agopian added.

Willie Mims representing the East County Branch of the NAACP said “congratulations to all of you. I come when there’s usually trouble. I’m looking forward to 2017. I’m hoping it’s more successful than 2016.”

“Tonight, I come in peace,” he added, to laughter, as Mims usually offers something with which to challenge either the council or school board.

Economic Development Commissioner Josh Young spoke next.

“Honorable Mayor and Council, I want to express my joy,” he stated. “It’s going to be a great 2017 a great season for Antioch. We are in the harvest time of Antioch. We’re going to see jobs come to Antioch because of this council you see here. My family has been here for generations. I look forward to working with you. I have plans myself.”

Erica Rodriguez offered congratulations on behalf of Assemblyman Frazier.

A resident named Malik, offered his congratulations to “Lamar with that great victory and the new mayor.”

“I’m definitely going to try to be more involved,” he added.

Antioch School Board Trustee Vinson said, “I just want to congratulate the new representatives on the council and Monica for your reelection. Hopefully you all can work with the school board.”

An enthusiastic resident, Kip Stephens was the last to speak

“Smiles. That’s what I like to see,” he said. “Congratulations Sean, Lamar, Monica. Tony, Lori. Let’s do it this time. Let’s rock. I’m tired of people moving away. I came pretty close. Let’s make it positive. Don’t just sit up there and listen.”

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Belle admits no Bachelor’s degree, agrees to community service, avoids trial, possible fine

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Says he believes he had degree at time he wrote his candidate statement in 2014; retired Dean confirms Belle completed all course work for degree.

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

By Allen Payton

Embattled Contra Costa County Board of Education Trustee Jeff Belle admitted in court on Thursday, December 15, 2016 that he does not have a college degree in political science, as he wrote in his candidate’s statement, when he ran and was elected in 2014. In his declaration, required as part of his agreement and signed under penalty of perjury, Belle wrote, he “believed then that the statement was true.”

“Belle submitted a letter to the court, it was filed with the court and it is an allocution of sorts,” said Deputy District Attorney Steve Moawad who prosecuted the case against Belle. “He admits he did not have a bachelor’s degree. He said he thought he did at the time and it was not his intent to mislead the public.”

Belle was approved for a diversion program in which he agreed to perform 20 hours of community service and to write the declaration saying he does not in fact have a bachelor’s degree and to obey all laws.

Once he submits proof of his community service, the case will possibly be dismissed in either June or December of next year.

“Diversion is normally a year or 18 months or something along those lines. That’s what we envisioned,” Moawad explained. “Belle asked the court for early diversion, which would dismiss the case earlier.”

However, Moawad wouldn’t commit to that.

“The judge asked if Mr. Belle does more than the 20 hours of service, would you consider dismissing in June,” Moawad continued. “I agreed to keep an open mind about that. It would be my expectation that if he wants the case dismissed in June he would do more than 20 hours of community service.”

In Belle’s Declaration, he wrote:

“I, Jeffrey Belle, state that in 2014 I filed my candidate’s statement for the office of Trustee to the Contra Costa County Board of Education. I drafted the statement to be accurate, true, and complete. I stressed my experience as an educator and also mentioned some of my educational achievements. I mentioned, among several other achievements, that I had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. I believed then that the statement was true.

When I drafted my statement, I believed that I had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Oklahoma City University (OCU). In my senior year, I was told by the Registrar’s office at OCU that I would be graduating in August of that year, however the OCU’s registrar’s office also advised me that they were waiting for the certified transcript from American University (AU) where I had spent a semester studying. I walked for my graduation at OCU on May 6, 1989. I believed my graduation was effective in August of 1989 as stated in the graduation program and as I had been told by

the registrar’s office at OCU.

However, it has now been clarified that I do not have a Bachelor’s Degree from OCU. It was not my intent to misinform the voters regarding my degree. In the future I will be more careful about my statements to ensure no misinterpretation.

I state and declare under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of California in Contra Costa County, that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

signed
Jeffrey Belle

December 15, 2016

He claimed on his ballot statement that he “earned” a “Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.”

However in an October, 2015 interview for an article with this reporter, Belle said, “I still owe American University for room and board for that semester of almost $3,000. However, in 1989 I walked in the graduation, and they acknowledge it, but they won’t confer the degree, until then.”

Belle referred questions about his letter to his attorneys.

“Talk to Carol or Marsaane about (the) letter,” he said in a message.

By participating in the diversion program, Belle avoids a trial and the maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine. However, the case has cost the taxpayers much more than that.

The DA’s office began the investigation of Belle’s lie in early 2015 and the prosecution began six months later. The case has included multiple court dates, with Belle and his attorneys delaying the process asking for continuances, until Thursday.

The most recent delay in the case included a claim that he’s had cancer has been in the hospital for the past two months getting treatment.

Carol Hehmeyer, one of Belle’s attorneys, said, “He was charged with violating section 18351 of the Elections Code, which is not lying but making a statement that you knowingly know is false when you make it and thought it would have influenced the election.”

That section of the elections code reads as follows:

“Any candidate in an election or incumbent in a recall election who knowingly makes a false statement of a material fact in a candidate’s statement, prepared pursuant to Section 11327 or 13307, with the intent to mislead the voters in connection with his or her campaign for nomination or election to a nonpartisan office is punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).”

“He did earn it,” she said referring to his degree in political science.” He walked for graduation. His family members were there. They provided declarations under penalty of perjury.”

“We have the declaration from the Dean of the Department of Political Science Larry Eberhart, who retired before this exploded,” Hehmeyer continued.

“Jeff does not need the courses they’re now saying he needs,” she explained. “They’re eliminating some of the credits he did get. They’re not going to recognize the credits that were transferred from another college because the school is no longer in business.”

“The DA’s office spent a year trying to find something wrong about the candidate’s statement,” Hehmeyer added. “The first judge that heard this wanted to get rid of this and wanted diversion.”

Which is what Belle ultimately accepted instead of going to trial.

“We didn’t have the money for a trial,” she said.

The confusion in the case and accusation against Belle stem from the use and definition of the term “earn” versus “confer” when referring to his college the degree. He only used the phrase “have earned…Bachelor’s degree in Political Science,” when Belle wrote and signed his ballot statement in summer, 2014 at the beginning of the campaign.

Belle is currently the Vice President of the county school board. His term ends in 2018.

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New Antioch School Board Trustees sworn in, but not when it was publicly announced and scheduled

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Few people were in attendance when new Antioch School Board Trustee is given her oath of office by County Supervisor Federal Glover during a special session, before the regular Board meeting, Wednesday night, December 14, 2016. Photo by Debra Vinson.

Few people were in attendance when new Antioch School Board Trustee is given her oath of office by County Supervisor Federal Glover, as district staff look on, during a special session, before the regular Board meeting, Wednesday night, December 14, 2016. Photo by Debra Vinson.

Former board members got send off during November 16 meeting before term ended, also without being on agenda

By Allen Payton

The new members of the Antioch School Board, Crystal Sawyer-White and Gary Hack, along with Diane Gibson-Gray who was re-elected to a third term in November, took their oaths of office, this week. But, not when they were supposed to according to Wednesday night’s board meeting agenda.

The oaths were scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the beginning of the board’s regular meeting, but Hack, who the voters returned to the board after having lost his re-election bid in 2014, and Gibson-Gray were sworn in on Tuesday, according to Superintendent Stephanie Anello. She said Hack thought he was going to have a scheduling conflict.

Sawyer-White, who received the most votes in the school board race in the November election, was given her oath by County Supervisor Federal Glover at 6:00 p.m. prior to the board’s previously scheduled closed session. Only her husband Casper and a few others were in attendance.

When asked if the public or media was informed of the change in schedule for the oaths of office for the new and returning board members, and why it wasn’t on the agenda for 6:00 p.m., Anello stated, “We don’t have to.” She later said her answer was in response to not having “it on the agenda prior to closed session, not about informing the media.”

Asked when Sawyer-White’s oath ceremony had been rescheduled after the meeting agenda was published on Friday, December 10th, Anello said she would respond later today. Sawyer-White said “Nancy (Stephanie’s Admin)…asked if I could be sworn in at 5:45 with Stephanie. I preferred Federal Glover and we decided 6:00 p.m. after all the confusion.”

Asked again about when the change in scheduling of her oath ceremony occurred, Sawyer-White responded, “I am not sure which day. Nancy would know. Nancy sent out all the emails.”

When contacted about the matter, Nancy Belleci, Senior Executive Assistant for Anello, did not respond.

UPDATE 1: However, Anello did respond, Thursday afternoon, as she said she would.

“We sent an email to all three incoming Board Members approximately a week ago stating that they would need to be sworn in prior to Closed Session Wednesday night which was scheduled for 6:20 pm. We figured that 6:00 pm would be enough time for all three to be sworn in,” she said. “Tuesday, both Gary and Diane asked if I could administer the oath that day rather than prior to Wednesday’s meeting.”

“We then contacted Crystal to let her know that if it was more convenient for her to come at 6:15 pm. we could administer the oath then as Gary and Diane had already been sworn in,” Anello continued. “She said she needed to come at 6:00 pm since Federal Glover was swearing her in and he had another commitment.”

“The ceremonial oath of office was agendized,” she added. “None of the three Board Members felt they needed to participate in a ceremonial swearing in.”

She was then asked why then did the agenda which was sent out on Friday, two days later, show the oaths of office during the regular meeting that started at 7:00 p.m.

“Because in the past, Board Members wanted to have a second ceremonial swearing in after closed session when more people may be present,” Anello explained. “The three incoming Board Members declined.”

But, that was for a re-enactment ceremony, which is not how the item was listed on the agenda at 7:00 p.m.

The item on the agenda for the regular meeting was listed as a “Ceremonial Oath of Office.”

5. Recall to Open Session – 7:00 PM

A. Reports from Closed Session

B. Flag Salute

C. Ceremonial Oath of Office – Diane Gibson-Gray, Gary Hack, Crystal Sawyer-White

The confusion lay in the use of the term “ceremonial” by Anello and the new board members, to refer to the re-enactment of the actual oaths of office which occurred earlier. There was no oath of office ceremony for the public to be aware of and attend.

Former Board Members’ Farewell

The two former board members who were not elected in November, Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry, did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting, as they were given their farewell send-off at the board’s meeting on November 16, according to Anello. However, it wasn’t on that meeting’s agenda for the public to know.

Navarro said he refused to have his photo, which was hanging on the wall inside the district office, given to him that night, since he and Terry were still on the board and continued serving until the new members took their oaths of office. He saw the effort as an attempt to demonstrate that the two of them were no longer on the board, so that they could not vote on the Rocketship Education charter petition at the board’s meeting held on Wednesday, December 7.

Asked if they were going to be recognized at the Wednesday’s meeting, Anello said, “They were recognized by Board Members and myself at our last regularly scheduled meeting.”

Asked if it was on the agenda, she responded, “My administrative assistant sent them an email letting them know that we would be recognizing them at our last regularly scheduled board meeting as we have done for all other outgoing board members in past years. Fernando said it would be inappropriate and that he would come pick up his picture at a later date. He said he spoke for both he and Alonzo. Thus, during my comments I acknowledged and thanked them for their service. Other Board members thanked them during their comments.”

According to Navarro, following the comments made by Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, Gibson-Gray’s was merely, “ditto.”

I’m sorry if it appeared to…Fernando like it was a political move to formally recognize them as we had done in the past in order to send an inferred message of powerlessness,” Anello added. “I can assure you that from my perspective that was absolutely not the case. I didn’t always agree with them — nor they me, but I enjoyed working with them.”

However, Gibson-Gray did make an attempt, as board president at the time, to get Ruehlig and Vinson to join her in swearing in the new board members at the meeting on December 7th, prior to the vote on the Rocketship petition.

While the state Education Code states that terms of school board members end on the first Friday in December after the election, it also states that they serve until the new members are qualified. That has been interpreted to mean when the new members are given their oaths of office.

So, there was no formal, dignified ceremony of the transfer of power by the Antioch School Board as happened last Thursday, by the Antioch City Council. A video of Sawyer-White’s oath of office, taken by her husband Casper, can be viewed on the Antioch Herald’s Facebook page.

UPDATE 2: However, as of Thursday afternoon, Sawyer-White said that new Board Vice President Debra Vinson told her that a ceremony for the new board members and and a re-enactment of the oaths of office will be held Jan. 25th. That was confirmed by new Board President Walter Ruehlig, who wrote via email, “More details to follow.”

 

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