Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves shares why he wants to be Contra Costa’s next DA

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Paul Graves speaks to the Friday Morning Breakfast Club in Antioch on Friday, August 4, 2017.

Speaks to Antioch’s Friday Morning Breakfast Club

By Allen Payton

Speaking before the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FBMC) in Antioch on August 4, Paul Graves, the Senior Deputy District Attorney for Contra Costa County, answered questions and explained why he wants to be the county’s next DA. He is one of five finalists to be the Interim DA in the Board of Supervisors’ appointment process, having made the first round cut from a list of 12 applicants.

The FBMC is led by former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas and made up of current and former locally elected officials, community leaders and other concerned residents. They meet once a month for breakfast and invite a speaker as their guest.

A 22-year veteran of the Contra Costa DA’s office, Graves was the first candidate to enter the race for District Attorney in the June, 2018 election, before former DA Mark Peterson resigned. He was willing to take on his boss in response to the scandal over Peterson making false statements on his campaign finance statements about personal use of campaign funds.

“There was a cloud over the office,” Graves stated. “In the press, there was an impression something was wrong with the office. The people in that office are dedicated to the county. While that cloud was over the office, the people asked me to step up and run against the incumbent. But, I’m not going to disparage my former boss.”

“I’m not a politician,” Graves added

He announced his campaign in May following a vote of no-confidence by the Deputy District Attorneys Association and the Civil Grand Jury’s call for the removal of Peterson.

“It wouldn’t have been as big a deal if Mr. Peterson had not decided to run again,” Graves stated during the FMBC meeting. “I did not support Mr. Peterson in 2010. I was one of those who was punished. But even Mark recognized I’m a leader in this office. I was actually the solution to the problem.”

“I chose to stay when others left, because I’m committed to the county,” he shared. “We called it the ‘French Resistance’ back in 2010. We had two choices: quite or stay here and fight. I’m a fighter. So, I chose to stay and fight.”

In his brief announcement he said, “after careful consideration and consultation with my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Office and with others in law enforcement, I have decided to run for Contra Costa District Attorney in 2018. As a 22-year veteran of this office, I have a deep understanding of this community and the talented dedicated prosecutors that already serve the public. Simply put, I know I can make a difference.”

Graves expected to be demoted, again for running against his boss and planned on providing a more complete, public announcement later. But then Peterson resigned and the Supervisors decided to appoint an interim DA.

“Only two of us were candidates before the appointment process,” he said. The other one is Santa Clara County Deputy DA Patrick Vanier, who announced his campaign about a week later in May, also before Peterson resigned in June.

Graves explained to the FBMC members his plans if elected.

“I believe in a victim-centered approach,” he said. “It’s our obligation to give the best service to the victims in our office. It hasn’t changed for the past 22 years. It’s a crime-based structure. We need to look at restructuring the office.”

“People are people. Victims, witnesses and defendants,” Graves continued. He then said his overall goal is to “save lives and drive down crime in Contra Costa County.”

He spoke of the crime occurring in Antioch, East County and other parts of the county.

“Human trafficking is something we’re not doing enough of,” Graves stated. “Prostitutes on the street corners. I like to call them exploited women. There are exploiters, pimps.”

“I’ve been working with non-profits…to work on these problems.”

Regarding it occurring in massage parlors, Graves said, “Antioch Police are very involved in this. Concord Police are involved in this, treating the prostitutes as victims. Out here in East County there’s a network of massage parlors. They’re all connected.”

He then spoke of one way the DA’s office is fighting crime.

“We have a wiretap room,” Graves shared. “We want to wiretap these networks and to take them down. That is my goal.”

There’s a “huge street-level human trafficking operation in Danville” in a “nice house,” he said.

“They prey on youth, those coming out of group homes, foster care. It turns into eating, rape, and fear,” Graves continued. “The exploited women have a mental break and they become very protective of their abusers.”

“We need transition housing, out here,” he added.

“The punishment for johns are deminimis. It’s a misdemeanor,” Graves explained. “My preference is that they go through a human trafficking course and see what the women go through.”

Asked about sanctuary city policies, he responded, “as a DA, I follow the law. But the misconception about the DA’s office involvement in deportations is wrong. ICE does get notified. It happens when they’re arrested.”

“The law has changed. We have to consider their status in terms of the punishment,” Graves said. “Defense attorneys try to get us to change the charges so it’s not deportable. Sex crimes are.”

“We are a sanctuary city, not for defendants but victims,” he added.

Asked about the Deputy DA for Antioch, Graves explained, “You do (have one). But it’s not sufficient. You need a dedicated DA.”

“We have a Deputy DA in the Pittsburg Police Department. Antioch goes to Pittsburg to file cases without having to drive to Martinez,” he shared. “You do not have a community prosecutor. We have one in Richmond who can do targeted cases. Richmond PD pays part of that salary.” “We’re understaffed. We’ve always been understaffed,” Graves stated about his department. “We have the same number of Deputy DA’s as we did 22 years ago.”

But, he also said he’s very available to Antioch Police.

“Your detectives can call me 24-7 on a case and they know it,” he said. “I’ve been at Disneyland and I took a call. I would work with your Chief (of Police) to get you a DA. It would be Antioch’s community prosecutor. We need community DA’s to work on crime strategy. You need a partner out there.”

“The Antioch Police Detectives are very good,” Graves shared. “You have great police out there. You’re seriously understaffed.”

He spoke of targeted enforcement in which a repeat offender has multiple complaints filed against him, which increases the charges and advocated for pro-active, community-based prosecution.

“You do have a gang problem out here,” Graves stated. “Our gang unit needs to expand. We need a human trafficking unit. Gangs are getting in it. It’s cheaper and easier than drugs.

As to his approach in leading the office, he said, “I like to get out into the community. I like talking to the people. The office of the DA is the office of the people.”

“I will spend my time talking to the troops in my office,” Graves added.

He encouraged those in attendance to “stay involved in this election. This is a very important election. It’s turning into a hot potato…a referendum on Contra Costa County. There’s a push to become like San Francisco…shortening sentences, not arresting people.”

“I’m running on my qualifications,” he continued. “No matter what happens (in the appointment process), I’m running. I do firmly believe I am the right person for the job.”

To learn more about Graves, visit his campaign website at www.paulgravesforda.com.

A public forum for the five finalists will be held tonight, Tuesday, August 15, at 6:00 p.m.   The meeting will be in the Board Chamber at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.  Beginning at 5:00 p.m., there will be an hour reserved for public comment. During that time, you can also submit written comments to be entered into the public record.  If you have a question you would like to suggest for the forum, you will have an opportunity between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to do so. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters will be on hand to assist in collecting the question cards.  During a break in the forum, the moderator will have the ability to chose audience-submitted questions to ask during the second half of the event.  

The forum will be televised live on CCTV, as well as streamed live on this website.  CCTV can be watched on Comcast Channel 27, Wave Channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

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Colleague endorses Graves for Contra Costa DA

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Dear Editor:

Colleen Gleason, a close friend and colleague of mine has written a wonderful endorsement on Facebook. I met Colleen 15 years ago and am humbled by her words. Here are a few sentences from my colleague’s social media post that I would like to share with you:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/paulgravesforda2018/endorsements/

“I’m so excited and proud that my friend and mentor has decided to run for DA of our County. Paul was my homicide supervisor and currently runs the Sexual Assault/Family Violence unit. I also worked closely with him while he was the President of our Association – not only was he amazing at negotiating on behalf of our DAs, but he was instrumental in putting on a successful fundraiser for our local Rape Crisis/Children’s Interview Center every year.

Paul is the type of leader who inspires others; there is always a line of people seeking his solid advice born of experience and common sense. He is the type of leader that people want to follow; when he is heading a unit, other people want to work there…He has handled the pressures of our job in the public eye with grace and eloquence. But, more importantly to me, he is the type of person you can watch handling the little, every-day moments with kindness and integrity… the moments when the cameras aren’t on, when no one seems to be paying attention – the way he treats his staff, victim’s families, opposing counsel, his subordinates – those are the moments when he has impressed me the most.”

Paul Graves

Martinez

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Senate committee approves Frazier’s “Jeff Belle Bill” to increase penalties for ballot statement lies

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

Increases maximum fine from $1,000 to $20,500

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee has unanimously approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, which would impose stiff financial penalties on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office. AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. If an offender is convicted of associated criminal wrongdoing, a formula that multiplies the base fine could result in as much as $20,500 in total financial penalties for those who intentionally lie to voters.

“The penalty for shamelessly lying to voters should be very painful,” Frazier said. “And right now, it’s not painful enough. Often, the only information a voter may have about candidates is what is contained in ballot statements, especially in races for local offices that might not get a lot of press coverage. AB 894 creates a strong deterrent to dishonest candidates who falsify their qualifications in an attempt to mislead voters.”

Frazier authored AB 894 after Jeff Belle, a candidate in East County who was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014, was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. The current maximum fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000. However, instead of a punishment, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office allowed Belle to receive just an entry into a diversion program for offenders which required he admitted he didn’t have a degree and perform 20 hours of community service. (See related article).

AB 894 has received unanimous bipartisan support in every committee and floor vote. It has been approved by the Assembly Elections Committee, the full Assembly and the Senate Elections and Public Safety committees without a single “no” vote. The bill’s final vote will be on the Senate Floor after the Legislature returns from recess. If the full Senate approves AB 894, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

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Criminal defense attorneys support Graves for Contra Costa District Attorney

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Dear Editor:

We are some of the criminal defense attorneys who practice in Contra Costa County.  We are the individuals who defend people accused of crimes.   We have worked with the District Attorney’s Office for decades, and are in a unique position to know what qualities are most important for the District Attorney to possess.

We believe in the Constitution, in fairness and colorblind justice, and that every person accused of a crime deserves competent and zealous representation so that the police, the prosecution, and the system are held to the highest standard.

As the top law enforcement official in the County, we believe our next District Attorney should share these values. They should keep our community safe, but also do the right thing even when it’s not popular.

We need someone honest, trustworthy, fair, ethical, diligent, and compassionate.

We need Paul Graves.

Paul Graves’ energy, ideas and fresh approach to the office as outlined in his public application to the Board of Supervisors reveals the dedicated and honorable public servant that we already know him to be.

What really sets Paul Graves apart is that he has dedicated his professional life as a prosecutor to Contra Costa County, and that he has earned the respect of all partners in the criminal justice system, because he treats every defendant as an individual and is fundamentally fair.

Paul Graves’ judgment has always made him stand out as a fair and ethical prosecutor we can trust.  Even though we represent opposing sides in the courtroom, we know Paul Graves is everyone’s partner in fair and equal justice.

Paul Graves provides the character, experience, and integrity our community needs to move forward.  We want the Board of Supervisors to know that as defense attorneys dedicated to the Constitution, fairness and colorblind justice, Paul Graves has our highest recommendation.

Blackie Burak

Derek Ewin

Dan Horowitz

David Larkin

Thomas McKenna

Tom O’Connor

Dan O’Malley

Chris Varnell

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Ron Leone, former Deer Valley Vice Principal, announces run for County Schools Superintendent

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Concord Councilman Ron Leone. Photo from his council campaign website RonaldLeone.net

Concord Councilman, former teacher and A.U.S.D. Director of Student Services

By John Crowder

Concord City Councilman and one-time mayor Ron Leone, a former vice principal at Antioch’s Deer Valley High School, confirmed today that he is running for the position of Contra Costa County School Superintendent in the June 2018 election. Incumbent Karen Sakata, serving in her first term, has not yet indicated if she will seek re-election.

Leone, who is also a former Teacher of the Year and was the Director of Student Services for the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), has been involved in education for over forty years.  In an interview with this reporter, Leone said he is running because, “education is my passion.  Everything I’ve done over my career has led me to this point, and I want to use my experience to ensure our students achieve academic success.”

According to his bio on the City of Concord’s website, “Ron Leone, a resident of Concord since 1978, was elected to the City Council in 2010, re-elected in 2014. He served as Mayor in 2012 and Vice Mayor in 2014 and 2016. Leone served 35 years in education as a high school teacher and principal. He was the teacher of the year in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and teachers’ association president. He coached high school baseball, and several championship mock trial and constitutional academic teams.”

“I believe that I have the vision our schools need now,” he continued.  “In many ways, our schools throughout the county need help.  For example, last year the Grand Jury delivered a report on truancy that was very troubling.  Our county is one of the worst in the state for truancy, but I know first-hand that we can turn this around.  I served as the Director of Child Welfare and Attendance in Antioch some years ago, and was the first to conduct truancy sweeps, coordinating with local law enforcement.  Students who were truant were given Saturday school, and phone calls went home to parents.  In subsequent sweeps, we found that, by having real consequences for the students who skipped school, we dramatically reduced the number of repeat offenders.”

Leone also mentioned the financial challenges he plans to address.

“Another potentially serious problem is the County Office of Education’s unfunded liabilities,” he stated. “They continue to grow, and this will undoubtedly impact our ability to keep dollars in the classroom, if it continues.  We faced the same issue in Concord, but by exercising the leadership needed to tackle the matter, we were able to pay down the debt and create a $30 million reserve.”

Vocational training is strongly advocated by Leone. He described a Regional Occupation Program (ROP) his students used during his tenure in Fremont.

“The Mission Valley ROP Center that was developed was part of a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with three school districts,” he said.  “I believe this approach would work for our County, as well.  I’m proposing a vocational training center in Central Contra Costa County.  Students from several school districts would be able to attend after school hours.”

Leone wants to work closely with the local school districts in the County. As of today, he’s already met with twelve of the County’s local school district superintendents.

“One of the things that I’m seeing is that the County Office of Education can help our local districts through expanded support of teacher training,” he said. “In addition, we want to encourage school districts to implement programs that advance academic achievement, and to help engage parents in their students’ success.”

Prior to being elected to the Concord City Council, Leone served for 16 years as an elected member of the Mt. Diablo Hospital District Board, as well as Chairman of the Board of the John Muir Hospitals, and the City’s Planning Commission.

Leone invites anyone interested in learning more to contact him at RonaldLeone@comcast.net.

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Santa Clara County Deputy DA to challenge embattled Peterson for Contra Costa District Attorney

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Patrick Vanier

By Allen Payton

On Thursday, May 4th, Patrick Vanier, Supervising Deputy District Attorney for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Narcotics Prosecution Team, announced his campaign for Contra Costa County District Attorney. He was was joined by supporters at the Amador Rancho Community Center in San Ramon and will take on embattled incumbent D.A. Mark Peterson.

Vanier has been a prosecutor for almost 20 years and has prosecuted hundreds of criminals; both in the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and now in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

“Today, prosecutors are not just trial attorneys,” said Vanier.  “They are investigators, problem solvers, innovators, and community partners in combating crime.  I have proven to be a prosecutor with fresh ideas and a willingness to institute best practices to bring the criminal justice system into the 21st Century.” 

Earlier this year, Vanier was awarded the 2017 San Jose Police Department’s Excellence in Prosecution Award and in 2015 he was named California Narcotics Officers’ Association State Prosecutor of the Year.  Vanier is an experienced prosecutor whose area of expertise is wiretap investigations, especially in major narcotic and gang crime investigations. 

Peterson has been under fire, including pressure to resign from both Contra Costa Deputy District Attorneys and more recently the Contra Costa Grand Jury, following his $45,000 fine, last year for the illegal, personal use of campaign funds totaling over $66,000 between 2011 and 2015.

“I am running for District Attorney because I believe we should expect more and deserve better from our elected District Attorney,” said Vanier.  “My priorities are to enforce and prosecute laws fairly to ensure offenders who threaten public safety are locked up, utilize the latest technologies, data analytics, and community prosecution models to address rising crime rates through crime prevention and enforcement, and hold myself and the attorney’s in the office to the highest ethical standards.”

According to Vanier’s bio on his campaign website at http://patrickvanier.ngpvanhost.com, “Patrick has spent more than half of his career working with law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting major narcotics cases with a particular emphasis on Mexican National drug cartels operating within California.  Patrick’s area of expertise is in the area of wiretap investigations.  He has utilized his expertise by collaborating with federal, state and local law enforcement on more than 100 wiretap applications targeting major drug traffickers, street gangs and murders.

Patrick has trained law enforcement and attorneys for the California District Attorneys’ Association, California Narcotics Officers’ Association, Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and various law enforcement agencies within Santa Clara County. Patrick has taught on the subjects of wiretap investigations, legal updates in search and seizure law, California Electronic Communications Privacy Act and most recently Proposition 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act).

Working a variety of jobs during the day, Patrick completed law school at night and was awarded his Juris Doctorate in 1998 by John F. Kennedy University School of Law.  He received a B.S. in Business and Accounting from San Francisco State University in 1995 and a B.A. in Political Science from University of California, Irvine in 1991.

Patrick and his wife, Anaite, live in San Ramon with their three daughters where he has coached soccer for more than a decade.”

The election is in June, 2018.

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Frazier’s “Jeff Belle bill” on candidate accountability passes Assembly committee

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

Increases maximum fine from $1,000 to $10,000

Sacramento, CA – On Wednesday, May 10th, legislation by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) that will raise penalties for candidates for office who make willful misrepresentations on their candidate statements passed the Assembly Elections committee on an unanimous 7-to-0 vote.

“We can’t allow candidates to dupe the voters…to lie their way into office when tax dollars or the education of our children are at stake,” Frazier stated. “When the public’s trust is in question, the public deserves to know the truth when reading an official candidate statement. This bill holds candidates accountable by increasing the fine for any willful misrepresentation.”

AB 894 would increase the current fine for a willful misrepresentation in a candidate statement to $10,000. The current fine is set at a maximum of $1,000, which has not been an effective deterrent and has not kept up with inflation.

In August 2015, the Contra Costa District Attorney filed a suit in court, The People of the State of California vs. Jeffrey Belle, against a candidate for the Contra Costa Board of Education for knowingly making a false statement of fact in a candidate statement with the intent to mislead voters. In this particular case the candidate falsified his education credentials, his residence, and his criminal record. Instead of a punishment including a fine, he received only entry into a diversion program for offenders, despite the injustice perpetrated upon the voters. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this remains a problem in other jurisdictions.

AB 894 now heads to the Assembly Floor.

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In spite of warning from Superintendent, principal, Park Middle School students prepared for teachers’ union May 1st Day of Action

Monday, May 1st, 2017

One of the teachers’ union posters for the May 1st Day of Action. Source: www.cta.org/ForAllStudents

Principal labels as “cowardly act” whistleblower informing news media of teachers’ efforts; accused of encouraging students to wear red on Monday to show their support; Antioch High hosting activities, as well

By Allen Payton

In response to an April 21st article by this reporter on this website, about plans by one or more teachers at Park Middle School to recruit students to participate in the promotion of the California teachers union May 1st Day of Action, Principal John Jimno sent out a memo to teachers warning them not to do so. In that memo, he also labeled the action of the whistleblower who informed the Herald “a cowardly act.”

In spite of the warning from Jimno and District Superintendent Stephanie Anello that teachers were not to recruit students or use class time, according to another anonymous staff member at Park, students in the school’s Leadership class were making red paper chains and recruiting other students to support the teachers’ efforts, in preparation for Monday’s activities. The California Teachers Association’s website states “Wear Red for Ed” and that the effort is to “Support All Students.” Yet, the teachers and possibly also the principal are encouraging students to wear red to support the teachers.

An email received on Thursday, April 27th (but unfortunately not viewed until Sunday night) from someone self-identifying as “Conscientious Employee” included Jimno’s email message sent to his school’s staff on Monday, April 24th:

FW: When planning for next week….

John Jimno

Sent: Monday, April 24, 2017 8:42AM

To: PMS Distribution List

Please do not promote this with any students or use class time to work on flyers. I am in talks with the District Office and The Teachers Union. You all have the right to promote this but we cannot use class time or encourage students to promote this. If you would like to discuss further please call me instead of replying to this email.

On another note, it saddens me that someone on our staff would take this inter school memo and send it to a reporter and cause such negativity for our school. For the past 5 years I have worked extremely hard to always have my door open if someone wanted to express a difference of opinion. On many occasions I have shifted or changed a decision or event based on how people were feeling about it. I would hope that if the person that sent this email would either come see me now so we can talk or the next time they feel something is not right they come speak with me prior to sending such a message to the media and causing such an attack on our school. In my opinion it is a cowardly act.

If you are confused about what I am talking about you can read the article on the Antioch Herald that was posted on Saturday.

Sincerely, John

In the email to the Herald the anonymous “Conscientious Employee” also wrote:

“I find it highly unprofessional and insulting that Principal Jimno would call whomever made the public aware of this violation a coward and to be so outraged that information, that the public has a right to know about, making Park look negative rather than being upset about the outrageous fact that a political agenda is being pushed on the student body of his school.

It was my understanding that any potential student involvement with this May 1st “Day of Action,” like wearing red, and activities like the red chain, etc. were to be ceased and the students were not to be encouraged or involved as pawns in this blatant use of the Union’s political agenda push. Not just at Park but also at other school sites throughout the district.

Today, Thursday, April 27th, I was told by other staff at Park that Principal Jimno put over the announcements this morning that the students don’t have to, but that they can wear red on the first of May to show support for their teachers.

Also today during lunches the Leadership students were assigned to run the lunch activity of making the red chain mentioned in the first e-mail sent to the Antioch Herald. Students who participated said that they were told by the Leadership students that the chain was, ‘or the May 1st thing. On May 1st everyone is supposed to wear red and it’s pledging your support.’

Pledging support for what? They were told, ‘That education should be free.’ This was all done during the Leadership students’ class time; they were not accompanied by a teacher and obviously had been instructed on what to say to their fellow students and to promote this agenda.

I dearly hope that this, as Walter Ruehlig so well put it in the comment section of your article, ‘black, white and unarguable violation of prohibition of political activity within the schools’ and unlawful ‘use of District technology, facilities and paid time to lobby’ is ended swiftly. I thank you for your action in keeping the impressionable young minds of Antioch’s youth protected from being used as political pawns.

Sincerely,

‘a conscientious employee’

*This letter has also been sent to the following: Walter Ruehlig (School Board President) and Stephanie Anello (AUSD Superintendent)”

Questions were sent late Sunday night to Anello, Ruehlig and the rest of the board members, asking what actions would be taken against the teachers who ignored the directions by both Anello and Jimno.

In addition, they were asked if the May 1st activities by teachers were also occurring at others schools in the district, if they believe Jimno’s “cowardly act” comment was appropriate, and about a culture of fear in the district which some school staff members are afraid to speak out with views that differ from other teachers, the union or administration.

5/1/17 12:00 p.m. UPDATE: In an email, Monday morning, Anello responded with the following:

“I just spoke with Principal Jimno and there are no activities planned today. If students are participating, it is outside of class and voluntary. The announcement that Mr.  Jimno made about wearing red, etc. was to reiterate the contents of the follow-up email to staff wherein he told them no class time was to be used and no students should be told to wear red, etc. The activity that occurred at lunch time was student led and no teacher directed students to participate.”

However, a person who answered the phone at Park Middle School said Jimno was unavailable for comment as he is not at the school, today. An email was then sent to him asking him why and with other questions regarding the activities alleged by the anonymous Conscientious Employee.

In addition, a voicemail message was left with Vice Principal Peter Crutchfield asking if activities for the May 1st Day of Action were occurring on the campus.

Antioch High May 1st Activities

Promotion of May 1st event at Antioch High on Facebook.

An event listing posted on Facebook described an Immigration Awareness Assembly and Resource Fair at the school for Monday afternoon, from 12:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., with the description of “Know Your Rights” and the graphic of a black, raised fist.

The assembly, presented by the school’s Lead Academy, offered the subject matters of “Know your rights,” “Information for undocumented students and parents” and “How to protect yourself from ICE” listed in both English and Spanish.

The resource fair began at 11;30 a.m. and included the following description:

“Come join us on May Day for a day of action! You’re invited to Know Your Rights.

Resource fair opens at 11:30 am, program begins at 12:15 pm

Keynote speakers include: Juan Ortiz and Mary Rocha

Resource fair organizations include: First 5, International Institute of the Bay Area, One Day at a Time, Organizing for Action, Planned Parenthood, Together We Will, and United Latino Voices

Asked about the event occurring on another Antioch school campus, Anello said, “Today is a minimum day at Antioch High School and this event happening after school and was organized by students as part of their senior project.”

5/1/17 6:45 p.m. UPDATE

In an afternoon email, Anello responded further, stating “Mr. Jimno did not tell students to wear red. He stated that some staff may wear red as part of a national day of action day but that classroom time should not be used for activities supporting the day.

According to Mr. Jimno, students did not use Leadership class time for any activities related to the day of action.

You are welcome to reach out to Mr. Jimno about his email as he and I did not discuss it prior to or after he sent it out.”

In addition, Jimno also responded to questions emailed to him earlier in the day, including if it was appropriate to label what the anonymous teacher or staff member did to first inform the Herald, a “cowardly act” and if there was a culture of fear at the school that causes some teachers or staff to be afraid to speak up with views that are different from other teachers, the union or the administration.

“In response to the below email:

  • At no time did I make an announcement in attempt to solicit students to participate in what the teachers were planning.
  • The leadership students did not take part in a class time activity to work on this.  Any participation by students was through their request to do so and voluntarily.
  • I have worked extremely hard with the help of many dedicated staff members to create an organization where everyone’s voice is heard and valued.  As my email to the staff suggests, it saddens me that someone chose to go outside the school to express their concern prior to coming to speak with me first.  Before I am accused of having “a culture of fear” on my campus I would hope you would come interview the staff on their thoughts instead of making this judgment on an anonymous email.

Sincerely,

John Jimno”

Another email was received from Conscientious Employee reporting what occurred at Park Middle School, today and last week by students in preparation for the May 1st Day of Action:

“I was told that this morning there were teachers in front of the school wearing red and holding signs and that some students picked up signs and participated as well.  I don’t have pictures of the students making the chain during lunches, they made it during lunches last week I think just so that if anyone questioned it they could say that it wasn’t done on May 1st.  I also find it a side-step trying to avoid the issue that they are saying that any activities were student led and no teachers were involved; yes, the leadership students were running the activity table without adults involved.

“However, they were doing so during lunches that did not correspond with their grade level which means that they were out of a scheduled class missing instructional time to run the red chain activity and they had to have been instructed in what activity to do and what it was about.  Students participating during their lunches may not have been directed to participate but obviously the leadership students had to have been directed by staff.”

Please see the photos, below of the rather muted Day of Action activities at Park Middle School provided anonymously to the Herald.

 

A hand-written sign on the side of a building at Park Middle School on May 1st.

A red paper chain on metal a barrier in front of Park Middle School was one of three seen on fences at the campus on Monday, May 1st.

 

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