Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

School Board votes to expand meditation teaching into more Antioch classrooms

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Photo from the Mindful Life Project website www.mindfullifeproject.org.

Vinson served with recall  papers, Sawyer-White threatened with possible recall

By Nick Goodrich

On Wednesday night, the Antioch School Board voted 5-0 to approve funding for a meditation- and mindfulness-based program at Belshaw Elementary. In addition, Board Vice President Debra Vinson was served with recall papers for a second time and Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White was threatened with a possible recall.

The Mindful Life Project

The Mindful Life Project, based in Richmond, California, will receive $1,500 as part of a vendor agreement with the school district, that includes a two-hour training for educators that will allow them to implement the program in their classrooms.

According to district staff, the program “empowers students with mindfulness and other transformational skills that build self-awareness, development of natural conflict resolution skills, self-regulation, perseverance, resilience, and social-emotional intelligence”.

The School Board allayed fears on Wednesday about the Mindful Life Project representing an introduction of Eastern religious teachings into Antioch classrooms. The program’s only goal, according to board members and district staff, is to help implement behavioral changes in Antioch students.

Board President Walter Ruehlig, who was given the chance to participate in one of the program’s meditation exercises, noted that the exercise simply involved breathing and reflection techniques.

“I didn’t notice anything religious about it,” he said. The other board members agreed, seeing no indication that the program involved religious teachings.

Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Stephanie Anello delivered a report on the progress of meeting certain goals she set for the AUSD last year. Part of the report included her increased emphasis on tiered behavioral and intervention support for schools, and she informed the Board of a District-wide 38% decrease in suspensions from 2010 to 2016.

The Mindful Life Project is a new addition to the District that Anello hopes will continue that trend into next year. It has drawn praise for its effect on some of Richmond’s students, but it remains to be seen how effective it will be in Antioch.

With some AUSD schools holding less-than-stellar reputations for the behavior of their students, the District will presumably continue to find funding for proven anger management and behavioral intervention programs alongside the new addition of the Mindful Life Project.

On the website for The Mindfulness Project at www.mindfullifeproject.org it shows photos of children in classrooms, with their eyes closed, sometimes with hands out stretched, in what appears to be states of meditation. (See related Herald article)

The term for mindfulness in A Glossary of Pali and Buddhism Terms is sati. It’s definition is “Mindfulness, self-collectedness, powers of reference and retention. In some contexts, the word sati when used alone covers alertness (sampajañña) as well.” According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Pali is the Buddhist canonical language.

Attempt to Televise Board Meetings

At their previous meeting, Vinson proposed the idea of holding board meetings in the Antioch City Council Chambers, which would allow them to be televised and hold a larger audience.

Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White raised the discussion again on Wednesday, and said it would further increase transparency between the District and the public.

However, the Board was not prepared to discuss it during their meeting on the 23rd, and so resolved once again to place the matter on a future meeting agenda.

For now the District makes available the audio of all Board Meetings on their website.

Vinson Served With Recall Papers, Again

Trustee Debra Vinson during her first Antioch School Board meeting, Dec. 10, 2014. Photo by Allen Payton

During public comments on Wednesday, AUSD employee Nicole Cedano appeared again before the Board to serve Trustee Debra Vinson with a second set of recall papers.

Cedano’s first effort, stemming from an incident last year in which Cedano alleged that Vinson became verbally abusive to a secretary at an Antioch school campus, failed after being denied by the County Elections Office due to “a word technicality,” she said.

“Your behavior continues to be a detriment to this District and create an unwelcoming atmosphere for staff, students, and the community,” Cedano told Vinson during her statement to the Board.

In addition to serving Vinson with recall papers, Cedano also warned Sawyer-White of a potential recall, after Sawyer-White made comments last month suggesting that the District hire only minority firms.

“The best firm should get the job regardless of sex or color,” Cedano told the Board. “You should want what is best for the District, not what is best for a certain demographic.”

An attempt to reach Vinson for comment was unsuccessful prior to press time.

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Frazier introduces “Jeff Belle” bill to increase penalties for ballot statement lies

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

In a move that would take a major step forward in addressing accountability for cases of election fraud perpetrated by candidates, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) announced on Thursday the introduction of AB 894, which will increase penalties in cases that determine a willful misrepresentation was made on a candidate statement.

“I introduced AB 894 in an effort to make sure voters are not deceived by candidates fabricating their accomplishments and misleading the public,” said Frazier. “We saw this occur in Contra Costa County. It is not fair and I will do everything in my power to make sure the residents I represent are protected from this injustice in the future.”

Frazier is referring to the case of Contra Costa County School Board Member Jeff Belle, who was prosecuted by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office for lying on his ballot statement during his 2014 campaign, about earning a college degree. The DA settled the case in December, with Belle agreeing to perform community service, in order to avoid facing trial and a maximum penalty of $1,000. (See related article, here).

Currently, the penalty for a candidate lying on his or her nomination papers, which are not public documents and remain within a county’s elections office, are much greater at a maximum of $1,000 and three years in prison. Frazier became aware of that fact last year, didn’t think it made sense and decided to do something about it.

AB 894 will strengthen penalties for candidates who misrepresent facts on a ballot statement, which is public and is sent out to all the voters in a district. Specifically, this bill raises penalties to include forfeiture of office and reimbursement of all costs for the election.

“Misleading the voters about a candidate’s background on ballot statements has been a problem in our county in recent years,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar. “Assemblymember Frazier’s bill is a good start in helping to ensure transparency and accountability to the voters.”

This bill is currently awaiting assignment to policy committee in the California State Assembly.

Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen,, Oakley and portions of Pittsburg in Contra Costa County, as well as Birds Landing, Collinsville, Fairfield, Isleton, Locke, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove in Solano County.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch School Board to offer proper recognition of new Trustee Sawyer-White, past members Navarro, Terry at meeting tonight

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board faced criticism over the way the oath of office ceremony for new Trustee, and top vote-getter in the November election, Crystal Sawyer-White was handled, as well as the recognition of outgoing Trustees Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry, in December. In response, new Board President Walter Ruehlig and Vice President Debora Vinson have set a redo for tonight’s meeting.

A re-enactment of Sawyer-White’s oath of office will begin at 6:15 p.m. followed by a time of special recognition of Navarro and Terry. Members of the public will be allowed to speak and offer their thoughts and thanks to all three. That will be followed by a reception.

According to a previous Herald article, Sawyer-White’s original ceremony was rescheduled for 6:00 p.m., an hour before it was listed on the agenda for the December 14th meeting, without announcing it publicly. So, very few people were in attendance.

An attempt by former Board President and re-elected Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray was made to replace Navarro and Terry with Sawyer-White and returning Trustee Gary Hack, before the Rocketship Charter School vote at the December 7th special board meeting. Navarro saw the removal of his and Terry’s photos from the wall inside the District offices and their presentation to the two outgoing board members at the meeting on November 16, as part of that effort. He refused to accept his photo that night and Gibson-Gray’s effort was later rebuffed by Ruehlig and Vinson.

Until tonight’s meeting there has been nothing on a school board agenda for an official farewell to the two former trustees, the way the Antioch City Council handled it during the transition of power, there.

The ceremony, recognition and reception will be followed by the regular school board meeting at 7:00 p.m. Both will occur in the Board Room at the District Administrative Offices at 510 G Street in downtown Antioch.

To view the entire meeting agenda, please click here.

 

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BART offers longer trains for inauguration-related events

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Trump_Inaugural_Logo.svgBART is taking steps to prepare for what are expected to be large crowds for Inauguration-related events in downtown Oakland and San Francisco. Longer trains will be available for riders all day Friday and Saturday.  BART also plans to have a few additional event trains on standby at key locations on Saturday ready to deploy if warranted by the size of the crowds.

Additional employees will be at the ready to assist BART riders during the next few days.  That includes more Station Agents at what are likely to be the busiest stations.  We will have extra technicians at the ready at those stations to make sure our ticket machines are working and to respond to any new elevator or escalator outages.  Also, additional officers and sergeants from the BART Police Department will be working through Saturday to help with crowd control.

Dozens of events are planned for the region starting Thursday night and continuing through Saturday.  We are expecting some our busiest stations to include 12th Street and Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland as well as Civic Center and Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Riders also play an important role in preparing for these busy travel days.  We strongly encourage everyone to either buy roundtrip tickets or use their Clipper cards.  Also, if you see something suspicious at a station, please tell BART police or a station agent.  If you see something say something.

The ceremonies for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States will begin Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, 8:30 a.m. Paficic.

 

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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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