Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Writer says Jeff Belle will fight Common Core

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rev. Austin Miles

Oakley

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

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carole Harrison, Antioch

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Writer supports Antioch’s Measure O

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Editor:

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

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

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

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

Please vote yes on Measure “O”.

John Tiernan

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Registration deadline for voting in November election is Monday, October 20

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Joseph E. Canciamilla, County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, announces that Monday, October 20, 2014 is the voter registration deadline for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election. New voters, anyone who has moved, or has had a name change must register.

Voters may register online at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote. Voters may also obtain registration forms at government offices including City, County Offices, and DMV locations. The completed form must be delivered to the Contra Costa County Elections Office at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez no later than 5:00 pm on October 20, 2014, or be postmarked by October 20, 2014.

To be eligible to vote, a person must be a U.S. citizen who will be at least 18 years old by November 4, 2014 and not imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony. Anyone who becomes a newly naturalized citizen after the October 20, 2014 deadline may register and vote between October 21 and November 4, 2014. New citizens may register at the Contra Costa County Elections Office at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez and must present his or her Certificate of Naturalization.

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Push for election poll workers continues in Contra Costa County

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

The election is just a month away, but there is still time for those interested in serving their community and making $125 in the process to sign up to work at a local voter precinct on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

Contra Costa County is in need of civic-minded men and women ages 16 and older to be poll workers in all areas of the county. Poll workers are urgently needed in San Ramon and Danville. Elections officials also say that bilingual poll workers (English/Spanish, English/Japanese, English/Korean, English/Tagalog, English/Chinese, English/Vietnamese and English/Hindi) are especially needed.

There is no better way to serve your community, nor a more important part you can play on Election Day than being a poll worker,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa Registrar of Voters. “It is our poll workers who serve to keep our voting process open, accessible and fair.”

No prior experience is necessary and training is provided. Poll workers receive a stipend for their service, which includes attending a two-hour required training and working 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. They will receive a special pin denoting their service. Serving as a poll worker does not have any bearing on Social Security or unemployment status, according to State law.

Poll workers don’t have to be politically active or belong to a political party, Contra Costa County Election officials said. Poll workers are required to remain neutral while working on Election Day.

County and State employees are encouraged to apply.

High School students who are at least 16 and have a grade point average of 2.5 or above may serve as poll workers. Student poll workers will receive a stipend and may fulfill community service requirements.

Those interested in being a poll worker must be registered to vote in California, or a permanent resident in the United States, according to state election law.

For more information, visit www.cocovote.us. To apply, email eo@vote.cccounty.us or call the Elections Division at (925) 335-7873.

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County Elections Office to provide drop-off boxes to enable easier voting, this year

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Contra Costa residents will find it a little easier to vote this upcoming election, as the County Elections Office is teaming up with City Clerks to provide several convenient “CoCo Vote-N-Go” drop off locations prior to and on Election Day.

Brentwood, Antioch, Pittsburg, San Ramon, Orinda, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Richmond, San Pablo, Hercules, and Pinole are among the cities who are participating in this effort. The secure, steel drop-off boxes will be in place at those city halls starting the week of Oct. 13 – one week after permanent vote-by-mail and absentee voters receive ballots. Days and hours of availability will vary by city.

We are excited to join with our City partners in offering this option for our fast growing number of vote by mail voters,” said County Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla in announcing the new service. “In the future, voters should expect to have an even wider range of drop locations in their local communities.”

The distinguishable red boxes will be available during normal city business hours. City staff members will also have the popular “I Voted” stickers upon request for those who drop off their ballots.

County elections officials will regularly pick up collected ballots.

Ballots may also be dropped off 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the County Elections Office in Martinez, located at 555 Escobar St., or at any polling place on Election Day.

For more information about voting by mail, call 925-335-7800 or visit the County Elections Website at www.cocovote.us.

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Antioch Election Forums on Comcast Channel 24 beginning Tuesday night, September 30

Monday, September 29th, 2014

The 2014 Antioch Election Forums co-sponsored by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and Antioch Herald will air on Comcast Local Cable Access Channel 24, beginning this week.

The schedule is as follows on each of the following dates: starting Tuesday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, 7, 9, 21 and 23.

County School Board Candidates Forum Areas 4 and 5 – airs at 6 p.m.

Measure O Campaign Forum – airs at 7 p.m.

Antioch City Council Candidates Forum – airs at 8 p.m.

Antioch School Board Candidates Forum – airs at 10 p.m.

The forums can also be viewed on the Antioch Chamber of Commerce website at www.AntiochChamber.com.

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County School Board candidates forum gets heated

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

By John Crowder

On Thursday night, September 18, 2014, candidates running for two seats on the Contra Costa County Board of Education (CCCBE) participated in a question and answer forum held at the Antioch City Council chambers. Present were all four candidates. Incumbent and retired school administrator Richard Asadoorian is facing challenger Mike Maxwell, a former teacher and local businessman, in the race for Area 4. Incumbent Cynthia Ruehlig, a non-profit administrator, is being challenged by educator Jeff Belle in the race for Area 5. Maxwell is a resident of Danville, while the rest of the candidates are from Antioch.

Paul Burgarino, formerly of the East County Times, and now serving as a Voter Education and Engagement Specialist with the Contra Costa County Election Division, served as moderator for the event. The two panelists asking questions were Allen Payton, publisher of the Antioch Herald, and Dr. Sean Wright, CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

Of the four debates held in Antioch last week, this one produced the most contentious moments, as Belle and Ruehlig challenged each other throughout the night.

Following opening statements and then in answer to the first question, posed by Wright, Asadoorian, Belle, and Ruehlig emphasized their public service credentials, and Maxwell his teaching experience and desire to help kids.

The second question of the night, posed by Payton, asked for the candidate’s views on charter schools in general, and the contentious Dozier-Libbey charter school petition in particular. The answers set the stage for the battle that would continue throughout the rest of the evening between Belle and Ruehlig.

All four candidates expressed at least some support for charter schools.

Maxwell said they were important, and a good asset to the community, but decided to forbear on the Dozier-Libbey question.

Asadoorian, while stating his support for Clayton Valley Charter School, said that he opposed the Dozier-Libbey petition because the school was, “not failing.” He characterized the teacher’s independent charter petition as an attempt to “kidnap” the school for a small number of teachers who were upset.

Ruehlig pointedly disagreed with Asadoorian, taking the position that the Charter School Act of 1992, the applicable state law relating to the formation of charter schools, required the approval of the petition since, “ it met all of the legal requirements.”

Belle stated that he opposed the Dozier-Libbey petition, while at the same time expressing support for the idea of charter schools. “But,” he said, “you can’t do this in the middle of the night. That’s a form of tyranny. We cannot abandon public schools, especially for private schools. They’re public schools, but charters are a lot different.”

Following Belle’s statements, Ruehlig immediately exercised her prerogative for a rebuttal. She referred again to the Charter School Act, emphasizing it was the duty of the board to follow the law when confronted with such issues.

Belle then made his own passionate response to Ruehlig, saying, “Although the law may say something is right [doesn’t make it right].” He went on to say, “Before 1964, the law said hanging was right.”

Ruehlig, though, was not ready to back down, and told Belle, “If you don’t like the law, you can change it.” Bringing up a theme she would return to throughout the evening, that she believed Belle was unfamiliar with the role of the county education board, she said, “If you want to change the law, run for legislator.”

After this lengthy exchange, Wright asked the next question, seeking to learn what each candidate believed the county could do to assist Antioch schools in quelling the violence that has been so prevalent in the news lately.

The incumbents, Asadoorian and Ruehlig, while acknowledging the concern, emphasized the limitations placed on the county board with respect to local matters. Asadoorian said, “Our power is limited…we can’t delve into local politics.” Ruehlig, explaining the role that the county board has, said, “School violence must be addressed at the local level. We have fiscal oversight.” She went on to say that it was important to keep their hands off with respect to specific cases, due to the appellate role the county board serves in the expulsion appeal process.

Maxwell, acknowledging the limited role of the county board previously emphasized by Asadoorian, said he though the county could facilitate issues if they were asked for help.

Belle, though, took a different approach. “It doesn’t take intellect to see something is wrong,” he said. “The board can direct the Superintendent to do a very full performance assessment.”

The next question, asked by Payton, followed up on the responses the candidates had given regarding the issue of violence, by asking each of the participants to explain what they saw as the role of the county superintendent.

Three of the candidates, Asadoorian, Maxwell, and Ruehlig, emphasized the fiscal and budget responsibility of the board, while Ruehlig also spoke about upholding the education code and adjudicating certain issues, such as expulsion and charter school appeals. Belle again took a different position, noting that the board was “elected by the people, first of all,” and, while acknowledging the role of state law, said they should also focus on federal law. “State law does not trump federal law any day,” he said. Belle also spoke again about directing the superintendent, setting up another confrontation with Ruehlig, who said, “The superintendent is a constitutional position. The board works with the superintendent, not one over the other.”

Another point of contention was raised in a discussion of Common Core. Maxwell favored Common Core, saying, “Everything is good in moderation.” Asadoorian thought the controversy surrounding Common Core was due to it being misunderstood. “It’s not a [federal] government takeover,” he said. He went on to say, “It aligns with the kinds of standards that colleges want.” Ruehlig said the Common Core was a set of standards that established what the students should learn, but said that the teachers still determine how to teach.

Belle, however, took one of his most passionate stands of the evening, calling Common Core a “re-indoctrination of children.” In a statement provided by Belle in an email elaborating on his position, he said, “The authors of Common Core are wrong as to what constitutes college readiness.” He went on to characterize the program as, “A

nationalization of public education in America – an indoctrination of mindless information.” He concluded, “I’m not a supporter of Common Core.”

Although the debate was drawing to a close at this point, Ruehlig and Belle weren’t done challenging one another yet. Each candidate was permitted to ask a question of their opponent, and Ruehlig, in an attempt to paint Belle as unfamiliar with the education code, took advantage of the opportunity to ask Belle how AB97 (Dealing with the requirement that county and local boards annually adopt a Local Control Accountability Plan) effects the county office of education, and how he would mitigate those effects. Belle responded that it was, “the right thing to do philosophically, but wrong in budget.”

Belle then asked Ruehlig whether or not she currently sat on the board of a charter school. When she responded in the affirmative, he said, “Why wasn’t this made transparent during the Dozier-Libbey [charter school appeal?]” He went on to say it was a, “conflict of interest.”

Ruehlig, however, seemed to be prepared for the question, responding that she had, “Just last month” become a member of the Synergy board. She emphasized that she was not a member of the board during the Dozier-Libbey appeal, said that Synergy was a state charter, which meant there was no chance of a conflict of interest, and concluded by telling Belle, “You are misinformed.”

In asking for closing comments, Burgarino alluded to the contentious exchanges between Ruehlig and Belle, by saying, “Let’s start with the quiet side of the room,” as he asked for statements by Asadoorian and Maxwell first. Now, Asadoorian was able to get in a dig at his opponent, while at the same time highlighting the difference in their experience, when he said, referring to Maxwell, “If he doesn’t win, I hope he’ll start coming to our meetings to find out what we’re all about.”

Maxwell laughed it off though, then concluded by saying that he was very concerned about our kids and their education, and that the board, “needed a new face.”

Belle focused on a theme from his campaign literature, saying that our schools were at a critical mass, and that lack of safety amounted to a public health issue. “We need clear policy direction,” he said.

Ruehlig emphasized her knowledge of the education code and the role of the county board, then once again challenged her opponent in this area, saying it was important to ask if a person is “ready to serve, or just giving empty promises.” Referring to Belle, she asked, “Are you ready to serve?”

The complete forum can be seen on the Antioch Chamber of Commerce website at www.AntiochChamber.com and on Comcast Local Cable Channel 24 and at 10 p.m. on September 30 and October 2, 7, 9, 21 and 23.

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