Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Yes on Measure T campaign takes ugly, xenophobic turn

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Supporter also uses communist thinking and class warfare to gather support

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

The evil of xenophobia raised its ugly head in Antioch, this week, as a supporter of Measure T, the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative, which is the effort by out of town environmentalists and their supporters in our city, to downzone private property for the purpose of making it permanent open space that the parks district can buy on the cheap, claims she’s of the understanding that the family that owns the Zeka Ranch “are not U.S. citizens”.

In addition, clear communist thinking straight from the first of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto is being used as the reason to pass the initiative.

Screenshot of email from Antioch resident Lucy Meinhardt regarding Measure T on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

In an email to the editor originally asking about advertising for the Yes on T campaign from Antioch resident Lucy Meinhardt, Tuesday night, she wrote, “I support Measure T because I believe the good of the community outweighs the property owner’s preferences in this case. I have enjoyed for many years the views when hiking the trails south of Contra Loma to the views of the former Higgins Ranch. To see houses there would hurt me to the core.”

The first plank of the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx reads, “Abolition of private property in land and application of all rents of land to public purpose.” That’s exactly what she and the supporters of Measure T are attempting to do to the Zeka Ranch and three nearby properties, for a total of 877 homes, which is all that could have been affected by the initiative.

Worse, Meinhardt wrote, “Though the owner owns a house in Antioch, I understand they are not U.S. citizens.”

Louisa Zee Kao, the head of the Zeka Group, Inc. and Zeka Ranch, LLC, who has been fighting for her rights to do with the land as the voters said three times she could, has been a U.S. citizen for over 40 years having emigrated with her late husband and her two children from Hong Kong in the 1970’s. Her grandchildren, for whom she’s working to leave a legacy, were all born in the U.S., as well.

Plus, even foreign residents have rights, and it doesn’t matter who owns the property, because those rights are tied to the property.

Meinhardt went on to write, “I cherish this land for all of us, not a wealthy few who would help the owners reap huge profits. I hope the land will eventually be annexed to the East Bay Regional Parks that surround it.”

So, she admits she wants the privately owned land, purchased by the Zeka Group in 2000, with the first payment made in 1989, downzoned and devalued by over 97% so it can be annexed to and become part of the publicly owned park district land.

Meinhardt uses class warfare which is based in jealousy and envy to keep an immigrant family from increasing their wealth and leaving a legacy for future generations, while providing housing that Antioch doesn’t currently have, even though we the people voted  three times to allow for the new homes to be built in the Sand Creek area.

Screenshot of second email from Lucy Meinhardt on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.

In a further email sent today, after being called out for her xenophobia, Meinhardt attempted to apologize.

“Apologies. I had heard this rumor. I usually fact check. Do any Kao’s live in Antioch? The Zeka company is based in Burlingame. I am not xenophobic. Both Zeka and Richfield are out of town firms and are investment real estate firms. The rumor took them a bit further out of town. We will never agree on land use with respect to this land. I am sure there will be lawsuits over the initiative when it passes.”

However, Meinhardt was being xenophobic, by definition, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary: “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”

As for the lawsuits she mentions possibly happening, perhaps the supporters will sue the city and the landowners, but they won’t win because the property owners have rights. Plus, both Zeka – which is a family owned, boutique developer – and adjacent property owner Richfield/Oak Hill Park have already won the two major rulings in their lawsuits against both the city and environmentalists who are behind Measure T.

And again, it doesn’t matter where a property owner is from, where they live or if they’re U.S. citizens, or not. They and their property both have rights.

Devaluing property is in legal terms considered a taking.

How would Meinhardt and other Measure T supporters like it if that happened to something they owned and have it taken from them? Oh, we will just devalue it and then buy it at the lower price for the “good of the community”. I doubt they would appreciate that at all.

But at least she’s honest about what they’re attempting to do: downzoning and devaluing the privately owned Zeka Ranch and three other properties in the Sand Creek area, so the park district can buy it for pennies on the dollar, then annex into the public park land. That’s exactly what the environmentalists tried to get Louisa Kao to do three years ago, so that other developers could use her land as mitigation property for open space, for the to build their subdivisions. She declined the ridiculous offer.

Fortunately, the downzoning and devaluation can’t and won’t happen thanks to Gov. Newsom signing SB330 into law last year which bans cities from downzoning residential land by either council action or initiative.

That’s why Measure T is moot and will have no effect even if it does pass.

In fact, the homes will be approved and built. Because if the city council doesn’t approve the homes planned for the Zeka Ranch or any of the other properties currently zoned residential in Antioch within five hearings on each project, SB330 states the city will, at a minimum be fined $10,000 per housing unit, costing us taxpayers millions of dollars.

So, vote no on Measure T. Don’t take their land and save our tax dollars. It’s unfair and unAmerican.

For more details and to get the facts before you vote, visit antiochherald.com/no-on-measure-t.

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Candidate Profile: Julio Jesse Mendez for Mayor of Antioch

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Julio Jesse Mendez

Julio Jesse Mendez

Running for Antioch Mayor

Conga, Software Sales Engineer

Top Issues

Priority 1: Respond with urgency and action to the COVID crisis and its local impact on homelessness, job loss, and the soon to follow fiscal pressures we must face.

Priority 2: Begin the process of creating a self-sustaining economic engine that will be the City of Antioch. Prioritize local cooperative infrastructure projects around renewable energy, digital decentralized finance, and remote work.

Priority 3: Civic morality, accountability and transparency. Especially around general fund expenditures, education, and community development. Open the door to more direct community engagement and inclusion in the civic process.

Top Accomplishments

  • First Antioch home at the age of 27. Sold to a local working family without bidding up the price, 3 years later.
  • Top performer accolades in almost every company I have joined in the past 10 years, as well as recently recognized “Values Champion” by my current company.
  • Life is short, willing to put career and likability on the line to speak up for what is right; and sacrifice personal comforts, health, and privileges to “be the change”; so that we might all live and work a bit better.

JulioJesse4Mayor.com

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The Herald recommends: Simonsen for City Clerk, Davis for Treasurer

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen and City Treasurer Jim Davis.

By Allen Payton, Editor & Publisher

Easy decisions in these races. City Clerk Arne Simonsen knows his job inside and out and has continued to learn and acquired a Master Municipal Clerk certificate to become better in his role. He is the go to guy for questions about pretty much anything to do with the city, city council and city hall. Simonsen should be re-elected

Dwayne Eubanks is a nice man and has served the community in various roles, but he wanted to run for council and his agenda is more aligned with that.  Ellie Householder is already on the school board for two more years. She shouldn’t be trying to hold two public offices.

Jim Davis is the clear choice for City Treasurer. Had Lauren Posada run for anything else, I’d have considered her. But she works for the city finance department, which may not pose a legal conflict of interest, it’s still an ethical one. Davis is trusted and has handled finances in both his job over the years and as mayor and councilman. He has earned confirmation of his appointment in 2018 for a full four-year term.

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Candidate Profile: Rakesh Kumar Christian for Mayor of Antioch

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Rakesh Kumar Christian for Mayor of Antioch

Rakesh Kumar Christian

Make Antioch #1!

I am a man of principles. God gave me many opportunities in my life. I jumped into politics because revolutionary acts can mean success for all humankind. My desire is simply to serve others, solve problems and meet needs. Antioch residents are aware of the mismanagement in our city. When I speak to them, I tell them, I promise you that I will make Antioch the Best, so help me God!”

Please call me at (510) 786-8909 or email me at thankyou@rakeshkumarchristian.com

My Priorities:

Economic Development

– Local, Quality Jobs

– Improve Downtown.

Public Safety

Fiscal Responsibility & Accountability

– Eliminate positions we can’t afford!

Quality Services

Seniors & Youth Services

Parks & Recreation

Improved Education

Transportation

Growth & Development

Homeless

Experience

Chemist – performed research of ingredients for HIV/AIDS medication.

Regional General Manager for a fast food chain – overseeing 1,000’s of employees

“I understand how business works – budgets, hiring and managing people!”

“I understand how to read Profit & Loss Statements.

Education

Bachelor’s Degree in Education – math, science & statistics, and Chemistry

Master’s Degree in Chemistry

Successful Immigrant

Vote Rakesh Kumar Christian for Mayor.

Let’s Make Antioch #1 – the Best City in the County, State, Nation & World!

www.RakeshKumarChristian.com

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Read the history of the Zeka Ranch project and why you should vote no on Measure T

Monday, October 26th, 2020

ZEKA RANCH PROJECT HISTORY – OVER 30 YEARS OF WORKING & WAITING

3 Votes by the People in 1990, 2005, & 2006 Establish Urban Limit Line, Allow Homes in the Sand Creek Area. This 4th Vote Attempts to Devalue the Land – Unfair & Illegal!

  • INTRODUCTION: Zeka Ranch is a thoughtfully prepared, new home community, in the City of Antioch that fulfills the City’s vision for the Sand Creek Area on housing, nestled within the unique, existing natural features of the site. The mix of densities, housing types, their location within the master plan and interaction with the site’s natural topography makes Zeka Ranch an exceptional master planned community, which could be the preferred location of executive type housing that the City lacks and has continuously expressed interest in developing
  • PROPERTY HISTORY AND EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Zeka Ranch site, formerly known as the Higgins Ranch, comprises approximately six hundred thirty-nine plus (639+) acres situated in the westerly limits of the former Sand Creek Focus area. The site is bordered by the East Bay Regional Park District, Black Diamond Mine Regional Preserve to the west, Roddy Ranch to the South, Empire Mine Road and Richland Communities proposed Ranch project to the east and public open space to the north. The 639+ acres are subdivided into five independent parcels held by five separate entities.
  • The proposed plan creates an opportunity to implement product diversification that caters to executives and other demography looking for higher end housing, in a setting that is distinct from anywhere else in Antioch. The community will be a synergy of planning, architecture, landscape and engineering. The use of narrower and slower streets, Low Impact Development (LID) Techniques, native and drought tolerant landscape elements, ability to integrate smart technologies and sustainable measures in the homes, integration of trails and open spaces with the surrounding regional open spaces would make this a destination for higher end housing that the City has coveted for so long
  • The proposed land uses of the Zeka Ranch project are in compliance with the existing City of Antioch General Plan. As envisioned in the General Plan, Zeka Ranch is a mix of two housing types – Hillside Estate Housing and Executive Housing.
  • HISTORY – 1980’s City of Antioch grants General Plan allocation of up to 2 homes per acre on 640 acres at Higgins Ranch.
  • 1989 City of Antioch began planning for homes in the Sand Creek area, which would be referred to as Future Urban Area 1 (FUA1). Zeka begins process of purchasing the Higgins property.
  • 1990 Contra Costa VOTERS APPROVE Urban Limit Line cutting off 65% of land in the county from subdivision development and allowing new homes to be built on 35% of the land. The Sand Creek area and Zeka Ranch are INSIDE County’s Urban Limit Line.
  • 1990 Zeka was approached by an adjacent property owner to participate in the City’s planning effort, for the area. Since then, Zeka paid 25% of the costs for the City studies and plans for the FUA1 area, even though later Zeka significantly reduced the number of units on their property. The City’s initial plans for FUA-1/Sand Creek area include over 8,900 homes, plus 700 homes at Roddy Ranch, for over 9,600 homes.
  • 2000 Zeka purchases land for a huge amount of money from Higgins family and begins process for approval of upscale, high-end home project. Initial plans included 1,100 homes, but in the interim, they reduced to 740 homes. The East Bay Regional Park District threatened to sue City of Antioch if they allow Zeka development on much of their acreage. Instead of fighting it, Zeka Group voluntarily reduces plans to 338 homes on 196 acres, leaving 440+ as future open spaces.
  • 2003 Antioch City Council approves General Plan, formally allocates 2 homes per acre on Zeka’s land, allowing only 4,000 homes total in Sand Creek Focus Area.
  • 2005 After County Supervisors moved in the Urban Limit Line to cut out the Roddy Ranch, the people of Antioch voted overwhelmingly to approve Measure K, move the line back out and establish Antioch’s own Urban Limit Line. Sand Creek area and Zeka Ranch are INSIDE City’s Urban Limit Line.
  • 2006 County voters, once again approve County’s Urban Limit Line. Sand Creek area and Zeka Ranch are inside the Urban Limit Line!
  • 2017 Save Mount Diablo representative suggests Zeka sell the Zeka Ranch property to other developer in Antioch for open space use, which would have drastically downgraded and devalued Zeka Ranch property, involuntarily.
  • 2017 Zeka Group ready to submit plans. City staff says hold off. City wants to wait until neighboring developer’s The Ranch project is approved. The Ranch project finally approved on 5-0 vote of Antioch City Council on July 28, 2018. Yet the City Council rejected Zeka Ranch PDP Application submittal after its adoption of Let Antioch Voters Decide (LAVD) initiative a month later.
  • 2018 Out-of-town environmentalists launch initiative effort to downzone Zeka Ranch property to just 1 home per 80 acres to only 8 homes on 639+ acres! Antioch voters are misled by them saying they could stop 8,000 homes. That wasn’t true!
  • According to Save Mt. Diablo’s representative, their initiative ONLY AFFECTS LAND WEST OF DEER VALLEY ROAD. By then the City had already approved 1,200 homes at east of Deer Valley Road, 301 homes are planned in a gated, senior community south of Kaiser, and 121 homes are planned around Kaiser. Plus, 221 more homes are now being processed by the City. So, the most the initiative could stop is about 900 homes, not 8,000! The environmentalists KNEW IT.
  • A few years ago Save Mt. Diablo suggested Zeka Ranch sell their land to other developers for open space. Zeka respectfully declined the offer.
  • 2018, instead of letting the voters decide – like the title of the initiative – the environmentalists asked and got the five council members to decide and adopted the LAVD initiative and rejected Zeka Ranch project application! That forced the landowners to sue both the City and environmentalists in court – Zeka and Oak Hill Park Property won, not once, but twice!
  • 2019 Judge rules City Council has to place LAVD initiative on Nov. 2020 ballot.
  • 2019 October, in response to California’s housing crisis, Governor Newsom signs SB330 into law which says effective January 1, 2020 development applications for residential property cannot be downzoned either by city council action or by initiative. So, the Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative, if passed, should be of no effect for voters at the ballot under the SB330 law.
  • However, the environmentalists want to still win and have voters to pass Measure T. They hope it will force the future city councils to vote NO on the projects, only to forcing more lawsuits costing the City, taxpayers and landowners more money. Zeka wants respectfully to tell the out-of-town environmentalists and their local supporters: NO!
  • Today, after 30 years of waiting and planning, Highway 4 has been widened to Antioch, Highway 4 Bypass/extension built to Balfour Road in Brentwood, and the BART extension to Antioch is completed. (Major roads in Antioch, plus the Highway 4 widening and extension were designed for 12,000 homes in the Sand Creek area and Roddy Ranch)
  • Zeka Ranch has duly resubmitted PDP application to Antioch Planning Department for proposed development of 338 home lots under the Law of SB330 and the application plans currently being reviewed.
  • Zeka Ranch community project will be working in nature, for improvements and beautification of nature. It represents less than 8.5% of total 4,000 home allocations within Sand Creek Area and will provide about 70% of open space within its lands in proactive mitigation.
  • NOW is the time for the Voters of Antioch to VOTE NO on Measure T. We wish to work with the new City Council for approval of Zeka Ranch plans, so, NICE, UPSCALE HOMES, on VIEW LOTS, surround by hundreds of acres of OPEN SPACES can be built, like those in Blackhawk, the San Ramon Valley, Walnut Creek and Brentwood. They will attract executives and business owner investors to Antioch who will bring new companies to the area, creating the LOCAL, QUALITY JOBS for Antioch residents.
  • All the new homes will pay their own way, with more police and fire protection, and road impact fees to help complete Antioch’s long-planned roadways and the Highway bypass/extension widening to Marsh Creek Road and beyond.
  • CONCLUSION: Zeka Ranch will be a diverse, well designed, well amenitized and secure master planned community that will provide high-end housing within the City boundary and inside both the 3-times voter approved County and City Urban Limit Lines, which the City of Antioch envisions for this location. The Zeka Ranch team looks forward to working with City Staff, other agencies, the Planning Commission, City Council, residents, and many stakeholder groups as we create a legacy community within the City of Antioch.

For more information visit the No on Measure T page on this website at http://antiochherald.com/no-on-measure-t/.

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The Herald recommends: Young in Area 1, Lewis in Area 3 for Antioch School Board

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

George Young (left) and Dr. Clyde Lewis (right).

By Allen Payton, Editor & Publisher

Easy decisions in both races. The only candidates with the knowledge and experience to bring true reform to improve the education for Antioch students are George Young in Area 1 and Dr. Clyde Lewis in Area 3.

Area 1

While I applaud current Board President Diane Gibson-Gray’s leadership this year in handling the controversies, protests and dissent on the board, three things prevent me from supporting her. One is the lack of progress in test scores among Black and Hispanic students during her 12 years on the board; second was her bypassing three times of two African American, female board vice presidents for board president, one of whom because Gibson-Gray said she didn’t think was ready which was rather condescending; (See related articles here, here and here) and third, because Gibson-Gray opposed all three charter schools, including Rocketship which has proven to far outshine the other schools in the Antioch district.

The new board majority needs to consider what they’re doing at that school which is helping the students advance as many as four grade levels in just one year and adopt their practices in all AUSD schools.

Antonio Hernandez is nice, young man and offers a different perspective having graduated from Antioch’s Dozier-Libbey Medical High School. But this year he’s sided with the protesters and those opposing the long-desired and -awaited School Resource Officers for the six middle and high school campuses in the district. In an Op-Ed he wrote, “Cops are a band-aid solution to under-resourced schools, and a very poor one at that.” In addition, on Hernandez’s campaign website it reads “Children Need Counselors, Not Cops” even though the first plank of his platform reads “We deserve safe schools.” Actually, and unfortunately, these days both are needed on our local campuses and there are already 14 Mental Health Clinicians and 31 School Guidance Counselors employed in the district.

Plus, Hernandez is one of the “East Contra Costa Progressive Wave” and “Our Revolution Contra Costa” candidates which includes Lamar Thorpe who is running for mayor, council candidates Monica Wilson, Tamisha Walker and Nichole Gardner, and controversial Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder who is running for city clerk. They are all wanting to turn our city and school district into something more like Berkeley. That type of thinking doesn’t fit our community.

Young will bring to the position his knowledge and experience from serving on the board of Rocketship Delta Prep. He’s committed to improving the education for the students and their safety on the campus. His military experience is an added bonus, providing the order and discipline a leader needs, and Young will be a good example for all students in the district.

Area 3

Crystal Sawyer-White spent way too much of her four years pursuing her own educational advancement as a board member than the students’. She’s a nice lady and voted right on charter schools, but one term is enough.

Kenny Turnage has served our community well for years and was honored for it as Antioch’s 2015 Citizen of the Year for Most Impact. But Lewis is better suited and prepared to serve on the school board representing Area 3.

Lewis is also the most educated candidate, not only in this election, but in any Antioch School Board election that I can remember. He not only has a master’s in Educational Administration and Supervision and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration, Lewis has been an instructor and works as a consultant in education.

He’s also served the community both on the Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commission and most recently as President of the Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch. Lewis is the right person for the job at the right time. I just wish he had won two years ago.

For real change and giving our children a better shot at an improved, quality education, please cast your vote for George Young in Area 1 and Dr. Clyde Lewis in Area 3 for the Antioch School Board.

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Candidate Profile: Gabriel Makinano for Mayor of Antioch

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Gabriel Makinano

Gabriel Makinano was raised in Antioch and has spent the last 16 years living in and seeing firsthand the changes and struggles those changes have brought to our community and residents. He has a heart of   integrity and will work to bring the changes to Antioch that are needed to ensure all residents are valued and safe.

He is a father, husband, friend, and is known in the community for being an image of change. As a formerly incarcerated individual, he has mentored youth, men, and women leaving incarceration.

First Priority: Public Safety. To create a safe city, he will work hard with community leaders, law enforcement, and all residents.

Gabriel has worked closely with schools, families, local leaders, churches, and law enforcement to create long-term solutions to gang-related crimes in Antioch. He has worked on the frontlines of the ceasefire movement, unifying community and law enforcement to promote a safer environment for Antioch families.

Gabriel is committed to creating a sustainable plan to combat homelessness, affordable housing, and an environment where businesses can thrive. Antioch residents deserve real solutions to the issues. Antioch deserves a mayor that will represent all peoples of our beautiful city. For vision with action, vote Gabe Makinano.

See his Vision 2020 for Antioch at VoteGMakinano.com.

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Candidate Profile: Lamar Thorpe for Mayor of Antioch

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Lamar Thorpe

Lamar A. Thorpe

Position seeking: Mayor of Antioch

Current & past public offices held & years: Antioch Council Member 2016-2020, Eastern Contra Costa County Transit Authority 2017-2020; and Antioch Economic Development Commissioner 2013-2016.

Current paying job: Executive Director, Los Medanos Community Healthcare District & Campaign Manager, Steve Glazer for State Senate

Top Issues: Increasing public safety, reducing homelessness and blight, responsible police reform, expanding before, after school programs, and building a vibrant, family-friendly downtown similar to Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza.

Top Accomplishments:

  1. Fought to protect the community’s quality of life by leading the fight to double the size of the code enforcement team, invest an additional $2 million in recreational and youth programs, and develop resources to reducing homeless encampments.
  2. Fought for fiscal responsibility, co-authoring the proposal that eliminated Antioch’s $12 million structural deficit, and advancing proposal that reduces Antioch unfunded liabilities and saving taxpayers over $25 million.
  3. Fought to keep Antioch safe by authorizing the hiring of 121 police officers, while advancing responsible police reform.

www.lamarthorpe.com, Facebook: lamar.a.thorpe 925-978-4663

 

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