Archive for October, 2012

Dozier-Libbey teacher participates in summer internship with U.S. Surgeon General

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Cyndi Soraoka, (fifth from left) with others from the internship program in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD (in dress white uniform, fifth from right).

By Cyndi Soraoka

I was one of only four Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Advisors, out of over 40 applicants, selected to do a one-week internship in the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States, this past July in Washington, DC.

I was privileged to learn about our public health system including the Medical Reserve Corps, the US Public Health Service, and the US Public Health Commissioned Corps, which is on par with the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard in service to our country. We visited the Department of Human Services, learned about the Emergency Management System that is deployed in case of a nationwide medical emergency and visited the Secretary’s Operation Center (SOC)—a 24-hour operation that serves as the “nerve center” for public health emergency preparedness. I learned how different medical career personnel can serve our country at the federal level. We visited the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) which houses a medical school and graduate nursing department funded by the federal government.

I am sharing what I learned during that week with the Dozier-Libbey Medical High School HOSA chapter and incorporating it into the 10th grade Health Science curriculum. It was a once in a life time experience!

HOSA develops leadership and technical skill competencies through a program of motivation, awareness and recognition. To learn more visit

To learn more about the internship please check out our blog at


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Antioch Council splits on street closure for church’s annual Halloween event

Monday, October 29th, 2012

By James Ott

A local church made an unsuccessful, last minute attempt to overturn the city’s initial decision to deny them the ability to close off a street for their annual community carnival this Halloween.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Grace Bible Fellowship of Antioch asked the council members to overturn the city engineer’s decision to deny the church a permit to close a section of Sunset Drive for their “Holy Eve Community Carnival.”

In the end, the city decided that there were too many issues with staging the large event at the suggested location and not enough time to resolve them so the street closure was denied.

The vote was split down the middle with council members Wade Harper and Mary Rocha for and Gary Agopian and Mayor Jim Davis against while Councilman Brian Kalinowski was absent.

Council said that the sheer size of the event and the late pursuit of permission to close the street brought on issues of public safety and potential backlash from neighboring businesses.

Last year the church said they had about 20,000 people when it was staged at the Antioch mall. In previous years people have apparently come from as far as Fairfield, Fremont, Vacaville and Pinole to attend the carnival.

The event was so big last year that the local Starbucks allegedly took in “10’s of thousands of dollars” in sales, something a church representative at the meeting was told was a better sales day than Black Friday.

According to the church’s website, the fair has been held since 2003 and it is such a success because it provides a safe, fun atmosphere for families “on a night that is typically synonymous with heinous pranks and random acts of violence particularly against those who are socially vulnerable.”

The church said they are holding the event at their own church and not a larger venue such as the mall or the Antioch Fairgrounds as in previous years because they have received far less funding from local businesses than they have in years past. As a result they had to scale back this year’s carnival by advertising less and so are expecting less people to attend.

The church said they have written permission from each business within the street closure area. Those businesses apparently gave permission to use their parking spaces for any overflow parking the event might generate.

One of the many issues that surfaced during the council meeting however, was that even businesses outside the planned closure section would likely still be affected by the large amount of vehicles and pedestrians that would potentially block customers.

That’s a problem, Councilman Agopian said, because the issues was an emergency agenda item and so those potentially affected businesses have not had time to come to a city council meeting and give their opinion to city council.

The reason we have items agendized is so that the other interested parties can come and speak. We have a duty and an obligation to everybody in this city and everybody on this street to do the right thing, otherwise it’s just not good process.” said Councilmember Gary Agopian.

Public safety was also a big concern, especially from the Antioch police who said they did not support the closure of the street.

The closure of that area is not conducive to public safety,” said Antioch Police Captain McConnell. The captain said that because of Highway 4 construction there is increased traffic on Sunset including heavy trucks. And although the church said they have about 30 people for security and traffic re-direction – some of whom are off duty police officers from neighboring cities – McConnell said that having untrained civilians working traffic would expose the city to “a tremendous amount of liability.”

We really want to support this because it’s a great event,” said Mayor Jim Davis. But in the end the council just barely missed approving the street closure permit. The vote was split 2 to 2 and so no action could be taken to approve it.

The council however, voted unanimously to allow the event to take place at the new boat launch in downtown pending approval of an administrative use permit. They also agreed to waive any fees for that facility’s use up to $500.

According to the event announcement on the church’s website, the Holy Eve Community Carnival will be held in the church’s parking lot on Sunset Drive.

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Columnist reviews the candidates for Antioch city office

Monday, October 29th, 2012

In November, Antioch voters will get the opportunity to seat a new mayor, two council members and a new, part-time city clerk. Both Harper and Agopian have safe council seats. They were elected to council in 2010. Davis and Rocha are not safe.

Candidates for the Mayor’s seat are Gary Agopian, (Council member and former AUSD board trustee), Wade Harper (Council member and former appointed AUSD board trustee), Don Freitas (Antioch’s mayor from 2000 to 2008, former CC Water District Board member and retired director of the CCC Flood Control and Water Conservation District who conducted the failed Clean Water ballot election earlier this year) and Michael Leon, a neighborhood activist.

City Council candidates include Mary Rocha (council incumbent), Jim Davis (current Antioch Mayor), Walter Ruehlig (AUSD board trustee), Monica Wilson (member of the city’s Economic Development Commission) and Noel Pinto (Berkeley city traffic enforcement and Board Member of his homeowners association).

Candidates for the city clerk’s seat are Arne Simonsen (former council member) and Argentina Davila-Luevano, whose ballot designation is social worker, although her job is CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Institute.

Many of these names may be familiar to you but frankly that shouldn’t give them a leg up in the race for office. Study their record and note who are their campaign supporters.

Candidates for Mayor:

Don Freitas – In 1998, three fellow CCWD board members charged Freitas with having misrepresented the board’s position by campaigning against the Garavanta dump site proposal. In 2001 was fined by the Antioch City Clerk for filing his campaign finance statement two months past the deadline. Pro labor, Don (and Mary Rocha) on a 3-2 vote voted to impose a “stop work” on the McBail Sand Creek Ranch housing and commercial project because one of McBail’s subcontractors (Thomas Plumbing) hired an apprentice who had not graduated from a state-approved training program. The “McBail mandate” was ultimately was torpedoed by Judge Spellberg.

Don later endorsed Reggie Moore, saying he needed a 3rd vote on council who supported project labor agreements. (Winco sold its property across from Wal-Mart due to Freita’s position on labor issues.) His 2002 State of the City address touted “bulldozing” rundown houses along Highway 4 in favor of 3- to 5-story buildings and supported rezoning the 11+ acre medium density residential parcel at Lone Tree Way and Blue Rock to “office use” and high density residential (a 240 unit apartment complex.) In 2007 Don wanted an additional $12 million spent on the Prewett Park community center by extending the projected payoff date of the Mello Roos bonds. Don is known to be “thin skinned” and a micromanager with a hot temper. He currently holds a sizeable campaign fundraising lead over the other candidates. He has the endorsement of APOA, having voted for the 3% at age 50 retirement package, as well as a six-year contract in 2007 (the subject of recent council negotiations with APOA) and Republic Services, a subsidiary of Allied Waste, having voted to extend their contract with the city to 2025. (Davis voted against it.)

Gary Agopian: He’s willing to consider a property tax for additional police funding, as do the other candidates. As a member of the school board, I assume he’s supported AUSD’s bond measures which causes me concern. However, I give him kudos because, as a new AUSD board member in 2004 when the district was dealing with financial problems, he supported a strong fiscal recovery plan. Plus he opposed the half-cent sales tax measure on the 2010 ballot that would have hurt Antioch business. Gary, who ran for County Supervisor in 2004, has a admirable business background and a long history of service to the community e.g. a member of the Deer Valley Plaza Crime Task Force, a member of the city’s Economic Development Commission and a member of the Mello-Roos tax Board. He feels it’s vital to annex the area on Antioch’s northeast because it has deep water access rail access and would attract 21st century jobs.

Wade Harper: Although I like his plan to lower crime and he’s personable, his job as a full time police lieutenant often keeps him away from meetings, including the Chamber’s debate for Mayoral candidates, making him a poor candidate for the Mayor’s position which requires a considerable dedication of time to fulfill all the duties of the office. Additionally, I’m concerned about his connections with the Seenos and Garaventa. He reclused himself on a recent vote regarding possible litigation against Discovery Builders, owned by Albert Seeno, in regard to the Markley Creek Culvert Crossing Project, part of the long awaited Buchanan Bypass claiming that since Seeno donated to his campaign he had a conflict of interest.

Michael Leon: Don’t know much about him but like his background and his refusal to seek or take endorsements. I wish he had decided to run for council rather than trying to just jump into the mayor’s seat. I’m like to see him on the next election ballot.

Now for a look at council candidates:

Jim Davis: Toppled Mayor Don Freitas by 489 votes in 2008 and became mayor, a seat he unexpectedly decided not to run for again, instead opting to apply for the council position being vacated by Brian Kalinowski. Jim was a former council member, a Neighborhood Watch organizer, a Police Commission and a member of the Mello-Roos board, supporting the homeowners right to vote on tax increases. If you want to know where Jim stands on any issue, just ask him, he’ll tell you.

Mary Rocha – Her mission statement this time around is “bring back Cooperation, Compassion, and Commitment. I’ll give her commitment, she spent 8 years on council and 4 years as Mayor, cooperation (she follows along) and compassion for child care. Finances aren’t Mary’s strong suit. She voted for the San Diego ferry boat as well as city’s ill advised decision to borrow $6.3M in loans from the state’s Dept. of Boating and Waterways to develop and construct a 285 birth marina with an accompanying privately owned restaurant and public fishing pier, then deciding to defer replaying the loan during construction and during the first few years of operation. purchase. A pro labor advocate, she supported the McBail stop work order. In 1988 she advocated for the construction of the GWF plant saying it would bring more jobs to Antioch. (Only 13 employees were hired and one was Mary’s husband). Mary was on council in 1997 when council, upset that residents rejected a $3.2 million landscape and lighting district plan, had city crews hang signs on city parks that read “Enter at your own risk”. When mayor in 2000 she received a letter from Attorney General Bill Lockyer chiding the city for not complying with the mandate to update its general plan every 10 years.

Walter Ruehlig – has never seen a school bond measure he didn’t like but despite our disputes over former Superintendent Deborah Sims, whose dismissal I urged, student discipline measures and the district’s real estate portfolio, hats off to Walter (who often wears one) for his willingness to communicate at all times.

Monica Wilson – Admittedly I don’t know much about her other than she’s a college dean assistant and member of the Antioch Economic Development Commission but her list of Democratic party supporters are longer than her list of accomplishments. Frankly, I’d prefer someone less partisan.

Noel Pinto – Great resume as an administrator and someone committed to getting Antioch back on track. His goals are to “ ensure a balanced annual City budget, make Police funding priority 1, fill police vacancies, no more layoffs, promote business development and local job creation, market Antioch and what it offers to the outside world, commit to the revitalization of downtown Antioch, create funding initiatives to maintain an acceptable qualify of life for the residents.” What counts as much as his impressive background, is that he’s a great communicator and would be a transparent and responsive councilman.

City Clerk’s position:

Arne Simonsen – has a long history as a dedicated council member (2000 to 2008) and lost his last race for office by a hair. Arne has stated his intent to run an open office, making more materials available for residents to scrutinize and putting more information on the city website to keep citizens informed and updated. He was an open and responsive councilman which assures me he not only will run the city clerk’s office in the same manner but will make it even more assessable to the public.

Argentina Davila-Luevano – ran unsuccessfully for council in 2002 and sees the position as a stepping stone for a future run for council. Argentina was formerly deputy state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens of California. According to a Huffington Post article, she endorsed, on behalf of the LULAC, Proposition 19, a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana usage, causing the National Executive Director of LULAC to issue an official statement that she did not have the authority to make an endorsement on behalf of LULAC. Not a resume I admire.

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Most Antioch schools improving

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Most of Antioch’s public schools are improving, but as a whole they are still below state and government education standards and assessments.

At the Wednesday, October 25 school board meeting, Antioch Unified School District Director of Educational Services Mary McCarthy gave a presentation that highlighted the targets the schools were supposed to hit. Antioch Unified, like every district in California, needs to meet certain state and federal standards.

There are several state tests that are used to determine whether students in a school are improving and meeting those standards, like the California Standards Test (CST) and the California Modified Assessment (CMA), for example.

Overall, Antioch’s students have done fairly well on these tests this year. The students that are tested – second grade through eleventh grade students – have increased their Language Arts CST scores an average of 2.5 percent over last year. And their CST Math scores, (only second through seventh grade were available) have increased about 3.33 percent over last year.

The States Academic Performance Index (API) takes tests such as the California Standards Test (CST) and the California Modified Assessment (CMA), in consideration when they determine a school’s API score.

The API is growth model, represented as a number, from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, which reflects a school’s performance level based on the results of statewide testing. It’s supposed to measure the academic performance and growth of a given school.

The API is calculated by converting a student’s performance on statewide assessments, into points on the API scale. These points are then averaged across all students and all tests. The state requires all schools and districts to achieve a score of 800 or higher on the API.

According to McCarthy’s presentation, the district as a whole has seen an average growth this year of +12 and a four year growth trend of +30 on average for their API scores.

Only 5 of the 24 schools have reached the state mandated score of 800 for the API, according to McCarthy’s presentation. However, one third of Antioch’s schools have seen at least some growth, something that is encouraging, McCarthy said.

Of the five schools that reached 800, including John Muir Elementary, Dozier-Libbey High, Orchard Park Middle, Diablo Vista Elementary, and Lone Tree Elementary, four of them saw growth of four or more. Only John Muir’s API score fell and by a significant 30 points, something McCarthy said she and John Muir’s staff are looking into.

In addition to state standards, schools must also meet federal government standards. One of the biggest government criteria is the Federal Accountability Adequate Yearly Progress, (AYP), standard.

The federal government’s goal is 100 percent of all tested students will demonstrate proficiency or better in English-Language Arts and Math by 2014.

AYP is determined for elementary and middle school students by using STAR testing. High school student’s AYP scores are determined through the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) scores and a minimum graduation rate.

In addition, all students must show a combined API score of 740 or at least one point of growth and a certain participation rate on those tests.

McCarthy said that it is very difficult to meet AYP because 46 individual criteria have to be met.

Not only do all schools and the districts as a whole have to meet the above minimum test and participation standards, but there are many additional subgroups that must meet them too. Student subgroups including African American, Asian, Filipino, Hispanic/Latino, White, Socio/Economically Disadvantaged, English Learners and Students with Disabilities, all have to individually meet the AYP targets for a school to pass.

For example, AUSD could have hit 45 of the 46 standards and they still wouldn’t pass because they’re target graduation rate is 76.01 percent and AUSD’s graduation rate was set by the AYP at 75.86 percent – a gap of just .0015 percent. They would have missed their goal by only about two students.

AUSD however, only passed 26 of the 46 AYP criteria and have not met the AYP criteria as a district for the last five years in a row.

Although the district is in its third year of steady improvement, they are still far below the required 78.4 percent efficiency in English-Language Arts and the 77.4 percent efficiency in Math. As a district, AUSD is right at 50 percent efficiency for Math and English.

The closest subgroups to reaching proficiency in English and Math are Asians, Filipinos and Whites, all of whom are at or above 60 percent proficient.

All other subgroups are lagging behind and are well below 50 percent proficiency.

Only Fremont Elementary, Mission Elementary and Marsh Elementary schools are meeting AYP standards in all areas.

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Next Antioch Neighborhood Cleanup slated for Saturday, November 3rd

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The Antioch Police Department is excited to announce the 40th installment of the Neighborhood Cleanup Program. This is a collaborative community effort which involves active participation from United Citizens for Better Neighborhoods (UCBN), community volunteers, and the Antioch Police Department Crime Prevention Commission; Neighborhood Watch Program, Target Volunteers, Volunteers in Police Service, community volunteers and the Public Works Department.

Collectively, “We”, everyone who works and lives in the City of Antioch, can make a difference and improve the quality of life. It’s our community and it’s our chance to make a difference.

The City of Antioch Neighborhood Cleanup program is not just for residential neighborhoods. It is a program that will change venues on a monthly basis and it will include business and commercial areas as well. Neighborhoods that are free of trash and refuse are inviting, and a clean community instills a sense of community pride.

The 40th Neighborhood Cleanup event will occur on Saturday, November 3rd, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Volunteers should report to the Mountaire Park located at 2600 Sunset Lane. There should be plenty of curbside parking adjacent to the park. Volunteers will receive instructions and the equipment necessary to accomplish the goal. The targeted area is within walking distance. Excluding inclement weather, future Neighborhood Cleanup events will be scheduled for the first Saturday of every month and the locations will be announced in advance.

If you have a suggestion for a future cleanup area, please inform the assigned Volunteer in Police Services (VIP) or you can call (925) 779- 6878. If there is no answer please feel free to leave a message regarding your suggested cleanup area.

Remember, cleaning up your neighborhood can make life better for your family, your neighbors and your community!

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Cheyenne Flores celebrates her 21st birthday with friends and family at Kobe

Sunday, October 28th, 2012


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Letter writer supports Yeager for Antioch School Board

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Dear Editor,

We need to elect Jack Yeager on the Antioch school board.  He is the only candidate that’s declaring to be a conservative, someone to put the lid on spending.  He will review all the educational programs and their sources of income to determine if they are financially sound

As a business man, the only business man running, Jack can bring a business and financial prospective in our uncertain economic environment.  He will help develop classes that will promote an entrepreneurial atmosphere for our students.

Denise Johnson


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Letter writer is candidate for State Senate, offers comparison with incumbent

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

If Dems take State Senate expect taxes to go up

Did you know that it takesa 2/3rds vote by the legislature to raise your taxes? Did you know that the Democratic Party only needs to pick up two seats in the California Senate and they will have the 2/3rds that they need? Did you know that based upon realignment of the California Senate districts, the Democratic Party can very easily pick up the two additional seats that they need?

If you do not think that the Democratic Party will raise your taxes if they have 2/3rds of the Senate, just take one look at your ballot. Have you seen how many propositions there are that seek to raise the amount of taxes you pay? We all understand that the revenues in this state have declined drastically.

Rather than raise taxes, the California legislature needs to make the tough decisions to reduce the size of government.

The elections will be here before you know it. Can you make a financial contribution today to help us preserve your pocket-book? Meuser is in a close race with Senator Mark DeSaulnier who has the worst record in this state of raising your taxes over the last three years.

Do You Believe in Big Government – DeSaulnier Does.

Did you know that DeSaulnier voted for the Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act? This act was to establish a new bureaucracy in California and give that bureaucracy unlimited fee authority over manufacturers of mattresses. Lucky for the state of California, there were not enough liberal democrats who were willing to vote for this new bureaucracy and the bill failed on the last day of session.

This bill not only created an unlimited fee upon manufactures of mattresses, but it also created a mandate that required expensive statewide recycling programs.

This bill expressly stated that the cost of this program was to add no additional cost to both the retailer and the consumer. Do you really think that the big mattress companies are going to just eat this unlimited fee by a California bureaucracy? Whether you love or hate big business, big business is in existence to make money for their shareholders. Big business will simply pass fees and new costs onto the consumer by raising the wholesale price which means that you will be paying more for your next mattress.

At a time when businesses are leaving our state in record numbers and 20.3% of Californians are unemployed/underemployed, this is not the time to be creating new taxes on manufacturers that will be passed onto consumers. More expensive mattresses will mean that people will simply hold onto their older mattresses longer before they replace them.

At a time when the state of California has close to a $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, this is not the time to be creating new bureaucracies which create more state employees which creates more future pension liabilities.

If you believe government should be bigger and that you should be taxed more, then vote for Mark DeSaulnier. However, if you believe that government should be smaller and you should keep more of the money you earn, then vote for Mark Meuser.

Please help us ensure that the Democratic Party is not able to raise your taxes whenever they want.

Mark Meuser

Candidate for State Senate

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