Payton Perspective: Looking back, looking forward with hopes for the new year

During 2017 some really good things happened in Antioch. First, the Council hired a new city manager. Then the Planning Commission and Council approved plans for the new $14 million, privately owned, Rocketship public charter school in a challenged part of town. Plus, it will give at least 600 Antioch students the opportunity for a better education.

The Council approved the sale of the old Humphrey’s restaurant building and land at the marina to an investor who has plans for a seafood and nautical-themed, new restaurant.

They also approved the re-creation of the position of Economic Development Director as the city used to have, who will work attract businesses and their much-needed, well-paying jobs to our city.

And our police solved the 37-year-old cold case of Suzanne Bombardier’s kidnap, rape and murder.

Looking forward, we will see the opening of the eBART system and Hillcrest Station, which will both help commuters and the city’s economic efforts.

My hope is for the Council to rework the budget and hire the rest of the 22 additional officers promised under Measure C to get us to the 111 officers. But, at least use the honest base figure of 89 officers. That will help bring our crime under control – which is my biggest wish for the new year.

I also hope to see the Downtown Specific Plan Update finalized, the city-owned properties sold to the developer to bring new upscale housing and mixed-use projects to Antioch’s historic Rivertown, and the removal of that floating eye-sore of a house. That will help continue the revitalization of downtown. Plus, the renaming of L Street to Marina Way or Blvd. in time for the opening of the new restaurant at the old Humphrey’s location, which has been in the city’s plans since 1996, as well as renaming A and West Second Streets to Rivertown and West Rivertown Drive to provide permanent promotion of Antioch’s heart, where our city got its start.

Finally, my hope for the new year is that the city and county government, and the faith community will work to better solve the challenge of the homeless folks who live in town. There must be a way to shelter them, especially during the cold, wet winter months and the hot summer months. But, preferably year-round with programs to help them transition to a life of independence. Please at least for now the City must provide public restrooms that can be used 24-hours a day to provide our homeless neighbors with both dignity and keep them from doing their business in public. Perhaps like the kind on Market Street in San Francisco that have a time limit for their use. Something needs to be done about that immediately.

God bless you and may God continue to bless Antioch – Contra Costa County’s oldest city.

Happy New Year!

6 Comments to “Payton Perspective: Looking back, looking forward with hopes for the new year”

  1. Lee Taylor says:

    Lots of positive actions. Moving in a good direction.

  2. Nancy Fernandez says:

    Nice job Allen. Certainly like to see the honest figures used for a change. 89.

  3. John says:

    Allen, love the positivity and a lot of the items you have brought to our attention. The only one I take issue with and it’s just the way it is stated, is the Rocketship School. I think it’s great that some 600 student will have an option to attend this school. The way you stated it seems like a shot at our teachers in our community. ” 600 kids will have an opportunity for a better education.”

    • Publisher says:

      First, Happy New Year!
      Second, thank you for reading the Herald and for taking the time to comment, as well as for your kind words.
      As for the way I wrote that about the Rocketship school, they do offer a better education with higher average test scores for their students than those in the Antioch Unified School District, specifically for African-American and Hispanic students. The statistics are clear.

      It wasn’t a shot at our teachers. It’s just stating a fact and a comparison. I don’t know who or what is responsible for the underperformance by students in AUSD schools. I’m sure it’s a combination of factors. But it was because of those low test scores that Rocketship was invited to and specifically targeted our community to locate one of their schools, which is what they do and have done in other communities and districts, and the results have proven to be better in the Rocketship schools.

      Please see the Herald article about Rocketship when it was on the Antioch School Board’s agenda for approval in 2016, here. –
      and a comparison chart of AUSD and other surrounding districts and schools –
      In that article it states that on the Rocketship website it shows “Nearly 9 of 10 Rocketeers in California were classified as ‘socioeconomically disadvantaged’ last school year. In math, 49% of our disadvantaged Rocketeers met or beat the standard compared to 26% of similar students in the state and 28% in the local districts we serve. Nearly twice as many Rocketeers are on the college and career ready path. In fact, our disadvantaged Rocketeers beat the state average in math for all students by 10 points! This is powerful proof that demographics do not define student achievement.”
      In addition, their website also states, “In English Language Arts, 39% of our disadvantaged Rocketeers are on the college ready path compared to 32% of similar students in the state and 34% in local districts.”
      The article goes on to state, “With only 33% of Antioch students in grades K-5 proficient in English and 19% proficient in math, the private, non-profit organization’s success rate is appealing to many Antioch parents. Some spoke in favor of opening the school and wore purple shirts to show their support, during the public hearing.
      Those statistics are even worse for Hispanic and African American students in Antioch elementary schools. Only 30% of Hispanic students are proficient in English and 16% are proficient in math, while only 22% of African American students are proficient in English and just 10% are proficient in math.”

      I believe competition breeds excellence, both in the private and public sectors. I’m also for choice in education and the more choices parents have for their children, the better. If Rocketship’s approach is better and offers greater results for Antioch students, then perhaps they have something that the AUSD board members and district staff, as well as teachers can learn and apply in the rest of the public schools in our district. That’s my hope. Then all the students in our community will enjoy an improved education as a result.

      Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

  4. Nancy Fernandez says:

    Any one who wishes may tour Rocketship schools. It is an enlightening and empowering experience. They have a local office on A Street and a listed phone number if you wish to pursue contact.

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