Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Payton Perspective: Name new regional park in Concord for Federal Glover or Bay Miwok Chupcan tribe who lived there

Saturday, May 8th, 2021

Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover and map of new regional park in Concord.

Antioch Mayor Thorpe adds his support to effort for naming it Thurgood Marshall Regional Park – Home of the Port Chicago 50 to honor “contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community”; district staff recommends it without any general public outreach

Naming it for Supervisor Glover would better fulfill that goal

Or choose the historical name of Bay Miwok Chupcan Regional Park

District Board Executive Committee will discuss matter during Tuesday, May 11 meeting

Also name Antioch’s new park Roddy Ranch Regional Park

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Justice Thurgood Marshall. Official portrait 1976

An effort, launched last fall, is underway asking the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Board of Directors to name their newest park, in Concord, after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall rather than for the Chupcan tribe of the Bay Miwok, who inhabited the area in the 1700’s, as had been planned. This past week, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe announced his support for the effort.

Now, district staff is recommending that name without any general public outreach to seek input on possible names, other than comments made during board meetings. The board’s Executive Committee will consider the matter during their meeting this next Tuesday, May 11. (See agenda item #3 and process for public comment at the end of this editorial)

The 2,540-acre, temporarily named Concord Hills Regional Park, located on the south side of Highway 4 and encompassing most of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station land, was slated to be named Chupcan Territories Regional Park. But last year, during a Sept. 3 EBRPD Board meeting public comment, Lewis Thrower, a spokesman for Citizens for Historical Equity proposed naming it for Justice Marshall because there are no regional parks in Contra Costa County named after African Americans. Marshall’s local connection is, as an attorney, he unsuccessfully represented the Port Chicago 50, the name given to the 50 Black sailors, during their mutiny trial, for defying orders of their Navy commanders to return to work after the disaster that took the lives of 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others on July 17, 1944 during World  War II. That occurred while the stevedors were loading 5,000 tons of ammunition onto ships. The 50 sailors refused to return to work until safety measures had been put in place. They were each convicted on the charge of mutiny and given a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment and dishonorable discharge from the Navy.

Port Chicago stevedores. Source: NPS

According to a NY Times report, almost all the sailors were released at the end of the war, including “47 who were paroled to active duty aboard Navy vessels in the Pacific Theater. Two of the 50 prisoners remained in the prison’s hospital for additional months recuperating from injuries, and one was not released because of a bad conduct record. Those of the 50 who had not committed later offenses were given a general discharge from the Navy ‘under honorable conditions’.”

According to the EBRPD Board meeting minutes, several other members of the public spoke in support of the naming proposal including Royle Roberts of Black Democrats, Willie Mims of the Black Political Association and Mable Minney of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. A white paper and an addendum on Thurgood Marshall, and a petition with over 700 signatures were cited, as well.

Port Chicago disaster damage. Source: NPS

Thorpe wrote on his mayor’s Facebook page on Thursday, May 6, “he has endorsed naming Contra Costa’s newest regional park– Thurgood Marshall Regional Park-Home of the Port Chicago 50.” The reason he gave is because, “the proposed name would be a major step towards expanding a county narrative that includes the contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community.” He claimed that there were now 880 signatures of people in support of the effort.

Thrower and Citizens for Historical Equity recommended one or more neighboring parks be named Chupcan Territories Regional Park, instead. Thorpe reiterated that in a comment below his Facebook post, which has since been deleted.

During the meeting, Diana McDaniel from the Friends of the Port Chicago National Memorial suggested the name be Port Chicago Memorial Regional Park so people don’t forget.

Port Chicago National Memorial. Source: National Parks Service

However, as the name of her organization demonstrates, there already is recognition with the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial which was established in 1994 at the site and on the 50th anniversary of the disaster to honor those who lost their lives. Then, in 2019, on the 75th anniversary of the tragedy, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier and Barbara Lee reintroduced a resolution, HR 49, which states its purpose in the first paragraph as, “Recognizing the victims of the Port Chicago explosion of July 17, 1944, the 75th anniversary of the greatest homeland loss of life of World War II, and exonerating the 50 African-American sailors unjustly court-martialed by the Navy.” It passed the House in December 2019 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1790) listed in Sec. 540N as “Sense of Congress on the Port Chicago 50”. But the exoneration of the sailors was removed by the Senate before it was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 20.

According to the memorial’s Wikipedia page, “the Port Chicago Committee is working to expand the current memorial to encompass 250 acres of the former Port Chicago waterfront.” Recognition of the Port Chicago 50 and Justice Marshall could be included there.

Bay Miwok tribes map and SF Bay Area tribe maps. Source: EBRPD

Bay Miwok Chupcan Tribe

According to ConcordHistory.com, “a small tribelet of Chupcan (Bay Miwok) Indians composed the first inhabitants of our valley. Dominated by a great mountain to their south, the Chupcan lived along the valley’s streams which flowed north to the wide tule marshes on the edge of the Bay.”

According to the Bay Miwok Content by Beverly R. Ortiz, Ph.D. on the EBRPD website, there were about 1,800 to 2,000 Bay Miwoks living in the area in six different tribes before 1770. According to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, “One of those tribes, or tribelets as scholars call them, were the Chupcan of Diablo Valley.”

While Marshall was the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice and represented the Port Chicago 50 while an attorney, he wasn’t from Contra Costa County and to honor him by naming a regional park for justice does not expand “a county narrative that includes the contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community.”

A more appropriate place to honor the Port Chicago 50 would be at the national memorial by adding each of the sailors’ names, now that they’ve been exonerated. Justice Marshall’s name could be added to it, as well for his efforts in defending them at trial. Their names should be listed on the National Parks Service website for the memorial, as well.

Federal Glover or Bay Miwok Chupcan Regional Park

Concord Hills Regional Park. Photo by Stephen Joseph Fine Art Photography. Courtesy of EBRPD.

If the goal is to honor contributions made by Contra Costa’s African American community, then I think a more appropriate name would be the Federal Glover Regional Park, for the first African American to serve our county on the Board of Supervisors and who has done so for over 20 years. In addition, he served the City of Pittsburg, East County and the county on transportation boards while a council member, prior to that. I would say Federal is the African American who has contributed more to our county than any other and should be recognized instead of the former justice who had a fleeting connection.

If not, then it should be named for the historic tribe that inhabited that part of our county. Since it’s doubtful that even those familiar with the history of the native peoples of Contra Costa would recognize the tribal name of Chupcan – it was news to me – Bay Miwok should be included in the name. If that’s the direction, then the new park should be named the Bay Miwok Chupcan Regional Park.

Roddy Ranch Regional Park

Also, while the Board is considering names for the district’s regional parks, instead of Deer Valley Regional Park, the newest one planned for East County, on the land owned and sold to the district by long-time rancher Jack Roddy, it should instead be named the Roddy Ranch Regional Park to keep the historical significance.

Public Comments

Members of the public can listen to and view the EBRPD Board Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 11 in the following way: Via the Park District’s live video stream, on the Park District’s YouTube channel, which can be found at https://youtu.be/pvK6M5XWBPI (The YouTube link may not function properly when using Internet Explorer. The optimal browser for viewing the live stream of the meeting is Chrome.)

Public comments may be submitted:

  1. Live via Zoom. If you would like to make a live public comment during the meeting this option is available through the virtual meeting platform: https://ebparks.zoom.us/j/94499652339. Note that this virtual meeting platform link will let you into the virtual meeting for the purpose of providing a public comment. If you do not intend to make a public comment please use the Youtube link above to observe the meeting. It is preferred that those requesting to speak during the meeting contact Becky Pheng at bpheng@ebparks.org by 5:00 pm on Monday, May 10, 2021 via email or voicemail at 510-544-2005 to provide their name and subject of the public comment or item to be addressed.
  2. Via Email to Becky Pheng at bpheng@ebparks.org by 5:00 pm on Monday, May 10, 2021. Email must contain in the subject line “Public Comments – not on the agenda” or “Public Comments – agenda item #”.
  3. Via Voicemail at 510-544-2005. The caller must start the message by stating “Public Comments – not on the agenda” or “Public Comments – agenda item #” followed by their name and place of residence, followed by their comments.
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Struggle at LMC: Black professor from Antioch questions her Black studies class being taught by non-Black professor

Friday, May 7th, 2021

Addresses other matter of Black students being told which colleges they should and shouldn’t apply to

Important issues of concern for the Black community

Iris Archuleta interacts with a student in her class at LMC.

By Iris Archuleta, J.D.

Following are the extended remarks of a statement I made during the Los Medanos College Academic Senate meeting on March 22, 2021. (Publisher’s note: This was received for publication in the publisher’s personal email, that day and was not seen until, today. However, the issue is ongoing and still timely).

First, I want to thank Willie Mims and NAACP President Victoria Adams for attending LMC Academic and Curriculum Committee meetings and making powerful statements about this madness.

At a time when the fight for equity and social justice should be embraced, and even as the new Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) Chancellor, Dr. Bryan Reece, is promoting and instituting serious strategies for equity and inclusion and is a strong advocate for anti-racist policies and behaviors throughout the district, a disturbing attack is underway by a non-Black faculty member and her so-called “Ethnic Studies Council” to take over a highly successful class I have been teaching since 2015, and have a non-Black professor, herself, teach it this fall.

I am an Adjunct Professor in Social Science at Los Medanos College. Since 2014, I have taught several courses, including American Government, Social Justice, and Issues Facing African Americans. In fact, in 2015, because of my background and experience, I was asked to teach, Issues Facing African Americans (SOCSC 045), when the professor teaching it unexpectedly did not show up for class on the first day.

I developed the curriculum and study materials and have been teaching the course every semester since then. In my classes, I have a no-cost textbook policy to save students money, and instead, my students are able to access the study materials that I have developed through research and that I provide through PowerPoints and links to free material. In addition, my students are taught to do their own research and provide presentations to the entire class to enhance student learning.

My students are empowered, and as a Black professor, I infuse in them a sense and level of pride and teach them about the resilience and power of Black people in this society. I have stayed in contact with many students over the years and helped them attain goals they never believed they could. I get a message almost every day from former students who thank me for awakening their thirst for knowledge and for the truths they learned about the struggles and successes of Black people in America.

I also make it a point to bring in guest speakers with expertise and experiences in a range of struggles and concerns facing African Americans. For example, my husband, Keith Archuleta, who is Black and Chicano, is a community leader in his own right, with several degrees, including African and African American studies with honors from Stanford University, is a guest lecturer on several subjects during each semester.

Not only that, but my husband and I have encouraged Black students to apply for their colleges of choice and not to shy away even from schools such as Stanford. In our class, Keith is able to share with them that as a student at Stanford, not only was he “accepted,” but he started the Black Media Institute and the Black Community Services Center. He and thousands of other Black students over the years have made Stanford a better place.

We are attempting to counteract what many Black students are being told, by this professor and others who are attacking me, that Stanford is a “white” school where they would not be accepted, so don’t even try to apply.

I recently sent out a link to faculty celebrating the graduation of over 60 Black Harvard Law School students this year, and I did not even get a comment from this professor to indicate anything had changed about her low expectations of Black students going to some of the best universities in the country.

I have received excellent performance reviews in all the courses I teach, and have earned preference, a designation meaning first choice when scheduling classes among adjuncts.

I work continually to improve my teaching methods and bring in new research, data, and issues to keep the course fresh, relevant, contextual, and interdisciplinary.

So, last year, when the new full-time professor in Social Justice, who is not a Black professor, asked to meet with me to discuss updating the curriculum for the Issues Facing African Americans course, I was happy to meet with her. We worked together to do a few updates, with the bulk of the curriculum that I created over time remaining intact.

She said she wanted to change the name of the course to Introduction to Black Studies. I saw no problem with that. However, she failed to mention at the time that not only did she plan to change the name, but that she was planning to take over teaching the course and discontinue my teaching of the course.

So, until fairly recently, I believed that in the fall semester I would be teaching the same course I am teaching this semester, Issues Facing African Americans, just updated and retitled Introduction to Black Studies, with the curriculum that I created.

However, just a few weeks ago, that professor approached me and asked if I would teach an additional class, Race and Ethnicity (SOCSC 150). Since I and other Black faculty and others had written the curriculum for Race and Ethnicity, that made sense. So, then I thought if I accepted the Race and Ethnicity class, that in the fall I would be teaching that course and Introduction to Black Studies.

However, later she informed me that she would be teaching Intro to Black Studies because the course now requires someone with a degree in Ethnic Studies to teach it. She feels she is more qualified because of her full-time status and her Doctorate in Chicana Studies. She is not, nor does she claim to be African American or Black.

It is ironic that in the name of Ethnic Studies, a class taught by a Black woman would be eliminated and the same course, now under a different title, would be set up to be taught by someone who is not Black.

When I think of racism it reminds me of our history of dealing with people who feel they are superior to others and have the inherent right to take from those they designate as inferior, which in this case happens to be me.

This is not acceptable. It is not acceptable to me; it is not acceptable to Black students; and in fact, it is not acceptable to any students of all backgrounds who have taken this course or plan to take it in the future. It should not be acceptable to the college.

Furthermore, her claim that only someone with a degree in Ethnic Studies is qualified to teach Intro to Black Studies makes no sense and in fact makes a mockery of the CCCCD Anti-Racism Pledge, which says, in part:

“Resolved, that the Academic Senates of the CCCCD encourage all CCCCD employees to commit to professional development, hiring practices, and/or curricular changes that work to dismantle structural racism.”

By excluding a Black professor from teaching a course she has been qualified to teach for over five years and allowing a non-Black professor to take over a course called Intro to Black Studies, would actually be strengthening structural racism.

Black in the context of Black Studies is a socio-political term defined as: “the collective struggle/experience of people of African descent to gain power and influence in the processes and institutions of government as a way of securing and protecting a diverse array of issues as American citizens.” Black Studies is typically associated with politics and law in the fight against racism.

Just as my background, training, and life experiences have more than qualified me to teach Issues Facing African Americans, my Political Science degree with honors and my Juris Doctorate (Law) degree with honors more than qualify me to teach Intro to Black Studies.

It has been courageous Black leaders such as Charles Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and other world-changing Black lawyers, such as Bryan Stevenson – the attorney responsible for getting more than 100 wrongly convicted African American and other prisoners off death row – that continue to inspire my life’s work and drove me to earn a degree in Political Science and an advanced degree in Law in the first place.

To rub salt into the wound, as this affront has been allowed to continue, this professor and her committee have doubled down on personal attacks and insults toward me and others at the college who support my position; and are now adding more false justifications for taking the course from me.

One of the things that they are promoting is what they refer to as “engagement in the African American community” as a prerequisite along with an Ethnic Studies degree for teaching Intro to Black Studies, implying that this is another requirement that would bar me from teaching this course.

Not many others at LMC have had anywhere near my experience in Black community engagement. First of all, my very life is rooted in the Black community and the solid relationships I have built in Eastern Contra Costa County and the Bay Area. I’ve really been blessed to grow up in San Francisco where I lived in a home that welcomed SNCC organizers and Black Panthers.

My husband and I are the founders of Emerald HPC International, LLC, a consulting company active, locally and globally, in community and economic development consulting, specializing in the design and implementation of systems change strategies and outcomes-based collaborative efforts through our trademarked, High Performing Communities Framework (HPC).

We invested our own funds and organized the Youth Intervention Network that served Antioch youth and families, with a 92% reduction in police calls for service, an 83% reduction in truancy, and an improvement in student GPA by an average of two grade points. Ninety-six percent of the students participating in YIN graduated from high school. Of these, 99% went on to postsecondary education. YIN was featured as one of three global best practices and a model urban anti-violence and peace building initiative at the 2012 opening celebration of the United Nations Peace University at The Hague and recognized by Attorney General Eric Holder during the Barack Obama administration with the U.S. Justice Department’s National Best Community Involvement Award.

We have also worked with Hispanic leaders on important projects such as Brentwood’s One Day at a Time (ODAT) and sponsored youth, including LMC students, to attend the international Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Center in Northern Ireland, to study racial and ethnic struggles worldwide.

We are currently working with Dr. Clay Carson, the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, who has been entrusted with the original writings, letters and speeches of Martin and Coretta King, to continue the study of the unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement and the on-going racist backlash to the anti-racist movement and the successes of the Black struggle for freedom.

We brought Rev. Jesse Jackson to Antioch for a talk with officials and citizens about social and economic justice. We have worked with Keith’s fellow Stanford BSU leader, Steve Phillips to launch PowerPac and Vote Hope that supported Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, and we brought California and Bay Area Black clergy to Antioch to organize their support for that campaign and Black voter registration.

We don’t have space enough here to talk about most of our work locally and the myriad of local leaders, artists, and activists who are engaged in making life better not only for Black residents and young people, but all people here in Eastern Contra Costa County, especially those most impacted by racism and inequity. Students in my classes have access to these and other local, national, and international Black community leaders, who have been and still are on the frontline of the struggles facing Black people.

Before I close, let me show you how absurd this situation is by giving you the following scenario:

What if I, a Black woman, had majored in Ethnic Studies, and was recently hired at a community college as the new full-time professor to head up the Ethnic Studies department, that has no other full-time professors. I find out that a Chicana has been teaching a course in that department called Issues Facing Mexican Americans for five years as a part-time adjunct professor.

What if I, with all of my power as a full-time professor who is the nominal head of the department, then decided to change the name of the course to Intro to Latinx Studies, and because I have an Ethnic Studies degree, I am now automatically more qualified than a professor who is Chicana and has both a J.D. and a Political Science degree? What if I made this unilateral decision with no accountability either to that college or that community?

Still, I need to make sure you know this:

Even if I do not teach this class, it is important that someone else be hired who has the appropriate qualifications to teach Intro to Black Studies. It is my hope that LMC will recognize other brilliant brothers and sisters, especially the younger ones, with doctorates in African American studies and who are Black. If I am not to teach this class, I want LMC to respectfully hold off on posting this course until someone qualified is hired.

Finally, I appreciate all those who are willing to speak up, speak out, and distribute this information. I also appreciate all those who are making sure this information gets out to the community, including Laurie Huffman, my colleague and ally, who has also spoken out against this issue.

Please feel free to voice your concerns to:

  • Nikki Moultrie, LMC Dean of Career Education & Social Sciences: NMoultrie@losmedanos.edu
  • James Noel, Chair of LMC Academic Senate: JNoel@losmedanos.edu

Academic Senate meeting dates: https://www.losmedanos.edu/intra-out/as/

  • Name, Chair Curriculum Committee: mlynn@losmedanos.edu

Curriculum Committee meeting dates: https://www.losmedanos.edu/intra-out/cur/meetings.aspx

Thank you all for your support and your time and attention.

Iris Archuleta is Vice President of Community Engagement for Emerald HPC International, LLC and Adjunct Professor in Social Science at LMC.

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Payton Perspective: Unfair treatment of Chinese American property owners in Antioch continues today

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

The mayor and council also owe apology to them and other, current minority Antioch property and business owners

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Will the Antioch mayor and council apologize for their unfair treatment of the largest landowning Chinese Americans and other minority landowners in Antioch, today for supporting the effort to devalue their property by over 97%? If not, they’re being seriously hypocritical.

Due to what is occurring elsewhere in our nation, Mayor Lamar Thorpe is concerned about the anti-Asian racism and attacks that occurred in our city in the late 1800’s, specifically the burning down of Antioch’s Chinatown in 1876, even though he admits he learned about them years ago. Last month, the Antioch City Council approved a resolution denouncing anti-Asian hate and racism. Then, he proposed the council formally apologize for what Antioch residents did to their fellow Chinese residents in the city’s early years. I support something being done about it, including an apology, which apparently hasn’t been done by any Antioch officials in the past. I also proposed reparations for the descendants of those property owners. Especially since the city now owns the land where our community’s Chinatown was located. (See related article)

Yet, just last year, the mayor, two other current council members, and the voters supported reducing the property value of Chinese American and Hispanic American landowners in Antioch by over 97% and without compensation! In legal terms that’s referred to as a taking. So, Antioch residents, with the support of all five of last year’s council members, tried to take those landowners’ property. Where’s the apology for that?

Louisa Zee Kao and her family own 640 acres on the west end of the Sand Creek Focus Area, with a zoning of two homes per acre but, aren’t allowed to build the 1,100 homes on it as first planned. She reduced the total to 750 homes but that still was too many. With the city under threat of a lawsuit by the East Bay Regional Parks District, Kao then reduced the total to now 338 homes, even though the neighboring property owner, Richland Development was approved by the council last summer for The Ranch project with 1,177 homes on just 551 acres.

Source: Yes on Measure T campaign.

The mayor and two current council members, including Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, voted for that project while at the same time publicly endorsing the effort to downzone Kao’s land, to just one home per 80 acres, through Measure T. They supported the efforts of the out-of-town environmentalists which would have resulted in the devaluation of the property by 97.6%. (That’s 8 homes divided by 338. It’s a devaluation of 99.375% if you divide 8 by 1,280 homes.) The reason? The politicians did it to protect themselves for re-election. The environmentalists did it so the Parks District could buy the land for pennies on the dollar. Some of the politicians, like Wilson also supported that surreptitious plan according to her answers to the Yes on T campaign’s candidate questionnaire. (Ogorchock didn’t provide answers to the questionnaire and those for the mayoral candidates have been deleted).

Monica Wilson’s answers to the Yes on T questionnaire. Source: Yes on Measure T campaign.

The ballot measure has forced Kao and her family to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorneys, over the past three years, to fight the City of Antioch and Save Mt. Diablo over the Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative, which was on the ballot as Measure T, as well as another ballot measure by Richland. So far, they and an adjacent property owner have been successful in court, multiple times.

Measure T also applied to other Chinese American landowners, the Leung family who own land south of The Ranch project. According to city staff until just recently, Measure T also applied to one of, if not the largest female, Hispanic landowners in Antioch, Lucia Albers, who plans to build a 301-home gated, senior community, on the east side of Deer Valley Road south of the Kaiser hospital. That’s in spite of the fact the leaders of Save Mt. Diablo claimed the measure only applied to land west of Deer Valley Road. But the language in the measure wasn’t clear about that.

Fortunately, the California Department of Housing and Community Development stated in a letter to the city last month that Measure T “cannot…be adopted, implemented or enforced” because it violates state law. The worst part is all five council members knew that, last year and were warned several times that Measure T could not go into effect. But they all chose to endorse it anyway. (See related article)

So, the voters were duped by the out-of-town environmentalists and misled by Antioch’s elected officials and other candidates who participated in the candidates’ forum, answered their questionnaire and chose to be followers instead, afraid it might negatively affect their elections – all except former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Manny Soliz, who refused to endorse Measure T – which possibly cost him the election in District 1. The Antioch voters chose to support the devaluation of the land and worse, without compensating the landowners for it! (On a side note, the environmentalists continue to lie to Antioch residents. Their latest appeal claims Richfield/Oak Hill Partners are continuing their lawsuit against Measure T “because they want to build thousands of houses on the hills of the southern Sand Creek Area”. However, according to the City’s Planning Division Current Projects list, the developer’s application includes only 370 homes in their Bridle Hills project. Worse, the environmentalist want you to ask the council to violate state law and deny the housing projects, which will cost the city a minimum of $10,000 per home not approved, and those funds must be used to pay for more low-income housing in Antioch).

Neither Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker nor Councilman Mike Barbanica took a public position on Measure T during their campaigns, last year, nor participated in the Yes on Measure T campaign candidate’s forum.

But it is rather ironic and hypocritical for Torres-Walker to attend the mayor’s press conference and call for an apology of what Antioch residents did in the 1870’s including burning down their homes and businesses, when one, she won’t apologize for what she said about Antioch Police officers, just this year and two, she tried to burn down the apartment complex she was evicted from, for which she was arrested and went to jail for. I wonder if she ever apologized for that.

So, while Mayor Thorpe is asking the council to apologize for what Antioch residents did to Chinese residents and property owners in our city over 140 years ago – and not by the founding community members which he falsely wrote on social media and stated in his press conference, earlier this month – it’s time he also asked and did the same for what the residents of Antioch attempted to do to our city’s Chinese American and Hispanic American property owners, with his and two other council members’ support. just last year.

While they’re at it, the council needs to also apologize to the former owner of Humphrey’s on the Delta restaurant, a Hispanic woman, Eva Romero, for our city government basically driving her out of business by spending our tax dollars to go into competition with her, not once, but twice. First, on the expansion of the Lone Tree Golf & Event Center and then on construction of the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park, and then holding almost all city events at those facilities instead of in Humphrey’s banquet hall. That was in spite of the fact the restaurant sat on city owned property at the time, and the lease gave the city an incentive for her success, as the rent was based on whichever was greater, between a flat rate and a percentage of sales. The city staff’s own report in 2012 claimed the Community Center competed with Lone Tree for business. It didn’t mention that it was also in competition with Humphrey’s. Later that year, on Christmas Eve, the restaurant closed its doors for good. (See related article)

The unfair treatment by the city of local minority property and business owners continues to this day. Just this month, the council voted to spend $40,000 on a logo and marketing campaign for the new Rivertown Dining District with a San Francisco agency, instead of giving an Hispanic man who owns a graphic design firm in Rivertown, and an African American web designer in Antioch, the opportunity to even bid on the job.

While the mayor and council members consider righting the wrongs of the past, it is just as important, if not more so, to right the wrongs of the present that they’re committing, today and stop repeating them. Otherwise, they’re guilty of hypocrisy.

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OpEd: Who will speak for me? Reflections of an Antioch classroom teacher during a pandemic

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

By Elizabeth Terry, Antioch High School science teacher

My day starts early, and I do mean early. Stumbling into my kitchen, groggily grinding the beans, trying to clear the leftover fog of sleep, I begin to think about the day ahead. It’s 3:30 am when that god touched ichor finally hits and I’m thinking clearly enough to do my daily crosswords. I find the Washington Post’s crossword extremely difficult, but the NY Times’ puzzle fairly mundane. At 4 I’m ready to get myself ready for the day, have breakfast, then make the 30 second commute across the hall to my digital school room readying myself for the day’s lessons. It is now 5:30. As I power up my computer, the new one which I purchased to meet the moment of this odd teaching year, I’m reminded of an earlier time when I would get to school at 6 am ready to prepare the day’s labs, and I again wonder at how drastically different, yet still similar this school year has been. I click on Facebook and begin to again read the hateful comments on our local “news” outlet about how lazy teachers are being. Despite an overwhelming sense of crushing depression, I snap out of it and begin the day’s grades, with the news on in the background.

My ears perk up when the anchors are talking again about school closures. The anchors are railing against teachers, and I sit stunned, when the guests on the program again echo the anchor’s sentiments. The familiar anger takes over and I wonder who will speak for us. Who will advocate for our lives? After all, I remember a few short months ago at the end of last year when my profession was lauded and celebrated. Now, I feel spat on daily, hesitant to declare that I’m a teacher. The depressing part is that this is oftentimes coming from our friends and our families. I question how a profession who has one of the lowest ratios of education to salary could possibly be the cornerstone of society, as if somehow the fate of western society rests on our underpaid shoulders. I, like many of us are angry, burnt out, and frustrated because no one in power, not in the government, not in the CDC, nor in the current administration is actually sticking up for our lives. Instead, we are being vilified, crucified on the altar of the economy. Our efforts over the last year aren’t even seen let alone recognized. It’s enough to make a person quit.

They say we aren’t working. These comments are made by folks who took what happened last year as their measure of what is happening this year in our virtual classrooms. But what many people don’t know is that teachers have actually very little voice in the decisions that county health and school board make. During the March lockdowns, we were told that we couldn’t teach any new concepts, instead it was review only. More importantly, the students were told that they would pass regardless of their activity. And as teenagers often do, they did nothing. There was no incentive to do anything other than that. As a classroom teacher, I worked very hard to put together lessons that would inspire my students, even in a pandemic, I created digital lessons which were fun and engaging. Lesson that few students even showed up for. This included my AP kids. We were told to offer grace, which we did, and we did what teachers always do, we made it work. This was, of course, not ideal, but we made it work with what we had. I look back and think of all the glowing praise of our efforts and smile. It felt good to finally be recognized for the hard work we were putting in. But as a veteran teacher of 17 years, I knew the public good will wouldn’t last.

During the summer, myself and several colleagues and friends trouble shot the new program that we would be working on. We learned entirely new platforms, we taught ourselves how to use the district tools that were provided (without training I might add). We then taught our colleagues their uses as well. We waited anxiously to know how, when, and in what form we would start school again – we were quite literally, the last to know. The school board decided to delay opening, which meant the following year we would not have much of a summer, but what the board wants, the board gets.

The start of school saw a steep learning curve. As our students had never had technology before, we are in a title-1 school district after all, they had zero knowledge on how a PC operates. It was a brand-new digital world for them. We taught them how to use their computers. Soon they were using Word, PowerPoint, chatting in Teams, saving, and using the new programs. It was a struggle, but we made it through. We had to create all of our lessons over again, this time figuring out how to make it work in a digital environment. I teach 3 laboratory sciences. I had to completely redo all of my documents so that students could use excel to graph their data. Then I had to teach them how to use excel. Though frustrated at the drastically slower pace of learning, our students were learning and progressing through our curricula. This was hard, but we did it.

On top of our teaching duties, we had to reach out to students who were not coming. We had to figure out a way to get them into the classroom. We had to simultaneously offer grace, while holding high expectations. We had to speak for our students and watch out for their mental health, while no one was watching ours. And still, we did it. My students have tracked horse evolution through 65 million years, they have learned how to calculate carrying capacity, they have made survivorship curves using gravestone data and compared it to covid numbers. My biotech students have done Gel electrophoresis, learned how to use a spectrophotometer and have done macromolecule assays. All online, all virtual. However, if you read the public comments, we are lazy, the students aren’t learning anything, and we should take our slothful butts back into work or quit.

It’s now 8 am. I’m done entering grades, and I need to set up the electrophoresis chamber for the lab I’ll be doing in 1st period. On tap today is a DNA fingerprinting lab for first, and we will be doing a case study in my ecology class on competitive exclusion of bullfrogs. At 8:40 I am in class. I teach for an hour, going back and forth between my kitchen/lab, to my office/classroom. At 9:40, I finish up my attendance logs, and take a break between classes. At 9:50 am I get an email about a student who won’t attend today because she’s feeling blue. I call her and we chat for a few minutes in between classes. At 10:20 its time for class number two, followed by a short lunch break. During my break, I catch up on emails and grade the class warm-ups that were submitted by the first two classes. At 12:30, I teach my last class of the day. But I’m not done yet. I have office hours in the afternoon where I tutor struggling students. I send chats to those whose homework I’m missing, in the vain hope that at least some in my fourth period will turn in their work. And then I make the mistake of checking my Facebook.

“DISBAND the CTA (California Teachers Union)” I see in emblazoned headlines across my news feed. I know I shouldn’t but I click it anyway. Apparently, as a teacher I am a do-nothing, morally bankrupt individual who just doesn’t want to work. Huh, I think, I wonder what I’ve been doing all day? I’m so tired of this. What the petitioner doesn’t understand is that teachers have little voice in the decisions to go back to school. This is a decision run by school boards. Additionally, it isn’t the school board’s decision either, rather the decision is made by the county health department. The county decides whether or not we can open based on the case data. The parents should be pointing the fingers at themselves. If they want the school to open, they should be wearing masks, using social distancing measures to drive down the cases.

The originator of the petition stated that “there has been no instances of Covid being transmitted from children.” You see I know, according to the Covid Monitoring project, that there ARE cases of high school students not only acquiring covid, but also transmitting it to their families in an asymptomatic way. As of this writing, 657,667 cases of students and staff have acquired Covid . Locally, I have 3 high school kids who are positive, and one was very sick. I also know that as a person who is on the older side, with an autoimmune disorder, I’m likely to die from this disease. If any of those three had come into school we would have all been on quarantine. In my house, which frankly I don’t go out from, I have zero chance of picking up COVID. Going back into the classroom increases my risk by 100%. Teachers are merely asking for two things before going back. One, to be vaccinated, have people in their households vaccinated and to have the safety items in place. I think to myself I didn’t sign up to be killed at work. Also, as stated, we don’t have anything to do with the decision to lock down anyway, but the public, frustrated, have no one else to blame but us. I’m just so tired, and I think, who will speak for us?

Teachers don’t want to be out of the classroom. We desperately want to see our students. However, we also don’t want to potentially die from our employment. Other professions have safety standards, why can’t we? Many of us work in dilapidated conditions, left behind from years of little to no improvements, left behind for getting equipment we need to do our jobs. As a science teacher I routinely spend at least 1000 dollars every year on supplies. No other profession is asked to pay for their supplies. Imagine telling a firefighter that she has to purchase her own hose…yet that is what we tell teachers to do. I had to purchase all the equipment I use to do my job. Why? Because the district laptops have 8gbs of ram, and the program we use, Teams require 8gbs, so you can’t have anything else running on your laptop, otherwise the whole computer crashes. Along with that computer, I bought two monitors, a webcam, and more. Yet, I’m being greedy and lazy, according to the authors of this asinine petition.

The CDC says teachers can go back to school, without being vaccinated IF proper mitigation is in effect. That IF is important, I can’t open my windows in my classroom, and neither can my friends because the one window pole we had has been lost. Therefore, no-one in my hall can actually open their windows. We are lucky that we HAVE windows as some of my colleagues teach in an interior classroom. Our school won’t have the “proper mitigation” any time soon. The good news is that the vaccines are starting to roll out. But it takes a minute to get an immune response. By the time our teachers are vaccinated, and we would have gotten immunity, there will literally be a month and a half left in the year. It is my suggestion to just ride it out. I think this for two reasons. First, the students are now used to the routine. If we came now, it would be a huge disruption, and if we went into quarantine due to a case, that would be worse. Secondly, hybrid offers us 1 day of instruction. I’m barely covering enough curriculum on 2 days per week, I can’t even imagine how little I will get through with one day of instruction.

I am sick of people, including folks in the Biden administration saying teachers should go back because “this is who they are.” As if we are all Mother Teressa. Um no, this is my profession. This is what I was trained to do, this is my art and my craft. But more importantly, this is my job. This job pays for my house, my children, my car, etc. I don’t work for free, and it is unfair to expect me to. We don’t expect doctors to work for free because its “who they are.” The only reason it happens to us teachers is because, in my opinion, teaching is viewed as “women’s work.” I guarantee if this profession was dominated by males, our salaries and our respect would rise dramatically.

Finally, I would ask the public to understand that unions, those that are meant to protect the health and well-being of our sector are made up of people. Men and women who sacrifice their sleep, their money, and their time to the education of your children. We are the people who make up the “union” and deserve some small measure of the respect that we are due. For all the days that we work during our unpaid summers, to the endless nights that we stay up grading papers, for the donated time we put in making phone calls to struggling students. Because if we don’t get that respect, if we are not recognized for the value that we bring to society, if we are not paid a fair wage that recognizes our talent and contributions, you may just find your students being educated by google – and that would be a tragedy.

It’s 5:25 I finally log out of my computer. That’s a 12-hour shift.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Terry is the Antioch High School Science Department Co-chair, Biology Chairwoman, Biotech program Lead, teaching AP Biology, Lab-Based Ecology and repeater Biology. She’s been a teacher at the school since August 2009. Terry’s education includes a Teaching Certification in 2003; BA Biological Sciences in 2002 – San Jose State;  AA Liberal Arts in 1998 – Foothill College; AA Liberal Arts in 1998 – De Anza College; and an EMT Certification in 1992 – San Francisco Community College.

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Payton Perspective: Equity is code word for socialism, what will be the cost for Antioch?

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Antioch’s new Councilwoman, Tamisha Torres-Walker and her supporters, including those from outside of our city, have been pushing to include the term “equity” in the City’s vision and goals, and want the council to establish a Human Rights and Racial Equity Commission, as well.

During last Saturday’s Vision and Strategic Planning session held by the council and city staff, Torres-Walker was asked to explain the difference between equity and equality. She basically said equality is the government giving each person the same thing while equity is giving more to one person who doesn’t have as much as another. The challenge is where does government get what it gives out? Taxpayers. So, what Torres-Walker is advocating is more redistribution of wealth. That’s pretty much the definition of socialism or even communism.

She used the example of a short boy standing next to a tall boy behind a fence, who are both trying to watch a game. Torres-Walker  said equality is the government giving each boy a box to stand on, which gives the tall boy a better view while the short boy still can’t see over the fence. Equity, she said, is giving the short boy two or three boxes to stand on to see over the fence.

Torres-Walker also mentioned later in the meeting that she wants the city “to make sure that the development of the waterfront that some of that equity or you know whatever revenue generation is spent to also revitalize some other parts of District 1” further defining the term as redistribution of city revenues. (See related article)

However, what our government in the U.S. is designed to do is offer equality of opportunity, that we all start off equal with regards to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or in other words ownership of property. But what Torres-Walker is advocating for is equality of result. That’s unrealistic and simply unattainable. There is simply no way that government can or should ensure we all end off equal.

I would love to have that happen to me, too. Using equity, I can claim that it’s not fair Bill Gates has so much more money than me. Therefore, I need the government to take half of his money and give it to me. Then I could have a nicer car, bigger home and invest in all the various causes like he and his wife have done. I would also like some equity in the area of pro sports. I can claim it’s not fair that I didn’t and don’t get to play for the Oakland A’s, the San Francisco 49ers or Golden State Warriors and earn all the money the players on those teams do. I need the government to offer some special dispensation for older, out of shape guys like me, without as much talent as the other players, so I too, can enjoy playing and earn a nice living.

See how ridiculous that is? Where does it end?

Why shouldn’t I have half of Bill Gates’ money? It would mean we would be equal and achieved equity. But would that be fair? Of course not, because I haven’t earned it. Why shouldn’t I have been allowed to play professional sports when I was younger or get to play, now? Because I didn’t make the effort or have the talent to do so, and because I’m certainly no longer in shape. (Maybe I could be a designated hitter, as long as I wouldn’t have to run around the bases! LOL) Seriously, why then, should the government step in and attempt to balance the scales that I chose to leave unbalanced by my own life choices?

Why should the government give the short boy more boxes to stand on? Why don’t his family and friends do that for him? Or some nice “box for viewing sports” charity? We need to stop looking to government to solve all our problems and let it focus on what it’s designed to do.

I have and always will support the efforts of churches and charities to help, as Jesus said, “the least of these” and as the Disciple James wrote, “to look after widows and orphans in their distress”. But that’s through voluntarily helping others, not through coercion by a larger and more powerful government.

Of course, government must treat all of us equally in the provision of justice and services, and the City of Antioch needs to ensure all residents are treated equally and fairly, as well. When and where that doesn’t occur, it must be addressed. But that’s equality, which our government can guarantee, not equity which it can’t, in general.

However, if it’s the government that has caused the inequity, then it is government’s job to address it in very limited circumstances. I believe the only way equity should be addressed in our country is at the national level through the federal government, specifically in the area of reparations for descendants of slaves – who for generations were denied, due to laws and other actions by the government, their God-given, constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty, property and in many cases life, itself, as well as an education and to earn from their labors. The descendants of slaves need to be compensated with land – as ordered by President Lincoln’s Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman but was later overturned by Lincoln’s predecessor, President Andrew Johnson, following the assassination – an asset that can be owned, used, earned from and passed on to future generations, which is a current, major challenge among African-Americans. That’s due to the fact their ancestors were denied the right to own property for 250 years because they were property! But that’s a discussion for another time.

While I recognize we already have implemented forms of socialism at the state and national levels through health and welfare programs (some of which have had questionable results), the issue for the council members to determine is how much would such an effort cost the City of Antioch? The city budget has already experienced a $3 million reduction due to the COVID-19 orders, this past year and that in spite of Measure W’s one-cent sale tax that we the people voted for. This at a time we’re trying to increase the number of police on our force to continue to reduce crime in our city. Stepping back, the council actually would first need to show that inequity exists in the dispensing of city services. That burden frankly rests on the shoulders of Torres-Walker and her supporters who are advocating for the use of the term and the commission’s formation.

The mayor and council members need to be very careful with the terms they include in the City’s vision, mission statement, goals or any and all other documents, and be sure what they mean and that the public understands them. Because equity is such a loaded word, with a broad definition, that it could end up either costing us taxpayers a lot more money or take away funds from the more basic services the city needs to be providing that serve all of us, specifically police – the number one reason our city government was formed in the first place, because the number one reason government is instituted in America is to protect your rights from me and my rights from you – Code Enforcement, streets, water, sewer, landscaping, parks and keeping things clean. Plus, recreation.

I’d like to see the city improve and be great in those areas, first before taking on more programs and efforts with unknown price tags.

If the council members want to ensure children and other residents from low-income households get to participate in city recreation programs that are too expensive for them, then the council members can work with local charities or their own Antioch Community Foundation to provide subsidies or scholarships.

As for forming a commission, Torres-Walker doesn’t seem to realize we already have officials in place to address any human rights or racial equity issues – that she has yet to provide examples of – and she’s one of them. The City Council as a whole and any individual member can take complaints that any resident or business owner might have and address them on a case-by-case basis, just like a commission could do. If the complaints begin to be too many, then that can be brought before the council. If the complaints are mainly police related, then perhaps increase the role of the existing Police Crime Prevention Commission as has been suggested during the Bridging the Gap sessions. Or the council might just need to ensure whomever on city staff is causing the problems is replaced.

But unless and until there is clear evidence that such a commission is needed, it shouldn’t be formed as the Board of Supervisors recently did. Let’s see what their county-wide commission does and how they deal with such matters that come before them, first.

The council should not include the term equity in their vision, goals or any other guiding document for the City of Antioch nor form the proposed commission. If they do, the council members will be opening a Pandora’s Box of all kinds of potential increase to the size and scope of our city government and will most likely lead to a decrease in the basic services the city already is and should be providing which benefit all of us.

 

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Letters: Writer says DA Becton is supposed to be an example, shouldn’t have violated COVID-19 restrictions

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Editor:

An open letter to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

Ms. Becton, have you ever read John Chapter 8 about the woman who was caught doing something wrong? According to the law, she should have been punished.  No, she should have been killed because she went against the law. As a lawyer, a judge, and a manager, you are supposed to be a servant of the law in CCC.  You hold people accountable to the law and you punish them for breaking it.  But who are you to judge them when you put yourself above the law? Do you consider yourself “more privileged?” You are supposed to be an example.

In August 2020, when the governor mandated the county to avoid “gatherings of any size” because of a high health alert for Covid-19, you, nonetheless, disregarded that order and organized an event with 20 – 30 people in attendance.  In addition, you announced your plans to all of your neighbors so they could expect a lot of cars in the neighborhood.  You say, “I had a wedding in my yard that was really based upon the love that we shared.”  Really?  Love?  Not on the “scientific data?” Not on the state regulations? What about the love for a dying person in the hospital and the spouse is forbidden to be at their bedside? Shouldn’t they be allowed in “for love?” Are you the same person whose office is part of a task force cracking down on violators of state and county coronavirus guidelines?  How could you have not known “the rules” for public gatherings?  Really?

You are a violator. And you’re in the wrong profession.  You should step down.  You do not hold the line of integrity this county needs. You have broken trust with the public.  You are living a double standard and NOT living by the oath you took in September 2017.  You deliberately defied the governor’s order.  But the real question is this: Did you knowingly disregard the order because you really don’t believe the coronavirus is truly a serious threat to our society?  Perhaps you really believe that the governor is using Covid as an excuse to “mandate” his agenda for the state. Maybe you really believe that having a wedding reception IS a safe event for everyone who attended.  Maybe you shouldn’t be on the task force representing state and county “guidelines.”

You took an oath and said, “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” Your actions prove otherwise, and you now join the ranks of hypocrites with our governor and his co-horts.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real right and wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”

Laquetta Franz

Antioch

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Rep. McNerney explains his vote to impeach President Trump

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Official photos.

Stockton, CA (Jan. 13, 2021) – In response to Wednesday’s vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President Trump on claims of inciting a violent and deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D, CA-09) issued the following statement:

“Today, I voted to impeach President Trump for the second time to protect our nation and our democracy against a would-be tyrant. This is a moment that will define our nation for generations to come. One year ago, the House took up articles of impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to seriously consider these charges and voted against impeaching the President. As a result, there were no repercussions for the President’s actions, which only served to further embolden him. He is a threat to our democracy, and yet Republicans in Congress have repeatedly excused and ignored his dangerous behavior and rhetoric.

“President Trump began his presidency speaking of American carnage, and as he ends his time in the White House, he has led his followers to lay siege at the seat of our government, directly inciting and provoking that carnage. In order to preserve our democracy, there must be consequences for sedition, and the rule of law must be upheld.”

McNerney represents a portion of Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

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Householder challenged over alleged open meeting law violation for only allowing 3 of 200+ public comments to be read

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Former school board president also threatens complaint with Fair Political Practices Commission

The following public comment was submitted to the Antioch School Board for the meeting on Jan. 13, 2021 and shared with the Herald:

Public Comment – Item # 2, Closed Session, #A. Superintendent Evaluation

This public comment also serves as a notice that unless the president of the board corrects the Brown Act Violation that occurred at the December 21, 2020 meeting regarding the same item, I will be filing a Fair Political Practices Complaint. I encourage anyone who did not have their comment read or are as outraged as I am that this has occurred, the complaint form is online at https://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/fppc-v2/fppc-www/enforcement/electronic-complaint-system.html.

Only three of over 200+ submitted comments regarding the superintendent evaluation were read and nearly 2,000 Change.org comments were not acknowledged. The situation was summarized in a Weekly Update (available on line at AntiochSchools.net) and I hope that the president follows advice of the attorney and the urging of the employees to “cure and correct” the Brown Act Violation.

Friday Weekly Update, January 8, 2021,

It appears that a Brown Act violation occurred that must be corrected. While the Board can limit public comment from time-to time, it is problematic to limit public comment as drastically as occurred at the December 21, 2020 meeting. Additionally, according to legal counsel, limiting public comment prior to closed session is especially problematic as the public’s only way to meaningfully participate in a closed session item is to make public comment unlike an open session item wherein the public can meaningfully participate via public comment and observing the Board’s deliberation. In an attempt to cure and correct the violation, all comments will be read at the next Board Meeting, January 13, 2021. AEA, AMA, CSBA Petition At the request of Trustee Hack, attached is a copy of the signatures from the online petition posted by AEA, AMA, and CSBA regarding the evaluation of the Superintendent

This was the first meeting with a new president, let’s hope she acknowledges and corrects this basic understanding of how the Brown Act applies and how important it is to listen to constituents. I also hope that union leaders, staff members and community pay attention to the actions of the new board president.

Diane Gibson-Gray

Antioch

 

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