“if you cherish free expression, and free speech rights generally, you should be worried”
By Allen Payton, Editor & Publisher
I rarely write about national issues on the Herald websites or newspaper, but this one is too important not to as what could happen in the next few days could affect not only my business but any and all internet-related media and any business and individual who uses the Internet.
The Obama Administration supports allowing the international takeover of the Internet, which was developed here in America, first by our military, and is currently controlled by American interests.
If that happens, some unelected body made up mostly of representatives of foreign governments, which in general oppose and work against American interests and the freedoms we enjoy in our country, will be in control of the most powerful information and commerce tool ever created.
The UN could ultimately take control and it is not favorable to America and hasn’t been for years. Back in 1985 while working as an intern for then-U.S. Senator Pete Wilson in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to travel to New York over Thanksgiving weekend to visit a college buddy. He had to work the day after the holiday, so I spent it being a tourist in Manhattan.
One of my last stops was the United Nations building. While in the gift shop I met and struck up a conversation with a delegate from the U.S. State Department and asked him what his thoughts were on the institution. His response was rather eye-opening.
“This place is a joke,” he said. “It’s the U.S. and Israel against the world and once in awhile our old friend Great Britain will abstain.”
Well, things haven’t changed much in the 31 years since then, and actually they’ve become worse. While I believe it’s always better to talk things out than to fight them out, as the delegates to the UN spend much of their time doing in that deliberative body, the decisions they can make once they have control of the Internet could prove disastrous.
Let’s remember who some of the nation states that are members and their policies toward the Internet in their own countries. China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. Do we want their views, which are anathema to our God-given, constitutionally-protected freedoms of religion, speech, and the press be the ones governing or influencing how the Internet operates in our country? What about even England, Scotland or France, where certain comments that we consider disagreements and debate, can get you arrested for “hate speech”?
In a television interview on Wednesday, Ajit Pai, a senior member of the Federal Communications Commission, said “This proposal is to essentially give up the US oversight role that it’s had for the last 20 years, basically for the entire commercial lifespan of the Internet to a company called ICANN, which is an international organization, which includes a number of foreign countries.”
Pai further stated, “[I]f you cherish free expression, and free speech rights generally, you should be worried, I think, when there’s — this oversight role’s going to be ceded to potentially, foreign governments who might not share our values.”
This needs to be stopped, and now.
Congress is debating the issue today and our representatives need to hear from us, now. Please join me in contacting them and urging them to vote to stop the Obama Administration from allowing the international takeover of the internet scheduled for Saturday, October 1st.
Rep. Jerry McNerney
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-1947
Antioch Office (925) 754-0716
Stockton Office (209) 476-8552
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-2095
Walnut Creek Office (925) 933-2660
Richmond Office (510) 620-1000
Rep. Mike Thompson (represents Martinez, Hercules and Crockett)
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-3311
Vallejo Office (707) 645-1888
Rep. Eric Swalwell (represents San Ramon)
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-5065
Pleasanton Office (925) 460-5100
Senator Diane Feinstein
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-3841
San Francisco Office (415) 393-0707
Senator Barbara Boxer
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Oakland Office (510) 286-8537Read More
On Thursday night, September 22, in an energy-filled and packed Concord Hilton banquet room, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, announced Shauna Hawes, of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Gina Minder-Maldonado of the Oakley Union Elementary School District as the 2016-2017 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.
Shauna Hawes teaches computer applications/technology to grades 6-8 at Valley View Middle School, in Pleasant Hill. The 18-year teacher has been with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District during her entire teaching career. Prior to her current position, Hawes taught 6th grade core (English, history, and reading) at Valley View. Before coming to Valley View, she taught 5th grade (all subjects) at Hidden Valley Elementary, in Martinez, from 1998-2007.
“I have worked closely with Shauna Hawes for the past several years,” says Foothill Middle School teacher Margaret Elliott. “Shauna does not work for awards or accolades, but simply to inspire and impact all those she comes in contact with each day. She believes that all students should have the same opportunities that her students have. Shauna is what you could call ‘open-source.’”
Gina Minder-Maldonado has recently begun her 26th year of teaching. For the past 18 years, Minder-Maldonado has taught at Oakley Elementary School, in Oakley. Currently teaching 2nd grade, Minder-Maldonado’s former teaching experience includes preschool through 5th, as well as adult education.
“For the last 25 years, Gina Minder-Maldonado has challenged the students in Oakley to dream big, do the best they can each and every day, and treat one another with kindness and respect,” said Oakley Union Elementary School District Assistant Anne Allen. “Her classroom is a magical place – a place where children and adults to go to breathe in an environment that makes learning anything possible, celebrating mistakes normal, and creating independent thinkers a goal.
Their pathways to becoming this year’s Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year:
After both teachers were named Teacher of the Year by their school districts, last March, Hawes and Minder-Maldonado successfully proceeded, with the other 17 eligible county candidates, through a rigorous countywide selection process, including an application screening, classroom evaluation and interview, and speech presentation. Their fellow finalists were Summer Rodriguez, Liberty Union High School District (Liberty High) and Joyce Rooks, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, (Creekside Elementary).
The impressively large audience was made up of the TOYs’ family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and elected official representatives. Kicking off the festivities were three songs performed by the tremendous Hillview Junior High Jazz Band. The Pittsburg school’s 23-piece band was led by their teacher Diane Klaczynski. Klaczynski is a former Pittsburg Unified School District Teacher of the year.
The evening also featured Sakata introducing the TOY class of 2016-2017, individually on stage, as she shared with the audience her visits to each of the teachers’ classrooms and the comments their students gave her about their teachers. In addition, each honored teacher told the audience about which teacher inspired them to follow a career in education. This was followed by speeches of the four TOY finalists on the topic: “What I have learned from my students.” After the finalists’ speeches were given, Sakata announced the two Teachers of the Year.
Hawes and Minder-Maldonado will now compete with all the other California county representatives in the California State TOY competition. The California State Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced in early October. The county TOY program is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.
For additional info and a complete list of this year’s TOYS, visit the CCCOE’s Teacher of the Year Web page.
Survey seeks input on future of the campus and school theme
WHAT: Informational meeting on reopening of Holbrook School for the 2017-2018 school year
WHEN: Thursday, September 29, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Holbrook School, 3333 Ronald Way, Concord, 94519 (Directions)
Holbrook School is reopening for the 2017-2018 school year. The community is invited to a meeting to discuss facility plans, programs, and to talk about the future of the campus. The meeting will be held on September 29th from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. in the multi-use room at the Holbrook campus, 3333 Ronald Way, Concord. Snacks will be provided, and child care will be available. MDUSD is committed to a quality academic program that prepares all our students for the 21st century. A survey (English or Spanish) has been developed for the community to provide input on how the district can best accomplish this, and also to solicit input on proposed themes for the school, including:
- Technology (integration of technology into the curriculum that is student-centered and aligned to the Common Core State Standards)
- Visual and Performing Arts (school-wide focus i.e. music, art, theater)
- Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) (school-wide focus in these four areas extended beyond the standards and hands-on)
- Project based learning (Classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world
- problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge)
For additional information, please contact Stephanie Roberts, Director of Special Projects, at 925-682-8000 x6203 or email@example.com.Read More
MDUSD Special Education assistants earn teaching degrees through specialized program at St. Mary’s College
Critical shortages of fully-credentialed Special Education teachers are a well-documented national problem, with data showing that the number of Special Education credentials issued in California decreasing 21% from 2011 to 2013. As the demand for Special Education professionals increases, the consequence of this teacher shortage creates challenges for school districts across the country.
To respond to the need for qualified Special Education teachers, St. Mary’s College of California (SMC) Kalmanovitz School of Education has created an innovative, reciprocal partnership with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD). Under the program, MSDUSD employees currently serving as Special Education assistants in the classrooms or serving individual students as one-to-one assistants, are enrolled in a two-year program with extensive and intensive coaching and classroom support that helps them earn an intern credential for Mild/Moderate Special Education that deems them to be highly qualified Special Education teachers.
“We are incredibly proud of this opportunity for staff who, on a daily basis, work with, care for, and have a profound and personal impact on the lives of students with physical, learning, or other disabilities,” said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Superintendent for MDUSD. “This partnership will help us develop a tailored pipeline for teacher candidates who match our needs and have already shown a deep commitment to working in the best interest of our students.”
The program was co-designed by Drs. David Kraft and Peter Alter, co-directors of the Education Specialist program at SMC; Dr. Wendi Aghily, MDUSD Director of Special Education; and Leyla Benson, MDUSD Director of Personnel.
“This partnership will allow us to strengthen the preparation education specialists receive so they can enter the classroom with confidence that they can fully address both academic areas, and other domains, such as communication and social/behavioral issues,” said Dr. Alter.
The initiative includes three components that set it apart from traditional teacher preparation programs.
- All classes are being held at MDUSD facilities to decrease travel time and increase convenience for the candidates.
- By pooling resources, MDUSD and SMC are able to provide an increased amount of ‘in the classroom’ support and coaching. In the first year of the program, a group of district-funded coaches provide ongoing feedback, demonstration lessons, classroom resources, and support with classroom management. In the second year, candidates are moved to an intern credential that deems them to be highly qualified Special Education teachers. During this intern phase, MDUSD and SMC have developed a formal plan of support provided by support personnel by both the District and the college. It is estimated that each candidate will be provided over 100 hours of support over the academic year.
- The program of study has been modified so that courses typically taught in multiple semesters have been condensed to allow multiple courses to be taught within each semester. Additionally, the program has been extended from 18 months to two years. Collectively, the modifications allow teacher candidates to attend classes for two evenings each week, allowing for a home/work/school balance.
In the inaugural year of the program, 12 individuals began the course of study. By this time next year, all candidates will be eligible to become the teacher of record in their classroom. In two years, they will have completed their coursework and will be able to fill the need for education specialists within the District, and begin a new journey on their career path.
“We see some tremendous talent among our Special Education assistants, and with a program such as this which provides reduced tuition and loan forgiveness, it’s an opportunity we hope they can’t turn down,” said MDUSD’s Leyla Benson.
“The role of a Special Education teacher isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding – for both the teacher and the student,” said Dr. Wendi Aghily. “There is no shortage of phenomenal moments. When you help a student achieve something beyond what he or she thought possible, it’s as meaningful personally as it is professionally. We dream big on behalf of all students. And we want our Special Education assistants to dream big too and become a teacher. There is no greater calling, and we will help them get there.”
For additional information about the program, please contact Dr. Wendi Aghily at aghilyw@mdusd or 925-682-8000 x 4047.Read More
The Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (District) will host a public workshop on Tuesday, October 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at 255 Glacier Drive, Martinez to receive public input for the planning phase of an ambitious restoration project for Lower Walnut Creek.
The Walnut Creek watershed is the largest in Contra Costa County, contains eight cities and more than 300,000 residents. The restoration project area consists of the most downstream 4 miles of this watershed that drains to Suisun Bay and is called Lower Walnut Creek.
The District’s long-term vision is to restore and enhance habitat in Lower Walnut Creek and to provide sustainable flood management, while allowing opportunities for public access and recreation. The first public workshop was held in December 2015 early in the planning process. The purpose of this second workshop is to receive public feedback on the restoration alternatives that have been developed to date.
“Since last year, we have worked closely with a representative group of stakeholders to design a project with multiple benefits for flood protection, water quality, wildlife habitat, and other community interests,” said Paul Detjens, District Senior Engineer and project manager for the restoration effort. “The District would like to share with the public what we’ve come up with and to listen to the community’s thoughts about the project.”
An important principle that has guided the planning phase of the project is to anticipate changes such as Sea Level Rise and to design a system that is resilient to change without expensive and environmentally-disruptive management actions.
“The project offers a unique opportunity to connect and expand habitats at the landscape scale, and to do it in a way that will provide benefits with future sea level changes,” said Michelle Orr, the principal technical consultant for the project who works with Environmental Science Associates based in San Francisco.
The community workshop will feature presentations describing different alternatives for the restoration of Lower Walnut Creek and will create a community forum to offer feedback about the direction of the restoration project. The public can also participate in the ongoing conversationa bout Lower Walnut Creek on the project’s Facebook page which can be accessed through www.lowerwalnutcreek.org. There, the public can learn more about the project and view a multi-episode video series produced by the District called Lower Walnut Creek Adventures.
In addition to the community workshop on October 4, the District invites the public to participate in Lower Walnut Creek field tours on October 1 and November 12. These site tours offer a unique opportunity to experience firsthand the restoration potential of Lower Walnut Creek. Seats are limited and registration is required. To register, visit www.lowerwalnutcreek.org.Read More
Orinda Police are continuing to investigate a robbery and shooting that occurred Monday night.
At about 9:09 PM, police were dispatched to a medical call at a residence on the first block of Claremont Avenue. A woman was apparently shot in front of her house during an armed robbery by two suspects who were said to be wearing “Halloween style masks.”
The victim, who was suffering from gunshot wounds, was taken to a local hospital and is said to be in stable condition. A male victim, who was pistol-whipped, was treated at a hospital and later released. Both victims are Orinda residents. The suspects fled on foot with the victims’ personal property.
Officers, assisted by a police K-9 and a helicopter, conducted a search for the suspects. They were not located.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Orinda Police Department at (925) 254-6820. For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
Advocate for increased resources to public services, claim campaign of intimidation by county executives
At this morning’s Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Meeting, county social and eligibility workers announced their intention to conduct an unfair labor practice strike. The strike is scheduled to begin on Friday, September 30th and last until Tuesday, October 4th.
“Contra Costa County Executives and the Board of Supervisors must negotiate a contract that recognizes the dedicated workers who serve those in our communities who need the most protection,” said Yvonne Ybanez, a Contra Costa Social Services Program Assistant and county resident. “We are fighting to make sure we have the safety, resources and staffing to do our jobs.”
The county workers, in their four months of negotiations with the County, have been bargaining to improve services to Contra Costa’s at-risk residents that include the homeless, victims of child and elder abuse, and families in need of food assistance.
Workers have brought to light the loss of $21 million for public assistance programs and the County’s failure to address the understaffing that’s resulted in increased case loads and backlogs of cases. In the last three years millions, allocated from state and federal sources to administer programs like CalFresh and CalWorks, had to be returned by the County because staff vacancies in the Employment and Services Department is as high as 40 percent.
Contra Costa County’s failure to recruit and retain staff puts crucial public assistance programs at risk. Workers who have spoken out on these revelations have been targeted and threatened by County management. Workers will strike Friday, September 30, in protest of these unfair labor practices and to bring further attention to the county’s social service crisis.
In order to deliver consistent, quality, public assistance to county residents, Contra Costa Executives need to recruit and retain the best staff to deliver it. But, as Contra Costa has one of the lowest salary and benefit packages in the Bay Area, leaving many employees to lean on the very public assistance services they administer.
Safety is another factor keeping the county from keeping a fully-staffed workforce. Multiple violent incidents—including shootings—take place every year in front of county facilities. County safety protocols were originally written in 1976 and have yet to be revised to adequately address the threats workers and clients face today.
The Contra Costa Labor Council, representing 80,000 working families in the county, has sanctioned the scheduled unfair labor practice strike. While a majority of Contra County eligibility and social workers will be out on picket lines from Friday, Sept 30th to October 4th, they have organized a crew to handle emergency calls and services.Read More
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has filed formal charges against 31-year-old Gregory Williamson of Ohio in connection with a home invasion robbery that occurred in Bay Point on Tuesday. The charges include kidnapping, home invasion robbery, and two counts of assault with a firearm.
On Tuesday, at about 1:41 PM, Deputy Sheriffs responded to the 100 block of Crivello Avenue in Bay Point for a report of a shooting. When Deputies arrived, they found a gunshot victim outside the location. It was later determined that he was one of two suspects who had apparently come to the location to commit an armed robbery. He was later identified as Williamson.
Williamson and another suspect allegedly committed the robbery after kidnapping the homeowner at gunpoint in her driveway and forcing her into the home. Several of the occupants in the home were tied up and forced into a room.
During the robbery, gunfire was exchanged. One of the occupants in the home was allegedly shot by the suspects. His wounds were not life-threatening and he was treated and released from the hospital.
Williamson was located outside the home suffering from a gunshot wound and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. He was arraigned this afternoon and will be transferred to the Martinez Detention Facility upon release from the hospital.
One suspect remains outstanding at this time. The investigation into this incident is ongoing.
Anyone who has any information on this incident is asked to immediately contact the Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, please email:email@example.com or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
Sacramento, CA – Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 412, Sen. Steve Glazer’s California Promise, a landmark bill that will pave a new pathway for more California State University students to graduate in four years.
To bolster CSU’s four-year graduation rate – one of the lowest in the nation at only 19 percent – SB 412 will require CSU campuses to offer enhanced academic advising and priority registration to students who commit to 30 credits per academic year. Low-income students, under-represented minorities, first-generation college students and community college transfers will get priority registration in California Promise programs, which will begin in the fall of 2017.
Senate Bill 412, which Sen. Glazer jointly authored with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, marks an important turning point in California for CSU students, said Sen. Glazer, D-Orinda.
“We all know a college degree is a critical rung on the ladder of economic success,” Glazer said. “It is an especially proud day to know that we will now provide CSU students a better chance to do what most want to do, which is to graduate on time.
“California Promise students will now get what many students do not and that is a human touch,” Glazer added. “More academic advising will mean that California Promise students can chart a path with professional guidance and important follow up. It is unfortunate that there are more human touches in getting a piece of fruit to market than there is in student counseling on how to graduate in four years. We can turn that around with this new law.”
Ensuring that California students have all the tools to get through college in four years is a top priority of the Legislature, de León said.
“I congratulate Senator Glazer on the signing of SB 412,” de León said. “California continues to lead the way in implementing policies that support and incentivize students to graduate in four years. The state Senate will continue working to ensure all California students, regardless of race, income or ethnicity have access to higher education as it is the passport to economic success, not only for the student, but the state.”
Gov. Brown said that the legislation, “coupled with today’s action from the CSU trustees, creates conditions that allow students to timely graduate and avoid the burden of extra tuition.” The CSU Board of Trustees earlier Wednesday approved a new 2025 Graduation Initiative that aims to more than double the number of students graduating in four years to 40 percent.
Glazer added: “I applaud CSU for submitting newly enhanced goals of raising 4-year graduation rates to 40 percent by 2025. The California Promise, along with other innovative student success measures, will instill fresh momentum into improving four-year graduation rates.
“I look forward to being part of legislative oversight efforts to keep this program on track.”Read More