Los Medanos College (LMC) is preparing to host its annual “César Chávez Celebration” on Thursday, March 22, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the college’s Recital Hall [Reception at 6:00 p.m., Awards & Recognition Ceremony at 7:00 p.m.]. LMC is located at 2700 East Leland Road in Pittsburg. The public is welcome to attend the free event.
Los Medanos College hosts this event each year to honor the life of César Chávez and to recognize East Contra Costa County community leaders who continue his great tradition of service and social activism. A true American hero, César Chávez exemplifies service to community and non-violent social change.
The college is now seeking nominations for three recognition awards, which will be presented at the event. The LMC César Chávez Award for Exemplary Community Service, established in 1995, is awarded to local residents who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to service and who represent the core values established by César Chávez: Service to Others, Sacrifice, Help the Most Needy, Determination, Non-Violence, Acceptance of All People, Respect for Life and the Environment, Celebrating Community, Knowledge, and Innovation. The East County Educator Award honors members of the educational community who demonstrate the above values and a commitment to student success and equity, particularly for low-income students and students of color. The Chávez Spirit Award recognizes emerging/student leaders who are making an impact on East Contra Costa County in the areas of advocacy and social justice.
To submit nominations for the César Chávez awards, visit: www.losmedanos.edu/chavez/nominate. The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, February 28, 2018.
For more information, please contact Jennifer Adams, firstname.lastname@example.org or (925) 473-7302.
Los Medanos College (LMC), one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, has served the East Contra Costa County community since 1974. LMC offers award-winning transfer and career-technical programs, high-quality support services, and diverse academic opportunities in an engaging and inclusive learning environment. With exceptional educators, innovative curriculum, growing degree and certificate offerings, strong regional partnerships, and state-of-the-art facilities, the College prepares students to succeed in their educational pursuits, in the workforce, and beyond. LMC’s Pittsburg Campus is located on 120 acres near the Antioch border, with an additional education center in Brentwood.Read More
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) will host a town hall at Diablo Valley College this coming Monday, February 12th at 6:30 p.m. in Pleasant Hill.
This town hall is an opportunity to discuss important issues of the day including the federal budget, the new tax law, immigration, the economy, and more. Attendees will be provided with a Congressional update and given the opportunity to ask questions.
Pleasant Hill Town Hall
Monday, February 12, 2018
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Diablo Valley College, Cafeteria
321 Golf Club Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Please confirm your attendance, by RSVPing online at https://desaulnier.house.gov/town-hall-rsvp or call 925-933-2660. To request ADA accommodations or for more information please contact one of Congressman DeSaulnier’s offices in either Walnut Creek or Richmond.Read More
Some time ago, I read an article about Diablo Valley College Professor, Albert Ponce. It was obvious from what I read—if the article was accurate—that the man is either a communist or an anarchist; I’m not sure which. I wanted to find out a little bit about the man and after a few minutes I happened unto a webpage in which some of his students expressed their feelings about the professor. Some were complimentary (sycophantic), but many described a man who is an abusive bully. A man who attacks those who do not agree with his beliefs and that intimidates students who simply want the opportunity to express their own opinions and worldviews. It seemed that Dr. Ponce doesn’t like to teach as much as he likes to indoctrinate. (See YouTube video of Ponce’s lecture). (See additional related article.)
After reading all of this information, I wrote Professor Ponce and challenged him to a debate. I simply wanted to see if his beliefs were founded on personal experience. Surely, a man like Dr. Ponce has lived in Cuba, China or at least one of the former Soviet Bloc nations. I’m sure that with all he has to say about the wonders of Socialism and Communism, he must have worked on collective farms and been able to compare socialist production models against those of the capitalist west. In order to support his socialist beliefs, he must have extensive experience as a concentration camp guard, abusing, torturing and perhaps even killing a few inmates. I’m also sure that his students would like to see personal photographs of him rubbing shoulders with Raul Castro, Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping. Surely, Dr. Ponce’s platitudes are not based on simple vitriolic rhetoric, talking points and baseless revulsion he feels for the United States. Please tell me that his experience abroad can’t be limited to Chiapas, Mexico in 1999 (I was in Cuba conducting research of my own that year) where he blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement for the problems of the indigenous tribes.
Surely, he must know what it’s like to observe grieving relatives being forced to dig the corpses of their rotting relatives from temporary graves, one piece at a time. He must have experience urinating and defecating on graves as the widows of his enemies looked on. He must surely have extensive experience in all of these things or he is just an empty wind bag.
The irony of Professor Albert Ponce is that all that he has gained and earned was achieved in a free society. I heartily congratulate Dr. Ponce for his academic success. Nobody can take that away from the man. He obviously recognizes the hard work it took, the sleepless nights, living without to make his tuition payments, sacrificing to realize his dreams, etc. I’m sure that along the way, he was allowed to express an opinion, a point of view or a long-held conviction. He must have expressed those ideals during some examination, either vocally or in writing. His doctoral dissertation must have expressed some of his personal doctrines and beliefs, and because of that liberty to express those beliefs, he didn’t suffer the indignity of having the dreaded Secret Police come to his door at night to frighten him into silence. And yet, with all of his rich experience, now he wants to shutter the hearts, minds and passions of students, parents or others who don’t agree with him. His weapon at present is intimidation, but by every insinuation of his hateful speech, it is clear to see that his weapon of choice may one day be a rifle or a gun.
The First Amendment doesn’t have to protect the beautiful utterances of historic poetry, classical music or our favorite and profound Bible passages. The First Amendment was fashioned to protect the stupid, the hateful and the obtuse declarations of the vilest among us. That is free speech. That is living in an open and free society. When I first came to this country, the Klu Klux Klan was still allowed to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. People who stood on the sidewalk witnessing this, yelled at the klansmen and expressed their verbal rejection of them, but they knew that this hate group had as much right to protest in our nation’s capital as any other citizen’s group. To be honest, I felt freer and safer back in those days than I do right now.
The most profound statement that I have found on free speech I heard in a movie called, “The America President.” It says,
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”
If Professor Ponce can just get past the visions of his own grandeur, maybe he can stop long enough to listen to what his students want to tell him. Maybe he can actually be a teacher and learn something himself.
Maximo A. Gomez
Los Banos, CA
Gomez is the author of “Beyond This Vale of Tears One Cuban Family’s Story,” a guest writer for the Salinas Californian newspaper, a former senior intelligence analyst with the United States Army, a former associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Los Banos, an evangelist, and recently started his own ministry.Read More
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors announced on Wednesday, Feb. 7 Brian M. Balbas as the new Contra Costa County Public Works Department Director. Mr. Balbas began his career with the Contra Costa County Public Works Department in July 1989 as an Entry Level Engineer. He has spent nearly 29 years serving the residents of the County in various capacities.
In addition to working in all aspects of the full service Public Works Department, Balbas had the opportunity to serve one year as the first City Engineer for the City of Oakley when it incorporated in 1999. He promoted within the Contra Costa County Public Works Department to a Deputy Director in 2007, Chief Deputy in 2016 and now the Director.
District IV Supervisor and Chair of the Board Karen Mitchoff proclaimed, “This board gave direction to pick the best individual. We are confident that we found the best person to lead the department.”
“It has been a privilege to serve the people of Contra Costa County throughout my career and I look forward to leading the department to greater heights and continue serving Contra Costa County residents,” Balbas stated.
About the Contra Costa County Public Works Department
Contra Costa County Public Works Department (CCCPWD) maintains over 660 miles of roads, 150 miles of streams, channels and other drainage and over 200 County buildings throughout Contra Costa County. CCCPWD provides services such as Parks and Recreation, Sand Bag Distribution and Flood Control throughout unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County. For more information about CCCPWD, please visit us here.Read More
CCC graduate Dr. Chiu L. Tsang appointed interim president
Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) chancellor Fred E. Wood announced Contra Costa College (CCC) president Mojdeh Mehdizadeh will return to the District Office as executive vice chancellor of Education and Technology effective March 15, 2018. The chancellor has also selected retired Santa Monica College president/superintendent Dr. Chui L. Tsang as interim president of Contra Costa College. Formal approval of the appointments will take place at the Governing Board’s February 28, 2018, meeting.
“I asked Mojdeh to consider returning to the District Office because we need her skills and experience to help all three colleges”, says chancellor Wood. “Her unique and extraordinary skill set is needed to guide the District and the three colleges in contributing to the many statewide initiatives like Guided Pathways, the academic and student services innovations needed to respond to state requests and mandates, and the integration of technology with the academic mission all of which will enable us to better track and increase student success. While I know how important she has been to Contra Costa College and how much she has cares about CCC, both of us know that this decision is in the best interest of the entire District.”
Her tenure in the position will last just a little more than two years, as she was appointed president of CCC by the CCCCD Board on March 9, 2016. (See related article).
“This was a very difficult decision for me,” said Mehdizadeh. “Contra Costa College is a special place with talented and caring faculty and staff who are deeply committed to the mission of higher education in support of the incredible students. During my three years at Contra Costa College, we have made great progress in growing our enrollment, completing the bond-funded College Center project, and fully staffing the college with new energetic leaders that are the foundation of the college’s future. I have a deeper appreciation for the excellent work being done at the college and will always be grateful for the wonderful opportunity to serve West County.”
Dr. Tsang Appointed Interim President
This leadership change is coupled with the opportunity to have Dr. Tsang serve as interim president of Contra Costa College. Dr. Tsang, a highly successful community college leader, retired in July 2015 after a 10-year career as president/superintendent of Santa Monica College. He also held other higher education leadership roles including president of City College of San Jose, dean of the School of Applied Science and Technology at City College of San Francisco and taught at Stanford University and in the School of Education at San Francisco State University.
“I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to serve this college and the West County community”, says Dr. Tsang. “I got my higher education start at CCC so I am a “Comet”, and thanks to that experience it gave me the foundation for my career. I understand the challenges and circumstances of our students because I was just like them when I went here. I look forward to working with the Contra Costa College team in making a difference in the lives of our students and becoming the higher education choice for our community.”
A national recruitment will begin for a permanent college president.
Located in San Pablo, Contra Costa College is one of three colleges in the CCCCD currently serves almost 11,000 students (unduplicated head county) annually. Since 1948, CCC has provided exemplary educational services to hundreds of thousands of residents from the greater West County area and is proud of its diverse student body and commitment to individual student success. Excellent programs such as the Center for Science Excellence, The Advocate newspaper, the green Automotive Services program, Middle College High School, the Nursing program, and the Culinary Arts program are known through the state and the nation. A model of excellence, Contra Costa College prides itself on being one of the finest community colleges in the country.
The CCCCD is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The District serves a population of 1,019,640 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. The District is also home to Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters are located in downtown Martinez. For more information visit www.4cd.edu.Read More
Did you know that women don’t have equal rights under federal law? That’s the subject of the documentary “Equal Means Equal” which will be shown on February 17 at 3 p.m. by the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley. Phyllis Gordon, member of the Contra Costa Commission for Women, will moderate the meeting, which will take place in the Cedar Room of the Lafayette Community Center, 500 St. Marys Road.
Filmmaker Kamala Lopez explores the impact of inequality on women by interviewing the famous, such as Gloria Steinem and Patricia Arquette, and as well as ordinary women, such as hotel workers, pregnant employees, and gang members. She hopes to revive interest in the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which although approved in 1972 by the US House and Senate, fell short of ratification by three states. Without equal rights, the film shows how the current situation of half-measures and loopholes has negatively affected the lives many women.
Moderator Phyllis Gordon will show the 93-minute film, followed by discussion. Besides serving as a current member and past Chair of the Contra Costa Commission for Women, Gordon is the northern California representative on the California Commissions for Women and on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Commissions for Women. She also is a founding member of the Contra Costa Women’s Hall of Fame.
There is no charge for the showing of “Equal Means Equal.” Parking is available on site and light refreshments will be served.Read More
Tall Ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, official ambassadors of Washington state, will visit Antioch from March 27th – 31st and offer exciting Adventure Sails, Battle Sails and Vessel Tours from the dock. Vessel Tours open the ships to the public for a suggested donation of $5 per person. Come check out the ship and meet her crew!
Sailing guests will embark on a two or three-hour experience. Adventure Sails feature sailing as it was done for hundreds of years. Join in a sea shanty, enjoy breathtaking views, and meet the modern-day crew that travels the west coast. Battle Sails feature fast-paced maneuvering and live black powder cannon fire as the ships vie to win the battle.
A ticket is required for all sailing passengers, including babies. Children 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Refreshments are not provided, but guests are welcome to bring their own (no glass containers, please). Accessibility is addressed on a case-by-case basis, so please talk to us ahead of time to be sure we can accommodate your needs.
Call 1-800-200-5239 for tickets and information or click here. A ticket is not required for Vessel Tours.
Antioch City Marina
5 Marina Plaza
Antioch, CA 94509
March 27 to March 31, 2018
Closed for crew training
Vessel Tours: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. ($5 donation)
Evening Sail: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. ($42-$49)
Vessel Tours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ($5 donation)
Adventure Sail: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ($42-$49) Sailing on Hawaiian Chieftain
Battle Sail: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ($42-$79)
Boats depart Antioch to Crescent City
At age 17, after interviewing hundreds of renowned thinkers, Nikhil Goyal wrote a book called, One Size Does Not Fit All. It offers a prescription to transform the American educational system.
I don’t claim to be as smart as that young man. But I’d like to borrow the title to his book and apply it to BART parking. Here’s why.
As a BART Director in Contra Costa County, most of my constituents depend on their cars. They have a very different commute experience than my colleagues whose constituents live in more transit and pedestrian friendly areas. Consequently, the solutions to help my constituents connect with BART may be different than those of some of my colleagues.
In January, BART staff made a presentation to the Board entitled “BART’s Parking Program: Update and Discussion.”
We board members learned that BART’s revenue from parking has increased from under $5 million in 2003 to $35 million in 2017. BART has a total of 48,000 parking spaces at 34 parking facilities. We have a systemwide waitlist total of 38,000 customers. Staff presented some possible solutions to dealing with easing the overcrowding in our existing lots. Those ideas included demand based pricing and variable pricing. These are fine ideas for consideration, but what about parking expansion?
So, I decided to do what young Nikhil did and speak with some pretty smart thinkers in my district. I contacted several local business owners about parking at BART. They asked, “Why is BART just trying to manage the overcrowding, and not capturing the revenue that could be generated by creatively accommodating the people whose names are on the waitlist?”
As a director who represents auto dependent riders, I think they are right. Let’s assume that the 38,000 names on the waitlist contains duplications, and that there are, say, 16,000 potential riders who are willing to pay parking fees to get a spot. That could increase our parking revenue to as high as $54 million, or a $19 million/year increase.
So why aren’t we looking at solutions to find more places to park and charging for those additional spots along with better managing the existing spots that we have now? Why not create satellite parking lots served by free shuttle buses? Why not partner with area businesses, local governmental agencies and others to use adjacent and existing parking more efficiently?
I believe each of these ideas merits further discussion and I look forward to a robust exchange of ideas when this item returns to the Board. I am sure that there are other ideas that we should explore, but as I said at the Board meeting, the solution to overcrowded parking cannot be a “one size fits all.”
The needs of auto dependent stations are different than the needs of stations in more urbanized parts of the District. While the solutions may be different, the differences should be respected.
Director Keller represents the BART District 2, which includes Antioch, Brentwood, Concord (partial), Oakley, Pittsburg, Bay Point, Byron, Knightsen, Bethel Island, and Discovery Bay.Read More
By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
At approximately 10:37 AM on Wednesday, Deputy Sheriffs were conducting lunch meal service on a module at the Martinez Detention Facility (MDF).
During meal service, the Deputies discovered that an inmate was not responsive. Deputies called for emergency medical assistance. Medical staff at MDF responded and started life-saving measures. The fire department and an ambulance responded and continued life-saving measures. The inmate was later pronounced deceased.
The 46-year-old male inmate is not being identified at this time. His death appears to be health related.
The officer-involved protocol was initiated. Investigators from the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s Office are conducting an investigation into the death.Read More
By Daniel Borsuk
Reacting to complaints from constituents in five of her rural-oriented District 3 communities, Supervisor Diane Burgis may have scored a political victory for voters in the communities of Bethel Island, Byron, Diablo, Discovery Bay, and Knightsen. Supervisors voted 5-0 to not include the five communities in her district as part of the ordinance that would, for the first time, lay down regulations on the raising and keeping of farm animals and bees in residential districts and the keeping of roosters in agricultural zoning districts.
Supervisors have yet to officially adopt the ordinance; that could occur on April 9, provided the county planning commission signs off on the alterations to the proposed law.
“The issue I have is who is going to enforce this in District 3?,” Burgis asked at Tuesday’s Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting. “You’re going to have to deal with bad actors.”
The county is inadequately equipped to enforce the proposed ordinance in District 3, she maintains, because her district encompasses 165,000 acres, and is by far, the largest. The next largest district has 53,000 acres.
District 3 has two county animal control officers and one county code enforcement inspector assigned to cover the entire area for violations, county officials said.
“It’s not a good idea to exclude an entire district from an ordinance,” Board Chair and District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill, at one point cautioned Burgis in an effort to have the supervisor identify the communities that should be excluded from the ordinance. “You need to be specific which communities you want to exclude from the ordinance.”
Initially proposed last year by District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, the ordinance was designed to insert land use controls as the county’s expanding housing market, especially in unincorporated rural areas, permits homeowners to own and maintain livestock or bees in residentially zoned areas that must meet lot size requirements.
For instance, a home with 40,000 square feet can have eight beehives. A house with 20,000 square feet but less than 40,000 square feet can have six beehives. A house with less than 6,000 square feet can have four beehives.
The proposed ordinance would permit a homeowner to have a maximum of two head of livestock for every 40,000 square feet.
A homeowner can keep one rooster provided the proprietor has a minimum lot size of five acres, according to the proposed ordinance.
Countywide Redevelopment Successor Agency in the Works
Supervisors were also informed that beginning July 1 the state mandated Countywide Redevelopment Successor Agency Oversight Board (CRSAOB) goes into effect.
The seven-member agency will assume all decisions previously taken by 17 municipal redevelopment boards and the county redevelopment board, Maureen Tomes of the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department informed supervisors.
The state legislature enacted AB X1-26; that legislation dissolved all redevelopment agencies in the state in 2012 as part of a move by Gov. Jerry Brown as a move to save the state money.
The CRSAOB will consist of one representative from the county board of supervisors, one from the city selection committee, one from an independent special district, one from the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Education, one from the Contra Costa County Community College District, a representative of the largest labor organization in the county, and a member of the public picked by the board of supervisors.
So far, Contra Costa County Community College Board trustee Vicki Gordon has been selected by her peers to serve on the CRSAOB.
The CRSAOB will be staffed by the Contra Costa County Auditor-Controller with assistance from the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department.Read More