By Allen Payton
This year’s Independence Day on Wednesday, July 4th marks the 242nd birthday of our nation. It was on this date in 1776 that our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence sending a message to England that we would no longer be ruled by their king, and that we would be a sovereign nation and each of our citizens sovereign people, as well.
As we celebrate, we have so much to appreciate this year, about our country. Things have been turning around with a growing economy, and the lowest unemployment rate since 2000 down to 3.8% in May. That’s directly due to the repatriation of billions of dollars that have been held offshore by U.S. corporations, which along with most Americans are benefitting by the $1.5 trillion federal tax cut approved, late last year.
The future looks bright and we can celebrate our freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and which now have more protections thanks to recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Enjoy celebrating and remember to thank God for the freedoms we get to exercise and experience each day in our country.
Happy Independence Day and may God continue to bless the United States of America. Freedom!Read More
Following is the text of the Declaration of Independence in celebration of Independence Day, July 4th, 2018:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine
From the website: www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html
Happy Independence Day from the Contra Costa Herald!Read More
By Federal Glover
As we celebrate July 4th, 2018, Americans stand at a crossroads: do we stand up for those ideals our founding fathers put before us in the Constitution or do we our head down a path that continues to erode the institutions and values that Americans have held for 242 years.
Over the past 18 months, our country has been undergoing a sea change that is remaking the way the world sees us and – more importantly — the way we see ourselves.
This Fourth of July, I almost don’t recognize this country anymore.
The America I knew growing up in Pittsburg was a land of opportunity that allowed a laborer from Mississippi to find a well-paying, blue collar job in the steel mill, buy a car and home and allowed our family to live in relative comfort and security. There was opportunity here. There was hope. We dreamed about a better country and the possibility of Martin Luther King’s Dream of worshipping and living in a land and time when we were judged by the content of our character – not by the color of our skin.
I was fortunate enough to go to school in a city where I had classmates from all around the globe.
We were not isolated from the events that were happening in other parts of the United States. We kept tabs of what was happening in Selma, in Memphis and other parts of the South. Many African American families in town still had relatives in those far away places where history was being written.
Still, those events seemed far away. My best friend was Italian American. We grew up eating at the New Mecca Restaurant, pizza from Carlos’ Pizzeria and hamburgers from The Pirate drive-in. We expanded our taste buds to include lumpia and adobo cooked by our Filipino friends’ mothers and grandmothers. We bought groceries from the market a few blocks away which was owned by a Chinese American family.
As a member of the Pittsburg High School football team, my teammates were made up of a multitude of nationalities from families that had roots in Italy, Greece, Great Britain, the Philippines, Ireland, Mexico and, of course, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.
Even when a major retailer was picketed in downtown Pittsburg for not hiring African Americans and King’s shocking assassination broke the peace and calm of our city, the residents and political leaders came together to examine the city and how it could weather the violence that hit other U.S. cities.
Even with the civil rights battle at our doorstep, our community found a way. Change was in the air. It didn’t happen overnight and we had obstacles to overcome, but we had hope. Our dreams – our common dreams — were still intact.
Today, that hope is withering away. Our dreams seem to be fading away. The gains and progress made over the last 60 years is in serious danger. The foundations that made our country strong is more fragile and the beacon of freedom and light for people throughout the world has grown dim.
Refugees who believed in the Statue of Liberty’s “send me your tired, your poor, your wretched refuse,” are being treated like criminals; the needs of our planet seem to taking second place to need for profit; more obstacles are being placed in front of voters; corporate profits are not trickling down to the workers who toil for 20th Century wages shrinking our great middle class; home ownership –- a critical part of the American Dream – is out of reach for most people; the unregulated proliferation of guns has made our streets more dangerous; and the re-emergence of blatant racism threatens to destroy our civil society.
Most disheartening, our Congress, instead of acting as balance to the extreme policies coming from the current administration, has succumbed to the fear of losing an election instead of standing on principle.
For those who might want to give up hope and let cynicism replace our dreams, there are signs that that the American Dream is still alive.
I am heartened by the renewed vigor and interest being displayed by our neighbors, local leaders and government representatives. Instead of giving up, they are injecting new energy and new blood into our communities.
The marches and demonstrations in behalf of women, science, LGBTQ, truth, immigrants and against racism have inspired a new generation of activism that we haven’t seen since the 1960s.
Young people – inspired by high schoolers who have seen their classmates gunned down on campus – have launched a movement to hopefully not only make their campuses safer, but to make our greater society safer and saner. As they grow into adulthood and assume their place in our society, there is hope.
People are not content with speeches and marches in the streets, they are taking their principles into the voting booth and into the halls of our capitols and city council chambers.
Ordinary people who were once content to let the status quo play itself out, are snapping out of their lethargy and are stepping up to the plate. New community groups are springing up made up or our neighbors, who might not want to run for public office, but are willing to make the phone calls, send the e-mails and knock on doors and are creating a wellspring of change in our cities and county.
I’ve seen the first stirrings of renewed activism myself when a group of middle-schoolers in Bay Point went up against the political might and influence of the alcohol lobby to limit sales of alcoholic beverages in their community. We saw it again on June 5 when Bay Area voters passed a measure to improve our transportation system and San Francisco voters spurned the lies and misleading commercials of the tobacco industry to pass a measure limiting tobacco sales in their city.
The words of Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a-changing!” suddenly have found a new audience. People are beginning to believe they can make a difference again. As stated by that great statesman Abraham Lincoln: That “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” This is the American Dream.
Happy July Fourth! Celebrate in safety and give thanks that we live in this great country where the possible is … well, possible … for everybody.
Glover represents District 5 on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.Read More
On Saturday at about 10:30 PM, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to a report of gunshots in the parking lot of a business on the 5200 block of Sobrante Avenue in El Sobrante.
When Deputies arrived, they found a 28-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds. Deputies performed CPR on the victim who was later pronounced deceased by ambulance personnel. He is not being identified at this time.
Detectives from the Homicide Unit as well as the Crime Lab responded to the scene. The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with any information on this incident or the identity of the suspect is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff Investigation Division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.Read More
Earlier this year, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) asked Contra Costa residents to vote on town hall topics, and environmental protection was at the top of the list. Mark will hold a town hall on “Protecting Our Environment” this Monday, July 2nd at 6:30 p.m. in Moraga.
At a time when California recently experienced one of the driest periods on record, and as storms are intensifying, sea levels are rising, and precipitation patterns are shifting, this town hall will explore the role government plays in protecting our environment.
During the town hall, DeSaulnier will discuss the major environmental laws that protect our air, water, wildlife, and open spaces, and constituents will have the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts on this important issue.
Protecting Our Environment Town Hall
Monday, July 2, 2018
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Campolindo High School
300 Moraga Road, Moraga
Doors Open at 6:00 p.m.
DeSaulnier represents portions of Antioch in the U.S. House of Representatives.Read More
Branded victim with initial of his nickname
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office
On June 28, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant Aleem Niweigha guilty of three felony counts for torturing his victim by making her strip naked and repeatedly burning his victim with scalding hot water and metal objects he heated on their stove. The defendant also branded the letter “Z” onto her back and violently sexually assaulted her.
Niweigha now faces a sentence of 39 years to life in State Prison. The District Attorney’s Office wants to thank the jury for their work on this domestic violence case. The victim, Jane Doe, suffered immense emotional and physical harm at the hands of Niweigha.
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Nichelle Holmes prosecuted the case on behalf of the People. The jury trial lasted ten days before the Honorable Charles Burch in Department 23 at the Martinez Superior Court. Sentencing for the defendant will occur on July 13.
“Jane Doe displayed tremendous courage by coming forward and confronting her abuser when she took the stand and testified against him. She disclosed extreme physical and psychological torture the hands of the defendant that lasted for years. During this process, we watched Jane Doe transform from a victim to a survivor,” said DDA Holmes. Holmes is a prosecutor in the Community Violence Reduction Unit. She also served as a prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit for four years and was the first prosecutor to be co-located at the Richmond Family Justice Center.
In the spring of 2015, a friend of Jane Doe’s called Children and Family Services’ emergency hotline to report concerns about the wellbeing of Jane Doe and her children. In an investigation that also included the Richmond Police Department, significant burns were discovered on Jane Doe’s face, neck and arms. Officials later discovered that Jane Doe had burn marks covering most of her body and a large initial “Z” branded onto her back.
Jane Doe later disclosed that while they lived together, Niweigha repeatedly used boiling hot water mixed with peanut butter and oil to burn her. Before he threw the boiling water on Jane Doe, Niweigha would order Jane Doe to take off her clothes and remain naked while she was burned. Niweigha mixed the hot scalding water with these ingredients to ensure they stuck on Jane Doe’s body. Jane Doe suffered immense burns from her face down to her knees.
In addition, Niweigha used a metal pipe that was heated on the stove to burn the initial “Z” on Jane Doe’s back against her will while she was restrained on his lap. Niweigha’s nickname was “Zeem.” He also burned her with a heated metal screw attached to a stick. On Mother’s Day, Niweigha committed a violent sexual assault against Jane Doe, which resulted in her hospitalization for two days.
Jane Doe was able to obtain services and support from the Family Justice Center. All victims of interpersonal violence (domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, elder/dependent adult abuse and child abuse) can get help by visiting the Family Justice Centers in Richmond (256 24th St.) or Concord (2151 Salvio St., Ste. 201). DA Holmes believes that it was with this support that Jane Doe was finally able to disclose the full magnitude of the abuse she suffered to Richmond Police Detectives co-located there and break free from the cycle of domestic abuse. Law enforcement officials, Contra Costa County Children and Family Services Division and the District Attorney’s Office were then able to make a case against Niweigha and hold him accountable for these crimes. The District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Center continues to provide services to Jane Doe and her children.
If you or someone you know has been affected by interpersonal violence – get help by reporting the abuse to police, by calling the STAND! for Families Free of Violence 24-hour toll free crisis line at 1-888-215-5555 or visiting the Family Justice Centers in Richmond (256 24th St.) or Concord (2151 Salvio St., Ste. 201). In an emergency, always call 911.
The complete list of charges and enhancements against the defendant are as follows:
- Count 1, Torture
- Count 2, Aggravated Mayhem
- Count 3, Sexual Penetration by Foreign Object
- Enhancement 1, Special Allegation-Great Bodily Injury
- Enhancement 2, Special Allegation-Aggravated Circumstances
Case information: People v. Aleem Niweigha, Docket Number 05-160618-5.Read More
The first year of BART’s Measure RR Bond-funded rebuilding work is already paying off for our riders. BART’s on-time performance rate has increased to 93.6%. That’s BART’s highest on-time rate in four years and is thanks in part to the infrastructure improvements supported by RR along with several years of greater attention to incident management, quality maintenance, and system rehabilitation. As we roll out more projects, we anticipate the on-time performance to improve exponentially.
Measure RR Spending and Projects
So far, BART has spent nearly $70 million from the $3.5 billion bond measure passed by voters in November 2016. Based on performance to date, the projects that are underway are on time and on budget. Much of the initial effort has been heavily focused on engineering and issuing the first installment of bonds worth $300 million. This early work isn’t very visible to the public but that will soon change. The year ahead will bring the launch of multi-year projects that include new escalators and modernized stations that will have a big impact on our riders. We will also continue to perform behind-the-scenes infrastructure upgrades that will further boost our reliability. Staying one step ahead of maintenance troubles is at the heart of RR.
The Measure RR Bond Oversight Committee is keeping track of how funds are spent. The Committee’s mandate is to provide diligent oversight that all spending is authorized and that projects are completed in a timely, cost-effective, and high-quality manner. The Bond Oversight Committee is made up of community members with expertise in different disciplines from finance to engineering to project management.
Today, the BART Board of Directors is acknowledging the work of this volunteer committee and receiving its first annual report. Click here to dig into the report and all its details.
All three Contra Costa Community College District (District) colleges have been recognized by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office as Strong Workforce Stars. Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College all had career education programs recognized as Strong Workforce Stars.
California Community Colleges Strong Workforce Stars is a leg of the state’s Strong Workforce Program aimed at recognizing and celebrating colleges’ career education programs whose students show significant gains in three key areas identified as essential for advancing social mobility: substantial increase in earnings, attainment of a living wage and employment in a job related to their field of study.
“At the Contra Costa Community College District, one of our main goals is to provide superior educational programs that lead to career ladder opportunities for our students. This recognition for our colleges affirms that what we collectively are doing yields successful outcomes,” explained Drew Douglass, Senior Dean of Workforce and Economic Development. “We have dedicated and passionate teams of faculty and staff that tirelessly and effectively serve our students. The fact that each of the colleges in the District received this level of recognition truly is a testament to that.”
“Strong Workforce Stars Career Education programs are proven to help Californians increase their earning power,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, Executive Vice Chancellor for Workforce & Digital Futures at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. “With the introduction of levels this year, we are able to highlight those programs that are seeing significant results, as well as those that are on the rise toward even greater success.”
The Strong Workforce Program is sustained by an annual recurring investment of $200 million in order to improve and increase career education outcomes in California Community Colleges. Now in its second year, Strong Workforce Stars receive awards in three categories: Gold Stars for graduates who achieved strong outcomes in all three key areas; Silver Star for graduates who demonstrated strong outcomes in two key areas; and Bronze Star for graduates who met a high bar in one key area. To see which college programs received gold, silver and bronze stars and to explore a list of all career education programs available, please visit our college websites:
Contra Costa College: https://www.contracosta.edu/career-education/
Diablo Valley College: https://www.dvc.edu/academics/programs.html
Los Medanos College: http://www.losmedanos.edu/cte/
For more information about the Strong Workforce Stars Program, visit http://www.dwmshowcase.com/workforce_stars.asp.Read More
At about 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to the 5500 block of Arcadia Circle in Discovery Bay for report of a woman who was being attacked by her own dog.
When Deputies arrived, the victim, who had severe bite wounds in several areas on her body, was on the ground being assisted by neighbors. The dog ran off before Deputies arrived.
The dog later returned. Deputies attempted to corral the dog. Because of the dog’s earlier attack and because it moved toward bystanders, a deputy was forced to shoot the dog, which died.
Because of the nature of her injuries, the victim was taken to a local hospital by helicopter. She is said to be in stable condition.
Contra Costa County Animal Services is following up on this incident and will be looking at what led up to the dog attack.Read More
By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston announced that a Coroner’s jury has reached a finding in the January 12, 2018 death of Terry Dean Amons Jr. who was shot by Pittsburg Police. The finding of the jury is that the death is “at the hands of another person, other than by accident.” See related Antioch Herald article.)
The Coroner’s jury reached a verdict after hearing the testimony of witnesses called by the hearing officer, Matthew Guichard.
A Coroner’s inquest, which Sheriff-Coroner Livingston convenes in fatal incidents involving peace officers, is a public hearing, during which a jury rules on the manner of a person’s death. Jury members can choose from the following four options when making their finding: accident,
suicide, natural Causes, or at the hands of another person, other than by accident.
See a KRON4 news report about Amons’ death.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More