Jim Frazier's record of success
This letter is in response to Ron Borland's misleading guest commentary, which was a cheap shot at Oakley City Councilman and AD-11 Candidate Jim Frazier.
What Borland fails to mention in his guest commentary is that he fully supports AD-11 Candidate Patricia Hernandez and has been one of her "attack dogs" against Frazier. My goal here is to correct a wrong.
Borland made the statement that "We have a plethora of 'damaged' candidates to vote against," but then only named Frazier. He then goes on to ask the question Frazier's record based off a single incident -- name one candidate who is perfect? I thought I'd fill Borland and others in on Frazier's real record and background to give the full story of why he is the best candidate to represent us.
Frazier first got a taste of politics through the tragedy of his daughter dying in a car accident and working to fix the road. He does not seek sympathy for the accident nor does he want kudos for fixing a major road problem. He simply never wanted to see another family deal with the loss of a child or family member like he did -- it's admirable.
Shortly after the tragedy, he started a nonprofit called the Network of Care. The foundation provides food bags to parents of children who are in the hospital so they do not have to leave their child's bedside -- recently they just hit 100,000 families fed. Frazier also created the Friends
When it comes to his City Council record, Frazier has been fantastic as he helped ensure the City has a 30 percent reserve as other cities struggle. As a Democrat, he has worked to protect our city funds.
Other accomplishments include working with local hospitals to help bring a doctor to Oakley with the opening of La Clinica this past December. He helped bring the first all-abilities playground to Oakley for special-needs children. He has also become a transportation leader in East County, successfully fighting for more than $166 million in funds to improve Highway 4 and the bypass.
When it comes to the Delta, he is the only candidate who has actually fought for the Delta and invested time to protect our water interests -- most recently, he was appointed to the Delta Protection Commission.
In fact, he took heat by Borland missing the Oakley Chamber forum because he was at the Delta Protection meeting actually protecting the Delta while his opponents simply talked about what they would do.
When it comes to comparing track records, Borland is way off-base because none of the other candidates in the AD-11 race has a track record of great success of truly putting people before politics.
I am proud to be supporting Jim Frazier for Assembly based on his merits and hope you vote for him on June 5.
Vote no on Measure S
We have never had any problems in the Oakley-Knightsen Fire District -- the fire insurance rating was of the best. For a paid-on-call station, we were doing great. We backed up other East County union fire stations on top of covering our community.
Since then, look at how the rating has been lowered. It was supposed to be better. Now it is a paid department that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more to run. They are threatening to shut down stations for lack of money. They have an unfunded pension debt of $29 million. Our budget was one-fifth of the unionized East Diablo Fire District, and we still had to assist them constantly.
Wouldn't it be better to have two firefighters in each station instead of closing stations? They could respond on a call and have two nearby units respond. Measure S will add more taxes that many people can't afford. The tax is way out-of-line. The Contra Costa County grand jury, Contra Costa taxpayers, previous commissioners, and even board members are being attacked because they believe this tax is wrong. It's not like paying off a bond measure -- you are still paying the regular county fire assessment for fire service and then a new tax.
This is a tax levied on every parcel. Seems fair, but think of this, shopping centers, 100-unit apartment buildings, and hotels pay for one parcel. How fair is this? Even parcels that cannot be built on will be taxed.
The fire board said, "We're going for everything, we're not backing down." People are losing their homes because they can't afford their expenses. People are out of jobs and food lines are getting longer.
We should demand our fire departments bring back paid-on-call firefighters. They kept a few and allowed them to move up to full-time, but many paid-on-call firefighters were let go, even though they were well-trained.
The Oakley-Knightsen Fire Department was ready to bring 65-plus firefighters, highly trained, to any fire. Only those necessary would be sent out of the station. Knightsen alone, of which I was a part of for more than 40 years, had more equipment and personnel than the entire district has today, and we stayed in budget with a higher fire rating. Since East County Fire District was formed, 70 percent of this equipment was dropped out of service or sold off.
They should bring back paid-on-call firefighters. Did you know that 70 percent of the firefighters in the United States are volunteer or paid-on-call firefighters? Sure we all want raises instead of cuts to our pay, but now is not the time for more taxes.
We should not be subjected to telephone scare tactics of the union claiming we will be subjected to delayed fire response and closed stations. We must fight like David vs. Goliath and vote NO.
Did you know that dollars were in place for a fire station in the Cypress Corridor paid for by the developer of Cypress Lakes? This was to be in place before the first house was occupied. Who ordered to drop this plan and let the developer off the hook? Now they want me to pay new taxes to cover a developer's political deal?
In Oakley, a new station that looks like a palace, two blocks from the working fire station, has been built. Wow, yes, it was built with special funds and the district didn't pay anything, but think about it. The district gave the city of Oakley the old station, plus the land around it, and a big lot that the district owned for many years.
When this district started, the board of supervisors passed an order for paid-on-call and regular full-time firefighters to work together to man the stations. Read the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission document creating this fire district. The firefighters union has driven off most of the paid-on-call fireman who were training continually to keep abreast of the newest equipment and techniques. I know this for a fact as I was originally a volunteer, a paid-on-call firefighter, and then a captain. I have resided in East County for 74 years and have been proud to serve my neighbors.
Today, more influence is being pedalled whereby we will be voting at the fire stations. Isn't that like the fox guarding the hen house?
Vote no on this Measure S. This is a waste of your money.
Retired captain, Oakley-Knightsen Fire District
Measure J, why not just ask?
I have read the commentary suggesting there should be a senior discount for Measure J as well as the commentary about the decision of the Antioch school board not to sell the remaining $20 million in bonds authorized by the voters. I am a senior and have lived in Antioch for more than eight decades and have learned through the years if there are things I would like to know or question, the best and most courteous thing I can do is just ask.
I have family members who work for the school district and the city, and by taking time to ask the question, I now know that there is no legal senior exemption in a Prop 39 school bond. So the school district cannot legally offer a senior exemption for Measure J.
I also wanted to know about the $20 million in unsold bonds. By taking the time to ask, I found out the school board does not have the authority to reduce bonding amounts decided by the voter, but it can choose -- by vote -- not to to sell them.
When I thought about this for a moment, it made me feel much better as a voter, because I would not want the school board, or the city for that matter to have this type of authority. If we, as voters, approve something we should be the ones who have the right to change it and not the school board or city.
I am a graduate of Antioch High School. Yes, it was located on D Street when I graduated in the late 1940s, and yes, there may be gray in this Panther, but I am still a Panther through and through.
Lastly, when I attended Antioch High School we were proud of our school and the generations before made it possible for me to have a school that met my educational needs. My children graduated from Antioch High School in the 1960s and 1970s. When my children attended they were proud of their school and I was proud to do my part to be sure they had a school that met their educational needs.
Now after living in Antioch for more than 80 years, I am proud the school board chose to put Measure J to the voters and the city is in support. I will now be able to vote yes on something that can give future generations the same benefit I and my children enjoyed and still have pride in. After 58 years, it is time to give our children an Antioch High School that can continue a proud tradition and meet their educational needs for years to come.
We can't afford $100,000 pensions
County Supervisor Mary Piepho was recently quoted in a local newspaper touting the ability of fire district employees to retire at age 50 with a pension at nearly full salary, calling it the "industry standard." Unfortunately, the article failed to note that Piepho is married to a firefighter, and has a personal interest in defending this generous retirement benefit.
It's instructive to look at the effect this industry standard has had on other fire districts in the county, based on data from the Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Association. Forty percent of the 645 county retirees receiving pensions of $100,000 or more used to work for fire districts. More than half of those receiving pensions of $200,000 or more are retired fire district employees. The top pension retiree is, you guessed it, a former fire district employee enjoying more than $300,000 every year.
Twenty-eight percent of those receiving $100,000-plus pensions worked for the Contra Costa Consolidated Fire Protection District. As a result of overly generous salaries and benefits, ConFire, which is much better funded than the East Contra Costa fire district, is broke and will likely be seeking a tax hike in November.
The industry standard championed by our supervisor is great for fire district employees, but not so great for taxpayers who get stuck with the tab. This is the future in far East County if Measure S passes. Instead of a fire protection district, ECCFPD is morphing into a retirement protection district. Vote no on Measure S.
League supports Measure S
The League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley endorses Measure S, the East Contra Costa County Fire District parcel tax. Measure S preserves existing emergency services, adds paramedic services, and prevents the closure of up to three additional fire stations, and layoffs of up to half of existing firefighters. It enacts a parcel tax of $197 per year on each parcel in the district, with an annual cost of living adjustment not to exceed 3 percent, and terminates in 10 years. The money could not be taken by the state or the county. The district covers far East Contra Costa County: Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek, and Morgan Territory. This fire district has been long underfunded compared to its neighbors, and this measure provides increased paramedic services, including one paramedic on each engine. Measure S prevents lifesaving response times from increasing. The League of Women Voters supports adequate revenues for government to perform its functions. East County residents and firefighters should not have substandard services. We urge district citizens to vote Yes on Measure S.
President, League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley
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