A WAY WITH WORDS: Concord Councilman Edi Birsan has a well-known passion for oratory, as he demonstrated recently when asked about changing the mayor's term from one year to two.

"Prudence dictates that rules of government are not lightly changed for light and transient purposes," he said, more or less quoting Thomas Jefferson.

But he may have wandered into stifle-yourself territory when he launched into a soliloquy at a Contra Costa Fire District town hall meeting in Pittsburg last week. Addressing moderator Jim Broman, a senior consultant for Fitch & Associates, which is advising the district on how to streamline its operating model, Birsan wrapped up a long-winded critique of cost-cutting measures that he questioned.

"We should be looking at this not just for an economic purpose," he said. "Our purpose is their (firefighters') purpose -- to save lives. That's the way we should approach. It's not the cost."

County Supervisor Federal Glover then took the floor: "The bottom line when you look at this is it is all about cost. It's about being able to live within the revenue sources that are available."

Wonder what Prudence would say about that.

A HOT START: Aug. 14 marked the first day of school in Antioch. And for a pair of elementary schools, the year sparked quickly.


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A midday fire outside Meadowcreek Park prompted the evacuation of Carmen Dragon Elementary. Kids fidgeted while sitting and watching fire crews battle the half-acre blaze, occasionally cheering when trucks rolled up or when there was some action.

School officials scrambled to find bottles of water in case any kids were parched while waiting outside the classroom.

The Eye heard several parents jokingly ask questions to the effect of: "If this is the first day of school, wonder what's going to happen tomorrow?"

District officials told The Eye that there was a second, much more minor, fire inside a bathroom garbage can after school at Belshaw Elementary.

It wasn't the hamburglAr: The P TOWN sign that stood atop the awning of a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant in Pittsburg is gone. Turns out the sign, which was meant to show pride in the city, violated an approved sign application. So city officials asked that the sign be removed. The sign can go back up as long the steel-gray P TOWN letters are replaced with PITTSBURG.

And don't even think of adding an h.

SUPER SPELLING?: The Eye recently received copies of correspondence sent by the California Department of Education to the Mt. Diablo school district regarding security breaches at three schools related to social media postings during STAR testing.

In looking over the letters, The Eye noticed that the superintendent's title was misspelled on the "Received" date stamp, which said: "Superintendant MDUSD."

The letters were addressed to former Superintendent Steven Lawrence, who was ousted in a split vote when trustees decided in April to terminate his contract a year early and seek new leadership. The letters were received by interim Superintendent John Bernard, whose contract runs through Sept. 30.

Trustees have selected Nellie Meyer, a deputy superintendent in the San Diego district, as the finalist for the superintendent position. They expect to appoint her Wednesday.

Although trustee Barbara Oaks told The Eye she doesn't expect major changes at the district office when the new superintendent takes charge, it is likely the top official will want a new date stamp.

Staff writers Tom Barnidge, Paul Burgarino, Eve Mitchell and Theresa Harrington contributed to this column.