Veteran taught about courage

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to the Home Depot Foundation for donating labor and materials needed to give Shawn Navel a fully functioning backyard.

It is hard to imagine a more deserving recipient. I met Shawn Navel last July at Small World Park where he was engaged with his nephews in crawdad fishing. My grandson, Liam, joined the group, and with a chicken nougat from Shawn, caught a crawdad. Shawn instructed Liam how to pick up the pincer-laden crawdad safely. Liam would have none of it until Shawn patiently, yet firmly, talked to him about what it means to be brave. The lesson was not lost on the 7-year-old boy, and in no time Liam was holding a crawdad in each hand and posing triumphantly for anyone with a camera. Liam learned about crawdad fishing that day and, more importantly, he learned something about bravery from a hometown hero, Shawn Navel.

Cecilias O'Leary

Pittsburg

Open letter to Oakley council

Dear Editor:

Respectfully, I believe that the Oakley City Council got it wrong by literally abandoning the Friends of the Oakley Library members at the last City Council meeting.

The council should be embracing and endorsing the Friends of Oakley Library's vision of a downtown library in the old Centro-Mart building on Main Street. (By the way, it is not the Centro-Mart building anymore -- it is vacant remember -- without a glimpse of a new tenant in sight.) Please stop putting up roadblocks that are unnecessary and unrealistic. You should be partnering and assisting them like you would any new business or venture that you would want in Oakley.

The library, if placed there, will bring an estimated 80,000 patrons per year to the downtown area and help the area become an anchor for Oakley's downtown revitalization and future. The last time I checked the downtown area is not all that appealing yet. While I appreciate the fact that we do have some businesses located there, I don't think a bait shop and a skateboard store really have the same pull as a new library. It will also make use of a building that otherwise will become an unwelcome model of urban blight situated across the street from city hall, as it further deteriorates if a new tenant is not found.

Please stop making excuses. Please stop asking for additional undefined minutia and vague details from the Friends as you did at that last meeting.

The Friends is an advocacy group -- not a group of investors, architects, interior designers, marketers, or political election managers -- they look to you for your help, contacts and encouragement.

Unfortunately, the council provided no vision, leadership or help. You have now asked for a new plan to be provided by your next meeting in February, which is unfair. Stop the bait and switch. It was embarrassing to watch as each of you blurted out any random thought that came to your minds, as the now new requirements to move forward. Your city manager already had many of the fiscal and procedural answers there that night, as well as correct advise on the best ways to proceed. You gave no direction at all. You all hid behind what you thought was "fiscal conservatism" and "careful planning," but it really showed through as a lack of nerve and a fear of making a mistake, instead of courage to take a chance on success.

Proper governing takes courage. My suggestion is take that chance. It will reap great benefits.

Regarding the statement made by one of the council members that all library bond measures have been defeated over the last several years -- while this is true, I think you should be reminded that we were in very adverse economic times and it also appears that even though the last county measure was defeated it actually passed in Oakley.

The downtown library will bring additional value, not only as a place of collected knowledge and community services, but also increased home valuation and tax proceeds from additional business revenues from both current and future retail sites built around the new downtown.

Allow Oakley to grow. I urge you to show vision and leadership and take serious action now to endorse the Friends of the Oakley Library and the downtown library project before costs further rise and deadlines are missed. Wise investing in our community is the correct thing to do.

Rick Thomas

Oakley

Gun legislation should not pass

Dear Editor:

The usually reliable Sen. Dianne Feinstein stumbled in her recent proposal to reduce gun violence through federal legislation. Her continuing advocacy is the understandable result of her suffering through the Moscone Milk tragedy.

The new unwelcome element in the proposal is that newly banned gun types, which are grandfathered by prior legal possession cannot be transferred even to heirs, and therefore are forfeit at death. This delayed confiscation of valuable private property is one troubling aspect of this proposal. Another is the punishing $200 fee per mandatory registration. Abortions cost less.

Other elements, such as banning possession by troubled or dangerous men, are sound additions to federal law. This legislation, if it survives intact, should be defeated in favor of more focused, wisely crafted local ordinances.

Buzz Pedrotti

Discovery Bay

Change needed in school district

Dear Editor:

The recent revelations of child abuse in the Brentwood School district border on atrocity. A 52-year-old teacher knocked a 5-year-old autistic child out of a chair and kicks him several times. The school principal, superintendent and assistant superintendent of the district not only failed to notify Child Protective Services and the police, but consider the incident an internal matter for discipline. This teacher has a history of such incidents including duct taping a child to a chair. When the parents found out a week later they notified the police. The teacher was later charged with a misdemeanor, moved to a different school, and allowed to teach special needs children again. When the superintendent was asked why the teacher wasn't fired, the response was "it was a complex issue." Really!

If a child or parent had walked into a classroom and did that to a teacher, the police would have been notified instantly, and it would have made the nightly news. It's obvious that a child's welfare is secondary to a teacher's and that needs to change. Not only do the superintendents and the principal need to be terminated, the teacher needs to be stripped of her credentials and fired as well. More importantly, the laws need to be changed to make this a felony rather than a misdemeanor, and should include stiff penalties for administrators who fail to protect children from predatory teachers such as this one. These people need to remember that the schools are here for the benefit of our children, and not a source of employment for abusive adults.

Paul H. Radliff

Brentwood

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