Posted in California News

What’s bugging Pittsburg?

As dusk creeps in, they come out, lingering through the night. A nuisance to many and ignored by others as they live in the shadows of our world. Cockroaches and water beetles have become more prevalent in the city of Pittsburg, causing trouble for business owners and residents.

Could it be the heat?

It is not uncommon for pests to come out as summer approaches. “As the weather warms up, they [cockroaches] breed more and you’ll get more of them… it’s important to know they like to breed in drains,” said entomologist Graeme Smith in an interview with Mortein, an insecticide manufacturer.

Some Pittsburg residents and business owners have noticed an increase in insects, primarily being cockroaches, along with moths and mosquitos. While some suspect that the increase is due to the new season, others say there is more to the story

“I usually see the [city] workers spraying the man holes every few weeks and this year, I’ve seen none,” said Ragbeir Gill, owner of Bonfare Market.

Gill and his partner say budget cuts have led to the discontinuation of sewage spraying, which kills cockroaches and larvae. The spray consists of BorActin, and latex paint, which the insect then carries to the nest and it prevents breeding.

“My biggest problem is cockroaches, they come directly from the sewers,” Gill has owned Bonfare Market since 2011 and says that this is the first year he has had to hire pest control to take care of the problem so that he can pass city inspection.

“If we don’t pass inspection, I’ll be fined. But the problem is caused by the bugs coming from the sewer,” said Gill.

On May 2, The City of Pittsburg denied all allegations of being tied into the bug problem and advised that the complaints be directed to the county.

Mosquito & Vector Control is a district service, funded by tax dollars and conducts similar services to businesses and residents free of charge. Their media representative, Deborah Bass, advised that no budget cuts have been made and all services are conducted on an as-needed basis.

When asked about cockroach treatments, Bass explained that the city should handle those particular cases.

May 30, Public Works Supervisor, Anthony Baldazo says, “Our spraying of man holes includes safe chemicals and will not be done on any kind of private property. Business owners need to hire their own pest control.”

June 17, Angela Lowrey with Delta Diablo Sanitation District confirmed that the city owns and is therefore responsible for the sewage man holes in The City of Pittsburg, “Some man holes may be owned by Vector, some may be owner by us, but the sewers are owned and operated by the city.”

On June 17, Director of Pittsburg’s Public Works department, Fritz McKinley finally chimed in on the topic, “I’ve been with the city for about a year and a half and we haven’t done any routine spraying. It’s not in the budget.” He could not confirm if the spraying was previously done as a preventative measure, but he did confirm that it is currently done on an as-needed basis. “We will be happy to address any problems, but they [Bonfare Market] need to call us. I don’t have any complaints on file.”

June 18, McKinley confirms that the last time they sprayed was in March of last year. There are no plans to spray the man holes this year as of now.

Co-owner of Bonfare Market, Ankit, who preferred to leave out his last name, disagrees with the policy.

“I’ve never heard of that, it’s the city’s job to do it. I pay can charges, rent, property tax, why should I have to call them for the spraying? I’ve never had to do that. Why is it just now a problem then?” To deter the pests, the two owners currently have pest control scheduled to come out monthly, but it isn’t enough.

According to Home Team Pest Defense in Pittsburg, “This is one of our busiest years and it’s not even summer yet. We have been receiving more calls than usual about spiders, beetles and ants. The over-the-counter stuff won’t work in these cases,” said the scheduling coordinator, Toni.

Currently, residents are doing what they can to keep their homes as pest free as possible. Marie Escobar has lived in Pittsburg for almost 20 years and says that she noticed an increase before the warm weather struck. “I hate these bugs! Moths, beetles, spiders, pincher bugs…it’s been aggravating me because they all come out at night. I bought bug spray from Walmart because hiring an exterminator would be too expensive, I’m on a budget.”

The insect problem will only worsen as the summer months progress. Insects such as cockroaches and mosquitos carry dangerous bacteria and diseases, which are transmitted through bites and feces. As cockroaches remain the most problematic, they are also the most dangerous of the bunch.

According Discover Magazine, “Over 30 species of bacteria have been found on the cuticle and gut of roaches, including those of serious medical import such as E. coli, various species of Salmonella and StaphylcoccousPseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These bacteria cause diseases such as urinary tract infections, dysentery, diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, polio, septicemia and wound infections.”

It is no surprise that the vectors carry such harmful bacteria. Cockroaches feed off of human feces, toe nails, sputum (saliva and mucus) and just about anything, really.

As complaints grow, residents and business owners wait for the city to take action.

“I already gave up, I’m not happy about this, but I give up,” said Gill.

Update: Less than a week later, the City of Pittsburg sprayed BorActin to the manhole in front of Bonfair Market on Rail Rd. Ave. City workers explained that the process is a reactive measure on behalf of the city.

“I could see a difference the next day. I was getting worried I wouldn’t pass inspection next month because of the bugs,” said Gill.

If you would like to contact The City of Pittsburg’s Public Works Department about pests in your neighborhood call 925.685.9301.

Posted in Blogging, California News

Emmy® Awards Gala Social Media Coverage

There’s a new type of coverage today’s journalist must be experienced with. Why not add one more task to the one-woman-show?

It’s not all that bad, really. It’s something we already do.

Social media coverage.

At big events, we send photographers, reporters and videographers. But what about, instant coverage? I mean, what’s more instant than sharing a story on the web just after the show?

Tweeting, and posting in real-time – of course.

I volunteered at the 46th News and Documentary Annual Emmy® Awards Gala and this was a type of coverage I had never done. Professionally, that is. It was easy to catch on to, because I am always sharing just about everything from my own events, but it was definitely a learning process.

Myself and one other social media manager took on specific accounts, to make things easy. We stuck with the hashtags, #EmmySF and #EmmySFTV, provided by the marketing team and my job was to capture the behind-the-scenes stuff and mention our  sponsors here and there.

The only difficult task was keeping up with matching the winners’ names to their photos. There were sooo many to mention!! Also, groups of winners, (well, award recipients, no one is a winner) from both English and Spanish categories were called out at once and lined up to enter the stage. If one of the award recipients was not present, this jumbled up the order. Also, if someone already accepted an award, they could not give a speech, this also jumbled up the order as well.

Another task I struggled with, was tagging the appropriate people. I found it so hard to believe that some of the award recipients did not have Instagram or Twitter handles! Either that, or they are under different names – very likely. However, the show goes by quickly and there is not much time to research social handles. Instead I hashtagged names of people and news networks.

Providing social coverage and helping out with Facebook Live interviews had my adrenaline going, in a good way. You know what I mean. Being able to walk around the event freely to snap photos, videos and create Boomerangs, made the coverage flow flawlessly. The night went smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves and interacted with the Emmy® SF TV social handles.

So if you’re wondering how the night went, you can catch a quick rundown here.

Posted in California News

The ugly side of social media

Most Americans check their social media first thing in the morning. There are new Likes, views, followers, friend requests and mentions. Enough activity to make a person feel important and well, liked.

Social networks have also been linked to causing trouble in relationships, not just the romantic kind. The lack of face-to-face interaction has changed the way people communicate with each other. Distraction, isolation, illusion and a negative outlook on one’s self-image are all the result of the social media boom.

Are the above factors enough to contribute to rising suicide rates in the U.S.?

The big social media spike really took off in 2007 and the suicide rate went from 29,000 per year to about 37,000 by the year 2008.

This jump alone is a cause for concern.

This bumped suicide up to the list of top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., knocking out Septicemia.

Suicide rates have grown by about 625 each year since then.

What changed exactly?

Data via Facebook & CDC

According to Diane Cvetic, Behavioral Science Professor, “one other significant event in 2007-2008 was the housing market collapse, which would be very likely to contribute to increased suicide rates. The biggest spike in suicide rates in the last century was back in the early 1930s during the Great Depression, so economic downturns are a well-known contributing factor.

Social media is linked to increased levels of social isolation, which increases the likelihood of suicide. Also, the recent live-streaming suicides on Facebook may glamorize suicide for those at risk and put them at higher risk. Demographics is key here. For example, suicide rates have jumped much higher for middle aged women than all other age/gender groups. Do middle aged woman have a higher rate of social media use?”

Well, let’s see…


While the recession ended in June of 2009, suicides rates continue to grow for middle aged women. Men between the ages of 25-34 dominate in suicide throughout the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Men are four times more likely to commit suicide, whereas women attempt suicide three times more than men.

The use of social media has opened up the door for discussions on how to kill yourself. People are live streaming self-harm videos, which make up for 58 percent of YouTube’s most-watched videos. Suicide pacts among the youth grow on a daily basis. The addition of cyber bullying is the final touch, to a recipe for disaster.

With these tools, suicide is becoming normalized.

In an effort to deter suicide, Google displays the National Suicide Prevention Hotline when searches such as how to kill yourself are keyed in.

Facebook has also teamed-up with a non-profit group in both the UK and Ireland, which provides notifications to the group when suicide-related terms are searched on the Internet.

There is no doubt that social media is an effective tool for information and communication, but there is no restriction on the types of messages conveyed and accessed.

The social networking tools which were created to bring us closer, appear to be doing the opposite and the vulnerable are the true victims.


Posted in California News

Arrest warrant for covering North Dakota Pipeline protests?

Amidst the widespread controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s  silent protest, Americans seem to have missed one that has been taking place right under our noses.

North Dakota’s Energy Transfer Partner planned to run a pipeline through sacred Native American burial grounds, within miles of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s drinking water source, according to Buzzfeed.

Most of the country has been oblivious to the outrage that has been taking place since the project’s approval in late July. Things took a dangerous turn when the protests became violent.


Energy Transfer Partner includes the following in their project mission statement:

“As an operating principle, Dakota Access Pipeline is committed to working with individual landowners to make accommodations, minimize disruptions, and achieve full restoration of impacted land. We will listen to and address questions from the community, landowners and other interested stakeholders about the project, proposed routes, landowner communications and more.”

However, their actions remain inconsistent.

Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota reached a boiling point, with reports of violent attacks on protesters by security dogs and numerous instances of macing,” according to a report on

The people of the United States did not see this story on T.V., no one was talking about it on the radio and social media continued to buzz with reports on Kaepernick’s jersey being number one in sales.

It was not until Democracy Now!’s executive producer and host, Amy Goodman’s report went viral, did the people learn about what was going on in North Dakota. Goodman was able to film the horrific treatment the protestors underwent that Saturday. The video spread over social media like wildfire and continues to grow in shares.

Because of the public outcry, the construction has come to a halt by the Obama administration. However, a warrant has currently been issued for Goodman’s arrest.

Photo via Democracy Now!

“This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” said Amy Goodman in a statement. “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”

How is this possible?

Goodman has been accused of trespassing, a misdemeanor offense.

According to North Dakota’s Century Code 12.1-22-03 criminal trespassing is defined as:

2. An individual is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual:

a. Enters or remains in or on any building, occupied structure, or storage structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.

b. Enters or remains in any place so enclosed as manifestly to exclude intruders.

3. An individual is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by actual communication to the actor by the individual in charge of the premises or other authorized individual or by posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders. The name of the person posting the premises must appear on each sign in legible characters. An individual who violates this subsection is guilty of a class A misdemeanor for the second or subsequent offense within a two-year period. 

As a journalist, Goodman is entitled to cover a newsworthy event, which took place publicly.

The warrant poses serious implications in regards to our Freedom of the Press and is still under investigation.

Posted in California News, US News

Behind Melania Trump’s speech

Cleveland— Americans tuned into the 2016 Republican National Convention July 18 and witnessed history. From what seemed to be a heartfelt speech, Melania Trump has received a ton of media attention since then and not in a way she would have hoped for.

It was not until an independent journalist shared on Twitter that it was plagiarized, that it went viral.

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How could this happen?

According to the New York Times, a long time speech writer for the Trump organization had sat with Melania to draft the speech. Trump expressed her admiration of Michelle Obama to the writer, Meredith McIver, 65, and read parts of the first lady’s 2008 speech.

McIver claims the plagiarism was unintentional and has taken the blame for the incident.

According to the New York Times, McIver said she had inadvertently left portions of the Obama speech in the final draft, “this was my mistake. Mr. Trump told me that people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from these experiences.”

Although McIver planned to resign, the Trumps did not deem this necessary, according to the report. At this time, no legal action has been taken against neither McIver, or the Trumps.

CNN reports that amidst the controversy, Melania Trump’s website has been taken down. While Trump advises that it contained inaccuracies, others believe it to be much more than that.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 12.52.22 AM

The Huffington Post reports, “The disappearance of Trump’s elaborate website comes just days after news outlets, raised serious questions about whether she actually earned an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana,” to which her online biography claimed she had. In the unofficial biography, Melania Trump: The Inside Story, includes details on how she left college to pursue her modeling career.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 1.01.37 AM

Melania Trump has yet to address the above accusations.

Posted in California News

All eyes on Highway 4

You are in the car, driving on the freeway, the usual routine. The radio plays in the background as you watch the road and reflect on the day. Look at the time, you’re late. You switch lanes to get ahead and notice a loud sound and the car behind you begins to swerve. You check your rear-view mirror. Are they drunk? What just happened? 

You keep driving.

A young woman has just been shot and killed.

The right to bear arms has been a debatable topic, as the same weapons used for protection and security, are the same weapons that are used to claim innocent lives and damage families. In the wrong hands, the consequences are irreversible.

According to KRON 4, “there have been 24 shooting incidents in the past six months on East Bay Highways.” With five of those incidents being in the Pittsburg and Antioch area, just in the last two months. As a result, the City Council has created a call to action.

The council received a grant of $100,000 for six cameras, which have been said to cover the east and west ends of Highway 4. With a view of all lanes and the capability to zoom in on moving objects, the high quality cameras will serve as a deterrent to assault of any kind.

In a city filled with surveillance, over 150 cameras, will they prove to be effective?

Ten monitors display live footage captured from 150 surveillance cameras throughout The City of Pittsburg. Photo by Larena Hernandez

Sergeant Keefe, with the Pittsburg Police Department, is positive that the cameras will help prevent assault on the freeway and solve investigations.

“We’re trying to stay away from the Big Brother idea…but I can think of at least 10 different cases that were solved with the help of the cameras,” said Keefe.

While the footage is not manned, or monitored, during the live feed, officers have access to remote in from their cell phones at any time.

The public’s privacy is a delicate subject and some are hesitant toward the idea of surveillance.

Privacy advocate, Rebecca Jeschke, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, worries that constant access to the public’s everyday lives could potentially be abused and impose on privacy policies.

“For what purposes would it [the footage] be searched?  Only for shootings?  Or could police use it as part of an investigation to track a criminal suspect for something
else? And would they need a warrant for that, or could they just watch the video? ”

These are questions she advises that residents ask.

“It’s true that what you do in public is public, but we don’t expect that
our public activities will be recorded, 24/7, and kept forever for any
purpose,” said Jeschke.

Keefe is certain that the cameras will only be referred to for investigations, “Picture a nanny cam, you don’t go look at what’s happening unless you need to. They’re [the cameras] for investigations only.”

The cameras are said to be installed by the end of July, “We’re trying to get them installed as soon as possible. We have to get power and permits and will have to close the freeway down at night,” said Keefe.

As assault by firearms has become a growing trend in the Pittsburg and Antioch area, the Richmond PD was able to share how they have been able to decrease gun violence in recent years.

Lieutenant Hill has been with the Richmond Police Department for 23 years and has witnessed the fluctuation in crime. In the last ten years, gun violence has decreased dramatically. “Awareness has been the biggest factor. Young people know a friend or family member who’s been a victim of gun violence and they’re more aware,” said Hill. In addition to community awareness, Hill spoke of the different programs that have been in effect to help minimize gun violence, “we have the Office of Neighborhood Safety, so when they hear stuff on the streets, they’ll pull the two groups in to talk.”

The City of Richmond has continued to fight the war on firearms, with a focus on rehabilitation. The STAR (Substance Abuse Treatment Recovery) program is a, “curriculum-based educational program designed to motivate parolee substance abusers to participate in post-release recovery activities.” This program has also been a contributing factor to Richmond’s decline in gun violence, according to Hill.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 12.28.55 PM
Data courtesy of Richmond PD

There is hope for Pittsburg and Antioch. With community engagement and awareness, positive changes can be made.

Lieutenant Hill provides freeway safety tips for drivers:

  • Be observant
  • Always remove yourself from harm’s way
  • If you notice suspicious activity, pull over and call 911 and try to provide as much detail about the car as possible and the sooner, the better

As the installation plans are in process, CHP has more than doubled, as officers pull in overtime. In addition to increased highway patrol, the Pittsburg PD hosted a gun buyback program, which launched June 18.

Residents gathered in the parking lot of the City Hall and traded their guns for Target gift cards.

Officer Glasper inspects multiple rifles from the trunk of a car during the Anonymous Gun Buy Back Program. Photo by Larena Hernandez

The city is taking all preventative measures to win the battle against gun violence.

“It’s not cheap, but what price do you put on safety? It’s priceless,”  said Keefe.

Surrounding cities and counties are expected to follow in Pittsburg’s steps. For more information on the cameras, contact Captain Raman at 925.252.4839.

Posted in California News

One Drink Too Many

In high school, they teach students about sex education, to protect young adults against STDs and unplanned pregnancy. They teach about the effects of drinking and driving, remember every 15 minutes? They teach about texting while driving, to prevent distractions on the road and promote personal safety. However, they failed to teach young adults about the consequences of drinking too much.


Alcohol poisoning kills six Americans daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is about 2,200 preventable deaths each year.

What is alcohol poisoning?

In short, it is too much alcohol consumed in too short of a time period, causing the blood alcohol concentration to rise. After too much alcohol is consumed, the oxygen levels and heart rate begin to slow down and the body slips into a coma. Fifty thousand cases are reported annually and if treated early enough, the patient may be saved.


Treatment may be as simple as inserting an intravenous drip, or performing a gastric lavage.


One does not have to be an alcoholic to get alcohol poisoning. In fact, 1 in 10 deaths caused by alcohol poisoning, is due to excessive drinking. The rest are the result of binge drinking.

Untitled Infographic (2)

What is binge drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as, “A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to .08 g/dL.” Which is about four drinks in two hours for women and five drinks in two hours for men. The lethal dose of alcohol for an adult is 60kg/300g, which is equivalent to approximately 30 drinks.

Laws and regulations restrict bartenders from serving to individuals who are already drunk, but deeming someone as “drunk” is subjective. Over-serving alcohol in the state of California may result in a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or suspension of one’s bartending license for 35 days. This is less than a slap on the hand, if their negligence has cost you a loved one.

Alcohol poisoning is preventable.

If you suspect someone has consumed too much alcohol, call 911 immediately.

You should:

  • Try to keep them sitting up, or keep them on their stomach
  • Give them water, if they are able to drink
  • Keep them warm
  • Stay with them to monitor symptoms

This legal drug is in our homes, easily accessible, widely accepted…and deadly. Educating our youth on the problem is the first step to a solution that will save lives.