Wright, Thorpe, Wilson to be sworn in at special Antioch Council meeting, this Thursday, Dec. 8

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By Allen Payton

The oath of office ceremony for incoming mayor, Dr. Sean Wright, re-elected councilwoman Monica Wilson and new councilman Lamar Thorpe is scheduled for this Thursday, December 8 during a special meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Although it’s not being held on the customary and traditional second Tuesday of December, following the certification of election, there is precedent for holding a special meeting to swear in a new mayor and council members, as happened in 2012.

Wright said that the meeting will be streamed live on the City’s website and if not shown live on Comcast local cable TV channel 24, like regular council meetings, it will be recorded for airing later, so that more Antioch residents who want to can watch.

But, while the the meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m., according to the agenda under Item 1,  “If Certification for the November 8, 2016 election is received from the Contra Costa County Election Department prior to the Council’s December 8th Special Meeting, Staff recommends the Council adopt the resolution confirming the results of the November 8, 2016 General Election. If Certification is not received, Staff recommends continuing the item to a future meeting.”

Yet, according to the Elections Code section, which City Manager Steve Duran provided, when asked about scheduling the oaths of office on the 8th – which has been in the works for awhile – instead of the next regular council meeting on Tuesday, December 13th, it states the canvass must be completed before installing new officers.

10263. Upon the completion of the canvass and before installing the new officers, the governing body shall adopt a resolution reciting the fact of the election and the other matters that are enumerated in Section 10264. The governing body shall declare elected the persons for whom the highest number of votes were cast for each office.

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), the governing body shall meet at its usual place of meeting no later than the fourth Friday after the election to declare the results and to install the newly elected officers.

(b) For a consolidated election, the governing body shall meet at its usual place of meeting no later than the next regularly scheduled city council meeting following presentation of the 28-day canvass of the returns, or at a special meeting called for this purpose, to declare the results and to install the newly elected officers.

Therefore, if certification is not received and voted on by the council on Thursday night and must be continued to a future meeting, then the oaths of office must also be continued to a future meeting, both of which would have to occur next Tuesday, Dec. 13th, which is the “next regularly scheduled city council meeting following presentation of the 28-day canvass of the returns.”

One cannot be done without the other occurring first, which is why the certification is on the agenda prior to the the ceremony, unless the oaths performed on Thursday night would merely be ceremonial. If so, the new mayor-elect and council member-elect would not be able to take their seats and the reorganization of the Council, under agenda Item 2 couldn’t occur and would have to also be postponed until next Tuesday.

However, in response to an email asking about the matter and if the canvass of returns also referred to as the certification of the election, will be done by this Thursday at 5:00 p.m., Duran responded, “The City is the governing body for the City election, even though the election was consolidated. The Elections Office said they will certify today.”

County Clerk Joe Canciamilla confirmed that, today, as well.

“We are done and just in the process of completing the paperwork necessary to send off to the SOS (Secretary of State),” he said this morning. “Certification will be official shortly and Arne was previously advised he could pick up his packet at 3 pm or thereafter.”

That advisement occurred in a letter Canciamilla sent out to city clerks and elections officials in the county, last month.

As for why the ceremony is being held this Thursday, instead of on the regular council meeting night, as some Antioch residents have been wondering, Duran had said previously it’s because the agenda was filling up and there wasn’t enough room or time for the ceremony, next Tuesday.

City Clerk Arne Simonsen confirmed that, today.

“Yes, the meeting on the 13th is a long one with closed session at 5:30 pm, an alphabet soup of items on consent and four public hearing items, in addition to regular agenda items,” he said. “That is why the decision was made to have the swearing in on the 8th.”

When asked why there couldn’t have been a special council meeting, next Thursday, December 15th to deal with the agenda items that couldn’t get done on the 13th, so the ceremony could be held that night, neither Duran nor Mayor Wade Harper, who in his position works with the city manager to set council agendas, did not respond.

When asked if he was included in the decision for holding the oath of office ceremony on Thursday, Wright responded, “As the Mayor elect I am very happy with the way that the swearing in ceremony is taking shape.  The meeting will be recorded and streamed live on our website so that citizens and family members who are unable to attend can watch. I have also been told that they are working with CCTV to broadcast live as well.”

“As we worked together to find a time that worked for our families and supporters the 5 PM start worked well and showed a willingness to compromise,” he continued. “I would love this meeting to be a celebration of a new beginning for me as Mayor and our council.  I hope that it can be free of controversy and be the beginning of a positive future for Antioch.”

“In such a close election with the results not giving us a clear cut winner until this weekend, I have not presumed victory and therefore not sat down with city staff and elected council members,” Wright explained.“This definitely puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to agendas but I have been in talks with Arne Simonsen today regarding this Thursday’s agenda and will sit down with Steve tomorrow to go over Thursday and next Tuesday’s agenda.  I am attempting to meet with council members this week and will make sure that I have a say in what is on the agenda and am ready to discuss those items included for Tuesday the 13th.”

“Again I will reiterate the hope that this Thursday is a celebration of a new council with a positive fresh start,” he added.

However, council meeting agendas only require a 72-hour public notice. Since the final results of the election were known last Saturday night, they could have waited to work with the new mayor-elect to set the agenda for either next Tuesday and/or this Thursday. Even if the results weren’t certified until Thursday, as Canciamilla’s office has the legal limit to do, next Tuesday’s council meeting agenda could have been decided that day, with the mayor-elect included.

Wright also had to make sure it was at 5:00 p.m., so he can attend his children’s school Christmas plays, later that night. In addition, the Antioch Chamber of Commerce had to move back by a half-hour, their annual Chairman’s Mixer to start at 5:30 p.m., so as not to conflict with the ceremony. Plus, since Duran and Harper had been planning for awhile to hold the ceremony and council reorganization this week, instead of waiting to find out who the new mayor would be and including him in the planning of the ceremony and the agenda for his first meeting on the 13th, Wilson had scheduled people to fly in to attend it on Thursday.

“All oaths of office will be performed at the same meeting,” Wright said. “The Chamber also worked with us and was flexible with the start time of the Mixer to allow those that wanted to attend both meetings the opportunity to do so.  Those wanting to join the Chairman’s Mixer following the meeting are welcome to attend.”

That will be hosted by new Chamber CEO and outgoing chairman, Richard Pagano and held at Tailgaters in Antioch.

So, beginning this Thursday, December 8th at 5:00 p.m., Antioch will have a new mayor and mayor pro tem, as Thorpe garnering the most votes in the council race, will be granted that two-year title, according to city ordinance, by a perfunctory vote of the council. The two new members will join Wilson, current Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock, and Councilman Tony Tiscareno, both of whom aren’t up for re-election until 2018.

The council reorganization will include a brief bit of what will appear to be musical chairs as the members literally change seats. But, it will not include the nomination of council members by Wright to various city committees and regional boards on which they represent the city. Those require a vote of approval by the council and, according to Simonsen, they will be on the agenda for the January 10th council meeting.

The Council Chambers at City Hall are located at 3rd and H Streets, between 2nd and 3rd in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown.

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Publisher @ December 6, 2016

Nominations for county MLK Humanitarian and Student Humanitarian of the Year due by December 14

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County Honors Residents Who Embody the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you know someone whose work and presence in the community exemplifies the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Now is the time to submit your candidates for consideration as the Contra Costa County Humanitarian and Student Humanitarian of the Year.  The deadline to have your candidate considered has been extended.  County residents are encouraged to submit online nominations of community and student leaders no later than midnight on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

Each January, the Board of Supervisors recognizes a community member as well as a student leader whose dedication to others embodies the essence and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those selected as winners will be presented with their awards during the County’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ceremony on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.  The public is invited to the ceremony and commemoration, which takes place in the Board of Supervisors Chamber at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.  The event begins at 11:00 a.m., followed by a complimentary buffet lunch.  Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Diana Becton will be the keynote speaker, speaking on the concept of civil rights work that still needs to be done in our country.

The 2016 Humanitarian of the Year was Terri Porter, known for advocacy on behalf of underserved youth.  The student pick was Davis Bullock, then a senior at Cal High, who not only battled cancer himself, but took on the cause of helping others also fighting the disease.  We encourage you to share the stories of those in your community who have inspired you, and whose efforts embody the legacy of Dr. King.

For more information, a look back at previous celebration videos or to submit a nomination, visit the County’s website at www.ContraCosta.CA.gov.

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Publisher @ December 6, 2016

Op/Ed: Why I support Rocketship – students’ and civil rights

Posted in: Opinion | Comments (0)

By Argentina Dávila-Luévano

Earlier this month, I attended a hearing on the petition by Rocketship Education to open a public, elementary, charter school in Antioch. The meeting was attended by about one hundred supporters, mostly families, and mostly African-Americans and Hispanics. It was also attended by about fifty teachers and school district staff who opposed the petition, primarily members of the Antioch Education Association (AEA) and other union members.

I have a long history of supporting organized labor. I believe it is a fundamental right of workers to be able to band together for the purpose of collective bargaining. Because of my history as an advocate of workers’ rights, and my continuing efforts on behalf of workers, I’m sure many were surprised to see me supporting a petition that the local teachers’ union so strongly opposes.

So, why do I support Rocketship? First, I don’t see this as an issue of workers’ rights. I see it as an issue of children’s rights, and, more than that, as an issue of civil rights. The fact is, our public schools are failing our students, especially students of color and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The ability to obtain a high-quality education is one of the most important, if not the most important, factors that contributes to children achieving their potential. But for years, the great majority of students in the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) have not been able to achieve even basic proficiency in core subjects.

Without changes to curriculum and other elements of pedagogy, instead of student success, we’ll continue to have the same results.

Families who are better off have other choices. They send their kids to private schools. They get  them into charter schools, even if they must make long commutes to do so. Indeed, some of the  opponents of Rocketship talked about having their children in charter schools. Many families, though, don’t have another option. Their children are stuck in the local public  school, even though it might spend years on the state’s list as low-performing.

All families should have a chance at their children receiving a first-rate education, not just those  who can afford it. Rocketship helps make that happen, as they’ve proven repeatedly by opening  schools in some of the worst-performing areas in the country, and finally providing children with  the chance that only their well-to-do peers previously had. They’re getting results, as has been repeatedly verified.

We can’t afford to leave vast segments of our community without better educational options. Let’s give our parents a choice for something better. Let’s give our students a real chance at success. I urge the AUSD school board to put our children first…and to vote yes on Rocketship.

Dávila-Luévano has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work – Child Welfare and is President of the California Leadership Institute.

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Publisher @ December 6, 2016

Nominations for county MLK Humanitarian and Student Humanitarian of the Year by December 14

Posted in: Community | Comments (0)

County Honors Residents Who Embody the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you know someone whose work and presence in the community exemplifies the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Now is the time to submit your candidates for consideration as the Contra Costa County Humanitarian and Student Humanitarian of the Year.  The deadline to have your candidate considered has been extended.  County residents are encouraged to submit online nominations of community and student leaders no later than midnight on Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

Each January, the Board of Supervisors recognizes a community member as well as a student leader whose dedication to others embodies the essence and spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those selected as winners will be presented with their awards during the County’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ceremony on Tuesday, January 17, 2017.  The public is invited to the ceremony and commemoration, which takes place in the Board of Supervisors Chamber at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.  The event begins at 11:00 a.m., followed by a complimentary buffet lunch.  Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Diana Becton will be the keynote speaker, speaking on the concept of civil rights work that still needs to be done in our country.

The 2016 Humanitarian of the Year was Terri Porter, known for advocacy on behalf of underserved youth.  The student pick was Davis Bullock, then a senior at Cal High, who not only battled cancer himself, but took on the cause of helping others also fighting the disease.  We encourage you to share the stories of those in your community who have inspired you, and whose efforts embody the legacy of Dr. King.

For more information, a look back at previous celebration videos or to submit a nomination, visit the County’s website at www.ContraCosta.CA.gov.

 

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Publisher @ December 6, 2016

Antioch School Board to decide Rocketship charter petition at Wednesday meeting

Posted in: Education, News | Comments (0)

Public comments allowed; district staff opposes; approval expected, eventually

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board will hold a special meeting, within the required time, to decide Rocketship Education’s petition to open a public charter school this Wednesday, December 7th. Although the board held and closed the public hearing on the proposed charter on November 9th, according to Superintendent Stephanie Anello, public comments will still be allowed at the meeting on Wednesday.

While AUSD has the lowest level of proficiency in both English and math among elementary students in all school districts in East County, Rocketship boasts of being able to help underachieving students in the districts they serve with their six schools in the Bay Area. They’re able to demonstrate that fact showing achievement statistics which outrank all of Antioch’s elementary schools, and many others, as well.

On Rocketship’s website, it states, “Nearly 9 of 10 Rocketeers in California were classified as ‘socioeconomically disadvantaged’ last school year.”

“In math, 49% of our disadvantaged Rocketeers met or beat the standard compared to 26% of similar students in the state and 28% in the local districts we serve.  Nearly twice as many Rocketeers are on the college and career ready path. In fact, our disadvantaged Rocketeers beat the state average in math for all students by 10 points! This is powerful proof that demographics do not define student achievement.”

In addition, their website also states, “In English Language Arts, 39% of our disadvantaged Rocketeers are on the college ready path compared to 32% of similar students in the state and 34% in local districts.”

ausd-stats-comparisons

With only 33% of Antioch students in grades K-5 proficient in English and 19% proficient in math, the private, non-profit organization’s success rate is appealing to many Antioch parents. Some spoke in favor of opening the school and wore purple shirts to show their support, during the public hearing.

Those statistics are even worse for Hispanic and African American students in Antioch elementary schools. Only 30% of Hispanic students are proficient in English and 16% are proficient in math, while only 22% of African American students are proficient in English and just 10% are proficient in math.

However, and although Rocketship pays their teachers more than AUSD does, many Antioch teachers oppose the charter school, speaking against it and wearing yellow shirts in opposition at the public hearing meeting. Although, Antioch High School teacher Sara Savacool, one of the leaders of the local teachers’ union, toured one of the Rocketship school sites with school board Trustee Alonzo Terry, she didn’t speak against the organization’s efforts to open one in Antioch at the public hearing.

If the charter school is opened, the district will lose 600 students who will transfer to the new school, continuing the decline in enrollment due to Antioch’s low performing schools, That will result in a loss of revenue from the state which is based on Average Daily Attendance of students in schools. Instead those funds will go to Rocketship to pay for their charter school operations.

The district’s staff is recommending a no vote on the petition. In the staff report, it states, “The Petition, as submitted, fails to provide a reasonably comprehensive description of several essential charter elements and suggests that the Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program.  Accordingly, staff is recommending denial of the Petition.

The following reasons justify denial of the Petition prior to the commencement of the school’s operations: The Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program presented in the Petition; and The Petition fails to provide a reasonably comprehensive description of all required elements of a charter Petition.”

To view the entire 23-page staff report, click here.

However, another effort by Rocketship to open a school in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, last year met with the same opposition, there, with both the school board, as well as the county school board voting no. But the petition ended up getting approved by the state Board of Education, which included the vote of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a former Antioch teacher and city councilman, who was backed for election by the state teachers’ union. He instructed his staff to help Rocketship with their petition for that charter school in order for it to be acceptable. The school is now in operation. (See article on that, here).

As a result, proponents, and at least one opponent, are making the claim that regardless of how the Antioch School Board votes Wednesday night, Rocketship will eventually get their proposed charter school approved and opened in Antioch.

This will be the last decision both appointed incumbents, Terry and Fernando Navarro, will make as school board trustees. They both lost for election, last month and their term will end at next week’s regularly scheduled meeting on December 14.

The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be held off-site at Lone Tree Elementary School at 1931 Mokelumne Drive to accommodate the expected larger crowd, as attended the public hearing meeting on the petition.

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Publisher @ December 6, 2016

Tickets available for Antioch Woman’s Club annual Holiday Home Tour, this Sunday, Dec. 11

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holiday-home-tour-2016

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Publisher @ December 5, 2016

Editorial: Antioch residents just got a big lump of coal in our stocking, thanks to the Grinches on the City Council

Posted in: Opinion | Comments (5)

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

Just as we entered the holiday season, and Antioch residents were preparing for Thanksgiving, they got an early Christmas present from the city council, in the form of a big lump of coal in our stocking, when they unanimously voted for the new contracts for all city employees – tentatively.

Repeating Past Mistakes

What the mayor, council members and city manager have demonstrated is their failure to learn from the mistakes of the past. Here’s a little reminder of recent city history, if you’re not familiar. First, in the early 2000’s the city council approved the 3% at age 50 retirement benefit for police, which is explained below. Then, in 2007, the city council approved a rich and unusually long, six-year contract for the police. That was followed by the economic downturn in 2008, which created the situation we’re currently in and the hole in police staffing the city has been digging out of, ever since.

But, it was the rest of the city staff who took the hit, with a 10% pay cut, with an equal 10% reduction in work time, while, by the way, cutting out 20% of city time available to the public with the Furlough Fridays.

Two Tax Increases

So, we the people gave them two tax increases in the forms of Measure C’s half-cent sales tax and Measure O’s rental property business license fee, to use to get out of the hole.

Yet, even after the current council staff was put back to work full time, ending the 10% cut in pay and work, at the beginning of last year, they also got an additional 3% pay raise at that time. Still, the council voted to give them all another 4.5% pay raise plus increases to their benefits packages, in the new contracts.

Unfulfilled Promise to the People

Now, while the council members may be acting like Santa Claus to the city employees, they’re acting like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas to the taxpaying residents of Antioch because we’re the ones paying the bill. We’re the ones who don’t have the 22 more police officers we were promised “immediately” by soon to be former Mayor Wade Harper and all council members, including Mary Rocha, Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno, (except for current Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock who wasn’t on the council at the time) in the ballot argument they all signed in the summer of 2013, in favor of Measure C, if we passed it – which we did.

Instead, they’ve only given us a net seven more police officers and it took them three years to accomplish. At that rate, we won’t have the other 15 additional officers on the force for another six plus years, long after Measure C will have expired. Of course they’ll tell you they’ve given us an additional 14 officers, because they’ve chosen to conveniently use the figure of 82 sworn officers as the base figure, which the city had in November, 2013 at the end of the Measure C campaign, rather than the 89 Antioch had at the beginning, which is the figure Harper and the council members used in their ballot argument.

But, even using their manipulated base figure of 82, they still owe us another eight sworn officers, for a total of 104, which at the current pace, will take another three and a half years to achieve. That brings up the question, since they owe us 104, why have they only included 102 sworn officers in the annual budget? It’s just more game playing with Measure C money, the budget, our tax dollars and city staffing.

Yet, Ogorchock is aware of the promise for 22 additional police officers, and has the responsibility for helping the city achieve it for we the people – for whom they’re all supposed to be working. Plus, she voted along with the rest of them for these irresponsible contracts. So she needs to be held accountable on this, as well.

Furthermore, the fact that all the contracts extend beyond Measure C’s sunset, four years from now, is another aspect of what makes them wrong.

Politics Played on Contract Timing

What’s also wrong with the contracts is that they weren’t completed and approved in a timely manner. Instead of the council directing Duran to finalizing the negotiations and the council taking their vote before the contracts expired on August 31st and September 30th, when what is in the contracts could have been revealed to the public before the November 8th election, Duran and Harper – whom together set what is on each agenda – chose to wait until the next meeting on November 22nd to place them on the agenda. The fact that the contracts were voted on by a lame duck city council, during the week of a major holiday when most people are focused on getting ready for the holiday weekend or already gone on vacation having taken the entire week off, shows a serious lack of integrity and transparency.

It’s Our Government & Money

What they all have failed to recognize is that it’s our government and our money they’re spending. The council members put the commitments they made to the various employee groups, including the one to the Antioch Police Officers Association – who, not surprisingly rewarded Harper, Rocha and Wilson by endorsing them for re-election in November – above their commitment to the people to give us the 22 more cops.

That commitment should have been fulfilled, first and still needs to be. They need to give Police Chief Allan Cantando whatever resources he needs to hire the rest of the 15 additional officers, now.

I’m sick and tired of politicians overpromising and under-delivering, especially when it comes to taxes. Here’s another bit of Antioch history, which this council is ignoring and could learn from – and it’s my own mistake and a past success, during my time on the city council.

In 1994, during my first year in office, I along with three other council members, including Rocha, voted for a 1.9% utility tax to pay for 19 more police officers. Knowing it was going to pass without my vote, anyway, I tried to get the council to agree to look at the budget before it went into effect that July 1st and then have a vote by the people on it, that November. So with their agreements I voted for it. But, even after I presented a budget cut plan developed with the help of 45 Antioch residents, to eliminate the tax and still hire 14 more police, the other three council members rejected it. Plus they voted against funding a ballot measure in November for the public’s approval. Fortunately, the council unanimously approved my budget cut plan later that year, but the recall still went to the ballot. A majority of the voters recognized what I had done for them, that I had learned my lesson, so to speak and I was able to beat the recall. The other council member who voted for the tax increase and also faced recall, defended her vote and the tax, and she lost her recall election.

The city ended up hiring the 19 additional officers during my remaining three years on the council, and we did it without a tax increase, by reprioritizing city spending, trying to reach the goal of 1.2 officers per thousand. But, we never reached it, bringing us to 85 sworn officers on the force by the end of 1998, with about 85,000 residents, or one officer per thousand population.

The current situation is much worse. The city has grown by about 25,000 residents since then, yet we only currently have 96 sworn officers on the force, and with a very different population then we had, back in 1998. We’re now down to about 0.85 officers per 1,000 population.

Plus, most of the current police officers still have a much richer retirement now, compared to back then. With the 3% at age 50, they get to calculate that figure times the number of years they’ve been on the force, times the average of their last three years’ salary to determine their annual pension payments. So, if a cop has worked for the department for 25 years, at age 50 he’ or she will get 75% of the average of their last three year’s salary. Fortunately, that changed under the leadership of the late Gary Agopian when he was on the council and they renegotiated the benefit to 2.5% at age 55 for new hires. The current council later changed that for a few lateral hires from other departments, and gave them the 3% at 50.

Council, Manager at Fault

Let’s be clear. I don’t blame the city employees at all for trying to get everything they could in the new contracts. I believe in the old adage, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Plus, I believe in what is written in the Bible of “pay the worker his due.” But, it’s the city council which determines what the amount of that due is for city employee.

So, I blame Duran who shepherded the contracts through the negotiation process, and ultimately the mayor and council members who demonstrated a serious lack of backbone. They caved in to the desires and requests of the city employees, and forgot about their first commitment to us, by giving us the 22 additional police officers, they promised, before offering a pay raise.

Some Antioch residents, including me, are wondering who was at the table negotiating on behalf of we the people, the taxpayers and our interests against the special interests of the employee groups? That’s what the mayor and council members were supposed to be doing. But, it surely wasn’t any of them, who instead all demonstrated a complete disregard for fiscal responsibility. They forgot who it is they’re supposed to please and who are their bosses – we the people.

Huge Salaries, Threat of Massive Layoffs

Now, Duran is telling us that if we don’t approve an extension to Measure C in 2020, there will be “massive layoffs in police and Code Enforcement.”

This coming from a city manager who earns over $300,000 per year in pay and benefits – including over $8,000 per month in benefits alone. Sorry, but Mr. Duran has a conflict of interest making any arguments in favor of the contracts that personally benefit him, and will increase his pension, as he prepares to retire next year.

He and the council members know we will be left with the bill after he’s long gone and some, if not all of the current council members will be, too, yet they still voted for them.

At the same time many of our top city staff and police officers earn well over $200,000 a year in pay and benefits, with Cantando being the top income earner of all city employees during 2015, at $338,000 in pay and benefits, earning even more than the city manager.

Perhaps the rest of the city workers needed a pay raise, but did the police officers, police management and city management staff really need a 4.5% pay increase on top of what they’re already earning, or any pay raise, at all? I’d say no, not until we got the 22 more police we were promised.

For a real eye opener, click here to see what each Antioch city employee earned last year, according to public records. While the average is about $58,000 per year, there are many city employees earning well over $100,000 in pay and benefits.

Using Basic Services to Pass Tax Increases

Why is it, that the first employees that will be laid off are police, when that’s a basic reason for local government and why, going back to 1872 when Antioch was incorporated, our city was formed – “for police and other matters?” Why must our government officials always go after and threaten the basics of government in order to scare us into voting and paying for another tax increase?

How about, instead pay cuts for those earning exorbitant salaries already and implementing a no overtime policy? How about selling Humphrey’s instead of the city trying to be in the landlord and restaurant business? How about closing or contracting out the Antioch Water Park which costs the city’s General Fund (which pays for police) $200,000 to $300,000 per year?

The fact is, the extra half-cent sales tax was only to be temporary, and the city was supposed to increase revenue from basic sales and property taxes over the seven years of the lifespan of Measure C to replace the $7 million per year it currently generates. But that’s not going to happen if the city spends an extra $1.7 million per year on increases in pay and benefits which are included in the new contracts.

But, There’s Hope

Using a compound metaphor, there is a silver lining, not just lumps of coal, in this picture. First, the contracts are tentative and won’t be finalized until the city council votes to approve the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s), and won’t happen until January or February.

Second, with the election of Dr. Sean Wright as our new mayor and Lamar Thorpe to the City Council, and who will be our new Mayor Pro Tem, hopefully they can get at least one of the remaining council members – Tiscareno or Ogorchock, who aren’t up for election until 2018, or Wilson, who was just re-elected – to join them in getting the city employees to work with them and renegotiate at least the length of the contracts. Frankly, all the council members should rethink their vote and join the two newest council members who will be the new leaders of the council in asking for a renegotiation.

They should be shortened to no more than four years, when the city’s extra half-cent sales tax from Measure C will end, and preferably three years, so the contracts don’t end during another election year. Never again should we have contracts end during an election year nor voted on by a lame duck Council.

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Publisher @ December 5, 2016

Free $20 gift card from Somersville Towne Center when you spend $150 at the mall through Dec. 12

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Publisher @ December 5, 2016