Antioch Police announce new hires, promotions

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New Antioch Police Lieutenant Joe Dunleavey, left and Officer Matthew Nutt with Chief Tammany Brooks. Photos by APD

By Antioch Police Department

Earlier this month, the Antioch Police Department welcomed Lieutenant John Donleavy and Officer Matthew Nutt, and celebrated the promotions of Corporals Vanderpool and Rose, Sergeant Hoffman, and Captain Schnitzius.

Lieutenant Joe Donleavy

Joe grew up in Richmond and graduated from El Cerrito High School in 1989. After graduation, he became an EMT and worked for four years for Acme Western Ambulance in Oakland. Joe eventually attended San Francisco State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art in 1998.

In 2000, Joe put himself through the Napa Valley College extended night Police Academy while working a full-time job in the Athletic Business Office at Cal. He was picked up by the Walnut Creek Police Department while in the academy and started with them upon graduation in December of 2000. During his time with the Walnut Creek Police Department Joe served in Patrol, Motors and as a K9 handler. Additionally, he was on the SWAT entry team and was a firearm and chemical agent instructor. In 2012, Joe was promoted to Sergeant and eventually helped create a four-person Special Enforcement Team as well as supervising the Motor team and K9 unit. In 2017, Joe was promoted to Lieutenant and worked the remainder of his time there as a Patrol Watch Commander.

Joe is married to a Walnut Creek Police Officer and enjoys traveling with his family and is a die-hard Giants, Niners and Sharks fan!

Fun Fact: Joe’s son has the exact same birthday as him.

Officer Matthew Nutt

Matthew grew up in Claremont, CA, and graduated from Claremont High School in 2012. Before graduating, Matthew enlisted in the Marine Corps and he left for boot camp shortly after graduating. Matthew eventually became an Infantry Machine Gunner and served 4 years with the Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment. Matthew was honorably discharged at the rank of Corporal in 2016.

Soon after being discharged, Matthew was hired by the Los Angeles Police Department and graduated from the Police Academy in October 2016. He was later assigned to patrol for 1.5 years in East Los Angeles, and spent the remainder of his time patrolling South Central Los Angeles. Matthew then accepted a job with the Antioch Police Department.

In his free time Matthew enjoys going to church, spending time with family and friends, rock climbing, and working out.

Fun Fact: Matthew is terrified of spiders and needs his wife to kill them for him.

Corporal Jason Vanderpool with Chief Brooks.

Corporal Jason Vanderpool

Jason grew up in Fairfield and graduated from Fairfield High School. Jason is happily married to his wife Danielle and is the proud father of three girls. Prior to working for the City of Antioch, Jason worked in the construction trades for several years and had his contractor’s license. He also had a flooring business for several years.

Jason started his Police career in December 2002, and was assigned to the patrol division from 2002 to 2013. In April of 2013, he transferred from Patrol into the Investigations Bureau where he worked as the Domestic Violence Investigator. In 2015, he was assigned to the Robbery/ Homicide unit and worked as a violent crimes investigator. In July 2018, he transferred back to the Patrol Division.

During his career, Jason has had numerous assignments which have included Field training officer (FTO), recruiting team member, MAMFF team member, and Explorer advisor. In his spare time, Jason enjoys wakeboarding, playing basketball, camping, golfing and spending time with his family.

Fun Fact: He’s proud to be a mama’s boy.

Corporal Brian Rose and Chief Brooks.

Corporal Brian Rose

Brian is a 12-year veteran of the Antioch Police Department. Brian’s assignments have been Field Training Officer and SWAT team member. In 2012, Brian was a recipient of the Antioch Police Department’s Meritorious Service Award which is presented to officers who display professionalism and excellence in performing his/her duties.

Brian has spent the last 5 plus years as a detective in the sexual assault/child abuse unit and has distinguished himself as a tremendous investigator. He is a POST certified sexual assault/child abuse instructor and travels throughout the state to train other detectives in this important discipline.

In 2016, Brian was honored as a 2016 Community Champion by Community Violence Solutions for those who go above and beyond the call of duty to end sexual violence in our community.

Brian holds a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice management and in his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing basketball, working out, and is an avid reader.

Fun fact: Brian has been nominated for Officer of Year a whopping 10 times but has failed to ever win the award.

Sergeant Rick Hoffman and Chief Brooks.

Sergeant Rick Hoffman

Rick was born in Berkeley and moved to Antioch when he was in the fifth grade. Rick spent the rest of his childhood in the city of Antioch. He met his future wife, in a church youth group when he was 15 years old, and eventually married her years later.

Rick began his law enforcement career with the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff in March 2006, and worked as a Custody Deputy at the Martinez Detention Facility from March of 2006 to September of 2007. Having grown up in Antioch, he knew that he wanted to be a police officer for APD. Rick lateraled to APD in September of 2007 and began his career with APD as a patrol officer.

Since joining APD, Rick has held a variety of assignments. In 2009, Rick was assigned as a SWAT team member. In 2010, he was assigned to be a gang investigator. In 2013, Rick was assigned to be a Field Training Officer (FTO) and in 2015 he was assigned to be a Defensive Tactics Instructor.

Rick was assigned to the Investigations Bureau in August of 2015 where he initially worked as a Missing Persons Detective, a Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) detective and eventually was assigned to the Special Operations Unit. Rick was also awarded the APD’s 2017 Officer of the Year award.

Rick was promoted to the rank of Corporal in January of 2019. During his time as a Corporal, he has been assigned as a patrol Corporal, Gang Unit supervisor, and a SWAT Assistant Team Leader.

Rick is excited to begin this new step in his career and is eager to serve his department and the citizens of Antioch in a new capacity.

Fun Fact: Rick would like to share that he is much better at fantasy football than both of the newly promoted Corporals Vanderpool and Rose

Captain Trevor Schnitzius and Chief Brooks.

Captain Trevor Schnitzius

Trevor graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 1997 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Law Enforcement Management and Investigation. He was hired as a police trainee by the Antioch Police Department in January 1998 and attended the Los Medanos 135th Police Academy. Upon his graduation, he was sworn in as a Police Officer on May 26, 1998 assigned to the Community Policing Division.

Trevor transferred to in the Investigations Bureau in 2002 as the auto theft investigator. In 2003, he transferred to the person crime unit where he was the Sexual Assault/Missing Persons/Sex Offender Compliance Investigator. Trevor transferred back to the patrol division in 2007 and became a (FTO) Field Training Officer.

Trevor was promoted to Corporal in January of 2008 and was assigned to the Patrol Division. He was then promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2013 and remained in the Patrol Division. In February 2016, Trevor promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

Additionally, Trevor served as a Weaponless Defense Instructor, Impact Weapons Instructor, Field Training Officer (FTO), Honor Guard Team Member, Recruiting Team Member, Explorer Program Coordinator, Department Armor, Peer Support Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, K9 Unit Coordinator, and FTO Program Coordinator.

As fate would have it, the effective date of his promotion to Captain is exactly 21 years to the day from his original appointment as an Antioch Police Officer.

Fun Fact: Trevor’s nickname amongst his peers is Mr. Incredible due to his resemblance to the animated film character. Through the generosity of our officers, he has accumulated a decent collection of Mr. Incredible memorabilia over the years.

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Publisher @ June 16, 2019

Fleet of the Future BART cars to be assembled in Pittsburg

Posted in: News, BART, East County, Transportation | Comments (0)

Fleet of the Future BART car at the Pittsburg assembly plant during the recent press conference. Photo by BART.

Bombardier Transportation announced it is opening a rail car assembly site in Pittsburg, California to assemble BART’s Fleet of the Future rail cars.  This work, which is currently taking place in upstate New York, will be transferred to the Bay Area over the coming months.

The new facility will employ local workers, contribute tax dollars to the local economy and, thanks to its proximity to BART’s Hayward Test Track, greatly reduce the vehicle emissions needed to transport the cars to BART property.

What used to be a 3,600-mile journey home to the Bay Area, will now be a quick 50 miles.

It also means local jobs.

“It’s Bay Area workers building cars for Bay Area commuters,” said BART Director Mark Foley. “Bringing the work home.”

Watch the Press Conference

Riders are giving the new trains high marks for its new features and design. The customer survey results were unveiled at a recent Board meeting. The vast majority of features received at least 85 percent “Excellent” or “Good” grades.

Some of its most well-received features were the ease of on-board and off-boarding the train; lighting; audio announcements; floor-to-ceiling poles; comfortable air temperature; and digital displays.

BART’s website dedicated to the Fleet of the Future has lots of great information about the status of the roll out. They keep it updated with the number of new cars delivered to date and the number in service.

A Fleet of the Future tracker is in the works that will show you if one of the next approaching trains at your stations is a new train. That feature will roll out in phases, to eventually include digital platform signs, bart.gov, and the BART Official App, which you can download for free.

 

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Publisher @ June 15, 2019

Two-year-old dies from accidental drowning in Antioch Friday night

Posted in: News, Police & Crime, Children & Families | Comments (0)

ABC7 News report screenshot of emergency personnel from ConFire attending to 2-year-old boy who drowned in Antioch, Friday night, June 14, 2019.

By Sergeant Matthew Harger #3305, Field Services Bureau, Antioch Police Department

On June 14, 2019, at approximately 7:30pm, Antioch Police Dispatch received a 9-1-1 call regarding a possible child drowning in a residential family swimming pool in the 3000 Block of N. Francisco Way. Antioch Police Officers along with ConFire and AMR personnel quickly arrived on scene and began immediate live saving measures on the child.

The child was transported to a local hospital where he later passed away.

The preliminary investigation appears to indicate this incident was a tragic accident. No further information will be released at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Publisher @ June 15, 2019

Rattlesnake Advisory: Rattlesnake safety in the Regional Parks

Posted in: News, Delta & Environment, Parks | Comments (1)

Photo from Snakes of the EBRPD brochure.

As the weather heats up, rattlesnakes become more active in many of our parks, their natural habitat. They like to explore when the weather gets warm which can lead to more encounters with humans and dogs. The East Bay Regional Park District is advising that the public take snake safety precautions when visiting Regional Parks.

Safety Tips for Visiting Regional Parks

  1. Always hike with a friend so you can help each other in case of emergency.
  2. Look at the ground ahead of you as you are walking.
  3. Look carefully around and under logs and rocks before sitting down.
  4. Avoid placing your hands or feet where you can’t see clearly.
  5. Check the area around picnic tables, campsites, and barbecues before using them. If you encounter a rattlesnake in these areas, notify park staff.
  6. Keep pets on the designated trails and away from snakes if they see one.
  7. Bring plenty of water for yourself and your pets as many parks do not have a direct water supply.

What to Do If You See a Rattlesnake

Leave it alone – do not try to capture or harm it. All park wildlife is protected by law. If you see a snake on a trail, wait for it to cross and do not approach. Then move carefully and slowly away.

What to Do If Bitten by a Snake

  1. If bitten by a rattlesnake, stay calm and send someone to call 911. Remain calm by lying down with the affected limb lower than the heart. Do not waste precious time on tourniquets, “sucking,” or snake bite kits. If you are by yourself, walk calmly to the nearest source of help to dial 911. Do not run.
  2. If bitten by any other kind of snake, wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic and seek medical attention.
  3. If you are not sure what kind of snake bit you, check the bite for two puncture marks (in rare cases one puncture mark) associated with intense, burning pain. This is typical of a rattle snake bite. Other snakebites may leave multiple teeth marks without associated burning pain.

Snakes are an important resource in the natural environment. They are prime controlling agents of rodent, insect, and other reptile populations. They must be enjoyed from afar and left where they are found. It is illegal to collect, kill, or remove any plants or animals from the East Bay Regional Park District. Please help us to protect wildlife and their environment for present and future generations. Additional information is available at www.ebparks.org/parks/safety/#Snakes or download a PDF version of our Common Snakes.

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Publisher @ June 13, 2019

Supervisors OK contract with county’s longtime Washington lobbyist despite committee pick of Federal Advocates

Posted in: News, Contra Costa County | Comments (0)

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors presented resolutions at Tuesday’s meeting designating May 2019 as Older Americans Month and honors all of the individuals, organizations and agencies working to ensure that all older county residents are honored as essential and valuable members of our community. In Contra Costa County, the population of people more than 60 years old currently is 20.4 percent, and if following growth projections of California, will be at 25 percent in 2030. The resolution states “Contra Costa County can enhance the lives of older Americans in our community by promoting home-and community-based services that support independent living; involving older adults in community events and other activities; providing opportunities for older adults to work, volunteer; learn and lead; encouraging older adults to speak up for themselves and others; and providing opportunities for older adults to share their experiences.” Photo by Daniel Borusk

By Daniel Borsuk

Preferring to stick with its established Washington-based lobbyist that has represented Contra Costa County since 2001, Contra Costa County Supervisors on Tuesday voted 5-0 to extend a contract with Alcalde & Fay for one year, June 30, 2020.

The one-year contract will cost the county approximately $120,000.

The supervisors’ action did not go as smoothly as the vote might indicate because two supervisors, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who served on the five-person County Selection Committee (CSC), and Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville thought Federal Advocates, a firm that was founded in 2006, should have been awarded the $360,000 contract for the period running from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022 because it narrowly won during the screening CSC process.

Supervisors also directed county officials to develop screening measurements for the upcoming lobby renewal contract vetting process that were not put into place during the contract renewal process that supervisors had just reviewed and acted on.

In addition to Supervisor Burgis, other CSC representatives were Chief Assistant County Administrator Timothy Ewell, Employment and Human Services Director Kathy Gallagher, Health Services Administrator Joshua Sullivan, and Water Agency Manager Ryan Hernandez. The CSC convened on May 1 and the three candidates were invited for interviews on May 6.   Interviews were conducted over Skype, but the lobby firm of Smith Dawson & Andrews selected the teleconference option.

During the CSC review, Federal Advocates compiled 16.5 points. Federal Advocates topped second place finisher Alcalde & Fay that finished with 16 points. Points were unavailable for Smith Dawson & Andrews.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Supervisor Andersen. “They (i.e. Alcalde & Fay) cannot handle our platform. That is a huge disadvantage. We have not been well represented in Washington.”

“I think you are being over dramatic” warned Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond. “Each of us has his or her own choice. “I believe Alcalde & Fay is effective.”

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill led the charge to retain Alcalde & Faye as the county’s Washington lobbyist. “There is only a one-half point difference between first place (Federal Advocates) and second place (Alcalde & Faye). During the recession Alcalde & Faye stuck with us and cut their fees.”

Appearing before the supervisors, Federal Advocates President Michael Esposito appealed to supervisors to award the three-year contract to his firm because of its qualifications and knowledge through its working relationships with cities of Pittsburg, Antioch, Concord and Richmond.

In its brochure presented to the CSC members, Alcalde & Fay executive Paul Schlesinger wrote: “over the years we have helped the county secure more than $133 million in funds from the Army Corps for dredging, channel deepening, flood control and other projects.”

“It’s a wash,” declared District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, about the professionalism of both lobby firms – Alcalde & Fay and Federal Advocates. “I’ve worked with both firms and both are outstanding.”

Authorize Assessor Waiver Fees for MTC/ABAG Project

Supervisors unanimously authorized to have Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer, who is in the midst of a newly filed Grand Jury Accusation for “willful or corrupt” misconduct while serving as the county’s elected assessor, to acquire Secured Assessment Roll and Property Characteristics data for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments.

The recommendation would require a distribution of $19,700 from the County’s Contingency Reserve.

MTC/ABAG needs the one-time appropriation to complete a major data collection project with Plan Bay Area 2040 and other major planning projects. So far, fee waivers have been collected from Alameda County, $20,000; Santa Clara County, $49,700; and Solano County, $48,156. Napa and San Francisco counties are provided the data at no cost. Small fees have been paid by San Mateo County of $2,745, Sonoma County of $270, and Marin County of $80.

“We appreciate the hard work of Mr. Kramer and his staff,” said Supervisor Mitchoff moments before supervisors approved the fee waiver request.

Upon saying he will process the board of supervisors’ MTC/ABAG appropriation, County Assessor Kramer told the Contra Costa Herald, “The board of supervisors is a fickle bunch. They routinely ask me to raise the taxes of their enemies and lower the taxes of their friends. Nothing they say or they do so much as surprises me anymore.”

Increase County Street Lighting and County Landscaping District Fees

Owners of property in unincorporated Contra Costa County will see landscaping fees and street lighting fees rise.

Without hearing any public protests, supervisors increased 2019/2020 landscaping fees from a cumulative $1,440,004.23 in 2018/2019 to $1,526,180.02 in 2019/2020, an increase of $86,175.79 in 2019/2020. The 30 landscape zones consist of county-maintained irrigation, parks, recreation facilities, pedestrian bridges and landscape areas around the county.

Property assessments for county street lighting will also rise a cumulative $1,780,289.16 in 2019/2020, an increase from $1,730,356.97 in 2018/2019, an increase of $49,932.19.

On A Historical Note…

On a consent item, supervisors recognized and honored the sacrifice of the late Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff William R. Johnson as a lawman almost 165 years after a he lost his life in the line of duty while serving a “writ of ejection” on July 31, 1852 at a house in Oakland unlawfully occupied by the suspect. Johnson was shot in the chest and he died at the scene.

Deputy Johnson, who was 34 and a husband and father of three children, was formally inducted into the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2019 and has been accepted by the California Peace Officer’s Memorial in Sacramento and scheduled for formal induction in May of 2020.

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Publisher @ June 13, 2019

Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom to be held in Antioch Saturday, June 22

Posted in: Community, History | Comments (0)

Learn more about Juneteenth at www.juneteenth.com.

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Publisher @ June 12, 2019

Berkeley man identified as pilot of downed plane in river north of Antioch

Posted in: News, Sheriff-Coroner | Comments (0)

Deputies in a Contra Costa Sheriff’s Marine Unit patrol boat search for the plane and pilot on Monday, June 10, 2019. Photo by CCCSheriff.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Office of the Contra Costa County Sheriff

During a search yesterday of Broad Slough where the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Marine Services Unit located the plane wreckage, the Dive Team recovered a body from the wreckage, which was in approximately 20 feet of water, at about 5:30 PM.

The Coroner’s Division later identified the person, who was the pilot and only occupant of the plane, as 22-year-old Colin Um of Berkeley.

On Sunday, June 9, 2019, at about 5:32 PM, a boater notified Sheriff’s Office Dispatch of a small plane crashing into the Delta at the north end of Broad Slough, north of Antioch. (See related articles, here and here).

Several public safety agencies immediately responded. Debris and a backpack were found at the location. The plane took off from Buchanan Field Airport in Concord at about 5:00 PM.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the cause of the crash. Any witnesses to this incident are asked to contact the NTSB by email at: witness@NTSB.GOV.

Although a date has not been set, a salvage company is expected to remove the plane wreckage in the near future.

The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Colin Um. An autopsy into the cause of death is scheduled for tomorrow.

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Publisher @ June 11, 2019

Antioch Council unanimously recognizes June as LGBTQ Pride Month, will fly rainbow flag at City Hall

Posted in: News | Comments (2)

Unanimous votes on both the proclamation and resolution to raise the flag

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council voted unanimously, at their meeting Tuesday night, to recognize June as LGBTQ Pride Month in the city. Then, after hearing from both members of the public on both sides of the issue, the also voted 5-0 on the resolution to fly the rainbow “pride” flag at City Hall for the remainder of the month.

Only one person spoke on the proclamation, recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Antioch.

I am for the proclamation. I don’t have a problem with that,” said Ralph Hernandez. “The city council and school board…didn’t have any background. It just appears on the agenda and the public doesn’t have the opportunity to see who is supporting, who is opposing. If you as a council can make an effort to inform the public. To say who proposed it. Is it someone who contributed to a council person? Is it a group that has a nefarious reason for putting it on the council agenda.”

The proclamation passed on a 5-0 vote.

“Thank you so much for showing, through this proclamation, the equity of LGBTQ citizens in Antioch,” said Dodi Zotigh, President of the Board of Directors of the Rainbow Community Center in Concord

On the resolution, City Attorney Thomas Smith said, it “would be government speech and symbolizing the city’s official position on the issue.”

The council then heard from the public.

“I implore you to vote in unison to fly the LGBTQ flag in June,” said Jack Rednour, the Executive Director of the Rainbow Community Center. “Antioch must stand tall and show diversity and tolerance are celebrated. LGBTQ rights are not Democratic rights or Republican or religious.

Jana Rifkin Ciofulo was next to speak saying, “I came here to feel welcome and safe. I am a gay woman and mother of a straight daughter. I’m the same human as the conservatives who live here. I have the same morals and values as I did when I was married to a straight man. The rainbow flag is a human flag, not one of religion, not of your god or my god. This flag represents a city of unity.”

Rev. Will McGarvey said, “I have served as pastor at Community Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg. We’re one of the first congregations to embrace LGBTQ people. I encourage you to raise the flag as a symbol that everyone is equal in the law. LGBTQ month began as a protest against police brutality. So, recognizing this is a way to express the welcome to everyone.”

Brian Gibbons, also a pastor, said, “We teach the value of kids. We are conservative Christians and we do have a flag. I don’t think City Hall should be promoting or standing up for one specific special interest group. This is a place where leaders were elected to represent all the people. This flag doesn’t represent all the people. It’s a slippery slope. We would ask you to not use city hall to promote one lifestyle…over the rest of your consituents.”

Mayor Sean Wright then read some emails he received.

“We’re not opposed to the proclamation. We do believe selecting any other flag other than the national, state and city flag,” wrote William and Christie Grey.

Steve Miner’s email read, “The rainbow flag is not inclusive of everyone. The city does not have a policy for raising flags. The city should first adopt a policy for raising flags. Why is this flag being treated any different? The rainbow flag means different things to different people.”

David Clift wrote, “I would encourage you to not raise the LGBT flag at city hall. Will you raise a heterosexual flag or the Christian flag for a month? If the council wants a third-party flag to be raised, the council should first adopt a policy. I would encourage you to vote no.”

Eric Wonderly wrote, “It is my opinion only the federal and state flag, not political or social causes.”

“To me is a disrespect to God. We say ‘One Nation Under God’. One day we all have to give an account to God for what we have done,” wrote Sean Bently.

Dr. Jeffrey Klingler was next to speak, saying, “My concerns are a separate issue of the government display of non-government flags and symbols. Flying a flag…is the government sanctioning one group, possibly, possibly over others in the community. I strongly at an encouragement to send the resolution back to the staff for proper wording. But, it’s better to approve the proclamation and not fly the flag.”

Dodi Zotigh spoke again, saying, “I’m an educator, an Army veteran. I am a cis-gendered lesbian. I grew up in a church that preached being a homosexual was worse than being a murderer. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I was able to come out. I learned what it was to be queer. The pride flag is a symbol. Do you have the courage to make visible that you support all of your residents?”

Eli Contreras shared his own life experience.

“I represent the church. I was a homosexual. For 32 years I lived that life. I had friends who were murdered. I was raped by different men,” he said. “But, I had an encounter with Jesus Christ 14 years ago. I’m not here to say we’re against the LGBT community. We’re against what it represents. There’s a new community. The ex-LGBT community. I represent a group of people coming out of the LGBT community and living right with God. Jesus Christ is the greatest man who ever lived on this earth. If we’re going to start flying flags, we have to fly every flag.”

Another speaker said, “It is understood that the City of Antioch is inclusive of everyone. I believe the proponents. Flying the flag is support for that particular group, specifically for the LGBT lifestyle. It would be discriminatory against other groups. Why don’t you fly the traditional family flag? The City Council, you may feel pressured to vote for this, because you’d be afraid of being labeled. I’m not a Nazi…I know you’ve suffered a lot. I encourage you to not fly the flag.”

Vaughn McElheney said, “I recently moved to Antioch,” then showed a photo that she described as the original rainbow flags made in 1978. “I was lucky enough to be a volunteer at the Rainbow Community Center…where they made the flags. I do hope you support this resolution.”

“The rainbow flag is not a permanent flag, it’s a flag to be flown during June,” read an email Mayor Sean Wright shared. “This month is for gay, trans, bi, lesbian.”

Ralph Hernandez spoke again, saying, “My position is no, you shouldn’t fly it. It puts one group over another. They are already represented. The U.S. flag, the California flag, the city flag already represents everyone without discrimination. It is a political movement. They’re asking you to advocate for them. It is, in my opinion, it’s going against the U.S. Constitution which already protects their rights, their equal rights. Quite frankly, I’m considering filing with certain organizations, that you are violating the law. You are advocating for one particular group.”

Jaime Catter shared his thoughts, saying, “I’m a former Antioch resident. I hear a lot of discussion about flags. I’m a little bit confrontational. When I see the California flag it doesn’t cheer me up. When I see the American flag, it doesn’t either. There is no official statement that says this is a Christian nation. What are these religious concepts doing to the people? These same people against the rainbow flag are against the theory of evolution.”

Tricia Campbell said, “I’ve lived in Antioch for over 20 years. I’m a teacher…where they are flying the rainbow flag. Antioch, Opportunity Lives Here. I would like to see the City of Antioch back that up. I would encourage you to fly the flag so that those kids and everybody is accepted in this community.

“I am not a citizen of your city. I wish my own city, Vacaville, would have the courage to raise the flag,” said another speaker. I have been a school teacher in your school district for 22 years. I am lesbian. I want to tell people we are 10% of your groups. I have a relationship with my Maker. My Maker told me to stop hiding. So, that’s what I did 20 years ago. Move your city from the McCarthy era into the 21st Century.”

Anastasia Rojack spoke in favor of flying the flag, saying, “I’ve lived here in Antioch all my life. I first realized I was queer when I was 12 years old. It lead me to San Francisco State to major in sexual studies.

Ropriel Beverly said, “I worship, live and am a business owner in the City of Antioch and I am against raising the flag in Antioch. Raising the pride flag is only for a select group of individuals. Let’s not be like other city’s and do what’s trendy.”

Michael Shefrey said, “This topic specifically spoke to me. We adopted our foster son a year ago. This topic hits close to home. Prior to 1978 the pride flag was created by Adolph Hitler and it was a pink triangle. The purpose of that (rainbow) flag is to celebrate love, hope and unity. Be glad you don’t need a straight flag.”

Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder was next to speak, saying she is “a lifelong resident of Antioch (holding her nephew Malachi, whom she introduced). I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the comments. I think they just perfectly highlight the need to raise this flag in this community. I hope by raising this flag that my nephew can be raised without bullying as happened to my family, because my brother is gay. I’m also a devout Christian. Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sin.”

Daniel Patton said, “I would encourage the council to vote no on the flag. I thought it was interesting all the comments of ‘me’ when it’s supposed to be inclusive. I’m a Christian…I think it’s interesting that other Christians are for it. It’s in no hatred…to anybody. There were good points made…based on there not being a policy in place. I know the media is watching. But, by no means should we be pressured to do anything. We’re praying for you. We love everyone in this room.”

Diane Patton then said, “I’ve been a resident of Antioch for the last 10 years. Before you approve any non-official flag flown, we need to have a policy in place…to ensure fair treatment, so that the government would not show favor toward any one group.”

“Could our city be sued for discrimination for flying one flag and not others?” she asked the city attorney. “We’re not always going to agree. We ask that you represent us all.”

Lauren Posada spoke next, saying, “The decision to fly the flag is not for everyone. In reality it speaks divisiveness. The American flag…does not speak race or gender. These flags unite us all. The rainbow and the colors belong to the Christian community. There is a lot of division before you. I pray you would take into consideration. Stay neutral.”

“When I first began this effort before the Mayor’s Conference…what I said at the Mayor’s Conference, 19 cities in this county,” said the next speaker. “Tonight, we have six cities that have not ever raised the flag that are raising it, now. Please add yourself to that number.

Gary Walker Roberts, a former Contra Costa Community College Board Trustee, said, “I’ve been in Antioch for 10 years. I have to say I have been embraced, my husband and I. However, after June there has been a lot of discussion in the community. I have to say that we now have Los Medanos College curriculum for LGBTQIA studies. So, it has to do with education. We look to the lawmakers…we do turn to you for your leadership.”

Ken Rickner was next to speak, saying, “First of all I’d like to apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable. We love you, the Christian community. It’s about God’s word. God hates pride. I hate the fact you turned the rainbow into something against God. You know me. I fight for the homeless. Let’s have homeless month. You talk about people being walked on. I represent love. I’m supposed to represent love.”

Debora Vickery said, “I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years in Antioch. I also want everyone to be felt valued and respected and loved. And I want Antioch to be the best city it can be. But I do believe raising a special interest flag is not uniting. I’m not for anyone being harassed or bullied or denied. But, raising the flag is not going to unite us. It’s going to do the opposite.”

Charlene Rittenour said, “I vote for raising the pride flag. I’m here as an active citizen, a Californian and American. We are a secular America. You get to have freedom of your religion in the privacy of your own buildings. I’m glad you’re going to be making a good representation as public servants.”

The final speaker said, “I’m speaking on behalf of not raising the flag. The original intent was a promise by God not to rain on the earth after the 40-day flood.”

She then quoted from the Bible, saying “Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of scoffers. The Bible declares that homosexuality…is an abomination to God. The Lord knows the righteous. We need to do the right thing. This city was founded on Christianity. The plaque on A Street and 10th was dedicated to God.”

The council then took up the matter.

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts was the first to speak on the mater. “I know this is very difficult for many people. I want to thank the City Attorney for crafting a resolution that offers a difference between government speak and political speak. This resolution does not open the door to any group for their cause. On the contrary it recognizes civil rights movements. I believe, in our democracy, it is incumbent to fight for all. If not government, then who? I support the resolution.”

Councilman Lamar Thorpe was next, saying, “Thank you for expressing that, Joy. I agree with those sentiments. For me it’s more personal, being that my biological mother was gay. So, from my vantage point, this government, our government…I was reminded by one constituent that Antioch is finally catching up to their constituents.”

He then made a motion to approve the resolution. Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock seconded the motion then spoke on the matter.

“Religion for me can’t come into this because of the position I am in. It has to come down to what is fair within the city. I did do some homework on this and I was going in one direction. I was looking at the raising of the flag. It says the American flag goes, first. It has to be the largest of the flags. I have to look at the city as a whole, not just me as a person.”

“It’s great to hear everyone, to come out and speak what’s on their mind,” said Councilmember Monica Wilson. “That’s what it’s like to live in a democracy. We can have different views. We can have different religions. I’m glad that we are inclusive. I see the flag as very inclusive. Like Councilmember Thorpe has said, Antioch we’re catching up. The resolution…allows us to look at other groups that are very inclusive, that don’t spread hate. I therefore vote yes in raising this flag. I’m glad my fellow council members support this, as well.”

Ogorchock then added, “I do agree that we do need a flag policy. I believe we do need to come up with a flag policy so there is not discrimination.”

Mayor Wright then shared his thoughts, saying, “I do thank you for speaking your passion. This is an item that I’ve been thinking about for a year. This came to us last year. Our city attorney said we could not fly the flag. We had to have a policy to fly the flag. My goal with the proclamation is to let my LGBTQ friends know that I love them and respect them. But then we move into a policy should we flags. If you raise the flag you love and respect me. If not, you don’t. That has become the binary. I don’t believe we should fly any flag. So, what’s before us is not a policy. In order to show that I love and respect my LGBTQ friends, I will vote for it, tonight. But, if we have a policy on flying flags, I’ll probably vote no.”

With that the council members voted 5-0 to approve the resolution to fly the rainbow flag at city hall.

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Publisher @ June 11, 2019