By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor
There’s an old saying that goes “figures don’t lie but liars do figure”. That can be said of some elected officials and candidates for public office. Unfortunately, Americans have come to expect our public officials to lie to us – and some do. More often is the case that candidates make exaggerations during their campaigns. It’s the media’s job to verify the truth and accuracy of their claims.
So, much like the major media does with the presidential candidates and their claims during speeches and press conferences (when they hold them), I thought I’d do a Fact Check of my own on the claims made by Antioch Mayor Wade Harper in his recent re-election campaign announcement. (Please read the article containing it, here). In it, he stated “Under my leadership as mayor of the city of Antioch we have become a safer and more prosperous city.”
Following is a chart of annual Part I crime statistics in Antioch, as provided on the City’s website which generally supports that claim. Click here to view the details of each year’s crime statistics.
As you can see, between 2012, the year Harper was elected Mayor, and 2015, Part I crimes were down in six of the eight categories which are reported to the FBI. However, during the same time period theft increased 5.5%, rapes increased 82.8%, and Adult Arrests were up 35.5%, and 37.7% compared to 2013. Juvenile arrests, on the other hand decreased by 31.7% between 2012 and 2015. For the latest statistics, comparing crimes during the same time periods, murder, robbery and arson have all increased in 2016 over 2015.
While most of the serious crime categories have experienced decreases, total arrests have increased during the period, leading one to assume that overall crime has increased in Antioch. One argument for that has been because of the additional officers on the Antioch Police force who are available to make more arrests. However, the City had only a net two additional officers by June, 2016 with 91 sworn over August, 2013 when the City had 89.
Therefore, what Harper claimed in his re-election campaign announcement regarding the reduction in crime is mostly true. For Part I crimes through 2015, I give it at best, a rating of 75% true, since six of the eight categories saw a reduction. That’s a grade of C on any test in school, which is a passing grade. But, for 2016 over 2015, I have to give Harper’s claim a rating of 62.5%, which is equivalent of a D, because the decrease has occurred in only five of the eight categories. If you add the increase in adult and total arrests, those ratings have to be decreased, since other, non-Part I crimes must have increased.
Zero Tolerance for Crime?
Comparing the annual and total crime statistics during his term as Mayor to his 2012 campaign slogan “Zero Tolerance for Crime” – while a great goal, was surprising for any candidate to ever offer, since it requires a 100% reduction in crime – Harper’s claim is woefully lacking. The 35 murders, 155 rapes, 1,117 robberies, 1,653 aggravated assaults, 3,897 robberies, 6,631 cases of theft and 3,770 car thefts that have occurred in Antioch during his term as Mayor, clearly undermine his claim of a zero tolerance for crime. While we unfortunately expect candidates for public office to make exaggerations, this is a clear case of over-promising and under-delivering.
4 of 22 Promised Police Officers
More importantly, comparing what he promised in 2013, when he signed the ballot argument in favor of the half-cent sales tax initiative, known as Measure C (view it here), to what has actually occurred, Harper falls seriously short. He and the rest of the City Council, at that time, which included Mary Rocha and Monica Wilson, who are also up for re-election, this year, promised 22 more officers in addition to the 89 the City had at the time, if voters passed Measure C.
Here’s what the ballot argument stated:
A Yes on Measure C will allow us to immediately hire 22 new police officers, decreasing the time it takes to respond to 911 calls. It will also provide funds to reduce the number of gang-related homicides, assaults and robberies. Our police force has dwindled from 126 officers four years ago to only 89 today.
To date, the City has 93 sworn police officers giving us just four of the 22 additional officers they promised. That means Harper, Rocha and Wilson, as well as Tiscareno (who isn’t up for re-election, this year) have fallen 81.8% short of fulfillment. It’s another clear case of over-promising and under-delivering.
In his campaign announcement, Harper also stated “We’ve had the most aggressive hiring practice, recruiting about 40 police officers since passage of Measure C. That’s a promise kept. That’s effective leadership.” What he failed to mention is the fact that the City lost 36 officers during the same time period, due to retirement, and others who quit or were terminated, leaving a net four additional officers. Thus his claim of a “promise kept” is false and is actually a promise broken.
As for Harper’s claim of “effective leadership” that is a subjective statement which I’ll leave up to the voters to decide.