Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

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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Antioch School Board to decide Rocketship charter petition at Wednesday meeting

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

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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It’s over, it’s all over and Antioch will have a new Mayor, Dr. Sean Wright

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
dr-sean-lani-wright-family

Antioch Mayor-Elect Dr. Sean Wright, his wife Lani and their five children participated in the annual Holiday DeLites Parade, as they awaited the final election results, on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

“As exciting as any sports game I’ve ever been to” – Sean Wright

By Allen Payton

In the words of legendary sports announcer Howard Cosell, it’s over, it’s all over. After waiting almost four weeks, as the Contra Costa County Elections office counted the estimated 180,000 remaining ballots in the county not counted on Election Night, the people of Antioch finally learned on Saturday, they will have a new mayor.

The final election results in the race for Mayor of Antioch, posted on the County Elections website at 6:29 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2016.

The final election results in the race for Mayor of Antioch, posted on the County Elections website at 6:29 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2016.

With no more votes to count, according to County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, Dr. Sean Wright has achieved victory over incumbent Mayor Wade Harper by just 67 votes. Wright garnered a total of 11,497 votes to Harper’s 11,430.

“I’m excited to serve the citizens of Antioch and looking to work with everybody in a team effort to make this a place that all of our friends want to live,” Wright said after hearing the news. “I’m tired of my friends moving. We all have friends that have left us.”

About the wait for the final results, he said with a laugh, “This was as exciting as any sports game I’ve ever been to, except it took three-and-a-half weeks to find a winner.”

“I want to thank the other candidates for their graciousness, and thank Wade for his graciousness and class in this close election,” Wright continued.

Initially trailing on Election Night by over 300 votes, Wright ended up in the lead, and then ahead by 259 votes with the first update on Thursday, November 10th. But, with every subsequent ballot count update, Wright’s lead continued to dwindle.

What was expected to be the final update on Friday, December 2nd, it showed Wright’s lead down to just 71 votes. By the second update that night at about 7:00 p.m., his lead had shrunk again to just 58 votes. But, with the final ballots counted in the entire county, Wright gained nine more votes to finish with a 67-vote victory on Saturday night, just as the annual Antioch Holiday DeLites Celebration ended, at the conclusion of the Lighted Boat Parade on the river.

“This election proves that every single vote matters,” he added. “When you’re considering voting, learn, pay attention and vote, because every vote matters.”

Wright will join Lamar Thorpe, who took first place in the City Council race and will be the city’s new Mayor Pro Tem, as well as Councilwoman Monica Wilson, who was re-elected to her second term, plus current Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock and Councilman Tony Tiscareno, on the council.

 

 

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Delta tunnels opponents asked to speak out at Dec. 16th State Water Board meeting in Stockton

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

speak-up-against-delta-tunnelsRestore the Delta, the organization fighting to stop the Delta tunnels is asking citizens also opposed to the tunnels, to speak out at the State Water Resources Control Board meeting on what’s now known as the California WaterFix. The meeting will be held in Stockton at the Civic Auditorium, 925 N. Center Street beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 16th. The meeting could run until 8:00 p.m. — as long as there are comments from the public, the Board will hear them.

The opposition group issued the following call to action, last month:

Earlier this year, thousands of Restore the Delta supporters signed a petition urging the State Water Resources Control Board to update outdated water quality standards for the Bay-Delta region. Now we need your action in person.

This outdated 20-year-old Water Quality Control Plan allows more than half the water needed for the delta’s ecological health to be diverted away for unsustainable Big Agriculture on the west and south San Joaquin Valley.

The State Water Resources Control Board is currently in Phase I of updating the plan. We need to make sure that the State Water Board gets it right and is not influenced by special interests. New water quality standards that truly protect communities and species is a proactive step that helps ensure reliable water supplies for all water users of the Bay-Delta. Learn more about water quality here.

We need you to make your comments. The public comment process ends January 17, 2017, and all hearings conclude January 3, 2017. Please limit your oral public comment to three minutes in length.

Here are some important points to make:

1) A permanent reduction of exports must happen to protect the Delta. What is the true efficacy of this update to SJ flow standards if water exports from the Delta are not going to be dealt with? The San Joaquin River must reach Chipps Island in order to restore, protect, and preserve the entire estuary. If unsustainable water exports are not dealt with, we worry that water quality and quantity objectives for the Delta will never be met.

2) We do not want to see a weakening of salinity standards in the South Delta. Water quality standards must be protected for agriculture, drinking water, municipal discharge, fisheries, and ground water recharge.

3) The State Water Board must consider environmental justice communities in terms of drinking water and domestic use. Phase 1 Recirculated Draft SED fails to consider environmental justice communities in chapters 5 and 9 (hydrology/water quality and groundwater).

For other dates and locations, click here to see the State Water Board’s notice.

If you cannot make any of the dates, you can make a written comment by following these instructions:

SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS

The State Water Board will accept both written and oral comments on the proposed Plan Amendment and the SED. Written comments must be received no later than 12:00 noon on January 17, 2017, and addressed and submitted to:

Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814-0100

Comment letters may be submitted electronically, in pdf text format (if less than 15 megabytes in total size) to the Clerk to the Board via e-mail at commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov. Please indicate in the subject line: “Comment Letter – 2016 Bay-Delta Plan Amendment & SED.” You may also submit your comments by fax at (916) 341-5620. Electronic submission is preferred, but not required.

Couriers delivering comment letters must check in with lobby security personnel, who can contact Jeanine Townsend at (916) 341-5600.

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Teen wrestles with, steals from grandma; weed buy robbery leads to car chase, shooting among Antioch Police calls for service for Nov. 3-9, 2016

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Publisher’s Note: Please accept our apologies for the delay in getting these reports to you. We have two more to post from November.

Teenage car theft suspect arrested after threatening to “smoke” officer

Following are the Antioch Police calls for service highlights as published in City Manager Steve Duran’s Weekly Report dated October 7, 2016 and provided by Chief of Police Allan Cantando.

Calls for Service and Arrest Data Summary

Time Period: 11/03/16 00:00:00 – 11/09/16 23:59:59

Number of Calls for Service: 1,747

Number of Case Reports: 265

Number of Arrests: 67

Felony: 31 Misdemeanor: 35

Infraction: 1

Arrests with DUI charge: 2

The data is based upon unaudited CAD/RMS data at time of report generation.

  • On 11/3/16 at 8:12 pm an officer was driving the License Plate Reader vehicle eastbound on Sycamore Drive when he received a hit on a stolen Honda Accord. He made a U-turn and caught up to the vehicle which was occupied by 3 subjects. A high risk stop was conducted on Auto Center Dr and all 3 subjects were taken into custody without incident. The vehicle was drivable and returned to the victim. The 25 year old driver, Thomas Costa, claimed he purchased the vehicle for $100 dollars from the flea market. He was sent to county jail.
  • On 11/4/16 at 10:35 am 28 year old Moises Sanchez was detained by Strategic Threat Management Security Officer for trespassing on the Numero Uno Tacqueria property on Lone Tree Way. Sanchez has been warned and arrested several times for trespassing on the property. STM signed a citizen arrest form and Sanchez was placed under arrest. Sanchez was transported to the APD jail where he was booked and then released on his signed promise to appear in court.
  • On 11/4/16 at 6:49 pm officers were dispatched to a call of shots fired followed by a vehicle collision on Buchanan Road and Somersville. A caller stated one of the drivers of the collision advised he was just robbed at gunpoint then shot at by the other vehicle. Once officers arrived on scene, they found the accident was in fact a roll over and found a 20 year old male still in the driver’s seat of his vehicle. He advised that his two passengers had fled the accident but one of the males in back seat that fled did fire a handgun. It was determined that he drove his vehicle to Straw Hat Pizza to pick up some marijuana with two male passengers. During the purchase, his two passengers robbed the victim at gunpoint of his wallet, cell phone, watch, and marijuana. The two passengers got back in the car and told him to drive. The victim began to follow them in his own vehicle, so the rear passenger began shooting at the victim. The two vehicles collided causing the rollover accident. The driver advised he knew they were going to buy marijuana but denied knowledge of the gun or planned robbery.
  • On 11/4/16 at 8:19 pm officers were dispatched to Westbourne Drive for a suspicious circumstance where a 4 year was left alone and wandering around in a driveway. The homeowner rents their garage to 31 year old Josefina Flores, her boyfriend and her son. The homeowner returned home to find the 4 year old in the driveway and Josefina missing. We later learned Josefina had left in her boyfriend’s car, leaving her son in the residence alone. Josefina was put into missing persons and within a few hours we received a call from Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office stating they responded to a suspicious vehicle call and located Josefina under the influence of narcotics. She was arrested. When asked about leaving her son alone, she stated she just needed to “take a break”. The 4 year old was placed into protective custody.
  • On 11/5/16 at 12:30 am 28 year old Deanndra Garcia was causing a disturbance inside the 19th Hole. She was refusing to leave and began yelling at security and other customers. Security eventually escorted her to the parking lot and called APD. Officers contacted her in the parking lot. She was intoxicated and still causing a disturbance. She was taken into custody and booked into county jail.
  • On 11/5/16 at 7:59 am officers conducted a pedestrian stop on three subjects in front of a home on South Lake Drive. When they were approaching the subjects, 33 year old Danny Adams attempted to hide a loaded .45 caliber Glock pistol underneath a vehicle. Adams was found to be a Parolee-at-Large and during a search of his person he was found to have an ounce of methamphetamine in his right front pants pocket. Adams was arrested for drug and gun charges along with the parole warrant and later booked into county jail.
  • On 11/5/16 at 9:29 am an officer conducted a pedestrian stop on 34 year old Lawrence Wiley in the Quikstop parking lot on Sycamore Drive. Wiley was found to have a no-bail probation violation warrant. He was arrested and booked into county jail.
  • On 11/5/16 at 2:03 pm a 16 year old male asked his 68 year old grandmother for some money. She refused to give him the money and he began to wrestle with her for the cash. During the tussle she fell to the ground. While she was on the floor the 16 year old rummaged through her pockets and stole approximately $400 cash, her wallet and cellular phone. He fled on foot prior to APD arrival. While officers were speaking to the victim, her grandson returned home and was found to be in possession of the stolen items. He was arrested without incident and transported to Juvenile Hall.
  • On 11/6/16 at 11:26 am dispatch received a stationary License Plate Reader hit on a stolen vehicle in the Sycamore Dr corridor. An area check for the vehicle was conducted and it was located in the Quikstop parking lot occupied by 23 year old Michelle Arth and 32 year old William Hood. Both subjects were taken into custody without incident. A search of the vehicle revealed approximately 38 grams of methamphetamine and 1.5 grams of black tar heroin on the driver side floorboard. Hood was discovered to be on PRCS for narcotics and vehicle theft charges and also possessed a spare key to the car. Both subjects were sent to county jail.
  • On 11/6/16 at 8:45 pm an officer conducted a pedestrian stop on 34 year old Janard Tillery behind Lowes on Auto Center Drive. Tillery was on probation for narcotic violations. During a probation search Tillery was found to be in possession of suspected methamphetamine and marijuana. Tillery was arrested and sent to county jail.
  • On 11/7/16 at 1:58 am 23 year old Tony Brooks was contacted during a pedestrian stop on D Street and found to have a warrant for his arrest. Brooks was arrested without incident and sent to county jail.
  • On 11/7/16 at 9:25 am a customer in the Safeway parking lot on Deer Valley Road was contacted by male wearing dark clothes and armed with a large knife while walking to his car. The man with the knife demanded the victim’s property which the victim gave up. The male then jumped into a waiting newer model dark colored Dodge Dart and fled on Hillcrest Ave. A possible plate of the responsible vehicle was obtained and further leads are being followed up on. The victim was not injured during the robbery.
  • On 11/7/16 at 11:29 am officers went to city park to complete their extra patrol. They located 37 year old Tulsha Perkins walking away from behind the bathrooms. A consent stop was performed and Perkins was found to be on searchable probation. A search of his person was conducted and a glass smoking pipe and an eightball of methamphetamine was located. Perkins probation officer could not be reached so he was released with a citation from the scene.
  • On 11/7/16 at 3:48 pm an officer was conducting a security sweep of the Quick Stop parking lot on Sycamore Drive clearing out numerous loiterers. A 17 year old male was contacted and refused orders to leave the parking lot. The officer exited his patrol car and the 17 year old approached the officer with his fists balled up and challenging the officer to fight and threatening to assault him. Several of the 17 year olds friends joined the group and the officer removed his taser from his holster telling the group to leave the lot. The group reluctantly did but not until after the 17 year old threatened several times that he was going to “smoke” the officer the next time he saw him. Cover units arrived and the group was contacted on Peppertree Way where the 17 year old was taken into custody during which time he continued to threaten officers. It took several officers to place handcuffs on him and he stiffened up his body and refused to cooperate. While at APD he continued his threats and remained uncooperative. He was ultimately taken to Juvenile Hall. It was discovered that he was one of several subjects recently arrested for an armed robbery that occurred in Brentwood where APD units located the suspect vehicle and pursued it in our city.
  • On 11/7/16 at 6:12 pm an officer contacted 30 year old Michael Ward at the Executive inn on East 18th Street. Ward had a warrant for his arrest and was taken to county jail.
  • On 11/7/16 at 7:45 pm and officer conducting extra patrol of a red tagged house on Canada Hills Drive contacted 32 year old Christopher Gleason walking away from the house. Gleason had 2 fixed blade knives strapped to his thigh and an axe handle with a metal chain wrapped around one side in his jacket. He stated he needed these weapons for protection. He was arrested and transported to county jail.
  • On 11/8/16 at 11:48 am officers were called to 7-11 on Buchanan Road for the report of 38 year old James Patterson acting crazy in the store threatening to shoot and blow up the place because he felt the ATM machine had shorted him money. Upon arrival, Patterson was searched and found to be in possession of 20.2 grams of methamphetamine. He was arrested without incident and sent to county jail.
  • On 11/8/16 at 10:10 pm officers were dispatched to Dave’s Liquors on Fitzuren Road for a subject passed out in a parked vehicle. Officers contacted 28 year old David Allen, unresponsive in the car. It took over 5 minutes to get him to respond. He showed symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol, including being unable to stand, speak clearly, and answer simple questions. He showed to be on probation for DUI. He was placed under arrest and taken to MDF.
  • On 11/9/16 at 2:29 pm a neighbor of a home on H Street called dispatch to report that an adult male went into his neighbor’s backyard. Officers arrived on scene and caught 22 year old Esteban Flores climbing out of a back window of the residence with property stolen from inside. Flores was arrested for residential burglary and booked into county jail.
  • On 11/10/16 at 1:49 am 25 year old Dennis Watson was contacted during a suspicious circumstance call on West 20th Street. Watson had a warrant for his arrest. Watson was arrested without incident and he was sent to county jail.
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Antioch Council denies waiver of Measure O, other taxes for affordable apartment complex, project may not happen

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

By Nick Goodrich

A public hearing was held by the Antioch City Council, at its November 8th meeting, to discuss a request for more funding for the Delta Courtyard Apartments affordable housing project. In a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Mary Rocha dissenting, the Council chose to deny developer Pacific West Communities’ plea for the city’s financial help in order to move ahead with the plans.

The Delta Courtyard Apartments project, designated by the city as an affordable housing opportunity, was set to include 126 units on 4.62 acres, located across from the Tri Delta Transit headquarters and just east of the Lakeshore Apartments on Wilbur Avenue.

At their meeting on September 7th, the Antioch Planning Commission approved the project. Upon further review of the project cost, however, Pacific West Communities realized they would be unable to move forward without additional city help.

The developer’s appeal included reduced Police CFD participation, the deferral of Development Impact Fees, and the waiver of Measure O fees. If granted, the requests would cost the city nearly $1.8 million over a period of 30 years, as Antioch would take on the costs on behalf of the developer.

According to Forrest Ebbs, head of Antioch’s Community Development Department, “The city does not need to guarantee the feasibility or financial success of every affordable housing project.” Antioch’s only obligation is to make sure it doesn’t present any unnecessary roadblocks or discourage the project.

“The cost is simply too high, for what they’re asking for,” Ebbs told the Council.

With that in mind, Ebbs and city staff recommended that the Council deny Pacific West’s appeal of the reduced Police CFD fees and the waiver of Measure O fees.

Bill Span, representing the project on behalf of Pacific West Communities, was present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Even a partial payment of the Police CFD and Measure O fees would allow the project to move forward, he said, but without the city’s help, it would not make sense to continue.

According to Span, Pacific West was not aware of the extent of the two fees until the Planning Commission approved the project in September.

“Our operating expenses are now much higher because of the CFD and [Measure O] landlord taxes”, he told the Council, making the project financially infeasible.

He noted that while Pacific West Communities would be constructing the development, it would ultimately be managed by a nonprofit organization, making it eligible for property tax waivers down the line.

In addition, the re-zoning of the parcel on which the apartments would be built is imminent, perhaps sometime next year, Span said.

This would mean higher Development Impact fees for any future project, to the tune of $3.4 million, according to Span.

Several members of the public stepped up during the hearing to offer their opinions to Council.

Antioch resident Nancy Fernandez worried that future developers might request similar concessions from the city if Pacific West’s requests were granted.

 

“We cannot waive Measure O fees, something that the public voted on. It will be setting a horrible precedent,” she said. “Every builder coming in from now on will want their fees waived.”

Lynette Solario, a landlord in Antioch, was worried about the parking problems a new development would bring to the area.

Solario voted for Measure O, saying that the $150 per unit fee was needed. And overcrowding, she noted, brings other problems, such as increased crime, drug use, and more.

But Mike Serpa, another Antioch landlord and part-owner of the Aviano Project that initally created the CFD, was in favor of assisting Pacific West.

He cited squatters, police problems, and issues with the land parcel as several recent problems. Pacific West, however, has found resolutions to many of those issues, in his opinion.

“There’s no development that works there…but this is a beautiful project. It’s a wonderful project.” Serpa argued that the developer should be exempt from the city’s landlord taxes because it would be managed by a nonprofit, rather than a for-profit company.

Ultimately, however, the Council voted down Pacific West’s appeal.

Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock said, “We voted on Measure O, and I feel we can’t ignore Measure O.” She echoed some resident’s concerns about parking, and also stated that not enough feedback had been received from the citizens in the project’s vicinity.

Mayor Wade Harper agreed with her, saying, “To me, when developers want to come in and not have to pay the CFD, that’s a non-starter.”

Councilmember Mary Rocha, in her dissent, was the lone voice willing to give Pacific West Communities a chance. She argued for more research and feedback before a decision was made, noting the city’s need for affordable housing and its potential benefits.

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Antioch manager says City faces “massive layoffs” in police and Code Enforcement if Measure C isn’t extended, new contracts not finalized

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

But, City Attorney says legal and financial ramifications if changes in contracts are attempted by new council

By Allen Payton

Last week the Antioch City Council voted unanimously to give all city staff increases in pay and benefits for the next five years. This week, City Manager Steve Duran admitted that if the city’s half-cent sales tax, known as Measure C, isn’t renewed four years from now, the city will face “massive layoffs” in police and Code Enforcement.

Duran responded to questions to him and the council members, about the new contracts and their timing after the election, even though all but one had expired prior to the election.

In an email Duran wrote, “Contract negotiations are very complex and time consuming. They took how long they took. It’s not unusual in any city for labor negotiations to go beyond the term of the existing agreements.”

He then provided an answer to the question of what the council’s plans are should Measure C not be renewed or if the city’s revenue hasn’t increased enough by then to cover the amount received from Measure C.

“As for the impacts of the new labor agreements on the City’s finances, the increases are pretty close to what we projected in our last budget and amount to a very small impact compared to the projected annual Measure C revenue of $7 million an year,” he responded. “The bottom line is that if Measure C is not extended, massive cuts will again have to be made to staffing, especially Police and Code Enforcement because that is where we have made significant increases in staffing since the passage of Measure C.”

The contracts approved by the Council are only tentative and won’t be finalized until early next year.

In the staff report on the contracts, it states, “If the City Council adopts the Tentative Agreement, the parties will continue to prepare an MOU to memorialize and replace the Tentative Agreement. The existing MOU will continue as modified by the terms of the Tentative Agreement until the MOU is completed. When completed, the MOU will be submitted to City Council for approval and adoption.”

When asked when the MOU’s would be placed on a Council agenda for a vote, Nickie Mastay, the City’s Administrative Services Director, wrote, “This will be a January – February timeframe. Since there are five Memorandums of Understanding, we are continuing to confer with the unions to ensure accuracy of the Memorandums of Understanding.”

Asked if a new council majority could renegotiate the contracts to reduce their length to three or four years, or if they have to just vote down the MOU’s, City Attorney Michael Vigilia said, “That’s something they can certainly discuss with their labor negotiators. I don’t know. I’ll have to look at the MOU a little closer. Usually, if you want to reopen the negotiations it’s because there’s been a change. Perhaps new council members would be considered a change.”

“That’s really more of a policy issue. There’s not really a legal issue,” he continued. “I can’t think of any legal issues off the top of my head. We’ll cross that bridge and deal with legal issues if there’s a council policy.”

“It’s something that labor negotiators would have to take up in closed session,” Vigilia stated. “New council members have the prerogative to say what they want about the MOU’s. If they can get a third council member to go along with them, then we would talk with the labor negotiators.”

“There are all sorts of policy issues that need to be worked through. It’s really more of a policy thing,” he added.

UPDATE: However, in emails received later, Vigilia backpedaled on his earlier comments.

“To follow up on our conversation…while it’s true that this is primarily a policy issue, there are also significant legal risks associated with a City Council potentially deciding to attempt to re-negotiate a tentative labor agreement that has already been approved by both a union and the City Council,” he said.

Duran also responded with similar comments.

“The tentative agreements contain all business terms that were negotiated in good faith by the parties over many months,” Duran wrote. “They constitute, in writing, the business terms that the MOUs must contain, and have been ratified by the unions and approved by the City Council. Nickie and I have consulted with our professional labor negotiator and our City Attorney on this matter. Trying to change any of the business terms to which the parties have agreed is wrought with rather unpleasant legal and financial dangers to the City.

Vigilia, Duran and Mastay were then asked if since the agreements are tentative and not finalized until the MOU’s are voted on, then how can there be legal ramifications if a new council majority wants to reopen negotiations and do something such as shorten the period?

Vigilia responded with, “To put it simply, the parties have reached a meeting of the minds as to the major terms of the MOU’s and each party has relied on the representations of the other party in deciding to agree to the terms. Once there is a meeting of the minds there is an enforceable legal obligation which would be very risky to break. The City, at the very least, risks breach of contract claims being asserted against it. Additionally, to attempt to renegotiate the terms exposes the City to potential charges of unfair conduct from the Public Employee Relations Board, which enforces collective bargaining laws covering public employees. This exposes the City to potential fines. As Steve and I stated, there are significant legal ramifications.”

The new council member, Lamar Thorpe and possibly a new mayor will begin their terms on Tuesday, December 13 following an oath of office ceremony expected that night. The final vote count in the Mayor’s race is expected to be provided by the County Elections office, tomorrow, Friday, December 3 by 5:00 p.m.

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DeSaulnier, White House laud House bipartisan vote for 21st Century Cures Act, amid bipartisan opposition

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Accusations it includes fraud, bribery, corruption; requires Senate passage during lame duck session

By Allen Payton

On Wednesday, November 30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 392-26. The almost 1,000-page bill is designed for medical innovation, additional funding for cancer research, and to combat the nation’s growing opioid and heroin epidemic. But opponents say what the bill includes continues and advances corruption. Plus, they don’t like the fact it’s being considered and voted on by a lame-duck Congress, some of whose members weren’t re-elected in November and will be leaving, soon.

Congressman DeSaulnier (D, CA-11), who represents most of Contra Costa County and voted for the bill, issued the following statement lauding its passage.

“This legislation will help ensure the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have the resources needed to continue important work improving biomedical research and developing innovative treatments. Included in the bill is funding for the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot, which is essential to continuing the program under the new Administration, as well as funds to combat the growing opioid and heroin epidemic facing our country. While this bill is not perfect, it provides $4.8 billion in new funding to ensure NIH is able to further its work for patients and families relying on research, treatment and recovery options. As a survivor of cancer and a beneficiary of the remarkable progress this country has made in treatment and research, I know all too well the value of these investments and how many lives can be saved as a result.”

According to other news reports, the legislation was introduced by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., “in hopes of speeding up the discovery, development and delivery of life-saving drugs and devices for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It passed the House 344-77 in July, but later stalled in the Senate. A reworked version was released last weekend.”

Congressman DeSaulnier offered an amendment to the bill, which would have helped improve doctor-patient communication when patients are diagnosed and receiving treatment for severe or chronic diseases. No amendments were included in the final version of the bill. He will continue to work on these important issues.

White House Supports

The bill will now go to the Senate for a final vote and if passed the White House has indicated President Obama will sign it. In a statement, issued Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest praised the passage of the bill.

“This critically important legislation will get states the resources they need to fight the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. It invests the $1 billion the President has repeatedly said is necessary to help communities that have seen far too many overdoses. It also responds to the Vice President’s call for a Moonshot in cancer research by investing $1.8 billion in new resources to transform cancer research and accelerate discoveries. Plus, it invests nearly $3 billion to continue the President’s signature biomedical research initiatives, the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives, over the next decade to tackle diseases like Alzheimer’s and create new research models to find cures and better target treatments.

H.R. 34 also takes important steps to improve mental health, including provisions that build on the work of the President’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force. It further advances the drug approval process by taking steps like modernizing clinical trial design and better incorporating patients’ voices into FDA’s decision-making processes. Like all comprehensive legislation, the bill is not perfect, and there are provisions the Administration would prefer were improved, but the legislation offers advances in health that far outweigh these concerns. The Senate should promptly pass this bill so that the President can sign it.”

Liberal Opposition

However, not everyone in the Senate is supportive of the bill, including DeSaulnier’s fellow Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass). She has been generally supportive of the legislation, but will now work against its passage, blasting it for being favorable to the pharmaceutical industry, saying “there’s a lot of bad stuff” in the bill, and called it extortion, and includes “special favors for campaign donors and giveaways to the richest drug companies in the world.”

In a floor statement on Monday night, which can be viewed here, she said that “Big Pharma hijack(ed) the Cures bill. This final deal has only a tiny fig leaf of funding, for NIH and for the opioid crisis. And most of that fig leaf isn’t even real. Most of the money won’t really be there unless future Congresses passes future bills in future years to spend those dollars.”

Warren continued, saying “In the closing days of this Congress, Big Pharma has its hand out for a bunch of special giveaways and favors that are packed together in something called the 21st Century Cures bill.

And when American voters say Congress is owned by big companies, this bill is exactly what they are talking about. Now, we face a choice. Will this Congress say that yes, we’re bought and paid for, or will we stand up and work for the American people?

Medical breakthroughs come from increasing investments in basic research. Right now, Congress is choking off investments in the NIH. Adjusted for inflation, federal spending on medical research over the past dozen years has been cut by 20%. Those cuts take the legs out from under future medical innovation in America. We can name a piece of legislation the “cures” bill, but if it doesn’t include meaningful funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, it won’t cure anything.”

Her reasons for opposing the bill include her argument that “this funding is political cover for huge giveaways to giant drug companies.” She stated it would “legalize fraud” and “cover up bribery,” and, in her usual practice of partisan attacks, also said it would “hand out dangerous, special deals to Republican campaign contributors.”

Warren said that “this Cures bill that would shoot holes in the anti-fraud law. Make it easier for drug companies to get away with fraud.”

Another accusation she made is “the Cures act offers to sell government favors. It delivers a special deal so people can sell…treatments without meeting the FDA gold standards for protecting patient safety and making sure these drugs do some good.”

Warren gave a list of other reasons she opposed it.

“The Cures Act – a bill that was supposed to be about medical innovation – has a giveaway to the gun lobby,” she said. “The bill cuts Medicare funding. It raids money from the Affordable Care Act. It takes health care dollars that should have gone to Puerto Rico. It makes it harder for people with disabilities to get Medicaid services. There’s a lot of bad stuff here.”

“It is time for Democrats – Democrats and Republicans who should be ashamed by this kind of corruption -to make it clear who exactly they work for. Does the Senate work for big pharma that hires the lobbyists and makes the campaign contributions or does the Senate work for American people who actually sent us here,” Warren concluded.

Conservative Opposition

Some conservatives are also opposed to the bill, but not all for the same reasons as Warren’s. The conservative Heritage Foundation gave four reasons they oppose the bill, calling it a “Christmas Tree, loaded with handouts for special interests.”

On their website, they wrote, “Congress has taken this legislation, which was initially a 300 page bill, and turned it into an almost 1,000 page omnibus health care spending bill. The negotiators have added pieces of a mental health bill, makes changes to Medicare Part A and B, another bill making significant changes to the federal foster care system, a “cancer moonshot” requested by Vice President Biden, additional funding for opioid abuse prevention, etc., in addition to the NIH funding and the FDA funding, for a grand total of over $6.3 billion dollars. In Washington terms, backroom negotiators have turned the Cures bill into a Christmas Tree, loaded with handouts for special interests, all at the expense of the taxpayer.  Therefore, conservatives should oppose the 21st Century Cures Bill for four main reasons.

First, the bill’s “pay-fors” rely on budget gimmicks, and even worse, the new spending is not subject to the budget caps. Second, NIH and FDA do not need additional funding. Instead, they need to spend the money they already have on critical research instead of wasteful projects. Third, Congress has no business considering an almost 1,000 page omnibus health care spending bill during the lame duck session. Fourth, and finally, the process has been questionable and the bill will likely be closed to amendments.

An email to DeSaulnier’s office asking for his comments on Warren’s statements opposing the bill was not responded to before publication time. Please check back later for any updates.

A vote by the Senate on the bill is expected to take place early next week. For the complete text of the bill, please click here.

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