Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Rep. McNerney helps launch bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Caucus

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Last week, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-9) and Congressman Walter Jones (NC-3) launched the bipartisan Congressional Campaign Finance Reform Caucus to address the undue influence of money on our political process.

“I’m excited to launch the Campaign Finance Reform Caucus with my colleague, Congressman Jones,” said McNerney. “Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, too much campaign spending comes from undisclosed and unregulated sources.  We need reform that brings transparency to the campaign finance system and restores the voice of the voters. Our democracy depends on it,” McNerney said.  “By bringing together members from both sides of the aisle, the Caucus can address these inequities and advocate for changes to the current system.”

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that total federal election spending in 2012 was more than $6.2 billion, doubling money spent on the 2000 campaign.  A joint report issued by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute found that, adjusted for inflation, House candidates spend more than 300 percent as much getting elected as they did nearly 30 years ago – an average of $1.6 million dollars every two years.

“I am greatly troubled by the undue influence that fat-cat lobbyists and special interests have in Washington, DC.  Now, more than ever, secretive special interest money plays an enormous role in our electoral process and in governing.  Beginning in my days in the North Carolina General Assembly, I have long advocated for returning power to the people and getting big money out of politics. Launching this Campaign Finance Reform Caucus is another step in that direction,” said Congressman Jones.

At its inaugural meeting on Thursday, Reps. McNerney and Jones were joined by other Caucus members and were briefed by academic and legal scholars on the history of campaign finance policy and its effects on politics today.  The Caucus will hold regular meetings to educate members of Congress and staff about these policies and advocate for relevant policy proposals.

The Caucus is open to all members of Congress and will provide a forum to discuss and advance solutions to reform the way campaigns are financed in this country.

Rep. Jerry McNerney serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District which includes portions of San Joaquin, Sacramento Counties and Contra Costa, including most of Antioch. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.

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Antioch Council hears more complaints about blight

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

By Nick Goodrich

At its April 26th meeting, the Antioch City Council heard complaints from residents about blight, especially on Delta Fair Boulevard. They also added an urgency item to the agenda in order to meet requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Continued Blight on Delta Fair Blvd

The discussion revolving around homeless on Delta Fair Boulevard dragged on, as Antioch residents once again lamented the blight that has plagued that area for some time.

Resident Anthony K., who did not provide his full name, told the council that he is a new homeowner in Antioch, on Gentrytown Drive. “The area has gotten so bad, even in the last year since I moved here,” he said, speaking specifically about the shopping center.

Anthony told the council that people camping by the retaining wall, human waste, and vandalism are recurring problems. Each time Code Enforcement arrives to clean up the area, the problem returns in a matter of days.

“I refuse to shop in that shopping center,” he said. “We need something more to be done,” complained Frank Chong, a representative of 1401 Broadway LLC – which had recently purchased property in the area. “We believe there’s a major, major problem. Customers, shoppers, and citizens aren’t feeling very safe in that area.”

Chong called on the city to take lasting action, noting that people shouldn’t have to feel threatened when they visit the area. The council, despite being obligated to remain silent about items  not on the regular agenda, was sympathetic.

Mayor Wade Harper called for the situation to be put on next meeting’s agenda, promising to stay on the issue.

“I talk about it every day, I look at it every day,” he said after the meeting.

Antioch residents, especially those who frequent the area, are hoping that the constant reminders to City Council about the Delta Fair blighting will translate to a successful solution, and soon.

Urgency Item: Water Rate Increase

Before the meeting kicked off, city staff made a last-minute addition to the council’s regular agenda. The Clean Water Act mandates that Antioch must adopt an extra $25 in taxes from each residential unit, with the purpose of maintaining storm water quality, for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The increased rate has been in effect in its current state since 2002, staff told the Council. The resolution presented to them was simply to re-establish the rates that Antioch has abided by for the last decade and half. It was flagged as an urgency addition because the deadline to establish it came on May 1st.

The staff report noted that any attempt to raise the rate from the maximum of $25 would have to be put to a vote under Proposition 218.

Approval of New Code Enforcement Manager

The approval of the new Code Enforcement Manager position was also made official on Tuesday, after being prepared and examined by staff and the council in previous meetings.

The new position is funded completely through Measure C, which is encouraging to some residents who have felt their contributions in Measure C taxes have been ineffective or possibly even ill-used.

“We will finally have a face of who’s going to handle the blight issue,” Harper stated.

The new Code Enforcement manager is expected to help in fighting blight throughout the city. Many residents, however, are hoping it starts at Delta Fair Boulevard.

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Antioch Police explain what occurred, identify victims, suspect in Monday morning homicide

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
IN-CUSTODY for Murder and Attempted Murder, Thomas John Williams, Jr.

IN-CUSTODY for Murder and Attempted Murder, Thomas John Williams, Jr.

By Lieutenant Anthony Morefield, Antioch Police Investigations Bureau

In a 5:02 p.m. press release, the Antioch Police explained what occurred and released the names of the victims and suspect, in the Monday morning homicide at the QuikStop convenience store at the corner of West Tregallas and Lone Tree Way.

The victim in this case has been identified as Antioch resident, 27-year-old Cynthia Flores-Crose. Flores-Crose was in a previous relationship with suspect Thomas Williams, Jr. Williams had a heated exchange with Flores-Crose outside the Quik Stop before following her into the store and shooting her.

The store clerk, Thomas Payne, was also shot by Williams when he tried to intervene but is expected to survive his injuries. As stated earlier, Williams was arrested in front of the Police Department a short time later. He is currently being held in the Martinez Detention Facility for murder and attempted murder.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Jason Vanderpool with the Antioch Police Department at (925) 779-6988. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Pacheco casino contributes another $165,000 to pass Measure E in Antioch, over $310,000 so far

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

By Allen Payton

As of the close of the filing period on April 23, 2016, the California Grand Casino in Pacheco had contributed $165,000 more to the Antioch Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, the committee formed to support the passage of Measure E on the June ballot. The filing period covered January 1 through April 23, 2016.

That brings the casino’s total contributions to $310,100, which includes $145,100 in contributions made by the casino in October, which funded their signature gathering operation. Only $50 was contributed to the committee from any other source.

Of the funds received, the committee has spent an additional $99,791.88 with $72,470.08 of it on a consultant and another payment of $14,049 for signature gathering. That brings their total spent to date to $187,510.11 leaving an ending cash balance of $122,639.89. All the money has been spent outside of Antioch for consultants, printing, mailings, a phone bank and more.

There has been no committee formed to oppose measure E, yet. However, an ad ad in the May issue of the Antioch Herald newspaper was paid for by a group entitled Antioch Friends for Local Control and another group described as Antioch residents and businesses paid for a separate ad against Measure E in the same issue of the paper.

See the campaign finance reports for the Yes on E committee, below.

Yes on E committee Fin Rpt 7-1 to 12-31-15

Yes on E committee 1-1 to 4-23-2016

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Domestic dispute turns deadly at convenience store in Antioch, Monday morning

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
Antioch Police had the QuickStop convenience store and parking lot on W. Tregallas cordoned off, during the investigation of the shooting homicide, Monday morning, May 2, 2016.

Antioch Police had the QuickStop convenience store and parking lot on W. Tregallas cordoned off, during the investigation of the shooting homicide, Monday morning, May 2, 2016.

QuikStop homicide 2By Allen Payton

On Monday morning, at approximately 7:11 AM, Antioch Police Officers responded to a report

of a shooting at the Quik Stop Market at 2760 W. Tregallas Road at the corner of Lone Tree Way. The officers arrived to find an adult female victim deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.

A short time later, the male suspect in this case, a 34-year-old Antioch resident, was taken into custody without incident in front of the Antioch Police Department. According to a VIP who heard the police call, the suspect turned himself in and according to Mike Burkholder of eastcountoday.net, the suspect drove himself to the police facility. According to the team from Channel 2 News the car was a dark blue or grey Dodge Charger, being driven by a Hispanic or white male with a black semi-automatic weapon. Burkholder, who saw the car at the police facility, confirmed the suspect’s vehicle was grey.

As of 8:30 AM, the body of the 27-year-old Antioch victim was believed to still be inside the store.

A close friend of the store owner, who owns another convenience store in Antioch, showed up on scene and was told by the police that the employees are OK. But one clerk was shot in the arm. They also said the owner of the store, who was also on the scene at that time is OK.

According to a neighbor of the clerk, in an on-the scene Channel 2 TV News interview by Anchor/Reporter Brian Flores, it was a domestic dispute and he “stepped in to help the lady.”

“The woman was shot by her partner,” the neighbor also stated.

A second victim, a 27-year-old adult male Antioch resident, believed to be the clerk, was also on-scene, when police arrived, suffering from a gunshot wound. This second victim was transported to a local area hospital where he is currently being treated for his injuries.

This case is currently being investigated by the Antioch Police Department Investigations Bureau. The police are in the preliminary stages of this case, and no further information will be released at this time.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Jason Vanderpool with the Antioch Police Department at (925) 779-6988. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

Lieutenant Anthony Morefield, Antioch Police Investigations Bureau contributed to this report.

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Belle refused entry to Frazier’s Capitol office

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

By Allen Payton

Embattled Contra Costa County School Board Trustee Jeff Belle, was refused entry into Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s office in Sacramento, when Belle was in the State Capitol for the county school boards’ legislative action day on Tuesday, March 18th.

When asked if Frazier told him he wasn’t welcome in his office, Belle replied, “Yes, he did say that I wasn’t welcome and should leave.”

“I told him that I’m here regarding education legislation which affects our school districts,” Belle explained. “He stated that I recruited someone to run against him. I replied, this meeting isn’t about partisan politics, it’s about our children and the issues within our schools.”

“I further stated that I would leave out of respect for the people in the room and the process, but totally disagreed with him. I then walked out of his office,” Belle continued. “The situation with Frazier, in my opinion, is an example of party interest over the interest of the people. He is a big bully. Witnesses will support my story. There were four other people in the room. Two of the four were parents from Antioch.”

Belle said those parents were Nallely Malaspina, a member of the District English Learner Advisory Committee and Cindy Osborne of the Deer Valley High School PTSA.

Malaspina confirmed she was with Belle in Sacramento, that day and that he was denied entry into Frazier’s office.

When asked why, Frazier explained the reasons for his actions.

“I didn’t allow Jeff Belle into my office because I don’t want to be associated with someone who is dishonest with the public,” he stated. “He was fined by the state, last year for claiming to be a respiratory therapist when he wasn’t.”

“More importantly, he lied to the voters on his ballot statement, claiming to have a college degree when he didn’t,” Frazier added. “He was investigated and is now being prosecuted by the county  District Attorney’s office for that crime.”

When asked if it was partisan because Belle is a Republican, Frazier – a Democrat – responded, “No. It’s not a partisan issue. I just don’t trust him.”

Belle labeled it “State Capitol bullying in action.”

He is facing a trial in the ballot statement matter and can be fined a maximum of $1,000 if convicted.

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Residents question Antioch Council on transparency, use of Measure C funds, hear about homeless shelter

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Council approves new Code Enforcement Manager position

By Nick Goodrich

At the Tuesday, April 12th meeting of the Antioch City Council met for its regular meeting. The main event of the night was a presentation by the Antioch Shelter Project. The Council also approved a new Code Enforcement position and awarded bids to numerous contractors for city services. First, they heard complaints from residents about Measure C, including one former member of the oversight committee for half-cent sales tax for police and other city services.

Public Comments

During public comments Antioch resident Dave Redford told the Council that he has not been satisfied with the transparency of the measure’s implementation, as only a small part of the funds received are thoroughly tracked. He requested that the  Council open a public discussion to hear more input from residents.

Redford was followed by Sal Sbrante, a former member of the Measure C Citizens Oversight Committee. Sbrante’s concerns centered on the fact that a portion of the funds received – called the Citywide Allocated funds – has risen 77% since Measure C was adopted, while the overall Antioch Police Department budget has gone up only 27%. Sbrante ended his remarks by saying, “I voted for Measure C, I will not vote for any Measure put forth by this Council again.”

Council members, however, disagreed with Redford and Sbrante, expressing confidence in the effectiveness and transparency of the Measure, which was put into effect in order to aid an overburdened Antioch Police Department.

Antioch Shelter Project

Antioch’s Council Chamber was packed to the brim on Tuesday as dozens of residents and proponents showed up to support the Antioch Shelter Project. Gary Kingsbury, the driver behind the project’s effort to create a shelter for homeless women and children in Antioch, was on hand to present the project’s efforts to the Council.

Women and children are the fastest growing and most vulnerable homeless population in the County, says Kingsbury, and currently there are no shelters geared toward them in the East Bay.

The nonprofit organization New Life Dream Center has aided a coalition of churches, private foundations, and community groups as they strive to locate and build a shelter, in Antioch. They have looked at City property on Delta Fair Boulevard, between Los Medanos College and County offices, as a good location for the shelter, but the Council’s approval will be needed to make that a reality.

And that appears not to be an issue. After the presentation, every member of City Council took time to separately voice support for the project. City Council’s overwhelming sentiment of goodwill for the Antioch Shelter Project will undoubtedly lead to it’s success at next month’s City Council meeting, when it will be up for a formal vote.

Following that presentation, the Council moved through its regular agenda, visiting topics such as awarding bids to contractors for city services, a Mosquito and Vector Control Committee vacancy, and the ongoing Brackish Water Desalination Project -which the Council unanimously approved for a loan in order for it to continue the process.

New Code Enforcement Manager position

A new Code Enforcement Manager position was also approved on a 5-0 vote. Code Enforcement, and its job is to prevent and eradicate blight in Antioch. However, Antioch’s Code Enforcement department has long been understaffed, and currently is untested and new to the work: five members of the team are starting just this month.

Code Enforcement’s struggles with blight in the city were highlighted when Antioch resident Steve Huddleston spoke about the new position. He said he’s has seen vandalism and homelessness become a serious problem on Delta Fair Boulevard for years, being cleaned up only to spring up again later. Huddleston called on the City to take more permanent action on the issue.

“I’ve been here for 26 years, and it’s time for somebody to actually step up and get it done,” he said.

The City Council has been approving the hiring new Code Enforcement Officers and laborers as the city budget allows, and the Council members assured the public they will continue to do so in their efforts to address the issue.

The next Council meeting will be held Tuesday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located between West Second and Third Streets at H Street in downtown.

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Duran promotes Ron Bernal to Antioch Assistant City Manager

Monday, April 18th, 2016

City Manager Steve Duran advised the Antioch City Council on Friday that he has promoted Ron Bernal to the position of Assistant City Manager effective April 17, 2016. He will also retain his department head responsibilities for Public Works and Engineering.

Bernal has served the City since 1998 and has been the Public Works Director and City Engineer since 2009. He worked for the City of Dixon, CA from 1984 to 1998.  He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of California at Davis and is a registered civil engineer.

In a news release on Monday, Duran said “I couldn’t be more pleased to promote Ron to the position of Assistant City Manager. He is a terrific team player. Ron’s professional and personal knowledge of the City of Antioch and his exemplary track record of leadership in managing large, complex and multifaceted City operations make him worthy of his new responsibilities.”

The action is in response to the Council’s recent vote to fill the position with an existing member of city staff, who is also a department head. The vote included a $60,000 budget for both the Assistant City Manager position and for those in the departments affected. Mike Bechtholdt will take on some additional managerial responsibilities within Public Works and Lynne Filson will do likewise for Engineering.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the City of Antioch in this new role,” Bernal said. “I look forward to working with the City Manager on homelessness, economic development, emergency operation preparedness, protecting our water rights and other important issues facing our community.”

Duran asked the Council for the position to be filled as part of succession planning, for when he eventually retires.

“I hope to see Ron succeed me as City Manager a couple of years or so down the road,” Duran shared. “I will be leaning on Ron to chair a few interdepartmental task forces, such as on blight and homelessness. I also want to have Ron more involved in the budget process and economic development to help other staff and to round out his city-wide experience.”

Bernal and his wife Irma live in Antioch, and have a daughter and son. They became grandparents this year, with the birth of their grandson in January.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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