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Sheriff’s Deputies, Antioch Police arrest two after Highway 4 pursuit, Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Sheriff’s Deputies pursue two suspects in a blue pickup truck eastbound on Highway 4, on Tuesday. photo by KTVU Fox 2 News.

From Concord to Martinez then ends in Antioch

At about 1:51 PM Tuesday afternoon, August 22, 2017 a Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff pulled-up behind a stolen truck on westbound Highway 4 near Willow Pass Road in Bay Point. The Deputy initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. The driver did not yield and led Deputies on a pursuit, which went to Alhambra Avenue in Martinez and then back eastbound on Highway 4 to Antioch.

The CHP and Antioch Police Department assisted the Office of the Sheriff during the pursuit.

The suspects were in a blue pickup truck with a white-topped shell, exited at the Hillcrest Avenue offramp and drove north into a residential neighborhood. The stolen truck collided with a fence on the 900 block of 13th Street in Antioch. The driver and the passenger fled on foot and ran to the back of homes along Lake Alhambra.

A police K-9 from the Sheriff’s Office apprehended the passenger, while Antioch Police Officers arrested the driver.

The driver is identified as 22-year-old Terry Nichols. He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on numerous charges – possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evading, possession of stolen property, and resisting arrest. Nichols is being held in lieu of $90,000 bail.

The passenger is identified as 19-year-old Mason Leonard. He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on possession of stolen property, vandalism, and resisting charges. Leonard is being held in lieu of $40,000 bail.

To watch video of the pursuit and arrest of at least one of the suspects on KTVU Channel 2, click here.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Police talk man out of jumping off Highway 4 overpass

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Man sits on Highway 4 overpass above Somersville Road on Monday afternoon. Photos by Antioch Police

The man was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Antioch police officers responded to Highway 4 at the Somersville Road overpass to assist with a distraught man who was threatening to jump. Officer Leon Mendes, a trained hostage and crisis negotiator, responded and after several minutes of interacting with the man, was able to talk the subject out of jumping.

The man was detained on the freeway by officers and sent to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. We thank anyone, who was briefly inconvenienced, for their patience while we worked to safely resolve this potentially difficult situation. There were fortunately no injuries resulting from this incident to the man involved or any of the involved officers.


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Contra Costa prosecutors endorse their colleague Paul Graves for Interim DA

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Contra Costa Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves. photo courtesy of Paul Graves for DA

The Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney’s Association has endorsed Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves for the position of Interim District Attorney of Contra Costa County. 

On Friday, August 18th, 2017, the Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association, made up of over 80 criminal prosecutors, voted for the endorsement.

Paul Graves distinguished himself as a leader when he stepped forward to run for election against Mr. Peterson, a sitting incumbent at the time, despite the great professional risk he was taking, because it was the right thing to do,” said Aron DeFerrari, President of the DA’s Association.

“Our prosecutors are currently working on hundreds of cases and the interim DA will immediately have immense responsibilities to manage these cases,” added Simon O’Connell, a member of the District Attorneys’ Association Board. “Paul Graves’ experience managing and leading prosecutors gives us full confidence in his ability to keep those cases on track until voters choose the next District Attorney.”

Amongst a field of five candidates seeking the appointment, Paul Graves has distinguished himself in both public forums, his written applications and, perhaps most importantly, his actions and proven integrity as a veteran prosecutor for the last 22 years.

With the support of almost every police association, nonprofit and community based organizations Graves has worked with throughout the years, and the endorsement of the East Bay Times, “We are tremendously proud to endorse Paul Graves, he is a truly talented prosecutor, a proven leader in the law enforcement community and, perhaps most importantly, a person of genuine character and integrity – what we need most right now in our office” said Lauren Whalen, a DA’s Association Board Member and young prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office.

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Antioch Council approves seniors-only mobile home park urgency ordinance

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Antioch resident Tom Lamothe speaks to the council during public comments, before a packed audience on Tuesday, August 8, 2017.

Lasts 45 days, two-year moratorium on Sept. 12 agenda

By Allen Payton

A standing room only crowd attended the Antioch Council meeting, Tuesday night August 8, over concerns about two main issues: an urgency ordinance preventing the conversion of seniors-only mobile home parks to all-ages housing, and the hiring of a new Animal Services manager.

Seniors-Only Mobile Home Park Urgency Ordinance

Interim City Attorney Derek Cole provided the staff report on the item.

“This is not a permanent ordinance. It’s more of a stop-gap. It only lasts for up to two years. Before that expires, we will have a permanent regulation or decide to…not have regulations.”

Because it is an urgency ordinance, the moratorium required a four-fifths vote.

It only takes affect for 45 days. Then the council has to extend it for the remainder of two years, Cole explained.

“The idea is that there may be some changes in availability of senior housing in this city, through mobile home parks, and that could have an affect on seniors, as to their quality of life,” he stated. “The impracticalities if a lease expires and someone has to move their mobile home. Some might not survive the move…without sustaining considerable damage.”

“The cost for moving these homes is prohibitive.,” Cole added.

“Anyone who is currently in a seniors-only mobile home park defined as 80% or more of occupied units of residents who are 55 years or older, it will not be able to convert to an all-ages facility,” he said, explaining the ordinance. “We can continue that up to two years. You start with an urgency ordinance then later extend it.”

Mobile home park resident, Al Ives was the first speaker in favor of the ordinance, and was granted 10 minutes as the main proponent during the public hearing.

“I’m a 23-year member resident of the Vista Diablo Mobile Home Park and also a member of the home owners board,” he stated. “It’s the law of the land as far as I’m concerned,” referring to keeping the parks seniors-only. He referred to “economic eviction.”

“Landlords keep raising rents until tenants can’t afford it,” Ives explained. “We’re a captive audience so to speak. There’s really no place to move and the expense, sheesh.”

He suggested rent control be considered separately, after the ordinance passed.

“The last mobile home park built in Contra Costa County was in 1985…in Antioch,” he stated. “Please don’t be scared of rent control. California has more than 220,000 mobile home spaces, more than 131,000 of those spaces are covered by rent control ordinances. Those include 11 parks in Concord and others in the county.”

A Vista Diablo park resident Lola Park shared her concerns and experience dealing with the owners.

“I’m a Realtor, as you know. I wear many hats,” she stated. “The park declined two applicants (for one of the mobile homes). The criteria for approval has changed. Why now?”

“I have been president of the homeowners’ association for 17 years,” Buck shared. “We feel this is in retaliation for us coming to you for help.”

Another resident, Gil Davis said that some families with children under age 18 have moved into the park.

“I believe the owners are trying to get in as many families with children so that when the moratorium ends, it will be easier to convert to an all-ages park,” he said.

Davis spoke of discrepancies in space rents of “$900, $1,100, $1,200” and the amount he’s paying of $1,300 a month.

“And that doesn’t include utilities,” he stated. “Some also are paying mortgages,” on their mobile homes.

“This always has been and should continue to be a senior housing community,” Davis concluded.

No one spoke against the item and the matter returned to the council for discussion.

Mayor Pro Tem Thorpe made the motion to adopt the ordinance and seconded by Councilwoman Monica Wilson.

“I’m in support of the motion and second,” said Councilman Tony Tiscareno. “I want to congratulate the group out here for your persistence. I’m very disappointed the owners and managers weren’t here. They’re not taking this as seriously. You are taking it seriously. This is your passion and this is your community. This is your home.”

He recommended that the staff considered the rest of the ordinance at the first meeting in September.

Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock shared of her own experience in visiting the park and what she saw.

“I was out there, today looking at the park,” she said. “I was appalled at how the park managers are taking care of the park. There’s a lot of liabilities waiting to happen. The owners of this park need to be held accountable. It’s appalling. Shame on them.”

Mayor Sean Wright said, “we have a lot of sympathy and compassion for you and I thank you for coming.”

The council then voted 5-0 to approve the 45-day moratorium to a loud round of applause from the public.

“It is a 45-day moratorium and we will have it on the first council meeting in September, so we will see you then,” Wright added.

Click here, to read about the council’s approval of hiring a new Animal Services Manager.

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Antioch Council approves on split vote hiring Animal Services Manager using funds from ARF for first year

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Returns two police management staff back to full-time police work

By Allen Payton

At their August 8 meeting, amid some organized opposition and cat calls from the audience, the Antioch City Council voted 4-1 to approve the hiring of a new, full-time Animal Services Manager for the Antioch shelter using funds from Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) for the first year. Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe was the only council member to vote no.

Police Chief Tammany Brooks provided background on the need for the position.

The Animal Shelter Manager will be “equivalent of a captain. He or she will answer directly to me….and will be well versed in animal operations,” he said. “This person will be a full-time manager of the animal shelter.”

“Currently we have an animal shelter supervisor…who has taken on the tasks of multiple people,” Brooks explained. “But, I believe we need management oversight above the supervisor…from a long-term standpoint, to bring stability and structure to the animal shelter.”

“Accept the funding from ARF through Maddie’s Fund for one year,” he recommended to the council. “The position will be filled right around January. That will leave $80,000 to $90,000 for the city to come up with for the 2018-19 fiscal year.”

Thorpe asked, “when we accept these types of gifts there are there stipulations? Can we only use it for a management position?”

“One of the recommendations of the Grand Jury report is that we hire an executive director,” Brooks responded. “I will take out the police oversight which will take out about $75,000.”

“This money is earmarked specifically for an animal shelter manager,” he added.

In response to a question by Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, Brooks said the surgery suite will be open at the end of September, of this year.

Before the council took their vote, members of the public spoke, most in opposition to the chief’s recommendation, due to their concerns with ARF.

Long-time Antioch animal advocate, Barbara Sobalvarro said, “it is hard to wrap my arms around. When we formed 38 years ago, Friends of Animal Services would have loved what you’re doing, tonight.”

“If we have a possibility of working with people who are giving their time to volunteer their time to the animals…and have the kind of shelter all of us would love…and have it for less money…I’m asking you to not rush this,” she explained.

“This is about ARF. This is their second partnership with Antioch,” Sobalvarro stated. “The first time they left nine months after they started. This is the second manager position we will have. Please, this has been too sudden…something that seems too be good to be true probably is. All that glitters is not gold. But the hearts of our volunteers are golden.”

Thorpe then asked, “if we accept their funds, are we then on the line to fund this position, moving forward?”

Brooks responded, “ARF…will fund this position for 12 months. $75,000 of…what is currently being spent in the Antioch Animal Services will go toward that position. So the city will be on the line for between $71,000 and $103,000 after the funds are realized. “So, I’m curious,” Thorpe said, “How will that impact the budget? Is that something we anticipated?”

“The amount of funding you’re talking about would take you into the 2020 budget,” City Manager Ron Bernal explained.

“OK. Thank you,” said Thorpe. “So, we would budget for that budget cycle.”

Tiscareno was next to comment stating, “I appreciate everyone’s beliefs. But, we do have to make a decision for the future of the shelter. We do utilitize two police officer positions.”

“A lieutenant and a captain,” Brooks interjected.

“That oversee this position, that can do the work of the police,” Tiscareno continued. “That encourages me at this point. I want to see the police department do what they’re supposed to do. That’s what we’ve heard criticism of over the years. We can have a full function operation. I understand where the volunteers are coming from. But I believe we need to bring this into a business type atmosphere.”

“I’m going to speak in favor of this resolution,” he concluded.

Ogorchock asked, “is there going to be any saving?”

“Yes,” Brooks responded. “So, we have to contract out…for spay and neuter. When we have our own DVM (veterinarian) in place…that will save money. And we can contract out the service to others in…East County and generating a little revenue to the city, and reducing the animal population.”

“I appreciate the passion on both sides. This is going to be a working manager. Not just someone sitting behind a desk.

Brooks then offered additional explanation.

“If you were going to look at similar animal shelters in other cities…two cities that would be somewhat comparable is Berkeley and Hayward. Both of them have a manager,” he said. ‘You’re talking about a $1 million a year company and we don’t have a manager. We need someone who is well versed in animal operations.”

Ogorchock responded by saying, “I want to see more people in there working with the animals. There could be the savings where it could be no cost to the budget.”

“We’re kind of missing the policy and procedure piece, and someone to oversee the budget, how much we’re spending here…here’s a policy we’re missing here, or a procedural piece,” said Councilwoman Monica Wilson. “Is that the case with this person?”

Brooks responded with, “These are things an animal services manager will be doing instead of me.”

Thorpe said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met Monika (Helgemo, the animal services supervisor).” He asked how this would impact her position.

Brooks explained that she is a supervisor who was given the management responsibilities when the manager left.

“That’s when we brought in the oversight of the police department,” he stated. “This will free up Monika to do things our volunteers are talking about. So, this position assumes some of the responsibility that the police officers were.”

Mayor Sean Wright concluded the council discussion by stating, “six months is a long time. Six months ago is when we looked at the opportunity to work together. I’m excited to hear. I took a tour of the animal shelter a couple months ago. I think you’ve answered all of our questions, tonight.”

As Tiscareno read his motion, members of the public made cat-calls from the audience. Ogorchock seconded the motion and it passed 4-1. As Wright read the results of the vote, a woman yelled “Thank you, Thorpe.”

More Debate After The Council Meeting

Following the meeting, a discussion outside of the council chambers ensued between shelter volunteers and Mayor Wright.

“A new manager is not the answer,” said one woman who chose to not be identified. “We need more players not another coach. We need people in there actually who will love the animals and be kind to them.”

The no-kill rate has gone from 76% to 98% in recent months, one woman shared.

“Antioch is the first no-kill shelter in Contra Costa County,” another woman stated.

“All they’re going to do is kill more animals,” said yet another unidentified volunteer. “In four days. ARF has what is called a pathway. It takes time. An animal only goes up for adoption for 14 days then they kill them.”

“They don’t have the staffing,” was one volunteer’s complaint. “ARF is not providing a vet or a registered vet tech regularly since beginning of May.”

One suggestion made by a volunteer unhappy with the council’s decision was that “Petaluma is willing to take over our shelter.”

Wright responded to the four women, saying “This position has not been hired We can change our mind. I’ll talk to Petaluma.”

“It can’t run without volunteers,” said one of the women. “They’re ready to walk.”

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Driver suffering medical emergency crashes car into paint store injuring three in Antioch Saturday

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

By Sergeant Rick Smith, Antioch Police Community Policing Bureau

On Saturday, August 19, 2017 at approximately 12:32 pm, Antioch Officers responded with Medical Personnel for a reported vehicle collision in the area of Contra Loma Blvd and the Eastbound Highway 4 Off-ramp.

On arrival, a small sedan was found to have exited the eastbound Highway 4 off-ramp and crossed Contra Loma Blvd. The vehicle had continued eastbound through the intersection and over the sidewalk without stopping. It went through a chain link fence and struck a utility box before coming to rest in a vacant lot adjacent to the eastbound Highway 4 onramp and Kelly Moore Paints. Medical personnel arrived and began treating the occupants of the vehicle. All were transported to area hospitals for treatment. It was learned all suffered serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

According to Contra Costa Fire Protection Department Captain George Laing, three people were injured, one was transported to the hospital by helicopter, and the store sustained some damage.

The preliminary investigation reveals that the driver possibly had a medical emergency before colliding with another vehicle on Highway 4 just west of the eastbound off-ramp for Contra Loma Blvd. The driver was still suffering this emergency as he came down the ramp and was unable to control or stop his vehicle. It does not appear that alcohol or drugs were the cause of this accident. The driver of the vehicle struck on Highway 4 was present at the scene and was not injured.

This investigation is ongoing and anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call the Antioch Police Department at (925) 778-2441. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Investigator deems allegations valid against AUSD Trustee Vinson who failed to be interviewed

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Debra Vinson. From a 2014 Herald file photo.

By Allen Payton

A two-month investigation by an outside consultant into accusations by two Antioch Unified School District employees against Board Vice President Debra Vinson of bullying, intimidation and unethical conduct, concluded that they were valid.

According to the Executive Summary by Deborah Maddux of the Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation, the accusations were made in a letter dated February 21, 2017 regarding an incident involving Vinson and two unnamed staff members over an intra-district transfer, which was witnessed and corroborated by other staff members.

The investigator made multiple attempts between March 28 and June 1 to contact Vinson but was unsuccessful in getting a face to face interview with her, which delayed the completion of the report. Vinson responded by phone and email a few times.

“Despite extensive efforts to provide her with an opportunity to provide her perspective, by her actions, she declined to do so,” Maddux wrote regarding Vinson.

Vinson finally scheduled an interview for May 25 but according to Maddux, when she called in Vinson for the first time informed Maddux that she had retained legal counsel and wanted her attorney to participate in the interview. That interview with Vinson and her attorney never happened.

Finally, Maddux completed her investigation, without Vinson providing her side of the story. D. Vinson Investigation Exec Summary

The Findings Summary by the investigator is as follows:

“First, the versions of the interactions provided by the witnesses were consistent, credible and corroborating.

Second, despite every opportunity to do so, Trustee Vinson did not provide any information to the contrary.

Third, Trustee Vinson’s conduct in this investigation tended to support the overall allegation that she considers herself not bound by policies and processes. This is troubling for someone serving as a Trustee. Trustee Vinson was asked to participate in this process, which is required by policy, but she did not do so.”

The conclusions of the investigation are as follows:

“Trustee Vinson engaged in intimidating conduct toward two District employees.

Trustee Vinson improperly attempted to exercise administrative responsibility and commanded the services of two school employees.

Trustee Vinson used her position to pressure two District employees into making a decision that was contrary to Board policy.” (See pages 7 and 8 of the Executive Summary for the complete Findings Summary).

The accusations against Vinson are in addition to those that are the basis for a third recall effort against her. The first two efforts began, last year.

“This is the first time this information was public,” said Board President Walter Ruehlig who was the first to receive the Executive Summary from the investigator, according to District staff.

When reached for comment and asked to respond to both the allegations in the investigation, as well as the accusation of not participating in the investigative process, Vinson said “I have not yet read the Executive Summary. But, I received in the Board packet a copy of the Findings on the 11th. I have not had the chance to review the Findings. I will definitely give a response as soon as I do.”

Vinson is up for re-election in November 2018

The Executive Summary is dated June 13, but was just released this week as part of the agenda packet for the next Antioch School Board meeting on Wednesday, August 23. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Offices at 510 G Street in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown.


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Child dies in Antioch drowning accident, Wednesday night

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

By Corporal Gary Lowther #4032, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

On Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at approximately 8:15 PM, Antioch Police Officers along with the Contra Costa County Fire Department responded to a residence located on the 4600 Block of Durness Court for a report of a two-year-old female that fell in the family swimming pool.

Upon officers’ arrival, the child was unresponsive. Life-saving efforts were administered by Antioch Police Officers and Contra Costa County Fire Department personnel. The child was transported to a local hospital where all efforts to revive her were unsuccessful.

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