Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Two former Antioch mayors among six candidates running for two seats on Antioch School Board

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Former Antioch Mayor Jim Davis who filed papers to run, Wednesday in a photo from Facebook, Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr. in a photo from his LinkedIn page, and Janice Lipnisky from her Facebook page. No photo or contact information for Candida Gonzalez-Amigo could be found prior to publication time. Photos of the other three candidates were posted with a previous article. See link in first paragraph.

By Allen Payton

Former Antioch mayors Jim Davis and Mary Rocha, and four other candidates, have filed papers to run for the two seats on the Antioch School Board in the November election.  Both incumbents, Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, chose to not run for reelection and instead will be challenging Jeff Belle for county school board. (See related article).

The four other candidates for Antioch School Board include 2018 Dozier Libbey Medical High School graduate and Antioch Youth of the Year Shagoofa Khan, who is running a joint campaign with former Antioch Measure C Citizens’ Oversight Committee Vice Chair Ellie Householder; education administrator Dr. Clyde H. Lewis, Jr., business owner Janice E. Lipnisky, who is a parent of a special needs student, and Candida Gonzalez-Amigo whose ballot designation includes financial representative.

Rocha has served in local office, both on the school board and on the city council for a total of 32 years, including four as Mayor of Antioch from 1996-2000. She lost her run for reelection to the city council in 2016.

Davis, who served on the council from 1998-2012, and mayor for his final four years, was the final candidate to file his papers and did so on Wednesday. That was the deadline which had been extended five days since at least one of the incumbents didn’t file for reelection.

In his campaign statement he said, “as of 2017, Antioch schools met basic, state literacy standards of only 22.35% and basic math standards of 14.19%.  That’s unacceptable. We owe our students better. How can we properly prepare them for a positive future if we continue business as usual?”

Davis further stated that school safety and financial responsibility and accountability are his top two priorities, to ensure Antioch students get a better education. (He was the only candidate to provide his ballot statement to the Herald).

Householder worked for two years as a Research Analyst contractor for the school district on their Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). She is beginning a master’s degree program in Public Policy, this fall. Khan is a college student and works in sales according to her ballot designation.

Lewis earned a master’s degree in education administration, and his doctorate in education leadership. He currently works as the Director for Workforce Development at Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS). He has two children in district schools.

Lipnisky initially pulled papers to run for city council, but changed her mind as she cares more about education and children’s issues, having dealt with the district regarding her son’s educational needs. She is the 2018 Ms. Antioch Plus Size and volunteers with the Junior Giants  youth baseball program in Antioch.

Candida-Gonzalez has served on the PTSA’s and School Site Councils for both Dallas Ranch Middle and Deer Valley High Schools and applied for the appointment to the board in 2016 which was given to Alonzo Terry, to replace the late Joyce Seelinger.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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Supervisors censure County Assessor Gus Kramer for sexual misconduct; he might sue

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Kramer, Board Chair Gioia unable to attend meeting

By Daniel Borsuk

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer was censured on sexual misconduct charges by the County Board of Supervisors on a 4-0 vote Tuesday, paving the way for a potential lawsuit by the longtime elected official. Board Vice Chair John Gioia was absent at the meeting because he was touring the tar sands of British Columbia as part of a joint tour for serving as a Board Director on both the California Air Resources Board and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Elected to the county assessor post since 1994, Kramer was represented by his attorney Bruce Zelis of Walnut Creek. He warned supervisors before taking action that the assessor had sought a continuance on the board censure item because of Kramer’s inability to attend the meeting and because of questions that arose about whether the supervisors had violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state public meeting law.

Kramer’s attorney also questioned whether the board can discipline an elected official for actions he allegedly committed three years ago and there have been no similar charges leveled against him since then.

Zelis also questioned whether the board can discipline a countywide elected official, which conflicts with the board’s resolution recommendation that states:

“There are six county departments that are managed by elected department heads: the Assessor, Auditor, Clerk-Recorder, District Attorney, Sheriff, and Treasurer-Tax Collector. These elected officials are responsible for managing the county employees who work in their departments. The Board of Supervisors does not have the power to discipline elected officials when their conduct fails to meet the standards of behavior expected of all other county department heads.”

Obviously, supervisors went against the resolution recommendation and moved to censure the county assessor, who last year earned $221,946.80 before benefits.

Zelis refused to comment further with the Contra Costa Herald about the Brown Act violation allegations or other issues about Kramer’s case, but Board Chair Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill said there were no Brown Act violations when she and vice chair Gioia consulted over the proposed Kramer censure resolution prior to the meeting.

“We did not confer with our colleagues,” Mitchoff said.

This may not be the end of line for County Assessor Kramer case. The Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury will now be handed the case to determine if the allegations involving the assessor and two female employees merit additional investigation.

Supervisors acted on a 2018 outside independent attorney investigation on two charges of sexual harassment dating back to 2015 by two initially unidentified Assessor Department female employees, one of whom has since been identified as associate assessor Margaret Eychner, a resident of Walnut Creek.

“The investigator found that, prior to mid-2015 it is more likely than not that Mr. Kramer made certain comments and engaged in conduct that two individuals who worked in his department considered to be offensive and inappropriate in the workplace.” a board report stated.

In the board’s resolution, the supervisors found “there was sufficient evidence to prove Assessor Kramer had engaged in the following conduct in 2014 and 2015:

  • Kramer frequently visited the complainant’s cubicle on the first floor and the complainant frequently visited Mr. Kramer’s office during 2014 and up to March 2015.  During these visits they discussed work related and nonwork-related matters.
  • On one occasion Mr. Kramer told her that he had given a vibrator to a woman (not a county employee) as a gift. She thought that this was inappropriate and offensive.
  • Mr. Kramer sent her two text messages in 2014 that she believed suggested a romantic/sexual interest in her. She considered the texts to be inappropriate an unwelcome.
  • In May 2014, he offered her a rose, which she interpreted to be a romantic gesture.
  • As to the second employee/witness, there was sufficient evidence to indicate that Mr. Kramer made a comment in her presence in 2008 and told a story in her presence in 2013 concerning his social interactions with women that she thought were inappropriate and offensive; and that on one occasion in 2015 he made a comment to her that she believed was intended to be sexually suggestive and considered inappropriate, offensive and unwelcome.”

The independent attorney investigator found that evidence did not show Assessor Kramer, who earned $221,946.80 in salary only in 2017, had retaliated against the two employees or had acted to “negatively impact their careers.”  In addition, the investigator’s evidence did show the assessor stopped making inappropriate and offense comments of a sexual nature to both employees after he learned of their complaints in 2015.  No further harassment complaints from the two employees or other employees have been lodged against the Assessor Kramer since June 2015.

“This is not a witch hunt and perhaps there wasn’t any retaliation,” said Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville, “but you have to remember the county had to pay $1 million in a sexual related case involving the assessor in 2009.”  Andersen was referring to a $1 million settlement paid to Assessor department employee Bernice Peoples in 2009 that Kramer had sexually retaliated against her.

“I want all our employees to feel safe and comfortable,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood after voting in favor of the censure resolution.

Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg did not comment on this item.

Sandy Hook Promise Impresses Supervisors

A Contra Costa County Office of Education presentation on the nationally acclaimed Sandy Hood Promise, a non-profit organization designed to prevent gun violence on K-12 school campuses, won endorsements from all four supervisors in attendance.  Supervisors plan to place a resolution of endorsement on its next board meeting agenda slated for Sept. 11.

Sandy Hook Promise and the county office of education and eventually 18 public K12 school districts in the county are expected to work with the no-cost program that Sandy Hook Promise Vice President of Field Operations Paula Fynboh says is based on a heavy emphasis on student mental wellness.

“You brought us a great gift,” remarked Supervisor Burgis.  “You have my personal support.”

County Real Estate Fraud Unit Reviewed 71 Cases in 2017/2018

Supervisors also approved without comment the District Attorney Office’s annual real estate fraud report for the 2017/2018 fiscal year during which time the Real Estate Fraud Unit reviewed 71 real estate fraud cases, an increase from 64 cases that were reviewed during the 2016/2017 fiscal year.

“Within the last year, our office has secured felony convictions in 3 different cases and has conducted preliminary hearings against another 7 defendants in complex white-collar fraud cases, involving over 2 million dollars in stolen assets,” wrote Deputy District Attorney Adam Wilks, who leads the Special Operations-Real Estate Fraud.

Because real estate fraud is a sophisticated crime targeting especially senior citizens, Wilks wrote: “Within the last year, the Real Estate Fraud Unit restored title to the home of an elderly woman after the home was fraudulently slated for foreclosure auction.  This unit is currently working with federal prosecutors to help elderly victims of a foreclosure scam in operating around the Bay Area.”

Wilks reported that in the 2016/2017 fiscal year the Real Estate Fraud Unit tracked international cases as far away as Nigeria.  “These investigations involve rental fraud, forgery, embezzlement, foreclosure consultancy fraud, short sale fraud and elder abuse,” he reported.

Established in July 1996 by the board of supervisors, the DA’s Real Estate Fraud Prosecution unit is staffed with one deputy district attorney, one senior inspector and one legal assistant.  Last fiscal year, the unit spent $399,705 for salaries, benefits, travel and necessary services.

Resolution Boosts Two County Airports Economic Assets 

Supervisors unanimously gave the county’s two airports – Buchanan Field Airport in Concord and Byron Airport – an economic boost in the form of a resolution recognizing the contributions of the two airports to the aeronautical community and economic growth of the county.

The resolution materializes when the airports, especially Buchanan Field Airport, has drawn increased development interest.  The City of Concord has made overtures to annex the airfield, but Board Chair Mitchoff, whose District 4 covers the Concord air field, said, “There is no way, no how that the city of Concord will annex the air field. It is an economic asset for the county.” Both airports are self-sufficient and do not need to use county general fund money to cover expenses. Instead both airports are moneymakers contributing about $2.77 million to the county general fund, $1.2 million to local schools, and $273,216 to other public entities from associated possessory interest and sales tax.

The supervisors’ resolution boasts how the two airports provides a base of operation to over 600 aircraft, generated about $106 million in total direct and indirect annual economic output in 2016, which includes the creation of 828 jobs, $8 million in state and local revenue and $10.2 million in federal tax revenue.

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Antioch Council decides on “Opportunity” theme for City’s branding effort

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Graphics from the slides in Evviva Brands’ presentation to the Antioch City Council on Aug. 14, 2018.

“There’s a lot of hope with good things to come…Antioch is where it’s happening. Opportunity is right here… It may be the last place in the Bay Area that has opportunity for everyone.” branding consultant David Kippen

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, the Antioch City Council heard a report about the city’s branding effort by consultant David Kippen of Evviva Brands in which they agreed the theme will be “opportunity”. Brand & Messaging Update_ 14 Aug 18

During his presentation, Kippen shared with the council about his team’s four-month “discovery phase”, as Economic Development Director Kwame Reed described it, during Reed’s first time at a council meeting in his new position.

“First off…this is a report on a work in progress…a gut check to see if this feels right to you. We’re looking for a big, broad message,” Kippen said. “When we talk about a brand, it’s really a simple thing. It has three parts. It’s a noun. A name. There’s a monetary part, an underlying value. The third part is action…where we find value in Antioch, how we want people to act, think and believe about Antioch.”

“We audited city messaging going back several months…to understand as a baseline what came before us,” he explained about their discovery process. “We interviewed city leadership, city staff, city leaders, a variety of community leaders. We conducted a variety of listening sessions. We participated in ride-alongs with police. We had one staff member stay in a variety of Air BnB’s throughout Antioch.”

“Where do we find themes and consensus?” Kippen asked. “When we first came to the city…it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Antioch does seem to be a city divided. There are some doing quite well, and there are others who are working hard to get by. Some angry people, here. Some optimistic people, here. There are a lot of divisions. A lot of frustration.”

However, he then said, “By in large, most the people we talked to want to get past that. We want to move on. It’s part of what Antioch is but it’s not what we want to be known for. People want it to be better. We see better massively overweighing” the focus on the negative.

“Without the city doing anything it will get better…with an expanding economy for 10 years in a row,” Kippen pointed out. “This city is doing a lot. Police and code enforcement are having an effect. Very recently crime was the primary worry, today it seems to be blight. It’s moved from security and fear to blight.”

“There are projects getting done across the city. Some big, Smith’s Landing and BART. Some are much smaller,” he explained.

“There’s a lot of hope with good things to come,” Kippen stated.

“Is there something that ties everything together?” he asked. “It’s opportunity.”

“It’s such a common word. It’s powerful word. It’s an important word and it has a lot of resonance with residents in Antioch,” Kippen said. “It means you have a chance. It means you can do something. It doesn’t mean you have to cure cancer. But it does mean you can do something.”

“It’s also quintessentially California. The California Dream…you can reinvent yourself, you can make something of yourself,” he added. “And Antioch is where it’s happening. Opportunity is right here.  It’s been fundamental to Antioch since day one, before statehood.”

“It may be the last place in the Bay Area that has opportunity for everyone,” Kippen stated.

“It starts back…with John Marsh. A Harvard-trained doctor,” he continued. “He’s also the guy who sold the Smith brothers the plot of land. That’s what is celebrated at the bottom of F Street. That’s where the Smith brothers managed to get the first shipload of people to settle here.”

“In 1859, it was coal. In 1863, it was copper. In 1864, it was lumber. In 1870, it was newspapers and In 1876, it was railways,” Kippen shared. “But it didn’t stop there. We have vineyards in Antioch. That’s remarkable. Or a greenfield property. Start a media company. I didn’t say a cheap home. Opportunity isn’t about being a bedroom community.”

He also mentioned a list of thing that are “in our way.”

“What we also heard was ‘Please, please, please don’t put lipstick on a pig. Don’t try to song and dance your way out of the challenges.’ The challenges start with bad press, real things. Negative coverage,” Kippen explained. “Fortunately, the trendlines in media tend to be slightly improving, where positive sentiment is running ahead of negative sentiment. But the press we’ve had is real. Crumbling infrastructure, bad roads, blight and crime. People wanted to know who to blame.”

“Opportunity is a chance not a gift. It’s not free. It’s not easy. It’s work,” Kippen explained.

What To Do, he asked and shared next.

“As far as the media standpoint, part of the effort has to be to get Antioch to come to Antioch. Whether it has to be getting 94531 to come to 94509 or vice versa…we need to knit the two back together. It’s going to require a lot of work.

He spoke of the need to include, “influence leaders in Antioch who drive the good in Antioch.”

“We’re thinking of the product…the packaging and the promotion,” Kippen shared. “Our focus is from a product stand point, how do we talk about opportunity. Antioch’s opportunity. How do we explain that? How do we get Antioch engaged with Antioch? How do we talk about Antioch to the rest of the Bay Area? How do we do a good job of not sweeping things under the carpet, but…looking at things that are already in the vision strategy? What are simple fixes? What can we do on a low-cost basis?”

Looking at the different locations in Antioch, clearly they’re going to need different messaging,” Kippen concluded.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno was the first to speak on the matter.

“I was intrigued by your perception of uniting the two Antiochs,” he said. “I love that idea. What do you think about splitting our city into four different sectors, now? I’m just curious of your mindset…of putting the two cities together…trying to bring in some from the ’31 area code to the ’09 area code? Was this a pre-districting mindset?”

Kippen replied, “The idea of opportunity ladders up the economic scale. You hired us, but we are trying to work for the entire city. Without respect to districts, that’s what we should land on. With respect to the districts, that strikes us as a fundamentally political effort. We’re talking about the economic aspect. It’s less about erasing lines within Antioch…than it is about macroeconomics in which a rising tide raises all boats.”

Tiscareno then said, “I still think we’re one city. We just happened to grow over the last 20 years. We just happened to get another ZIP Code.”

“Everyone felt that the heart of Antioch is the downtown,” Kippen shared. “There was a strong consensus that Antioch is one place and people have strong fidelity to that one place.”

Council Member Monica Wilson then had “A couple questions…about press and promotion. That’s a very important piece of your overall presentation.”

Kippen responded, “The difference between our firm and a public relations firm as far as a crisis response. We are in the business of saying we want the city to unite. We’re working on is putting together an editorial calendar… getting them all aligned on messaging standpoint.”

Wilson then said, “Maybe it’s just me. I thought we were going to get more actionable stuff. An outline of a gameplan of what the next steps could be.”

“The last page of the presentation is an outline of what we will be presenting to you,” Kippen said. “We wanted to get you a report on the general theme of opportunity.”

Mayor Sean Wright liked the idea of opportunity as the theme.

“I want to thank you for coming and your presentation. I do like that direction. I do like the idea that Antioch is opportunity,” he said. Something we can market from a branding standpoint to businesses that we want to come, to people who want” to come. I would just ask council’s input… so David can have direction.”

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe was next to respond to Kippen’s presentation.

“You know I didn’t vote for this,” he state. “But I do like opportunity. It speaks to your point of why people come here. I think you brought up some very good points. Some of the information you received was similar to the two polls we did with input from 2,000 people. It’s in line with what you’re doing as far as branding. I love the idea, the concept of opportunity.”

Tiscareno then said, “Opportunity in my mind is creating positivity with whatever we’re going to do as a city. I like that concept. What are we going to do with that opportunity? I think you’re get more dialogue and feedback. I want to be able to look at these opportunities and dream…and what we’re going to do in the next few years to eliminate the perception out there. I hate that word. But, if we can eliminate that type of language…through opportunities and ideas, I think you’re going to get a lot of feedback. I’m just waiting to see what the next step is before I give more input.

Council Member Lori Ogorchock then shared her thoughts on the matter.

“Reading what’s in our way, I agree,” she said. “I truly don’t want to miss this opportunity. I’m encouraging you to keep going in the direction you’re going. I don’t see the bad press any more. I think it is the right opportunity, right now. I’d like to see the two ZIP Codes come together. I think you’re going to have some difficulties with districting the way the districts were split down the middle of the freeway.”

Wilson reiterated, “I think we’re all in agreement with opportunity. I love opportunity.”

“It’s very important to us, we think this is the idea,” Kippen said. “We’re going to make recommendations to staff about spending some money, clearly marketing this.”

He spoke of the city’s revised vision plan. “We’re going to build off of that.”

Wilson then said, “It’s a wait and see for me.”

Wright concluded the agenda item by stating, “I appreciate with what you’ve done in here of not only opportunities in the future, but opportunities in the past.”

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Antioch Council approves appointment process for new City Treasurer, hires recruiting firm for new City Attorney

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

City Treasurer application process begins Wed., Aug. 15

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, the Antioch City Council approved the process for appointing someone to replace former City Treasurer Donna Conley for the remainder of her term.

Conley resigned her elected, part-time, paid position at the end of July as she and her husband, former Councilman and Planning Commissioner Jim, moved out of state. Her term runs through December 2020. The council decided to open the appointment process using a letter of interest, resume and nomination paper with 20-30 signatures of registered Antioch voters. Applicants will have the opportunity for a five-minute presentation to the council during their meeting on Sept. 11, 2018, at which time they will vote to fill the vacancy. It is the same process used to fill by appointment the vacancy in the City Clerk’s position in 2011, when Jolene Martin retired.

If the council doesn’t take action within 60 days, by default, a special election would be called, Interim City Attorney Derek Cole explained. The cost of a special election would be $260,000.

Thorpe said “It is too late for the November election. Prior to the meeting, we had a discussion about this. I think we had a public comment. The city clerk said “no we couldn’t have it on the November ballot.”

“Part of it is the administrative inertia. Candidly I just wasn’t able to put the staff report together until this meeting,” Cole stated. “Probably on a dead rush we might have been able to call a special election. Deadlines for candidates and initiatives are different.”

However, City Clerk Arne Simonsen disputed that.

“The process is similar to a regular election,” he said. “No action could be taken until the resignation took effect. The same period applies when you have a special election. We probably wouldn’t be having an election until January. It didn’t fit into the calendar. There’s no way it could be on (the November ballot).”

Thorpe said, “I just heard two completely different things and I’m blown away. But, I’m supportive of an appointment.”

Ogorchock pushed to have an applicant’s resume included with their letter of interest with a 400-word limit. The rest of the council agreed.

Simonsen said, “information will be available at the City Clerk’s office beginning Wednesday morning”, August 15.

City Attorney Recruiting Firm Hired

The council also voted to hire a recruiting firm to fill the position of a full-time city attorney on a 5-0 vote. Cole works for the city on a contract basis from his law firm on a part-time basis. Following the recruitment process, the council will vote to hire a permanent replacement for former City Attorney Bill Galstan. The cost will be $26,400 for the cost of the consulting firm’s work. It is one of only two positions the council hires directly, the other is city manager.

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Camila’s Café opens in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

The Galindos, Lupita, Fernando and their three daughters, take a break from cooking. The restaurant is named for their middle daughter, Camila.

By Allen Payton

Owners Fernando and Lupita Galindo have just opened their first restaurant, Camila’s Cafe, at 740 W. 2nd Street on the corner of “I” Street in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown.

Having grown up in Lima, Peru, Fernando has worked in restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

“This was one of my dreams,” he said. “I thank God because He opened the doors for this opportunity.”

They offer salads, sandwiches and soup and are open Monday through Friday from 8:30-5 and Saturdays 9-3. For more information and to see photos of their food follow them on their Facebook page.

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Two Antioch teens killed, three teens injured including two from Antioch, one from Oakley in Walnut Creek crash, Sunday morning

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Screenshot of the Honda crashed onto Boulevard Circle in Walnut Creek, Sunday morning, Aug. 12, 2018 from NBC Bay Area news report.

Teen driver from Antioch charged with multiple counts of felony manslaughter, DUI

By CHP – Contra Costa

The driver, Ramya Ramey. Photo from screenshot of KPIX5 news report.

Sunday morning, Aug. 12, 2018 at about 4:01am, Contra Costa CHP was advised of a solo vehicle collision that came off SR-24 and onto Boulevard Circle at Boulevard Way in Walnut Creek. Upon emergency personnel and CHP arrival, two passengers from the 2000 Silver Honda Civic were declared deceased, the driver was still alive but with major injuries, and two other passengers had also suffered major injuries. All parties were transported to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek. The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office will be handling the release of the identities of the deceased parties, please refer to them for that information.

In the initial investigation, it appears that the 18-year-old female driver from Antioch was driving the Honda on eastbound SR-24 and approaching the I-680 interchange. For reasons unknown that are still under investigation, she allowed the Honda to veer completely off SR-24 and overturned and crashed onto Boulevard Circle, which is below SR-24, causing major damage. Two male passengers, one 17 years old, and the other 18 years old, both from Antioch, were immediately pronounced deceased upon emergency personal arrival. Two other female 18-year-old passengers from Antioch and Oakley suffered major injuries and transported to the hospital. The driver, Ramya Ramey, (DOB-1/30/2000) from Antioch, suffered major injuries as well and was also transported to the hospital where she was placed under arrest for multiple counts of felony manslaughter for killing two of her passengers and multiple counts of felony DUI causing major injuries to her other passengers.

UPDATE: The Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office released the identities of the two victims on Monday afternoon. They are 17-year-old Dakarai Rishon Fagorala a former varsity basketball player at and 2018 graduate of Deer Valley High School, and 18-year-old John Hamed Walizada, a 2017 graduate also of Deer Valley High.

This is a tragic incident where alcohol and underage drinking & driving was involved. This investigation is still under investigation. If anyone witnessed this collision or the events leading up to it, please contact Contra Costa CHP in Martinez, (925) 646-4980 or 1-(800)-TELL-CHP. Thank you.

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Four candidates to challenge Tiscareno, Orgorchock for Antioch City Council

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Three of the four challengers running for the Antioch City Council against incumbents Tony Tiscareno and Lori Ogorchock in the November election. (L-R) Joy Motts from her Facebook page, Nora Foster provided by the candidate and Rodney McClelland from his Facebook page. No photo could be found online or was provided by Caroleve Capelle.

Nine candidates pull papers, only six file

By Allen Payton

As of the filing deadline for the Antioch City Council elections in November, six candidates had filed, including the two incumbents, Council Members Tony Tiscareno and Lori Ogorchock whose seats are up for just two years. The four challengers include former Antioch School Board Trustee Joy Motts, Antioch Parks & Recreation Commission Chairman Rodney McClelland and Member Nora Foster, and Caroleve Prudence Capelle.

Three other candidates pulled papers, including Janice Lipnisky, who was in the July 4th parade as Ms. Antioch Plus Size 2018 and showed up to city hall wearing her sash and crown, Howard Kinsel and Sandi Mauricio. According to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, Lipnisky told him she has decided to run for the Antioch School Board instead, Kinsel chose not to run due to health issues, and Mauricio did not complete the filing process.

When asked why she decided not to run, Mauricio responded, “I’m going to support another candidate who would like to see the same changes in Antioch. I will run when I have more time to commit to my campaign.”

Motts announced her campaign in February when she filed an intent to run and was the only candidate to do so. (See related article.)

Nora Foster

In a response to emailed questions, Foster stated, “I have decided to run for City Council because for the last 4.5 years, I have called Antioch home. I have always wanted to make a difference in the community in which I live. I love my home, my community, and my City. My goal in running is to contribute to making Antioch a place to be envied. A place where its residences are feel safe and proud to call home.

Although there are many issues that needs attention, my main issues are:

1) Reducing/Eliminating Crime in this City,

2) Bringing businesses to our City (more than just corner stores but big businesses even high tech.),

3) Saving our hiking trails and open spaces.

I am currently a commissioner of Antioch’s Department of Park & Rec. and serving on Contra Costa County’s FACT (Family And Children Trust) committee; however, my term will expire this September. I would like to think that my role as a Park & Rec. commissioner and a committee member of these boards have helped to benefit the City and the County.

I currently hold an undergraduate degree (BS) in Organizational Behavior and a minor in Telecommunications. Additionally, I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and have worked in the field of Child Welfare for over 10 years.”

Rodney McClelland

McClelland was one of the three leaders of the recent referendum effort to stop the city’s cannabis business district. Although it failed to get the necessary 5,100 signatures within 30 days, they did gather over 3,000 signatures from registered voters in Antioch.

When reached for comment about his background he said, “I’ve been involved with Delta Youth Soccer League and served on the Antioch Youth Sports Complex Board of Directors, as well. Interacting with the city and obtained financial aid for some of the kids. I was involved with the development of the back fields and the maintenance plan.”

In addition, McClelland said he works in sales for a wholesale distributor of parts and supplies to refrigeration, heating and air conditioning contractors.

Asked why he’s running, McClelland responded, “I was born and raised in Antioch and have seen it go through a lot of changes, both good and bad. I’m not happy with some of the decisions the current council has made, specifically with Measure C, and the cannabis issue was not well thought out and planned. I believe the police department is what we should go after for improvements. I know they’ve spent some money from Measure C. But, it’s not enough. We still don’t have enough police officers for a city our size of 119,000 people.”

“During the referendum, I met a lot of folks who were retired, and some were elderly. The greatest concern of most of them was that they don’t feel safe to leave their homes in the evening,” he shared. “It’s not that the police officers we have aren’t doing their job, it’s that we just don’t have enough officers to do the job we need them to do.”

“We need to clean up our city to improve economic development and bring in businesses in the empty spots that we have in order to thrive,” McClelland continued. We need to find more career type jobs, not just retail jobs. Everything hinges on the reputation of our city and what they see when they come into our city.”

“We need to do a better job of making Antioch more attractive to businesses and future homeowners, and current homeowners, which goes without saying,” he said. “We have all this landscaping throughout town. Maybe we need to look at something that requires less maintenance and water, and longer lasting. Something more thought out.”

“One of the other things is, we should continue to refurbish our parks. We’ve done a good job at improving our parks with the First 5 Regional Group, including Prosserville Park, Contra Loma Estates Park, and the Antioch Disk Golf, all-access playground and splash playground at Prewett Park,” McClelland stated. “We need to do more of that and bring more programs into our parks. The more programs, the more community engagement you’ll have. We need something for every age group.”

Tony Tiscareno from City of Antioch website.

Tony Tiscareno 

In Tiscareno’s campaign announcement on August 1st he said, “When I ran for election four years ago, I promised to work hard to improve crime prevention efforts, revitalize city services and make Antioch fiscally sound. I have made a positive impact in these and other areas that I care deeply about.”

In the last four years, his announcement continued, Antioch has hired more than 50 new police officers, the city ended employee furloughs and City Hall is open full time.  Staff has been hired to improve city services, including code enforcement.  And, funding was found to provide more youth and senior activities.

“My focus in the next two years is to expand Antioch’s economic growth and attract new businesses and jobs, continue to support our public safety services and hire more police officers, continue to reduce crime, and responsibly manage our budget,” he added.

Tiscareno and his wife have lived in Antioch for almost 50 years. He is a local Realtor.

Lori Ogorchock from City of Antioch website.

Lori Ogorchock

After filing her papers on Thursday, Ogorchock made a brief statement in a video on her Facebook page saying, “Hi, Lori Ogorchock, here. I just made it official. Went inside and filed my papers to run for the Antioch City Council for 2018. I need your vote on November 6th. I’m so excited to run for my seat, again. To celebrate I walked down to RiverTown Sweets to get my cookie with everything on it. I look forward to talking and walking with you, this year. Thank you.”

Attempts to reach Ogorchock and Capelle for comment via email and phone were unsuccessful before publication time. (Please check back later for updates to this report).

The election will be held Tuesday, November 6. Any candidate who is elected will have to run for reelection, in the district where they live, in the 2020 election.

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Antioch Council united in placing revised sales tax measure on November ballot with 20-year sunset, oversight included

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Council warned by taxpayers association that the funds will be used to pay pension liability

By Allen Payton

During a fourth special meeting of the Antioch City Council to place a sales tax increase measure on the November ballot, on Thursday, August 9, 2018, the two members who voted against the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting, reversed course and joined the other three for a unanimous vote.  (See related article). The issue was the addition of a 20-year termination, or sunset clause, for the tax and inclusion of continuing the citizens oversight of the use of the funds from the measure. Both Mayor Pro Tem Thorpe and Council Member Monica Wilson who developed the tax measure in their ad hoc committee, had opposed the inclusion of those two items. But, since state law requires a two-thirds vote of the council to place a sales tax measure on the ballot at least one of them had to switch their vote to get the necessary four votes.

The measure, if passed by the voters, will double the half-cent sales tax from Measure C passed by the voters in 2013, to a full one cent on each dollar of taxable sales in Antioch. It will increase the revenue from approximately $7 million to about $14 million per year from the additional tax.. (See related article).

Following Interim City Attorney Derek Cole’s explanation for the need of a fourth meeting and apologizing for the oversight during Tuesday’s meeting, he said, “as long as you have four votes, it can be placed on the ballot.”

Thorpe then made a motion to reconsider the council’s action from Tuesday night, and it was seconded by Wilson.

That had to pass, first or the ballot measure could not be placed on the ballot and according to Cole, “It has to come from the prevailing side, which in this case was those who voted ‘no’.”

The motion passed unanimously. Then, the council heard comments from the public

Mayor Sean Wright read a comment by Jeffrey Klingler emailed earlier in the day.

“I’m very disappointed that this resolution is again before the city council because of a technical oversight,” he wrote. “Moreover, I am particularly frustrated at how we got to this point. Because this resolution and ballot language was presented to the city council at the last minute there was limited time for open discussion and consideration of public comment (for which the structured environment of polling is not a substitute). Nonetheless, the numerous special council meetings have allowed for the necessary discussions to take place and the meeting of August 7th should have brought this issue to closure.”

“The ad hoc committee has been working for many months on the quality of life initiative and it is bewildering this issue could not have been considered much earlier,” Klinger continued. “As such, I believe the obligation for passage lies with the members of the ad hoc committee to strike the appropriate compromise. I am confident that will be the outcome.”

“I look forward to a ballot measure that will help our city move forward with the critical funding necessary for its success,” he concluded.

Resident Fred Hoskins spoke next.

“I’m going to say, unfortunately for you I only have three minutes, because I could express a lot of ideas,” he said. “I am extremely disappointed in every one of you. I can’t believe it has been initiated in the first place. I was never surveyed for anything.”

“How can we jam down the throats of the citizens of Antioch another half-cent sales tax? That’s what this is about,” Hoskins stated.

He said that he campaigned against Measure C

“I said this is not going away. I was right,” he continued. “I have never seen an objective process or projects for the advancement of this city…the land use of downtown has been put on the shelf because they’re too political. No improvements have been made to the waterfront. We have Humphrey’s that’s going to be Smith’s Landing. Great. I hope they’re successful.”

“You offer no solutions, so you as a council look for ways to tax us,” Hoskins said. “You’re sure kicking the can down the road and 20 years is a joke. It ought to be six months and you figure out how to find the revenue.”

Hal Bray, representing Contra Costa Taxpayers Association spoke next.

“We believe that you’re not being completely honest with the people of Antioch about the uses of the revenue from this sales tax,” he stated. “Your pension costs…will double in the next five years. We believe you’re already using tax revenue meant for other services, for pension costs.  We believe you need to put in place a plan to deal with these rising costs. Other cities have put in place plans, such as a 115 Trust and contracting out services.”

Regarding employee pension contributions Bray said, “We believe the cost should be shared 50-50” with employees paying half the cost of their pensions and the city paying the other half. “You could have $4.5 million more for services if you split the costs with your employees.”

“The average Social Security pension is $16,000. The average CalPers pension of a full-time worker is $70,000 and for public safety officer it is $104,000,” he shared. “We believe it’s unfair for the residents of Antioch, so the people can be paid five to six times what the average retiree gets paid. We are ready to meet when you are.”

Antioch Economic Development Commissioner Tim McCall offered the final public comments in favor of the measure.

“First, to Ms. Wilson and Mr. Thorpe, to all the staff who worked on this…I know you all worked very hard. I appreciate your hard work,” he said. “Mrs. Ogorchock, thank you for your conviction and sticking by it. Mayor Wright, thank for being willing to compromise. Mr. Tiscareno, thank you for standing strong on the 20-year sunset.”

“This will not unite Antioch. It is dividing Antioch. We need to pass this,” McCall stated. “Mr. Thorpe, I do agree with you that the original wording would be a feel good. But, the leaders have spoken and said they want a sunset clause. We’re just going to have to campaign harder. I will help you campaign.

“This city needs to be united. The council needs to be united tonight,” he continued. “Let’s not revisit this in nine years. There will be lots of discussion about how to spend this money. It would be a benefit to start that united.”

The council then took up the issue with Thorpe saying, “Thank you Mr. City Attorney for taking responsibility for this small mishap. I believe Councilwoman Wilson and I believe our votes, last time were symbolic…recognizing that we did work hard…and that we were standing by our work. Although we voted no, the next day we were right back at it, working hard to figure out how to pass it.”

He then made a motion to include the 20-year sunset and citizens oversight in the measure. It was seconded by Wilson and the council voted unanimously to place it on the November ballot.

The final ballot language is as follows:

Antioch’s Quality of Life Measure. To maintain Antioch’s fiscal stability, police patrols, 911 emergency response, youth violence prevention programs; ensuring water quality/safety; repairing streets; cleaning up parks/illegal dumping; restoring youth afterschool/summer programs; other essential services; shall the measure be adopted approving an ordinance to renew the sales tax at the one-cent rate, raising approximately $14,000,000 annually,  expiring in twenty years, with mandatory annual independent financial audits, and independent citizens oversight?

The election will be held on Tuesday, November 6 and the measure requires a simple majority of votes to pass.

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