Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Antioch Council moves forward hazard pay for large grocery store workers proposal

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Three members support effort; city staff will return with ordinance for adoption; could increase costs to families; city would “very likely” face a lawsuit

By Allen Payton

During consideration of a proposed ordinance to require large grocery stores offer hazard pay of $3 to $5 more per hour, the Antioch City Council heard from both sides of the issue during their meeting on Tuesday night, April 13. Urgency Ord Lg Grocery Stores Temp Hazard Pay ACC041321

Ryan Guiling, an organizer of UFCW Local 5, spoke in favor of the hazard pay ordinance. “Our workers have been working tirelessly during this pandemic…to keep us fed. Early in the pandemic many of the stores were giving hazard pay as appreciation pay. But in June all stores ended it across the country. In the interim, grocery stores have been recording record profits.”

A California Retailers Association representative spoke next saying “we respectively request you vote no. This ordinance doesn’t take into consideration COVID-19 cases are rapidly decreasing. That we haven’t done our part is not reality. The grocery business operates on razor-thin margins.”

He spoke of increased costs over the past year “due to higher PPE costs and hazard pay to employees. Premium pay will add $400 in annual costs to families. Decisions should not be made at the local level, but in Sacramento or Washington.”

Barbanica asked to hear from the city’s Economic Development Director Kwame Reed on the matter.

“My thoughts are purely, we should do additional research…before we form an opinion on this,” Reed responded.  “I was hired to bring in jobs and companies. This could be seen as working against those efforts. It would be good to come back with some facts on this item.”

“As of right now, if we look at our database for current business licenses…we have just over 30 businesses that identify themselves as food businesses. That includes a 7-11’s, a donut shop,” he continued. “Stores that would qualify would be the Food Maxx, Lucky’s, Raley’s, SaveMart.”

“I very much appreciate the grocery workers who have been there for us,” said District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica who shared he had been a grocery store worker in the past. “I don’t think a city should get into determining what a private industry should do. Our attorney has said we’re headed for a lawsuit.”

“There are two grocery stores named that paid their workers appreciation pay. SaveMart has done it and hasn’t had going out of business sales,” Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said. “Can you tell us the gross sales of grocery stores in our city?”

“I cannot tell you that, tonight. I would have to come back with that,” Reed said.

“I want to echo what members of the public said,” Wilson continued. “In the beginning we were calling these people heroes. They were showing up every day of the pandemic. They had to deal with people who didn’t want to wear a mask. These people who made sure our families were fed need to be acknowledged.”

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, who proposed the idea, said, “the most dangerous place to be, right now is grocery stores. I don’t have to be there every day…run in grab something without getting sick or coughed on by someone who doesn’t want to wear a mask. It says for a specific period of time. So, I do have questions. Appreciation pay was offered for a period of time. I don’t like giving people raises and then taking it away. Because it’s time bound…and it’s to help our most valued workers, right now, other than public safety workers. Capital over people is not important. We do have to put our people, first.”

“What is the potential impact to jobs…how many jobs are we talking about between these large, corporate grocery stores? Are all these workers Antioch residents…who could add to our local economy?” she asked.

“We would likely have to call each of those stores, because they’re not obligated to tell us how many employees they have or if they live in Antioch,” Reed responded. “That’s the type of research we’re going to have to do.”

“Are Walmart and Costco not considered grocery stores?” Ogorchock asked.

“No. You will see that club stores like Costco would be excluded,” City Attorney Thomas Smith responded.

“You would have to determine if you want them included,” Reed explained.

“They ultimately decided not to include them in Concord,” Smith added.

“I know that Cal Cities took a look at this and chose not to pursue it,” Ogorchock said. “This is a slippery slope for us to get into and I don’t think this is something we should get into.”

“Other cities have done it for shorter,” Reed added.

“It may stop other stores from coming in. But it could stop other shops, when we as a council are getting into their business,” Ogorchock pointed out.

“Those are additional complications and additional lawsuits,” Smith stated.

“There are a lot of people who think we shouldn’t be doing a lot,” Torres-Walker said. “We shouldn’t be doing anything with rent protections during the pandemic, as well. But we moved forward, even though it wasn’t your business to do. Then the county followed up and added more protections. Just because it isn’t something you haven’t done in the past doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, now. We need to continue to look at protections for renters and workers during this pandemic. When this comes back, I hope the council has the heart to move this forward.”

Thorpe then said, “it looks like there are two folks who support it and two folks who don’t.”

“We did things during COVID-19 that were temporary because of things we were facing,” he continued. “We did take the step on convictions and we heard the concerns, there. There will always be concerns. This could create all these horrible things. But we don’t know that.”

“I haven’t been to my office in over a year,” Thorpe continued. “But every time I went to the grocery store I saw workers working their butts off. From my perspective we move forward with the ordinance…include Target, Walmart and Costco. From my perspective, if we look at the revenue these places are bringing in, they were doing fine during the pandemic. I find it insulting when people call it ‘premium pay’. This is hazard pay because people either decided, or didn’t have the choice, to keep working.”

“We won’t single out stores, but we will include language that will capture those stores,” Smith said.

“We can add Lowe’s and I favor the $5 pay,” Thorpe said.

“Lowe’s?” asked Smith.

“I’ve seen ordinances that have a grocery component in there,” Reed said.

“Oh, OK,” Thorpe responded.

Smith and Reed then got into a bit of a tug-of-war over who would include what language in a proposed ordinance.

“I’m the attorney,” Smith said.

“You look at from a legal standpoint and I’ll look at it from an economic development standpoint,” Reed responded.

“I’m the mayor,” Thorpe said, ending the discussion between the two city department heads.

City staff will return with an ordinance at a future council meeting for adoption.

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California, Contra Costa follow FDA, CDC in pausing use of Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Vial of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Source: CDC

SACRAMENTO – On Tuesday, April 13, 2021 the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statement from Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist, regarding the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

“Today, the CDC and FDA have recommended a temporary pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution. Of over 6.8 million doses administered nationally, there have been six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot with symptoms occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

“California is following the FDA and CDC’s recommendation and has directed health care providers to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until we receive further direction from health and safety experts. Additionally, the state will convene the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to review the information provided by the federal government on this issue. As the federal government has said, we do not expect a significant impact to our vaccination allocations. In California, less than 4% of our vaccine allocation this week is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”

For more information about the adverse effects, and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider. We will provide additional details on what this means for our state efforts as they become available.

The joint CDC and FDA statement can be found here.

In addition, the Contra Costa Health Services issued the following announcement on Tuesday about the matter, also pausing use of the J&J vaccine:

To ensure that every dose of COVID-19 vaccine provided in our county is safe for patients, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) will today temporarily pause its use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine while federal regulatory agencies examine new information about a possible, rare side effect that can cause blood clots.

CCHS is closely following guidance issued this morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding this vaccine. CCHS continues to administer the other vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., from Pfizer and Moderna.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is a very small part of Contra Costa’s vaccine allocation from the state and federal governments and CCHS does not anticipate cancelling any of its vaccination appointments at this time.

Patients with vaccination appointments through CCHS should attend at their scheduled time.

CCHS is not aware of any reported cases of adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccine in the county that were inconsistent with those documented during the extensive clinical trials conducted to ensure the safety of all vaccines used in the U.S.

The risk of an adverse reaction for people who received Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago is extremely low, according to the CDC.

People who received this vaccine more recently should contact a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms such as severe headaches, severe abdominal pain, severe leg pain or shortness of breath – these symptoms are different than the usual, minor reactions that some people may experience in the day or two following their vaccination.

The FDA has not received any reports of similar side effects associated with the use of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

CCHS will update the public at as more information becomes available about this developing situation.



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Antioch Council approves formation of police reform “committee of whole” council on split vote

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Postpones formalizing police notification of council and public of major incidents

By Allen Payton

During the Antioch Council meeting Tuesday night, April 13, the members approved on a 3-2 vote to form a committee of the whole council to handle police complaints. It’s intended to be a temporary measure until a citizens committee is formed to handle the task. In addition, the council formalized the protocol process for the Antioch Police Department to notify the city council

“We have this authority, now,” District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “What would be the difference? We’re sort of reporting back to ourselves. Why a secondary committee?”

“We’re just carving it out…so we’re transparent to the public,” Thorpe said.

“Our oversight powers are going to be very limited,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said, directing her comments to the city attorney.

“You will be limited to an advisory capacity,” City Attorney Thomas Smith responded.

“If that’s the need, then you just call a special meeting,” Ogorchock said to Thorpe.

“We’re going to be more deliberate and transparent about what we’re doing,” Thorpe said.

“Can’t you just put that on the agenda?” Ogorchock asked.

“This is a new body of work we’re doing, here,” Thorpe responded. “We discussed this during the police reform agenda and this is the direction the council wanted to go in.”

“Chief Brooks gives us use of force stats,” Ogorchock pointed out.

“Point of clarification, excuse me if I’m misinterpreting this, setting this up of the five of us is just temporary for passing this off to a citizens committee,” Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said.

“It was always meant to be temporary,” Thorpe said.

“An independent review body,” Wilson pointed out.

“That is probably the most important part of this,” Thorpe responded.

Wilson then made the motion to create a Standing Committee on Police Reform of the Whole City Council. Tamisha Torres-Walker seconded the motion.

The council voted 3-2 to approve the motion with Barbanica and Ogorchock voting no.

Police Notification of Council, Public Protocol Postponed

The council then took up the formalization of the protocol for the police department to notify the council members of major incidents that occur in the city.

Members of the public spoke, including some members of Angelo Quinto’s family, asking that the council also include timely notification of the public, and within 24 hours following an incident “through a variety of media,” as well as family members and others impacted, of all communications including press conferences.

“I want to say that I’m in support of an official protocol process…but I also want to acknowledge that in the last 60 days that I’ve received more texts and emails from the police chief and staff and want to thank the police chief for that,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “I also support the notification of the public…and victims…who are looking for communication from our police department. So, I agree there should be victim notification, as well.”

“This is something police chiefs, even former Police Chief  Allan Cantando, do,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said. “So, I’m not sure why we’re doing this because they are doing it.”

“We’re doing it because they did it wrong,” Thorpe said. “There’s no excuses for not getting information. There’s also frustration from council members that information doesn’t get to us in a timely matter. Some bloggers get information before we do who post on social media. That’s unacceptable. We shouldn’t get information from third parties in our community…when people gather information and use it to attack elected officials, when we do not know.”

“There’s also the concern of informing the public,” he continued. “But I want this to be tight. I will be offering amendments to this.”

Thorpe then offered additional language he wanted included in the resolution.

“One thing we may want to consider, once we have everyone’s feedback, is to bring this back as a consent calendar item,” City Attorney Thomas Smith suggested.

“That’s fine. We can do that,” Thorpe responded. We can add the component of public transparency.”

Smith suggested that the council consider two separate resolutions, and to get the feedback now and bring both back for adoption, later. The mayor concurred and no vote was taken.

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Antioch Council receives report on latest efforts to bring ferry service to city’s waterfront

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

By Allen Payton

A type of ferry boat operated by WETA that could eventually stop in Antioch. Photo: WETA

During their meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 the Antioch City Council received a report from a representative of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) on the latest information on bringing ferry service to the city’s waterfront.

Peter Engel, the Director of Programs for CCTA provided the presentation. Antioch Ferry Service presentation 041321

A financial feasibility study of Contra Costa County Ferry Service from 2015 through 2023 was completed in 2014. It sought to Create collaborative effort engaging Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the cities, other interested entities and CCTA. Evaluate financial feasibility of expanding WETA’s ferry services to Contra Costa County.

Near-term expansion routes identified in the WETA Implementation and Operations Plan (IOP) and Short Range Transit Plan only includes a stop in Richmond. Additional expansion routes identified in WETA’s IOP include Hercules, Martinez and Antioch. The interlined routes include Antioch to Martinez, Martinez to Hercules and Antioch to Martinez to Hercules.

Engel spoke of a pilot program for ferry service in Antioch.

However, “there’s currently not a funding source for a pilot program,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson said, “my first term on council we were talking about ferry service and ridership. Back then we were talking about the traditional ferry. Former Mayor Wright talked about the water taxi. Hopefully, we’ll get more information and more studies on that. I like how the routes you discussed from Antioch to Martinez, Hercules and Richmond.”

“I know this was an issue with the WETA Board…if there is a Contra Costa representative on the WETA Board, it would be good to have at least a Contra Costa, hopefully an Antioch representative on that board,” she continued. “I just wanted to know if that’s changed since then.”

“The structure on the board hasn’t changed. Sacramento basically selects the members,” Engle responded. “Three by the governor, one by the Assembly Speaker and one by the Senate Rules Committee. The only one who represents Contra Costa who is Jim Wunderman, the CEO of the Bay Area Council and a resident of Contra Costa. That would be something that would have to be taken up through the legislature. It’s something that WETA staff would support.”

“If we do this very right it could be very good for us,” Wilson continued. “I know the Larkspur Ferry has been hurting.”

“Larkspur is operated by Golden Gate Ferry…strictly to the City operation. It’s been hurt by the pandemic,” Engle responded.

“I sit on the CCTA, so I’ve had conversations about this with (City Manager) Ron Bernal,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “If there’s the possibility of a pilot program, we’d need to put some money behind it. Ron would need to show up to say we’re committed to doing something.”

“That’s fair enough,” Bernal responded. “Is the council still interested in moving forward and getting information on this?”

“The council is committed to moving forward. We are certainly 100% committed,” Thorpe replied.

“I’m concerned in a post-COVID world we don’t know what the commute will look like before we are committed,” District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “Where are we going to be with commuters? We don’t know.”

“That is some of the conversations that we’ve been having,” Thorpe responded. “The money tied up in the courts, right now will be coming,”

“I’ve heard of this since I first moved here, and I’ve been very excited about this,” said District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker who represents the part of Antioch where the ferry stop would be located. “I get the concerns Councilman Barbanica is lifting up, as well. But I also think as we learn to live with the virus…and go back to as normal as possible…that we have a ferry in Antioch and I’m excited about that potential.”

That was enough direction for both Bernal and Engle to move forward on bringing ferry service to Antioch.

The next steps include looking at service opportunities with routing to Pittsburg, Martinez, Hercules and Richmond; partner with other terminal cities; prepare Request for Information/Interest from private providers; and identifying funding. Potential funding could be from the Regional Measure 3 bridge toll revenue and COVID Relief funds.


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Antioch council approves forming new Rivertown Dining District and draft logo design

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Draft design of Rivertown Dining District supported by Antioch City Council. They requested changes to the type font and color.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 the Antioch City Council approved a new, Rivertown Dining District for Antioch’s historic downtown, promoting the current and future restaurants located there. They also had the option of either Downtown Dining District or Waterfront Dining District, or could have come up with their own, different name. Dining District Branding & Marketing Campaign presentation

The geographic area is within the existing Rivertown Business District, but a smaller area described as 5th Street to the River and E Street to the Marina.

Both District 2 and 3 Council Members Mike Barbanica and Lori Ogorchock said they preferred the design that included the paddle wheel with a fork, knife and spoon and the name Rivertown Dining District. But they wanted to Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson also liked the paddle wheel and naming it the Rivertown Dining District.

“I’m trying to get into it. Some people seem to be excited. Rivertown Dining District makes sense…it seems to be an existing brand of some sort,” said District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, who represents the part of the city where the new dining district is located. She supported the paddle wheel design, as well.

According to Sean McCauley, who owns several buildings in Rivertown and has brought several restaurants to the downtown, “they’ve reached out to several” restaurant owners for input.

“It’s been a long time on this project with our ad hoc committee,” he added.

The council also approved an ad campaign with Evviva Brands, the company the council hired in 2018 to rebrand the city with a new logo. According to the staff report, the ad campaign will include:

  • Dining District Microsite: Develop a district microsite including the district story, restaurant features, openings and hours, promotional videos, etc.
  • Streaming Radio Ads: During the initial Opportunity Lives Here campaign the best performing ads were streaming ads. We will develop ads targeting potential diners within a short drive of Antioch.
  • Light Pole Banners: Develop six unique light pole banners with a unique call to action and using the new mark, the Antioch master mark, and dining district footage.
  • District Dining Map: Develop a city map highlighting Antioch dining establishments with a focus on dining district restaurants.
  • Dining Card Design: Develop district dining card suitable for a restaurant stamp on the other side. Details of card copy content to be determined in collaboration with Antioch.
  • Branded Take-Out Containers: Develop art for branded take-out boxes showcasing the district.
  • Suite of Promotional Ads (digital and print): Develop a suite of digital ads in the various sizes

The motion to approve the name of the new district and the contract with Evviva Brands passed on a 5-0 vote.

David Kippen of Evviva Brands said they will bring back another round of logo designs with reversing the colors, looking at the lighter, salmon color for the text and different typefaces for “more refinement before we’re done.”


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Antioch council approves citywide “wayfinding” signage program

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 the Antioch City Council approved a new, citywide “wayfinding” signage program was approved, to give direction to parts of the city, including parks, trails, the marina and Rivertown. A total of $200,000 was budgeted for the project and an additional $150,000 was set aside for signage in Rivertown. But the total cost will be determined by the council during the budget process. All the signs would have graffiti preventing film. Antioch Citywide Sign Program presentation

The council settled on Scheme Two out of three options provided by the company hired to design, build and place the signs. The design will use the city’s new logo and color scheme approved a few years ago.

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Antioch adds another police officer to the force

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

New Antioch Police Officer James Desiderio and Chief T Brooks. Photo: APD

By Antioch Police Department

Please join us in welcoming Officer James Desiderio!

James was born in Alameda and grew up in Martinez. James attended College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. After graduating high school, James attended Diablo Valley College and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Administration of Justice. After college, James attended the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office academy and graduated last Friday. During his free time, James enjoys the outdoors, fishing, cooking, and traveling. James also enjoys spending time with family and friends.

A fun fact about James is that he is determined to compete in and win a food eating competition.

According to Chief T Brooks, that brings the total sworn officers on the force back up to 118.

Welcome to the Antioch Police Department, Officer Desiderio!

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Delta Conveyance aka tunnel Project Community Benefits Program Workshop 1 of 3 April 14

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Opportunity for neighboring community members to offer input of what they want from the impacts of the project

If you live or work in the Delta, we’d like to invite you to join an online workshop to provide feedback to the Department of Water Resources about the Community Benefits Program of the Delta Conveyance (tunnel) Project. On April 14, between 6:00 and 8:00 pm, Ag Innovations will facilitate a large online workshop to gather feedback from Delta residents on the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Community Benefits program.

To Register for the April 14 Workshop email
Click Here for more information.

However, as of Monday, April 12, the day the Herald received the notification of the meeting on the 14th, registrations are closed. If you would still like to participate, please email us at If you cannot participate in the workshop, but would like to provide input, please email us at A recording of each workshop will be posted, along with the background material, at

About the workshop: DWR is developing a community benefits program to acknowledge that if the Delta Conveyance project is approved it could have potential adverse effects on communities through construction of major capital projects. The Community Benefits program could create economic, social, and other benefits in the local community. A Community Benefits Program could go beyond what traditional “environmental mitigation” typically affords.

Why participate: While people oppose the Delta Conveyance Project, DWR has no expectation that participating in the workshops signals any support for the Delta Conveyance Project. The community benefits program would only proceed if the project were approved. But participating now provides community members a chance to shape the program to best suit the needs of the local community.

Ag Innovations is a 501c3 nonprofit and is committed to reaching out to underrepresented voices and creating meaningful opportunities to provide input, including at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic makes this challenging.  Please let us know if you have ideas for how we might work with you to bring your input into this process.

Stay tuned for additional workshops on the Community Benefits Program future workshops will be on:

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm.


From Scoping Summary Report.

What is the Delta Conveyance Project?

The state is studying the potential impacts and benefits of two possible routes for a tunnel in the Delta, labeled the Delta Conveyance Project. The proposal aims to protect the reliability of the State Water Project to deliver clean water to homes, farms, and businesses in the Bay Area, Central Coast, and Southern California.

The project would catch fresh water in the northern Delta – especially during storms – through two new intakes near the town of Hood. A deep underground tunnel would carry that water 40 miles to the southern Delta where it would be pumped into the State Water Project. The project would be constructed over approximately 16 years.

DWR is currently studying potential impacts on traffic, noise, air quality, and historical, cultural, recreational, and other resources.

They have launched the Environmental Justice Community Survey to better understand how the project may affect the resources, values, and priorities that are most important you.

(See related articles here and here)

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