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Antioch School Board hears about African-American promotion ceremony, LCAP, Kids’ Club, again

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

by John Crowder

Once again, it was standing room only at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Education, held on June 10, 2015. The overflow crowd in attendance addressed two main concerns, a recently held promotion ceremony for African American students and the on-going saga of Kids’ Club Preschool.

Also on the agenda were public hearings on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the budget for the District.

African American Promotion Celebration

AUSD Superintendent Dr. Don Gill wasted no time in addressing those present about the African American promotion ceremony that has generated so much scrutiny and concern on social media.

Reading from a prepared statement, Gill said, “I wanted to address recent concerns by some community members regarding an African American cultural celebration sponsored by an employee in his capacity as a community member. We acknowledge that there were some procedural errors that occurred regarding communication. We are looking into this so that we can ensure we are effectively communicating procedures for employees. However, I hope that this will not cloud or taint what was truly a well-intentioned positive event for our students. While we did not sponsor this particular event this year, we do see the value in holding such cultural celebrations as they are a chance for students to be recognized and honored and for all of us to learn more about the rich cultures of our students and our community.”

Some of those speaking during public comments, however, did not feel that District staff had gone far enough in supporting Dr. Lamont Francies, the organizer of the event, who recently took a leave of absence from his work as a counselor with AUSD.

This sentiment was most succinctly put forward by Lawrence Rasheed, Founder of Greatness Rediscovered In Our Time (GRIOT), a mentoring and advocacy group focusing on young African American males.

Rasheed stated that all of the Board members, and Dr. Gill, had been notified in April of the African American promotion ceremony that Francies had organized. He said that they should apologize to Francies for not supporting him when the controversy over the event began.

Kids’ Club

Representatives of Kids’ Club Preschool have been attending both Antioch City Council and AUSD School Board meetings in recent months, making various requests for assistance. The lease for the building used by the preschool (and owned by AUSD) is due to expire next month, and, among other things, the group has asked for a lease extension or land upon which to place modular buildings.

While several speakers spoke in support of the Kids’ Club program, as has been the case at each meeting where they have been present, this time one resident, Julie Young, spoke out in opposition to the requests they have been making.

Young began her remarks by saying that Kids’ Club was, “a good program.” But, she said, their requests for land and/or buildings were inappropriate, and, if granted, would be, “against good public policy.”

Pointing out that the program was given a year’s notice to find a new location, she called their demands for land, “a bold request.” “What they are really saying is, we are a private group that does a good thing, and you [AUSD] owe us…”

Young continued, “As a school district, you do not have the authority to give away land…funded by the taxpayer, to a private entity.”

Expressing her sympathy for those in support of the preschool, and looking for alternatives, Young concluded her remarks by telling all in attendance that other preschool options were available, including The Child Day Schools, located at 112 East Tregallas Road in Antioch, which recently announced an award of state funding that would allow them to take 87 additional preschool students.

LCAP Presentation and Hearings

AUSD staff gave a presentation on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for the 2015-2016 school year, and it was followed by a public hearing later in the meeting. A separate hearing was also held, on the 2015-2016 budget for the District.

Only a handful of people came forward to speak during the hearings.

Sharon Vela spoke in support of restoring and expanding the music program. Others spoke about continuing to engage parents in the process, and the importance of supporting cultural events.

Only one speaker, Willie Mims, Education Chair of the East County NAACP, questioned any of the spending that had been outlined, telling the Board that funding Vice Principal positions from money coming from supplemental funds was not permitted.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at 7:00 p.m. Meetings take place in the School Services Building, located at 510 G Street.

Alia Bickham contributed to this report.

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Tempers flare over speed bumps at Antioch Council meeting, Council approves new playground at Prewett Park without basketball court

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
Hudsons and supporters hold recall signs 1024x768 Tempers flare over speed bumps at Antioch Council meeting, Council approves new playground at Prewett Park without basketball court

Linda Hudson, center in orange shirt, holds a sign supporting Mayor Harper’s recall, along with supporters of the speed bumps on 11th Street in front of her house, while Kip Stevens spoke at the joint study session of the Antioch City Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. She, her husband Gerald, as well as Stevens and other supporters of the speed bumps on 11th Street, also attended the June 9th City Council meeting, causing a disruption.  photo by Allen Payton

by John Crowder

The temperature was rising outside, and the tempers of some local residents appeared to be keeping pace, as evidenced by the raucous crowd that showed up for the June 9, 2015, Antioch City Council Meeting.

A number of angry residents disrupted the meeting to voice their displeasure with the members of the City Council, and Antioch Mayor Wade Harper in particular, during the first half-hour of the meeting. From the very beginning, catcalls could be heard from those attending while Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen was conducting the roll call.

During the portion of the meeting set aside for community and civic announcements, Antioch resident Kip Stevens came forward to speak.

Promise,” he began. “Do you understand the definition of promise?”

After reading the definition, he addressed the mayor by his first name, and said, “Your claim to fame, as you were running for office, was zero tolerance for crime.”

Crime is the worst ever in Antioch,” Stevens continued. “Too bad the council is in denial.”

Stevens went on to complain about the conditions the city requires to be met before installing speed bumps.

The speed table conditions are unrealistic,” he said.

He pointed out that Council Member Mary Rocha had been in office seventeen years ago when the requirements for installing speed tables had been implemented. He said that the council should have informed him and others of the procedures when they had appeared, asking for speed bumps to be installed on 11th Street, at a previous council meeting.

Now it’s way out of control,” he said, referring to the installation of a speed bump on 11th Street by local residents, and city workers subsequently removing it, “and we’re going to keep fighting, until we get what we want.”

When the signal sounded that his time to speak had concluded, he continued on, saying, “I don’t care what the red light says, I want to be proud. I’m an Antioch citizen. Three generations here. We have businesses. Please help.”

As he left the podium, applause and calls erupted from his supporters in attendance.

Harper then informed those in the council chambers, “At this time, this is for civic announcements…after civic announcements, then we have public comments.”

Following Harper’s statement, the audience became more unruly. Harper began noting that some of those who had submitted speaker cards should be moved to the public comments section of the meeting, and people could be heard yelling things like, “Hold on there,” “Don’t cut me off,” “Really?” “Are you serious, now,” and other statements, unintelligible, as both the mayor and members of the audience were speaking at the same time.

Only two civic announcements remained to be given, however, and, once they were concluded, and Simonsen reported on board and commission openings, Harper called for public comments.

After Loretta Sweatt, a member of the City’s Economic Development Commission, spoke, saying she supported the council, and felt that they listened to everybody, Linda Hudson came forward.

Hudson, whose son, Timothy, was killed in April in front of her house on 11th Street in Antioch by a hit-and-run driver, said that when she had last come before the City Council [on May 26, 2015], she had requested that speed bumps be installed on her street. She then related that, after some sympathizers with her plight had installed them, city workers, overseen by police officers had, “on your orders,” ripped them out. She said this had all transpired while she was at her son’s funeral, and accused city workers of, “stalking her house,” waiting for her and her family to leave before taking the action.

Hudson told the Council that she had installed a camera at her home, was monitoring traffic, and would send evidence of speeding drivers to government officials outside the city in order to receive help. As she finished speaking, she twice rapped a gavel she had carried to the podium with her. (That was a reference to the last time she spoke, when the mayor had used his gavel to signal her time to speak had expired and she refused to stop talking). The audience broke out in loud cheers and applause.

Gerald Hudson followed his wife to the podium. After also complaining about the council not taking action on the request for speed bumps, he said, “It looks like to me right now, we’re going to have a long, hot summer in this council meeting.”

Paula Knight speaking after Mr. Hudson, was particularly unhappy with Harper, telling him, “You are the worst mayor we’ve ever seen.”

She complained about the level of crime in the city, referencing her sons’ car being stolen, and people being shot in town.

This is not the Antioch I want to live in any more,” Knight said. “You have not come through with your promises on zero tolerance.”

Karl Dietzel continued on the theme raised by the previous speakers.

All of you run your campaign on tough on crime,” he said.

He complained that the crime subcommittee was not meeting.

You have failed, all of you,” he said. “We hear constantly, excuses, excuses, excuses.

I’m sorry the recall failed,” Dietzel concluded, a reference to the unsuccessful effort to recall Harper. “But we have 2016 coming.”

Public comments ended, but those in attendance were not yet done venting. As a review of the Prewett Park development project was about to begin, the meeting was interrupted by a member of the audience speaking loudly.

Sir, can you remain quiet please?” Harper asked, as he banged his gavel.

You could address all the situation,” the man yelled back.

Can you remain quiet, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” Harper said.

I’ll be back,” was the response.

Another person could be heard saying, “Yeah, we’ll be back.”

Harper then said, “City council will take a break.”

There were a couple more catcalls, but the disruptive people in the audience were, at that point, filing out. In less than five minutes, the meeting resumed, with Harper saying, “Okay, had a little disruption there, but we’re back.”

A repeat of June 2nd meeting

This was the second meeting in a row that Stevens spoke and the Hudsons and their supporters were disruptive at a city meeting. That also occurred during the general public comments portion of the joint study session on the Downtown Specific Plan Update held by the Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission on Tuesday, June 2nd.

What was done on Monday was very, very. It’s hard because Tim was killed there,” Stevens stated. “You shunned us. The city doesn’t do anything for us.”

“You apologized in the newspaper,” he said to Harper. “You never came to any of us. Mayor mingle with us. Where was anyone in Antioch. Nobody showed up. We are here and we will be at every city meeting,” Stevens stated. “You just look astonished. We are amazed at what we’ve done. You guys just sit there like this guy’s another voice.”

“My street has been packed all day,” he continued. “I’ve never seen so many cop cars on my street before. Why? Because we stirred the pot. I’m the third generation in Antioch. It’s sad you just brushed under the carpet like some low life. We want our city back.”

“We want our town back,” yelled Linda Hudson from her seat, who, along with others was holding a sign supporting the recall of Harper.

“This agenda you sent us for the speed bumps, 14 years no one has applied for speed bumps,” Stevens continued. “We have to pay for speed bumps?”

It’s wrong but we will make it happen,” he concluded to cheers from the audience.

Following Stevens’ comments, the group was noisy in the hallway, and Officer John VanDerKlugt spoke with them, as they were leaving.

Prewett Water Park Plans

Also at the June 9th meeting, a presentation was provided to the Council regarding the Prewett Water Park development plans by Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Kaiser and consultant/project manager Lonnie Karste, among others.

Kaiser first explained that the presentation would be given in parts, so that each part could be discussed as it came up, as there were several components to the project, beginning with security cameras, and moving to a spray park, and finally to an all-abilities playground.

Karste began his presentation with a discussion of the security cameras. He said that the installation of security cameras was already underway, and that it should be completed by the 15th of July. The budget for the security cameras is $128,000.

The importance of children with all levels of ability to have access to water play was discussed by Kaiser with reference to the spray park and splash pad.

Karste continued then, saying that one of the reasons the development team had decided in favor of hiring Royston Hanamoto Alley and Abey Landscape Architecture and Planning (RHAA) was because of the work they did with their subcontractor, Aquatic Design. Karste introduced Dennis Berkshire, President, Aquatic Design Group, who continued with the presentation.

Berkshire, after summarizing his firms’ credentials, discussed the history of spray parks, detailing their advantages, such as the fact that they have no standing water. “The actual water quality…is far superior than if we had…a swimming pool,” he said.

Berkshire detailed two possible options for the spray park amenity. He presented overhead slides illustrating conceptual ideas for the project.

Following his presentation, the council appeared to be in awe of the possibilities.

Berkshire related that his group works with another firm, Water Odyssey, a company that specializes in the design and manufacture of aquatic play equipment. (See their website,, for photographs of water structures created by them.)

Following Berkshire’s presentation, the council discussed the options presented and chose the one tied into the natural landscape as their preference.

Proposed Basketball Court Raises Concerns

When it came time during the Water Park presentation to discuss the all-abilities playground, the proposal to add a lighted sports court (basketball court) to the project received substantial discussion.

According to Karste, with respect to the sports courts, “There was some concern” about having a lighted sports court in close proximity to a family-oriented, all activities playground (the distance between the two would be approximately 90 feet). The concern was because of the different age groups each area would attract. “There was a lot of concern expressed by staff about the basketball court…particularly the language,” said Karste.

Kaiser confirmed this concern, saying that staff recommended removing the basketball court. She also noted that removal of the basketball court would allow the project to fall more within the budgetary guidelines.

Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock, clearly concerned about the basketball courts and their close proximity to the all-abilities playground, asked, “Are they supervised courts?”

No, they are not,” Kaiser responded. “Drop in, informal play.”

Ogorchock asked if the basketball court was fenced in, and was told, “No.”

Harper asked how they chose the location for the basketball court.

Karste explained that this was the flattest area, and considering the soil, it was the least costly location.

Ogorchock continued voicing her concerns. She asked about police calls for service.

In response, Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando said, “For the last year, a year from today, there were 69 calls, but that encompassed alarms at the facilities.”

I did notice from the standpoint of security at the skate park we’ve had incidents of assaults, thefts, weapons violations, those types of calls at the unsupervised skate park,” he added.

Kaiser, in response to another question, said there were other basketball courts near the facility. “Deer Valley has basketball courts,” she said.

Kaiser later noted there were 12 basketball courts in the Antioch park system.

Ogorchock summarized her concerns, saying that she was not for the basketball courts. She asked Cantando for his view on them.

Cantando responded, “What typically happens when you have unsupervised areas, like our skate park, you do have those assaults there. What tends to happen is the strongest of the fittest, basically, takes over. If there’s younger kids using the facility, older kids will come in and take over. It’s happened at the water park, and its been demonstrated.”

He went on to say that the City of Brentwood does not open their skate park unless it is supervised and staffed.

So, Brentwood has staffed and fenced their skate park?” Harper asked.

Yes,” Cantando replied.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno asked if the chief had data on complaints and calls for service at other basketball courts [in Antioch].

Cantando said he did not, but from his experience as a police officer, the courts were typically used by middle school students and teenagers.

The language isn’t always the best,” he stated. “I have concern with this being in close proximity to kids playing in this park.”

Tiscareno said he envisioned kids having something to do after school.

I just don’t want to take away from the teenage element that needs something to do,” he said.

Tiscareno discussed finding ways to staff the court, or closing it during certain hours.

I do want to see accessibility for all ages, rather than having incidents at a shopping center,” he added.

Rocha also addressed the issue.

It’s a hard thing for me to actually not consider this basketball, because I know that the young people need it badly in that area and we were promising something similar,” she said. “But it’s also hard for me to figure out how to put them next to special needs population.”

Rocha also thought it might be possible to provide basketball in some other location.

Harper asked how close the skate park was to the potential playground.

A long way…at least 200-300 yards,” Karste responded.

Harper then expressed his support for the basketball courts.

When I spent days out there at Deer Valley Plaza talking to the kids…that’s one of the things they said,” he shared. “They didn’t have enough to do. The courts at the community center, you have to pay $5 to get in, I know we’re looking at that, which is good. The courts at the school district, at Deer Valley High School, which some made a reference to, they’re taken up.”

So, I’m going to listen to the voice of some of the young people that don’t have a voice, and, a lot of the teenagers, they don’t have a voice. We’re going to take a hit from the kids. They’ve spoken about this. I have listened, and I think we should have a court over there.”

He also said that it was not his opinion that there would be violent crime there, if the court was built, noting that, with surveillance and supervision, “those things are surmountable.”

Council Member Monica Wilson asked Kaiser if it would be possible to staff the courts, but Kaiser responded that, within the current budget, they could not do so.

Finally, Ogorchock made a motion to approve the recommended option with the expanded playground, but without the basketball courts Rocha seconded it.

Harper made another plea for the courts.

Our kids need things to do,” he said. “We have the largest youth population in the county. For us to assume there’s going to be violent crime…we can tackle the challenge of making it safe.”

I think we’re missing an opportunity,” he concluded.

Tiscareno said, “Thank you Mr. Mayor. I do appreciate your words. My sentiments exactly.”

The vote though, went against Harper and Tiscareno, by 3-2, and plans for the playground were approved without the basketball court.

The next city council meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 23. Meetings are held at the City Council Chambers, 200 H Street, and typically begin at 7:00 p.m.

Alia Bickham and Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch City Manager June Report – Efforts continue on Humphrey’s restaurant, police staffing at 86 officers

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

The following is from Antioch City Manager Steve Duran dated June 1, 2015:

Department/Division: City Manager/Economic Development

Project/Program: Humphrey’s Restaurant

Project/Program Lead: Lizeht Zepeda/Steve Duran

Project/Program Description: The City of Antioch owns the former “Humphrey’s on the Delta” restaurant. It is currently vacant and in need of extensive interior and exterior renovations. The City is seeking a well financed restaurateur, with a vision for a vibrant successful waterfront restaurant. The 12,400+ square foot restaurant is located in the marina overlooking the San Joaquin River.

Status: The City continues to market the restaurant through the commercial brokerage community and directly to potential tenants with the goal of finding the right tenant for Humphrey’s. The economy continues to show positive forecasts, which has continued to generate more interest in Humphrey’s. Staff has shown the building to several potential parties in recent months. As part of our due diligence city staff has met with Delta Diablo Sanitary, County Environmental & Health, and various kitchen designers to go over code compliances for the restaurant.

Next Steps:

- Continue to market property and show the space to well financed restaurateurs.

-Receive and review business proposals from interested parties.

- Engage specific commercial/retail brokers to market Humphrey’s.

Police Hiring

Department/Division: Police/ Support Services

Project/Program: Police Officer Hiring

Project/Program Lead: Capt. Tammany Brooks

Project/Program Description: The Antioch Police Department is currently authorized 102 full-time sworn positions. With the successful passage of both Measure C and Measure O, we intend to continuously recruit until all open positions are filled. Additional budgeted non-sworn positions will be filled with prior approval from the City Manager.

Status: We are currently staffed with 86 full-time sworn employees. 2 of these sworn employees are in various stages of the field training program. 6 sworn employees have medical conditions preventing them from reporting for full duty. We have 3 police trainees currently attending the 177th Police Academy at the CCC Training Center in Pittsburg, which began January 26th, and has a graduation date of July 24, 2015. We have 2 additional police trainees attending the 178th Police Academy at the Training Center, slated to graduate on November 13th. This leaves us with 11 remaining police officer vacancies. Dispatch currently has 1 opening for a dispatcher and 1 opening for a Dispatch Supervisor. The dispatcher position is currently in open recruitment with HR. We have one lateral police officer applicant who has successfully completed his background process and we are awaiting the results of his medical evaluations so we can determine a start date. We have one entry level applicant who is near the end of his background process. He would be attending the 179th Police Academy, slated to begin in September. We have 2 other entry level applicants and 2 Academy Graduates who are in the preliminary stage of the background process.

We recently completed an agility test and written examination. Oral boards for these candidates are scheduled for June 19th. Successful entry level applicants would be attending the 179th Police Academy. Our next agility is scheduled for June 26th.

Next Steps:

- Complete pending background checks on the entry level and lateral officer applicants currently in the process.

- Work to establish an active list of entry level applicants from the current pool of candidates.

- Continue to recruit and process applicants for Police positions.

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Antioch Council to hear public comments, discuss, vote on downtown plan update, at Tuesday meeting

Friday, June 19th, 2015
Downtown Specific Plan Attachment B Antioch Council to hear public comments, discuss, vote on downtown plan update, at Tuesday meeting

Downtown Specific Plan Refined Alternative 1, Attachment B, which includes three options for the former Antioch Lumber Company lot.

Consultant offers alternative with downtown park, event center, at the request of Ogorgchock, Rocha and Harper

By Allen Payton

Now is the time for interested residents and business owners to provide input to the City Council before they take their vote on the preferred plan for Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown area, Tuesday night’s council meeting. Comments can be sent either by email to Mayor Harper and Council Members, or by phone calls or by speaking at the meeting, during public comments on the agenda item number 10.

The study session held by the Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission on Tuesday, June 2 was standing room only, with a variety of residents and business owners sharing their thoughts and concerns with the plan. The majority of comments and applause were about having a downtown park and event center, specifically located at the old Antioch Lumber Company yard property. The lumber company was owned by Henry Beede and his family.

The lot, which has been owned by the city since the late 1990′s, bordered by West Second, West Third and F Streets, has been planned for multi-family housing of condominiums or townhouses, or a mixed-use development with retail, commercial and residential uses, during that time.

Ever since the city replaced the Barbara Price Marina Park with the new boat launch facility, downtown residents, represented by the Rivertown Preservation Society, whose president is former Antioch School Board Trustee Joy Motts, have been pushing for an event center on the lot, instead of housing.

The Celebrate Antioch Foundation, lead by Chairman Wayne Harrison, has taken the lead on the effort, submitting a rendering of a proposed event center. The non-profit organization has been organizing Antioch’s July 4th celebrations for this year and the past two years, as well as last December’s Holiday Delites Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

While most speakers weren’t opposed to additional, upscale housing in downtown, to bring more people to the area who would shop and dine in the area’s stores and restaurants, some speakers said they don’t want any housing.

Residents, business owners offer their thoughts

Who wants high density between Second and Third Streets, where there are the vest views of the river?” asked downtown homeowner Latasha Wallace, to loud applause. “We want a farmer’s market. We want car shows. We want concerts, again. We don’t want more people downtown.”

It is beyond reason why staff has not listened to the public,” said Motts. “Over one thousand signatures have told you not to put housing on the Beede lumber site. Celebrate Antioch Foundation has proposed an event center plan.”

Help us create something special,” she implored.

Downtown business owner and Celebrate Antioch Foundation board member Jim Lanter shared his thoughts.

We think too small,” he stated. “I’ve lived in downtown for 30 years and have had a business for 15 years. We need another place to stage events. I don’t think anyone talked to any retail business owners in downtown.”

We can bring thousands of people to downtown, if we create 10 to 12 events a year,” Lanter continued. “We just need the opportunity and the place to do it. Please help us.”

Former Councilwoman Liz Rimbault offered a historical perspective.

In the 1990′s the CRAWDADS defeated a development on the site,” she shared. “It’s taken us decades to reclaim some of our water front for the benefit of our citizens.”

Let’s not forget the high-pressure pipe placed underneath that lot. It pumps poop to 7A District,” Rimbault added.

One neighbor shared her thoughts.

I live across the street from the Beede Lumber site. I oppose the petition for a residential development because we’re in a serious drought, not to mention the lack of law enforcement.”

Lucy Meinhardt supported both housing and an event center.

I have a compromise,” she said. “Go for the most quality of life for all Antioch citizens. I am not opposed to a condo-type housing downtown. But, if we built one of those medium-density down by the marina. Give it time. See if the enhancements bring people to downtown. Just try and see what happens.”

A really important question is ‘who is it for, to increase revenues to the city through property tax or enhance the community that exists there, right now,” Carol Kuhn asked. “If it’s all about the money, I think it’s a mistake to think that way.”

Bring a higher quality of life up in priority,” she added. “Don’t worry about the money. The money will follow.”

Downtown Specific Plan Waldie Plaza Attachment D Antioch Council to hear public comments, discuss, vote on downtown plan update, at Tuesday meeting

Downtown Specific Plan, Expanded Waldie Plaza, Attachment D

Commissioners and Council Members ask questions, make statements

Commissioners and Council Members then asked their questions of the city’s consultant, Dick Loewke of Loeweke Planning Associates.

Economic Development Commissioner Joseph Adebayo asked him how he rated each of the three alternative downtown plans for economic and quality of life.

The quality of life issues are paramount, regardless of the plan,” Loewke responded. “Alternative 2 runs out of gas in five to 10 years. We tend to favor flexibility…”

He favored Alternatives 1 and 3, and it is those plans, with modifications and three sub-plans which are included in the staff report for Tuesday night’s council meeting agenda.

Loewke then added comments about “the importance of corridors that lead to downtown, L Street in particular. But A Street, as well.”

The issue of crime was broached.

A lof of people were concerned about crime. How will the high-density housing affect that?” asked Economic Development Commissioner Josh Young. “My family has been in the town for over 100 years. Beede Lumper was my uncle Frank’s business. I would like to see the lumber yard develop into a park.”

Loewke responded, “Crime has correlated into vacancies and deterioration. You have a spiraling downward. The crime issue is more of an issue of a lack of people presence.”

Another Economic Development Commissioner, Ken Turnage asked about the type of proposed housing.
“Is the housing medium- to high-income?” he asked. “If you’re going to bring money downtown, it has to be affluent people.”

Loewke agreed.

We want to bring as much disposable income to downtown,” he stated. “To support business activity, that would be ideal.”

Planning Commissioner Keith Archuleta offered his perspective.

What we’re looking for is balance,” he said. “I don’t see this an either or. We need foot traffic, downtown and consistent traffic. Events won’t be enough.”

It’s about what the market will support, over time,” Loewke responded.

Parsons wants to see action

What I want to see come out of this is action…now,” Planning Commissioner Martha Parsons stated emphatically. “Entrances into downtown, A Street needs landscaping. L Street needs a total revamping.”

Planning Commissioner Kerry Motts spoke in favor of a park on the lumber company lot.

A part at Second and Third provides a grand entrance to Rivertown,” he said. “It should be designed as a park.”

Celebrate Antioch has offered to build his park with no costs to the city,” he added. “Alternative 3 is preferred.”

The council members then shared their thoughts.

Ogorchock pushes for alternative with a park

If we truly are listening to the community, is there a reason we didn’t have Alternative 4 that includes a park at the lot?” asked Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock.

It can be easily added to any of these alternatives,” Loewke responded.

The parking lots need to bmoved to the outside of downtown,” Ogorchock stated. “We need low- to medium-density housing in downtown.”

I want you to talk about transit-oriented and walkable and bicycle-friendly communities,” Councilwoman Monica Wilson said.

Those are excellent ideas to include in any plan for downtown,” said Loewke. “This is a theme that needs to weave into the plan.”

He spoke of the three corridors that lead to downtown, Auto Center Drive, L Street and A Street.

One of the ideas is a shuttle system to the eBART station to bring people to the downtown and back,” he added. “Part of the General Plan is the circulation element, which includes bicycles.”

Wilson also mentioned the need for “renovations of some of our older buildings.”

Some require earthquake retrofit of unreinforced masonry buildings,” she added.

Councilwoman Mary Rocha said she supports “a fourth proposal, too, including a park.”

Now, we’re going to have to work together to finance this,” Rocha added.

Councilman Tony Tiscareno kept it brief, in support of additional housing, downtown.

We need the population, the folks to come in to have the businesses,” he stated.

Loewke offered additional comments on the alternative proposals presented at the June 2 meeting.

These alternatives were not intended to be one better than the other two,” he stated. “I tend to favor Alternatives 1 and 3 over 2 because it give you flexibility.”

He also said that “Alternative 1 has the greatest potential to support” a ferry terminal.

Getting people down there, keeping them down there, and the answer is move forward on all fronts,” he dded.

Harper said he wants “to come up with a plan we can all support to make this city better.”

As we consider adding more crime prevention through environmental design, proper lighting, proper landscaping, more accessiblity to police, small gathering places,” he continued. “I will support the two council members for a fourth alternative looking at the Beede lumper lot for a park.”

Duran offered his final comments to wrap up the meeting.

Retail follows residential,” he shared. “There’s a direct correlation between the density of the residential and the vibrancy of the retail.”

To see the complete council meeting agenda and staff report, for Tuesday night, June 23, please click here. See item 10 and click on Staff Report.

Antioch Council meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, between West Second and Third Streets in downtown, or can be viewed on Comcast Channel 24 or via live stream video on the city’s website by clicking here.

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Fire District provides more details on Thursday’s chemical release at Antioch Water Park

Friday, June 19th, 2015

IMG 0081 1024x1024 Fire District provides more details on Thursdays chemical release at Antioch Water Park

Battalion Fire District provides more details on Thursdays chemical release at Antioch Water ParkBy Battalion Chief Bob Atlas, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District

On June 18, 2015 at approximately 2:31 pm Contra Costa County Fire – Engine 82 (Antioch), Quint 83 (Antioch), Engine 81 (Antioch), Engine 88 (Antioch), Engine 85 (Pittsburg), Battalion 8 (Pittsburg), 1113 (BC of EMS) and 1102 Asst. Chief of Operations responded to a report of 10 to 12 children getting sick from drinking pool water at the Antioch Water Park at 4701 Lone Tree Way in Antioch.

Upon arrival of the First AMR Unit (PM175) the incident was upgraded to an MCI Tier 1 based on reports of 15-20 patients. Battalion 8 upgraded the response to add 2 additional Engines. Engine 82 arrived on scene established Prewett IC and requested County Hazmat. A medical group was established with Captain 88 as Med. Group Supervisor.

After carefully assessing the incident it was found that more patients were coming forward and the incident was escalated to a Tier 3 MCI. Notifications were made to all agencies. A total of 34 patients were treated, 17 were transported to area hospitals and 17 were released to their legal guardians.

Per County Hazmat, County Health and CCCFPD Investigators and with the cooperation of the City of Antioch and its Recreation Department a joint investigation into cause and origin was initiated. Those results are not available as of this writing. During this hour and a half incident no responders were injured and the water park remains closed this [Friday] morning.

Incident Statistics

RESPONSE: 1Truck Company, 4 Engines, 1 Battalion Chief, 1 Battalion Chief in charge of EMS, 2 Public Information officers, 1 Assistant Chief, 2 AMR Supervisors, 1 AMR Assistant Chief, 9 AMR ambulances, 4 Network Provider BLS Ambulances, Antioch PD, County Hazmat, County Health, 1 Tri-Delta Transit Bus.

ASSISTING AGENCIES: AMR, Antioch P.D., County Hazmat, County Health, Norcal Ambulance, ProTransport Ambulance, Falk Ambulance


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Special Report: Antioch and statewide programs target achievement gap of African American students

Friday, June 19th, 2015

By John Crowder

A self-described, “African-American Promotion Ceremony” for students moving from 8th to 9th grade who reside within the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) boundaries, held on May 29, 2015, generated tremendous controversy on local social media, both during and following the event. Many expressed surprise that such an event took place, with some calling it, “segregation.” Now, other school district programs, interventions focused on African American students, are also being questioned.

Antioch Herald staff have been researching these practices, though, and have found that events and programs targeting African American students are common throughout the state of California, they have been for some time, and are supported at all levels of public education, from the California State Board of Education (SBE) to local school boards and school districts.

Throughout the state, since the identification of a substantial gap between the learning outcomes of African American students and their peers several years ago, California’s local school districts have implemented numerous programs designed to close that gap. These programs have included: African American promotion ceremonies, school/parent organizations focused on African American students, reviews and modifications of policies related to the suspension and expulsion of African American students, training of teachers in “cultural awareness,” honor rolls for African American students, and special summer program classes for African American students.

In addition, and related to the achievement gap, the data regarding suspensions and expulsion rates indicate a vastly disproportionate number of African American students being subject to these two disciplinary measures which remove students from the classroom. Locally, this has been acknowledged repeatedly by District staff at AUSD board meetings in recent months.

In this article, we detail some of the history behind the initiatives that have been undertaken to address these matters, and relate current practices, typical of California school districts, focused on African American students.

SBE Creates African American Advisory Committee

As early as 2009, the SBE had become “alarmed” at the “achievement gap that exists between African American students and their counterparts.” On January 8 of that year, the SBE released a press statement regarding the creation of an “African American Advisory Committee.” The committee was to be composed of people, “from throughout the state who are knowledgeable about best practices and research related to improving the academic achievement of African American students.”

The need for an African American Advisory Committee was based on the results of two tests, the 2008 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), and on other statistics regarding such things as high school graduation rates. On the 2008 STAR test, only 33% of African American students in California scored at proficient or above on the English portion of the exam, and only 28% scored proficient or above on the math portion.

Other statistics showed that, in the 2006-2007 academic year, only 57.6% of African American students graduated high school. On the 2008 CAHSEE, African American students scored, “substantially lower” than other ethnic groups in both the English and math sections of the test. (Data was taken from a report provided to the California SBE by the African American Advisory Committee, and reflect statistics for the entire state.)

African American Advisory Committee Makes Recommendations

From January 12-14, 2011, the African American Advisory Committee presented their recommendations to the SBE. These recommendations included such things as:

  • Revise school accountability reports to more prominently display subgroup data

  • Take corrective action with, or sanction, local school districts that, “have compliance issues” relative to “disproportional rates of suspension and expulsion of African American students

  • Create, “culturally responsive systems”

Local Control Funding Formula requires Local Control Accountability Plans

Programs at the local school district level that focus on specific subgroups, such as African Americans (other subgroups that are delineated include Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian, Socioeconomically Disadvantaged, English Learners, Students with Disabilities, and Foster Youth), took a major step forward when, a little over two years after the recommendations were provided by the African American Advisory Committee, the state legislature created a new methodology to pay for California schools.

In July, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), significantly changing the way California funds its schools. In an effort to obtain more transparency from local school boards while at the same time ensuring greater accountability, schools were now required to create a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). School districts were required to create these plans with input from “parents and the community.”

LCAP plans must show how a local school district will spend funds and its goals for improving student outcomes according to priorities set by the legislature.

On the Local Control Accountability Plan Template, it states, “the LCAP must describe, for each school district and each school within the district, goals and specific actions to achieve those goals for all pupils and each subgroup of pupils identified in Education Code section 52052…for each of the state priorities and any locally identified priorities.”

According to CA Education Code 52052, “a school or school district shall demonstrate comparable improvement in academic achievement as measured by the API by all numerically significant subgroups at the school or school district, including: (A) Ethnic subgroups.”

State priorities include, “score on API,” “efforts to seek parent input in decision making,” and “promotion of parent participation in programs.”

Antioch Unified LCAP

Like many school districts in the state, AUSD has recognized an education gap with its African American students. A specific subgroup identified in AUSD’s LCAP is the African American subgroup. Additionally, one of the groups specifically identified as a “stakeholder group” in AUSD is the membership of the district-created African American Male Achievement Initiative (AAMAI).

Within the AUSD LCAP, and in accordance with state mandates, are stated “goals and specific actions” which then lead to various initiatives designed to address the identified learning gap with African American students.

Cultural celebrations, which is how many supporters of the African American Promotion Ceremony characterized it, are identified specifically in the AUSD LCAP (6/08/2015 Draft) as something the District intends to support.

Goal 2 of the AUSD LCAP says, “Antioch Unified School District will build inclusive school communities where all students, families, and members of the community feel welcome and valued.” Section 2.5d of the LCAP states, “Allocated school site funding will be used to provide activities that focus on connectedness, which includes, but is not limited to, cultural celebrations.”

Willie Mims, Education Chair for the East County NAACP, referenced this section of the LCAP document at the AUSD School Board meeting this last Wednesday, June 10, when he spoke in support of the African American Promotion Ceremony that had been the subject of the recent controversy. In a follow-up statement, Mims said, “Allocation of school site funds, cultural celebrations, promotions, holding and funding events beyond the school day to engage parents are all contained in Goal 2 of Antioch’s LCAP plan.”

African American focused programs in AUSD

Beyond the African American promotion ceremony, within its LCAP, AUSD includes several other actions/services that, according to the document, are specifically targeted toward African American males. For example, Section 3.2 of the document states, “The District will continue to support and strengthen the African American Male Achievement Initiative (AAMAI).”

Actions to be taken in order to accomplish this goal include such things as continuing to support AAMAI, expanding a “preschool program for African American males entering kindergarten,” expanding the African American Male Preparatory Academy (a program for students making the transition from middle school to high school), providing college tours and a college fair related to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, parent training and the creation of parent resource centers.

Section 3.12 lists several strategies to be implemented in order to, “reduce the number of days and occurrences of suspension especially for African American students who are disproportionately suspended and expelled.” The strategies include increasing, “the number of schools participating in Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS),” and strengthening, “restorative justice practices.”

Section 4.5 says the District will “Provide eight week summer program for students entering kindergarten,” specifically noting the African American subgroup as a target demographic. (The District emphasizes, in promotional literature for the program, that it is open to all, but also states that the curriculum is designed with the African American student in mind.)

Other School Districts Have Similar Programs

As noted above, Antioch is far from unique in the steps it is taking to see African American students achieve greater success in school. An examination of school district websites for districts in the Bay Area alone reveals that programs and strategies, similar to what AUSD has instituted, have proliferated.

For example, while Antioch has the AAMAI, in the Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) the Parental African American Achievement Collaborative Team (PAAACT) works toward similar goals. According to a brochure produced by the group, “PAAACT is an organization formed to advocate for parents and families of African American students in all grades and in every school of the district.”

Just as in Antioch, an African American Promotion Ceremony was held in Pittsburg, for students moving from 8th to 9th grade. While the Antioch promotion ceremony was held in a local church, and the resources used came primarily from private funds, the event in Pittsburg was clearly and visibly supported by PUSD. Their Superintendent, Dr. Janet Schulze, spoke at the event. PUSD school board member, Da’Shawn Woolridge, attended.

When asked about PUSD support for the Promotion Ceremony, Schulze said, “I was happy to attend, support and participate in the event. I thought it was a beautiful celebration and the PAACT did a great job in organizing it and the students and families were terrific.”

PUSD provided the use of the gymnasium at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, and the use of the school’s cafeteria to serve refreshments afterward. PUSD used LCAP funds in support of the event. According to Schulze, “We have funds in Goal 3 of our LCAP for supporting parent and family engagement as well as student celebrations.” Other supporters of the event included the East County NAACP and the City of Pittsburg. All students attending the event received certificates of accomplishment. Students obtaining a 3.0 or above were awarded medals, and three students who had obtained a 4.0 or better were awarded laptop computers.

PUSD, in its LCAP (approved by the PUSD Board on January 14, 2015), has language very similar to that found in the AUSD LCAP. PUSD recognizes both an achievement gap and a disproportionate number of disciplinary actions taken with African American students. The African American subgroup is specifically addressed throughout the document. Goals for this subgroup include reducing the percentage of suspensions and increasing the percentage of students meeting the UC/CSU graduation requirements. Actions include such things as providing workshops and training in “cultural competency” to staff, creation of an “equity task force,” restorative justice training, and strengthening community partnerships.

Community Groups Remain Engaged

With the implementation of LCFF and the requirement that local school districts create an LCAP with community involvement, there now exists an unprecedented opportunity for members of a community to band together and, ultimately, direct school resources toward the education of those students they represent. In Antioch, such groups regularly participate in LCAP development meetings, and lobby for funding of programs that they believe will help the students they represent succeed.

Community groups advocating for African American students are not the only ones attending these meetings, but they have been particularly effective in seeing programs, targeted toward their youth, funded and implemented. Certainly, as long as an achievement gap with African American students remains, or disciplinary measures remove African American students from classrooms at a disproportionate rate, the advocacy efforts being undertaken by these groups will continue, as will the targeted intervention programs they promote.

For more information about the AUSD LCAP and the AAMAI, visit the AUSD website, The next regularly scheduled meeting of the AUSD School Board is Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Meetings typically begin at 7:00 p.m., and are held at the School Services Building, 510 G Street, in Antioch.

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Antioch Water Park closed Friday, June 19th due to chemical malfunction on Thursday

Friday, June 19th, 2015

On Friday, June 19, 2015 the Antioch Water Park will remain closed to allow for continued testing of all operations and further review by Contra Costa County Environmental Health Department. Facility safety is the primary concern for all parties.

The Antioch Water Park closed at approximately 2:30 on Thursday, June 18, 2015 in response to a chemical malfunction in one of the five pools. All guests were escorted safely from the facility and individuals needing medical attention were treated.

Parks & Recreation Director Nancy Kaiser and her staff did a great job handling this incident,” said City Manager Steve Duran. “They were the first responders. They made decisions quickly.They removed the kids from potential danger and got the help they needed from CC Fire. When I got there, I saw no chaos or confusion. Contra Costa Fire had incident command and they, along with EMTs, CHP and Antioch PD were terrific.”

“When Chief Cantando and I arrived and were briefed by Nancy, CC Fire, etc., it was clear that everyone was communicating, working as one team and had the situation in hand,” he added.

If anyone has any questions about the Antioch Water Park they should call the Parks and Recreation Director at (925) 779-7078.

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Public input needed at Antioch General Plan, Land Use Element and Zoning Update meeting, tonight

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

 By Allen Payton

A joint meeting of the Antioch City Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission will be held, tonight, for public input on the Antioch General Plan, Land Use Element and Zoning Update.

The study session will include the following:

- Review the General Plan Land Use Element & Zoning Update preliminary work products

- Review and discuss the Focus Areas of the General Plan along with associated Zoning Designations and provide input on any changes that should be made

- Provide input on the General Plan and Zoning Update prior to formal consideration by the City Council on July 14, 2015.

The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center, located at 213 F Street in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown.

To view the agenda, please click here.

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