Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Watchdog: Antioch Police still understaffed in spite of two tax increases, not buying excuses

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Force back down to 87 sworn officers. Reported numbers don’t match, again.

Watchdog Logo 300x95 Watchdog: Antioch Police still understaffed in spite of two tax increases, not buying excusesBy Barbara Zivica

The Antioch Police Department remains understaffed despite passage of Measure C, a one half cent increase in sales in 2013 and Measure O, a business license tax affecting rental properties in 2014. Excuses, excuses.

Back in June, 2013 the department was saying they had 87 full-time, sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity although they had money to hire 102 officers. The excuse was that the application process was so rigorous they couldn’t hire fast enough to replace those who retired or quit. I called the excuse absurd because the department has had the same hiring process for years.

In July of 2014 Chief Allan Cantando stated that staffing was currently at 88 sworn officers and “Antioch is the second most populous city in Contra Costa County. Concord, which is the most populous city currently has 148 sworn officers, Richmond, the third most populous city currently has 190 sworn officers.” The same month William Dee, President of APOA, stated that Antioch was recently deemed the 4th Most Dangerous City in California per FBI statistics.

According to the recently released Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee Report, “At present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain This is five more officers than Antioch had in October 2013 based on information given to the committee.”

This statement obviously does not jive with reports given by APD to Council. (see above) Note Chief Cantando’s excuse now is that the problem is not a lack of applicants, it’s a lack of quality applicants who fall out during the hiring process. I query this excuse also, although there may a kernel of truth in that quality candidates just may not want to work in Antioch. I can’t say I blame them.

Although the Bay Area economy is on the rebound, many Antioch residents have either moved to neighboring jurisdictions or have announced their intent to. Reasons include the higher sales tax, abundance of empty commercial spaces, lack of good restaurants and the continuing crime problems, none of which have improved since Wade Harper, who promised the hiring of 22 more police officers, took office. (The Mayor, who was recently served with a recall petition, just announced his intention to run for re-election in 2016.)

As for Chief Cantando, who has been on the force since 1987, I suspect he is at or nearing retirement age. When he does leave, despite many excellent officers on the force, I sincerely hope the City Manager and Council doesn’t promote from within the department, searching instead to hire a strong chief, like former Chief Jim Hyde, someone who has no prior alliances in the City and who can view our continuing crime problems more objectively and effectively.

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Antioch Police Officers share thoughts on police staffing, crime in letter to the community

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The Antioch Police Officer’s Association would like to take a moment and address concerns regarding crime and the hiring of additional police officers. We are extremely pleased to see the citizens have raised their voices regarding these issues. We appreciate the support we as police officers have received from both the community and our city council. It is grass root efforts that will make this city come together and reduce the crime in our community.

The APOA has had recent meetings with Mayor Harper and other council members in an effort to establish goals and continue to bring more officers to the fight. In the last year, we have made great strides in both hiring of new officers and lowering crime with directed patrol efforts and we are seeing a difference. We believe Mayor Harper and the council are dedicated to giving the Antioch Police Department the resources it needs to reduce crime.

The Antioch Police Department Administration along with the Human Resources Department have been working diligently to conduct interviews and hire the most qualified applicants for the available positions. It is imperative to understand that this is a very long tedious process but crucial to find the best officers. We the APOA want everyone to understand, the crime problem within our community, did not occur over night. The economic downturn, prison release programs, and poorly written propositions are all part of the equation. There is no one person to blame for the crime in our community and this includes Mayor Harper.

The APOA would like to ask the community to come together and use this grass roots momentum to reduce crime. There are several steps you can take which will greatly affect our efforts.

If you see suspicious activity or a crime in progress please call. You can remain anonymous but please remember you are our best witness. Become part of your neighborhood watch program, this will have a direct effect right in your own backyard. Volunteer within the community for events such as neighborhood clean up or become one of our many volunteers in Police Services.

In closing, the APOA feels that we do have the support of the Mayor and council as well as our community. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel and with your help can make great strides in solving this problem.

Thank you,

President
William Dee

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Writer says Bonilla has muddled record on gay rights

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Susan Bonilla must come out to voters on her gay rights record.

As a member of the LGBT community, I am appalled by Assemblywoman Bonilla’s muddled record on gay rights. Not once in her candidacy for the 7th State Senate seat has she explained why as Supervisor she voted for Contra Costa not to stand up against Proposition 8.

Bonilla’s deciding vote made us the only county in the Bay Area to not join the fight against Proposition 8, even though her district voted overwhelmingly against it. And while today she claims to be a support of gay rights, her endorsement of pro-life, anti-gay candidates flies in the face of her newly formulated positions.

There’s only one candidate on the ballot who’s consistently supported marriage equality since her first day in office, and that’s Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan. Joan opposed Proposition 8 when it was politically unpopular, and has a zero-tolerance policy for endorsing candidates who do not support equal rights.

Please join me in supporting Joan Buchanan for State Senate on March 17, 2015.

Robert D. Camacho, Concord

Camacho was a candidate for the Concord City Council in 2012 and a 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton Delegate from the 10th Congressional District to the National Democratic Convention.

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Democrat club leaders explain their support for Buchanan in State Senate race

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Why the Grassroots Democrats
are for Joan Buchanan

Four local Democratic Club Presidents say why they support
Joan Buchanan for Senate District 7 in the March 17th primary.

Submitted by Ellis Goldberg

Four Democratic clubs endorsed Joan Buchanan and are actively working on her campaign. Club members are sending personal notes to voters urging them to vote for Joan. This is what the club presidents are telling voters.

Brodie Hilp Democrat club leaders explain their support for Buchanan in State Senate race

Brodie Hilp
President
San Ramon Valley Democratic Club

Joan has spoken at our club many times and each time we are amazed at her expertise on a wide range of issues such as California water issues and the California budget. If you attended the candidate debates, you heard the other candidates speak in platitudes and generalities. In contrast, Joan’s answers were thorough and at a much higher level than the other candidates. Another example of her intellect and commitment to high standards is when she rescued several legislative bills from erroneous wording which would have left loopholes and cost taxpayers money. Besides her intellect, equally undeniable is her passion for public education and compassion for the children in California. In summary, we at the grassroots level support Joan for State Senate. She may not be good at wooing big organizations with big money for campaigns, but she is has a big heart and the intellect to get the job done right.

 Ellis Goldberg Democrat club leaders explain their support for Buchanan in State Senate race

Ellis Goldberg, President
TriValley Democratic Club

Joan Buchanan does her homework!State legislators consider 1700 bills in each two year session, they can’t have a good grasp of all of them. When state legislators need an analysis of the effects, costs and unintended consequences of a particular bill under consideration, they go to Joan. She is a highly respected, influential “GO TO” legislator known for insightful thought out analysis. When other legislators can’t get their head around an issue they come to Joan. That’s how she leads. It is not enough to vote on the issues, championing issues is required. Joan Buchanan is a champion.”

Karen Cohen Democrat club leaders explain their support for Buchanan in State Senate race

Karen Cohen
President
Diablo Valley Democratic Club

Our club unanimously endorsed Joan because of her integrity and her grasp of complicated issues that is the result of diligent study combined with unusual intelligence. We know we can count on her to make decisions for the good of all citizens.Joan is committed to securing a positive economic future by passing responsible, performance-based, balanced budgets; supporting small businesses and innovative technologies; and prioritizing education in order to ensure a competent workforce.

Jane Walter Democrat club leaders explain their support for Buchanan in State Senate race

Jane Walter
President
Democrats of Rossmoor

Our club has voted to endorse Joan Buchanan’s candidacy for the State Senate for many reasons. Joan has a special relationship to Rossmoor. She is a dues paying member of our club and a popular speaker at our meetings which she attends on occasion. Joan has held constituent meetings on our campus and understands the needs and interests of the Rossmoor community. As our representative in the State Assembly, Joan was especially effective in the areas of technology, fiscal planning, and education. She is a passionate advocate for our public schools. Joan always does her homework and has never failed to impress us with her deep understanding of the issues facing our state and region. We know that she deeply cares about the causes she supports and never acts or speaks out of political calculation. As our State Senator, Joan would continue to work for the causes which we as Democrats would like to see supported in the State Legislature. 
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Letter writer says a Bonilla victory will cost taxpayers for another special election

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Dear Editor:

While both candidates for the upcoming State Senate special election are very much in alignment on paper and in their votes on the issues, one of the best reasons to vote for Joan Buchanan on March 17th is that if the current Assembly Member Susan Bonilla wins, it will trigger yet another special election, thus costing our great county over one million dollars; money that could well be spent on other programs and services.

The next step is for Assembly Member Susan Bonilla to finish up her just recently elected two-year term and let’s send Joan Buchanan back to Sacramento to continue to protect seniors, make college more affordable, and keep our budgets balanced. It is a win-win.

Ken Richard, Walnut Creek

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Letter writer questions power of State Democratic Party versus local club endorsements

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Dear Editor:

The conundrum of the California Democratic Party versus the local Democratic club endorsements. The California Democratic Party endorsement of Susan Bonilla in the State Senate District 7 race was based on the outcome of a vote of 75 local people authorized to vote in this internal party process. A total of 44 additional votes were gathered by Bonilla thanks to a greatly discredited rule that allowed any state legislator currently in office to get ‘proxy’ votes from anywhere in the state. Advantage Incumbents. (The rule’s been removed from the Party By-Laws, but not officially until May, so it was still ‘legal’ to use this procedure).

The Democratic clubs within Senate District 7 that have chosen to make endorsements represent a larger group of people.

Joan Buchanan endorsements:

Rossmoor Democratic Club – 600+ members

Diablo Valley Democratic Club -  70 members

Tri-Valley Democratic Club – 60 members

San Ramon Democratic Club – 73 members

Susan Bonilla endorsements:

Concord Democratic Club – approximately 20 members

Do the math.

Sue Hamill, Walnut Creek

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Antioch recall leader responds to Mayor Harper’s response

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Dear Editor:

Mayor Harper’s response to the recall can be summed up in a few salient points:

Mayor Harper has sworn in 10 police officers.

The mayor’s claim is years late.  In 2010 he started his getting tough on crime and had zero tolerance to crime.campaigns.  Again in 2012, same thing and in 2013 was going to hire 22 officers.  In 2010 the Antioch Police department staffing was authorized for 102 positions, they had 90.  In 2015 they are still authorized for 102 positions and they still have 90. Doesn’t seem like much of an emphasis on zero tolerance or being tough.

Mayor Harper claims the recall will cost $198,994, the cost of two officers.

The mayor’s claim is so exaggerated it is ridiculous.  Measure O cost one-fourth of that amount and is likely to be the same if not less and if an officer costs $100,000 then why didn’t he authorize the hiring of 42 officers instead of spending over $4.5 million on overtime in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  That was OT only, not benefits or base pay, OT only.  Obviously the city had the money.

Mayor Harper says “under his leadership” he got a grant for $625,000 to hire 5 officers.
The mayor’s forgot to mention that is for 3 years only.  What happens to the 5 officers when the funding runs out after 3 years.  When is this going to happen since it took 5 years to get to a net zero in police staffing?

Mayor Harper says, “Police Department conducts weekly crime suppression operations – one of which resulted in 87 arrests in just a five-day period.” 

Which is a true statement, but if you were at the council meeting when the chief explained there were 150 officers and 8 agencies involved and only 7 of those 87 arrests were Antioch’s.  Yet another gross exaggeration by the mayor.

Mayor Harper states twice, regarding safety that, “Our families deserve to feel safe, ” and “Nothing is more important than keeping our neighborhoods and children safe.” 

Mayor Harper, the problem is we don’t need to “feel safe”, we need to “be safe” and if nothing is more important then why haven’t measures been taken to ensure success in maintaining safety of the neighborhoods and children.  Ensuring safety is not abandoning children after a couple of visits to Deer Valley Plaza and then coercing the AUSD to hire security to detain the children and let the APD arrest them.  What happened to “no child left behind”.  The Deer Valley Plaza takeover by Strategic Threat Management has done nothing but move the problem to neighboring establishments.  What the Mayor has been successful in is promoting their disrespect of the APD and fear of the STM.  They know the APD won’t arrest them so they go where they are safe. Their fighting, en mass, has not stopped, just moved.  Their problems have not been addressed, just moved.

Mayor Harper claims to have, “ended work furloughs city-wide”. 

That is correct, but only after withholding information from the voters to ensure passage of Measure O.  The City of Antioch received the following payment and never let anyone know until voting had started on Measure O it appeared passage was successful. The following payments were received and the information withheld on:

Apr, 2014 – $2,698,000+

Jun, 2014 – $550,000+

Oct, 2014 – $269,000+

A total of over $3.5 MILLION

The City of Antioch waited over 6 months to bring the city back to full-service for the sole purpose of withhold that information to help ensure the passage of Measure O.  Measure O only passed by less than 600 votes.  How people do you think would not have voted for Measure O had they known how much the City of Antioch was sitting on.  How many city employees would have preferred to be working full-time instead of waiting nine months.  How many residents and business do you think would have preferred to have the city full-service instead of waiting nine months.

Mayor Harper wants everyone to believe that he is powerless and does not have the ability to do what he said he was going to do.  The fact is, he shouldn’t, the reality is, he does.  A recent article in the Antioch Herald exposed another power play by Mayor Harper to take control of the city council for the last two plus years.  The City Manager not only condoned what the Mayor has done, he supported it and argued that it’s existence has been around long before Harper, a fact dispelled by the prior mayors and council members.

The fact is that the leadership of the City of Antioch must be changed and replaced with person(s) that care about Antioch, not just political aspirations. 

Mayor Harper makes all kinds of claims and promises, but the reality is none of them are real or have happened.  What is real is how much the average person is losing because of higher costs and lower housing resale amounts, both of which amounts to huge losses in revenues to the city.  Additionally, residents end up paying higher auto and housing insurance premiums.  Shopping visits include trips to other cities for security reasons and because so many businesses have moved out of Antioch.  The list goes on and on and is never ending – all because of a lack of tolerance toward crime and being soft on crime.

Rich Buongiorno

Antioch

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Payton Perspective: Antioch Council listens to the public, stops requiring agreement of three to get item on agenda

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Unanimous decision sets things right, the way they’ve long been practiced in Antioch

Payton Perspective logo 300x140 Payton Perspective: Antioch Council listens to the public, stops requiring agreement of three to get item on agendaBy Allen Payton

Sometimes you CAN fight City Hall and win. Tonight was one example. After two weeks of Antioch residents, community leaders and this newspaper rising up and challenging the practice by Antioch Mayor Wade Harper requiring a consensus of council members to allow any one of them to get an item placed on a future council agenda, the City Council voted 5-0 to eliminate the practice.

After multiple speakers all opposing the practice to various rounds of applause from the audience, and in spite of City Manager Steve Duran’s best efforts to convince the council – although incorrectly and repeatedly – that this was a long held practice, the council decided it was best to let each individual council member represent the people who elected them, properly.

The one thing that Duran did get correct about how things were done by previous mayors, was that they would meet with their city managers to set the meeting agendas. But, no one was ever arguing that. The issue was what was being placed on the agenda and that it was not the mayor’s right to deny a council member to have their item placed on a future agenda.

Before Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock made her motion to eliminate the practice, it appeared things were just going to remain as they have been for the past two years, with Harper and Council Members Mary Rocha and Tony Tiscareno supporting the status quo with a head nod of three council members to agree. But, with Council Member Monica Wilson stating she felt it was best for any council member to be able to place an item on the agenda and Rocha seconding Ogorchock’s motion, it was clear the motion would pass.

To support his argument that this was not a new practice, Harper pointed out one time in the 28 years prior to him being elected Mayor, when a council member didn’t get their proposal placed on the agenda. He said he watched a meeting when then-Council Member Reggie Moore tried to get his idea of a police oversight commission placed on a future agenda. Then-Mayor Don Freitas said he would speak with the city attorney about it. I’m not aware if it was ever placed on the agenda. But, even if it wasn’t that was only one time that happened.

Rocha attempted to support the same argument by reminding people of when she was Mayor, and I was on the council, and we had two council members who were part of a group of citizens that were rather controversial and caused challenges during council meetings. But, as a reminder, that wasn’t because of crazy ideas the two council members wanted or had placed on the agenda, but rather their supporters speaking on almost every agenda item, at every council meeting, causing them to last as late as 3 a.m. That’s why our council changed the public speaking time from five minutes to the current three minutes per person per agenda item.

Besides voting for the motion, the other good thing Harper did was to publicly apologize to Ogorchock for making her feel her proposal, of hiring three more Community Service Officers for the police department, would not be placed on a future agenda, during the January 13th meeting.

It was eye-opening, however, to learn from an additional survey city staff conducted in the past two days, that other cities in Contra Costa County follow the practice of requiring a consensus of council members to get an item placed on a future agenda. I’m just glad Antioch hasn’t followed that practice, except for during the past two years. I agree with Ogorchock who stated said she wanted Antioch to be the leader and let other cities follow us, rather than the other way around, on this matter.

This issue and the minor skirmish that ensued, reminded the city council and staff of whose government this is – ours, we the people – and makes me pleased that representative, responsive government still works in Antioch. It also reminds me of the old saying “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

So, thank you to the council for taking the right course of action on the issue of getting items on future agendas, tonight.

To our readers and residents of Antioch, the Herald will continue to challenge our elected representatives and hold them accountable, and keep you informed of their actions, both good and bad.

As for the mayor’s idea of having a moment of silence at the beginning of the meeting for prayer or meditation, that didn’t bother me, nor would it have violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. If the U.S. Senate can open with a prayer by the Chaplain of the Senate, surely a moment of silence is acceptable, as well.

I had left the meeting before that discussion, so, I was surprised to learn, later that the council vote 4-1 against the idea, along faith lines with the four Catholic members voting against Harper, the one Protestant member on the council. So, I guess everyone will have to just continue saying their prayers before they show up for council meetings. I just pray all requested items get placed on a future agenda!

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