Following is the speech given by Antioch real estate broker, Mark Jordan, to the Antioch City Council at last week’s meeting regarding the settlement he and the City reached, two weeks before. It was over a suit Jordan brought against the City for illegally transferring over $300,000 per year from each of the sewer and water funds to the police department. The practice has been going on for years. (See the previous Herald article with details about the settlement).
The item on the Council meeting agenda, was the last of 22 items.
My name is Mark Jordan and I’m a citizen of Antioch.
Well, if I was to speak to you all any later I guess it might be; tomorrow. But maybe you all were just saving the “best for last”.
“Call me crazy”, but I was beginning to think you didn’t want to hear what I had to say. Or, for that matter what any of the town’s folks had to say, who don’t agree with City Hall or management.
For too long government in general has been acting like an addict. With an unlimited stream of public money how could they not. Management developed a habit; and just wanted more and more.
But with the Great Recession the party came to an end. So; like all good addicts they went looking for “more” somewhere else.
In Antioch the addict found what they needed in the funds of water and sewer. They thought, “Hey, no one will miss a little, we’ll just cut a little bit.”
And, the wall of denial was standing tall, and management sold the idea to the City Council .
“After all a taste of it; won’t hurt you.” Let’s call it what it is; a “Gateway transfer of funds.”
The initial step is to admit you have a problem. So, I’m saying today is the day the City of Antioch begins changing its behavior.
First, I’d like to thank Eric Benink, my attorney for all his hard work, council and assistance in ac
hieving what we perceive to be an amicable settlement. Mr. Benink is a fine attorney who knows his business and who was a pleasure to work with.
Please don’t confuse settlement on our part with a “lack of will”, or agreement with a “lack of tenacity.” Both Mr. Benink and I have more than enough tenacious will.
Mr. Benink did an outstanding job and while I hope his service will not be needed in the future, I already have his commitment for representation in the future.
In a recent Times article, Mr. Cole, your council in this matter, states that the City intends to obtain a study to justify future transfers that I’ve worked to stop. What that article fails to mention is that the City already ordered and obtained a study. It just wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. The methodology was unfounded in fact or practice and in whole it was a waste of $25,000 City dollars.
Proposition 218, an amendment to the State Constitution, is very clear. What you all need to understand is that the sworn testimony of the Police Chief is, and remains that no special services are provided by police to water and sewer enterprises and as such no transfers from enterprise funds may occur.
You cannot hide the facts. They do tend to be stubborn.
Other bogus transfers need to stop as well. Measure C money is being spent for things it was not intended or represented to fund. After all, it was to be for new officers and not per-existing officers or per-existing unfunded retirements or; deceptive administrative City fees.
If this and future councils don’t make corrections concerning Measure C implementation it will sunset and have no chance of renewal.
Tiered water rates and the failure to collect Measure O funds are also issues that need immediate attention and corrections by the next council. So, I guess, we will have something to discuss next year.
I would like to let everyone in town know there is a website available called www.prop218andthecityofantioch.com which holds all of the documents, interrogatories and depositions along with a copy of the settlement agreement. It was created to provide transparency to Antioch, it’s citizens and the State of California.
Ms. Rocha and Mr. Harper. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your service to the City. While I have not often agreed with your decisions, statements or actions; I recognize how much it takes to hold a leadership position. Thank you for your service.
To Ms. Wilson; congratulations and we’ll see you next year.
To Mr. Thorpe and Mr. Wright; congratulations, study hard and pay attention to the details. They matter. Let’s work to make Antioch all it can be.
Mr. Duran, I read you gave your tentative notice to; get ready to get going, to maybe, possibly be retiring in August. That you desire to spend more time with your family. And, that is a worthwhile personal goal.
To the New Mayor and Council members I say, please help Mr. Duran achieve his “life plan” sooner than August. Let us all wish him well together.
To every citizen of Antioch I say; your voice can be heard. I’ve had many phone calls of support and many face to face personal encouragements to press forward with this action. Not once did I hear, “don’t do this”.
So now, twice I’ve stepped up in an effort to help and guide the City of Antioch. Once in support of Religious Freedom and this second time concerning proper budgeting.
I’ve only asked that the City comply with federal law and the California State Constitution. And, after all these are not unreasonable requirements.
Citizenship doesn’t suggest an individual step forward, it’s really a requirement to maintain our republic and way of life.
Aaron Sorkin once wrote a little screenplay called “The American President”. They made it into a movie. And while I’m certain he didn’t envision our current circumstances nationally at the time he penned it, I’m going to quote part of his work because it is good; and I respect the content, and the man.
“America isn’t easy. Americas is advance citizenship. You’ve gatta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”
And, Mr. Sorkin is correct, sometimes a fight is required.
It’s just that to stand up; you have to reach down deep inside yourself to find the conviction and character; we all have. That everyone has.
You have to be bold, and brash and some might say “crazy”. But; you can fight City Hall; and you can prevail. Light can prevail over shadows and darkness.
To every resident in Antioch I say, we can make this a better community. Don’t give up. A better City can happen when you join together.
Well, so here we are in settlement. This action is resolved. Almost a million dollars returned. And the attorneys paid.
But, to be crystal clear “my 15 minutes” are not up. I’m still prepared for the fight. And, I’m still here.
In closing, I leave you with this thought from Rob Siltanen. If you don’t know who he is; well, he worked for Steve Jobs on the Apple “Think Different” program; And he wrote the following. Let me paraphrase:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
This small part of the world, our City of Antioch has been changed.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to you all.
Thank you, and good evening.