Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category
City of Tracy says Harper resigned, didn’t retire as police lieutenant, as he claims; Harper disagreesFriday, August 19th, 2016
Ballot designation challenge must be filed by Monday, August 22
By Allen Payton
After he was elected Mayor of Antioch in 2012, Wade Harper stated that he had retired as a lieutenant with the Tracy Police Department to serve as mayor full time. However, he was only age 48 at the time and his retirement payments wouldn’t begin until after he turned 50. With 24 years as a police officer in El Cerrito and then Tracy, his retirement at 3% times the number of years he worked is equal to 72% of his final year’s salary.
The pay for his part-time position as mayor, is only $942 per month in the form of a stipend, plus $450 transportation allowance, a $100 per month communication allowance, plus medical benefits, which is far less than his monthly pension.
So the question arose of why would a police officer retire almost two years before being eligible to collect on his retirement?
It was confirmed this week, that Harper did not actually retire in 2013 from the City of Tracy Police Department, as he has claimed. Instead, he resigned, according to City of Tracy staff.
“Mr. Harper did in fact resign in 2013,” said Kim Dunaway with the City of Tracy Human Resources Department.
When asked again, “so, he didn’t retire?” she replied, “No. He resigned.”
Allegations about the reasons for Harper’s resignation have not yet been verified.
But, Harper has continued the misrepresentation about the end of his law enforcement career. In his ballot statement during his campaign for County Supervisor in this year’s June primary election, he wrote “24-year law enforcement veteran police manager (retired).” His ballot designation was “Mayor/Retired Policeman.” His ballot designation for his re-election campaign is also “Mayor/Retired Policeman.” 2016 Harper Supervisor Ballot Statement Harper 2016 Mayor Ballot Designation Worksheet
The only way to force a candidate to change their ballot designation once it has been accepted by either the County Clerk or City Clerk is in court. A challenge must occur within 10 calendar days after filing closed and anyone can challenge it. Filing closed on Friday, August 12, so a challenge in court must occur by Monday, August 22.
When reached for comment about the issue and why Harper was allowed to use the term “Retired Policeman” in his ballot designation for the County Supervisor’s race in June, County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla responded by email.
“For city council races the city clerks are the elections officials and would be the ones to decide on ballot designations,” he said. “For us we rely on what the candidates provide on their ballot worksheets. We have no authority to investigate.”
“The code allows for ten days for someone to challenge a statement or designation from the date filing closes,” Canciamilla added. “They have to go to court for a writ of mandate.”
City Clerk Arne Simonsen confirmed the 10 day challenge period and what he did to verify Harper’s information.
While Harper is receiving his retirement pay through the California Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and used that on his “Justification for use of proposed ballot designation,” according to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen.
“I had based my approval on his use of Retired Policeman in the Supervisor’s race,” he said. “I called PERS to verify he is receiving his retirement pay.”
Asked if he called the City of Tracy to verify, Simonsen responded, “I did not call the City of Tracy.”
He then showed a copy of Harper’s Ballot Designation Worksheet, which is a public document and can be seen, here:
Harper wrote “I am currently a PERS retiree after serving in law enforcement 24 years.” However, he did not provide any contact names, phone numbers or email addresses for Simonsen’s office to verify the information.
When asked if another candidate could not use the term “retired” in his ballot designation because he was laid off, why could Harper use the term if he resigned from police work before he had reached retirement age, and is now employed as a teacher at Antioch High School, Simonsen replied, “Obviously both the County Elections Office and I believed that he was a retired police officer.”
Two of Harper’s three challengers responded to the news. All three were asked if they planned to challenge his ballot designation in court, but none were willing to commit to doing so, yet.
“It’s unfortunate that Wade has lied to the community, once again,” said Gil Murrillo.
When asked when else he believed Harper had lied to the community Murrillo replied, “Not fulfilling his zero tolerance for crime commitment and his promise of 22 more police officers.”
Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock also responded.
“I’m in awe, actually,” she said. “I don’t know that I personally want to challenge it. He has to live with himself. I’m totally shocked. I’m befuddled to be honest. I don’t know what the reasoning is. I’m just sad. I don’t know why anyone would not tell the truth.”
Wright had no comment, at this time.
Harper responded by email with the following statement:
“Thanks for making me aware of the rumblings. This is the answer to your question. During a speed dating type meet and greet sponsored by the chamber of commerce in 2012 I was asked if I were to get an emergency call from the City of Antioch and the Tracy Police Department, which would I respond to. I was a full-time lieutenant at the time. While running for mayor at that time I could not say the City of Antioch would be the priority. Once elected to the mayor’s position I decided to take an early retirement and focus on being mayor. I was able to utilize my retirement savings from ICMA and my CALPERS retirement the following year. I left the city of Tracy, in good standing, to serve the citizens of Antioch. I was celebrated with a luncheon and was honored. I am an ICMA & CALPERS retiree. I welcome any challenge to my retirement status and designation by any of my opponents. I served am happy to serve. I have attached my service retirement 10-99R form. Feel free to use it. I redacted my social security number and payment amount, which is above $90,000 for my combined service at the Emeryville Police Department. The Tracy Police Department as a state employee.
Campaign season is in full effect.” Harper PERS 1099R form redacted
When asked additional questions regarding the allegations surrounding his resignation, Harper responded “You have my statement. I was not forced to resign.”
Please check back later for further details.
Dave Miller who is challenging incumbent Assemblyman Jim Frazier in his race for re-election in the 11th Assembly District, issued a statement opposing Frazier’s proposal for an increase in the gas tax.
Following is Miller’s statement:
There are two undisputed facts that everyone should know: California has the highest Gas Prices of any state that is not an island. There are a number of reasons for this and all of them originated in our legislature.
Gas and Diesel taxes hurt the working poor more than any other group. The working poor are more likely to commute farther for work -that alone is enough of a burden, they have to drive more. In addition to that, increasing the Diesel tax means that it costs more to deliver goods and services. Businesses pass along the higher delivery cost to customers in the form of higher prices. Which means our dollars don’t go as far as they used to.
Assemblyman Frazier, the chairman of the Transportation Committee, knows this. He just doesn’t care. He knows that the people that will be the most affected by this are too busy trying as hard as they can to eek out a living that they don’t have the time or money to pay attention.
Knowing that, yesterday Assemblyman Frazier joined with State Senator Jim Beall, according to the LA Times, to unveil their new gas tax plan. Here are some highlights:
- Additional 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline.
- Additional 30 cent per gallon tax on diesel.
- $165 annual fee added to the registration fees for electric cars.
The creation of a new political bureaucracy – The Office of Transportation Inspector General. (I wonder how much of the new gas tax will have to be used to pay for that…)
Assemblyman Frazier is hoping that no one notices another key point of his tax plan. It is designed to increase inflation annually thus triggering a higher tax on gasoline automatically. Inflation is calculated by looking at the Consumer Price Index. The more things cost – the higher inflation is. So he is going to increase the costs of all goods and services by increasing the cost of fuel. By tying his tax to inflation Assemblyman Frazier is taking his planned price increases for all goods and services -caused by his tax plan- and turning them into a self-fulfilling prophecy of ever increasing gas taxes and higher inflation.
This is not his first attempt to increase the tax on each gallon of gasoline. On January 6th of 2016 Assemblyman Frazier introduced AB-1591 which would have increased the tax on gasoline by 22.5 cents per gallon and 30 cents per gallon of diesel. In addition to the new gas tax AB-1591 would have increased the cost of annual vehicle registration from $38 to $165 depending on your vehicle. Like his current proposal AB-1591 would have also been tied to inflation and automatically increased annually. AB-1591 died in committee. But Assemblyman Frazier told the L.A. Times that he would try to push for a lame duck session to get his new bill passed.
The big issue with trying to force it though a lame duck session is that you may end up with enough legislators that lost their elections, or decided to retire, that might vote for something that their constituencies do not want since there is no political consequence. What Assemblyman Frazier is doing here is putting politics before people.
As many of you know Jim has skipped out on 2 scheduled debates with me. The most recent he had a fellow democrat try to come to his aide by saying that he was stuck in a committee hearing. When the truth is that he had an hour and 45 minutes after the conclusion of his meeting to get just 35 miles. Even if he hadn’t left the capitol for 30 minutes after his hearing AND got caught in traffic, and hit every red light, he still would have been able to make it to the debate.
So, I have issued a challenge, anytime, anywhere. I will debate Mr. Frazier anytime, anywhere. But, he is too scared to debate a serious contender that knows the Assemblyman’s record better than the Assemblyman himself does.
Frazier is seeking his third term in the Assembly. The 11th District includes all of Antioch. For more information about Miller, visit his website at www.electdavemiller.com. The election is on Tuesday, November 8.
On Thursday, August 11, Antioch resident Karl Dietzel filed the papers required to establish his candidacy for a seat on the Antioch City Council. Dietzel, a first-generation immigrant to the United States, and who regularly attends city council meetings, said that he had decided to run because of his desire to help Antioch become a more desirable, family-friendly city that attracts economic development and high paying jobs.
As the Gateway to the Delta, Dietzel said that Antioch should be a natural fit for strong investment, but that a lack of strong leadership had led the city into a “downward spiral.”
Preventing Antioch from achieving economic success are the twin problems of an excessive crime rate and blight, according to Dietzel. These problems are exacerbated, he said, because of a city government that is out of touch with local residents and is more interested in political maneuvering than serving the citizenry.
To address these issues, Dietzel said his campaign would focus on reducing crime and aggressive code enforcement. Dietzel said that focusing city resources on these two areas while ensuring that residents have a voice in their government were absolute prerequisites for bringing in the type of economic development that Antioch residents would like to see.
“My top priority will be to address the high crime rate in Antioch,” said Dietzel. “While all of us are victims of the excessive crime rate, I am personally vested in seeing this matter addressed, as I live in one of the most depressed, crime-ridden areas of Antioch, the Sycamore corridor.”
Dietzel continued, “As a city, we need to make good on the promises of Measure C (i.e., a tax measure passed by local residents which was to ensure additional law enforcement personnel were hired), and stop coming up with excuses for not getting the job done. I support the immediate hiring of all authorized and funded police officers, community service officers, and code enforcement personnel.”
Dietzel is also calling for a work-load study to be done to ensure that money obtained from the taxpayers for law enforcement is being used efficiently, and for the use of a ‘shot-spotter’ system to help our police officers move quickly and decisively to reduce violent crime.
The problem of blight, including trash dumping, graffiti, and homeless encampments, not only detracts from the desirability of Antioch as a place to live and work, but is a factor in the amount of criminal activity, as well, said Dietzel. “The fact is, unless we take immediate action to reduce crime and blight by bringing on the police officers, community service officers, and code enforcement personnel needed to get the job done, talk of economic development will remain a pipe dream.”
Dietzel also addressed a lack of transparency and even-handed dealing by city officials. “We need far more transparency in government,” he said. “Right now, deals are made behind closed doors, ignoring the wishes of our citizens. The shabby treatment of the over 5,000 residents seeking to ‘Save the Yard’ is just one example of our city administration being out of touch with the people.”
“We need change, and we need it now,” concluded Dietzel. “If we continue to elect politicians who are using their positions as stepping-stones to higher office, we’ll never turn the city around. If you want someone who will get the job done, rather than talk, vote for me, Karl Dietzel, for Antioch City Council.”
This is Dietzel’s second run for the city council. He placed sixth out of eight candidates in the 2014 election. He helped lead the unsuccessful effort to defeat Measure C in 2013. (See related article, here)
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
By Allen Payton
Two years into her first term on the Antioch City Council, Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock officially announced her campaign after filing her papers to run for Mayor, last week. She is one of three candidates to challenge Mayor Wade Harper who is seeking re-election to a second term.
Her ballot designation is Councilmember/Realtor because she can’t use her title of Mayor Pro Tem, according to City Clerk Arne Simonsen. He explained that Ogorchock, under the state Elections Code, can only use the term councilmember because that’s what she was elected to. She was appointed to the position of Mayor Pro Tem by a vote of the city council, which they are required to do by city ordinance, since she was the top vote-getter in the council race in 2014.
Ogorchock released the following statement about her campaign:
“I feel in my heart of hearts that I am the catalyst that can move our city forward in a productive and positive direction. I have the will, desire, tenacity and the relationships to work with our sister cities to bring what is needed to our city. I do not give up easily and will fight for the rights of us the citizens of Antioch.
My work schedule as a Realtor allows me the flexibility to meet the needs and demands of the community, to be present, which I am very proud to say, I am!
Community first: I want to spend time – real time – together. Time for conversation and interaction to deepen our sense of community. With your help, I’m here to grow and learn more. I feel most satisfied when I’ve truly affected another person positively and contributed to our community. We may have more than 100,000 residents in our city but it’s one community – our community. Let’s do this together – not divided but united.
Budget smart: Our city will thrive if we spend within our means. We have to be disciplined and responsible with our finances. Let’s make smart budget decisions. What we spend now will have a huge impact on the city’s future in the few years.
Measure C: Passed by the voters of Antioch, the money from this ballot measure are for police, code enforcement and community services officers. We need to be diligent in overseeing how these promised funds are utilized, that there is no leakage into a general fund or that these funds aren’t used as intended. Transparency on how we spend the bond is vital, along with clear communication to all how it’s being used.
Advocate for veterans: I’m working with the DAV and American Legion to create a program where veterans, who are hospitalized, have visits from fellow vets who truly understand their situation. My goal is to bring much-needed veteran services to Antioch, and have already begun to lay the foundation by reaching out to local politicians about the needs. It’s shameful and unbelievable the struggle veterans go through to get benefits they were promised. Those who fought to protect our freedom and country should not have to fight for medical coverage.
You will NOT find another man or woman that will dedicate their time and attention to YOU the citizens of Antioch as I will.
Antioch: My Home, My Community, My Life”
Ogorchock is a Realtor with Ralph Garrow Real Estate in Antioch. She is an Antioch High graduate, is married and has three grown children and one grandson.
The election will be held Tuesday, November 8. If Ogorchock wins, she will vacate her current council seat, and the new council will then decide how to fill the position for the remaining two years, either by an appointment or calling a special election, for some time next spring. For more information on her campaign, visit her campaign Facebook page or website at www.loriogorchockantiochmayor.com.
No challengers for City Clerk, Treasurer
By Allen Payton
The smell of blood is in the water and the sharks are circling. All incumbents have filed to run for re-election, in the eight local races for the November elections in Antioch, with six facing multiple challengers. Filing closed Friday, with Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen and City Treasurer Donna Conley facing re-electing without opposition.
In the race for Mayor, incumbent Wade Harper will face three challengers in his bid for re-election, including Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock, local chiropractor and Antioch Chamber of Commerce CEO Dr. Sean Wright, and businessman Gilbert “Gil” Murillo.
Harper was first elected to the city council in 2010, after serving two years as an appointed member of the Antioch School Board. He was elected Mayor in 2012. He ran for County Supervisor in this June’s election, coming in fourth in the race of six candidates, and garnering the second highest number of votes in Antioch.
Ogorchock was the top vote-getter in the 2014 city council race, which earned her the title and position of Mayor Pro Tem, which is the same as vice mayor in other cities. Wright is a one-time unsuccessful candidate for the Antioch School Board and currently serves on the Antioch Economic Development Commission. This is Murillo’s first campaign for public office.
City Council – 2 Seats
Council Members Mary Rocha and Monica Wilson will face four challengers, including one-time council candidates Lamar Thorpe and Karl Dietzel, who both ran and lost in 2014, coming in fourth and a distant sixth respectively, as well as local business owner Ken Turnage II, and retired program manager Fred Rouse.
This will be Rocha’s fourth time running for election to the city council. She was first elected in 1986, lost in 1990, and was elected again in 1992. Rocha was then elected Mayor in 1996 and instead of running for re-election in 2000, chose to run for County Supervisor, losing to Federal Glover. She came back in 2008 and was elected to the council, again after having run unsuccessfully for County Supervisor against Glover, again, placing fourth in the June primary, that year. Prior to her service on the council, Rocha served on the Antioch School Board for 16 years.
This will be Wilson’s first bid for re-election. Like Harper, she also ran for County Supervisor in the June election, and placed fifth while garnering the fourth highest number of votes in Antioch.
Thorpe, a university administrator, is a former member of the Antioch Economic Development Commission, having been removed earlier this year by a vote of the city council, for leading the effort to pass Measure E which was funded by a Pacheco-based casino to prevent Kelly’s Restaurant and Card Room from reopening in Antioch. He was also removed as Wilson’s Alternate Council Member the same night.
Dietzel, who is retired, regularly attends council meetings and has been a critic of the current council. He helped lead the unsuccessful fight against Measure C, the half-cent sales tax for more police in 2013. Turnage serves on the Economic Development Commission and was honored as the 2015 Antioch Citizen of the Year. Rouse is serving for a second time on the City of Antioch Board for Administrative Appeals.
According to Simonsen, both Thorpe and Dietzel filed their nomination papers on Thursday, but his office is waiting for the County Elections Office to verify the signatures of those who signed. Candidates must submit at least 20 and no more than 30 valid signatures of registered voters who live within the city or district they’re running to represent, as nominators.
School Board – 3 Seats
Incumbent Diane Gibson-Gray will seek re-election for her third term, after an unsuccessful attempt for city council in 2014, coming in third. Appointed school board trustees Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry will both seek the public’s confirmation of their appointments to the board to fill vacancies created by the resignations of former trustees Barbara Cowan, last fall and Claire Smith, this spring.
Five of the challengers include former trustees Joy Motts and Gary Hack, who didn’t pull his required filing his papers until Wednesday. He filed them the same day. The other three are local news website publisher Mike Burkholder who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 for the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board in Oakley, and teacher Crystal White.
CORRECTION: James Beck pulled papers but did not file, as was previously stated.
The election is on Tuesday, November 8.
By Allen Payton
After announcing, last year his intention to run for Mayor of Antioch in this year’s election, Antioch resident Gil Murillo filed the required papers with Antioch’s City Clerk’s office, Wednesday morning. He is the fourth candidate to file and is one of three to challenge Wade Harper, who is seeking a second term.
“I want to bring forth our voice to the City of Antioch,” Murillo said in a campaign press release. “The problems that we face today are not new and we can bring other cities’ successful programs to Antioch. These programs have reduced crime, better schools, increased police staffing and make communities stronger.”
“I am not a politician but I will get things done with no excuses,” he continued. “I am entering this election for Mayor to bring our voices to City Hall and represent you with no ties or incentives from special interest groups or developers. You have the opportunity to elect someone with 20 plus years of corporate experience whose only goal is serve the elected role and not be obligated to outside political interests.”
Murillo then offered his campaign platform with a list of issues he commits to work on if elected.
“It is my plan to bring our City:
- Living wage job opportunities so you can work and live in the same city
- Form a committee to bring county, city, police, social services and schools together on issues that impact our youth
- Engage outside police agencies to assist in additional patrolling while we increase officer count
- Define government housing plan that is based on the needs of the city and community
- Ensure community services (e.g. fire, schools, police) are fully funded before new development starts
- Enhance downtown Antioch with positive family theme events
- Creative solutions to address the homeless challenge
- Engage adjoining cities for a joint vision of tomorrow”
Filing closes on tomorrow, Friday, August 12 at 5:00 p.m. The other challengers in the race are Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock and local chiropractor and Antioch Chamber of Commerce CEO Dr. Sean Wright.
Murillo works as Manager of Application Programs for the staffing and consulting firm Robert Half. He and his wife Dulce have lived in Antioch for eight years and have five sons. For more information call him at (925) 219-1068 or visit Murillo’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/murilloformayor.
Fact Check: Crime statistics, police staffing during Harper’s term as Mayor support, undermine his claimsWednesday, August 10th, 2016
By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor
There’s an old saying that goes “figures don’t lie but liars do figure”. That can be said of some elected officials and candidates for public office. Unfortunately, Americans have come to expect our public officials to lie to us – and some do. More often is the case that candidates make exaggerations during their campaigns. It’s the media’s job to verify the truth and accuracy of their claims.
So, much like the major media does with the presidential candidates and their claims during speeches and press conferences (when they hold them), I thought I’d do a Fact Check of my own on the claims made by Antioch Mayor Wade Harper in his recent re-election campaign announcement. (Please read the article containing it, here). In it, he stated “Under my leadership as mayor of the city of Antioch we have become a safer and more prosperous city.”
Following is a chart of annual Part I crime statistics in Antioch, as provided on the City’s website which generally supports that claim. Click here to view the details of each year’s crime statistics.
As you can see, between 2012, the year Harper was elected Mayor, and 2015, Part I crimes were down in six of the eight categories which are reported to the FBI. However, during the same time period theft increased 5.5%, rapes increased 82.8%, and Adult Arrests were up 35.5%, and 37.7% compared to 2013. Juvenile arrests, on the other hand decreased by 31.7% between 2012 and 2015. For the latest statistics, comparing crimes during the same time periods, murder, robbery and arson have all increased in 2016 over 2015.
While most of the serious crime categories have experienced decreases, total arrests have increased during the period, leading one to assume that overall crime has increased in Antioch. One argument for that has been because of the additional officers on the Antioch Police force who are available to make more arrests. However, the City had only a net two additional officers by June, 2016 with 91 sworn over August, 2013 when the City had 89.
Therefore, what Harper claimed in his re-election campaign announcement regarding the reduction in crime is mostly true. For Part I crimes through 2015, I give it at best, a rating of 75% true, since six of the eight categories saw a reduction. That’s a grade of C on any test in school, which is a passing grade. But, for 2016 over 2015, I have to give Harper’s claim a rating of 62.5%, which is equivalent of a D, because the decrease has occurred in only five of the eight categories. If you add the increase in adult and total arrests, those ratings have to be decreased, since other, non-Part I crimes must have increased.
Zero Tolerance for Crime?
Comparing the annual and total crime statistics during his term as Mayor to his 2012 campaign slogan “Zero Tolerance for Crime” – while a great goal, was surprising for any candidate to ever offer, since it requires a 100% reduction in crime – Harper’s claim is woefully lacking. The 35 murders, 155 rapes, 1,117 robberies, 1,653 aggravated assaults, 3,897 robberies, 6,631 cases of theft and 3,770 car thefts that have occurred in Antioch during his term as Mayor, clearly undermine his claim of a zero tolerance for crime. While we unfortunately expect candidates for public office to make exaggerations, this is a clear case of over-promising and under-delivering.
4 of 22 Promised Police Officers
More importantly, comparing what he promised in 2013, when he signed the ballot argument in favor of the half-cent sales tax initiative, known as Measure C (view it here), to what has actually occurred, Harper falls seriously short. He and the rest of the City Council, at that time, which included Mary Rocha and Monica Wilson, who are also up for re-election, this year, promised 22 more officers in addition to the 89 the City had at the time, if voters passed Measure C.
Here’s what the ballot argument stated:
A Yes on Measure C will allow us to immediately hire 22 new police officers, decreasing the time it takes to respond to 911 calls. It will also provide funds to reduce the number of gang-related homicides, assaults and robberies. Our police force has dwindled from 126 officers four years ago to only 89 today.
To date, the City has 93 sworn police officers giving us just four of the 22 additional officers they promised. That means Harper, Rocha and Wilson, as well as Tiscareno (who isn’t up for re-election, this year) have fallen 81.8% short of fulfillment. It’s another clear case of over-promising and under-delivering.
In his campaign announcement, Harper also stated “We’ve had the most aggressive hiring practice, recruiting about 40 police officers since passage of Measure C. That’s a promise kept. That’s effective leadership.” What he failed to mention is the fact that the City lost 36 officers during the same time period, due to retirement, and others who quit or were terminated, leaving a net four additional officers. Thus his claim of a “promise kept” is false and is actually a promise broken.
As for Harper’s claim of “effective leadership” that is a subjective statement which I’ll leave up to the voters to decide.