Happy New Year!

Looking Forward to a Better One for Antioch

Many things occurred in Antioch this past year, some good, some not so good, and some bad.

We’ll start with The Bad – 12 murders. Five in December. Not a way to end off the year. Of course, I believe there’s a direct correlation to the 22 vacancies for sworn police officers, as well as the 23 Community Service Officers who were all laid off, in addition to the six officers recently given layoff notices, but who for now still have their jobs.

City revenues continued to decline. More budget cuts had to be made and more staff members laid off.

More people lost their homes to foreclosure, and more people were in need of food and clothing in Antioch.

Then there was The Not So Good. There was no 4th of July celebration or fireworks due to the lack of city funds. So the Council canceled them before seeking private funds. By the time a private group starting raising the funds and pursuing the effort, many of the police officers who would normally be in town that day and night had made other plans to be out of town. So it wasn’t to be this year.

Our community’s friend Jack Roddy was injured and broke six ribs when his horse touched a power line and bucked him off. Fortunately he recovered quite well and is back to his good-natured cowboy self, again.

There was no Holiday Delites parade or celebration either, not even the annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. Again, due to city budget cuts.

Then there were the water, sewer and garbage rate increases by the City Council – 30%, 60% and as high as 26% respectively – the first two over the next five years, and the last one included a contract extension with the garbage company for 10 years without going out to bid.

The council passed a budget without seeing it or allowing the public to have a copy of it first.

Then the council voted to put Measure P, the half-cent sales tax increase, on the November ballot, based on a secret, privately-funded survey, which neither they nor the public saw before the vote.

The Antioch Police Officers Association mounted a negative campaign against the new city council and city manager over the layoffs of six officers. But that ended almost as quickly as it started.

OK. Enough of that. So let’s end off this discussion with The Good. Two new council members and two new school board members were elected, offering new direction, new experience and knowledge. They give us hope for a brighter, better future for our community. Of course, that’s what all newly elected officials are supposed to do. Let’s just pray it becomes a reality!

Over 600 people volunteered for the Community Clean-Up Day started by former Councilmember Martha Parsons, which helped beautify Antioch.

The proposed sales tax increase was defeated. Outspent 22-to-1, a small band of volunteers, comprised of business owners, community leaders and residents spread the word with big signs, flyers and street corner sign-waving sessions, which included one volunteer in a gorilla costume, and kept the measure from hurting our business community for the next eight years.

The Shop Antioch effort was relaunched by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of former Councilmember Martha Parsons and Tom Lamothe.

Hundreds participated in the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on the Antioch waterfront, picking up tons of trash.

We did have a nice Veterans Day Parade downtown with the participation of a variety of groups and high school bands from East County – and thousands along the route, all showing their patriotism and support for our troops. May they all come home safe and soon!

The nice, new Antioch Community Center was completed and had its ribbon cutting, celebrating its opening. Let’s just hope it pays for itself! The Chamber held its trade show and December mixer there, with lots of great music, displays and food.

Many groups, churches and  individuals stepped up to help meet the needs of those less fortunate in our community as well as those in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, including both the Antioch and Delta-Antioch Rotary Clubs, The Antioch Woman’s Club, the Kiwanis Club of the Delta, Dr. Todd Frigard and Frigard Chiropractic, Antioch Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation, Michael Qutinana Sr., Delta Advocacy Foundation and Grannies Anonymous, to name a few.

This online newspaper – of, by and for the People of Antioch – was launched in October, just in time for the elections. (I think it’s a good thing and hope you do too!)

Then there was the year-ending offer to the city of $100,000 by Antioch Auto Center owner Tom Nokes, which for now has saved the jobs of the six cops who were given layoff notices before Christmas.

Now we look forward to this new year of opportunities, possibilities and hope for a safer, more prosperous community. Together, with God’s help, we can help make it happen.

Happy New Year!

Allen Payton

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