Payton Perspective: Voters Reject Measures L and M, Council Wastes Taxpayer Money

The voters of Antioch spoke on June 5 and by nearly 71% to 29% rejected Measure L to change the City Clerk and City Treasurer from elected to appointed positions, and by 84% to 16% said no way to rotating the Mayor’s position among the five council members, instead of directly electing the position.

The City Council put the first one on the ballot at a cost of nearly $100,000 in the hopes of saving about $35,000 a year in future years.

The Mayor’s measure added additional costs to the city election for a total of $105,000.

The problem is nobody campaigned for them, other than a ballot statement. There were no signs, no mailers, no door-to-door flyers and no phone banks calling voters to urge them to pass either measure.

The next time council members want to put something on the ballot at taxpayer expense, they need to back that up with the commitment to campaign for its passage.

I was chastised last month for supporting the longtime effort to rename L Street to Marina Way (or Parkway, as city staff proposed and the Planning Commission approved – but the Council rejected) because it would cost, according to staff’s estimate, $40,000.

But by doing so now there would be little to no cost for the city from the state to change the freeway exit signs. Instead if the council changes the street name in the future, it will cost the city about $100,000 for CalTrans to redo the freeway signs.

(On a side note I find it an interesting coincidence that had the council not placed those two measures on the ballot, they would have had enough to pay for the $40,000 street name change and the $65,000 for the July 4th fireworks and celebration – which was raised through private donations – for a total of exactly $105,000. Hmmm.)

The 16-year-old street name change idea, from the City’s 1996 Economic Development Plan, also included changing the name of A Street to Rivertown Drive. That idea has been expanded to now include 2nd Street, since the two streets are connected. It just makes sense, as that road leads you to and through and is the main street of Rivertown.

It would have been a onetime expense for permanent marketing of Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown and waterfront – which was the intent of that part of the economic plan.

It’s also part of the intent of bringing back the July 4th fireworks, this year. Come out and enjoy the free show and take a look around Antioch’s historic Rivertown. It was in 1851 at the July 4th picnic that the residents renamed the town Antioch from Smith’s Landing.

By the way, the street names in downtown used to be named after people. They weren’t always letters and numbers. In fact I just saw a copy of the map of downtown with the original street names that Oak View Memorial Park has available. So renaming things is part of our city’s history.

3 Comments to “Payton Perspective: Voters Reject Measures L and M, Council Wastes Taxpayer Money”

  1. Skip says:

    I won’t disagree with you that the ballot measures were a waste of taxpayer’s money. For that matter, the tax increases that they keep asking for, and keep getting turned down on, also seem like a waste of money. It would be interesting to see what the city council’s win/loss record is on the initiatives that they’ve put on the ballot over the last 5 years. I would certainly reflect the fact that they are tone deaf to our needs. When you consider the fact that they are already talking about putting the school measure right back up for a vote in November, it’s clear that they are intent on smashing square pegs into round holes no matter what the cost.

    Instead of wasting money, I’d like to see them get tough on the city benefits. The real cause of our hemorrhaging. The Antioch PD just got $1.5 million dollars from the Feds and all we can afford are 5 additional officers? Something is wrong when it costs $300,000 per police officer and we’ve got home invasions, murders and squatters plaguing our town. Why isn’t the APD police willing to make the sacrifices that the residents are being asked to make? In 2009, there were 93 Antioch police officers who made over $100,000. In the same year, it was estimated that the median income for Antioch households (multiple wage earners) was $57,000. I know that the APD needs to be able to afford nice houses outside of our city, but it’s pretty lousy that the city council is handing out pay raises to them when the vast majority of them already earn more than twice what the average family in Antioch is earning. According to payscale the median salary for a police officer in 2009 was $39,000. It would be one thing to pay way more than this if they were super cops and our crime rate was zero, but given the amount of crime that we’re having to deal with, I don’t believe that the APD is worth more than twice the going wage (and rising). I’d much rather see twice as many uniforms on the street yet, instead of getting tough with the unions and hiring people who want to work, the city council has rolled over and allowed the APD (and other government departments) to loot our tax base and then cry poverty whenever citizens have the nerve to complain about the lack of basic fundamental services. This fall, we’ll be asked to vote on even more tax increases, including one for fire department employees, with no end game or accountability in sight. Even when the council rejects tax increases, they still have a sneaky way of using committees to increase our taxes like the recent case of the price of water going up. For years, the city spent money on a campaign pleading with us to conserve water and when the community stepped up and did just that, we get hit with higher rates because it caused the revenue for the water department to drop. Talk about one hand not knowing what the other is doing. Seems like death and taxes are the only things you can really count on in Antioch. Until our local government proves themselves to be more responsible, it will continue to scare off businesses and people who might actually want to move here.

    • Publisher says:

      Just a quick response, Skip.
      The City Council didn’t put the school district measure on the ballot. That was the School Board.
      And as for the $1.5 million for additional police, that’s for three years and the city has to provide a 20% match. SO the grant pays $100,000 per year per officer.
      Allen Payton

      • Skip says:

        Thanks for the clarification. It’s details like this that the papers always seem to gloss over and its why your site is a better source of information on Antioch then the mainstream media. Even at $100k though, when you consider that APD will be hiring veterans and that soldiers in Afghanistan are making less than $100k, it helps to put this salary in perspective. We literally pay the brave men and women who are in a combat zone less than what a first year APD officer will make and that’s even without considering the health care and pensions that so many Antioch residents have to live without. I’m all for paying a fair wage, but as bad as things are in Antioch, I have to imagine its more dangerous patrolling the streets of Kabul.

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