Watchdog: Where did Antioch Mayor Wade Harper go wrong?

Watchdog-LogoWhy was he served with recall papers for the second time in months?

By Barbara Zivica

Antioch Mayor Wade Harper has an impressive resume. He has a Master‘s of Business Administration from John F. Kennedy University (2009), a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Patten University and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He’s had a 24-year career in Law Enforcement, starting with the Emeryville Police Department and ending up as a Lieutenant for the Tracy Police Department (2005 – 2013). In 2008 he was appointed to the Antioch Unified School District’s Board of Trustees, ran for and was elected to the Antioch City Council in 2010 and was elected Mayor in 2012. He’s currently on the Board of Directors for Delta Diablo Sanitation District and Tri- Delta Transit.

His first misstep as Mayor was to pass an “urgency ordinance” at the December 27, 2012 council meeting – a rare second December meeting, especially during the week between the holidays – which had to become effective before January 1, 2013 when a voter approved state law would mandate specific pension formulas for public employees (2.7% at age 55 for police officers and 2% at age 62 for other employee categories). The urgency ordinance amended the September 1, 2012 contract agreement with Antioch’s police officers and misc. employees in which the retirement benefit formulas for new hires was changed from 3% at age 50 for police to 3% at age 55 and the retirement benefit formula for misc. employees was changed from 2.7% at age 55 to 2% at age 62. In other words the “urgency” ordinance restored the 3% at 50 base formula although a cap was put on lateral police hires. The chief would only be able to hire 5 lateral officers at the 3% at age 50 retirement formula after which he’d have to consult council. All new hires (not current PERS or reciprocal system members) would be under the new 2.7% @ 57 formula.

His second misstep as Mayor was acting as the principal officer of Citizens for a Safe Antioch In Support of Measure C, and telling residents that passage of the half cent sales tax ballot measure would enable the hiring of 22 new police officers. Measure C, a general tax measure requiring only 50% approval plus one vote to pass, however, made no such claim. It specifically stated “the revenue would be deposited in the City’s general fund. It could be used for any legal municipal purpose including: police and emergency response; code enforcement, local economic development and job creation; street repair and any other City program and service.”

As for past versus current police staffing: On February 21, 2012 Police Chief Cantando reported that the department was authorized for 102 positions and was projected to be at 90 filled positions as of March 11, 2013.

At the January 27, 2015city council meeting, Cantando presented the council with a report detailing crime statistics, calls for service and staffing. According to his report, the police department has 102 authorized sworn positions including the Chief, 90 full time positions are filled, there are 9 sworn vacancies and 3 recruits were to begin the academy on January 26, 2015. Doesn’t seem as we’ve made much progress toward hiring 22 new officers, does it?

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