Antioch Council denies request of speed bumps by grieving mother, hear about Kids Club

By John Crowder

The mother of a man, killed in April by a hit-and-run driver, expressed her frustration with speeding and reckless drivers on the street where she lives, and made an emotional plea for the Antioch City Council to take action to prevent further deaths at their May 26, 2015 meeting.

Linda Hudson, the mother of Timothy Hudson, recently deceased, was visibly upset from the outset of her statement. She began by saying, “Two minutes isn’t enough time for me to tell you what I’ve experienced in the last two weeks.” (Due to the large volume of speaker cards submitted, Mayor Wade Harper had reduced the time available for public comments to two minutes per person from the three minutes typically allowed for members of the public to address the council on items not listed on the agenda.)

Hudson went on to relate that, on the 11th of April, a little after 5:00 p.m., and upon hearing a commotion, she went outside to find her son laying in the street.

“This is the second son I’ve buried, out of four children,” she said.

Hudson said, “We’ve called the City to have speed bumps put in,” but staff responded that they couldn’t afford it. She also said, “We’ve called the police department,” and asked them to send someone out to deal with commuter traffic “racing down 11th street [at] 60 to 65 miles an hour,” but was told they were short-handed and couldn’t deal with it.

As she continued to relate the events of that day, on which she said a nineteen year old driver, who was “making donuts in front of my house, a sideshow,” ran over and killed her son, her time to speak ran out. “May I have somebody’s two minutes, please?” she asked.

No, you can’t do that,” Harper responded.

Hudson was not to be deterred, however, and continued to speak about the incident, while directly addressing council member Mary Rocha, telling her, “Think about it Mary, it could be your kids…” leading to an exchange between her and Harper in which the mayor continued to intervene by telling her, “thank you,” advising that her time was up, and banging his gavel.

Finally, after relating her son’s last words, she moved away from the microphone. At this point, with the audience erupting in loud applause in support of her statement, Harper said, “Thank you, thank you very much, it’s heartfelt, passionate.”

Harper then said, “The request is to take a look at speed bumps, and it’s going to be forwarded to the city manager.”

Relatives and neighbors of Hudson also addressed the council, all lamenting the speeding traffic on 11th street, and asking that speed bumps be installed.

Coincidentally, residents living in the vicinity of Bluerock Drive and Rockford Drive addressed the council with a similar request.

Patrick Shire, a resident of Rockford Drive, requested the City place an all-way stop at the intersection of Bluerock Drive and Rockford Drive because of the traffic that, “has greatly increased.” He said that, “numerous crashes have occurred.” Shire submitted a petition to the council requesting they take action to deal with the matter.

Other residents of the area concurred with Shire’s request, one saying, “The excessive speeds have gotten way out of hand.”

Kid’s Club

Several speakers also addressed the council members regarding the expiration of a lease for Kid’s Club Preschool. This time, the speakers were asking that the City provide them with vacant land on which they could establish a new facility.

Many talked about how much Kid’s Club had meant to them, some relating stories of being able to complete their education only because Kid’s Club was available, providing free child care, allowing them to continue to go to school.

In addition to speaking in support of the program, one speaker, Ariana Santos, submitted a stack of, “over 1000 letters” on behalf of Kid’s Club.

Mark Mokski, Executive Director of the program, began his remarks by saying, “I’m here once again because this community has a problem. We have 300 low-income families that are losing their preschool, their social services.”

After noting that the money to pay for the preschool came from the federal and state government, Mokski said, “We have requested land from the city. We have requested land from the [school] District.”

Mokski then said, “I should not be having conversations with other mayors and other school districts to relocate this program. I do not want to, this is an Antioch program, it needs to stay in Antioch. If it does have to move, these other communities will put a restriction on there that no people from this community can come in. And that’s wrong.”

Mokski concluded, “We can secure portable buildings, we can secure modular buildings, we need help with facility space. Empty land. The City has it. Several parcels. The District has it. Several parcels. Something needs to happen here, very quickly, otherwise the lives of 300 of your most vulnerable population is going to be disrupted.” His last statement was, “We ask for empty land.”

Master Fee Schedule

In regular City business, a public hearing was held on proposed updates to the Master Fee Schedule, with changes to take effect on July 1, 2015. According to the staff report, the strategic purpose falls under the Strategic Plan Long Term Goal of achieving and maintaining financial stability and transparency. “This is achieved through the specific short term objective of reviewing and increasing as many fees as possible annually to ensure maximum cost recovery is obtained,” according to the report.

No member of the public spoke during the hearing on the matter. However, Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock asked why no changes had taken place with respect to fees associated with animal services. In response, Antioch Chief of Police, Allan Cantando, explained that keeping fees flat would help with animal adoptions, as residents would be more likely to adopt animals out of the shelter, rather than see them euthanized.

Council Member Rocha asked about the bicycle registration fee. She asked for the justification for the fee, given that, “nobody registers bikes anymore.” City Finance Director Dawn Merchant replied that, “The police department isn’t currently collecting this fee.” Rocha then said she would like to see the fee removed from the schedule.

Council member Monica Wilson asked about park fees, prompting a discussion about people showing up early in the morning at parks, camping out to hold spots when nobody has reserved them.

Following the council discussion, the new fee schedule was adopted on a 5-0 vote.

Budget Actions

Another order of business involved action taken on budget items brought back by staff for direction.

The council voted 4-1, with Ogorchock opposing, to reinstate earthquake insurance for City Hall and the police Facility. City Manager Steve Duran explained that the cost for the insurance would be between $71,500 and $81,500 on facilities with a total value of over $38 million.

The council voted 5-0 not to fund additional library hours, but to have city staff continue to meet with Antioch’s County Board of Supervisors representatives in order to obtain County funding for increased hours of operation. Council member Monica Wilson expressed concern that if Antioch funded the library, it would lead to a “slippery slope” of the County pushing more expenses onto the City.

Finally, two Water and Sewer Fund positions were approved by the Council on a 3-2 vote, with Harper and Council member Tony Tiscareno voting against. Council members in favor expressed concern that not funding the positions might leave the City exposed to fines should an accident occur. City Engineer Ron Bernal emphasized this fear, saying that, “related to the water (and the drought)…the fines could be up to $10,000 per day if we’re found to be not in compliance with, best efforts to accomplish that program.” Bernal also stated, “Regarding the sewer side of the house, if we were to overflow into the river, the fines can be in the millions.” “Both programs are in need of the oversight,” he said.

Wilson wanted to know if one person would be sufficient to handle the recommended jobs, but Bernal assured her that there was enough work for two positions.

Still, both Harper and Tiscareno expressed concern with the timing of the matter. Tiscareno said, “We’re talking about a timing issue at this point. Regardless of where these particular funds are coming from, we want to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be, as far as being financially responsible.” He said bringing it back in three or four months would be “a better time.” “I just want to make sure that everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing before we start moving on to new positions.”

On close questioning by Tiscareno, Bernal affirmed that the City is currently in compliance.

Bernal also said it would take a year to hire the staff for the positions, “if approved today.”

Tiscareno asked if they would be able to stay in compliance during that time.

Bernal said he would be, “much more confident” with the positions now.

Harper said, “I don’t want to approve these two positions with contract negotiations still open. I think it sends a bad message. The groups are reviewing our finances…and we’re talking about the financial status of the city, and here we are, possibly approving two brand new positions. I think it sends a bad message.”

After a failed motion to table the matter until a later date, supported only by Harper and Tiscareno, Rocha put forward the motion, which ultimately passed, to hire the two positions. The total cost of the two positions, annually, will be approximately $262,000, according to the staff report.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, at 7:00 p.m. Meetings take place in the City Hall Council Chambers, located at 200 H Street.

6 Comments to “Antioch Council denies request of speed bumps by grieving mother, hear about Kids Club”

  1. Reginald Jamal Brown says:

    I’m not surprised. In my opinion, safety has NEVER been Harper’s concern.

  2. Mary Fletcher says:

    Sign the petition to RECALL MAYOR WADE HARPER.

  3. Karl dietzel says:

    Besides harpers disconcerning / rude/ unprofessional
    By cutting the Hudson mom off,
    I am confused.
    Staff is claiming the city has no money ,
    But during the state of the city speech , the
    City manager claimed , antioch has a surplus.

    What is it ?
    No money or surplus ?

    • Julio says:

      The city council meetings are just a never ending scripted play. Duran writes it and the rest of them play it out.

      We only have money when it is convenient. With the pensions and benefits unfunded we have no money and will not have any money for a very long time. Until this money is put away like it is supposed to be don’t plan on anything.

  4. Reginald Jamal Brown says:

    The high possibility is that the city does not have any money budgeted for street improvements. Yes, money can be used from the general fund IF and only IF council approves it.

    This is a slam dunk for council to easily make things right for the Hudsons by using some general fund money for the speed bumps. Harper and council know this.

    Again, it is my opinion that Harper doesn’t not and has never taken safety as a priority.

    • Loretta Sweatt says:

      Was Tim Hudson in the street trying to stop the donut spinning car? Or did the car jump the curb or something and come after him? I haven’t heard complete details

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