Archive for May, 2017

Writer supporters community choice energy in Antioch

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017


On 6/13 the Antioch City Council will decide whether to join the Community Choice Energy Joint Powers Authority of MCE Clean Energy. MCE offers to each customer in their service area a choice on how much (50% or 100%) of their electric service comes from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydro, thermal) versus a significantly lower percentage mix by PG&E.

If the City joins with MCE, the amount of Green House Gases (GHG) released into the environment attributed to the City will be lower, reducing the City’s contribution to climate change.  In addition, joining with MCE will significantly help the City to meet the target goal of 25% reduction of GHG by 2020 and 80% reduction of GHG by 2035, Antioch City Council Resolution 2009/57. There are other ways that the City could reduce its GHG impact but none are less invasive to rate payers or less expensive overall than joining with MCE.

It is estimated that the MCE monthly cost to each individual rate payer will be low. For discussion only, if the MCE rate should settle at 1% above current PG&E rates (expectation is that the rate will be lower than PG&E rates), the current PG&E monthly bill is $100, then the comparative MCE bill would be $101, an additional $1 is not much to pay in order to make an impact on slowing climate change.

It may seem that Antioch joining with MCE is an inconsequential action relative to the overall issue of global warming. However, I am reminded of how a single grain of sand, when joined collectively, lock together to form a beach against the waves of climate change.

So join me on 6/13, at the Antioch City Council Chambers, 200 H St., Antioch, 7 PM, to urge the Antioch City Council to pass an ordinance for the City to join with MCE.

If not for yourself, but for your children’s children along with all the other innocent life on this Earth.

Harry Thurston


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Baccalaureate for all high school graduates in Antioch to be held this Sunday, June 4

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

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Oakland man arrested in Antioch after reckless driving incident, Friday evening

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Suspect’s vehicle following the conclusion of the police pursuit, at Auto Center Drive and Century Blvd in Antioch, Friday, May 26, 2017. Photo courtesy of Jon Davis

Following collision with police car, vehicle pursuit, and injuring two in another car

By Corporal James Stenger 3604, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

On Friday, May 26, 2017, at about 6:42 PM, two Antioch Police Officers observed a vehicle driving recklessly on Sycamore Drive and Peppertree Way. The officers attempted to catch up to the vehicle and the vehicle spun out of control on L Street near Lemontree Way. The driver of the car 24-year-old Joshua Hawkins intentionally drove into a police car then fled in his vehicle. A vehicle pursuit was initiated.

Hawkins drove up onto the sidewalk on Auto Center Drive near Century Boulevard, hit a light pole, drove into the intersection and struck three cars. While Hawkins was driving on the sidewalk he narrowly missed a pedestrian. Hawkins attempted to drive off again and an officer intentionally struck Hawkins’s car to disable it. Hawkins was taken into custody and suffered no injuries.

Two of the occupants of a vehicle Hawkins struck were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. Hawkins was booked into the County Jail on the charges of Felony Assault on a Peace Officer, Felony Evading and Felony Probation Violation.

This preliminary information is made available by the Field Services Bureau. There will be no further information released regarding this case at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925)778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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Former Antioch City Treasurer, Jane Parsons passes

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Jane Parsons in a photo from 2016 for her 2015 Antioch Citizen of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.

October 13, 1932 – May 20, 2017

Jane Parsons was born in Berkeley on October 13, 1932 and died of cancer on May 20. She was 84 years old.

In 2016, Parsons was honored with the Citizen of the Year Lifetime Achievement award by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce for her many years of service to the community. Following is what was written about her, then:

“Jane Parsons was first appointed as a City Treasurer in 1983 and went on to win five elections, retiring in 2004. Jane has volunteered for over forty years for many community efforts including Rivertown Jamboree, Holiday De Lites and the Lighted Boat Parade, Soroptimist International of Antioch, Delta Thunder Boat Parade, Delta 2000 and is a past Commodore of the Driftwood Yacht Club.

Jane is the longest serving member of the Antioch Chamber’s Ambassadors, supporting mixers, ribbon cuttings and more. She is one of those rare individuals who serves quietly and always has a smile and wonderful attitude. Those who have worked with her over the years do so because she is so inspiring and she serves without regard to personal gain and always for a good cause, women, children and the entire community.”

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Antioch School Board to pursue live streaming, videotaping meetings

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

By Allen Payton

Following efforts by this newspaper, and at the urging of a new majority of members, the Antioch School Board agreed, on May 10th, to bring their meetings into the 21st century and offer greater transparency to the residents, parents and students in the district. They agreed to move forward with efforts to begin live streaming their meetings on the internet and videotaping them for possible later showing on a new local cable, education TV channel.

In the past, a majority of school board dismissed the idea, using the excuse that it was too costly. The issue was included as a question during the forum for school board candidates sponsored by the Herald during last fall’s election. Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White supported the idea then, and at the meeting.

The latest effort, requested by Board Vice President Debra Vinson, included an option of moving the board meetings to the Antioch City Council Chambers, where TV equipment for the live broadcast and streaming of their meetings, already exists – and has for over 20 years.

However, Joseph Gengler, the school district’s IT Manager is recommending an alternative approach that keeps the board in their own chambers and still allows the public to watch the meetings either live or taped.

During his presentation to the board, he explained the options of “the high cost of entry for equipment” for live television inside the board room, versus streaming, which has a “low cost of entry and only requires an internet connection.”

Audio of board meetings “is already posted on YouTube,” he explained. “We can use the same medium at no cost to us to add video to this. New TV’s have the YouTube app on them.” His recommendation, “instead of TV, we just livestream our events” including others at the schools.

“We can use existing district resources,” Gengler continued. “We can get more advanced and have the high school students come in and they can use the equipment to live stream their events.”

The system “integrates with Board Docs,” the district’s newly implemented online board meeting agendas, he added.

While there would be no additional internet fees for the district, there will however be some cost for equipment, such as purchasing and installing one or more cameras in the board room. It will cost about $600 for the box to stream to convert the signal and about $1,500 for a camera, Gengler explained.

In comparison, “it would cost $12,000 to $15,000 for the box to do live broadcasting,” he stated.

Vinson said “I like the idea of live streaming. Any way we decide to go it would be a positive.”

Board President Walter Ruehlig said “I would be supportive of pursuing” the effort.

Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray, who in the past worked for Comcast, asked where the archives would be stored, either on YouTube or “on our own server. Do any cities do both?”

“I would just record on the camera and keep it as an archive,” Gengler responded.

Gibson-Gray then explained that the “local cable access channel, they already collect a 1% tax” and said she “wanted to see if they have funds to pay for this.”

Gengler will continue to work on the effort and bring back a detailed proposal for future board adoption.

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Antioch Council, city commission to consider possible non-medical marijuana businesses

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Only Ogorchock flatly opposed

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, May 9, a majority of Antioch Council members said they want to hear from the public on non-medical marijuana businesses that could be approved in the city, under Prop. 64 approved by the state’s voters, last November. They will use a newly formed ad hoc committee of the council and the city’s Economic Development Commission to gather that input.

Only Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock was flatly opposed to approving any type of the businesses due to the negative impacts on crime and reputation they could have on the city, and stating marijuana use is still illegal under federal law.

During a presentation by then-City Attorney Michael Vigilia, who left his position on May 15, shared the various types of commercial marijuana uses that the city could approve, in the categories of retail and industrial. Both could generate additional revenue for the city, he pointed out.

Prop 64 passed by voters in November, created a regulatory framework for commercial marijuana activities, Vigilia explained. The state will start issuing licenses in January 2018.

Licenses will be issued for the following categories of businesses: Cultivation, Manufacturing, Testing laboratories, Distribution, Retail sale, and Microbusinesses. A microbusiness is a vertically integrated business which cultivates on no more than 10,000 square feet and acts as a retailer.

“Prop. 64 allows cities to prohibit all marijuana activity that the state can issue a license for,” he said. “If the council wants to prohibit them, then the state can’t issue licenses to businesses for commercial activities, here.

“Industrial uses may have environmental impacts to those uses. Staff will have to look at those impacts,” Vigilia continued. “If additional uses should be approved by council, it would create an additional administrative burden.”

Revenues such businesses could generate for the city include “licensing fees, use taxes, and industrial users could be high volume water users, and the city would supply water to them.”

“One option is to allow only the industrial uses,” Vigilia shared. “These will be less visible to the community at large. You probably couldn’t tell the difference from a marijuana distributor and any other distributor. The council could approve only indoor cultivation.”

“Retail uses would be easily identifiable,” he stated. “That could attract some of the secondary, negative impacts of concern.”

Vigilia spoke of the Revenue Maximizing Option by approving both.

“The council could limit the uses to only industrial parts of town,” he said. “That would help police and code enforcement to be able to focus on only those parts of town. Certain industries that tend to attract negative secondary effects, those would be willing to locate in industrial areas.”

Vigilia also spoke of the negative impacts to crime and city staff time of such businesses, and that under Prop. 64, the council can decide which types of the businesses they want to approve or none at all. The council can also vote to prohibit deliveries of marijuana products within and into the city.

The council could require a discretionary use permit that would go before Planning Commission for approval.

“The city can prevent deliveries originating in or being made in the city,” Vigilia noted. “A city’s police power should support such a prohibition.”

Prop. 64 was approved by voters in Antioch by 60% with 21,849 voting yes, and 14,517 Antioch voters opposing. However, there was a dispute over what the voters intended.

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe said, “I did not vote for this.” But, he said he thinks it should be good to discuss.

“More than two-thirds of Antioch voters did vote for this,” he stated.

He then referred to the support by Councilman Tony Tiscareno for the potential revenue-generating businesses.

In response, Tiscareno offered an explanation.

“What I was supporting at the time was medical marijuana dispensaries, and the kind of revenue it could be brought in,” he stated. “This was several years ago. I did state that if it did pass, I would be open to listening to some of the proponents of the law. I’m not opposed to manufacturing. I am concerned that it could change the paradigm of what we’re trying to accomplish here in Antioch. But we don’t have a Chevron, like Richmond does that could bring in more police services. This is a potential possibility. I’m very nervous about retail. If there’s a way of manufacturing, testing, we have the resources…that might be a very good revenue source.”

Mayor Sean Wright asked if it was a matter “our Economic Development Commissioners (EDC) to explore. Or is it something the council needs to handle?”

Vigilia responded, “the EDC could explore it within their area of information” to determine “where is the community broad appeal or lack thereof.”

Ogorchock at first said, “I’m willing to listen to all the opportunities,” but then stated, “I don’t want to see this as a revenue source for the city of Antioch,” to which the audience applauded.

“We’re not at 100 officers,” she continued. “It would be a huge strain on our city. Do you want to move to an area that’s cultivating marijuana? I don’t,” to more applause.

“It’s federally illegal,” Ogorchock added.

She then spoke of the Methadone Clinic in Antioch. “It has destroyed Dr. Zimmerman’s retail business,” and mentioned the negative impact on “private property,” and that “homeowners can’t sell fast enough.”

We have a beautiful city and we are on the rise. If we do something like this, it is going to set us back before the recession,” Ogorchock concluded.

Vigilia confirmed that marijuana “is still a federally banned controlled substance. The prior (Obama) Adminisration did not make it a priority to enforce federal drug laws in states where it is legalized. We don’t know what the current Administration is going to do.”

Councilwoman Monica Wilson said, “we have the whole spectrum, here. I do like the fact that we can kick it to the Economic Development Commission. Yes, it did pass here in the city. I don’t think a lot of people realized what a ‘yes’ vote meant for our city.”

“We need to figure out where we fit in the larger piece of the puzzle,” she continued. “But, we need to hear from everybody.”

Ogorchock then added, “I don’t know what our sister cities are going to do. To get to Antioch you have to go through Pittsburg. Remember at one point they wanted to build a casino out by where the BART is and that got voted down overwhelmingly. I think it’s even worse than a casino.”

“That’s why I emphasized the potential advisory vote,” Thorpe responded. “I think they knew exactly what they voted for. It’s my job to implement the policies that the voters asked us to do. They could have passed it but say we don’t want it, here. We need to give folks a chance to express what they want to express.”

“In the City of Pittsburg, the voters did pass a 10% tax on marijuana,” he added.

Tiscareno jumped back into the discussion, saying “I’m more than happy to hear from the public on this. I’m glad when we did what we did. We can control it as a city. We have the upper hand in that. If we have support from the public and we have some revenue sources available, then we need to hear that. To make a rash judgment now, I don’t know if you’re asking for that, now. But I am willing to listen. Listen to both sides before making a decision. Do we just turn a blind eye and miss an opportunity or do we listen to the public?”

“By pushing it off…we have the ability to push it down the road a little longer,” he contined. “I don’t think it’s negative to have an ad hoc committee look into it or the Economic Development Committee. An ad hoc committee here working with the Economic Devevelopment Committee or just the Economic Development Committee.”

Public Comments

The council then heard from the public.

Jelani Killings, a Pittsburg City Councilman was first to speak.

“I’m your neighbor. But this is where I worship. Where my home church is,” he stated. “Consider as staff made the presentation there were a lot more negative than positive. It’s all about revenue. Substance is a big issue, not only in the county, but in our respective cities, as well. There is going to be an adverse impact for services for substance abuse, driving under the influence.”

“Fast money is what all of our kids are looking at,” Councilman Killings continued. “Now here we are as a government looking for the easy path. I appreciate your comments, Councilwoman Ogorchock.”

“There is a strict prohibition against medical and non-medical marijuana uses,” he stated. “People have the right to grow up to six plants on their own private property. I believe that’s what people voted for. Go with the full prohibition on marijuana activities in Antioch.”

His uncle, Henry Killings spoke next, saying he is “a pastor in this community and also a resident, for the past six years. I really have a heart for this community.”

“I see no benefit in the legalization of it because of what it does for an individual,” Pastor Killings stated. “It never accomplishes a positive goal. All it is, is the altering a state of mind for an individual for a period of time. Why would we want to open a door to more darkness in this community, when we have the problems with crime.”

“You want to have the city open to good businesses, not businesses that are going to harm our students,” he continued. “The Word of God says ‘the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.’ We don’t want to destroy Antioch. We want to build Antioch.”

“The next time we’re going to have a meeting to discuss this…I will go to the churches…and the highways and the byways to bring people in who are victims of this,” the pastor stated. “We have the opportunity to turn this around, right now. If we maintain integrity and morality, we will see glory come to this city, once again.”

William Posada said, “I’m also a member of the church, Threshing Floor Tabernacle. I’m also a resident of Brentwood. I see it firsthand the young adults who are causing problems. I used to own a home in Antioch. Because of the youth looking to find things to sell, I had my home broken into.”

“I own a business,” he continued. “If we have a generation caught up in marijuana, or any kind of substance…there’s been a 44% increase in accidents in Colorado because of marijuana.”

“I encourage you to think it thoroughly and the consequences of the young people getting a hold off this drug and using it on a daily basis,” Posada implored. “I know you said people voted for this. But, we live in a time people don’t think things through.”

Thorpe then asked, “We already have a ban in the city of Antioch, when does that come up again?”

Vigilia responded, “November of this year is when we will be considering” a renewal of the ban. “The City Attorney will bring [it] back…you will get it sometime in the fall.”

Thorpe then said, “EDC sounds perfect for me.

“Very good. You have the direction,” Wright said looking at the City Manager and City Attorney. “Do you need anything else from us?” he asked.

Vigilia – “No.”

With that the matter was concluded.

Other Council Business

Also during the meeting, Thorpe requested the formation of an ad hoc committee to discuss what he labeled Quality of Life ballot measures for 2018.

“There’s a gubernatorial race coming up in 2018,” he said. “So, I think this is a great opportunity to discuss…a tax, lighting and landscaping, a renewal of Measure C.”

“It would be an ad hoc committee to make recommendations to the city council for approval…limited to only things that we can put on the ballot,” he added.

On a 5-0 vote, the council appointed Thorpe and Wilson as members of the committee.

Then, at the end of the meeting, Thorpe asked that the council take up the issue of water rates, “now that the drought is over, and the tiered water rates we have, today.”


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Pete’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Antioch now offering happy hour, live music & more

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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Antioch Police SWAT arrests man who shot at three residents, Monday afternoon

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

By Sergeant John Fortner #3264, Antioch Police Investigations Division

On Monday, May 22, 2017, at approximately 12:12 PM, Antioch officers were dispatched to the report of several shots fired at a residence in the 1000 block of Saint Francis Drive. Upon arriving at the scene, officers contacted three adult residents who reported being shot at by an unknown White male adult in a white sedan. Luckily, none of the residents were injured or struck by gunfire during this incident.

During the investigation, a suspect was identified and subsequently located at a residence in the 200 block of San Joaquin Avenue. The suspect refused to cooperate and exit the residence for Antioch PD patrol units. The Hostage Negotiation Team and the SWAT Team responded to the scene in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully and take the subject into custody.

At approximately 9:50 PM, the standoff was resolved and the suspect was taken into custody by the SWAT Team. The suspect will be booked into the Martinez Jail, and the investigation is still on-going.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925)778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using the key word ANTIOCH.

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