Archive for January, 2021

Antioch Police Officer cleared for hire following investigation into 2016 shooting death of homeless man with knife in San Francisco

Friday, January 29th, 2021

Officer Michael Mellone and Antioch Police Chief Brooks following the oath of office ceremony on Aug. 26, 2019. Photo: APD. Mellone while a San Francisco Police Officer. Photo: SFPD

Summary emailed to council members, three city staff on Dec. 22 leaked to at least one member of the public; results used to promote protest held on Jan. 9; released to media on Jan. 25

“I am completely confident in his abilities and know he has the right temperament, values, and character to serve as an Antioch Police Officer. If I didn’t, I would not have hired him in the first place.” – Antioch Police Chief T Brooks

By Allen Payton

Portion of a post by Shagoofa Khan on her Facebook page on Jan. 5, 2021 promoting the protest held on Saturday, Jan. 9.

The Antioch Police Department completed an outside investigation into the hiring of Officer Michael Mellone who shot and killed a homeless man in 2016, clearing him for hire. The report clears Mellone for hire by the APD and a summary was shared with council members, City Manager Ron Bernal, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore and City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith by Antioch Police Chief T Brooks on Dec. 22, 2020. However, the Herald learned about the results of the investigation, earlier this month after resident Shagoofa Khan announced them in a social media post promoting a protest held on Saturday, Jan. 9 in Antioch’s downtown and at the police facility. Brooks email to Council & staff re Mellone 12-22-20   Crump Investigations – MMellone 12-20-20

Following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Herald, the report summary was released on Monday, Jan. 25. Brooks said he needed time for a review by outside counsel to ensure information released by his department complied with confidentiality laws and rules protecting employees.

The investigation and report were in response to a request by former Mayor Sean Wright last June, to address complaints by Khan, other Antioch residents and other, out-of-town protesters who called for Mellone to be fired. Brooks said the investigation included the review of over 1,600 pages of documents, crime scene photos, a summary internal investigation into the case and a report on the shooting from an independent police expert, released by the S.F. Department of Police Accountability (SFDPA).

Second APD Background Investigation of Mellone

The background investigation was conducted by private investigator Jeffrey Crump of Crump Investigations, who was hired to handle the original background investigation of Mellone, completed in July 2019 before he was hired by the APD.

“The purpose of this review was to determine if any new information was provided that was not known to us at the time Officer Mellone was hired – and if there was, would any of the information have altered the ability for Officer Mellone to serve as a police officer,” Brooks wrote in his email to council and city staff. “In June 2020, the Antioch Police Department became aware of new documents released by SFPD pertaining to the Gongora shooting. These documents were not available during the initial background investigation and hiring of Officer Mellone. Therefore, they were sent to our independent licensed contracted background investigator to inspect.”

Crump summarized his report by writing, “After a review of all of the newly provided documents, the supplemental investigation again revealed no disqualifying information as it relates to Officer Mellone’s suitability to serve as a police officer under the specified qualifications for employment identified by the City of Antioch, POST Commission Regulation 1953, or Government Codes § 1029 and 1031.”

Large kitchen knife Luis Gongora-Pat had in his hands when he lunged at the police officers, presented at an SFPD press conference. Photo: SFPD

Luís Demetrio Góngora-Pat. Source: eltecolote.org. Photo of the large kitchen knife he had in his hands when he lunged at the officers presented at SFPD press conference on April 8, 2016. Photo: SFPD

2016 Incident in San Francisco

On April 7, 2016, Antioch Police Officer Michael Mellone, while working for the San Francisco Police Department, along with his partner and sergeant, shot and killed 45-year-old Luís Demetrio Góngora-Pat, a homeless man. After being shot by non-lethal bean bags, Gongora-Pat was waving a large kitchen knife and lunged at the officers. They then responded with lethal force, shooting him seven times. Góngora-Pat later died at the hospital from his injuries.

Security camera video screenshot of incident on April 7, 2016 shows several San Francisco Police Officers walking toward Luis Gongora-Pat’s location which was to the right out of view.

Security Camera Video of 2016 Incident

See security camera video of police incident with Luís Góngora-Pat that occurred in the 400 block of Shotwell Street, here. (Warning: The video does not show the shooting itself but, may be disturbing to watch and/or listen to.)

Mellone Placed on Paid Leave by SFPD Pending Investigation

Mellone and his sergeant were put on paid administrative leave pending the investigation of the officer involved shooting.

The following press release was issued by the San Francisco Police Department the day of the incident:

SFPD Investigating an Officer Involved Shooting on Shotwell & 19th St

APRIL 07, 2016 | 11:09 AM

By San Francisco Police Department

San Francisco Police are investigating an officer involved shooting that occurred on Shotwell and 19th Street today at approximately 10:04AM. Officers had responded to a report of man waving a knife approximately 10 to 12 inches long.  After making contact with the man, an officer fired four ‘bean bag’ type projectiles at the man from an Extended Range Impact Weapon (ERIW).  As the situation unfolded, two officers discharged their Department issued pistols striking the man at least one time.  He was transported to the hospital and later succumbed to his injuries. This incident is being investigated by the SFPD Homicide Detail, SFPD Internal Affairs Unit, SF District Attorney’s Office, SF Medical Examiner’s Office and the Office of Citizens Complaints”

Family Sues San Francisco

On Oct. 7, 2016 the family of Góngora-Pat filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of San Francisco for wrongful death.

Autopsy Shows Methamphetamine in System

The autopsy of Góngora-Pat, released on April 11, 2016 found he had intoxicating levels of methamphetamine, and smaller amounts of THC (cannabis) and caffeine, in his bloodstream.

San Francisco DA Clears Mellone

In May 2018 Mellone was cleared by the S.F. District Attorney, who determined the shooting death to be justified.  The S.F. City Attorney’s Office said it had eyewitnesses who said that Góngora lunged at the officers with a knife before he was shot.

According to Courthouse News Service an Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said in an email, “We also now know that Gongora was high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident and had a long criminal history. Gongora posed an immediate and deadly threat, and our officers’ use of lethal force was necessary and legally justified.”

Family Settles with City

In early 2019, the family of Góngora-Pat settled their lawsuit with the City of San Francisco for $140,000.

Promoted to Sergeant Earns Awards

Also, in early 2019 Mellone was promoted within the S.F. Police Department to the position of sergeant during which time he earned several awards.

Department Policies Violated

According to a June 2019 KQED news report, “The Police Department’s internal investigation, which was completed in August 2018…found that Mellone violated the policy governing ‘ranged impact weapons.’ The inquiry’s finding that…Mellone and Sgt. Nathaniel Steger be suspended for ‘neglect of duty’ is unusual in that officers are rarely disciplined for fatal on-duty shootings.”

Suspensions Recommended

SFPD Internal Affairs said they were going to recommend a 10-day suspension for Mellone. In June 2019, the SFDPA, which is staffed by civilians that have never been police officers in San Francisco, recommended a 45-day suspension for Mellone and a 30-day suspension for his sergeant.

However, they were only recommendations and Mellone could have fought to prevent them from being enforced.

Hired Again by Antioch PD

In August 2019, Mellone, a native of San Ramon, was hired by the Antioch Police Department, where he had previously worked as a detective until 2012. He had also previously worked for both the Richmond and Oakland police departments before joining the SFPD in 2012.

Hunger strikers and other protesters set up a camp site in front of the Antioch Police Facility on L Street. Herald file photo.

Protesters Demand Mellone’s Firing

During several protests last year, including a hunger strike by six people, Antioch residents and other, out-of-town protesters demanded Mellone be fired for the 2016 shooting death of Góngora-Pat, claiming the Antioch Police Officer “murdered” the man. (See related article)

Brooks Email to Council & City Staff

In his email about the report summary, Chief Brooks wrote, “I hired Officer Mellone back in August 2019. At that time he went through the same rigorous testing process as every other APD applicant. This included an oral interview, medical evaluation, polygraph test, psychological evaluation, and a thorough background investigation. As a side note, the Antioch Police Department is audited annually by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to ensure our background investigations are conducted in accordance with POST standards. Officer Mellone passed all aspects of the hiring process. During the background investigation all available information concerning Officer Mellone’s employment with SFPD, including the shooting of Gongora, was examined and vetted and no disqualifying information was identified.”

“Upon completion of this investigation it has been determined that no new evidence was identified, and Officer Mellone is still qualified to work as a police officer anywhere in the State of California,” Brooks continued. “I had originally assigned Officer Mellone out of the patrol unit until results of this investigation were known. Now that the investigation has been completed, he will return to his regular patrol duties beginning in January with my full support.”

“Officer Mellone is a very caring and competent police officer who has spent his entire adult life working in law enforcement. And while some people have questioned his intentions or abilities based on limited information they know about one incident that occurred over 4 ½ years ago, I am completely confident in his abilities and know he has the right temperament, values, and character to serve as an Antioch Police Officer. If I didn’t, I would not have hired him in the first place,” Brooks concluded.

Two Council Members Deny Releasing Summary to Public

All five council members were asked more than once if any of them had released the summary report to any member of the public. Only Council Members Lori Ogorchock and Mike Barbanica said they had not. Mayor Lamar Thorpe, Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker refused to respond.

Full Report Not Public, Some Antioch Residents Still Not Satisfied, Hold Another Protest

Video screenshot of protest on Jan. 9. From Justice for APD Facebook page. Protest signs placed in Waldie Plaza in Antioch’s downtown on Jan. 9, 2021. Photo from protest organizer Shagoofa Khan’s Facebook page.

Post by Shagoofa Khan on her Facebook page on Jan. 5, 2021 promoting the protest held on Saturday, Jan. 9.

The full report is not public as it’s a personnel matter, according to Chief Brooks. Not satisfied with the results of the outside investigation, the protest on Saturday, Jan. 9 continued to include calls for Mellone to be fired, claiming he murdered Gongora-Pat. Protest signs were posted in Waldie Plaza, including one that read “Mellone Murders”. (See video of protest, here)

“This was an investigation on the hiring process,” said protest organizer Shagoofa Khan in the video. “The thing that we want to open an investigation on is his use of excessive force with the man that he had killed in his S.F., Luis Gongora-Pat. And we already knew that this investigation was going to be cleared. We want more accountability. We want more oversight. Which is why we are asking for more police oversight, which is why we’re asking for cameras on police.”

A video of the protesters (warning: graphic language) at the Antioch Police Facility was posted by Christina Cox, an administrator of the Justice for APD Facebook group. It includes comments by one speaker calling the Antioch Police “motherf—ing terrorists” and saying, “Chief Brooks f— you bi—”.

Sacramento resident William Wallace removes protest signs then burns them on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. Photo posted on Facebook courtesy of William Wallace. Protest signs burning in a trash can. Photo from Antioch Backs the Blue Facebook page.

The protest signs were later picked up by a Sacramento resident who then burned them and posted photos of his actions on Facebook.

Back the Blue promo and event on Jan. 9, 2021. From Justice for APD Facebook page.

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

A gathering to show support for the police was also held on Saturday, Jan. 9, which was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the Antioch Police Facility, by members of another pro-police Facebook group, known as Antioch Backs the Blue. Chief Brooks came out to greet and speak with them. One video of the encounter was posted by group member Ed Sigismondo and another video was posted by member Paul Vienna.

“This job, it is a noble profession,” Brooks said. “I’ll be the first one to talk about officers throughout the country, throughout the world, quite honestly. But, I’ll just speak specifically, here in our own United States, there are some officers who don’t deserve to wear the badge and who don’t deserve to wear the uniform and you know what? I have no problem holding them accountable. My staff, they know what my values are, they know what my standards are and they’re going to uphold it.”

“I saw you guys out here and I just wanted to thank each and everyone of you. I mean truly, this is special here on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which I found was very fitting. So, I truly, truly do appreciate it,” he added.

————————-

Other News Reports of Incident

Following are all the news reports that could be found in an online search about the shooting death of Gongora-Pat from a variety of sources:

Witnesses challenge San Francisco police account of homeless man’s killing

Police department maintains man was ‘waving a large knife’, but witnesses say he was not threatening the officers before he was shot dead

The Guardian by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco

Published on Thu 7 Apr 2016 18.28 EDT

————–

SF police shooting unfolded in 30 seconds, video shows

San Francisco Chronicle by Kale Williams and Vivian Ho 

April 8, 2016 Updated: April 8, 2016 8 p.m.

————-

Police brutality and homelessness collide in aftermath of San Francisco killing

The story of Luis Gongora, shot dead by police this week, reflects city’s twin crises and raises alarming questions about the official and witness accounts of the shooting

The Guardian by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco

Published on Sat 9 Apr 2016 13.36 EDT

————–

Sixth witness disputes police account of homeless man’s killing in San Francisco

Woman says Luis Gongora appeared ‘relaxed’ and was ‘not posing a threat to anyone’ before officers shot and killed him

The Guardian by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco

Published on Tue 12 Apr 2016 09.00 EDT

————-

San Francisco police release details of homeless man’s killing as outrage grows

San Francisco police chief addresses public over fatal shooting of Luis Gongora but fails to placate anger as thousands call for prosecution of officers

The Guardian Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco  Published on Wed 13 Apr 2016 18.50 EDT

————–

SF Police Killing Calls Reforms Into Question

Courthouse News Service by NICHOLAS IOVINO April 14, 2016

————–

Police Identify SFPD Officers Who Shot Homeless Man

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF)  April 17, 2016 at 2:17 pm


DA: No Charges Against Officers In Woods And Gongora Cases – CBS San Francisco (cbslocal.com)

May 24, 2018 at 1:06 pm (Includes additional video of incident)

—————

Homeless man’s killing by police ‘like a gangster movie’, family claims

Attorneys for Luis Góngora’s family presented evidence they say shows San Francisco officers shot him from above, while he was sitting down or lying prone

The Guardian by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco

Published on Fri 17 Jun 2016 18.53 EDT

————-

The life and death of Luis Gongora: the police killing nobody noticed

No one tracks police brutality against the homeless. So while some shootings make international headlines, the deaths of those living on the streets – though disproportionately high – often barely cause a ripple

The Guardian by Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco and Teabo  Fri 12 Aug 2016 09.56 EDT

——————

Maya Family Sues SF Police for Father’s Death

Courthouse News Service by NICHOLAS IOVINO  October 13, 2016

——————

San Francisco Officers Off the Hook in High-Profile Shootings

Courthouse News Service by NICK CAHILL May 24, 2018

——————

San Francisco DA: No Charges Will Be Filed Against SFPD Officers in Mario Woods and Luis Gongora Fatal Shootings

By NBC Bay Area Staff and Wires • Published May 24, 2018 • Updated on May 24, 2018 at 5:37 pm

——————–

SF settles lawsuit over police shooting of Luis Gongora Pat

San Francisco Examiner by MICHAEL BARBA Jan. 11, 2019 12:00 a.m.

——————-

San Francisco OKs $140K Settlement in Police Shooting

Courthouse News Service by NICHOLAS IOVINO April 30, 2019

——————–

SF Officer Jumps to Another Department Before Being Disciplined for a Shooting

NBC Bay Area by Jaxon Van Derbeken • Published June 4, 2020 • Updated on June 5, 2020 at 12:48 am

——————–

Police watchdog finds officers who fatally shot homeless man should face suspension

Agency says SFPD ‘aggravated’ Luis Gongora-Pat with bean bag gun, prompting shooting

San Francisco Examiner by MICHAEL BARBA Jun. 25, 2019 6:15 p.m.

———————-

S.F. Police oversight agency calls for suspension of officers who shot homeless man in 2016

Investigation found that officers did not follow department policy to de-escalate the situation, and actually made it worse

KQED by Alex Emslie  Jun 26, 2019

This story was produced as part of the California Reporting Project, a collaboration of 40 newsrooms across the state to obtain and report on police misconduct and serious use-of-force records unsealed in 2019.

———————-

Watchdog findings prompt calls to fire officers over Luis Gongora Pat shooting

The highly controversial case spurred protests and $140K settlement with family

San Francisco Examiner by MICHAEL BARBA  Jun. 27, 2019 5:00 p.m.

————————

SFPD internal report finds officer who shot Luis Gongora Pat acted ‘out of policy’ in escalating encounter

Shooting homeless immigrant Luis Gongora Pat was deemed within policy, even if escalating encounter into lethal confrontation was not

Mission Local by Julian Mark | Oct 2, 2019

SF officer involved in shooting death of homeless man quit while facing discipline, landed new job in Antioch

San Francisco Examiner by MICHAEL BARBA Jun. 4, 2020 5:02 p.m.

—————————-

Antioch police hired former San Francisco cop faulted in fatal 2016 shooting, riled residents hold protest

Revelations of the hiring come as Bay Area and the continue to reel from the killing last week of George Floyd

Mercury News by THOMAS PEELE and RICK HURD | Bay Area News Group

PUBLISHED: June 11, 2020 at 12:21 p.m. | UPDATED: June 12, 2020 at 1:56 p.m.

 

 

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Contra Costa health officials to address Gioia’s complaints of COVID-19 vaccine inequity in high minority population areas of West, East County

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Source: Contra Costa Health Services

Less than 5% immunization compared to 11-13.8% in Alamo, Lafayette and Walnut Creek where the population is older.

The county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older, said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano – “I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point.”

Annual Board Retreat held virtually

Photo: CC Health Services.

By Daniel Borsuk

During the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors annual retreat Tuesday, Jan. 26, the county’s top health official made a major admission, saying her department will investigate questions into claims of unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccination injections in areas with high populations of Black and Latino residents.

Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth was put in the hot seat by District 1 Supervisor John Gioia who, like last week, raised similar questions as to why the COVID-19 vaccine is being unequally distributed in the district he represents. His district includes the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito and other communities with high percentages of minorities who are more prone to be stricken with coronavirus, than in other communities that tend to be wealthier and have higher percentages of white residents.

Gioia also cited other high percentage minority communities like Antioch, Bay Point, and Pittsburg in supervisorial District 5 for exposing residents to the COVID-19.  District 5 is represented by Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg who did not comment on the issue.

Gioia said the vaccination rate in Antioch is five percent, in Bay Point it is 4.3 percent, in Richmond it’s 4.5 percent, while in Alamo the vaccination rate is 11 percent, 12 percent in Lafayette, and 13.8 percent in Walnut Creek.

“You make a very important point.  The early data is showing an inequity,” Health Director Roth said.  “We hear your request for a more specific plan.”

Last week, when Gioia raised the same inequity issue, Roth did not acknowledge the Supervisor’s issue as significant enough for possible further study.

Discussion about the vaccine inequity distribution issue arose at the same time Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s administration announced it would boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines by about 16 percent for the next three weeks.  White House officials said the order would buy enough additional doses to vaccinate most of the U.S. population with a with a two-dose regimen by the end of summer.  Contra Costa County Health officials were unavailable to comment about that development. Like all counties in California, vaccine distribution is overseen by the state.

However, during the Health Services COVID-19 Response Update to the board, Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, pointed out that the county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older. Of 93,000 doses administered, 61,000 have been given to citizens older than 75 years, he explained.

“I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point,” Farnitano also stated at the end of the presentation.

Retreat Highlights

During their remotely held retreat, the supervisors were presented glimpses of the 2021 budget, economic forecasts, future capital improvement projects, redistricting, economic development, and developments planned at the two County-owned airports in Byron and at Buchanan Field in Concord.

Among some of the highlights of the presentations were:

  • Supervisors expressed their preference for the potential construction of a 20,000 square foot, two-story office building with 80 underground parking spaces to be built at 651 Pine St., the former site of the 12-story McBrien Administration Building that will be demolished now that that county’s new four story $95 million administration David Twa Administration Building has been completed and is open for limited occupancy due to COVID-19.

“The economy will be roaring back,” forecast economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg. He made the prediction despite the fact that California faces a $54 billion budget deficit, “public transit like BART is going to have a tough time getting out of this thing, but electrically powered cars I see coming down the pike.”

  • Former County Administrator David Twa will oversee work on the county’s redistricting process, a process that occurs every 10 years to adjust supervisorial district boundaries. The complex process involves conducting public hearings and meeting state and federal guidelines that are dependent on when the federal government releases 2020 census data.  There is concern that due to COVID-19, the availability of census data might be delayed.
  • The two county airports at Byron and Buchanan have generated a 9% increase in revenue for the county since 2017. The Byron airport recently landed, said Airports Director Keith Freitas, a vertical take landing aviation company.  There are 10 ongoing development projects at the airports including fire station No. 9 and a new administration building at the Buchanan Airport in Concord.
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An Elderly Wish Foundation’s annual Heart to Heart fundraiser will be a virtual “Gala to Go” this year

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

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Long-time executive director and visionary of Antioch’s restored El Campanil Theatre, Rick Carraher steps down

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Rick Carraher and his beloved El Campanil Theatre. Photos courtesy of El Campanil Theatre Preservation Foundation.

Will continue so serve on foundation Board of Directors, passes reins to Theater Manager Joel Roster

By Allen Payton

Earlier this month, Rick Carraher, long-time executive director of the historic El Campanil Theatre in Antioch’s downtown Rivertown announced the third retirement in his life by posting the following message on the theater’s website:

“Dear employees, volunteers, and friends of El Campanil Theatre:

For over 19 years, I have had the pleasure to steer the historic El Campanil Theatre to become the grandest and most state-of-the-art performing arts venue in Eastern Contra Costa County. Now, at the age of 72, I will step down from the leadership role as Executive Director.

I have committed myself to the revitalization of downtown Antioch.  After 18 years at Bank of America, my wife Janis and I opened and operated Rick’s on Second for 25 years. I recall the day in 2001 when Nordyn Anderson and I were having a cup of coffee while looking at El Campanil Theatre across the street.  We both agreed that there was a need to bring vitality to the downtown and the theatre was likely to provide that focus. After creating an interest group of local residents, it was clear that there was a need for a place for families to come together and enjoy live entertainment of all kinds.

I’m so proud of what El Campanil Theatre has become over the years. The number of people who attend events on an annual basis reinforce the opinion that El Campanil is the cornerstone of the continuing process toward the revitalization of Rivertown.

I believe that we are now at a point where we need to strengthen our focus to the needs of the youth of the community, and Joel Roster brings that passion with him. When we are permitted, we will continue to bring quality entertainment that appeals to all ages.

I am so happy that we found someone with an amazing love of theatre. Joel’s enthusiasm is so apparent and he is determined to make El Campanil Theatre the center of performing arts and education in the region.

Joel strives at all times to keep in pace with every new development. His attitude has never been, “oh, we can’t do this anymore”, but rather “what can we do?”, and I think that’s been life-saving.

The past 19 years have been very rewarding – to myself as well as the community – and I am so happy that you have helped us with this journey.

While it is time to pass the title to Joel, we will still see each other.  I will remain on the Board of Directors and will be seen around the theatre in whatever capacity I can be helpful.

It has been a joy to work with all of you.

Thanks for all of your support.

Rick Carraher”

The theater during restoration in 2003. Photo: ECTPF

What his letter doesn’t say is that the group raised over $500,000 from CalPine to purchase the building and another $1 million for the restoration. Carraher and others formed the El Campanil Theatre Preservation Foundation to raise the needed funds, purchase the building from the Stamm family and has since operated the theater. (See more restoration photos, here)

“Back when we started, our budget was $1 million to get it to the point we could open,” Carraher said when reached for comment.  “$750,000 came from the city’s redevelopment agency and $250,000 from individuals, corporations and foundations.”

“Our annual budget before COVID averaged between $400,000 and $500,000 which was covered by ticket sales, individuals and foundation support,” he shared. “Our last campaign, at the end of last year to ‘Keep the Curtains Open’ we raised $50,000 over three months.”

Carraher has worked tirelessly since the mid-1980’s to revitalize downtown. For nine years, he served as president of the Antioch Rivertown Business Association, helping promote the city’s historic business district, and bring back the July 4th celebration and fireworks to the waterfront.  But he’s not done.

Carraher said he will continue to serve in whatever capacity is needed at the theater.

Donations to the El Campanil Theatre Preservation Foundation can be made through their website at www.elcampaniltheatre.com/donations.html.

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Annual Antioch youth Free Throw Championship to be drive-thru, this year on Jan. 30 & Feb 6

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Local Knights of Columbus Council contest part of state-wide competition

All boys and girls ages 8 to 14 are invited to participate in the local level of competition for 2021 Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship.  The local competition will be held on January 30 and February 6 at Holy Rosary School, 25 East 15th Street in Antioch from 1-4 pm.  The event will be held outdoors, one contestant at a time.  In the event of inclement weather, a rain date is set for February 13.

The Free Throw Championship is sponsored annually by the Knights of Columbus, with winners progressing through local, district, and jurisdictional competitions. International champions are announced by the Knights of Columbus international headquarters based on scores from the jurisdiction-level competitions.   All boys and girls ages 8 to 14 are eligible to participate and will compete in respective age divisions.  Participants are required to furnish proof of age and written parental consent.

For entry forms and to make an appointment contact: Wayne Steffen 925.890.0119 or Mike Hayes 925.565.4482

Due to COVID restrictions, drop-ins may not be able to compete.

Please Spread the Word!

Council #3265 in Antioch, CA is one of 17,000 Knights of Columbus councils that make up the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in 1882 to assist working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States, today the approximately two million members of the Knights put their faith into action through a broad range of charitable causes locally, nationally and internationally with financial contributions and hands-on service.

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Antioch’s new Unhoused Resident Coordinator getting to work on solutions to one of city’s major challenges

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Jazmin Ridley. Photo: City of Antioch

By Allen Payton

Antioch has its first Unhoused Resident Coordinator, to help address one of the major challenges the city is currently facing: homelessness.

Jazmin Ridley was introduced to the public during the council meeting on January 12 by Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore.

“Jazmin joined the city team in early December as Antioch’s first Unhoused Resident Coordinator,” said Bayon Moore. “Jazmin is inquisitive, analytical, energetic and committed to serving others.”

“She is well acquainted with the importance of the safety nets that counties provide, having worked most recently in Sacramento County where she provided critical navigation assistance,” Bayon Moore continued. “For Jazmin, this is a return home to Antioch as a proud graduate of Deer Valley High School. Jazmin’s love of learning has been a journey. As a young adult she attended U.C. Davis where she studied Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies.”

She also has two master’s degrees, one from the University of Illinois in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, specifically in Brazilian History and in Public Administration from National University, which she earned while working full time.

“Thank you so much for taking the chance on me. I know how important the issue is of housing our most vulnerable residents and I’m up to the task,” Ridley shared during her introduction. “I’m elated that I am in Antioch and working for the City is a blessing. I’m going to do everything I can to work and contribute back to the city that raised me.”

On her LinkedIn profile, Ridley in  her role as Human Services Specialist for Sac County she wrote, “For the past several years, it has been a privilege to serve alongside the team at the Department of Human Assistance as a human services specialist, where I advocate for the health and well-being of public assistance applicants. During this time, I have been able to assist hundred of program applicants by working one-on-one with my clients to determine their needs, present available benefits, and explain complex social service policies in Spanish and Portuguese.”

Ridley “built expertise in a wide range of governmental programs, including CalWORKS, CalFresh, SNAP, healthcare programs, and the Affordable Care Act” and is “recognized as a subject matter expert in Welfare to Work eligibility.”

In her new role, she will work to “implement strategies, avail(able) resources, and collaborate with regional partners and stakeholders in working toward an effective response to the homelessness within the city.”

Ridley’s past employment also includes working for five years as a tutor to high school students and working as an instructional assistant in after school program with academic and recreational activities for elementary students. She is currently a Board Member and Secretary for the Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento.

“Homelessness and the needs of the unhoused touch nearly every aspect of our agency,” Bayon Moore said during her introduction of Ridley.  “We are excited to see staffing of this key role embedded in the city manager’s office to help strengthen Antioch’s response to such an important community topic. Please join me in welcoming Jazmin, sharing your insight and supporting her efforts.”

Ridley can be reached at (925) 779-6893 or via email at jridley@antiochca.gov.

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Antioch Council approves temporary moratorium on cannabis business applications

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Council Code of Conduct, how $500,000+ for homeless was spent to be discussed at special meeting Feb. 16

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 the Antioch City Council unanimously approved a 45-day moratorium on additional cannabis business applications and voted to include Sand Creek Road in the list of roads that qualify for regional fee funding for construction. They also approved a resolution recognizing February as Black History Month. (See resolution at end of article)

CORRECTION: Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked why Mayor Lamar Thorpe was nominating two residents for appointment to the two, full-term seats on the Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee, before the application period had closed. The slightly heated exchange included City Clerk Ellie Householder interjecting that “we are trying to fill the seats since they have a report due in April.” Ogorchock also wanted to know why not all the applications were being provided to all council members. Thorpe said Ogorchock was out of order and explained that the application period for the short-term vacancy was still open, but that the application period for the two, full-term seats had closed and that as an elected mayor he had the authority to bring forward just those applicants he chose to nominate to boards, commissions and committees. Ogorchock pointed out that it requires a vote of the council to approve. Thorpe further explained that if the council didn’t vote for one of his nominees he would have to nominate someone else.

Following the brief dust up, both nominees were approved on 5-0 votes.

Approves Moratorium on Cannabis Business Applications

The council also approved a temporary moratorium on accepting additional applications for cannabis businesses.

The intent of the moratorium is to reduce the threat of oversaturation of cannabis businesses in the “green zone” and would be in effect for 45 days, according to City Attorney Thomas Smith. The council can extend the moratorium for up to two years, after that.

“I asked this to be brought forward,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe. “Oversaturation is a huge issue.”
He didn’t want more applications to come through while the council’s Cannabis Committee and staff studied other options, including “creation of additional cannabis business overlay districts within the City,” according to the city staff report.

Two speakers spoke against it, both representing another cannabis business, Element 7. Christopher Bloom and his associate both suggested the council allow businesses that have already submitted applications, but not allow new applications. They said they had already been working with the city for a year on their application.

“This does not impact current applications,” said Thorpe.

“What this does is, it allows applications that have been deemed complete to move forward,” Smith said. “If we decide to allow applications in progress that are not deemed to be complete, we can tweak the language. It sounds like there are some other folks who are in the pipeline…you can make the adjustment in the motion.”

“They are close to completing their application,” Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs said referring to Element 7.

“I think that’s fair, those applications that have been received by this date,” Ebbs said, responding to Thomas.

“Received and in progress,” Thorpe reiterated.

“What constitutes an urgency item? Why is this an urgency item?” asked Ogorchock.

“There could not only be a threat to viability of those businesses during the COVID pandemic,” Thomas replied. “But also impact the social equity non-profits. If you feel this is a threat to the economic welfare to the Antioch community then you can vote in favor.”

“Have we had businesses in the community, during COVID that have been reporting they are struggling?” Councilman Mike Barbanica asked. “There are three other areas in the city that we are considering turning into green zones.”

“Remember it’s not just the businesses that are already approved, but the additional businesses and their social equity commitments,” Thomas said.

“As the Cannabis Committee is working on their recommendations…we pause, because in our current locations we are going to see saturation,” Thorpe explained. “There are no other places in the green zone. So, it’s just a pause as the Cannabis Committee looks to other areas. There may not be other areas.”

“This would only affect retail,” Barbanica clarified.

“Not manufacturing, not cultivation or research and development,” Thorpe explained.

Asked by Ogorchock if there was a maximum number of cannabis businesses allowed in the overlay district, Ebbs responded, “We don’t have a maximum number we have a separation requirement. That’s when we’ll max out. We’re getting close.”

“Practically speaking, yes” there is a limit. “We draw a 600-foot radius,” he explained.

“But that’s not preventing an applicant submitting a General Plan amendment,” said Thorpe.

“Correct,” Ebbs responded.

On motion by Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and seconded by Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, the urgency ordinance was unanimously approved by the council.

Vote to Include Sand Creek Road in Regional Funding Program

In other action, the council voted 5-0 to include Sand Creek Road between Highway 4 and Deer Valley Road in the East Contra Costa Regional Fee & Financing Authority projects list for funding. The Board of Supervisor and City Councils of Oakley and Brentwood will also have the opportunity to vote on the matter. Should at least two of the other agencies approve, the road will be qualified to receive regional funds from fees placed on new construction, including residential, commercial and industrial development.

Future Agenda Items – How Were Homeless Funds Spent?

During the future agenda items section of the meeting, Barbanica said, “It has come to my attention, last week, that in 2019 the council approved about $500,000 of which about $150,000 of that has not been spent.”

He asked city staff bring back a report on how the money was spent.

“We’re going to learn about that on our committee meeting and we’ll have an item on homelessness coming before us soon, in February,” Thorpe responded.

Staff pointed out that the council will be having a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m.

“We’ll be reviewing those items, then,” he stated.

“We’ll be reviewing the Code of Conduct on Feb. 16th,” Thorpe added. “That’s the only thing Councilwoman Ogorchock mentioned,” referring to her request for action on Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s video at the end of the last council meeting, and comments by members of the public challenging the mayor why it hadn’t yet been placed on the council agenda.

Other Future Meetings

The council will hold their Bridging the Gap, Dialogue 2 on the topic Racial Disparities in Policing on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10:00-11:30 a.m and the deadline to sign up to participate is Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 12:00 p.m. The final forum, Dialogue 3 on the topic Police – Community Engagement will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18 also from 10:00-11:30 a.m. and the deadline to sign up is Monday, Feb. 15 at 12:00 p.m.

In addition, on Friday, Feb. 12 at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 13 at 9:00 a.m., the council will hold a Virtual Strategic Planning and Visioning Workshop.

The next regular council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m.

IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
FEBRUARY 2021
WHEREAS, Black History Month is observed in February of every year;
WHEREAS, the origins of Black History Month can be traced to 1915, half a century
after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States;
WHEREAS, the Black History Month 2021 theme, “Black Family: Representation,
Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the geographic
spread of Black families across the United States;
WHEREAS, the achievements of African Americans in the Arts, Civil Rights, Education,
Entertainment, Government, History, Law, Literature, Medicine, Military,
Music, Politics, Science, Sports, and other endeavors are recognized
and celebrated in the month of February;
WHEREAS, the observance of Black History Month calls our attention to the ongoing
need to build a community and society that lives up to our
collective democratic ideals;
WHEREAS, the City of Antioch continues to work toward becoming an inclusive community
in which all residents — past, present, and future — are respected and recognized
for their contributions and potential contributions to our community,
the state, the country, and the world; and
WHEREAS, the City of Antioch is proud to honor the history and contributions of African
Americans in our community, throughout our state, and nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, LAMAR THORPE, Mayor of the City of Antioch,
do hereby proclaim February 2021 to be “Black History Month” and encourage all citizens
to celebrate our diverse heritage and culture, and continue our efforts to create a
world that is more just, peaceful, and prosperous for all.
JANUARY 26, 2021

 

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Antioch School Board hears three hours of comments on superintendent’s evaluation

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Outpouring of support for Anello, criticism of Board President Householder

By Allen Payton

Before going into closed session, which was supposed to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13, to discuss the process and details for Superintendent Stephanie Anello’s evaluation, which isn’t going to occur until June, the Antioch School Board first heard about three hours of public comments about the issue. And the speakers were not happy, mainly with Board President Ellie Householder for bringing the matter up prematurely, when she placed it on the agenda of a special meeting on Monday, Dec. 21. (Listen to 1/13/21 board meeting, here)

During that meeting, which was kept to just one hour, from noon to 1:00 p.m., due to work schedules of Householder and other trustees, she explained that there was a misunderstanding and that the matter wasn’t for evaluating Anello. Instead, she claimed it was merely for discussing the process to educate the two new board members, Dr. Clyde Lewis and Antonio Hernandez. Householder and only allowed three of the over 200 comments submitted to be read.

That sparked an accusation by former Board President Diane Gibson Gray that Householder and the board violated the state’s Brown Act open meeting law and called for them to correct it or she would file a formal complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. (See related article)

Most of the comments during the Jan. 13 meeting were in support of Anello, including members of the public and district staff, and harshly critical of Householder. Speakers didn’t accept her explanation that it was merely for informing the new board members of the evaluation process.

However, several speakers were misinformed that Householder had called the special meeting. It was actually scheduled by school district staff to deal with another closed session item. Householder added the item regarding Anello’s evaluation, which she confirmed at the conclusion of the public comments.

“I just wanted to make a quick note that I actually did not call the special meeting in December,” Householder said. “So, just for the record, I just wanted to throw that out there because that seemed to be something that came up a bunch.”

The board then voted to complete the remainder of the regular meeting agenda before ending with the closed session.

The next board meeting will be held Wednesday, Jan. 27th and will begin at 7:00 p.m. See the agenda, here.

 

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