Council approves use of city facilities for COVID testing, vaccinations, Ogorchock calls for council action against Torres-Walker

Council hears 170 public comments in response to Torres-Walker’s video; appoints Ogorchock, Torres-Walker to City/School District Standing Committee; and approves each of their three Stand-By Council Members

By Allen Payton

During their Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 meeting, the Antioch City Council approved the use of the Nick Rodriguez Community Center and Antioch Community Center parking lot inside Prewett Park for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations on a 4-0-1 vote.

In addition, before the outside investigation has been completed, offering the Antioch Police Department’s side of what happened during the Dec. 29 incident involving Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s sons riding off-road vehicles on city streets, about 170 members of the public offered their comments. Some were in support of Torres-Walker, her work in the community and her video response against the police, while others called for her censure, removal, resignation and/or recall. (See related article)

Approve COVID-19 Testing & Vaccination at City Facilities

The City Council voted 4-0-1 to approve a mutual aid response to COVID-19 pandemic agreement with Contra Costa County Health Services

“We need to get these out to individuals as quickly as possible. So, I’m excited about this,” Ogorchock said.

Torres-Walker abstained on the vote. It was her third one during the meeting. Asked, during a break in the meeting, why she was abstaining on the votes, Torres-Walker did not respond.

Public Comments

Due to the large number of general, public comments, Mayor Lamar Thorpe limited them to one-minute each from the regular three minutes usually allotted. The comments were mixed with many of those in support of Torres-Walker from outside of the city, including the Black Panther Party of Oakland, calling for body worn and car cameras for police, and independent investigations by either outside agencies or a citizen police oversight board.

Other comments, mainly from Antioch residents, called for Torres-Walker’s censure, and/or removal or recall for her comments during her Facebook Live video.

Comments were also critical of Thorpe and other council members for not censuring her, as well as Thorpe for traveling to Mexico during the COVID-19 Stay-At-Home order, late last month.

Ogorchock Calls for Council Action Against Torres-Walker, Thorpe says “Words Matter”

During council members’ committee reports and comments, Ogorchock shared prepared comments calling for action against Torres-Walker for her video comments saying, “We as council members set the tone for our community, we are the leaders here, in the city of Antioch, we are held to a higher standard. We need to be cognitive of the language we use, such as profanity.  Are the words we’re using offensive, will they be harmful in anyway to others? If the answer is yes, then we should not be using them.

There are a couple of choices for those that found the FB post created by Councilmember Torres-Walker and her language to be offensive, can it be tolerated, or individuals can speak up.  That is what has happened, several citizens have written emails, sent texts, used Messenger and posted on social media sites as to how they feel the use of certain words to be disrespectful of the title in which Councilmember Torres-Walker holds.

We as council now need to decide, is this the behavior acceptable of an elected official? If we as the governing body do not do anything is this going to be the new norm for us as electeds? We as council members have to ask ourselves is this good governance, does this type of behavior show respect and professionalism towards the title we worked so hard during our campaign to achieve?  What does it say to our employees, if we do not hold ourselves accountable for our behavior? Do we want our citizens to lose confidence in us?

I believe there should be accountability and consequences for these actions, and I will be asking that council add an agenda item to discuss any course of action deemed appropriate. Lastly, I heard this from Pastor Dr. Lamont Francies, he said ‘before you react get all the facts’.”

Thorpe also shared some prepared remarks saying, “Words matter”, then spoke about what occurred at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Jan. 6. He then brought his comments back to local matters.

“So, I’ll say again, words matter. How we say them matters, and who we say them too, matters. I want to say to my fellow elected officials, including our city clerk and city treasurer, our roles are 24/7 even though we’re a part time legislative body.

We are the keepers of the public trust. And, it’s our responsibility to ensure that collectively we hold ourselves accountable in maintaining and respecting the public trust. We’re here to represent the entire City of Antioch and all of its people including those who are unhoused.

What we say out in the community including social media is a reflection of all of us. What groups you participate in via social media whereas an example, members have to remind themselves not to be racist, reflects all of us.

Equally important is how other public voices conduct themselves in the public arena. Nationally we’ve witnessed the destruction that can occur when online platforms and bloggers help flame distrust of government, disinformation and racist stereotypes. Locally, such bloggers need to be held accountable for their deliberate efforts to undermine our local democratic institutions.

Our city is a microcosm of our nation. Acknowledging respectfully different opinions, perspectives and ideals as well as bringing them to the table is not dividing us but instead uniting us as we heal our differences to head towards a stronger tomorrow. One such opportunity is police reform.”

“Police reform has been an issue we’ve been working on tirelessly for the past several months,” Thorpe continued. “Immediately following the Bridging the Gap Conversations, a study session will be held on Feb 23. Then on Feb. 26 and 27 the council will hold a Vision and Strategic Planning Session, he shared.

“The month of March will be dedicated to the issue of police reform,” Thorpe concluded.

Other Agenda Items

The council chose to table the formation of a Sesquicentennial Ad Hoc Committee, to bring it back, later. It passed on a 4-0-1 vote with Torres-Walker abstaining, again.

The council then voted unanimously to appoint Ogorchock and Torres-Walker to serve on the City/School Standing Committee.

Finally, the council voted to appoint their Stand-By Council Members, a list of three Antioch residents who will represent the council members if they are killed or incapacitated and will act in their place, City Manager Ron Bernal explained.

Thorpe nominated Nichole Gardner, Antioch School Board Trustee Antonio Hernandez and Antioch Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marie Arce as his Stand-By Council Members. The motion to approve their appointment passed 5-0.

Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson nominated Harry Thurston, Alia Thompson and Cornelius Johnson, and the motion to approve passed 5-0.

Torres-Walker said she was paying respect to the indigenous people who previously occupied the Antioch area, then nominated Tiki Flow, Kabibi Columbus and Angelica Tripp as her Stand-By Council Members. It passed on a 5-0 vote.

Councilman Mike Barbanica nominated Kristine Barbanica, William Barbanica II and Benjamin McCurdy. The motion passed 4-0-1 with the councilman abstaining.

Ogorchock nominated former Mayor Don Freitas, Keith Archuleta and former Councilman Tony Tiscareno.

“Wait. Tony Tiscareno isn’t in your district,” Thorpe said.

“They don’t have to be,” Ogorchock responded.

The motion to approve her nominees then passed 5-0.

Future Agenda Items

Barbanica asked to place, “body cams and dash cams on the future agenda.”

“They are on the future agenda,” Thorpe said.

“I want us to look into civilian oversight on the agenda and using outside agencies to investigate police use of force,” Torres-Walker requested.

“We’ll be talking about that Feb. 23rd,” Thorpe said.

“And one more, as well. Access to healthy and affordable food options in District 1 being that there isn’t a grocery store there, now,” Torres-Walker added.

Ogorchock then asked to discuss in the future a way to honor Najee Harris, “like with a key to the city.”

“Yes, yes,” Thorpe responded.

The council then adjourned in memory of Tom Guarino, the government affairs representative for PG&E who passed away, recently from COVID-19. The council held a moment of silence in his honor prior to adjourning at the unusual hour of midnight.

the attachments to this post:

Prewett Park parking lot

Nick Rodriguez Cmty Ctr use

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