Archive for April, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers draft Antioch’s Najee Harris at No. 24 overall

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Najee Harris wearing his new Pittsburgh Steelers hat, with family and friends at Rob Ben’s restaurant in Emeryville, CA, following the announcement of being drafted. Video screenshot

Joins “quite an elite fraternity”; local friends and fans celebrate

“I’m so proud of this guy. And he gets to stay in black and gold” – Antioch High School Principal Louie Rocha

“Najee Harris is…the kind of person the Steeler fans will embrace.” – Super Bowl champion Gordon Gravelle, Pittsburgh Steelers Tackle, 1972-76 and 2018 Antioch Citizen of the Year

“It would be great to see another Harris in the backfield” – Super Bowl champion Franco Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers Fullback 1972-83

By Luke Jonson & Allen Payton

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces Najee Harris draft pick. Video screenshot.

Antioch High School alum Najee Harris was selected No. 24 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Draft on Thursday.

He was the first running back picked in this year’s draft.

Many draft experts predicted Harris to go to the Steelers. They had the least running yards in the NFL last season and their leading rusher, James Conner, left the team and signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

“I understand that they did finish last in rushing last year, but I feel through practice and hard work that can be changed,” Harris said during a press conference hosted by the Steelers on Zoom following the announcement by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “I don’t feel pressure at all to be honest with you. I’ve been put in a lot of situations with that type of stuff put on me, especially in college. I mean the NFL is different, of course, but I feel it’s nothing that I can’t do in time for sure.”

Harris won two National Championships with the University of Alabama. He rushed for 1,466 yards and scored 30 touchdowns (an SEC record) in 13 games last season. He also broke Alabama’s records for career rushing yards (3,843) and touchdowns (57). Additionally, Harris only had one fumble out of 718 career touches.

Harris was asked how he felt about playing with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — who many fans expect to be a future hall of famer.

“Oh man, that’s dope!” Harris immediately responded.

Harris is the 11th person to make it to the NFL from Antioch High. He’s also the first Antioch High alum to be drafted since 1999. The last time an Antioch High alum was selected in the first round was 1969.

Harris’ Mom Thanks His Mentors, Najee Flies to Pittsburgh Friday Morning

Marcus Malu (left) waits and celebrates with Najee Harris (top center) at Rob Ben’s. Screenshot of video by Mori Suesue.

Earlier in the day Harris hosted a draft party for kids at a homeless shelter in Richmond. It was the same homeless shelter where he lived for a period of time in middle school.

It was shortly after that period of time when Harris and family moved to Antioch.

“From Antioch, God sent all those angels,” said Harris’ mom Tianna Hicks. “A whole lot of people were put in my life to give me stability.”

Hicks emphasized that Marcus Malu and Mori Suesue, Harris’ personal trainers, were the most influential “angels” on her and her family’s life.

He spent the evening waiting and then celebrating with his mom, family and friends, including his high school head football coach John Lucido, at Rob Ben’s Restaurant in Emeryville, CA, owned by Marshawn Lynch who has become Harris’ mentor. “I’m so proud of him,” Lucido wrote on his Facebook page Thursday night.

On Thursday, just seconds after the Steelers were on the clock for their draft pick, Harris received a phone call.

“I was like, ‘Oh…! They’re about to call his name!’” Hicks said.

She said it was the best day of her life.

Hicks added that Harris is reporting for duty right away and would be on a flight to Pittsburgh early Friday morning.

Antioch High School Principal Louie Rocha (grey Alabama shirt) with former Athletic Director Steve Sanchez, and other fans celebrate Najee Harris’ draft pick by the Steelers at Tailgaters in Antioch, Thursday night, April 29, 2021. Photo by Allen Payton

Locals Celebrate

Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha was joined by Steve Sanchez, the school’s athletic director when Harris played there, and other fans to watch the NFL Draft at local sports bar Tailgaters. They were excited with the anticipation and the outcome.

“Knowing Najee, he will make the best of all his opportunities. He will stay in character,” said Sanchez who was notified just a few minutes before the announcement that Najee had received the call from the Steelers.

“Excited,” he added.

“I’m so proud of him,” Lucido wrote on his Facebook page Thursday night.
“Congratulations to the hardest working man in the world,” Antioch High assistant head coach Brett Dudley wrote, also on Lucido’s Facebook page Thursday night. “The @steelers got the best player and best person in the Draft.”

“On behalf of Antioch High School and our community, I’m so proud of the guy,” Rocha said. “And he gets to stay in black and gold.”

He was referring to Harris wearing the same colors in the NFL as he did in high school, black and gold. Ironically, however, he’s playing in Pittsburgh, which is the name of his rival in high school, Antioch’s neighboring city — except without an “H.”

Super Bowl Champion Gordon Gravelle Lauds Najee

Harris joins a very small group of just two Antioch residents to play for Pittsburgh. The last one was two-time Super Bowl champion Gordon Gravelle, part of the team when Terry Bradshaw was quarterback. The community’s 2018 Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement and 30-year resident shared his comments about the newest member of the Steelers fraternity.

“First of all, Najee Harris is a great, young man and he has all the tools, personality especially, to do well,” Gravelle stated. “He’s respectful, he loves his mother, he takes care of his family. When he goes back to Pittsburgh that’s the kind of person the Steeler fans will embrace.”

Franco Harris and I were drafted the same year in 1972. He was drafted in the first round I was drafted in the second,” Gravelle shared. “Franco made a comment the other day about Najee and said ‘it would be great to see another Harris in the backfield.’”

“Franco and I see each other once or twice a year and are good friends. So, to have him say something like that is really special. He knows what kind of guy Najee is. Besides that, Najee’s a great football player,” said Gravelle.

“I met Najee once, when Eddie Beaudin was having one of his crab feeds,” he shared. “He was very polite, very outgoing. I made a comment to him and asked, ‘is your head on straight?’ He said ‘yes sir, it is.’ He knew what I meant. That told me the kid will do well.”

“Fifty percent of the athletes who come into the NFL weren’t as good, physically as the guys that got cut in training camp,” Gravelle explained. “It takes so much more. I call it grit. It’s a combination of perseverance and passion. If you lose them, you have to leave the league. It’s hard work. It’s being you mentally. That’s why I asked Najee if he had his head on straight.”

Gravelle then offered some statistics about the very few players who get to play the game.

“There’s over 1.2 million high school kids playing football. That goes down to about 70,000 playing college ball and that reduces to about 1,500 players in the NFL,” he shared. “There’s only 286 picks in the draft. The average player’s lifespan for playing football is 4.2 years. Only about 25,000 people have ever played professional football and that’s over 100 years. So, it’s quite an elite fraternity. And Antioch has had some good football players to come out of here, too.”

“I don’t usually care about the draft. It’s a showtime,” Gravelle said with a laugh. “But I watched, tonight up until Najee was chosen. That’s the first time I’ve watched in 20 or 30 years.”

“What I see in Najee is what I saw in Franco, and that’s a very talented athlete who worked very hard at his craft. That’s what made Franco great and what will make Najee great, too,” Gravelle added.

Najee Harris in Progressive Insurance TV commercial and exclusive interview. Video screenshot.

Apparently already receiving endorsement contracts, Harris appeared in a Progressive Insurance TV commercial, with other players in the NFL draft, immediately following his announcement. See the complete, almost 14-minute exclusive interview entitled Up All Night, in which Harris shows his custom pajamas which are part of his Young Naj clothing line, and new “hurdling man” logo, here.

Najee Harris wears his custom pajamas as part of his new Young Naj clothing line, showing his hurdling man logo. Video screenshots.

The 2021-22 NFL schedule will be announced May 12.

Luke Johnson is an Antioch High School graduate and has been covering Najee’s football career since he played for the Panthers.

Congratulations, good luck and Godspeed, Najee!

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Antioch School Board approves contracts with 3% raise for teachers, district management

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Mirrors raise for classified staff approved previously, approves call for bids on modernization projects at four older schools

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the Antioch School Board voted 5-0 to approve a 3% pay raise for both teachers and district management staff. That matched the raise the board gave to the classified staff during their special meeting on April 7. The board also approved a call for bids for more school improvements using the remaining funds from Measure C’s bonds.

In addition, the district received the Annual Performance Review for Rocketship Delta Prep charter school. That showed an average growth for all students of 1.24 years in math and 1.03 years in English language arts.  Rocketship Delta Prep – Annual Performance Review – 2020-21

According to the district staff reports, the Board of Education and the District Administration have been engaged in contract negotiations with the California School Employees Association (CSEA), for 2020-2021. The parties reached a tentative agreement on all outstanding matters on or about March 12, 2021. Since then, CSEA ratified the tentative agreement. The new, agreed-upon language changes and provisions were presented to the board for final approval. CSEA Agreement

The Antioch Management Association (AMA) is comprised of certificated and classified management, supervisory, and confidential employees in the District. Because it is not an exclusive bargaining representative like the Antioch Education Association and the California School Employees Association, all matters regarding compensation, work year and hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for these employees are determined exclusively by the Superintendent and the Board of Education.  AMA Agreement

The District recently completed negotiations with the Antioch Education Association for the 2020-2021 school year. The terms which were agreed upon between the parties included increases in compensation and increases in the District’s monthly contribution to employee health and welfare benefits. Staff requests that the Board of Education approve equitable increases for employees in the AMA on the Certificated and Classified Management Salary Schedule with the same effective date.

That board voted that:

1) All salary schedules and associated stipends listed on those schedules be increased by 3.00% effective July 1, 2020.

2) The District’s annual contribution to health and welfare benefits be increased to the following levels effective January 1, 2021.  Employee Only: $12,096   Employee Plus 1: $17,520   Family:  $21,300

School Projects Call for Bids

The board voted 4-0, with Trustee Gary Hack unavailable during the vote, to call for bids for modernization projects at four school sites as per the Measure C – Series E Board of Education Approved Project List.

At the Board of Education Meeting held on June 24, 2020, staff submitted a list of projects to be undertaken following the sale of the Measure C bond issuance of $10,750,000 on May 12, 2020. Staff reviewed the Antioch Unified School Facilities Improvement District #1 Project List to determine project priorities and recommended the list in prioritized order. The Board approved Project List is as follows with the total estimated cost:

Antioch Middle School – HVAC to the 100, 200, and 400 wings – $1,087.210

Park Middle School – HVAC – $621,533

Muir Elementary School –Roofing – $2,803,822

Kimball Elementary School – Roofing – $2,750,492

The project list approved at the meeting on June 24, 2020, also included the Modernization of Wings 300, 500, and 900 at Antioch High School. The District bid for that project separately which was approved at the Board of Education Meeting held on August 26, 2020. That project is now underway.

Each project listed above will be bid separately and staff will request the Board to approve and award the lowest responsive and most responsible bidder for each project.

“The bids may come in higher, especially for the roofing costs, due to the increase in lumber costs,” said consultant Chris Learned.

In response to a question from Trustee Mary Rocha, he said, “You have to take the lowest, responsible bidder. There is a little leeway, but it’s hard to reject a bid.”

 

 

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Najee Harris to be first NFL draftee from Antioch High since 1999

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Najee Harris hurdles a player during Alabama’s 63-48 victory over Ole Miss on Oct. 10, 2020. Photo: Univ. of Alabama Football

National champion Alabama running back expected to be picked late in first round Thursday

Najee Harris. Photo: UAF

By Luke Johnson 

Decades have gone by without the NFL Draft showing Antioch High School some love. Najee Harris is expected to change that this week.

The last time an Antioch High alum was selected in the NFL Draft was 1999 when the Dallas Cowboys picked tight end Mike Lucky. In fact, five players from Antioch High made it to the NFL in the 1990s: Lucky, Jeremy Newberry, Mark Butterfield, Frank Beede and Evan Pilgrim.

So how does a high school football program go from putting five players in the NFL in one decade to zero players for more than two decades?

We’ll get to that. But first, let’s talk more about Harris, who won the Doak Walker Trophy for being the best running back in college football last season.

He set new records at Alabama, arguably the most prestigious program in college football, for career rushing yards and touchdowns. He also shattered almost every record imaginable at Antioch High — records many experts say will never come close to being touched. For example, the previous career touchdown record at Antioch High was 32 by Brian Boccio. Harris surpassed that mark in a single season (twice!) and finished with 99 career touchdowns. His 100th was actually called back by a holding penalty.

“The kids look up to him because he’s this mythical creature to them,” said Brett Dudley, Antioch High’s assistant head coach. “He’s almost like a comic book character or an action-movie star. He’s just this larger than life character that obviously everyone knows about.”

Antioch pro wrestling legend Ferris Anthony said he knew Harris was going to be a star when he “first saw him walk on campus.”

Anthony was the freshman football head coach at the time and remembers watching campus security escort Harris to practice on a golf cart. Anthony quickly responded, “You’re taking him to the wrong team! He’s gonna hurt somebody playing over here!”

Harris was 6-foot-2 and a chiseled 185 pounds with wide shoulders and a big frame. Within just a few weeks of joining Antioch High’s football program, Harris was pulled up to varsity as a freshman.

He had a breakout performance that season against a Freedom High team led by senior running back Joe Mixon, who now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. Not only did Harris rush for more yards than Mixon, but he scored his first varsity touchdown and also had three solo tackles on Mixon — including a forced fumble.

Almost eight years later, Harris now awaits to be the first Antioch High alum drafted in the NFL since the new millennium.

Why has it been so long? There are two key factors.

One factor, other high schools opened in the area in the mid-90s.

When Deer Valley High School began operating on the other side of town in 1996, it essentially cut Antioch High’s football team in half. Since then, Deer Valley alumni Taiwan Jones, Sterling Moore, De’Ondre Wesley and Nsimba Webster have made it to the NFL.

Freedom High School also opened in 1996 — which took away many student athletes from Antioch High who lived near the Antioch-Oakley border. The aforementioned Mixon played for Antioch Youth Football, lists his hometown as Antioch, but played at Freedom High.

Another factor, De La Salle High School established its dominance as a national powerhouse in the 90s — which compelled many star athletes from Antioch to commute to Concord for high school. This list includes three-time All-Pro Maurice Jones-Drew, Super Bowl Champ TJ Ward and many others.

Nine players from Antioch have made it to the NFL since 1999, but none of them attended the city’s oldest high school.

Antioch High head coach John Lucido said many high school teams tried recruiting Harris, but he stayed loyal to Antioch High because he believed in the school and the city when not many people did.

In his freshman year, Antioch High went 1-9. However, by his junior year, Antioch High went undefeated and won a league championship for the first time in 31 years.

“He’s very loyal. He knows he could make a difference and that’s what he wanted to do within the community and his school and his teammates,” Lucido said. “He wanted his teammates to get more exposure and go to Division-I schools and that’s what he did.”

Most NFL Draft experts project Harris to be picked in the late first round this Thursday. He is often slated to be selected No. 24 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in mock drafts, but predicted to go as high as No. 16 by the Arizona Cardinals.

Marcus Malu, Harris’ long-time personal trainer, said he thinks Harris fits best with the Cardinals, because his skillset compliments their quarterback Kyler Murray’s playing style. Lucido said he’s intrigued by the Buffalo Bills potentially selecting Harris, because he thinks Harris could be the missing piece to take the team to the Super Bowl within the next few years.

The 6-foot-2, 232 lb. national champion Alabama running back has a 6.46 draft Prospect Grade, the 16th highest ranking and is one of 58 players to participate in the draft, according to the NFL.

The only Antioch High alum to be an NFL first-round draft pick was Ron Pritchard in 1969, who was an All-American linebacker at Arizona State and inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame. The last alum to be drafted in the second round was Newberry in 1998.

Malu said this is a moment he and Harris have been getting ready and “grinding” for almost nine years.

“I told him you have to be the best in high school. Then you have to be the best in college to have a chance to play in the NFL,” Malu said. “His football IQ is off the charts. His work ethic is off the charts.”

Harris is having a draft party — with limited guests — at Marshawn Lynch’s restaurant Rob Ben’s in Emeryville on Thursday.

Just a few months ago, Harris signed with Lynch’s Beast Mode Marketing and is currently working on a deal with Nike.

He debuted his “Young Naj clothing line” earlier this week with costume-made pajamas on “Up All Night” by Progressive insurance. They featured a logo inspired by Michael Jordan’s “jumpman” which resembled a hurdling football player, because those are the type of plays by Harris that dazzle the fans the most.

The NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes on Thursday, April 29 at 5:00 PM Pacific Time (PT), Friday, April 30 at 4:00 PM PT and Saturday, May 1 at 9:00 AM PT.

 

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors defer action on Assessor Kramer’s $325K legal cost claim; sets stage for new court battle

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Approve temporary Antioch Library closure until May 31 for improvements; $233 million Regional Action Plan for unsheltered homeless; ban retractable dog leashes

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors decided in closed session on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 to take “no action” on County Assessor Gus Kramer’s claim to pay him $325,000 in legal fees stemming from a misconduct trial that was declared a mistrial in November in Superior Court.

“This is going to cost the county much more money,” commented Kramer, who was unaware of the supervisors’ executive session decision when contacted by the Contra Costa Herald.

The supervisors’ inaction on his claim means Kramer will appeal the executive session “no decision” to Superior Court.

In his claim, Kramer says former Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa had told him on several occasions that the attorney costs for the misconduct trial would be paid by the county.

“I took him (i.e., Twa) at his word,” the 70-year-old Kramer said. “He said this to me up to 10 different times. Just how a person, who was responsible for managing the county’s money, can make promises like that and then the county does not come through with the money?”

Twa, who retired as Contra Costa County Administrator earlier this year and returned to his native Minnesota, continues to work as a consultant on the county’s redistricting that needs to be completed by the end of this year. Supervisors honored Twa by dedicating the new 3 1/2-story, 72,000 square foot administration building in Martinez in his name.

Supervisors did not comment on their executive session decision on Tuesday, especially District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who when contacted by the Contra Costa Herald, refrained from issuing any remarks other than informing this reporter on the board’s executive board decision on the Kramer claim.

Glover defeated Kramer in last November’s election for the supervisorial District 5 seat,  and is currently serving his sixth four-year term as a county supervisor, the longest tenure of any current member of the board.

Approve Temporary Antioch Library Closure

Supervisors approved the temporary closure of the Antioch Library to the public from April 21 through May 31 so that Public Works workers can paint the interior of the library and install new carpet and new shelving. The library is slated to reopen on Tuesday, June 1.

“Although initially planned to take place the prior fiscal year, the improvements were postponed for several months due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Librarian Alison McKee. “Despite the initial delay, shelving has been purchased and scheduled for installation, and work requests have been submitted for Public Works for the paint and carpet work.”

During the closure, Antioch library staff will be temporarily reassigned to other libraries to fill vacant positions.  The book drop will not be open at the Antioch library, and holds will not be available for pickup. Those needing library services during the closure should visit the nearby Prewett or Oakley libraries or any other county library.

Supervisors Approved Regional Action Plan for Unsheltered Homeless

During their regular meeting, on a 5-0 vote, supervisors accepted an ambitious regional action plan, by All Home, that aims to shelter the homeless at a cost of about $223 million, partly covered by Measure X sales tax revenues over the next three years. If funded and properly implemented as planned it will reduce by 75 percent the unsheltered homeless population by 2024.

According to the presentation to the board, “All Home is a Bay Area organization advancing regional solutions that disrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness, redress the disparities in outcomes as a result of race, and create more economic mobility opportunities for extremely low-income (ELI) individuals and families.”

The action plan is based on a statement by the Regional Impact Council that the Bay Area is a “Region in Crisis.”

Board Chair Burgis, who represents the county on the nonprofit’s board of directors, called the plan a “bold plan” several times in addressing the complex issue of homelessness in the county.

Supervisors Gioia of Richmond and Burgis admitted that any effort to adequately house the homeless will require spending Measure X dollars, a new source of sales tax revenue county officials is expecting to come into county coffers later this year.

“This is a great time of opportunity to get people off the streets by leveraging our tax dollars,” said Gioia. “Contra Costa County is a great leader.”

“I am really excited Contra Costa County is shining the light on this crisis (i.e., homelessness). This will be presented to the Mayors’ Council and the Measure X Committee,” added District II Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.

$12.99 Million Buchanan Field Terminal Project Approved

Supervisors approved as a consent item the $12.99 million construction of a new Buchanan Field Terminal to replace the existing terminal at 181 John Glenn Dr. in Concord. Supervisors approved a construction contract submitted by W.E. Lyons Construction Co.

The Federal Aviation Administration will cover $6.1 million or 47 percent of the project’s cost.  CalTrans will provide $150,000 or 1 percent of the construction cost and the Airport Enterprise Fund will fund $6.74 million or 52 percent.

The new building will replace the existing terminal structure at the north end of John Glenn Drive.  The new terminal will include space for the Airports Divisions Administrative staff, Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting staff and equipment, public space to support scheduled and unscheduled air service providers, office space for aviation businesses, and general public meeting space.

The W.E. Lyons Construction Co. bid topped six other bids for the Buchanan airport project to be found to be responsive and in good faith.  The other six bids submitted for the project were:

Marcon Builders, $14,489,355; Zovich & Sons Inc., $14,559,000; Thompson Builders, $14,680,000; Patriot Contracting, $14,990,000; Rodam Builders, $15,315,000; and CWS Construction, $15,975,000.

Ordinance Bans Retractable Dog Leashes

With no public comment, supervisors approved a new Ordinance No. 2021-13, allowing community members to care for found dogs and cats and establishing new leash restrictions. Dog and cat leashes cannot be longer than six feet under the newly adopted ordinance.

Ordinance 2021-13 provides that a dog will be deemed to be “at large” if it is on a leash that is longer than six feet or that is extendable or retractable.  A long, retractable, or extendable leash allows a dog to get too far away from its handler, which does not allow for effective control of the dog.

Ensuring that a dog is walked on a leash that is six feet or less could reduce dog bites to children due to helping to ensure more effective control. According to a Consumer Reports and Consumer Union’s analysis of statistics collected in 2007, there were 16,564 hospital treated injuries associated with pet leashes, 10.5 percent of those injuries were to children less than 10 years old.

EHSD Language Line Contract

Supervisors approved a $1.1 million contract with Language Line Services, Inc. to provide interpretation and translation services for the Employment and Human Services Department from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. Language Line Services provides telephone interpretation, on-site interpretation, and document translation services to the Employment and Human Services Department and to the clients serviced by the department.

Over One Million COVID-19 Vaccines Given in County

On the COVID-19 news front, Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth announced the county has administered over one million vaccines, the second highest in the state.  That translates into 90,000 vaccines a week were administered, said Roth.

Persons 16 years old and older can now get the vaccine, said Roth.  “No appointment is necessary.”

“A million doses are amazing!” said board chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “I want to acknowledge the hard work.”

“I also want to acknowledge everyone in Public Health on one million vaccinations,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, a frequent critic of the department’s inability to adequately vaccinate minorities in underserved communities like Richmond, El Sobrante, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, and Oakley.

“County Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas has done a great job in closing the equity gap,” Gioia said.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said people will have a choice of vaccines when they report for their shots. Dr. Farnitano said last Friday the CDC and FDA had accepted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations to lift pausing on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for all adults.  The region’s health officers agreed that the risk of developing the rare clotting disorder in females is extremely low.

“According to the CDC, to date there have been only 15 confirmed cases of the rare clotting event among nearly 8 million total doses administered in the United States, all in females, which translates to a risk less than 2 cases per million doses overall and 7 cases per million doses among women between 18 and 49 years of age,” a joint press release of Bay Area Health Officers states.

 

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Antioch man fatally shot during landlord tenant dispute Wednesday morning

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Section of Garrow Drive blocked off by police during investigation of fatal shooting Wed., April 28, 2021. Photos courtesy of neighbor.

Detectives interview Brentwood man as person of interest

By Acting Sergeant Loren Bledsoe #4055, Antioch Police Violent Crimes Unit (Investigations Bureau)

Police markers on street indicate locations of bullet casings.

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, at 10:49 am, Antioch police officers were called to a residence in the 3300 block of Garrow Drive for a male subject who had been shot. Responding officers detained a 50-year-old male at the scene who was armed with a gun. Officers also located a 52-year-old male lying outside the residence, suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. The victim was immediately transported to an area hospital where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Preliminary information revealed the shooting took place during a landlord tenant dispute. Detectives are currently interviewing a 50-year-old male who is considered a person of interest at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Gragg at (925) 779-6889 or the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925)778-2441. You may also text-a-tip to 274637 (CRIMES) to 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword ANTIOCH.

This preliminary information is made available by the Investigations Bureau.

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Antioch Council adopts three more police reforms, homeless resident services guidelines

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

The Antioch City Council and city clerk included a new timer for public comments during their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Video screenshot.

With little to no discussion council on final resolutions council approves police lateral hiring disqualifying factors, training matrix additions and notification protocol;  uses new on-screen timer for public comments.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, April 27, 2021, the Antioch City Council voted to approve three additional police reforms and homeless services guidelines all on 5-0 votes. But before dealing with the major issues on the agenda, when addressing the proclamation entitled Honoring Our Elders Month, May 2021, Thorpe was severely criticized during public comments and responded with a dig at those who made them. He said, “OK. While others continue to live in the past, we will move on to the next proclamation.” Following the mayor’s comments, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker smirked.

Although the reforms were discussed during their marathon meeting on February 26, there was little to no discussion by council members on the final resolutions they adopted during the Tuesday meeting. Nor were any findings offered by council members or staff to demonstrate the need for the reforms. (See related article)

As part of the consent calendar, the council also voted 5-0 to approve spending an additional $60,000 on homelessness consultant Focus Strategies. Asked why, when the city has already hired an Unhoused Resident Coordinator, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded, “to get all the programs in place.” Unhoused Resident Consultant Contract Extension

Approve Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Police Hires

With just a few public comments and no discussion by council members, but after staff conferred with the two Antioch Police Department bargaining units, the resolution adopting disqualifying factors for lateral police hires was approved on a 5-0 vote, with a rare time that District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica moved approval and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock seconding the motion of one of Thorpe’s police reforms. APD Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Hires

Approve Training Matrix Additions

Following a few comments by the public, mostly in support but one opposing, the council took up the issue of adding language  to the Antioch Police Department’s training matrix, which will include annual, public review by the city council. APD Officer Training Matrix topics

“Having all the good police officers I’ve ever met, they always want more training, and I support more training,” Barbanica said before making a motion to approve and Ogorchock seconding, again.

“Implicit bias, effectively is racial bias training, isn’t it?” Thorpe asked Police Chief T Brooks before the vote.

“They’re separate. Racial bias could be more of an explicit bias. They’re similar. But they can be separate,” Brooks responded.

One of the other additions that will be required in the training matrix for Antioch police officers is procedural justice. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services, procedural justice is based on four pillars: fairness in the processes, transparency in actions, opportunities for voice and impartiality in decision making.

The motion passed 5-0.

Notification Protocol Approved

Following a few public comments, including members of Angelo Quinto’s family asking for public communication to be included in the protocol, Barbanica made a motion to formally approve disqualifying factors associated with the lateral hiring of officers by the Antioch Police Department. However, no public notification requirements were included in the protocol. Those will be considered later, according to Thorpe. APD Notification Protocol 

The motion was approved on a 5-0 vote.

Approve Unhoused Resident Services Policy Guidelines

After the city council set aside $531,174 for new homelessness response efforts in November 2019 – with $140,000 already allocated for mobile showers and toilets, trash and sharps disposal, laundry services, motel vouchers, and pilots for safe parking programs and warming centers – and accepting five FEMA trailers that remain unused, hiring an Unhoused Resident Coordinator and contracting with a consultant at a cost of $133,000 so far, the council finally adopted policy guidelines for unhoused resident services. Antioch Policy Guidelines for Unhoused Resident Services

“This is essentially a first step,” Barbanica said. “To identify and bring services in and get people into housing. Does this include renting a hotel for housing? It does not.”

“We are trying to put together a pathway,” he continued. “This is how do we help people, right now, today hopefully get into long-term housing.”

“I think that, my belief is we need our own CORE Team and I ask that be added to the budget,” Ogorchock stated.

With no more discussion, Barbanica moved approval of the guidelines, with Ogorchock offering the second. The motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

The council then discussed additional homeless related ideas including a human rights commission, all of which will be considered in committee.

 

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Sex ed transparency bill resurrected to be heard Wednesday after being rejected by Senate Education Committee

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Contra Costa’s Glazer is a committee member

By Greg Burt

This Wednesday, April 28, the Senate Education Committee is again considering approval of a bill to require school districts to put their sex education material online for easy parental access. The same bill, SB 217, failed in March, even with the support of the committee chair Senator Connie Leyva (D-San Bernardino). The author Senator Brian Dahle (R-Redding) is hoping that removing the requirement that sex education lessons be translated into various languages, will guarantee passage this time. Senator Steve Glazer is a member of the committee.

The President of the California Family Council Jonathan Keller commended Senator Dahle for working hard to resurrect the commonsense proposal. “Whether they vote Democrat or Republican, all parents believe in government transparency, especially regarding the education of their children,” Keller said. “We urge elected officials on both sides of the aisle to set aside partisan politics and support these reasonable protections for kids and families.”

Senator Dahle believes the need for the bill has increased because of the pandemic. “Given the new structure of our schooling system as changed due to COVID-19, we should encourage that parents actively participate in their child’s development and instruction,” Dahle wrote. “The shift to internet-based and technology heavy education has forced schools to prevent parents from physically accessing the school campus during the pandemic. … As such, we need to ensure that parents and students have access to all of the material and curriculum being taught by the school.”

The idea for this bill came from a Bay Area mother named Denise Pursche several years ago when her elementary school resisted showing her the new sex education curriculum to be used for her twin 5th graders. After being sent on detours, and then asking again and again, Denise finally got a chance to look at the actual lessons being used, but she could only review them at the school district office for a limited period of time. Once she saw the graphic, age-inappropriate content, Denise realized why school personnel tried to hide the curriculum from her.

It is common practice for school officials to require parents to come to the school or district offices during school hours if they want to review the sex-ed lessons, a difficult prospect for single parents or homes with two working parents.

With the help of the California Family Council, she got former Senator Mike Morrell to introduce SB 637, a bill not only required sex education materials to be translated into various languages and put online, but required schools to get parental permission before teaching comprehensive sex education to children in elementary school. Currently, parents can opt their children out of classes, but they must initiate the process.

The Senate Education Committee heard Morrell’s bill, SB 673, in January of 2020, but it died along party lines. The committee chair Senator Leyva said at the time she supported the transparency part of the bill, but not the opt-in procedure. So this year, Senator Dahle took Leyva at her word and introduced SB 217 that only included the transparency part of the bill, plus the costly provision that required the curriculum to be translated for parents who didn’t read English. Unfortunately, the bill died 3 – 3, with Senator Richard Pan not voting.

Hopefully, with the cost-prohibitive translation provision removed, at least one of the four Democrats on the education committee, Senators Richard Pan, Dave Cortese, Steven Glazer, or Mike McGuire, will change their minds and vote for the bill. SB 217 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on the morning of Wednesday, April 28.

Take Action

CALL your State Senator and tell them to vote “Yes” on SB 217!

Burt is the Director of Capitol Engagement at the California Family Council.

 

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Antioch council to consider more police reforms, spending $60,000 more for homelessness consultant Tuesday night

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Training matrix additions to include “implicit bias training”, how to deal with “historically marginalized persons”

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the Antioch City Council will consider three more police reform proposals, including disqualifying factors for lateral hires, adding specific topics into the training matrix of sworn officers and the previously discussed protocol for notifying council members. In addition, the council will consider three issues intended to deal with the city’s homeless population, including spending $60,000 more on a contract with Focus Strategies. (See meeting agenda)

Items 8, 9 and 10 are on the police reform matters and items J on the Consent Calendar, and 11 and 12 are on the unhoused resident matters. APD Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Hires   APD Officer Training Matrix topics   APD Notification Protocol   Unhoused Resident Consultant Contract Extension

The proposed additions the police training matrix are as follows:

UPDATE: At about 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who is the main proponent of the reform measures, was asked the following questions via email: regarding the proposed reforms on adding language to the training matrix, have APD officers been getting complaints in their interactions with “historically marginalized persons”? Also, why the addition of implicit bias training, which according to reports isn’t working in other departments? Doesn’t it imply that Antioch police officers are racially biased and act on it when interacting with people of color? Is there any data from the APD that demonstrates the need for this additional language in the training matrix? Again, I remind you that you signed a pledge last year to base your reform proposals on findings. So, what are the findings?

Similar questions were emailed to Antioch Police Officers Association President Jason Vanderpool at about the same time.

As of 9:20 p.m. Monday night, neither had responded. Please check back later for their responses and any other updates to this report.

Prior to their regular meeting at 7:00 p.m., the council will hold a budget study session beginning at 5:30 p.m.

If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so any of the following ways by 3:30 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting: (1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, or (2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us.

To provide oral public comments during the meeting, click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: www.antiochca.gov/speakers. You may also provide an oral public comment by dialing (925) 776-3057. Please see inside cover for detailed Speaker Rules.

To ensure that the City Council receives your comments, you must submit your comments in writing by 3:30 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting.

Members of the public seeking to observe the meeting may do so at www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

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