Analysis: Antioch Council to go for “woke” during special meeting Tuesday at 5:30 pm

Only 28 evictions of renter households out of 13,221 in Antioch during COVID-19 moratorium. Yet, council members call for rent control and anti-tenant harassment ordinances.

By Allen Payton

During a special meeting Tuesday evening (today) at 5:30 pm – when most residents who commute to work aren’t yet home – the Antioch City Council will discuss several issues that will be sure to please those who claim to be “woke”, or rather progressive and champions of “equity”, who pursue equality of result rather than equality of opportunity, aka SJW’s meaning “social justice warriors”. It’s a Far-Left Wing wish list of ways to reshape Antioch’s society, and not for the better.

Two agenda items that don’t fit that description include the first one, which is about the celebration of Antioch’s 150th anniversary of cityhood, next year, known as the Sesquicentennial. Say it slowly and pronounce it: “sess”, “qui” (as in quick), and end with “centennial”, you know like bicentennial, which is a 200-year anniversary.

The council has already allocated $100,000 toward the estimated $201,500 in costs for the 2022 Sesquicentennial Celebration. Now, council members have to decide if they want to continue to work with the Celebrate Antioch Foundation to put on the various events proposed for next year, send out a request for proposal (RFP) for other groups that might be interested, hire an outside contractor or additional staff to plan the events, or just use existing City staff to handle it all. Sesquicentennial Celebration Next Steps ACC111621

They should go with the first choice, since the first event is on February 6, 2022, the actual anniversary of the City’s incorporation in 1872, and it’s a bit late to switch horses – especially since Celebrate Antioch Foundation isn’t doing it alone, but has help from the Antioch Historical Society, and other local organizations.

The other item on the agenda which is rather innocuous and shouldn’t be very controversial is item 3. Local Purchasing Ordinance. According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Council Member Lori Ogorchock (District 3) stated an interest in the potential establishment of a local purchasing ordinance and requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

Who doesn’t support shopping local and keeping Antioch’s city funds spent with local businesses, growing our own economy, instead of Jeff Bezos’ pocketbook? FISCAL IMPACTUnknown at this time.

Woke Agenda Items

Beyond those, the other items on the agenda attempt to push a specific agenda, much like most of the police reforms approved by the council (many times only by three votes), earlier this year, without proving the need and basing them on findings and in opposition to the majority of those who participated in the Bridging the Gap forums.

  1. HOUSING POLICIES – RENT CONTROL AND TENANT PROTECTIONS

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “A number of housing policies have been expressed as potential areas of interest by Antioch’s elected leadership. i. Mayor Lamar Thorpe identified the topic of rent control within the City of Antioch. ii. Council Member Tamisha Torres-Walker (District 1) and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson (District 4) advanced the topic of tenant protections, specifically the establishment of a tenant anti-displacement policy and an anti-landlord harassment policy in the City of Antioch.” (See related article)

The council will hear a presentation by Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and then is asked to provide staff direction based on their consensus. FISCAL IMPACT Unknown at this time. ACCE Tenant Protections presentation ACC111621

According to the organization’s website, ACCE “is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization that builds power to fight and stand for economic, racial and social justice. We take seriously our commitment to ground-up organizing to build a strong people’s movement that can create transformative community change.”

On the Who We Are What We Do page, under the topic of Racial and Economic Justice, their website reads, “We evaluate problems and solutions through a lens grounded in both economic and racial justice. We cannot resolve structural racism without changing our economic system and we cannot resolve economic inequality without addressing racism.” Also, under the topic of Systems Change it reads, “ACCE seeks to shift power relations by changing the systems that create oppression rather than just addressing the symptoms of oppression.

That’s who the council is looking to for guidance? An organization with a clear agenda based on incorrect assumptions of race and economic issues in Antioch?

Questions for council members to answer before giving any direction to staff: What structural racism exists in Antioch? What economic inequality is there and how is it based on racism in Antioch? Who in Antioch is actually suffering oppression?

According to the organization’s presentation, “In March 2021, a KQED investigative report found that during the pandemic, Antioch had the most evictions per renter households out of all nine Bay Area counties.” In addition, the presentation claims, “Antioch’s COVID-19 eviction rate was 207.2 per 100,000 renter households, nearly double that of Richmond, and approximately 50 times the rate of Oakland.”

That sounds really horrible but, it’s only 0.2072% – about the same percentage of Americans who have died from COVID-19 (all of which are sad and unfortunate). But if the council decides on any policy based on that statistic, it will just be another example of overreaction by government officials.

Furthermore, according to the American Community Survey, 2019 (1-Year Estimates) cited in the ACC presentation, “Antioch is more than a third renters: in 2019, there were 36,138 housing units in Antioch and 13,221 of them, or 36.6%, were occupied by tenants.” That means there were a total of 28 evictions of renter households out of all 13,221 in Antioch during the COVID-19 moratorium.

As for rent control, that just creates another level of costly bureaucracy and more government injection into the housing market that is a macroeconomic issue. Plus, I find it laughable that two of the three council members who are proposing it, just last year voted to endorse Measure T which would have reduced the supply of future housing in Antioch. Perhaps they’ve never learned about the law of supply and demand which demonstrates that the lower the supply of something while demand is high results in increased prices.

Questions for council members to ask and get answered before giving direction to City staff, if any: How does ACCE define tenant harassment? How do you define it? What are the reasons that landlords provided as the reason for evictions? Because evictions were allowed during the COVID-19 moratorium, but for other reasons other than non-payment of rent. With only 28 total evictions during COVID-19 citywide are such ordinances really necessary? Do you know why each of those tenants were evicted?

  1. LOCAL PREFERENCE FOR MINORITY AND WOMEN OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISES

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Mayor Pro Tem Wilson stated an interest in the potential establishment of a local preference for Minority & Women Owned Business Enterprises and requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

I would like to see Wilson lead by example on this, first and put her money where her mouth is. Does she make it a point to do business with minority and women owned business enterprises? I don’t recall seeing her in the restaurant for which I was the minor shareholder, and my partner who is Black and owned the majority share of the business – located right down the street from City Hall – not even for our Grand Opening, when she could have eaten for free.

Even better, how about Wilson try and start her own business and see what it takes to compete in the marketplace, create jobs, and create wealth?

Questions for council members: is Wilson claiming minority and women owned businesses can’t compete in Antioch against white male owned businesses? Do the sales tax dollars generated by the businesses in Antioch have a color other than green? What about residential and commercial property tax dollars?

That reminds me of when I joined the NAACP East County Branch, in I believe 1999. Since I wasn’t sure I could, because I’m white and Republican, one of the members asked me, “is your money green?” I said, “yes”. She said, “then you can join!” (She also pointed out it was white Republicans who helped form the NAACP. But I digress).

This is simply more divisiveness pitting some groups against others, namely the “evil patriarchy” which is full of white men holding others back and down. Yeah, right. I can tell you, as I’m out selling advertising to all kinds of businesses owned by minority owners, white owners, women and men owners, most all of them are struggling, these days. So, frankly they all need some help.

If Wilson and the rest of the council really cared about helping businesses, minority and women owned or otherwise, they would join with other council members in the county and pressure the Board of Supervisors and their out-of-control Public Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano to lift the current health order requiring proof of vaccination to go to indoor restaurants, the health club, the El Campanil Theatre, indoor movie theaters and bowling alleys. That way they don’t have to spend extra money on staff to enforce the ridiculous and unnecessary order and keep our businesses from getting fined, further costing them money they don’t have.

Besides, what if the owner is white and identifies as gender non-binary? In which category do they fit? What if the owner is a man who identifies as a woman? Would his business qualify for the preference? Just how woke should such the policy be?

Just keep OUR tax dollars, that the City spends, IN Antioch following the Local Purchasing Ordinance proposed by Councilwoman Ogorchock, regardless of who owns it, their gender or ethnicity.

FISCAL IMPACT Unknown at this time.

  1. HUMAN RIGHTS AND RACIAL EQUITY COMMISSION

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Council Member Torres-Walker stated an interest in the potential establishment of a Human Rights and Racial Equity Commission and requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

Questions for Torres-Walker to answer and any other council members who support forming the commission: Which humans in Antioch are being denied their rights? What do they consider as a right beyond what is enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights? How can the Antioch city government ensure and achieve racial “equity”, which is, again, equality of result instead of ensuring our government simply treats everyone equally and fairly? If it’s formed, will you actually listen to what the members have to say or simply ignore them and act like it doesn’t exist like the other commissions, including the Police Crime Prevention Commission and Economic Development Commission?

FISCAL IMPACTUnknown at this time.

  1. FOOD INSECURITY AND ACCESS TO HEALTHY AND AFFORDABLE FOOD OPTIONS AD HOC COMMITTEE

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Council Member Torres-Walker and Mayor Pro Tem Wilson stated interest in food insecurity, access to healthy and affordable food options and the potential formation of an ad hoc committee. It is requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

While food insecurity may have been a concern in Torres-Walker’s district earlier this year with the closing of Lucky grocery store on East 18th Street, since then Antioch Foods opened there and the Cielo Mexican Supermarket opened right down the street, giving the residents on the north side of Hwy 4 – which her district encompasses, two major food choices.

Questions for council members: how can the City of Antioch offer access to healthy and affordable food options? Can they do something about inflation? Do they support having more food giveaway lines on our major city streets like on A Street? Are the council members who proposed this suggesting city tax dollars be spent in addition to the federal funds spent on WIC and SNAP?

FISCAL IMPACTUnknown at this time.

Aren’t these the same two council members, along with Mayor Thorpe – in an attempt to show their environmental credentials – who foolishly voted against renewing the franchise agreement for one of the natural gas pipelines that runs through Antioch, potentially increasing the costs for people to heat their homes, their water for showers, baths, coffee and tea, as well as cook food both at home and in our restaurants?

First, they make decisions that increase our costs of living, then want to use our tax dollars to help those who can’t afford to pay for those cost increases. They’re self-inflicted problems and cause a downward spiral for our society.

Get Woke Go Broke

It’s pretty obvious some of the council members are simply ignoring what has happened with companies and other governments that have experienced the slogan, “Get Woke Go Broke”.

Plus, it’s really easy to show compassion when spending other people’s hard-earned money and play favorites with businesses using we the people’s tax dollars, when you’ve never owned a business, created jobs or created wealth, and only worked for either government agencies or non-profit organizations that exist off of donations from what other people have earned. Unfortunately, they just don’t have the necessary experience or knowledge to make the right decisions that will benefit our community – our entire community.

The bottom line is the best form of welfare and the best social program is a job. So, if they really want to help Antioch residents, the council members would focus on two things: public safety and economic development, by hiring more police and getting our crime under control and bringing employers with higher paying jobs to our city, to truly fulfill the City’s new slogan, “Opportunity Lives Here”. That doesn’t mean more cannabis businesses which further damages our city’s reputation beyond the crime and homelessness – about which they really haven’t done anything other than hire a consultant and a staff member – and actually works against economic development efforts to attract employers.

The issue isn’t about having compassion on others who are less fortunate. Most people, like me, do. The issue is how to go about truly helping them, and whether or not there actually is a problem with some of the proposals on tonight’s council meeting agenda.

The City isn’t doing well at the main thing they should already be doing, which is public safety. That’s no shot at the police department. It’s due to a lack of staffing. But this council didn’t approve even one additional sworn officers in this year’s budget or the next. That’s in spite of the fact that there’s an estimated $5 million more in this year’s budget and $8 million more in next year’s, thanks to the sales tax increases we the people approved mainly for more police!

Yet, some of the council members want our city government to try and do more things that are mostly out of their purview? Not wise. But we’ll see just how woke some of the council members will go.

Viewing

Members of the public can watch the meeting at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Public Comments

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
  1. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

– You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

– When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

  1. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, Public Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”.

All emails received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record or the meeting.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak.

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the attachments to this post:


Sesquicentennial Celebration Next Steps ACC111621


ACCE Tenant Protections presentation ACC111621


Get woke go broke


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