Archive for November, 2021

All are invited to the Grand Community Chanukah Celebration in Brentwood Sunday, Dec. 5

Friday, November 26th, 2021

Eight lights of Antioch’s Chanukah Menorah to be lit beginning Saturday night

This year, Chanukah begins on the eve of Nov. 28, which is Nov. 29 according to the Jewish calendar and runs for eight days through the eve of Dec. 6. Chanukah celebrates the cleansing of the Temple following the revolt of the Maccabees against King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Greek Empire of Syria, after he issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice.

Chanukah is known as the Festival of Lights, because it commemorates the traditional account of the miracle of finding one cruse of sacred oil—enough for one day—that lasted for eight days, the length of time it took to produce more sanctified oil for the N’er Tamid (Eternal Light) in the Temple. Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Dedication, as the Temple was sanctified again, and dedicated to true worship of the living God.

To remember that miracle, menorahs holding eight candles are lit, one per night, during the Chanukah celebration. Antioch has an eight-light Menorah, first erected in 2019, located in Waldie Plaza across W. 2nd Street from City Hall in historic, downtown Rivertown. One light will be lit each night beginning Saturday.

You’re invited to come, celebrate the Festival of Lights with Chabad of the Delta and our surrounding communities as we light the grand Menorah during the Community Celebration on Sunday December 5 at 4:30 pm at Brentwood City Park at 2nd and Oak Streets.

Our local community leaders will participate in kindling the giant “Menorah of Freedom”. There will be fun activities for everyone including:

  • Chanukah crafts, glitter art and photo ops!
  • Delicious, traditional latkes and donuts!
  • A Grand Raffle!
  • Saul Kaye Jewish Blues Musical entertainment!
  • Acrobatic performance by Red Panda Acrobats!

For many of us, Chanukah prompts warm, loving memories from our childhood. We light the Menorah every night of the 8-night holiday. These lights offer warmth, joy, strength, inspiration and renews our sense of identity.

Rabbi Peretz Goldshmid, director of the Chabad of the Delta Jewish Center, describes Chanukah as “a holiday that enriches our lives with the light of tradition. In ancient times our ancestors rededicated the Temple in Jersusalem with the Menorah. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place.”

Menorahs placed by Chabad of the Delta (L to R, top row) in Antioch with city employees and Rabbi Goldschmid in the center, the grand Menorah in Brentwood City Park, in Discovery Bay, (bottom row) in Brentwood near Veterans Park and in Oakley. Herald file photo of Antioch Menorah, all others courtesy of Rabbi Peretz Goldschmid.

Chabad of the Delta has placed Menorahs in Oakley at City Hall on Main Street, and another one in Brentwood at Balfour Road near Veterans Park, and this year we’ve placed a new in Discovery Bay at the Holiday Square on Discovery Bay Blvd.

As we celebrate in East Contra Costa, we join millions the world over, promoting the universal message that good will prevail over evil, freedom over oppression and light over darkness.

Make sure not to miss this opportunity to celebrate with your family and friends!

For more information and free Menorah Kits, contact Chabad of the Delta at (925) 420-4999 or online @ JewishDelta.com/Chanukah.

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Contra Costa Supervisors vote 5-0 to finalize 2021 redistricting map

Friday, November 26th, 2021

Contra Costa Board of Supervisors approved the 2021 Redistricting Map D. Source; Contra Costa County

Only 93 people provided public input, nine alternate maps submitted

Antioch split between Districts 3 and 5 along Somersville Road, Auto Center Drivand the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way

By Daniel Borsuk

During their final public hearing for the 2021 redistricting process on Tuesday, Nov. 23, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the 2021 Redistricting Map D on Tuesday that shows Supervisor Candace Andersen’s District 2 and Supervisor Federal Glover’s District 5 gaining territory at the expense of District 3 Supervisor Dianne Burgis and District 1 Supervisor John Gioia. (See agenda item D.1)

The supervisors’ action on the final redistricting map beat the mandatory Dec. 15 deadline by 22 days after county officials conducted a series of public hearings and workshops that drew meager citizen input.

“For the six workshops a total of 21 individuals provided public comment either in person or by Zoom or phone call; and an additional 72 individuals were on the Zoom or phone call in portions of the workshops but chose not to speak,” a county document stated in defense of the public participation.  A total of nine public submissions of alternative maps were included in the process. (See related article)

No matter how uneven the county process might have been in attracting public participation, two districts – District 2 and District 5 – scored the most territory and potential political clout from the decennial redistricting process.

From CCC Board of Supervisors 2021 Redistricting Map D.

Map D keeps Antioch split in two between Districts 3 and 5, as the city currently is, but in different ways. This time the districts are split along Somersville Road and Auto Center Drive and the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way. Herald publisher Allen Payton asked the supervisors to consider splitting Antioch along the city boundary line with Pittsburg and Highway 4, which he said makes more sense for residents to know what district they live in and to match the current and expected district boundaries for Antioch City Council District 1. Burgis said she tried to make that happen but the population figures to comply with the 5% deviation legal requirement, didn’t work.

CCC Supervisor 2011 Districts current Antioch-Pittsburg split.

After the final vote on the map, Board Chair Burgis of Brentwood put a positive spin on the two-month redistricting activity stating.

“The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors thanks the community for its participation in this decennial process,” she said. “We have been committed to a robust Redistricting and public outreach process with public hearings, a dedicated website at CoCoRedistricting.org, public workshops, and multiple ways for the public to share input, including an online mapping tool to draw maps and submit comments.  We want to thank you for staying informed and playing a role in this important process.”

“I’d like you to not vote on this today,” requested Sherrill Grower, one of three persons who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. “I feel like this map disenfranchises the public particularly along the northern waterfront. I am not pleased with the proposed district boundaries.”

Map D with population statistics. Source: Contra Costa County

With the new map, District 4 now covers most of Walnut Creek split at Highway 24 and Interstate 680 with District 2 Supervisor Andersen representing the other portion of the city, primarily Rossmoor.

District 4 underwent the smallest population gain of the five districts with a 1.65 percent increase from 2010 to 2020, to 229,348 residents, according to Census data. Whites represent 51.7 percent of District 4’s population followed by Latinos at 22.4 percent, Asians at 15.2 percent, Blacks at 3 percent and 7.7 percent for others.

District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who has announced she won’t seek re-election in 2022, also saw the city of Concord, which is in District 4, split with Glover’s District 5 by Highways 4 and 242 and the former railroad right-of-way.

Mainly because Andersen’s District 2 experienced the biggest population gain of any of the other districts, from 2010 to 2020 it gained more territory. Population-wise, District 2’s population rose from 218,017 in 2010 to 243,565 in 2020. Whites make up 55 percent of the district’s population followed by Asians at 28 percent, Latinos at 8.5 percent, and Blacks at 1.6 percent and others at 6.8 percent.

District 2 will now cover Tassajara Valley, Blackhawk, Diablo and Camino Tassajara, all formerly were represented by Supervisor Burgis.

District 3, which saw its population rise 2.85 percent to 203,711 from 2010 to 2020, covers most of Antioch and the other growing cities of Brentwood and Oakley and communities of Bethel Island, Knightsen, Discovery Bay, and Byron.

District 2 also contains the cities of San Ramon, Danville, Moraga, Lafayette, and Orinda. The census designated Alamo, Blackhawk, Diablo, Camino Tassajara, Saranap, and Castle Rock as contained in District 2.

In addition to the cities of Pleasant Hill and Clayton, the Contra Costa Centre, Acalanes Ridge, Shell Ridge, San Miguel and North Gate are in District 4.

Glover, who offered no comment on the final redistricting map, also gained territory. He not only retains the Northern Waterfront, an area now under planning study for future industrial and economic development from Crockett to Oakley, but District 5 now, no longer has a portion of Pinole that was formerly split by District 1’s Gioia and District 5’s Glover.

Not mentioned publicly, District 5 is due to benefit economically and demographically when bulldozers rev up at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station where the Seeno Company has won City of Concord approval to build 13,000 housing units and commercial developments on 5,046 acres on the former Naval weapons base property in north Concord. Construction should be well underway over the next 10 years.

Based on U.S. Census data, District 5’s population increased from 203,744 in 2010 to 228,463 in 2020. Thirty-five percent of the district’s population is Latino, 27.5 percent is White, 17.9 percent is Asian and 12.4 percent is Black.

Supervisor John Gioia was pleased with the redistricting results, especially when more urban-like district contains the cities of Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito, and Pinole. Kensington, North Richmon, East Richmond Heights, El Sobrante, Rollingwood, Tara Hills, Montalvin Manor, and Bayview are also included in District 1.

District 1’s population grew from 203,437 persons in 2010 to 224,726 in 2020, according to U.S. Census data. Latinos represent 40.9 percent of the district’s population followed by whites at 21.7 percent, Asians at 16.8 percent and Blacks at 16.8 percent

“The boundaries are very similar to our local transportation district,” observed Gioia. “There is no gerrymandering.”

Overall, Contra Costa County’s population increased 11.4 percent to 1,168,064.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

 

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400th Anniversary of Thanksgiving: Where Did It Come From and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

The First Thanksgiving, reproduction of an oil painting by J.L.G. Ferris, early 20th century.

NOTE: This was first posted on November 24, 2011. We re-post and update it each year.

By Allen Payton, Publisher

It was 400 years ago, this year, that the first Thanksgiving feast was celebrated by the Pilgrims and their Indian friends in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts.

Who were the Pilgrims?

Christian Protestants in England, became known as Puritans, because of their differences with the Church of England. Most remained within the Church of England, but a small group of Puritans, known as Separatists, who chose to leave the church, were persecuted for their faith. Around 1607 or 1608 about 300 Separatists left England and relocated to Holland.

Then in 1620, some of the Separatists chose to leave Holland for a place where they could be free to practice their faith. Along with adventurers, other colonists recruited by the venture’s financial backers and the ship’s crew, for a total of 102 people, the Separatists sailed to the New World on the ship the Mayflower.

It was William Bradford, their second governor, who gave the Separatists the label of Pilgrims, from the Bible verse in the book of Hebrews chapter 11, verse 13, which states “they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” He stated “They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country.”

According to what became known as The Mayflower Compact, the voyage was “undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our kind and country…to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia” Instead, the voyagers first spotted land on November 9, 1620 and then chose to set anchor in Provincetown Harbor, Massachusetts on November 11.

“The Mayflower Compact was signed that day on board the Mayflower, which was at anchor in Provincetown Harbor.  The document was drawn up in response to ‘mutinous speeches’ that had come about because the Pilgrims had intended to settle in Northern Virginia, but the decision was made after arrival to instead settle in New England.  Since there was no government in place, some felt they had no legal obligation to remain within the colony and supply their labor.  The Mayflower Compact attempted to temporarily establish that government until a more official one could be drawn up in England that would give them the right to self-govern themselves in New England.”(1)

Read the complete Mayflower Compact by clicking here.

They then settled across Cape Cod Bay at Plymouth, Massachusetts and only 53 of the Pilgrims survived that first winter, thanks to the help of the local Indians. But the following summer was good for them.

The First Thanksgiving Celebration

“After their first harvest, the colonists of the Plymouth Plantation held a celebration of food and feasting in the fall of 1621. Indian chiefs Massassoit, Squanto and Samoset joined in the celebration with ninety of their men in the three-day event. (2)

According to William Bradford, in his journal entitled Of Plimoth Plantation: “They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want.  And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).  And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion.  Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained,  but true reports.”

According to Edward Winslow in his book Mourt’s Relation: “our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others.  And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want,  that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.”

The First Official Thanksgiving Day

In 1623, the first official day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford

Bradford’s Thanksgiving Proclamation:

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

–William Bradford

Ye Governor of Ye Colony

Through the years, subsequent Thanksgiving Day proclamations were made and dates for celebrating it were set by Congress and various U.S. presidents.

1777 Proclamation by the Continental Congress

On November 1, 1777, by order of Congress, the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation was approved, and signed by Henry Laurens, President of the Continental Congress. The third Thursday of December, 1777 was officially set aside: “…for solemn thanksgiving and praise. That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor;… and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot hem (their manifold sins) out of remembrance… That it may please Him… to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth of ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’…”

First Thanksgiving Proclamation by the American Government

In 1789, it was President George Washington who issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation by the American government: WHEREAS, It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; WHEREAS, Both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. –George Washington – October 3, 1789

Mass Centinel masthead Where Did Thanksgiving Come From and Why Do We Celebrate It? Washingtons Thanksgiving Proclamation in Mass Centinel 1789 Where Did Thanksgiving Come From and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Lincoln Makes Last Thursday in November Official Day of Thanksgiving

Then in in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as the day of national thanksgiving with his Thanksgiving Proclamation:

Washington, D.C. October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Since 1863, every President has issued an annual proclamation calling for the people of the nation to celebrate a national day of thanksgiving.

1941 Vote by Congress and President Roosevelt

But it wasn’t until October 6, 1941 that our federal government made it an official, national holiday, when Congress approved it.

“In 1939…the last Thursday in November fell on the last day of the month. Concerned that the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen the economic recovery, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Presidential Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. As a result of the proclamation, 32 states issued similar proclamations while 16 states refused to accept the change and proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November. For two years two days were celebrated as Thanksgiving – the President and part of the nation celebrated it on the second to last Thursday in November, while the rest of the country celebrated it the following week.

To end the confusion, Congress decided to set a fixed-date for the holiday. On October 6, 1941, the House passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal Thanksgiving Day. The Senate, however, amended the resolution establishing the holiday as the fourth Thursday, which would take into account those years when November has five Thursdays. The House agreed to the amendment, and President Roosevelt signed the resolution on December 26, 1941, thus establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.” (3)

President John F. Kennedy’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1961

OCTOBER 27, 1961

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES A PROCLAMATION :

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”

More than three centuries ago, the Pilgrims, after a year of hardship and peril, humbly and reverently set aside a special day upon which to give thanks to God for their preservation and for the good harvest from the virgin soil upon which they had labored. Grave and unknown dangers remained. Yet by their faith and by their toil they had survived the rigors of the harsh New England winter. Hence they paused in their labors to give thanks for the blessings that had been bestowed upon them by Divine Providence.

This year, as the harvest draws near its close and the year approaches its end, awesome perils again remain to be faced. Yet we have, as in the past, ample reason to be thankful for the abundance of our blessings. We are grateful for the blessings of faith and health and strength and for the imperishable spiritual gifts of love and hope. We give thanks, too, for our freedom as a nation; for the strength of our arms and the faith of our friends; for the beliefs and confidence we share; for our determination to stand firmly for what we believe to be right and to resist mightily what we believe to be base; and for the heritage of liberty bequeathed by our ancestors which we are privileged to preserve for our children and our children’s children.

It is right that we should be grateful for the plenty amidst which we live; the productivity of our farms, the output of our factories, the skill of our artisans, and the ingenuity of our investors. But in the midst of our thanksgiving, let us not be unmindful of the plight of those in many parts of the world to whom hunger is no stranger and the plight of those millions more who live without the blessings of liberty and freedom.

With some we are able to share our material abundance through our Food-for-Peace Program and through our support of the United Nations Freedom-from-Hunger Campaign. To all we can offer the sustenance of hope that we shall not fail in our unceasing efforts to make this a peaceful and prosperous world for all mankind.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN F. KENNEDY, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, the twenty-third day of November of this year, as a day of national thanksgiving. I urge all citizens to make this Thanksgiving not merely a holiday from their labors, but rather a day of contemplation. I ask the head of each family to recount to his children the story of the first New England thanksgiving, thus to impress upon future generations the heritage of this nation born in toil, in danger, in purpose, and in the conviction that right and justice and freedom can through man’s efforts persevere and come to fruition with the blessing of God. Let us observe this day with reverence and with prayer that will rekindle in us the will and show us the way not only to preserve our blessings, but also to extend them to the four corners of the earth. Let us by our example, as well as by our material aid, assist all peoples of all nations who are striving to achieve a better life in freedom.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed. DONE at the City of Washington this twenty-seventh day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-sixth.

JOHN F. KENNEDY

Click here to read Kennedy’s final Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1963, just weeks before his assassination.

Read more Thanksgiving Proclamations by Presidents Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush here  and this year’s proclamation by President Obama here.

So we continue the celebration, today, with our family and friends, of giving thanks to God for his provisions to us personally and to our great nation, even in spite of our current economic challenges.

God bless you, God bless America and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

References:

(1) www.MayflowerHistory.com

(2) www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/firsts/thanksgiving/

(3) www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving/

www.pilgrimhall.org/1stthnks

Learn more from the book Plymouth in the words of her Founders by Dr. Paul Jehle at http://www.amazon.com/Plymouth-Words-Founders-Paul-Jehle/dp/0972417346

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Contra Costa DA joins forces with other prosecutors to combat organized retail theft

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

As thieves turn to new tactics, Bay Area, San Joaquin County prosecutors form alliance to ensure accountability

By Bobbi Mauler, Executive Assistant, Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney

Today, Nov. 24, 2021, Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton announced an alliance between Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties, law enforcement, and state agencies to combat the recent increase in organized retail theft. Each office has pledged a prosecutor to collaborate and participate in the joint effort. (See related article)

“Fencing and organized retail theft rings operate across jurisdictional boundaries,” said Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton. “As prosecutors, we must respond to the nature of these crimes and operate with our partners to more effectively meet this challenge. Those responsible for perpetuating these crimes are working together as a team, and to ensure accountability for their crimes, law enforcement needs to work together as a team too. These caught and arrested will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“Organized retail theft has adverse and costly impacts on business owners and consumers alike,” said San Joaquin District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “Through a partnership with our neighboring counties, we will hold all parties accountable, including fencing rings and individuals who purchase stolen goods. We commend Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta for taking organized retail theft seriously and we implore the community to report suspicious resell activity to assist law enforcement’s efforts in tracking organized retail theft rings.”

While police work to strengthen investigations and collaborations across jurisdictional boundaries, prosecutors’ offices similarly can better ensure accountability through information sharing. The partnership between counties and local agencies would allow for the sharing of information through data collection, crime analytics, as well as pooled investigative tools to successfully prosecute those involved with organized retail theft schemes. In addition to the shared resources between counties, the District Attorney’s Offices would continue to collaborate with their local retailers and State Representatives to ensure statues that cover organized theft rings are enforceable and improve safety for consumers.

“Retail theft crimes are affecting all counties in the Bay Area as well as across the nation.  Collaboration and shared strategies with neighboring prosecutors and law enforcement partners are critical to both preventing and responding to organized retail theft,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.  “This alliance of prosecutors is committed to developing strategies to combat these organized crimes.  Together, we are determined to stop those who participate in organized retail theft, including by dismantling the fencing networks that make this type of crime profitable.”

“The recent premeditated retail theft mob action in multiple cities across Northern California is intolerable and will not be accepted by District Attorneys, law enforcement officials and our community members,” said San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.  “Anyone caught engaging in such criminal conduct should expect to find themselves facing prosecution, conviction and incarceration. There is no leniency for such behavior.”

“The recent acts of retail thefts, robberies and mass-mob burglaries throughout Northern California will not be tolerated. These are clearly carefully orchestrated crimes, working together in large groups to create a mob-like mentality,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. They are instilling fear in merchants, customers, and the wider community. This is especially appalling at a time where many are out and about during the holiday season. Be assured that those caught and arrested will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“California has seen shifts in crime trends and tactics, and Bay Area prosecutors are forming this partnership to meet the moment,” said Cristine DeBerry, Executive Director of the Prosecutors Alliance of California.  “Partnerships like these reflect the need to implement modern solutions to modern problems. These crimes happen quickly, and they may not be caught in the act.  Through information sharing and coordination, there will be greater likelihood of arrests and accountability than everyone working in isolation.”

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Contra Costa Community College District students get access to online courses statewide

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Source: California Community Colleges

By Timothy Leong, PIO, 4CD

Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) colleges — Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College and its San Ramon Campus, and Los Medanos College and its Brentwood Center — are among the first 15 colleges in the state to become Teaching Colleges on the California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI) Exchange cross-enrollment platform. CVC-OEI is designed to ensure more students are able to successfully complete their educational goals and achieve their higher education degree or certificate by increasing access to and success in high-quality online courses.

4CD students can now quickly enroll in online courses offered at other eligible community colleges in the state without completing another college application, and vice versa. In addition, transcripts and financial aid are also coordinated to streamline these processes for students.

“If students can’t find the class they need that suits their schedule at their own campus, the CVC-OEI Exchange provides an easy and seamless way for them take a course online at other community colleges in the system,” says 4CD Dean of Distance Education Joanna Miller. “This expanded access to online classes will ultimately help our students complete their educational goals and advance more quickly toward their careers or 4-year colleges.”

The CVC-OEI is a collaborative project among California’s community colleges and is funded by a grant disbursed by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. CCC and DVC have been members of the CVC Consortium since 2018, with Los Medanos College joining in 2020. For more information about the CVC-OEI, visit https://cvc.edu/about-the-oei/ or contact Andrea Hanstein at ahanstein@cvc.edu.

About 4CD

The Contra Costa Community College District is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The 4CD serves a population of 1,159,540 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. 4CD is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez. For more information visit www.4cd.edu.

 

 

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Antioch Council spends $2.3 million in extra tax revenues but nothing for homeless or more cops

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

The Antioch City Council uses their new display board showing how they voted during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

Approve $1,500,000 for renovation of City Hall second floor

Thorpe, Torres-Walker want to renovate Hard House for council member offices, plus staff for each council member

By Allen Payton

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Nov. 23, 2021, Antioch Finance Director Dawn Merchant said the city council will have an additional $2.3 million to spend in this year’s budget, with over $2.5 million additional from sales tax, including over $1.5 million more from Measure W’s 1% sales tax revenues. The council members chose to allocate the funds but included nothing to pay for more police officer or to help the homeless.

According to the City staff report on the item, “The major contributing factors to net revenues higher than projected are:

  • $1,542,781 higher Measure W/1% sales tax than projected.
  • $1,006,854 higher sales tax than projected.
  • $435,820 more in building permit revenue than anticipated.
  • $231,737 more in property tax revenue than anticipated.
  • $160,000 more in interest and rental revenue than anticipated.
  • Approximately $532,000 additional revenues than anticipated from various miscellaneous sources.

There was also a $1,571,461 reduction in revenues for the amount billed to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for our usable river water days as the money was not received until October 2021 requiring us to record this revenue in FY22 instead.”

Plus, there were $6,425,217 less in expenditures than projected for Fiscal Year 2021. The major contributing factors to net expenditures lower than projected are:

$383,762 less in operating subsidy than projected to the Animal Shelter.

$557,686 less in operating subsidy than projected to Recreation programs.

$2,007,481 in salary savings from all unfilled positions. $1,051,661 represents non- Police salary savings which the City Council will need to allocate to one-time projects and/or unfunded liabilities per the City’s one-time revenue policy. The appropriation has been included in the budget amendments in Exhibit C to Attachment A.

$271,532 in purchase orders as of June 30,2021 not yet entirely spent. The carry forward of the budgets for these is included in the budget amendments in Exhibit A to Attachment A.

$1,941,089 in project budgets outstanding as of June 30, 2021, not yet entirely spent. The carryforward of the budgets for these is included in the budget amendments in Exhibit B to Attachment A.

$1,054,466 in non-salary savings in the Police Department budget.

$328,786 in non-salary savings in Public Works.

$2.85 and $3.1 Million More in FY22 and FY23

As a result, city staff is projecting increases to Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund sales tax and 1% sales tax projections by $2,849,683 and FY23 by $3,121,657 based on FY21 closing numbers and current sales tax projection trends.

Council Allocates Funds But, None for More Police Officers or Homeless

Staff also proposed how to spend the additional funds, including paying for projects the City has already begun and moving up items from the FY22 budget.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe suggested holding off on approving costs related to establishing the new Community Resources Department.

Then without any comments from the public, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock made, and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica seconded a motion to approve the remaining items. But both Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Thorpe said they would rather discuss them on a item by item basis. The motion failed 2-3 with District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker joining Thorpe and Wilson in voting no.

The council members then reviewed the other proposed budget items, with Thorpe seeking consensus

  • Consideration of vehicles and equipment for the seven (7) new Code Enforcement Officers approved in the budget at a General Fund FY22 cost of $245,000 and $21,000 in FY23.
  • Consideration of an Administrative Assistant for Human Resources. The FY22 General Fund budget cost would be $30,769 (includes $5,000 for computer and other startup costs) and $110,479 in FY23.
  • Consideration of a Finance Analyst for Finance. Finance would request this not be budgeted until FY23 with a General Fund cost of $181,981, which includes $5,000 for computer and other startup costs.
  • Consideration of a Community Development Technician for Community Development at a FY22 General Fund budget cost of $42,513 (includes $2,000 startup costs) and $167,253 in FY23.
  • Consideration of a GIS Technician position for Public Works at a FY22 General Fund budget cost would be $32,039 and $137,554 in FY23.
  • Consideration of an Administrative Assistant position for Public Works at a FY22 cost of $24,290 and $104,068 in FY23.

Items Without Consensus or to Be Brought Back Later

  • Community Resources Department for an Administrative Analyst at a cost of $40,426 in FY22 and $166,894 in FY23; an Administrative Assistant at a cost of $24,290 in FY22 and $104,068 in FY23; building furnishings/remodel and repairs at an estimated cost of $1,000,000 to accommodate the staffing of the new department.
  • Consideration of Prewett Park Perimeter Fence Replacement at a FY23 General Fund budget cost of $200,000.
  • L Street Improvements project at a FY22 unknown funding source cost of $9,281,000.
  • The plan is to wait for possible funds from the recently approved federal infrastructure bill.
  • Wilson wanted a study session to discuss the various “corridors”.
  • Thorpe responded, “there will be a study session.”
  • Dedicated CORE Team at a General Fund cost of $250,000 in FY22 and FY23. – Both Ogorchock and Barbanica supported it, now.
  • Consideration of Police Department Community Room Technology Upgrades at a FY22 General Fund cost of $300,000. – Barbanica argued that the room serves as the Emergency Operations Center.

Approve New Budget Requests

According to the city staff offered a list of new budget requests all of which the council supported. They are:

  1. A Recreation Coordinator for Youth Services was approved in the adopted 2021-23 budget for funding approved in FY23. This is being requested to begin funding in FY22 to assist the Youth Network Services Manager getting programs and services running. This request would add $47,726 to the FY22 General Fund budget assuming funding for 5 months.
  1. Promotion of a Senior Computer Technician position to a Network Administrator. The FY22 and 23 budget impacts are $2,741 and $8,724 respectively funded from the Information Services Internal Service Fund.
  2. Addition of one (1) Administrative Analyst I position in the City Clerk’s office to meet the work demands of running the office. The FY22 General Fund budget impact, assuming the position is filled for 3 months is $40,426 and the annual FY23 impact would be $166,894.
  3. Reclassification of one (1) Administrative Assistant I position in the City Clerk’s office to an Administrative Analyst I position. The FY22 and FY23 General Fund budget impact would be $6,181 and $27,060 respectively.
  4. Addition of two (2) General Laborer positions to be funded with NPDES funds at a FY22 cost of $47,692 and $211,960 in FY23. If these positions are approved, the NPDES reserves will be depleted beginning in FY24 and the positions will need to be funded with the General Fund starting in FY24. Public works has been installing trash capture devices in the City’s storm drain system to comply with State requirements to keep trash and pollutants from entering our streams and waterways. These trash capture devices require monthly inspections and cleaning. Public Works does not have adequate staffing to perform this work on an ongoing and continuing basis so a request for bids was issued. Bids were received and the cost of contracting this service exceeded the cost of performing this work in house with these two (2) additional positions being requested.
  1. Add $150,000 to the Information Systems Fund FY22 budget to cover cybersecurity measures to be put in place to protect the City’s network.
  2. Addition of one (1) Payroll Specialist position at a FY22 General Fund cost of and $40,527 and $168,132 in FY23. Payroll processing is a critical function of the City and is processed bi-weekly for over 350 full time employees and up to a couple hundred more part time employees depending on the season. The City currently has one full time Payroll Specialist with some additional support from an Accounting Technician and the Deputy Finance Director to process payroll. Another position is severely needed to not only handle the volume, especially with all the additional positions added in this new budget cycle, but to be able to continue processing payroll when the one position is absent.
  1. Reclassification of two (2) Office Assistant positions in Recreation to Administrative Assistant II positions at an estimated cost of $10,030 in FY22 and $20,254 in FY23 to the General Fund.
  2. Reclassification of one (1) Administrative Assistant III position in Recreation to an Administrative Analyst I position at an estimated cost of $3,849 in FY22 and $13,730 to the General Fund.
  3. Remodel of 2nd floor and basement of City Hall at an estimated cost to the General Fund of $1,500,000 in FY22.

City to Receive $10.8 Million More in Federal COVID Relief Funds

The City of Antioch will be receiving a total of $21,550,900 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). $10,775,450 was received in May 2021, with the remaining balance of $10,775,450 to be received in May 2022.

A discussion item was brought to City Council on July 27th whereby City Council Members discussed holding town hall meetings within each of their respective districts to speak with community members regarding the use of funds. As a reminder, the main priorities and principals of the funding are to provide relief to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease the spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control;
  • Replace public sector revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs;
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and business; and
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic on certain populations.
  • Recipients may use these funds specifically to:
  • Support public health expenditures (as outlined in the interim final rule);
  • Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries and the public sector for those within a Qualified Census Tract or to other populations, households or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic;
  • Replace lost public sector revenue to provide government services to the extent of lost revenue (for the first measurement period ending calendar year December 2020, the City of Antioch has no revenue loss and therefore government services cannot be funded in this category); and
  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure (as outlined in the interim final rule).

The Department of the Treasury has not yet issued final rules for spending of the funds which may provide further clarification and guidance from the interim final rule initially released. It is recommended that the City Council set a date for a future study session on allocation of the funds.

$1 Million in One-Time Funds, Mayor Wants to Use Them on Hard House for Council Member Offices

The Hard House on W. 1st Street in Antioch. Herald file photo from 2011.

Thorpe wanted the city to put money into the Hard House “as an extension of city hall…with offices for council members.” The brick building was the home of the City’s first mayor and is located on W. First Street next to the Lynn House Gallery and across from the Amtrak Station.

The Hard House was once proposed to be donated to a non-profit organization that planned to reinforce it to earthquake standards and completely restore the building. Other ideas were to turn it into a bistro or offices.

“It was pretty disappointing to show up here and see there was no space for city council members which is pretty telling of our role, here,” Torres-Walker said. She also asked to have staff for individual council members to come back for a future discussion.

“I agree with Councilwoman Torres-Walker regarding staffing support,” Thorpe said. “The public believes we are full-time, but we have full-time jobs. I believe it’s long past due.”

Ogorchock wanted all the funds to be spent to pay down the City’s unfunded liabilities.

But upon advice from City Manager Ron Bernal who said the staff could come back with more details on the proposals, it was decided the council will hold off on deciding how to spend the one-time funds.

 

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Antioch Council approves another cannabis business, votes down committee for city manager recruitment

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Delta Labs site on W. 10th Street. From presentation during Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021

Thorpe nominates Barbanica, Ogorchock to city manager recruitment ad hoc committee then votes against appointing them

Agree to settle employment discrimination lawsuit by former female Antioch cop against police department on 4-1 vote

Extend contract for city Public Information Officer at $8,000 per month for another six months

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 23, 2021, the Antioch Council approved another cannabis business, one that processes marijuana through a cold-water extraction, on a unanimous vote, approved settling a former female cop’s employment discrimination lawsuit against the police department on a split vote, and fails to form an ad hoc committee for the hiring of a new city manager on another split vote. They also voted unanimously to extend the city’s PIO contract for another six months.

Before the regular meeting began, following the council’s closed session, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith reported out regarding the lawsuit of Blanco v. City of Antioch, United States District Court Northern District of California, Case No. 3:20-cv-02764-TSH. The city council decided to settle the case, with Barbanica voting no, Smith said.

On April 21, 2020, former Antioch Police Officer Brittney Blanco filed a Civil Rights Employment Discrimination lawsuit against the police department. The case was filed in U.S. District Court, California Northern District. Blanco served on the force from July 2017 until August 2019. No word was given regarding the details of the settlement.

Extend $8K Monthly PIO Contract

During the Consent Calendar, the council voted unanimously to extend the contract for the City’s public information officer, Rolando Bonilla, of San Francisco-based Voler Strategic Advisors at $8,000 per month for another six months, through May 15, 2022. The total contract is not to exceed $256,000. Bonilla has been the City’s PIO since fall 2019. PIO Contract Extension ACC112321

Public Comments Now In-Person, Still Online and By Phone

At the start of the regular meeting, Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated that public comments from those in attendance at the council meetings would be heard first, followed by those who submitted their comments online or call in.

Delta Labs floorplan. From Antioch City Council meeting Nov. 23, 2021.

Unanimously Approve Another Cannabis Business

Delta Labs owner Rick Oak speaks about his business during the council meeting.

The council then held a public hearing on another cannabis business. According to City staff, “Delta Lab is proposing a cannabis operations facility with non-volatile extraction” manufacturing. It will be located in the same building where the same family owns Delta Dispensary on W. 10th Street. Delta Labs – city staff report ACC112321

The applicant, Rick Oak, along with his two sons, Dustin and Richard, spoke about their project which is “a cold-water extraction facility and family owned.” He showed a floorplan of the project and explained the product is dropped off process using small washing-type machines using ice to “knock off the hash from the product”. Then it’s stored in refrigerators until sold and picked up by truck.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock was the only member to ask a question about security.

“There’s a guard in our lobby in the dispensary,” Oak said.

With no one from the public speaking against the project, the council approved it on a 5-0 vote.

City Manager Recruitment Ad Hoc Committee

The council then considered forming an ad hoc committee on the recruitment of a permanent city manager.

“I think we have too much going on, right now,”said Wilson. “I think we should hold off until after the new year.”

Ogorchock volunteered to be on the ad hoc committee and Barbanica volunteered, too.

Thorpe then offered them as his nominees to the ad hoc committee.

Ogorchock made the motion and Barbanica seconded it, to approve the formation of the ad hoc committee, the appointment of the two council members, and a termination date of seven months.

“I’m looking at an estimated timeframe of April 30, 2022,” said Administrative Services Director Nickie Mastay.

The motion then failed on a 2-3 vote with Thorpe, Wilson and District 1 Councilwoman Torres-Walker voting no.

“Since that didn’t pass, it will come back, later,” Thorpe said.

 

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Antioch Council agrees to move forward with “community gathering space” proposal for lumber yard in Rivertown

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

River Town Square Site Plan from presentation at Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary, next year. It’s time.” – Save The Yard leader, Joy Motts

Torres-Walker supports a “green space”; using it for a “420″ pot smoking festival so Antioch residents don’t have to travel to San Francisco for the annual event on April 20th in that city

By Allen Payton

After years of advocating for a park and event center on the former Antioch Lumber Company lot in the city’s historic, downtown Rivertown, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and members of the group, Save The Yard, got the go ahead from the city council. All five council members agreed to pursue the idea during their meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 23. The City’s downtown hasn’t had a large park, but only the smaller Waldie Plaza, since the much larger Barbara Price Marina Park was replaced with the marina boat launch and parking lot in 2012.

The former Barbara Price Marina Park and sign (inset) where the marina boat launch and parking lot are now located. Source: Yelp

Motts, local theater director Lee Ballesteros and Area 1 Antioch School Board Trustee Antonio Hernandez spoke about their vision of a Rivertown Town Square, bordered by W. 2nd, W. 3rd and E Streets, during the group’s first, formal presentation to the council. Rivertown Town Square presentation ACC112321

“Our ask this evening is that the city council decide on the disposition of this property…rather than leave it as an eye-sore,” Motts said.

Following the presentation, Thorpe said, “the goal is to have a conversation with Save The Yard folks.”

Joe Goralka spoke during public comments in favor of the project and against “selling a prime piece of property to a developer for a few condos.” He also said, “a few more residents isn’t going to bring about significantly more traffic to downtown businesses”…”The city should not sell out Rivertown businesses” and called the town square project “an asset to downtown.”

Antioch resident Martha Goralka speaks in favor of the River Town Square project during the Antioch City Council meeting, Tuesday night, Nov. 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

His wife, Martha Goralka said, “everywhere Joe and I have visited had gathering places.”

“There’s nothing that we can’t do as a united community,” she added.

Rick Stadtlander, wearing a “Save The Yard” T-shirt gave eight reasons for the council to approve the town square: beauty, walkability, ideal location, a focal point, pride, community, our voice, health. “Residents deserve much better than an empty lot,” he stated.

“Be the council that is bold and has vision. Let’s save the yard. Let’s build a town square,” Stadtlander concluded.

Former Antioch Planning Commissioner Kerry Motts spoke in favor of the project and suggested a farmer’s market at the proposed town square

“The City is not considering housing on this lot, right now and we do not have any applications for it,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “I want the public to understand that.”

“Thank you, so much for the presentation and all the hard work you put into the presentation, tonight,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “Not sure if the previous process included youth voice. Since the report in 2014…there might be more diverse opinions other than housing.”

“If this moves forward, it will be their park, too,” she said about those

“My concern about people not being policed in public spaces,” Torres-Walker stated. “I’m definitely not a supporter of building homes on contaminated land. But then I’m also concerned about building a space to bring children and their families on land that is contaminated,” mentioned by Ballesteros.

“Soil contamination is easily mitigated,” Ballesteros responded. “All of this is on the City’s website in the Downtown Specific Plan. It’s a 179-page report. You can look at cancer clusters…where people spend a length of time. There is mitigation that can be done if you want to put housing there. Green space adds positive air because of trees.”

“It’s just a vision. This isn’t the plan. We put this together to ask the council to make a plan,” she stated. “Give everyone in the city positivity. We’re coming out of two years of misery. Let’s make the river belong to everyone.”

“It’s just time for the whole community to gather together for events,” Joy Motts then said. “It will be an economic engine for downtown. We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary, next year. It’s time.”

Torres-Walker then mentioned people not having to “go to San Francisco for 420 fests”, which is a large, annual pot smoking event. “We should do it, here like we do all these other things.”

“I was one of the ones in the past who was unsure about this,” said Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, then mentioned “equity in access to public spaces.”

“I’ve come to be open to this,” she said. “I’m glad to talk to you, Joy about this and Antonio, you’ve educated me about this, too.”

Joy Motts then publicly thanked Brian Halloran, a landscape architect, for drawing the site plan pro bono.

Rivertown Town Square rendering. Source: Save The Yard

“I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been a supporter,” Thorpe said. “I’d like to step back, because this isn’t a plan, it’s a vision. I believe if the public steps up and demands something, the government needs to look into it. I believe the council needs to make a decision about the direction we want to go. Do we want an RFP process…or direct our resources for a town square project?”

“I’ve had multiple people talk to me about this,” District 1 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “What has struck me as odd is, I don’t know if this is the highest and best use of this land. This is the third time you’ve spoken to us about this but where are they? The people of our community are telling us this is what they want. We, as a city, have had years to do something about this, but we haven’t. I just believe we need to listen to the community.”

“You can sell me on anything, Lee but not this, yet,” said Lori Ogorchock to Ballesteros. “I’m looking at Waldie Plaza. I’m looking at City Park on A Street. I’m not sure I’m sold, yet. It is something I will hold open. At this point, I don’t know what’s the best use of this property. I will keep an open mind.”

“This is the first time you’ve presented to council,” Thorpe said.

“That’s correct,” Joy Motts said. “The mayor said he would bring it forward, this year. We didn’t have to think about it too hard because it’s in our heart.”

“In the past we’ve looked at housing,” Thorpe said. “We can look at a community gathering place. But I need direction in what we envision for this property.”

“I would envision a process that would include more voices,” Torres-Walker said.

“First, we have to decide what this process would do,” Thorpe responded.

“I’m saying, yes, this should be green space,” Torres-Walker stated.

“I would say some kind of gathering space,” Wilson added.

“I agree with that. I don’t believe we should decide, tonight on moving forward with a community space,” Barbanica said. “If we are going to build houses, then let’s build houses. But if this is what the community is asking for, then we need to move forward instead of just talking about it. If we are truly going to explore this idea, then let’s fully explore it.”

“I’m all for exploring,” Ogorchock added.

“Community gathering space is what we’re talking about,” Thorpe stated.

“We can begin a process for exploring a community gathering space, a green space,” City Manager Ron Bernal said.

“Congratulations,” Thorpe said to those in the audience to squeals, cheers and applause.

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