SFPD senior personnel clerk confirms interim Antioch city manager candidate is a retired lieutenant, not captain

Cornlious “Con” Johnson from Mayor Thorpe’s official Facebook page. Photo of captain’s badge and Johnson’s retirement card provided by Thorpe.

“Regarding Cornelius Johnson’s retirement, the highest ranking was lieutenant.” – David Ng, SFPD Senior Clerk of Personnel

Further confirmed by SF Employees Retirement System

Mayor shares photo of Con Johnson’s captain’s badge and retirement card as proof

Thorpe, Johnson, city council members, staff refuse to provide resume; Johnson refuses to answer questions

By Allen Payton

On Monday, November 8, 2021 the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) senior personnel clerk confirmed Cornelius “Con” Johnson, candidate for the position of Antioch interim city manager, did not retire as a captain, as Mayor Lamar Thorpe and city staff claim. He retired as a lieutenant, as has been reported by the Herald and other local media. (See related article)

The city staff report for the vote to appoint Johnson during Tuesday’s council meeting refers to Johnson as a retired captain. An announcement on his official Facebook page, Thorpe also referred to Johnson as a retired captain.

Questions were sent to the mayor on Saturday asking, if Johnson retired as a Lieutenant III how could he have been a captain over that department? Or was he the acting captain?

In response Thorpe wrote, “He’s a retired CAPTAIN, stop misinforming the public with information you have not verified.”

The mayor also shared a photo of an SFPD captain’s badge and Johnson’s retirement card as proof of his rank. The card appears to have been issued by SFPD and includes the chief’s name, title and signature.

Additional questions were then asked of Thorpe, including, when was Johnson promoted to the position of captain? What date and for how long? The mayor was also asked if Johnson went back to work after July 1, 2016 and get promoted to captain and to provide the documentation to back up his claim about Johnson retiring as a captain. This is the second time Thorpe has referred to Johnson as a retired police captain. The first time was when the mayor introduced Johnson as a member of Thorpe’s Transition Advisory Team, last December. (See related article)

The mayor was also asked why a press release wasn’t sent out and why Johnson’s resume wasn’t included for the public to have. Finally, he was asked for personal information about Johnson, including how long he’s lived in Antioch, his wife’s name and if they have any children, as part of the introduction to the community, or for Johnson to contact this reporter to provide it

Thorpe did not respond to any of the additional questions nor provide a copy of Johnson’s resume.

SFPD Personnel Staff Confirms Johnson Retired as Lieutenant

In a phone call with David Ng, Senior Clerk of Personnel for the SFPD Monday, he said, “regarding Cornelius Johnson’s retirement, the highest ranking was lieutenant. The system shows lieutenant. The job code is Q62 which is lieutenant.”

Asked about the 2016 retirement system report showing Johnson retired as Lieutenant III, Ng responded, “There are different levels, but my system doesn’t show which level he was at.”

Asked about the card showing he’s a retired captain, Ng said, “I don’t know anything about that.”

He then offered to have the head of the personnel department, Lt. Patrick McCormick, provide any additional details. An effort to reach McCormick on Monday was unsuccessful before publication time.

Retirement report for the San Francisco Employees Retirement System board meeting on July 13, 2016 shows Cornelius H. Johnson retired as a Lieutenant III on July 1, 2016. Source: SFERS

In addition, an email was sent to the San Francisco Employees Retirement System (SFERS) Monday morning asking for them to verify at what rank Mr. Johnson retired. They were also asked if he later returned to work for SFPD after July 1, 2016 and was subsequently promoted to captain, and if so, when did he retire, again. No response was received prior to publication time.

11/9/21 UPDATE 2: Stephen Worsfold, Administrative Analyst and media contact for the SFERS, responded on Tuesday, Nov. 9 further confirming the information from the SFPD senior personnel clerk.

“I did ask our records to check on the retirement of the person in question and we have it listed as a Q62 which is Lieutenant III,” he said.

Regarding the number three, Worsfold replied, “you’ll have to ask SFPD what the difference is in numerical numbers.” As for the Q62 he said, “it could could be a job code.”

Transparent California Confirms Johnson’s Pension is Paid as Lieutenant

11/9/21 UPDATE 3: A search of the online website TransparentCalifornia.com, which contains public compensation records of current and retired government employees, shows Johnson’s pension from the SFERS was paid in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as a Lieutenant III.

Questions for SF Police Chief William Scott

Information and questions were also sent to SF Police Chief William Scott Monday afternoon, including the photo of Johnson’s badge and retirement card asking if he wasn’t ever promoted to captain, why would he have been issued the card showing he’s a retired captain and if that’s something the SFPD does for retired personnel, showing their highest rank, even if it was only in an acting capacity.

In addition, he was asked to confirm if either what the Antioch city staff report or Thorpe wrote about Johnson’s experience is correct or both.

The following automated response was received at 3:36 pm Monday: “Your email has been received by the general email account for the Chief’s Office of the San Francisco Police Department. This account is monitored during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm PST.”

Questions for Antioch City Staff

Questions were then emailed Monday afternoon to Antioch Administrative Services Director Nickie Mastay, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, City Manager Ron Bernal and Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore asking for a copy of Johnson’s resume that was shared with city council members during their meeting, last week. They were also asked, why it wasn’t included in the staff report for the Interim City Manager item on tomorrow night’s meeting agenda for the public to read so they can provide more informed comments before the vote.

Also, they were asked about the discrepancy in what the city staff report included about Johnson’s experience with SFPD and what Thorpe shared in the announcement on his official Facebook page.

Regarding Mr. Johnson’s work experience, the staff report reads: “Collaborating with the Department of Health, Department of Youth Services and Juvenile Hall Center developing, planning, administering, overseeing the San Francisco Police Department city-wide Violence Intervention Program with a budget of $20 million and a staff of 60 mid managers and supervisor.” But in Mayor Thorpe’s announcement about tomorrow night’s vote, he wrote: “Having 17 years of managerial experience with the City and County of San Francisco, most recently as a captain in the San Francisco Police Department’s Field Operations Bureau, Johnson managed a $300 million budget and oversaw 600 staff members.”

They were asked if what the mayor shared is correct when he replied, “Both are correct” and if so, why what he shared wasn’t included in the staff report as it’s much more impressive with 10 times the staff members and 15 times the budget size.

Finally, the city staff members were asked who on city staff or the council did the vetting and a background check of Mr. Johnson and if any of them have the dates when he held either position of acting captain or captain.

11/9/21 UPDATE 1: A call was made and a formal Public Records Act was sent to Attorney Smith, Tuesday morning asking for a copy of Johnson’s resume that was presented to the council members during their meeting, last week. Another call was made at 2:55 p.m. to Smith’s office asking for it, again.

Questions for Johnson

Similar information and questions were sent via email to Johnson, Monday afternoon asking, “if you weren’t ever promoted to captain, why would you have been issued the card in the photo showing you’re a retired captain? Is that something the SFPD does for retired personnel, showing their highest rank, even if it was only in an acting capacity? Or did you go back to work for SFPD after you retired in July 2016 and were then promoted to captain, and retired again?”

Regarding the differences in his experience reported by Antioch city staff and the mayor, Johnson was asked which is correct or are both, and what dates they occurred. Finally, Johnson was asked to share personal information about his background, family and where he was born and grew up. He did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him for comment and to answer questions.

Questions for Council Members

Questions were also asked of all five Antioch council members late Saturday night. They included, “who did the vetting and background check of Mr. Johnson, including contacting the City of San Francisco Human Resources Department and SFPD to verify what he’s told you about his experience which includes the start and end dates of his various positions? Was it one of you or a city staff member?

“Did he provide you with his resume which shows you that information? If so, can you please provide a copy of it? If not, why wouldn’t you require that of an applicant for interim city manager, how was the information about his background shared in the staff report and the mayor’s announcement on his official Facebook page obtained and did you merely take Mr. Johnson at his word?

“Did you verify his education with the University of San Francisco and require him to provide a copy of his diplomas? What is the normal practice when the council hires the city manager and city attorney?”

None of the councilmembers responded by publication time.

Questions for University of San Francisco

11/9/21 UPDATE 4: An email was sent to the University of San Francisco Registrar’s Office on Tuesday afternoon, to verify information about Johnson’s higher education shared in the Antioch city staff report. They were also asked his GPA for both degrees and if he earned any honors, as well.

Personal Information from Independent Background Check

11/9/21 UPDATE 5: Information from a background check, shared with the Herald Thursday afternoon by an Antioch resident who chose to not be identified, shows Johnson is 61 years old and worked as a licensed, private security guard from Oct. 2016 to Oct. 2020. He is or was a part owner with his ex-wife of three businesses, including Siafu Enterprises, Inc. formed in Sept. 2017, Pyramid Security Services, LLC formed in 2008, and MJ Investment Group, LLC formed in Nevada in 2006. But information on the latter two show they are no longer active. Johnson has lived in Antioch and owned a home, here, since at least 2003 and possibly since 2001.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Watching Meeting and Making Public Comments

The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and can be viewed at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. 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.
  2. 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 for the meeting.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak. When called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (350 words, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor).

the attachments to this post:

Retirement.Johnson, Cornelius H.

SFERS 07132016-board-meeting-10b p6 hilited

Con Johnson FB, Captain’s badge & retirement card

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