Opinion: Local podcast hosts offer 55 reasons why Antioch residents should sign Thorpe’s recall petition

By Mike Burkholder & Ken Turnage II, WTF California Podcast Hosts

When one looks at the city of Antioch does one think of Opportunity Lives Here? Or do you think about the mayor who received a DUI? A councilmember who performed a foul-mouth rant against the police department and never apologized? Maybe it’s an understaffed police department? Perhaps a community that is so divided it’s hard to find common ground.

No matter what you may think, failed leadership is a common theme and that starts with Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and why we urge every Antioch resident to sign his recall papers.

Since being elected in 2016, Thorpe has gone from someone seeking to bridge the community to someone intentionally dividing it all in the name of political wins and problem profiteering. The last time the community was actually unified, was back in 2012 and that was to increase public safety.

Think back to 2012 when the City of Antioch was in the news almost every day for some sort of crime. Shootings, stabbings, robbery and assaults. That was caused by police layoffs that took the police department down from more than 124 officers to the low 80’s—and for a short time, even the mid-70’s. The community came together and passed three tax measures beginning in 2012 with a single goal of improving public safety and improving services in Antioch.

Fast forward to May of 2020, the Antioch Police Department was fully staffed for the first time since 2004 at 115 officers with a line of officers wanting to come here. Including the “overage”, Antioch Police were able to hire 120 officers just one short of the 121 allowed.

Sadly, years of rebuilding an obliterated police force has been undone in less than seven months since former Police Chief Tammany Brooks retired due to two years of attacks and false propaganda during Thorpe’s rule as mayor.  Today, Antioch Police stand at 102 sworn officers on the books with several more on their way out in the coming weeks.

Thorpe has created this mass exodus by both participating and enabling a hostile work environment for Antioch Police Officers. Rather than working with police, he has chosen to be their adversary by withholding equipment such as body cameras, tasers and vehicle purchases, to undermining the police chief and officers through micromanaging policy, to flat out lying about incidents while grandstanding at the expense of officers.

Although we support Antioch police, we acknowledge that Antioch Police Officers are not perfect and when they screw up, there should be consequences – get rid of bad and corrupt cops. I think we can all agree with that.

But what Thorpe has done is inexcusable and has crossed a line all in the name of playing politics at the community’s expense. This is now impacting the community’s safety, city revenue as businesses suffer, property values will soon go down. The only thing gained under the leadership of Thorpe is Antioch has built a reputation of where people and businesses should avoid.

We understand some people are focused on how the mayor behaves on social media, calling recall proponents “Karens”, to focusing on his Napoleon complex as a dictator, that is all worthy of a debate and rather annoying to see, but the reason for recalling him comes down to a failure to protect the city against crime, addressing blight, lying to the public as he speaks in half-truths and creating a negative environment that has divided a community.

Leaders build bridges, they don’t tear them down while throwing out the race card and attacking others they disagree with. For that, we believe it’s time for those people who have not signed the petition to place Lamar Thorpe’s recall on the November ballot, should do so.

We have compiled a list of more than 50 reasons why one should sign it. Here are our Top 10 followed by, in chronological order, the 50 reasons with links to past stories.

10: Police Reform Proposals

While we agree reform is good, Thorpe has, however, used it as a political tool where he accused Antioch police of many wrongdoings even after he had the facts. This began back when it was shared six of the Eight Can’t Wait Items were already in place – beginning with the previous police chief, Allan Cantando. Thorpe continues to utilize half-truths and omissions of facts to push national rhetoric which does not apply to Antioch. Again, police reform is good, but the way Thorpe went about it was wrong and has undermined the community.

9: Abusing Ad-Hoc Committees

This was done to remove the take city business that should be done in public and moved to backroom discussion, skirting open meeting laws and record keeping. Items from these committees were not reported out to the full council and goes against any form of transparency. By creating ad-hoc committees, it took the discussions away from the dais and moved them into shadow government removing ,all transparency.

8: Overstepping Mayoral Bounds

Prior to being elected, Thorpe had bashed the “good ol’ boys’ network”. Then doubled down on the practice by first giving then-city manager Ron Bernal a sham review only to hire an under-qualified friend in a high paying position. He continued this practice through the hiring of consultants, non-profits and other staff positions. Thorpe appears to have orchestrated this by forgoing proper background checks and hiring processes before hiring his friends.

7: Rescinded School Resource Officer Grant

Thorpe’s first move was to rescind this grant, under the previous city council, even after violence at AUSD schools was increasing. The new council majority did this to fit the national rhetoric which did not take into consideration the safety of students and community. This was a decision based on rhetoric and not facts. The council gave away a $750,000 grant from the US DOJ as well, as split costs from AUSD. This was an inexcusable reversal from the previous council and highlighted the rift between the school district and the city.

6: Mayor has Grandstanded and Lied about Residents Who Died

From the beginning, Thorpe lied about being notified of the death of a resident. Email communications have proved this after Thorpe claimed he was notified a month later. Thorpe continued with the lie of knee to neck by police even after a press conference by the chief and a coroner’s inquest report. Even after, Thorpe continues to misrepresent what occurred.

5Blaming Businesses for Crime

At this press conference, not only did the mayor blindside the county with a probation partnership at Sycamore Square (by the way, it’s still not there), he blamed businesses for crime while threatening imminent domain. A clear lack of understanding of the law, an overstep of his position as mayor and just one highlight of his anti-business mentality.

4: Lack of Leadership in the Tamisha Torres-Walker Incidents

Where do we begin? A 9-minute anti-Antioch Police rant which the mayor personally downplayed. Even after gunshots and interfering with police at her house during a party, the mayor took no action to censure or remove Torres-Walker from committees.

3: Muzzling the Police Communications, Withholding Crime Stats and Reduced Transparency

This is a guy who preaches #TransparentAntioch. Since becoming mayor, the exact opposite has occurred after he has ordered the police department to not speak to the media, ordered department heads not to respond to the public which has reduced all open lines of communication. Furthermore, Thorpe has not allowed the police department to provide its 2020 and 2021 crime statistics. Failure to release body camera footage has occurred even when they could release them. Those that disagree with him, get shut out.

2: Manufactured Outrage

Thorpe has a history of manufacturing outrage in the community with phony propaganda. This became clear after emails regarding an incident at Antioch High School was exposed. Thorpe had asked AUSD Trustee, then- Board President and Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder to begin collecting letters from parents on the incident even though AUSD received no complaints. Thorpe has continued to do this several times during his term as mayor and has been caught in half-truths – examples include grandstanding on the death of a 12-year-old girl, entering and then releasing crime scene photos, and he has held multiple press conferences where he made bizarre statements not backed up by facts.

1: Withheld Police Equipment until it Fit Political Needs

The mayor rewrote his own history in terms of body cameras when he intentionally withheld placing the item on the agenda per the request of the police chief. He held the item for months all so he could place the it before the council during his self-proclaimed Police Reform Month. The council majority also rejected tasers and failed to approve police dash cams as a package deal. That was a mistake as it would have saved taxpayers money if they had packaged the items together. Other items from vehicles to community cameras continue to be delayed. The mayor has also refused to place hiring more police officers on the agenda even though it’s been requested by three councilmembers.

Honorable Mention:

  • Mayor Thorpe’s DUI
  • Childish behavior on social media from blocking residents, deleting comments and unprofessional TikTok videos – filmed inside the Council Chambers
  • Search Warrant reveals Thorpe and City Clerk Ellie Householder possibly engaged in criminal conduct.

For these reasons outlined above, we encourage every registered voter within the City of Antioch to sign the recall petition and get Mayor Lamar Thorpe on the November Ballot.

References

  1. Dec 20, 2020: Antioch Mayor Elect Lamar Thorpe Announces Transition Team
    this was start of ad-hocs, special meetings to skirt open meeting laws and records of meetings. Ad-hocs and special meeting have been used as a tool to limit public records and public participation.  
  2. Dec 17, 2020: Antioch City Council Votes to Rescind School Resource Officer Grant
    One of the first actions as Mayor was to rescind school resource officers
  3.  Dec 30, 2021: Foul-Mouthed City Councilwoman Blasts Antioch Police Department
    No leadership from the Mayor or other city councilmembers. Allowed to push anti-Antioch Police narrative and create a hostile work environment. Later, it would come out that Walker donated $500 the same day her sons felony reduced to misdemeanor.
  4. Jan 4, 2021: Mayor Downplays Councilwomans Foul Mouthed Rant Against Antioch Police
    Mayor Thorpe showed no leadership nor support of the Antioch PD
  5. Jan 25, 2021: Antioch Police Chief Tells City Council Officer Mellone is Qualified to Work Anywhere in California
  6. Feb 5, 2021: Editorial: City Hall Needs to Remove the Muzzle from the Antioch Police Department
  7. Feb 11, 2021Antioch Councilwoman Has “No Intention of Apologizing” For Anti-Police Rant
    This demonstrates no leadership from Mayor and no integrity for city workers or the community.
  8. Feb 22, 2021: Antioch Mayor Unveils Police Reform Proposals
  9. Feb 25, 2021Antioch Mayor Seeks to Expedite Police Reform After Second In-Custody Death
    Without facts and completed investigation, mayor began lying to the public. He also fibbed on email notification regarding in custody deaths
  10. Feb 26, 2021Antioch City Council to Move Forward with RFP for Bridge Housing for Homeless
    These were a bogus set of meetings with limited participation, a report that was misleading and participants even highlighted the report was false because items stated did not happen or were stated incorrectly.
  11. Feb 26, 2021: Antioch City Council Set for Special Meeting to Discuss Police Reform
  12. March 1, 2021: Antioch City Council Moves Forward With Police Reform Measures
  13. March 2, 2021Antioch Police Chief Holds Press Conference on Death of Angelo Quinto
    Given the rhetoric by the Antioch Mayor and the lies, it forced chief brooks to hold a press conference, play the 9-1-1 calls and give full description of what transpired. Even after this, Thorpe has continue to push a false narrative of what transpired.
  14. May 9, 2021: Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe Talks Recent Shootings During City Council Meeting
  15.  March 10, 2021: Antioch City Council Unanimously Approves Police Worn Body Cameras
    This came months after it had been requested. Thorpe grandstanding by withholding vote until his police reform vote. Also voted against this while a councilmember.
  16. March 10, 2021: Antioch Mayor: “We Are Thugs Who Want to Defund the Police”
  17. March 21, 2021: Antioch City Council Set to Receive Final Report for Bridging The Gap Series
  18. March 24, 2021: Antioch City Council Votes 4-1 to Prohibit Police From Receiving Military Equipment
  19. March 24, 2021Antioch City Council Approves Community Camera System at A Street and 18th Street
  20. April 14, 2021: Antioch Mayor Seeks to Create Chinatown District, Apologize for City’s History
  21. April 28, 2021Antioch City Council Approve Three More Police Reform Items
  22. May 13, 2021: UPDATE: 12-Year-Old Shot and Killed Wednesday Night in Antioch
    Mayor Thorpe showed up on scene of this incident
  23. June 9, 2021: Antioch City Council Votes 3-2 to Reject Police Taser Replacement and Upgrades
    This move actually cost taxpayers money and made no sense.
  24. June 16, 2021: Updated: Antioch Mayor Holds Press Conference Declaring City a “No Side Show Zone”
    The irony here is a fellow councilmember attended a sideshow to show support.  Torres-Walker even filed a complaint to avoid releasing emails about her son planning a “ride out”
  25. June 21, 2021: Antioch Mayor Proposes Naming Water Fountain Black Lives Matter Freedom Fountain
  26. July 18, 2021: Antioch Councilwoman Torres-Walker Posts Video Calling for Hiring 4 More Police Officers
    Mayor never brought this up for a discussion
  27. July 19, 2021: Antioch Councilman to Propose Increasing Police Department by 2.5% Each Year Until 170 Officers
    Mayor never brought this up for discussion
  28.  July 25, 2021: Editorial: Self-Promoting Antioch Mayor Uses Sycamore Crime to Get More TV Time
  29. July 26, 2021: Video: Antioch Mayor Announces Hiring Program, Probation’s Partnership and Puts Property Owners on Notice
    Blamed local business for crime while threatening eminent domain, blindsided county with announcement (still no probation partnership in Sycamore Square) and said they would hire criminals while bypassing hiring process.
  30. July 28, 2021: Antioch City Council Approves Police Body Camera Policy
    This policy was created in a separate committee with limited public view and access and was hidden unless public was truly looking to participate.
  31. Aug. 9, 2021: Editorial: Residents Must Begin to Standup to Micromanaging Antioch City Council
  32. Aug 10, 2021: Antioch Search Warrants Reveal Mayor and City Clerk Engaged in Possible Criminal Conduct
  33. Aug 24, 2021Antioch City Council to Look at “Restraint” Policy for Police Holds
  34. Sept. 9, 2021: Antioch Announces Retirement of Tammany Brooks as Police Chief
  35. Sept. 15, 2021Emails Reveal Antioch School Board Trustees and Mayor Manufactured Outrage in Antioch High Incident
  36. Sept. 18, 2021Three Protesters Arrested After Interrupting Antioch Police Chief Going Away Party
    Multiple protesters who support the Mayor showed up to cause a scene.
  37. Oct. 4, 2021: Antioch to Reopen Investigation into Torres-Walker Complaint Against Antioch Police
  38. Oct. 4,2021: Ogorchock Calls on Antioch Councilwoman Torres-Walker to Resign from Police Oversight Commission
    Mayor Thorpe again showed failed leadership by simply removing Torres-Walker as chair, rather than removing her entirely from the committee.
  39. Oct. 5, 2021: Antioch Police 2020 Crime Data Provided
    Transparency in Antioch dead, Thorpe prevented this data from reaching the public. He did this for political reasons.
  40. Oct. 21, 2021: Antioch Police Department Announces Partnership With DOJ
    Thorpe attempted to take credit for something a year or so in the works after finding out about this grand just days before the press conference.
  41. Oct. 28, 2021: Antioch City Council Seeks to Have Final Say in Police Chief Hiring
    The hiring of the police chief is typically at the selection of the City Manager
  42. Nov. 2, 2021Antioch City Council Agree to Hear Presentation for Beede Lumber Yard Town Square Proposal
    Mayor Thorpe rewrites history
  43. Nov. 5, 2021: Antioch Set to Hire Former San Francisco Police Captain as Interim City Manager
    This fiasco still to this day has not clarified Johnsons credentials or how open the process was.
  44. Nov. 10, 2021: Antioch City Council Agrees to Hire Cornelius Johnson as Interim City Manager in 3-2 Vote
    The council hired an unqualified city manager without a real process and illegitimate background check
  45. Nov. 29, 2021: Antioch City Council Votes Down Ad-Hoc Committee for City Manager Recruitment
  46. Dec 12, 2021: Antioch Mayor May Not Have Been Authorized to Enter or Photograph Active Crime Scene
    Thorpe entered crime scene while area closed off to public & media and grandstanding with posting photographs that were not allowed to take as scene was still active.
  47. Dec 15, 2021Antioch City Council Agrees to Spend $284k for 15-Rooms to Combat Homelessness
  48. Dec 16, 2021Antioch Mayor Announces Hiring of Interim City Manager
  49. Jan 26, 2022: Antioch City Council Agrees to Apply for State Grant to Help Reduce Gun Violence
  50. Feb 8, 2022: Antioch Seeks to Boot Congressman McNerney from Community Center Office
  51. Feb 22, 2022: Antioch Set to Create Transitional Housing Overlay District for Executive Inn
  52. March 12, 2022: Antioch City Council Selects District Map, Ogorchock to Run Against Wilson
  53. March 19, 2022: Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
  54. March 23, 2022: Emails Show Antioch Interim City Manager Fires Police Chief, Then Retracts Hour Later
  55. April 4, 2022: Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe Proposes $40k Hiring Bonus for New Cops, Down-payment Assistance
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