Archive for August, 2022

Register today for the Antioch Police Department Citizen’s Academy

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022
The Antioch Police Department Citizen’s Academy is BACK! The program provides a unique opportunity for participants to meet the officers and employees that protect and serve our community. The intent of the Citizen’s Academy is to educate the community on the duties, training, investigation techniques and situations police officers and other members of the Police Department may encounter. Participants of the academy will be given the opportunity to experience some of the activities Law Enforcement Officers and department personnel perform as part of their duties.
Interested residents can apply at https://www.antiochca.gov/police/citizen-academy/
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Antioch Police Association to host Poker Tournament fundraiser Sept. 9 to help officer’s son

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

It’s not too late to sign up for the Antioch Police Officer’s Associations Poker Tournament Fundraiser for Jax Duggar! Jax is the son of Officer Scott Duggar and has stage 4 kidney disease.

Sign up today at https://antiochpoa.org/news/the-dugger-family-poker-night

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With two councilwomen absent $2 million in federal funds approved for additional homeless housing program

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson were absent during the August 9, 2022, meeting. Video screenshot.

Instead of $6 million and no General Fund money; Torres-Walker, Wilson won’t say why they didn’t attend

By Allen D. Payton

During their August 9, 2022, Antioch City Council meeting, the three council members in attendance approved spending $4 million in state and federal funds on a transitional housing program in addition to the one previously approved at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street. The original proposal was to spend $12 million for the program at the motel previously approved by Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Districts 1 and 4 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson, who were absent. (See related article)

Both councilwomen were asked the next day why they missed the meeting but neither responded.

The plan included purchasing the motel, and according to the staff report, the council considered committing $6 million in city funds, yet to be budgeted, as matching funds for an application for funds from Round 3 of the California Department of Housing & Community Development Homekey Program.

On May 10, 2022, the City Council authorized staff to pursue a Homekey application for interim housing associated with 515 East 18th Street, the location of the Executive Inn. But because the City was unable to negotiate acceptable terms for a purchase, Council support was requested for a change in approach to the City’s pursuit of State funds.

The city will instead lease the motel and has moved forward on terms with the owner.

City Owned Parcels map. Source: City of Antioch

The staff report explained the new approach which included identifying “available city-owned parcels for interim and/or permanent supportive housing opportunities for Antioch’s unsheltered residents.” It “involves the City’s solicitation of a developer partner who, once selected, will jointly apply to the State of California for funding to accomplish interim and/or permanent supportive housing in alignment and coordination with Contra Costa County’s homelessness response system. It is noted that a key distinction of interim housing is a 15-year covenant versus a 55-year covenant associated with permanent supportive housing. In either or both arrangements, participation in the Contra Costa County Continuum of Care (CoC) and Coordinated Entry System are required.” Homeless Transitional Housing program ACC080922

The new approach “intends to inspire creativity in the development community,” Assistant City Manager Rosana Bayon Moore stated.”

“This is an incredible opportunity…it’s taken us awhile to get to this point,” said local homeless advocate Andrew Becker. “But Homekey is a grant opportunity that develops housing. We rely on developers to come in and provide opportunities for our community and we’ve seen its non-existence out here in East County.”

However, a 394-unit, low- to moderate-income housing apartment project was approved by the city council in 2019 and built by a developer off East 18th Street in Antioch. (See related article)

“The state has given us an opportunity to capitalize off their dollars,” he continued. “This is a different structure…and what we can create, here can be lasting beyond what the Executive Inn is or can be in the future. These are lasting covenants for housing.”

Three other residents spoke in favor of the additional program.

City Owned Parcels Table. Source: City of Antioch

Council Discussion and Decision

During the council discussion on the item, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked, “can we use ARPA funds on Homekey projects?”

“We would have the ability to use ARPA funds in connection with this work, as long as the timeframe is within the eligibility period,” Bayon Moore responded.

“I’m hugely for this. I see all the properties listed. I’d like to add L Street to that list,” Ogorchock continued. “I think Homekey grant can help us build homes for vets and seniors, along with the homeless, and it can help those most vulnerable not to become homeless.”

“There is more money, and I gave that report at the last meeting, from the governor and the funds that were now available,” she stated. “So, I hope we go after more of those funds.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica then asked Bayon Moore, “On the $6 million, is that a one-time all in or is there going be more in the future?”

“The intention would be to identify a ceiling, a financial commitment that we would incorporate into the solicitation, so that when we signal to the development community that the city is supportive of the effort, that those dollars are available to support the project,” the assistant city manager responded. “Now depending upon the project…six million is the cap.”

“My stance on this is we’re spending a lot of money. This council is going through a lot of money,” Barbanica stated. “We’re opening new departments, where we just spent $2.5 million on the Executive Inn, we have a commitment to Motel 6 which is per use, and I understand it’s a more cost effective way to go. But we’re not funding things like the Emergency Operations Center. We’re not funding things like the pool at the water park which is a safety issue. We’re not doing that, but we can spend $2.5 million on the Executive Inn and we can commit to another $6 million but we don’t have an Emergency Operations Center that’s up to date. I do not support this.”

Ogorchock then said, “I know this council wasn’t here when Tabora Gardens was built. But we did the same thing with $1 million…that we had to pledge…and we did commit those funds.”

“And I understand what you’re saying, and I agree 110% with you,” she said to Barbanica. “And I believe those items that you brought up were on the ARPA funds to possibly be spent on those. But again, if I’m looking at ARPA funds and we can use ARPA funds with Homekey then I think this is a doable project.”

“The state is coming up with quite a bit more money…there’s a lot of money that’s coming forth,” Ogorchock continued. “So

“There’s further nuance, and we may not end up spending $6 million because a developer will say ‘I will eat up those costs’,” Thorpe said.

“Would there be possibility to lower this dollar amount and not commit to the six million?” Barbanica asked. “Andrew had mentioned two million to commit out of ARPA funds.”

“I don’t think today, we’re setting parameters for an RFQ,” Thorpe responded. “If a developer responds and says, ‘I can meet all of that,’ we’ll have another one of these and we’ll decide then. I think we’re saying we’re willing to commit up to $6 million.”

Bayon Moore then explained “one small dimension of that. The reason for the ceiling is for us to signal to the world of developers is the city is committed to bringing this online…not to exceed $6 million. If something comes below that, that’s fantastic.”

“What we did internally is work to establish a figure that we could defend,” she continued. “We looked at some…financial models and we came to the conclusion that $6 million was a safe figure to pledge. The market will ultimately speak to us whether or not that value is one that produces a partnership.”

“We just spent $2.5 million…and now we’re looking at committing to six,” Barbanica stated. “I cannot support a $6 million commitment even if it doesn’t come in at that.”

“If we are to lower the amount to maybe $2 million?” Ogorchock asked Barbanica. “It still leaves the ARPA funds on the table. I agree with you. I will fight for the EOC and the pool to get those items done because they’re safety issues.”

“If we were to at least reduce it to two million to start there would that be something that’s doable?” Ogorchock further asked.

“Specifically pulling it from ARPA funds and not the city’s general budget?” Barbanica asked in response.

“Yes,” the councilwoman responded.

“Yes,” he responded.

The council then took up all three matters associated with the agenda item, including the solicitation for the city-owned parcels, recognizing that the city land could be the location or privately owned, the pledge of the city’s financial commitment set at a ceiling of $2 million from ARPA funds and the council’s support of pursuing Homekey.

Ogorchock tried to get the city owned lots on L Street near the police department added to the list of parcels.

“That’s going to be Veterans Park,” Thorpe said.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Ogorchock responded.

“They came in and spoke to us and we gave direction,” Thorpe stated.

Ogorchock agreed to not including the L Street parcels.

Following one last effort by the city’s homeless consultant, Focus Strategies, to get the council to commit to $6 million, a motion was made by Ogorchock, seconded by Barbanica to approve the proposal with a $2 million cap and it passed on a 3-0 vote after Thorpe said, “No. Just kidding. Yes.”

“The funds can either be used for interim and permanent supportive housing,” Bayon Moore later explained. “The application will be jointly done by the city and a developer,”

The hope is to leverage the local funds and/or the value of the city-owned properties to obtain the state grant funds.

“They’re not necessarily dollar for dollar match,” she added.

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Both suspects arrested in Brentwood 24-Hour fitness fatal shooting

Sunday, August 28th, 2022

Brentwood SWAT at Myrtlewood Court home in Antioch. Tauane following his arrest on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. Photos: BPD

Brentwood teen arrested, first; Pittsburg man arrested in Antioch last week; victim from Antioch was innocent bystander

Faatino Tauane. Photo: BPD

By Brentwood Police Department

During the course of the investigation into the deadly shooting that occurred at the 24-Hour Fitness in Brentwood on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at approximately 1:54 a.m., Brentwood Police investigators positively identified 20-year-old Pittsburg resident Faatino Arona Tauane as the second shooter in this case.

On Wednesday, August 24, 2022, at approximately 4:45 a.m., Tauane was peacefully taken into custody at a home in the 900 block of Myrtlewood Drive in Antioch. He was later booked at the Martinez Detention Facility for murder. To date, one firearm has been recovered and the vehicle Tauane used to flee the scene is now in police custody. A second firearm used in the shooting remains outstanding.

On Friday, August 26, 2022, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office charged Tauane with one count of murder with enhancements and additional felonies.

On Thursday, August 11, 2022, the first of two suspects detained during the early stages of the investigation had been positively identified as one of the shooters who was wounded during the altercation. The suspect, a 17-year-old Brentwood resident was booked into the Contra Costa County Juvenile Detention Center for murder. His name is being withheld due to age. The second suspect was released from police custody after it was determined he was not a shooter.

The decedent has been identified as, 21-year-old Antioch resident, Cesar Arana. Our hearts go out to the family and friends impacted by his untimely death.

Arana was an innocent bystander not involved in the initial altercation. He was struck by gunfire while trying to help a person who had fallen to the ground during a physical fight outside.

Additionally, our agency would like to thank those who came forward with additional video footage and the staff at 24 Hour Fitness for their full cooperation throughout the entire investigation.

According to localcrimenews.com, Tauane was also arrested by Pittsburg Police in December 2020, for carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle and when not the registered owner.

Anyone with information regarding the outstanding firearm or any additional information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Greene at 925-809-7797.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch City Council does not appoint interim city manager Con Johnson to permanent position

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Mayor Lamar Thorpe rubs his head during the special Friday afternoon Antioch Council meeting that he had called, while discussing his and Interim Chief Ford’s proposed police officer hiring incentives which the majority of council members didn’t support. Video screenshot.

Nor approve a police recruitment incentive program during special Friday afternoon meeting

 “What keeps good policing is leadership.” “…we’re not in a good position in the City of Antioch” – Interim Police Chief Ford, also says force down to 38 on patrol

By Allen D. Payton

Following outcry from two council members and all four other challengers in this year’s elections, the vote by the Antioch City Council to appoint interim city manager Con Johnson to the permanent position as called for by Mayor Lamar Thorpe on Monday, did not occur on Friday afternoon. (See related article)

Before they entered closed session during their 4:30 p.m. closed session on August 26, 2022, the council members heard two public comments about the matter, one vehemently against the idea and the other in support.

Resident Mark Jordan was the first to speak scathingly saying, “I cannot believe what is going on. The city council is a clown car on fire.”

“You’re going to hire a man who is absolutely unqualified and to have an unopen, non-transparent process,” he continued. “You should be appointing that person, right there,” pointing to Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, seated where Johnson, who was not in attendance, usually sits.

“But maybe she isn’t Black enough for you. Like Tammany Brooks wasn’t Black enough for you,” Jordan stated. “It’s unconscionable what is happening. I had dinner with Tammany Brooks and his wife in March and I asked him about what’s happening in Antioch. He said, ‘Sometimes a person will burn down an entire kingdom in order to rule over the ashes.’ That is what is happening with the mayor. He is a narcissistic, sociopath.”

“As for Con Johnson, I ran the background report,” Jordan shared. ‘You looked over the bankruptcies, the foreclosures, the judgments. That’s just what’s public record. What’s not public record is the employee complaints against him.”

“You should all be ashamed if you vote to do this. Open the process up or hire that person,” he concluded.

Ralph Hernandez spoke next, saying, “I do support him for the appointment to become the permanent city manager.”

“The city manager has been very professional, courteous. Give the guy a chance. If he doesn’t work, fire him,” he stated. “My wife and I support his permanent appointment.”

The council then entered closed session at 4:38 p.m. Less than 30 minutes later, they emerged, and City Attorney Thomas Smith said, “no reportable action” took place during the closed session.

Special Council Meeting

The council then moved on to the special meeting agenda.

Item E was pulled from the Consent Calendar and the rest of it was passed, including the Council Warrants. Those include expenditures from various city departments, including the $20,550 paid from the police department’s budget to Oakland-based Makin Moves Motorcycle Club to cover the costs for the Community Day proposed by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and approved by Interim Police Chief Steve Ford, according to city Finance Director Dawn Merchant. That same organization was hired to organize the city’s Juneteenth Celebration after the city withdrew the permit for the event organized for the past few years from Claryssa Wilson. In addition, it’s leader, Ronald Muhammad, an Antioch resident, contributed $500 to Thorpe’s anti-recall committee.

During the Friday afternoon meeting, the council heard a presentation by Ford about the proposed hiring incentives for police. They include $50,000 per lateral officer hired from other departments and $40-60,000 per entry level officer. The up to $60,000 may be in the form of a loan that may be applied towards the purchase of a home in the city and partially forgiven over time based on the years of service as a police officer within the city.

He spoke about current staffing saying, “technically, we have 101 sworn on staff with 115 budgeted. But we have 21 injured and three in training. We have only 38 on patrol. That give us six or seven officers per shift. We have 13 vacancies. We also have an investigation…that could further deplete our staffing.”

He spoke of the need for both public safety and officer safety.

“Brentwood and Oakley don’t have a hiring incentive for their officers,” Ford pointed out.

Only two residents spoke, and another’s letter was read during public comments.

“Too much is being offered,” said Ralph Hernandez opposing the incentive proposal. He then read comments by his wife, Norma which were submitted in time for Tuesday’s meeting, with her concerns about the incentive package, including what’s being offered to existing officers.

“I like that there’s going to be a bonus…you have to do something to get people in,” said a resident named Lynette. “My concern is you may incentivize…officers to leave. You have to be careful with the number” out of concern for how it will affect current officers in the department.”

“You don’t have any women of color but you can actually recruit them to this department,” she continued.

Regarding the home loan incentive she said, “good luck with collecting it. The reason Brentwood discontinued their home incentive program because they couldn’t get anyone to work on it.”

Council Reaches Consensus on $25,000 Incentive But Takes No Action

“This is strictly about bringing folks, here,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated.

“I think we need to incentivize those officers who stayed during the pandemic,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock stated, referring to retention. She then reiterated the fact that Brentwood discontinued their home loan incentive program, “because officers weren’t paying it back.”

“They’re going to walk away so, I’m not in favor of that,” Ogorchock added.

“The intention is to provide down payment assistance,” Thorpe responded.

Ogorchock then read from the staff report for the council item about the home incentive.

“I don’t know why that’s in there,” Thorpe stated.

“It does say ‘may’,” City Attorney Smith pointed out.

“There are other programs out there that are more palatable,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “I was concerned how it will be paid back.”

“I don’t agree with the $40,000,” she added.

“This is a temporary proposal,” Thorpe stated, in his continued efforts to sell his and Ford’s proposal to his council colleagues.

“I, too, think the $40K is a little steep. I would be OK with $25,” District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson stated.

“I will continue to emphasize that the initial amount has to be significant,” Thorpe responded.

“It’s not an expense. It’s an investment,” Ford then stated. “It’s going to be very impactful no matter how this plays out. It’s a very dismal situation playing out. The investigation…is going to have a ripple effect in the organization.

“What keeps good policing is leadership,” he stated. “So, good leadership is what I’m trying to instill in this organization.”

“I understand the fiscal concerns but investing in a safe environment…” Ford continued. “As this conversation continues. If we’re really serious about public safety…we have to look at whatever money is spent is an investment not an expense.”

Barbanica asked about staffing.

“We are at 101,” Ford responded.

“Remember eight are locked up,” Thorpe stated.

“The $10,000 incentive is not going to attract young people into this profession,” Ford said.

“It’s right now, money. If we hire 10 new people, we’ll be writing a check for $600,000,” Barbanica said. “I would prefer…it has to be a higher number. Just the salary savings we have, right now. The escrow thing very much scares me. I do believe we need to do something because $10,000 isn’t working. So, I’d support something in the $25,000 range. No way we can hire that many in a year. It has to be a two-to-three-year program.”

“The police department is not the only department…” Torres-Walker pointed out. “This council approved hiring seven more code enforcement officers. We have five of 14 approved.”

“I appreciate Councilman Barbanica saying he wants us to hire the right police officers,” she continued. “We have a lot of the wrong people under investigation, paying out lawsuits, ranging from murder, civil rights violations…in this police department and under the leadership of past police chiefs. And we wouldn’t be here if there was transparency” in the department.

“If you have 115,000 people in your city and six officers…there aren’t enough officers to keep the city of Antioch safe, right now or keep the officers safe,” Ford stated.

“We have a very robust recruitment effort underway,” he shared. “It’s a very complicated process. There’s no quick fix. I understand the underlying concerns. I agree with everything I’m hearing. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say we’re not in a good position in the City of Antioch.”

“Staffing is a larger issue across the country,” Thorpe then said, referring also to teachers.

“The amount will not be the same as this,” he continued. “I heard $25,000.’

“Over what time?” Torres-Walker asked.

“Five years,” Thorpe responded.

“I’m fine with the $15 up front,” Barbanica said.

“We need to have something up front,” Ford said. “If it’s over five years, then so be it.”

“With a $25 and a $30 I’d be open…to both of those,” Torres-Walker stated.

“The one thing I’d like to see rather than writing a check for $50,000…” Barbanica then said wanting it to be over time.

“What I hear in agreement, today is a five-year incentive program,” Thorpe said in response to a question from Ogorchock about differences between the laterals versus new hires. “The $50,000 would be only for academy graduates.”

After polling the other council members, there was no consensus for a housing bonus, “so, we won’t come back with that,” Thorpe stated.

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Season preview Q&A: Deer Valley Wolverines, Antioch Panthers varsity football

Friday, August 26th, 2022

The DVHS Wolverines offensive line and the AHS Panthers aka Yoc Boys during practice in preparation for the season. Photos by Jason Metz.

Kicks off tonight! “Yoc Boys” get new head coach

By Jason Metz

The 2022-23 high school football season for both the Deer Valley Wolverines and Antioch Panthers kicks off, tonight, August 26, 2022. Deer Valley will face the Northgate Broncos in Walnut Creek and Antioch travels to Danville to face the Monte Vista Mustangs. Both games begin at 7 p.m. The two teams’ first league game will be the crosstown Mayor’s Cup class at Wolverines Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 29.

Wolverines

Coach Matt Mills

Q. So, how long have you been coaching?

A. Six years of high school football.

Q. Which coaches were your greatest influence?

A. John Wooden and Bob Ladouceur – former De La Salle head coach.

Q. Who is your star player?

A. Ayanfe “Ace” Adediran, Jr., the team’s quarterback.

Q. And what is your expectation for this year?

A. Be disciplined and physical.

Q. What does the rivalry with Antioch mean to you?

A. The very battle for the city!

Deer Valley Wolverines QB Ayanfe “Ace” Adediran with Head Coach Matt Mills.

Quarterback Ayanfe Adediran, Jr.

Q. Why do you want to be a quarterback?

A. I feel like I’m good enough to be a leader for our team and you push yourself on and off the field.

Q. Who is your quarterback inspiration?

A. Michael Vick.

Q. And what is your aspiration in life and in general what do you want to be when you get older?

A. I want to be successful in this world.

Q. What’s the rivalry with Antioch like to you?

A. It means a lot to me. I want to make sure we bring the trophy home to Deer Valley.

See the entire team roster.

Panthers

Coach Brett Dudley

Q. How long have you been coaching?

A. I have been coaching for 17 years. This is my 13th year at Antioch, first year as head coach.

Q. What are your expectations for this year?

A. I think we will be a competitive and physical football team.

Q. Who is your coaching inspiration?

A. His coach he had in high school inspired him.

Q. Who’s your star player?

A. Isaiah Pino

Q. What is your rivalry with Deer Valley like?

A. It’s good. The kids are really into it and they when to middle school with their players.

Q. What is your rivalry with Pittsburg like?

A. Big time. Very intense. The big difference is that for the adults, Pittsburg is more their rival.

Antioch Panthers star player Isaiah Pino with first year Head Coach Brett Dudley.

Isaiah Pino

Q. What position do you play and why?

A. Tight end and defensive end. I like the position because I like to hit people, he said with a laugh.

Q. Who is your inspirational player?

A. Patrick Willis, for his toughness and his leadership

Q. What are your expectations and what do you want to be when you grow older?

A. A fighter and an electrician.

Q. What’s the rivalry like with Deer Valley?

A. It’s a fun time going against kids you know.

Q. What’s the rivalry with Pitt, like?

A. It goes back for a while. Very competitive.

See the entire team roster.

Season Schedules

DVHS Wolverines

8/26 7:00p @ Northgate (Walnut Creek)
9/3 1:00p @ Saint Mary’s (Albany)
9/9 7:00p @ Kennedy (Fremont)
9/17 2:00p @ Balboa (San Francisco)
9/23 7:00p Dougherty Valley (San Ramon) Location: Deer Valley High
9/29 7:00p Antioch Location: Deer Valley High
10/14 7:00p Pittsburg Location: Deer Valley High
10/20 7:00p @ Heritage (Brentwood)
10/28 7:00p @ Liberty (Brentwood)
11/4 7:00p Freedom (Oakley) Location: Deer Valley High

AHS Panthers

8/26 7:00p @ Monte Vista (Danville) Game Details: TV Ch 32 Comcast Ch 99 AT&T Co Co County
9/2 7:00p Vintage (Napa) Location: Antioch High
9/9 7:00p Rocklin (Rocklin) Location: Antioch High
9/16 7:00p California (San Ramon) Location: Antioch High
9/23 7:00p Marin Catholic (Kentfield, CA) Location: Antioch High
9/29 7:00p @ Deer Valley
10/14 7:00p Heritage (Brentwood) Location: Antioch High
10/21 7:00p Liberty (Brentwood) Location: Antioch High
10/28 7:00p @ Freedom (Oakley)
11/4 7:00p Pittsburg – 104th Big Little Game – Location: Antioch High

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

 

 

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Special council meeting called for Friday afternoon to appoint Con Johnson permanent Antioch city manager

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe during a press conference at City Hall on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. Video screenshot

Barbanica, Ogorchock all four other council candidates want to wait until after the election and let the new council decide

Antioch Police Officers Association issues supportive statement of interim police chief during contract negotiations

Interim Antioch City Managvr Cornelius “Con” Johnson. Source: Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s Facebook page.

By Allen D. Payton

It was announced by Mayor Lamar Thorpe on Monday that a special Antioch City Council meeting will be held this Friday, to hire Con Johnson as the permanent city manager and Dr. Steve Ford as permanent chief of police, less than 90 days before the November election. Today, Thursday, the agenda was released showing a closed session meeting will be held tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 26 at 4:30 p.m. when most Antioch residents are still at work. It does not include the hiring of a permanent police chief only for a “PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT pursuant to Government Code section 54957: Title: City Manager”. The meeting agenda does not include the name of the candidate nor a copy of the contract for the public to review and provide input prior to the council’s closed session. (See related articles here, here and here)

All of it is not sitting well with two council members and all four other challengers in this year’s city council races.

Asked on April 27 if the council would start the hiring process for a permanent police chief, this year or wait until the end of the year, Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated, “no, we’ve started that process.” But that is not true according to at least two other council members.

Interim Antioch Police Chief Dr. Steve Ford. Source: APD

Both Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said they knew nothing about the mayor’s announcement before it was made, and that the council has yet to vote on a process for hiring a permanent city manager or police chief. The council in the past hasn’t hired the police chief, who is a department head and is usually hired by the city manager. But the current council majority has made it clear they want to be the ones to decide. Attempts to reach Districts 1 and 4 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson asking if they were aware of the announcement were unsuccessful.

Asked when the council had voted on the appointment process for a permanent city manager or chief of police Ogorchock responded, “no, we have not voted on this, it has not come before council.”

Asked about the appointment on Friday’s agenda she responded, “number one the mayor doesn’t have the power to appoint. I don’t know what’s going to be discussed in closed session. There needs to be a process. We do need to discuss our options in hiring a new city manager. The council gets the final say not the mayor.”

Asked if the decision should wait until after the election for the new council to choose a new city manager, Ogorchock said, “It’s in a very long process. If we started the process, now, number one you have to hire the consultant if we’re not going to hire from within and that is a process in itself. It would actually, possibly be the new council that would make the decision.”

“I believe the new council should be choosing the new city manager because it’s their employee,” she added.

In response to a comment that any decisions shouldn’t be made until after the election and a new council is seated, Barbanica replied, “100% agree it should be after the election.”

In response to Thorpe’s announcement, the Antioch Police Officers Association, whose members’ contract was on Tuesday night’s council meeting agenda for approval, issued the following statement on Monday:

“As is customary when a change of leadership occurs within the Antioch Police Officer’s Association, the new president (Sergeant Rick Hoffman) and Vice President (Corporal Loren Bledsoe) met with the mayor and other city leaders to discuss the state of the police department and city going forward. The APOA leaders spoke with the mayor about various topics including transparency, reform, ongoing training and interim Chief Ford. The APOA has had the pleasure of working with interim Chief Ford and appreciate his vision and his leadership. The APOA has enjoyed great working relationships with our Chiefs through the years, most recently with Chief Tammany Brooks, Interim Chief Morefield and now Interim Chief Ford.

Should there be a process to fill our department’s permanent Chief position, the APOA will support and respect the process and will be prepared to have a good working relationship with the Chief who is ultimately selected. Should interim Chief Ford be selected to fill the permanent Chief position, we will fully support him and will be eager to continue the work we have started together.

APOA President Rick Hoffman”

Council Candidates Oppose Making Hiring Decision, Now

Former Antioch Councilwoman and District 1 candidate, Joy Motts said she was shocked that the mayor is pushing this without a public process.

“Even if you have your mind made up there should at least be a public process for transparency,” she said. “I think they should wait until after the election, absolutely. This is the most critical hire in the city. To not allow other applicants or the existing assistant city manager to apply is just wrong. Antioch deserves the best and the brightest. Mr. Johnson may be that person, but the residents of Antioch will never know because the council didn’t do their due diligence.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this happen like this,” Motts continued. “Have you ever seen another city that didn’t bring in a list of competent candidates for council to review? And what would have been wrong with doing that? I don’t get it.”

“If you look up the requirements of a city manager, you’re really at the highest, management, public works, engineering. To not even allow Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore to apply is not right,” the once and now candidate for District 1 council member stated. “Lamar said at Ron’s (Bernal) retirement party, this is why we approved the hiring of an assistant city manager, so we would have someone to take Ron’s place.”

I was on council when we hired Rosanna. Ron needed help and we needed a succession plan. Lamar said that’s why we hired her and then he doesn’t even give her the chance.”

“She’s been there for three years and proven herself. Rosanna should have been allowed to apply and others, too.”

Former Antioch School Board president, Diane Gibson-Gray who is also running in District 1 said, “I think it’s something that should wait until after the council is seated following the election. What’s the rush? I know Con has a one-year contract. So, I don’t understand the urgency. It’s politics.”

“I believe a city manager hiring process should include allowing applicants from inside the city and outside the city so that the best candidate is hired,” she added.

District 4 Council candidates Shawn Pickett and Sandra White are also opposed to the hiring of both city officials, now.

“It lacks transparency with the process,” Pickett said. “Was that process known to the public and other council members? Did you write down any notes about their performance? Still, nobody knows. It lacks a clear and transparent process. No one knows the process.”

“You can’t use a criminal investigation led by the DA’s office and the FBI as your basis for hiring a city manager and police chief. Is it all behind closed doors? You can’t expect transparency if you’re not going to be transparent as the mayor. You can’t hold the police department accountable if you’re not holding yourself accountable,” the retired Richmond police lieutenant said.

Asked what his thoughts are about it happening now before the election, Pickett responded, “what’s the rush? It’s only three or four months before the election takes place. A new council might not agree with his selection.”

“It does a serious disservice to Con Johnson and Steve Ford,” the council candidate continued. “I would want a process that is clearly outlined. I would like to have participated in that openly.”

“Did you get input from the other council members? The fact that he (Thorpe) didn’t shows a lack of transparency,” Pickett continued. “Where is your effort to make the police department better. They failed to lead. Defunding and reform and reimagine are all trick words. How about expanding? How about a regulatory unit? You’re bringing all these cannabis businesses to town. That’s making Antioch PD better. All these reform bombs aren’t doing a thing. You can pay these cops a million dollars but if they’re not feeling appreciated, then they’re not going to want to come to work. That’s with any job.”

“It seems like everything they do is short sighted, not based on fact,” he added.

Asked if the council should wait until after the next election to hire a permanent city manager and police chief Pickett responded, “what are we trying to accomplish at the city manager position and the police chief’s position? The blank area is that expectation. If we want to find the best person for the city and have public input, then you do a nationwide search.”

“If you have council members who haven’t been informed or the public, then it’s not fair or a transparent process,” he continued. “Did you ask the community their expectations and have a survey online?”

“Should they wait? I would say yes. Because they should have a transparent process. Always err on the side of transparency. I don’t see that happening in any decision being made,” Pickett added.

When reached for comment about Thursday’s meeting, White said, “The hiring of a city manager should be open to the public. Legally they have a right to do it. Also, legally the new council, if the city manager, is not good, they can fire him.”

“Speaking from my professional experience I want to know what’s in the contract, what have they built in his offer, is there a parachute compensation? If he is prematurely let go, based on poor performance then is he out the severance? We need to know that,” she stated. “I need to know if we’re stuck with him or not. That makes a big difference. There’s generally a probationary period. Is that in the contract?”

“My position on this is the decision should be made after the election closes and it should be open to the public,” White added.

Asked for her thoughts on holding the meeting at 4:30 p.m. White responded, “The meeting should be held so that every working citizen can have the opportunity to attend the meeting if they choose to do so.”

“They need to have better transparency,” she added.

Questions for Thorpe, Wilson, Torres-Walker and City Attorney

Questions were sent shortly after 5:00 p.m. Thursday to Thorpe, Wilson, Torres-Walker and City Attorney Thomas Smith.

Thorpe was asked, “are you planning on taking a vote in closed session tomorrow to hire a permanent city manager? Or are you expecting the council to discuss beginning the hiring process? If it’s the former, shouldn’t the agenda include a copy of the contract for the public to review and give input on before the council takes a vote? Also, shouldn’t it be the next council after the election that chooses who they are going to work with for the next two to four years? Why are you again holding an afternoon meeting on such an important matter when most residents who commute out of the city to work aren’t able to attend and give the council their input before you hold the closed session?”

About Motts’ comments on the current assistant city manager, Thorpe was also asked, “Is that true? If so, will you consider Rosanna Bayon Moore for the position of city manager?”

Smith was asked, “does the candidate’s name and contract have to be provided to and the vote taken in public?”

Wilson and Walker were asked, “shouldn’t the decision to hire a permanent city manager wait until after the election?”

No responses were received by 7:45 p.m. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

A special council meeting will follow at 5:00 p.m. in which the items not dealt with during this past Tuesday’s regular council meeting will be addressed. See complete agenda for both the closed session and special meetings, here: 082622.pdf (antiochca.gov)

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Antioch Council approves one cannabis business, but not the first planned for Rivertown as Wilson recuses herself

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

District 4 councilwoman won’t say why; McCauley not happy

Approves on split vote changes to RV, boat parking ordinance allowing only 200 permits per year; allows parking on driveways in front of homes

Settle police use of force lawsuit for $495,000

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, August 23, the Antioch City Council voted 3-2 for another cannabis distribution business but split 2-2 with District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson recusing herself on the vote defeating the first cannabis retail business proposed for downtown Rivertown. In addition, the council voted 4-1 to allow RV and boat owners in the city to park them in front of their homes on their driveways. Finally, the council voted in closed session to settle a police use of force lawsuit.

RV Ordinance

The city will issue up to 200 permits per year to RV owners. However, according to the city staff report, the “946 permits from the current RV Registration System will be carried over into the new system and will not count towards the 200 annual cap.” The ordinance requires a three-foot setback from the sidewalk and property lines.

The ordinance provides the following definitions:

“RECREATIONAL VEHICLE. A personal vehicle, including but not limited to, a camping trailer, motorhome, tent trailer, fifth-wheel trailer, unmounted camper shell, boat, personal watercraft, utility trailer, or other mobile recreational equipment or watercraft, or any empty trailer intended for or capable of carrying any of the above.

MOTOR VEHICLE. Any automobile, truck, trailer, Recreational Vehicle, or other vehicle or equipment that is required to be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.”

After previous meetings and dozens of public comments on the matter, then hearing a few more members of the public speak on both sides of the issue Tuesday night, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock made the motion, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker seconded the motion, and it passed on a 4-1 vote with only Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica voting no.  RV Parking Ordinance ACC082322

Another Cannabis Distribution Business Approved on 3-2 Vote

The council also voted to approve another cannabis business at the former Goodwill location at the western corner of W. 10th Street, inside the same building as an existing cannabis retail business, called One Plant, which already has a use permit. (See related article)

Former Antioch Councilman and police officer Ralph Hernandez was the only person to speak on the item, opposing it stating, “marijuana is still illegally federally” and attracts crime.

“I’m kind of disappointed that the owner isn’t even here,” Ogorchock said. “I would only request that they improve the landscaping.”

“I believe the owner was present, but the first item ran long,” said Torres-Walker.

“We approved their application the first time,” Thorpe said.

Wilson moved approval of the cannabis distribution center at the location, and it passed 3-2 with Barbanica and Ogorchock voting no.

Wilson Recuses on Rivertown Retail Cannabis Business, Denied 2-2

The second cannabis business on the agenda, named FUEL to be the first one planned for Rivertown, the city’s historic downtown, was then introduced for a public hearing.

“AKA the McCauley Cartel,” Thorpe said with a chuckle.

“Something that’s been brought to my attention this afternoon,” Wilson said mentioning the city attorney, then recused herself from the dais. Asked why after the meeting she did not respond.

The council approved the downtown cannabis retail zone last year, Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs said in presenting the staff report. But the council waived the normal setback restrictions of 600 feet from a church or school.

Vinyak Shasry, the partner of Sean McCauley, who owns a variety of buildings and has brought several restaurants to the Rivertown Dining District and was also at the meeting, provided a presentation to the council “to convert what was a dance studio”.

“This will benefit the downtown area by bringing foot traffic,” he said. “It’s clean, it’s professional, it’s safe.”

The first speaker to oppose it at 11:50 p.m. was Hernandez saying, “Is marijuana healthy? No. Is it illegal? Yes. Marijuana has already been identified as a schedule one drug. Families suffer. Law enforcement is now checking drivers for marijuana.”

“The location that they showed pictures of, the dance studio, across from a federal credit union,” he stated. “Does it belong there? No. Can you guarantee our community that the people who will be under the influence of these products will be safe? I say, ‘no’.”

“They’re not going to consume them in the facility but as soon as they step out onto the sidewalk, they’re going to be walking or driving,” Hernandez stated. “It’s not going to be just restricted to this facility. They’re selling you a dream. They’re going to be using it in the streets in their cars. They’re going to make a lot of money.”

“Can’t we make money without marijuana?” he asked. “Don’t fall for this, people. Come on. If you’re really concerned about the safety of Antioch, you’ll vote no.”

Another member of the public to speak was homeless advocate Andrew Becker who said, “I want to come up and thank Ralph. It really takes a courageous person to come up and share truth. Here in California, we’ve made incredible strides in the marijuana industry and it’s incredibly disappointing to hear that the federal government hasn’t kept up with this.” He compared smoking marijuana to smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. “To consume recreational cannabis in California you have to be 21.”

Two more speakers supported the business and one more opposed it, citing the potential, negative impacts on homeless residents in the city.

During council discussion Barbanica spoke first saying, “When this overlay came before council a year ago…what I asked for simply was some boundaries, next to schools, churches, rehab centers. But it was shot down. I would be a hypocrite now to vote for something that I didn’t vote for with the overlay.”

“I do want to remind you that in that substitute motion you would have zero facilities downtown,” Thorpe stated.

“The only thing I’m looking at if this is to pass is the security on site,” Ogorchock said asking for two security officers.

“Is that an amendment the operator needs to make?” Torres-Walker asked.

“Yes,” Ogorchock responded.

“That’s part of the requirement. I believe that’s in there,” Shasry said.

“I see Captain Morefield shaking his head it’s in there, so there’s two,” Thorpe stated.

District 1 Councilwoman Torres-Walker then moved approval of the use permit for the cannabis retail business. Thorpe seconded. But it failed on a 2-2 tie.

“So, if there are two yes, two no, the motion doesn’t pass,” City Clerk Ellie Householder asked City Attorney Thomas Smith, which he confirmed.

McCauley Not Happy

Reached for comment Wednesday morning, asked if he had hosted a fundraiser for Wilson and if that’s why she recused herself, McCauley responded, “probably. But she shouldn’t have. This would have brought 1,000 new people a day and foot traffic to the downtown district. That’s the equivalent of 15 operators. The businesses need this foot traffic.”

“Right now, we have over a million dollars a month in restaurant revenue for the two large restaurants (Smith’s Landing and Monica’s Riverview),” he shared. “We need to get people into the downtown area, now.”

“They wanted it. I didn’t put the overlay down there, they did,” McCauley continued. “After I spent $10,000 trying to get it in there and getting it lined up. Then they voted it down. I don’t understand it.”

“If they’re going to have cannabis in the downtown area, I needed to control it to have the best operator to not ruin what I’ve done down there, not just some smoke shop,” he explained. “We wanted it to look like an Apple store. These are quality people, soccer moms, professionals. It’s not the black market.”

“If they want it on the outskirts everywhere else and have thousands in foot track everywhere else, fine. But they wanted it. There’s one license that they’re going to allow downtown,” McCauley stated. “That’s what our strategy was. Now, we don’t know what’s going to happen down there. We wanted to have the best operator in the downtown district. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the next person who’s going to come down there.”

“We opened Luxe Salon Studios down there. We have 40 new entrepreneurs in the downtown district. We’re trying to build momentum,” he added.

“I respect the decision of the council and would feel other operators in the downtown overlay would be treated accordingly,” McCauley stated.

Pressed further if he hosted a fundraiser for Wilson and about recusing herself, he said, “I let her use my property for a fundraiser. I didn’t contribute any money to her campaign. But I don’t really think that was the reason.”

Settle Police Use of Force Lawsuit

In other council action, reporting out from closed session before the regular meeting, City Attorney Smith said the city council agreed to a settlement of $495,000 in a case of police use of force. The motion was moved by Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica and seconded by Councilwoman Ogorchock and it was approved 5-0.

Conflicts of Interest Law, Questions for Wilson, City Attorney

According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission Conflicts of Interest, “a public official has a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision if it is foreseeable that the decision will have a financial impact on his or her personal finances or other financial interests. In such cases, there is a risk of biased decision-making that could sacrifice the public’s interest in favor of the official’s private financial interests. To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.”

Disqualifying Financial Interests

There are five types of interests that may result in disqualification:

  • Business Entity. A business entity in which the official has an investment of $2,000 or more in which he or she is a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or manager.
  • Real Property. Real property in which the official has an interest of $2,000 or more including leaseholds.  (However, month-to-month leases are not considered real property interests.)
  • Income. An individual or an entity from whom the official has received income or promised income aggregating to $500 or more in the previous 12 months, including the official’s community property interest in the income of his or her spouse or registered domestic partner.
  • Gifts. An individual or an entity from whom the official has received gifts aggregating to $500 or more in the previous 12 months.
  • Personal Finances. The official’s personal finances including his or her expenses, income, assets, or liabilities, as well as those of his or her immediate family.

Disqualifying Financial Impact or Effect

If a decision may have a financial impact or effect on any of the foregoing interests, an official is disqualified from governmental decision if the following two conditions are met:

  • The financial impact or effect is foreseeable, and
  • The financial impact or effect is significant enough to be considered material.

Generally, a financial impact or effect is presumed to be both foreseeable and material if the financial interest is ‘explicitly’ or directly involved in the decision. A financial interest is explicitly involved in the decision whenever the interest is a named party in, or the subject of, a governmental decision before the official or the official’s agency.

If the interest is “not explicitly involved” in the decision, a financial impact or effect is reasonably foreseeable if the effect can be recognized as a realistic possibility and more than hypothetical or theoretical. A financial effect need not be likely to occur to be considered reasonably foreseeable.

However, for interests “not explicitly involved” in the decision, different standards apply to determine whether a foreseeable effect on an interest will be material depending on the nature of the interest. The FPPC has adopted rules for deciding what kinds of financial effects are important enough to trigger a conflict of interest. These rules are called “materiality standards,” that is, they are the standards that should be used for judging what kind of financial impacts resulting from governmental decisions are considered material or important.

There are too many materiality standards to adequately review all of them here. To determine the applicable materiality standard, or to obtain more detailed information on conflicts, an official may seek assistance from agency counsel or the FPPC anytime the official has reason to believe a decision may have a financial impact or effect on his or her personal finances or other financial interests.

Exceptions

Not all conflicts of interest prevent a public official from lawfully taking part in the government decision. There are two limited exceptions to the conflict of interest rules:

  • The Public Generally Exception. A public official is not disqualified from a decision if the effect on the official’s interests is indistinguishable from the effect on the public.
  • Legally Required to Participate. In certain rare circumstances, a public official may be randomly selected to take part in a decision if a quorum cannot be reached because too many officials are disqualified under the Act.

Exceptions must be considered with care. A public official should contact agency counsel or the FPPC to determine if an exception applies.

Recusal Requirements

An official with a disqualifying conflict of interest may not make, participate in making, or use his or her position to influence a governmental decision. When appearing before his or her own agency or an agency subject to the authority or budgetary control of his or her agency, an official is making, participating in making, or using his or her position to influence a decision any time the official takes any action to influence the decision including directing a decision, voting, providing information or a recommendation, or contacting or appearing before any other agency official. When appearing before any other agency, the official must not act or purport to act in his or her official capacity or on behalf of his or her agency.

Certain officials (including city council members, planning commissioners, and members of the boards of supervisors) have a mandated manner in which they must disqualify from decisions made at a public meeting (including closed session decisions) and must publicly identify a conflict of interest and leave the room before the item is discussed.

While there are limited exceptions that allow a public official to participate as a member of the public and speak to the press, the exceptions are interpreted narrowly and may require advice from your agency’s counsel or the FPPC.”

The following questions were emailed Wednesday morning to both Wilson and City Attorney Smith asking “Monica, which disqualifying financial interest did you have to cause you to recuse yourself from voting on the​ Fuel cannabis retail business proposed for G Street, last night?

Do you own a financial interest in the business? Do you own a financial interest in the​ building where it was to be located? Does someone in your immediate family work for Mr. McCauley’s proposed cannabis business or any of his businesses? Was it because Sean McCauley allowed you to hold a campaign event at his property on Deer Valley Road? If so, how is that a conflict of interest since there was no personal financial gain, only a benefit to your campaign?

Thomas, did you advise the councilwoman to recuse herself? If so, on what basis?”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

 

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