To increase safety, end cronyism and corruption in city hall, attract businesses Antioch voters must reject the council incumbents

End anti-police attitudes, policies, statements; stop the embarrassment; keep out-of-town special interests from influencing city policy and buying two council seats

By Allen D. Payton

After enduring two years of bad decisions, cronyism, corruption, unnecessary and unwanted police reform policies, bad attitudes toward police – both resulting in a serious decrease in sworn police officer staffing – wasteful spending, racially charged comments and being repeatedly embarrassed by one of the councilwomen, Antioch voters must reject both incumbents Monica Wilson and Tamisha Torres-Walker and choose new representatives for our city council. I liken it to renewing someone’s contract in business. Have they done the job we wanted them to do? I say a flat “no” and should therefore not have their contracts renewed.

I tried to warn voters two years ago when I wrote about Torres-Walker’s radical agenda that fits better in Berkeley, than in Antioch. But with a split vote she was able to get elected in District 1 with just a little over 36% of ballots cast. Yet, she governed and acted as if she had a mandate. Needless to say, it’s doubtful if the first term (and hopefully only term) councilwoman expanded her base.

But Wilson is just as radical, voting for almost all of the same policies and they’re both backed by the Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialist organization, Our Revolution East Bay, other out-of-town, left-wing liberals and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Everywhere their candidates are elected, and policies are implemented, things get worse, as they have in Antioch. They’re also both backed by Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe which says a lot. He needs them both to get re-elected because Thorpe knows with a new council majority he and his agenda will be marginalized and he’ll be a lame duck mayor for the remainder of his term – however long that lasts.

Torres-Wilson has been able to drum up support from her network of outside, left-wing special interests who have shown up or called in to speak during council meetings and to get Wilson and Thorpe to go along and implement policies pleasing them, but not the majority of Antioch residents. Now those radical, left-wing interests and big money donors are trying to buy her and Wilson’s seats with over $44,000 of an independent expenditure campaign and thousands more dollars in direct contributions to their two re-election campaign committees. That’s because neither of them can get support from within Antioch – with Wilson only raising $2,050 in contributions over $100 and Torres-Walker raising $350 in contributions of that amount, and less than $1,000 at the most from Antioch residents. That should be an indicator of how popular they and their policies are. (See related articles here, here and here)

Torres-Walker Dangerous Policies

While in the past two years Torres-Walker has been more successful in getting her agenda implemented than Wilson has in the 10 years she’s been on the council, her policies and proposals, supported by both Wilson and Thorpe, have led the city in the wrong, dangerous direction and toward self-destruction. Thanks to those three, the Antioch Police Department based on the latest report is down 31 sworn police officers, to 84 of the 115 budgeted. No, that doesn’t include the eight officers who are under investigation to the delight of Torres-Walker, Wilson and Thorpe – as if their reforms had anything to do with it. They didn’t.

Plus, the three didn’t have public support for any of the so-called reform policies except for body and dash cameras – that no one opposed – which they learned from their own Bridging the Gap forums. But they ignored that input, implemented their “reforms” anyway and without offering any data to prove that they were necessary, mainly to please the out-of-town interests. During the council meeting on Feb. 26, 2021, Torres-Walker literally said, “I would not support putting any youth in the room with a department that is currently in reform” and “We should not be at war with our community. We don’t want to see storm troopers on the streets of our communities.”

It took months before Torres-Walker, Wilson and Thorpe before voted in favor of police body and dash cams. Then even longer before they approved the body and dash cam policies. The ladies went along with his delays waiting for March 2021 to have the vote during his “Police Reform Month”. Torres-Walker voted against funding the software for the new system needed to operate the cameras and store the videos because it was from the city’s General Fund and she didn’t want to give the police department any additional money. Yet now the two incumbents tout their vote for the police cameras on their campaign websites.

All three of them voted against providing the police department with new, high-tech tasers that were part of the package deal with the body and dash cams, that when deployed immediately turn on the officer’s body camera. The result will be when the new tasers are eventually purchased it will cost the city more money.

Wilson’s Few Accomplishments in 10 Years

In 10 years, Wilson has only been able to get three of her proposals approved, two of which are laudable but none of them have had much or any impact. One was to ban hourly rates at local motels to reduce prostitution and the other was to implement a mental health crisis response team to assist police on 5150 calls. But that hasn’t even been implemented, yet.

Plus, she’s been siding with the Quinto family who has been falsely accusing the police of “killing Angelo”, even after the officers were completely cleared by both the Antioch Police Department and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office (surprisingly enough). That’s even though the officers rescued the family members from him attacking them, and he died in the hospital three days later while not in police custody due to the drugs that were in his system.

To make things worse, Wilson along with Thorpe wore “Justice for Angelo Quinto” T-shirts to the Oct. 25th council meeting when she pushed for and was able to get council approval to name the response team after him, further sending a negative message to our police force. That’s why cops don’t want to work, here, so many have left and during their exit interviews have cited the council majority as the reason, and the department can’t recruit officers fast enough to fill the vacancies – no matter how big of a signing bonus they offer. Wilson’s third accomplishment is mentioned, below about the ban on oil and gas drilling.

Torres-Walker Apologized for Wanting Four More Cops in Her District

Torres-Walker had one good proposal in the last two years, and that was to call for hiring four more police officers for the Sycamore neighborhood, still the city’s highest crime area. But she then posted another one of her videos and apologized to her supporters for advocating for more police – heaven forbid – to help make part of her district safer. After Thorpe opposed it and refused to place the hiring of more police on a council meeting agenda, and only offered to support more overtime for officers to work in that area of the city, Torres-Walker quickly backed off her idea and we never heard about it, again. So, she wasn’t that serious about it. Because when she is serious about an issue, Torres-Walker has proven to be relentless.

Ironically, her first major vote, along with Wilson and Thorpe, was to reject the $750,000 federal grant for six School Resource Officers placing police on four middle and two high school campuses in Antioch. Then, she later complained about police interaction with students causing problems on campus and even posted a video of one incident on her official Facebook page.

Bad Decisions, Wasteful Spending

Both of them voted for multiple cannabis businesses, further damaging our city’s reputation in the business community and ability to attract employers with well-paying jobs; both voted along with Thorpe to fly the intersex progress “pride” flag over city hall for eight months this year at the exclusion of flags by any other groups; following the lead of the Brentwood City Council, they voted to deny the renewal of the franchise agreement for the low-pressure, natural gas pipeline that goes through Antioch which did nothing but result in a loss of the annual fee from and a lawsuit by the pipeline owner – they were rewarded with campaign contributions from special interests; then they both voted to create an unnecessary, new city department which now handles five of seven areas that were already being handled by other city departments, and created a new department head position costing the city more money; that resulted in the eviction of 16 non-profit organizations that had to find new office space and only three of them have, so far; they also voted to form a committee of the whole council for police oversight which is just silly – and made Torres-Walker the chair, from which she was later forced to resign – and held meetings during late afternoons when most people weren’t home from work, yet and couldn’t give their input; even their biggest, latest claim to fame, the rent stabilization ordinance really will have little affect and impact very few residents and was done as an overreaction to claims of people being evicted or harassed during COVID, and done for show, because there are already state laws in place to protect most renters. Now, Wilson and Torres-Walker are being rewarded with $22,202 each spent on their campaigns by the very out-of-town organizations that advocated for the policy.

Wilson’s a Follower

Also, following the lead of her allies on the Brentwood City Council, Wilson pushed for an unnecessary moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Antioch, without ever once reaching out or having city staff contact the only person who owns permits and rights to drill, and still can – even after the ban. When you’re going to do something that affects someone’s property and or business, the least a council member and city staff should do is inform and give them an opportunity to speak on the matter before the city council. Besides he could have told them that he had no plans to exercise his rights, anyway because the last two attempts proved to be dry holes. Although it resulted in having no impact the effort gave Wilson an issue to use to run on for re-election.

Then, after agreeing to hold a special meeting to consider voting to censure Thorpe for his behavior toward the two former female employees who sued him for sexual harassment, Wilson wimped out and backed out, the next day. She was one of the three council members to agree to the special meeting which is what is required without the mayor’s consent.

Both Are Weak on Economic Development & Bad for Business

Both incumbents laughably tout their support for economic development because they voted to give out federal government COVID money to local businesses. Yet, that’s what it’s designed for, to help the businesses the government policies negatively impacted and were forced to close. Torres-Walker is rarely seen at the stores in the downtown Rivertown in her district and Wilson, who serves on the council’s Rivertown subcommittee hasn’t held a meeting for the past year. The only economic development they can point to is the previously mentioned approvals of all the cannabis businesses. Oh, and both of them voted in favor of having a huge, marijuana smoking event at the county fairgrounds! That’s their idea of economic development but it’s not the kind of event we need or want to attract people to our city.

Wilson was also one of the three council members who in 2020 foolishly voted against a commercial and multi-family housing project on Delta Fair Blvd. to help revitalize that area. So, the former Food Maxx store still sits empty, and the shopping center gathers litter and very few shoppers for the other businesses with the anchor tenant gone. But hey, she voted for another cannabis business nearby on Somersville Road.

I personally know of some potential, major business interests that would like to locate in Antioch but won’t if changes aren’t made on the council and with city staff.

Cronyism & Corruption in City Hall

They manipulated the redistricting process, this year, gerrymandering the council districts, by intentionally drawing the line around the neighborhood where District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock lives, moving her into District 4. And they did it live on camera during a televised council meeting. Then, Torres-Walker had the audacity to claim she didn’t know where Ogorchock lived. Yeah, right.

The worst decision they made was voting with Thorpe to hire their crony, Con Johnson as interim city manager, after he lied to their face on his resume. Then after multiple, major failures by him this past year, and with only two weeks left before the election jammed through hiring him as permanent city manager for two more years – without opening up the process for other applicants to apply so Antioch could find the best nor leaving it up to a possibly new council majority to decide. If there is one, I guarantee you Con will be the first city employee to get the axe which, if it’s done without cause, he’ll be paid a severance, wasting more of our tax dollars. But frankly, it will be worth it.

Then, Torres-Walker, Thorpe and Johnson played games with the annual Juneteenth Celebration, forced city staff to withdraw the permit from the African-American, young woman, Claryssa Wilson who led the committee of 11 other Africa-American Antioch residents that organized the event, because her parents were supporters of Thorpe’s recall. So, she and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation which served as the fiscal agent for the annual event, took it and held it in Brentwood, instead. Then, for some reason, an Oakland-based motorcycle club, led by an Antioch resident, was hired to put on the city’s event and relocated it from downtown, in Torres-Walker’s district, and held it at Williamson Ranch Park, in Wilson’s district, instead – where it cost the city between $30,000 and $50,000. The worst part was Wilson is a member of the foundation’s board of directors, remained silent and did nothing to intervene or stop the game playing.

Then, Torres-Walker got the interim police chief to spend $20,000 from his department’s budget for a community event she proposed in her district, during election season. A Concord-based company was paid to organize it and only had one Antioch organization included. Other local businesses and organizations weren’t invited and didn’t know about it. UPDATE: It’s since been learned that the interim chief was forced by Johnson to spend the funds from his department, and it wasn’t Ford’s choice.

Wilson’s Corrupt Conflict of Interest

Even worse, Wilson violated state conflict of interest laws by voting as a councilmember for the city to contract with the foundation and spend $145,000 of city money on this year’s Sesquicentennial events. According to Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Steve Bolen, who handles public corruption cases, shared California Government Code Sections 87100 and 1090 and said, “the FPPC is the agency that does those initial investigations.”

Section 87100 reads, “No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.”

In addition, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) which enforces “Government Code Section 1090 prohibits an officer, employee, or agency from participating in making government contracts in which the official or employee within the agency has a financial interest. Section 1090 applies to virtually all state and local officers, employees, and multimember bodies, whether elected or appointed, at both the state and local level. ‘Making’ a contract includes final approval of the agreement, as well as involvement in preliminary discussion, planning, negation, and solicitation of bids.” Finally, according to the League of California Cities, “Section 1090 is a conflict of interest prohibition which has historically been subject to criminal penalties (if the violation is willful). As of January 1, 2014, Assembly Bill 1090 authorized the Fair Political Practices Commission (the “Commission”) to seek and impose Administrative and Civil penalties against a public official who violates this prohibition against being financially interested in a contract.”

The foundation also serves as the fiscal agent for Wilson’s organization, the East Contra Costa Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Wilson was warned to step down from the board or the city council but didn’t and she should be investigated by the FPPC and Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.

Torres-Walker Worst Council Member in Recent Memory

Torres-Walker has simply been the worst city council member that I can remember since I first moved here in 1991. She’s been an embarrassment since her first month in office, defending the illegal actions of her two sons riding dirt bikes on city streets, and blasting the Antioch Police officers – who are now suing her – and the entire department with a nine-minute, profanity filled video rant. Torres-Walker never apologized to the police for her comments, but only posted another video, earlier this year apologizing to her supporters for saying she didn’t give a blankety blank blank about being a council member and literally shared a portion of the first video, repeating her vulgarities.

Torres-Walker has had 11 calls to the police who had to respond to her home for noise complaints, dirt bikes being ridden up and down the street, and last year’s incident at the beginning of October when police responded to gunshots in front of her home. Six bullet casings were found in the street, she reportedly was drunk, and ended up getting arrested for interfering with a police officer who was talking to another person at the scene. Taking a page from the playbook of her council ally, Thorpe, she literally tried to deny it occurred. Of course, our county’s woke, soft-on-crime D.A. Becton dropped the charges against Torres-Walker, as she did previously the charges against the councilwoman’s older son for fleeing from the police during the Dec. 2020 dirt bike incident.

Instead of taking responsibility for her and her sons’ actions, Torres-Walker blames the Antioch Police Department, claims they have targeted her and her family. But as the president of the Antioch Police Officers Association said, recently, they don’t have time to be going after her. Yet if they didn’t respond to the calls for service at her house, guess who would be the first person to complain and call them racist for not doing their job?

Then, get this, she foolishly attended, promoted and made excuses online for one of the dangerous sideshows where drivers spin donuts in their cars in the middle of intersections, undermining police efforts to stop them. Torres-Walker literally wrote on her official Facebook page, “I was simply saying it was this or the alternative which was more violence.”

Plus, several times, the councilwoman refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of council meetings and remained seated with her back to the flag.

Torres-Walker’s Transparency Hypocrisy on Police Body Cams

The worst part is Torres-Walker is a hypocrite. She calls for transparency by the police department and literally touts voting for police body cameras on her campaign website but won’t have the video footage from the incident at her own house released for the public to see. True leaders lead by example. The councilwoman needs to be transparent, herself and release the video.

Torres-Walker’s Criminal History

Let’s not forget, that in a 2021 San Francisco Chronicle article she admitted to being arrested 22 times as a youth. Then as an adult while on probation from a May 2008 drunken driving conviction and with a pending case in which she was charged with drunken driving and three counts of child endangerment in June 2009, Torres-Walker, was arrested, again for attempting to burn down the San Pablo apartment building from where she had been evicted the previous week. According to an East Bay Times article about the incident, she was charged “with burglary and arson of an inhabited dwelling…that displaced about 10 residents”. In addition, that report reads, “Police said Walker was spotted breaking a window and kicking down the front door of her former apartment at about 1 a.m. Sunday. She is accused of lighting two fires in the residence, one in the kitchen that was extinguished quickly and another in a bedroom mattress, a fire that spread”. Torres-Walker was convicted and spent a year in the West County jail, then entered a treatment program for alcoholism.

While I believe anyone can change, especially with the help of God, it would be one thing if she had truly turned her life around. But her continued bad behavior and defending that of her sons, and her negative attitude toward the police, shows Torres-Walker hasn’t really changed and isn’t fit for public office. She’s negatively affecting the safety of all Antioch residents and businesses as a result. Words matter. Words of people in positions of power and authority matter more because they can have a greater impact. Torres-Walker hasn’t seemed to learn that, yet.

Repeated Racially-Charged Comments

Then there’s all of her racially charged, vitriolic diatribes during council meetings. Like Thorpe, she likes throwing out that horrible accusation. Torres-Walker even literally, once told a council meeting audience that calling the council a circus was racist because the people saying it are referring to the Black council members as monkeys. That left those in attendance, including this writer, dumbfounded and laughing. Ridiculous. She’s always trying to find a way to be offended and baselessly lectures residents how racist she thinks they are – just like the mayor. Tamisha needs to get out of her little bubble and learn people don’t care about her skin color or ethnicity. They care about her bad policies, behavior and things you say.

Plus, she’s disrespectful and grown arrogant in office in such a very short time, not answering phone calls, texts and rarely responding to emails and questions challenging what she does, says and writes. She doesn’t like to be held accountable which is not a good character trait for an elected official.

And she can’t even properly oversee the reporting of just $25,000 in campaign funds she received. If Torres-Walker can’t handle that, how can she be trusted to help oversee millions of taxpayer dollars? (See related article)

Wilson Also Plays Race Card

First, Wilson falsely played the race card against former Planning Commission Chairman Kenny Turnage in 2020 who she expected to run against him, twisting his comments on Facebook about COVID and seniors – that had nothing to do with race, skin color or ethnicity. Then, just recently, she baselessly labeled as, “racially divisive grandstanding” the calls by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and one of her opponents, Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, for Thorpe to resign following his DUI arrest, earlier this year and then the $350,000 settlement in the sexual harassment lawsuit against him in September.

One More Rare Good Thing

To give credit where credit is due, one other rare, positive vote both incumbent councilwomen took was in favor of the new Rivertown sign over W. 2nd Street in Antioch’s historic downtown.

Time for Torres-Walker to Take a Walk

While I was hoping she would grow and develop into her new elected position, the fact is Torres-Walker hasn’t. She is divisive, her decisions have been detrimental to our city, and we can’t afford another four years of her on the council trying to lead us in the wrong direction.

Similar to what I wrote in 2020, I applaud Torres-Walker’s work as co-founder and now, former executive director of the Safe Return Project in Richmond, where she worked to help those returning from prison to get jobs, etc., and now, executive director of the Richmond-based Social Good Fund. She should remain focused on that, instead and leave the governing of Antioch to people with more common-sense views and values, who will improve our city’s public safety, and won’t be so divisive and embarrassing.

Perhaps, when she’s grown up and has learned how to behave, talk properly and treat people with respect, especially those she was elected to represent and serve – all of us in Antioch – then maybe she can run for and serve in office, again. But not now. Torres-Walker needs to take a walk and it’s up to the voters in District 1 to issue her walking papers.

We’ve Grown Weary of Wilson

As for Wilson, she like her colleagues, including Thorpe, has become arrogant in office, rarely if ever responds to phone calls, texts or emails, and refuses to answer questions unless in a press conference, which they shut down quickly to avoid having to answer any tough ones. Her 10 years on the council has been more than enough. If she hasn’t been able to accomplish what she set out to – which really has been to get elected to higher office – she’s not going to. What Wilson really has been for most of her time on the council is a reliable third or unnecessary fourth or fifth vote. As political commentator, George Will once wrote, there are two types of people who run for office. Those who want to do something and those who want to be something. Wilson falls into the latter category. It’s time she became someone somehow else. If you’re like me, you’ve grown weary of Monica Wilson and she needs to be replaced on the council.

For a Better City Vote for Better Candidates

All of the challengers in both races are far superior to the two incumbents.

In District 1, whichever candidate you vote for just, please make sure to choose one of the challengers, either Joy Motts or Diane Gibson-Gray. I haven’t always agreed with either of them, but they would clearly do a better job, make better decisions, and represent our community in a better, much more mature, responsible manner.

In District 4, if you want a better, current council member, vote for Lori Ogorchock. If you want a better woman to join her on the council and who won’t just go along with the “woke” agenda and poor leadership of Thorpe and Torres-Walker, vote for Sandra White. (By the way, she’s not the former Antioch School Board trustee. That’s Crystal Sawyer-White who lost her re-election bid in 2020 and no longer lives here). If you want another and better man than our mayor, like Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica, then vote for Shawn Pickett.

This city council election is the most important one I can think of in 26 years when the second worst council member in recent memory unfortunately, got elected. (There’s a prize for the person who guesses who I’m referring to). Seriously, for the sake of all of our safety, to end the cronyism and corruption at city hall, and if you want things to improve with our local economy and attract more businesses with well-paying jobs to town, please reject the two city council incumbents and vote for one of their challengers. Antioch’s future depends on it.

UPDATE REGARDING REDISTRICTING: To clear up any confusion surrounding the belief that a new council majority can redraw the district lines and move Ogorchock back into District 3, following is the information I’ve been able to obtain on the subject:

According to redistricting consultant Karin Mac Donald of Q2 Data and Research who is also the Director of California’s Statewide Database & Election Administration Research Center at U.C. Berkeley, and consultant for both the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission and the City of Antioch’s redistricting process, California prohibits redrawing district lines mid-decade, with few exceptions. Those includes the city increasing in population by at least 25%.

According to a presentation by the Nielsen Merksamer law firm and National Demographics Corporation, as of 2021 mid-decade redistricting is never allowed, “unless in conjunction with judicial proceedings, or jurisdictional boundary changes, and then with qualifications.”

So, since the city’s population is not going to increase by 25% and unless someone sues the city over the gerrymandered redistricting maps created by the current council majority, and a judge rejects the current map and requires the council to redraw the district boundaries, a new council majority cannot redraw them before the next Census in 2030.

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