Thorpe holds ceremony to sign, celebrate Antioch’s anti-tenant harassment ordinance

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe gestures and raises his voice during a speech following the ceremonial signing of the anti-tenant harassment and retaliation ordinance as supporters watch and cheer outside City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023. Video screenshot.

Blames greed for challenges renters face; takes swipes at two council members who haven’t supported the council majority’s “progressive” policies

“You’re either with us, standing with us, making a difference or you’re not.” – Mayor Lamar Thorpe

By Allen D. Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe held a ceremony and press conference on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, to sign and celebrate the passing of the City’s anti-tenant harassment and retaliation ordinance. He was joined by representatives of the organizations which lobbied the council to approve the ordinance which finally passed 3-1 in August, including David Sharples of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action and Rhea Laughlin of Rising Juntos, Rev. Millie Phillips of East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), and Judith Ortiz of Monument Impact, as well as. (See ORDINANCE NO. 2232-C-S PROHIBITING RETALIATION AGAINST AND HARASSMENT OF RESIDENTIAL TENANTS)

Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker and District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson joined Thorpe in voting for the ordinance, while District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voted against and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica, a property manager in Antioch, recused himself on the matter.

A post on Thorpe’s official Facebook page on Friday shared about the ceremony and ordinance: “On Thursday, Mayor Thorpe signed sweeping legislation to protect Antioch families, preventing more families from falling into homelessness. As homelessness continues to rise in California, Antioch become one of a handful of cities in the state to pass legislative tenant protections to prevent individuals and families from falling into homelessness.”

After he signed the ordinance, the post claims he “presented each organization with a Certificate of Recognition for their tireless efforts to enact Anti-Tenant Harassment laws.”

At the beginning of his remarks, Thorpe introduced the City’s new Rent Program Specialist Delia Pedroza, Acting City Manager Kwame Reed and City Attorney Thomas L. Smith. None of the other council members attended. Ogorchock said she didn’t know about it and wasn’t invited. When it was pointed out that she had voted against the ordinance the District 3 Councilwoman responded, “I don’t get invited to any of them” referring to the mayor’s press conferences.

Thorpe Gets Animated During His Remarks

“We do these because in fact these are a big deal. When I was on the city council for four years…there really wasn’t much to celebrate,” the mayor stated during his almost 20-minute speech offered in both English and Spanish, as he usually does.

“Everybody here is a hardworking person. No one is trying to just get by,” he continued. “But every day, I see this, every single day, because of greed and lack of political will, opportunity keeps slips away from the average American that’s standing here, today. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, Black, brown, Asian. Wages continue to be stagnant as inflation continues to kick all of our butts.”

Thorpe then spoke of the strike at Kaiser and their profits over the past five years.

“I share this because it’s an example of why we’re here, today. Greed,” he said. “As a few in our country continue to take everything, we’re here fighting for crumbs. So, I believe it’s government’s moral responsibility…to protect one of our most basic needs. Housing.”

“So, today in Antioch, we make a bold step in joining a handful of cities…in California to enact anti-housing displacement laws. All we’re trying to do is keep people in their homes” Thorpe exclaimed. “So, with these laws we’re setting a baseline that tells bad actors, you have to join good, decent landlords in treating your tenants with dignity and respect. Period.”

“No longer will it be acceptable in the City of Antioch to pay for services and not be allowed to use them like a swimming pool or a laundry room,” he said, providing details form the ordinance. “No longer will it be acceptable in the City of Antioch to use the threat of eviction as a weapon against you. No longer is it acceptable in the City of Antioch for you to fear organizing, to form a tenant association and stand up for your rights.”

“Listen, housing insecurity is a real thing for every single individual here. I did not know I was housing insecure. Apparently, when you spend more than 50% of your income, you’re considered housing insecure,” Thorpe shared. “That means we’re all one paycheck, one bad thing happening that lands you at Kaiser, from being homeless.”

“So, I’m thankful, I’m truly thankful for the progressive city council that has made the decision to stand with all of you,” he stated getting animated. “And when I say progressive city council, I’ll just be honest, I’m only talking about Councilwoman Monica Wilson and Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. Every progressive policy that we’ve passed in this city that changes your life, that gives you an additional protection, passed on a 3-2 vote or a 3-1-1 vote. I want to be very clear about that because you’ve got to remember who’s standing on your corner. You’re either with us, standing with us, making a difference or you’re not.”

“It was almost a year to the date on Oct. 16, 2022, we all stood over there off of…L Street, to celebrate the welcoming of rent stabilization in this city,” Thorpe continued. “You’re either with us, standing with us, making a difference or you’re not. There’s more work to do. And I expect everyone here…to join us. I expect while we get just cause (another requested eviction protection ordinance), irrespective of what the political climate may be or what it may be convenient to do or not to do that we stand united for the right thing.”

In response to a comment from someone he said, “Oh, it is happening. But the clown show is coming, too. I’m just going to point it out. Next year is an election year. They’re coming.”

Thorpe then read his prepared remarks in Spanish.

See video of Thorpe’s comments.

The video does not show Thorpe was asked any questions by the media, and he only mentioned Telemundo was in attendance. (This reporter was invited but unable to attend).

Mayor Thorpe was joined by supporters of the anti-tenant and retaliation ordinance following the ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023. Source: ACCE X feed

ACCE Praises Ordinance

In tweets on X on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, ACCE wrote, “ANTIOCH REJOICE Yesterday Antioch Mayor @LamarThorpe signed the Tenant Anti Harassment Ordinance #TAHO into law, ensuring that victims of landlord abuse have protections to defend themselves!

ACCE Twitter/X posts on Friday, Oct. 6 – For months Antioch renters at Delta Pines faced harassment, lack of repairs & excessive car towing by their property manager. With the passage of #TAHO abusive landlords & property managers can be held accountable for harassing tenants – this is what progress looks like!”

Thorpe shared later, the ordinance goes into effect Oct. 13th, 30 days after the second reading.

the attachments to this post:

Thorpe & ordinance supporters 10-05-23 ACCE

Lamar Thorpe speaks during ordinance signing ceremony 10-05-23

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