Archive for the ‘City Council’ Category

Antioch Council’s homeless subcommittee proposes spending $300K for emergency housing

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was joined near the Antioch Amtrak Station by members of Louie Rocha’s family and city staff for the press conference Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, 2021. Photo by Allen Payton

Plan named for Louie Rocha, a homeless resident recently killed by a train; to pay for 15 rooms at former Motel 6 in Pittsburg; requires council approval; Glover says year-long program already serving about 40 Antioch unhoused residents and there’s currently a wait list

Michael Rocha, brother of Louie Rocha speaks during the press conference on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Burkholder.

By Allen Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica, as members of the city council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Unhoused Residents, have proposed the council approve spending $300,000 more to help homeless residents with emergency housing. Thorpe said the name would be the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, in memory of the homeless resident who died, recently after being struck by a train in downtown while walking to the public restrooms at the Antioch Marina parking lot.

That amount is in addition to the $519,000 approved by the city council in December 2019 to be spent to help the homeless. Those funds were used to hire a consultant, motel vouchers, and portable toilets that were vandalized and removed. A full accounting of the use of those funds has been requested of city staff and one council member by the Herald multiple times but it has yet to be provided. (See related article)

During a press conference, Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, 2021, near the Antioch Amtrak Station, Thorpe, was joined by members of Rocha’s family, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, and the City’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator, Jazmin Ridley, to make the announcement. Barbanica was unable to attend due to a medical procedure, the mayor shared. Rocha was not related to the principal of Antioch High School with the same name nor his mother, Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha.  (See press conference video)

Antioch’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator Jazmin Ridley speaks during the press conference on Nov. 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Mike Burkholder.

The proposal requires at least three votes of council members to approve the budget expenditure. If approved, the funds will be used to pay for 15 rooms at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg, owned by the County and purchased for $17.4 million, last year. (See related articles here and here)

The former motel is currently undergoing renovations and appears unoccupied. When asked about the matter, Supervisor Diane Burgis was not aware the former motel was closed.

12/3/21 UPDATE: Funds May Not Get 15 More Antioch Homeless Residents Off the Street

When reached for comment Supervisor Federal Glover confirmed the former motel was closed for renovations saying, “But we moved the residents to another location. We didn’t put them back on the street. We will have a grand opening next Monday.” He didn’t know when residents would move in but added, “That will be shared during the event.”

Asked if Thorpe had spoken to him about the $300,000 for 15 unhoused Antioch residents, Glover said, “no, but I believe he’s been speaking with Lavonna Martin,” who, until recently, was the Director of Health, Housing, & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County Health Services. He also shared “we’re already serving Antioch residents” and estimated that figure to be about 40 people. “We welcome partners who want to contribute financially to support the program. We had enough money from the state to purchase the motel, and the County has budgeted some funds for the ongoing costs. But we’ll be applying for grants and looking for others to contribute.” Glover also said there’s a wait list for rooms at the former Motel 6 and shared they “expect residents to be there for about a year. But hopefully some can move on, sooner. It depends on each individual.”

The $300,000 proposed by the Antioch council’s subcommittee would be used to pay for current program costs and may not result in helping 15 more unhoused residents from living on the streets.

Questions for Thorpe, Barbanica

Questions were then sent via email to subcommittee members Thorpe and Barbanica, asking if they were aware of how the $300,000 funds would be spent by the county and if the funds could instead be spent to ensure 15 additional unhoused Antioch residents would be helped off the street by using voucher at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street or other motels in the city. They were also asked how soon the Antioch program would begin now that the Planning Commission has voted to recommend approval of the Transitional Housing Overlay District for the Executive Inn. Please check back later for any responses.

———– End of 12/3/21 update.

Thorpe’s Prepared Remarks

“A few days ago, a lifelong Antioch resident living on our streets was tragically killed by a train trying to get to a public restroom at the City’s Veteran Memorial and Marina.

Last Monday, I attended a candlelight vigil outside of City Hall in his honor and had the opportunity to speak with members of his family to offer my condolences. On Tuesday, I opened our first in-person city council meeting in his memory with a moment of silence.

His death along with many other similar deaths throughout our Country symbolizes everything that is contrary to our American values. Individualism doesn’t free ‘me’ or any of ‘you’ from the greater ‘we’ which is needed for community cohesion.

In January of 1981, three months before I was born, President Ronald Reagan famously proclaimed in his first inaugural address to the nation, ‘Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.’

President Reagan couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I was born in prison, the state government said, we’ll provide stability for this child by placing him in foster care with the appropriate support system until he’s 18. Thank God the government stepped in to help me when I had no one else to turn to. While things weren’t easy growing up poor by any stretch of the imagination, it was the stability the government created that allowed me to join and succeed in the Navy.

Later, it was the government that created the stability for me to complete college using federal grants and loans, and it was the government that provided me and my family the opportunity to purchase our first home right here in the City of Antioch.

Since President Reagan, and every U.S. president since him, including members of my own political party, have overseen major cuts and reforms in social safety net programs, which has helped push and keep many more people into poverty, housing insecurity, and homelessness.

In Antioch, we have not shied away from the issue of homelessness. Over the last two years, the City has worked on leasing the old Executive Inn on East 18th Street to provide housing with the appropriate wrap-around programs to provide temporary stability for those living on our streets to get back on their feet.

It’s been about a year and a half since we started that process. Tomorrow, the Antioch Planning Commission will be meeting to discuss this very important issue. If all goes well, the item then moves to the City Council after 30 days.

So today, I’m announcing a joint proposal by Councilmember Mike Barbanica and I called the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, which authorizes an additional $300,000.00 towards homeless services specially to secure 15 rooms from Contra Costa County at the Motel 6 in Pittsburg for individuals living along active railroad tracks in and around downtown Antioch.

In addition, today, our Police, Code Enforcement, and Abatement Departments will be meeting to produce a plan that proactively concentrates on these areas to ensure we’re moving folks from here and into housing.

This program will not work without the participation of everyone, meaning we can no longer accept that this dangerous area is acceptable for people to live in. I’m calling on all homeless advocates, ministries, and others to find new locations to do the lord’s work. It’s much, much too dangerous here.”

Ridley and Bayon Moore offered additional details about the program and Michael Rocha, Louie’s brother, thanked the mayor “for the help we’re trying to get.”

“The homeless are really difficult to work with and work around, and I’ve been dealing with it for 30 years,” Rocha stated. He then thanked Thorpe “for getting the word out.”

 

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Antioch Council spends $2.3 million in extra tax revenues but nothing for homeless or more cops

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

The Antioch City Council uses their new display board showing how they voted during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

Approve $1,500,000 for renovation of City Hall second floor

Thorpe, Torres-Walker want to renovate Hard House for council member offices, plus staff for each council member

By Allen Payton

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Nov. 23, 2021, Antioch Finance Director Dawn Merchant said the city council will have an additional $2.3 million to spend in this year’s budget, with over $2.5 million additional from sales tax, including over $1.5 million more from Measure W’s 1% sales tax revenues. The council members chose to allocate the funds but included nothing to pay for more police officer or to help the homeless.

According to the City staff report on the item, “The major contributing factors to net revenues higher than projected are:

  • $1,542,781 higher Measure W/1% sales tax than projected.
  • $1,006,854 higher sales tax than projected.
  • $435,820 more in building permit revenue than anticipated.
  • $231,737 more in property tax revenue than anticipated.
  • $160,000 more in interest and rental revenue than anticipated.
  • Approximately $532,000 additional revenues than anticipated from various miscellaneous sources.

There was also a $1,571,461 reduction in revenues for the amount billed to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for our usable river water days as the money was not received until October 2021 requiring us to record this revenue in FY22 instead.”

Plus, there were $6,425,217 less in expenditures than projected for Fiscal Year 2021. The major contributing factors to net expenditures lower than projected are:

$383,762 less in operating subsidy than projected to the Animal Shelter.

$557,686 less in operating subsidy than projected to Recreation programs.

$2,007,481 in salary savings from all unfilled positions. $1,051,661 represents non- Police salary savings which the City Council will need to allocate to one-time projects and/or unfunded liabilities per the City’s one-time revenue policy. The appropriation has been included in the budget amendments in Exhibit C to Attachment A.

$271,532 in purchase orders as of June 30,2021 not yet entirely spent. The carry forward of the budgets for these is included in the budget amendments in Exhibit A to Attachment A.

$1,941,089 in project budgets outstanding as of June 30, 2021, not yet entirely spent. The carryforward of the budgets for these is included in the budget amendments in Exhibit B to Attachment A.

$1,054,466 in non-salary savings in the Police Department budget.

$328,786 in non-salary savings in Public Works.

$2.85 and $3.1 Million More in FY22 and FY23

As a result, city staff is projecting increases to Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund sales tax and 1% sales tax projections by $2,849,683 and FY23 by $3,121,657 based on FY21 closing numbers and current sales tax projection trends.

Council Allocates Funds But, None for More Police Officers or Homeless

Staff also proposed how to spend the additional funds, including paying for projects the City has already begun and moving up items from the FY22 budget.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe suggested holding off on approving costs related to establishing the new Community Resources Department.

Then without any comments from the public, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock made, and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica seconded a motion to approve the remaining items. But both Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and Thorpe said they would rather discuss them on a item by item basis. The motion failed 2-3 with District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker joining Thorpe and Wilson in voting no.

The council members then reviewed the other proposed budget items, with Thorpe seeking consensus

  • Consideration of vehicles and equipment for the seven (7) new Code Enforcement Officers approved in the budget at a General Fund FY22 cost of $245,000 and $21,000 in FY23.
  • Consideration of an Administrative Assistant for Human Resources. The FY22 General Fund budget cost would be $30,769 (includes $5,000 for computer and other startup costs) and $110,479 in FY23.
  • Consideration of a Finance Analyst for Finance. Finance would request this not be budgeted until FY23 with a General Fund cost of $181,981, which includes $5,000 for computer and other startup costs.
  • Consideration of a Community Development Technician for Community Development at a FY22 General Fund budget cost of $42,513 (includes $2,000 startup costs) and $167,253 in FY23.
  • Consideration of a GIS Technician position for Public Works at a FY22 General Fund budget cost would be $32,039 and $137,554 in FY23.
  • Consideration of an Administrative Assistant position for Public Works at a FY22 cost of $24,290 and $104,068 in FY23.

Items Without Consensus or to Be Brought Back Later

  • Community Resources Department for an Administrative Analyst at a cost of $40,426 in FY22 and $166,894 in FY23; an Administrative Assistant at a cost of $24,290 in FY22 and $104,068 in FY23; building furnishings/remodel and repairs at an estimated cost of $1,000,000 to accommodate the staffing of the new department.
  • Consideration of Prewett Park Perimeter Fence Replacement at a FY23 General Fund budget cost of $200,000.
  • L Street Improvements project at a FY22 unknown funding source cost of $9,281,000.
  • The plan is to wait for possible funds from the recently approved federal infrastructure bill.
  • Wilson wanted a study session to discuss the various “corridors”.
  • Thorpe responded, “there will be a study session.”
  • Dedicated CORE Team at a General Fund cost of $250,000 in FY22 and FY23. – Both Ogorchock and Barbanica supported it, now.
  • Consideration of Police Department Community Room Technology Upgrades at a FY22 General Fund cost of $300,000. – Barbanica argued that the room serves as the Emergency Operations Center.

Approve New Budget Requests

According to the city staff offered a list of new budget requests all of which the council supported. They are:

  1. A Recreation Coordinator for Youth Services was approved in the adopted 2021-23 budget for funding approved in FY23. This is being requested to begin funding in FY22 to assist the Youth Network Services Manager getting programs and services running. This request would add $47,726 to the FY22 General Fund budget assuming funding for 5 months.
  1. Promotion of a Senior Computer Technician position to a Network Administrator. The FY22 and 23 budget impacts are $2,741 and $8,724 respectively funded from the Information Services Internal Service Fund.
  2. Addition of one (1) Administrative Analyst I position in the City Clerk’s office to meet the work demands of running the office. The FY22 General Fund budget impact, assuming the position is filled for 3 months is $40,426 and the annual FY23 impact would be $166,894.
  3. Reclassification of one (1) Administrative Assistant I position in the City Clerk’s office to an Administrative Analyst I position. The FY22 and FY23 General Fund budget impact would be $6,181 and $27,060 respectively.
  4. Addition of two (2) General Laborer positions to be funded with NPDES funds at a FY22 cost of $47,692 and $211,960 in FY23. If these positions are approved, the NPDES reserves will be depleted beginning in FY24 and the positions will need to be funded with the General Fund starting in FY24. Public works has been installing trash capture devices in the City’s storm drain system to comply with State requirements to keep trash and pollutants from entering our streams and waterways. These trash capture devices require monthly inspections and cleaning. Public Works does not have adequate staffing to perform this work on an ongoing and continuing basis so a request for bids was issued. Bids were received and the cost of contracting this service exceeded the cost of performing this work in house with these two (2) additional positions being requested.
  1. Add $150,000 to the Information Systems Fund FY22 budget to cover cybersecurity measures to be put in place to protect the City’s network.
  2. Addition of one (1) Payroll Specialist position at a FY22 General Fund cost of and $40,527 and $168,132 in FY23. Payroll processing is a critical function of the City and is processed bi-weekly for over 350 full time employees and up to a couple hundred more part time employees depending on the season. The City currently has one full time Payroll Specialist with some additional support from an Accounting Technician and the Deputy Finance Director to process payroll. Another position is severely needed to not only handle the volume, especially with all the additional positions added in this new budget cycle, but to be able to continue processing payroll when the one position is absent.
  1. Reclassification of two (2) Office Assistant positions in Recreation to Administrative Assistant II positions at an estimated cost of $10,030 in FY22 and $20,254 in FY23 to the General Fund.
  2. Reclassification of one (1) Administrative Assistant III position in Recreation to an Administrative Analyst I position at an estimated cost of $3,849 in FY22 and $13,730 to the General Fund.
  3. Remodel of 2nd floor and basement of City Hall at an estimated cost to the General Fund of $1,500,000 in FY22.

City to Receive $10.8 Million More in Federal COVID Relief Funds

The City of Antioch will be receiving a total of $21,550,900 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). $10,775,450 was received in May 2021, with the remaining balance of $10,775,450 to be received in May 2022.

A discussion item was brought to City Council on July 27th whereby City Council Members discussed holding town hall meetings within each of their respective districts to speak with community members regarding the use of funds. As a reminder, the main priorities and principals of the funding are to provide relief to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease the spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control;
  • Replace public sector revenue to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs;
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and business; and
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic on certain populations.
  • Recipients may use these funds specifically to:
  • Support public health expenditures (as outlined in the interim final rule);
  • Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries and the public sector for those within a Qualified Census Tract or to other populations, households or geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic;
  • Replace lost public sector revenue to provide government services to the extent of lost revenue (for the first measurement period ending calendar year December 2020, the City of Antioch has no revenue loss and therefore government services cannot be funded in this category); and
  • Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure (as outlined in the interim final rule).

The Department of the Treasury has not yet issued final rules for spending of the funds which may provide further clarification and guidance from the interim final rule initially released. It is recommended that the City Council set a date for a future study session on allocation of the funds.

$1 Million in One-Time Funds, Mayor Wants to Use Them on Hard House for Council Member Offices

The Hard House on W. 1st Street in Antioch. Herald file photo from 2011.

Thorpe wanted the city to put money into the Hard House “as an extension of city hall…with offices for council members.” The brick building was the home of the City’s first mayor and is located on W. First Street next to the Lynn House Gallery and across from the Amtrak Station.

The Hard House was once proposed to be donated to a non-profit organization that planned to reinforce it to earthquake standards and completely restore the building. Other ideas were to turn it into a bistro or offices.

“It was pretty disappointing to show up here and see there was no space for city council members which is pretty telling of our role, here,” Torres-Walker said. She also asked to have staff for individual council members to come back for a future discussion.

“I agree with Councilwoman Torres-Walker regarding staffing support,” Thorpe said. “The public believes we are full-time, but we have full-time jobs. I believe it’s long past due.”

Ogorchock wanted all the funds to be spent to pay down the City’s unfunded liabilities.

But upon advice from City Manager Ron Bernal who said the staff could come back with more details on the proposals, it was decided the council will hold off on deciding how to spend the one-time funds.

 

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Antioch Council approves another cannabis business, votes down committee for city manager recruitment

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Delta Labs site on W. 10th Street. From presentation during Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021

Thorpe nominates Barbanica, Ogorchock to city manager recruitment ad hoc committee then votes against appointing them

Agree to settle employment discrimination lawsuit by former female Antioch cop against police department on 4-1 vote

Extend contract for city Public Information Officer at $8,000 per month for another six months

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 23, 2021, the Antioch Council approved another cannabis business, one that processes marijuana through a cold-water extraction, on a unanimous vote, approved settling a former female cop’s employment discrimination lawsuit against the police department on a split vote, and fails to form an ad hoc committee for the hiring of a new city manager on another split vote. They also voted unanimously to extend the city’s PIO contract for another six months.

Before the regular meeting began, following the council’s closed session, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith reported out regarding the lawsuit of Blanco v. City of Antioch, United States District Court Northern District of California, Case No. 3:20-cv-02764-TSH. The city council decided to settle the case, with Barbanica voting no, Smith said.

On April 21, 2020, former Antioch Police Officer Brittney Blanco filed a Civil Rights Employment Discrimination lawsuit against the police department. The case was filed in U.S. District Court, California Northern District. Blanco served on the force from July 2017 until August 2019. No word was given regarding the details of the settlement.

Extend $8K Monthly PIO Contract

During the Consent Calendar, the council voted unanimously to extend the contract for the City’s public information officer, Rolando Bonilla, of San Francisco-based Voler Strategic Advisors at $8,000 per month for another six months, through May 15, 2022. The total contract is not to exceed $256,000. Bonilla has been the City’s PIO since fall 2019. PIO Contract Extension ACC112321

Public Comments Now In-Person, Still Online and By Phone

At the start of the regular meeting, Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated that public comments from those in attendance at the council meetings would be heard first, followed by those who submitted their comments online or call in.

Delta Labs floorplan. From Antioch City Council meeting Nov. 23, 2021.

Unanimously Approve Another Cannabis Business

Delta Labs owner Rick Oak speaks about his business during the council meeting.

The council then held a public hearing on another cannabis business. According to City staff, “Delta Lab is proposing a cannabis operations facility with non-volatile extraction” manufacturing. It will be located in the same building where the same family owns Delta Dispensary on W. 10th Street. Delta Labs – city staff report ACC112321

The applicant, Rick Oak, along with his two sons, Dustin and Richard, spoke about their project which is “a cold-water extraction facility and family owned.” He showed a floorplan of the project and explained the product is dropped off process using small washing-type machines using ice to “knock off the hash from the product”. Then it’s stored in refrigerators until sold and picked up by truck.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock was the only member to ask a question about security.

“There’s a guard in our lobby in the dispensary,” Oak said.

With no one from the public speaking against the project, the council approved it on a 5-0 vote.

City Manager Recruitment Ad Hoc Committee

The council then considered forming an ad hoc committee on the recruitment of a permanent city manager.

“I think we have too much going on, right now,”said Wilson. “I think we should hold off until after the new year.”

Ogorchock volunteered to be on the ad hoc committee and Barbanica volunteered, too.

Thorpe then offered them as his nominees to the ad hoc committee.

Ogorchock made the motion and Barbanica seconded it, to approve the formation of the ad hoc committee, the appointment of the two council members, and a termination date of seven months.

“I’m looking at an estimated timeframe of April 30, 2022,” said Administrative Services Director Nickie Mastay.

The motion then failed on a 2-3 vote with Thorpe, Wilson and District 1 Councilwoman Torres-Walker voting no.

“Since that didn’t pass, it will come back, later,” Thorpe said.

 

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Antioch Council agrees to move forward with “community gathering space” proposal for lumber yard in Rivertown

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

River Town Square Site Plan from presentation at Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary, next year. It’s time.” – Save The Yard leader, Joy Motts

Torres-Walker supports a “green space”; using it for a “420″ pot smoking festival so Antioch residents don’t have to travel to San Francisco for the annual event on April 20th in that city

By Allen Payton

After years of advocating for a park and event center on the former Antioch Lumber Company lot in the city’s historic, downtown Rivertown, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and members of the group, Save The Yard, got the go ahead from the city council. All five council members agreed to pursue the idea during their meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 23. The City’s downtown hasn’t had a large park, but only the smaller Waldie Plaza, since the much larger Barbara Price Marina Park was replaced with the marina boat launch and parking lot in 2012.

The former Barbara Price Marina Park and sign (inset) where the marina boat launch and parking lot are now located. Source: Yelp

Motts, local theater director Lee Ballesteros and Area 1 Antioch School Board Trustee Antonio Hernandez spoke about their vision of a Rivertown Town Square, bordered by W. 2nd, W. 3rd and E Streets, during the group’s first, formal presentation to the council. Rivertown Town Square presentation ACC112321

“Our ask this evening is that the city council decide on the disposition of this property…rather than leave it as an eye-sore,” Motts said.

Following the presentation, Thorpe said, “the goal is to have a conversation with Save The Yard folks.”

Joe Goralka spoke during public comments in favor of the project and against “selling a prime piece of property to a developer for a few condos.” He also said, “a few more residents isn’t going to bring about significantly more traffic to downtown businesses”…”The city should not sell out Rivertown businesses” and called the town square project “an asset to downtown.”

Antioch resident Martha Goralka speaks in favor of the River Town Square project during the Antioch City Council meeting, Tuesday night, Nov. 23, 2021. Video screenshot.

His wife, Martha Goralka said, “everywhere Joe and I have visited had gathering places.”

“There’s nothing that we can’t do as a united community,” she added.

Rick Stadtlander, wearing a “Save The Yard” T-shirt gave eight reasons for the council to approve the town square: beauty, walkability, ideal location, a focal point, pride, community, our voice, health. “Residents deserve much better than an empty lot,” he stated.

“Be the council that is bold and has vision. Let’s save the yard. Let’s build a town square,” Stadtlander concluded.

Former Antioch Planning Commissioner Kerry Motts spoke in favor of the project and suggested a farmer’s market at the proposed town square

“The City is not considering housing on this lot, right now and we do not have any applications for it,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “I want the public to understand that.”

“Thank you, so much for the presentation and all the hard work you put into the presentation, tonight,” District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said. “Not sure if the previous process included youth voice. Since the report in 2014…there might be more diverse opinions other than housing.”

“If this moves forward, it will be their park, too,” she said about those

“My concern about people not being policed in public spaces,” Torres-Walker stated. “I’m definitely not a supporter of building homes on contaminated land. But then I’m also concerned about building a space to bring children and their families on land that is contaminated,” mentioned by Ballesteros.

“Soil contamination is easily mitigated,” Ballesteros responded. “All of this is on the City’s website in the Downtown Specific Plan. It’s a 179-page report. You can look at cancer clusters…where people spend a length of time. There is mitigation that can be done if you want to put housing there. Green space adds positive air because of trees.”

“It’s just a vision. This isn’t the plan. We put this together to ask the council to make a plan,” she stated. “Give everyone in the city positivity. We’re coming out of two years of misery. Let’s make the river belong to everyone.”

“It’s just time for the whole community to gather together for events,” Joy Motts then said. “It will be an economic engine for downtown. We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary, next year. It’s time.”

Torres-Walker then mentioned people not having to “go to San Francisco for 420 fests”, which is a large, annual pot smoking event. “We should do it, here like we do all these other things.”

“I was one of the ones in the past who was unsure about this,” said Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, then mentioned “equity in access to public spaces.”

“I’ve come to be open to this,” she said. “I’m glad to talk to you, Joy about this and Antonio, you’ve educated me about this, too.”

Joy Motts then publicly thanked Brian Halloran, a landscape architect, for drawing the site plan pro bono.

Rivertown Town Square rendering. Source: Save The Yard

“I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been a supporter,” Thorpe said. “I’d like to step back, because this isn’t a plan, it’s a vision. I believe if the public steps up and demands something, the government needs to look into it. I believe the council needs to make a decision about the direction we want to go. Do we want an RFP process…or direct our resources for a town square project?”

“I’ve had multiple people talk to me about this,” District 1 Councilman Mike Barbanica said. “What has struck me as odd is, I don’t know if this is the highest and best use of this land. This is the third time you’ve spoken to us about this but where are they? The people of our community are telling us this is what they want. We, as a city, have had years to do something about this, but we haven’t. I just believe we need to listen to the community.”

“You can sell me on anything, Lee but not this, yet,” said Lori Ogorchock to Ballesteros. “I’m looking at Waldie Plaza. I’m looking at City Park on A Street. I’m not sure I’m sold, yet. It is something I will hold open. At this point, I don’t know what’s the best use of this property. I will keep an open mind.”

“This is the first time you’ve presented to council,” Thorpe said.

“That’s correct,” Joy Motts said. “The mayor said he would bring it forward, this year. We didn’t have to think about it too hard because it’s in our heart.”

“In the past we’ve looked at housing,” Thorpe said. “We can look at a community gathering place. But I need direction in what we envision for this property.”

“I would envision a process that would include more voices,” Torres-Walker said.

“First, we have to decide what this process would do,” Thorpe responded.

“I’m saying, yes, this should be green space,” Torres-Walker stated.

“I would say some kind of gathering space,” Wilson added.

“I agree with that. I don’t believe we should decide, tonight on moving forward with a community space,” Barbanica said. “If we are going to build houses, then let’s build houses. But if this is what the community is asking for, then we need to move forward instead of just talking about it. If we are truly going to explore this idea, then let’s fully explore it.”

“I’m all for exploring,” Ogorchock added.

“Community gathering space is what we’re talking about,” Thorpe stated.

“We can begin a process for exploring a community gathering space, a green space,” City Manager Ron Bernal said.

“Congratulations,” Thorpe said to those in the audience to squeals, cheers and applause.

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Former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts announces another run for District 1 in 2022

Saturday, November 20th, 2021

Joy Motts. Photo from Facebook.

By Allen Payton

On Oct. 5, without any fanfare and long before the redistricting process has been completed, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem and Councilwoman Joy Motts posted on her Community Advocate Joy Motts Facebook page that she will be running, again for District 1 in 2022. She was first elected to the council in 2018 for a two-year citywide seat, but lost for re-election last year for another two years by 212 votes to current District 1 incumbent Tamisha Torres-Walker, placing second in a three-way race with former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Manny Soliz, Jr. (See related article)

A former Antioch School Board Trustee, Motts was elected in 2010 and served until 2014, but lost for re-election placing fourth in a race for three seats. She ran again in 2016 but lost, placing fourth, again in the race for three seats. Motts then set her sights on city council and was elected as the top vote-getter in a six-person race in 2018, for a two-year, citywide seat, resulting in her being chosen by the council as Mayor Pro Tem during the first year of her term. Following redistricting, District 1 where she and her husband live, and District 4 were chosen as two-year seats, when all four seats were up for election, along with the mayor’s seat in 2020. (See related article)

In her Facebook post, Motts wrote:

“Dear Friends and Community Members,

I am excited to announce today that I will be running for Antioch City Council in 2022 as your representative for District 1. For over 20 years I have been a dedicated and passionate advocate for Antioch and especially for the residents of north Antioch. Serving in many capacities over the years as your School Board member that spearheaded the renovation of Antioch High School, as your Councilwoman who supported our business community and public safety, as the President of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation bringing back Antioch’s 4th of July and many other celebrations to Antioch’s families. I am tenured, experienced and I will continue to fight for a safer and better quality of life for all of Antioch’s residents.

I will be your leader who works hard, shows up, governs with respect, does the research, listens to my constituents, and knows that building relationships and collaboration are the key to achieving what is in the best interest of our community. We have many challenges in our community, but we also have so many opportunities on which to build upon. I hope to have your support in this journey. More to follow.”

Then on Oct. 26, she posted a photo of her from the last campaign showing the endorsement by the East Bay Times.

As she mentioned, Motts, a lifelong Antioch resident, currently serves the community as president of Celebrate Antioch Foundation which organizes the events, mainly in Rivertown, including the July 4th and Holiday Delites Celebrations. She is also leading the effort to use the former Antioch Lumber Company lot, known as The Yard, for a new town square, for which she will make a presentation to the city council during next Tuesday’s meeting.

The council election will be held November 8, 2022.

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Ribbon cutting for renovated Antioch City Council Chambers Monday, Nov. 22

Saturday, November 20th, 2021

$2 million in improvements including plaza and Leo Fontana Fountain still under construction

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council Chambers renovation is finally complete. After spending about $1.5 million, the City invites the public to join the council and staff on Monday, November 22, 2021, from 5:00 – 6:00 PM for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

According to the various bids for the council chambers, walkway, plaza and Leo Fontana Fountain, the costs for renovations totals about $2 million and construction began in 2019. The plaza and fountain are still under construction which began earlier, this year.

Improvements

According to Swatt | Miers Architects, hired by the city council for the renovation redesign, “The City of Antioch has long been proud of their public buildings including the Police Facility, Animal Services Facility, and Prewett Family Park — all designed by Swatt | Miers Architects partner George Miers. So, when it came time to renovate their 1980’s Council Chamber, they awarded the commission to SMA.

This project included both the interior renovation of the existing Council Chamber and the enclosure of an existing open-air breezeway that connects the City Hall to the Council Chamber.

City of Antioch Council Chambers renovation view from the audience. Photo: Swatt | Miers Architects

Designed in 1980 by Mackinley, Winnaker and McNeil Architects, this well-used 3,083 SF, stand-alone facility was long overdue in meeting current code and modern functional requirements including ADA, audio-visual/closed circuit TV, modern lighting/energy design and acoustical attenuation. Additionally, public restrooms had not been provided in the Council Chamber structure. Rather, the public needed to leave the building via a covered walkway and use the main City Hall restrooms. Aside from the inconvenience, security was a significant City concern. Operating on a limited budget, the following design features were implemented;

  • The existing 450 SF covered walkway was converted into an enclosed interior Entry Vestibule linking City Hall and Council Chambers.
  • The existing semi-circular seating layout was redesigned to meet ADA accessibility and related requirements for all public, staff and Council member seating.
  • A comprehensive lighting design focusing on user and TV broadcast needs.
  • A comprehensive AV/TV broadcast design.
  • New seating, acoustical wall panels and floor finishes.
  • New dais, speaker podium and staff seating casework.
  • A new acoustical wood ceiling featuring a unique, tilted plane above the dais designed to enhance both acoustics and lighting.
  • Redirection of existing axial public entrance to the sides.”

View from the dais in the renovated Antioch Council Chambers. Photo by Swatt | Miers Architects

Antioch City Hall and Council Chambers are located at 200 H Street between W. 2nd and W. 3rd Streets in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown.

 

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Analysis: Antioch Council to go for “woke” during special meeting Tuesday at 5:30 pm

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

Only 28 evictions of renter households out of 13,221 in Antioch during COVID-19 moratorium. Yet, council members call for rent control and anti-tenant harassment ordinances.

By Allen Payton

During a special meeting Tuesday evening (today) at 5:30 pm – when most residents who commute to work aren’t yet home – the Antioch City Council will discuss several issues that will be sure to please those who claim to be “woke”, or rather progressive and champions of “equity”, who pursue equality of result rather than equality of opportunity, aka SJW’s meaning “social justice warriors”. It’s a Far-Left Wing wish list of ways to reshape Antioch’s society, and not for the better.

Two agenda items that don’t fit that description include the first one, which is about the celebration of Antioch’s 150th anniversary of cityhood, next year, known as the Sesquicentennial. Say it slowly and pronounce it: “sess”, “qui” (as in quick), and end with “centennial”, you know like bicentennial, which is a 200-year anniversary.

The council has already allocated $100,000 toward the estimated $201,500 in costs for the 2022 Sesquicentennial Celebration. Now, council members have to decide if they want to continue to work with the Celebrate Antioch Foundation to put on the various events proposed for next year, send out a request for proposal (RFP) for other groups that might be interested, hire an outside contractor or additional staff to plan the events, or just use existing City staff to handle it all. Sesquicentennial Celebration Next Steps ACC111621

They should go with the first choice, since the first event is on February 6, 2022, the actual anniversary of the City’s incorporation in 1872, and it’s a bit late to switch horses – especially since Celebrate Antioch Foundation isn’t doing it alone, but has help from the Antioch Historical Society, and other local organizations.

The other item on the agenda which is rather innocuous and shouldn’t be very controversial is item 3. Local Purchasing Ordinance. According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Council Member Lori Ogorchock (District 3) stated an interest in the potential establishment of a local purchasing ordinance and requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

Who doesn’t support shopping local and keeping Antioch’s city funds spent with local businesses, growing our own economy, instead of Jeff Bezos’ pocketbook? FISCAL IMPACTUnknown at this time.

Woke Agenda Items

Beyond those, the other items on the agenda attempt to push a specific agenda, much like most of the police reforms approved by the council (many times only by three votes), earlier this year, without proving the need and basing them on findings and in opposition to the majority of those who participated in the Bridging the Gap forums.

  1. HOUSING POLICIES – RENT CONTROL AND TENANT PROTECTIONS

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “A number of housing policies have been expressed as potential areas of interest by Antioch’s elected leadership. i. Mayor Lamar Thorpe identified the topic of rent control within the City of Antioch. ii. Council Member Tamisha Torres-Walker (District 1) and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson (District 4) advanced the topic of tenant protections, specifically the establishment of a tenant anti-displacement policy and an anti-landlord harassment policy in the City of Antioch.” (See related article)

The council will hear a presentation by Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and then is asked to provide staff direction based on their consensus. FISCAL IMPACT Unknown at this time. ACCE Tenant Protections presentation ACC111621

According to the organization’s website, ACCE “is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization that builds power to fight and stand for economic, racial and social justice. We take seriously our commitment to ground-up organizing to build a strong people’s movement that can create transformative community change.”

On the Who We Are What We Do page, under the topic of Racial and Economic Justice, their website reads, “We evaluate problems and solutions through a lens grounded in both economic and racial justice. We cannot resolve structural racism without changing our economic system and we cannot resolve economic inequality without addressing racism.” Also, under the topic of Systems Change it reads, “ACCE seeks to shift power relations by changing the systems that create oppression rather than just addressing the symptoms of oppression.

That’s who the council is looking to for guidance? An organization with a clear agenda based on incorrect assumptions of race and economic issues in Antioch?

Questions for council members to answer before giving any direction to staff: What structural racism exists in Antioch? What economic inequality is there and how is it based on racism in Antioch? Who in Antioch is actually suffering oppression?

According to the organization’s presentation, “In March 2021, a KQED investigative report found that during the pandemic, Antioch had the most evictions per renter households out of all nine Bay Area counties.” In addition, the presentation claims, “Antioch’s COVID-19 eviction rate was 207.2 per 100,000 renter households, nearly double that of Richmond, and approximately 50 times the rate of Oakland.”

That sounds really horrible but, it’s only 0.2072% – about the same percentage of Americans who have died from COVID-19 (all of which are sad and unfortunate). But if the council decides on any policy based on that statistic, it will just be another example of overreaction by government officials.

Furthermore, according to the American Community Survey, 2019 (1-Year Estimates) cited in the ACC presentation, “Antioch is more than a third renters: in 2019, there were 36,138 housing units in Antioch and 13,221 of them, or 36.6%, were occupied by tenants.” That means there were a total of 28 evictions of renter households out of all 13,221 in Antioch during the COVID-19 moratorium.

As for rent control, that just creates another level of costly bureaucracy and more government injection into the housing market that is a macroeconomic issue. Plus, I find it laughable that two of the three council members who are proposing it, just last year voted to endorse Measure T which would have reduced the supply of future housing in Antioch. Perhaps they’ve never learned about the law of supply and demand which demonstrates that the lower the supply of something while demand is high results in increased prices.

Questions for council members to ask and get answered before giving direction to City staff, if any: How does ACCE define tenant harassment? How do you define it? What are the reasons that landlords provided as the reason for evictions? Because evictions were allowed during the COVID-19 moratorium, but for other reasons other than non-payment of rent. With only 28 total evictions during COVID-19 citywide are such ordinances really necessary? Do you know why each of those tenants were evicted?

  1. LOCAL PREFERENCE FOR MINORITY AND WOMEN OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISES

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Mayor Pro Tem Wilson stated an interest in the potential establishment of a local preference for Minority & Women Owned Business Enterprises and requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

I would like to see Wilson lead by example on this, first and put her money where her mouth is. Does she make it a point to do business with minority and women owned business enterprises? I don’t recall seeing her in the restaurant for which I was the minor shareholder, and my partner who is Black and owned the majority share of the business – located right down the street from City Hall – not even for our Grand Opening, when she could have eaten for free.

Even better, how about Wilson try and start her own business and see what it takes to compete in the marketplace, create jobs, and create wealth?

Questions for council members: is Wilson claiming minority and women owned businesses can’t compete in Antioch against white male owned businesses? Do the sales tax dollars generated by the businesses in Antioch have a color other than green? What about residential and commercial property tax dollars?

That reminds me of when I joined the NAACP East County Branch, in I believe 1999. Since I wasn’t sure I could, because I’m white and Republican, one of the members asked me, “is your money green?” I said, “yes”. She said, “then you can join!” (She also pointed out it was white Republicans who helped form the NAACP. But I digress).

This is simply more divisiveness pitting some groups against others, namely the “evil patriarchy” which is full of white men holding others back and down. Yeah, right. I can tell you, as I’m out selling advertising to all kinds of businesses owned by minority owners, white owners, women and men owners, most all of them are struggling, these days. So, frankly they all need some help.

If Wilson and the rest of the council really cared about helping businesses, minority and women owned or otherwise, they would join with other council members in the county and pressure the Board of Supervisors and their out-of-control Public Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano to lift the current health order requiring proof of vaccination to go to indoor restaurants, the health club, the El Campanil Theatre, indoor movie theaters and bowling alleys. That way they don’t have to spend extra money on staff to enforce the ridiculous and unnecessary order and keep our businesses from getting fined, further costing them money they don’t have.

Besides, what if the owner is white and identifies as gender non-binary? In which category do they fit? What if the owner is a man who identifies as a woman? Would his business qualify for the preference? Just how woke should such the policy be?

Just keep OUR tax dollars, that the City spends, IN Antioch following the Local Purchasing Ordinance proposed by Councilwoman Ogorchock, regardless of who owns it, their gender or ethnicity.

FISCAL IMPACT Unknown at this time.

  1. HUMAN RIGHTS AND RACIAL EQUITY COMMISSION

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Council Member Torres-Walker stated an interest in the potential establishment of a Human Rights and Racial Equity Commission and requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

Questions for Torres-Walker to answer and any other council members who support forming the commission: Which humans in Antioch are being denied their rights? What do they consider as a right beyond what is enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights? How can the Antioch city government ensure and achieve racial “equity”, which is, again, equality of result instead of ensuring our government simply treats everyone equally and fairly? If it’s formed, will you actually listen to what the members have to say or simply ignore them and act like it doesn’t exist like the other commissions, including the Police Crime Prevention Commission and Economic Development Commission?

FISCAL IMPACTUnknown at this time.

  1. FOOD INSECURITY AND ACCESS TO HEALTHY AND AFFORDABLE FOOD OPTIONS AD HOC COMMITTEE

According to the City staff report on the agenda item, “Council Member Torres-Walker and Mayor Pro Tem Wilson stated interest in food insecurity, access to healthy and affordable food options and the potential formation of an ad hoc committee. It is requested that this topic be considered by the Antioch City Council.”

While food insecurity may have been a concern in Torres-Walker’s district earlier this year with the closing of Lucky grocery store on East 18th Street, since then Antioch Foods opened there and the Cielo Mexican Supermarket opened right down the street, giving the residents on the north side of Hwy 4 – which her district encompasses, two major food choices.

Questions for council members: how can the City of Antioch offer access to healthy and affordable food options? Can they do something about inflation? Do they support having more food giveaway lines on our major city streets like on A Street? Are the council members who proposed this suggesting city tax dollars be spent in addition to the federal funds spent on WIC and SNAP?

FISCAL IMPACTUnknown at this time.

Aren’t these the same two council members, along with Mayor Thorpe – in an attempt to show their environmental credentials – who foolishly voted against renewing the franchise agreement for one of the natural gas pipelines that runs through Antioch, potentially increasing the costs for people to heat their homes, their water for showers, baths, coffee and tea, as well as cook food both at home and in our restaurants?

First, they make decisions that increase our costs of living, then want to use our tax dollars to help those who can’t afford to pay for those cost increases. They’re self-inflicted problems and cause a downward spiral for our society.

Get Woke Go Broke

It’s pretty obvious some of the council members are simply ignoring what has happened with companies and other governments that have experienced the slogan, “Get Woke Go Broke”.

Plus, it’s really easy to show compassion when spending other people’s hard-earned money and play favorites with businesses using we the people’s tax dollars, when you’ve never owned a business, created jobs or created wealth, and only worked for either government agencies or non-profit organizations that exist off of donations from what other people have earned. Unfortunately, they just don’t have the necessary experience or knowledge to make the right decisions that will benefit our community – our entire community.

The bottom line is the best form of welfare and the best social program is a job. So, if they really want to help Antioch residents, the council members would focus on two things: public safety and economic development, by hiring more police and getting our crime under control and bringing employers with higher paying jobs to our city, to truly fulfill the City’s new slogan, “Opportunity Lives Here”. That doesn’t mean more cannabis businesses which further damages our city’s reputation beyond the crime and homelessness – about which they really haven’t done anything other than hire a consultant and a staff member – and actually works against economic development efforts to attract employers.

The issue isn’t about having compassion on others who are less fortunate. Most people, like me, do. The issue is how to go about truly helping them, and whether or not there actually is a problem with some of the proposals on tonight’s council meeting agenda.

The City isn’t doing well at the main thing they should already be doing, which is public safety. That’s no shot at the police department. It’s due to a lack of staffing. But this council didn’t approve even one additional sworn officers in this year’s budget or the next. That’s in spite of the fact that there’s an estimated $5 million more in this year’s budget and $8 million more in next year’s, thanks to the sales tax increases we the people approved mainly for more police!

Yet, some of the council members want our city government to try and do more things that are mostly out of their purview? Not wise. But we’ll see just how woke some of the council members will go.

Viewing

Members of the public can watch the meeting at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Public Comments

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
  1. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

– You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

– When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

  1. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, Public Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”.

All emails received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record or the meeting.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak.

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

Monday, November 8th, 2021

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

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

Further confirmed by SF Employees Retirement System

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

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

By Allen Payton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SFPD Personnel Staff Confirms Johnson Retired as Lieutenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transparent California Confirms Johnson’s Pension is Paid as Lieutenant

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

Questions for SF Police Chief William Scott

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

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

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

Questions for Antioch City Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions for Johnson

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

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

Questions for Council Members

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

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

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

None of the councilmembers responded by publication time.

Questions for University of San Francisco

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

Personal Information from Independent Background Check

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

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Watching Meeting and Making Public Comments

The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and can be viewed at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
  2. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

– You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

– When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

  1. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, Public Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”.

All emails received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record for the meeting.

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

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