Archive for the ‘City Council’ Category

Without announcing the public mapping tool is available Antioch Council already considering draft redistricting maps

Monday, November 8th, 2021

Antioch City Council Current Pre-Redistricting Map and Deviations by District. Source: City of Antioch

Will review during special meeting/study session Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.; challenges with and complaints about mapping tool

“I also understand that there has been NO one on the site, nor has anyone giving their ideas as to the drawing of the maps.” – Councilwoman Ogorchock

Source: City of Antioch

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council will hold a special meeting/study session on redrawing their district boundaries at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday night. They will be reviewing, discussing and receiving public comments on two draft maps even before the promised online mapping tool, on the city’s redistricting webpage, available to the public was announced. It can be accessed here: www.redrawmyantioch.publicredistricting.com.

A portion of District 3 north and east of Lone Tree Way is shown shifted into District 4. Source: City of Antioch

The draft maps on tomorrow night’s agenda offer two options and show slight changes to Districts 3 and 4, but no apparent changes to Districts 1 and 2. Districts must be within 5% of the average population of 115,580. The current district maps are based on the 2010 Census when Antioch had a population of 102,372. With more residential growth occurring in District 3 over the past 10 years and a population that is 6.08% greater than average of 28,895 population per district, some of the population had to be shifted to other districts. Since the population in District 4 is 4.63% less than the average some of the population from District 3 was shifted to District 4 for both Draft Maps A and B. Antioch City Council Redistricting Meeting Agenda 110921

Antioch-Redistricting-Draft-Map-A      Antioch-Redistricting-Draft-Map-B      Antioch-Draft-Map-Demographics 110921

A portion of District 3 north and east of the current boundary along the Mokulemne Trail is moved into District 4 in this scenario. Source: City of Antioch

Questions for City Council, Staff, Consultant

The following questions were sent via email Monday afternoon to all five council members, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith and other city staff asking, “when did the online mapping tool become available? How was the public informed of it being available? Has any member of the public used it or submitted a proposed map? If not, isn’t it premature to be discussing draft maps before the public has had the opportunity to submit their own proposed maps?”

In addition, they were asked, “why are you holding these meetings at 5:30 p.m. when many residents are still commuting home from work, instead of having a special meeting next Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. or on a Saturday and in person for people to attend and see the maps large and up close? Will you be holding more meetings on redistricting and in person?”

In addition, similar questions were asked of the consultant, Karin Mac Donald of Q2 Data and Research after work hours on Monday.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock was the only one to respond Monday evening.

“I don’t know who created these maps, I was told staff,” she wrote. “The interactive part came out on Tuesday. Not enough time for individuals to be able to start working on their thoughts. I also understand that there has been NO one on the site, nor has anyone giving their ideas as to the drawing of the maps.”

“I’ve asked for another meeting, in person, to get feedback. So far that’s been a no go. We’ll have to see,” Ogorchock added.

Screenshot of online mapping tool.

Challenges With Online Mapping Tool

After a third attempt using three different email addresses to sign up for the online mapping tool, this reporter was able to establish an account to create a map and save it for submission to the city council.

That information and the following additional questions were sent to council members and staff: “Can someone please get that fixed? If I can’t sign up and another person who told me they tried, how can you expect the public to submit proposed maps to provide you their input? What if others don’t have multiple email addresses? Might they just give up and not use the mapping tool? Did someone on city staff test it, first?”

“I totally agree with you,” Ogorchock responded. “I’ve gotten several complaints already. Plus, there is hardly any Spanish documents. Not good.”

Watching Meeting and Public Comments

The special meeting/study session 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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Antioch Council meets with more than one interim city manager candidate

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

But doesn’t negotiate contract during almost two-hour closed-door morning session

By Allen Payton

This morning, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, the Antioch City Council held a special, closed session meeting at 9:00 a.m., to discuss the recruitment of and to negotiate with a potential interim city manager candidate, according to the agenda. However, the council met with more than one candidate. The council did not discuss the recruitment process for hiring a more permanent manager as was previously and incorrectly reported. (See related article)

It is the result of the announcement by City Manager Ron Bernal in September that he is retiring at the end of the year. (See related article)

The items on the agenda were publicly noticed as, “1) PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT: Recruitment of City Manager pursuant to Government Code section 54957, and 2) CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATORS pursuant to Government Code section 54957.6. Unrepresented employee: Interim City Manager Candidate.”

There were no public comments made about either item, prior to closed session. After almost two hours, the council returned to open session and City Attorney Thomas L. Smith said, “no reportable action was taken,” regarding the recruitment process.

Then on the matter of negotiating with a candidate to be interim city manager, Smith said, “it was not discussed by the city council and no reportable action was taken.” However, that was not completely accurate.

Questions were sent to Smith, City Manager Ron Bernal and Mayor Lamar Thorpe asking, “will the process for hiring an interim city manager and recruitment to fill the position be shared during a public council meeting? Will the candidates for both be interviewed in public, so the public will have the opportunity to comment on them, and will the council take their votes during a public meeting before they are hired, as has been past practice? Is that legally required?”

In addition, the following questions were also asked of Thorpe and all four council members: “why was the meeting held today and in the morning? Did you or the council change your minds and decide not to negotiate with an interim candidate? Why didn’t that occur? Did the candidate withdraw their interest in the position? Will you be voting in public when hiring the interim and filling the city manager position, and allow the public to give their input before you do?”

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded with, “Please contact the city attorney to give you clarity.”

The city attorney was then asked about his report from the closed session regarding negotiations with the interim city manager candidate, including, “does that mean the council changed their minds and decided not to negotiate with an interim candidate and no candidate participated in the closed session? Or did the candidate withdraw their interest in the position?”

Attorney Smith was also asked, “did a candidate or more than one candidate for the position of interim city manager attend and participate in that part of the closed session and negotiate with the city council members? If so, that isn’t a matter of secrecy since it was agendized as such, correct?”

When reached for comment, District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica said he spoke with Smith to get clarification. “Everything followed the agenda,” Barbanica said. “We did what the council agenda said.”

“Yes, we did in fact meet with potential candidates for the interim city manager position,” he confirmed. “But I can’t discuss the details of closed session meetings.”

“The other item was in terms of a contract with the interim candidates, and we never got to that,” Barbanica added. “That’s what Thomas was referring to.”

Smith later responded, further clarifying the agenda items and what transpired, “The meeting with candidates was covered under Item 1.  Item 2, terms of contract, was not discussed. Both items concern the Interim City Manager position.”

Additional questions were then sent to all five council members, asking, “How were the candidates with whom you met, this morning, recruited? Were any of them suggested by any of you? Was something posted somewhere publicly or internally to city staff?”

No responses to the other questions of council and staff were received prior to publication time.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

 

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Antioch council to hold special meeting on recruiting new city manager, negotiate with interim candidate Tuesday

Friday, October 29th, 2021

No answers to questions of why the morning meeting and urgency for choosing an interim since Bernal isn’t retiring until end of year, how many candidates nor who they are

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council will hold a special 9:00 a.m. closed session meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, to discuss the recruitment of a new city manager and to negotiate with a potential interim city manager candidate. ACC110221 Special Mtg

The public can make comments on both items before the council adjourns into the closed session. The mayor will report out what actions were taken following the conclusion of their closed-door meeting.

Questions were sent to the mayor, council members, City Manager Ron Bernal, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore and City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith. They were asked, so that the public can provide informed public comment for your closed session meeting next Tuesday, who is the candidate with whom you will be negotiating for the Interim City Manager position, please?

They were also asked if it is Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, is it, as has been rumored, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, or someone else. Additional questions were also asked of Bernal, Mayor Lamar Thorpe, and Councilmembers Lori Ogorchock and Mike Barbanica why hold the meeting at 9:00 a.m. when most people would be at work, what the urgency was and why the  meeting couldn’t be held during their regular meeting the following Tuesday (since Bernal isn’t retiring until the end of the year). They were also asked if Bernal was leaving that day and using his accrued vacation time. (See related article)

Both Ogorchock and Barbanica said they didn’t know how many candidates their were for the interim position, nor why the meeting was being held next Tuesday in the morning. But each of them said they couldn’t say anything more about the matter.

Smith was out of the office on Friday and attempts to reach the mayor, the other council members and Bernal were unsuccessful throughout Friday afternoon.

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 7:00 a.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at:
  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 7:00 a.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 7:00 a.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.

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Antioch city staff won’t respond to questions on councilwoman’s claims of interference by former police chief in investigation of her sons’ and her 2020 incident with police

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, former Chief of Police Tammany Brooks and City Manager Ron Bernal.

Won’t allow former Chief Brooks to respond to her accusation

“to the extent that your email requested that the City provide answers to questions, the City is not obligated to do so and does not undertake to do so.” – City Manager Ron Bernal

By Allen Payton

After waiting the legal limit of 10 business days for a response to both questions and a California Public Records Act request for communications between the Antioch Police Department and Oppenheimer Investigations Group, regarding the investigation of the claims by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker about the incident involving police officers, her sons and her on Dec. 29, 2020, City Manager Ron Bernal, citing state law, responded by saying he’s “not obligated” to answer any questions and the city will not provide any documentation. (See related article)

Bernal wrote in an email on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021:

“This is in response to your email sent on October 6, 2021, requesting:

The public is asking, what impropriety and unfairness – based on the terms used in your press release about the matter – that you recently discovered, which occurred with the first investigation of the police incident with Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s sons and her, last December that caused you to determine the need for a second investigation?

What did city staff and/or the investigator do wrong?

Why wasn’t that information included in the press release and why should that information be kept private if they are matters of process in how the investigation was handled?

Doesn’t the public have a right to know if a city employee or a contractor made a serious mistake that is costing more tax dollars and staff time? Especially when it’s in regard to an elected official?

Also, will you demand a refund of the money the city paid Oppenheimer, as Councilman Barbanica is calling for?

This is a formal public records request for all the communications between city staff members and staff of the Oppenheimer Investigations Group.

As an initial matter, please understand that the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) does not require a public agency to create documents or provide written answers to specific questions.  (Gov. Code, § 6252, subd. (e); Consolidated Irrigation District v. Superior Court (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 697; Haynie v. Superior Court (2001) 26 Cal. 4th 1061, 1075.)  As such, to the extent that your email requested that the City provide answers to questions, the City is not obligated to do so and does not undertake to do so.

With regard to your request for communications between City staff members and staff of the Oppenheimer Investigations Group, your request in its current form is vague and ambiguous because it fails to reasonably describe any identifiable record or records.  Consistent with its obligations under the CPRA, the City is interpreting your emails to be seeking records relating to communications between City employees and employees of Oppenheimer Investigations Group in connection with the investigation into the complaint made by Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker against the Antioch Police Department.  If you disagree with the City’s interpretation, please kindly advise us as soon as possible.

Consistent with its obligations under the CPRA, and based upon the City’s interpretation of your request, the City advises that it conducted a reasonable search consistent and has determined that identifiable responsive records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to: (1) Government Code section 6254, subsection (c), as “medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”; (2) Government Code section 6254, subsection (k), as “[r]ecords, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege,” because the records are protected by Penal Code sections 832.7 and 832.8, the deliberative process privilege, the official information privilege, the attorney-client privilege, the attorney work product doctrine, and/or Article I, Section 1, of the California Constitution; and (3) Government Code section 6255, because on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record.  Consequently, the City will not produce records responsive to this request.

More Questions for City Staff

In response, an email was sent on Wednesday, Oct. 20 to Bernal, Brooks, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, and Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield “specifically requesting the communications between former Chief Tammany Brooks and anyone at Oppenheimer Investigations Group in which he asked questions, offered suggestions or did whatever is being referred to as interference in the investigation of the complaint by Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker regarding the incident involving Antioch Police officers, her sons and her on Dec. 29, 2020 – either via email or in writing,” as well as, “whatever communication was sent by City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith to the members of the city council regarding Ms. Torres-Walker’s claim that former Chief Brooks interfered in the first investigation which triggered the decision for a second one.”

Some questions were repeated, and additional questions were asked, including if Torres-Walker violated any state law by sharing the information she received from the city attorney. Also, “if so, what are the potential repercussions against her? Does it require former Chief Brooks to sue her and the city for violating his rights? Also, has the second investigation begun and if so, who was hired to do that? Finally, is the city requesting a refund from Oppenheimer as Councilman Barbanica has called for?”

No responses were received as of publication time.

 

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Antioch Police Department selected for crime prevention initiative by U.S. Department of Justice 

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

One of only 10 new cities nationwide to participate in National Public Safety Partnership for coordinated, intensive training and technical assistance with focus on gun violence prevention

Councilman not happy mayor is attempting to takcredit for something “council had nothing to do with”

Announced by DOJ on Oct. 6, but press conference was held Thursday

By Allen Payton

Interim Antioch Police Chief Tony Morefield speaks during the press conference as District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock and a member of Moms Demand Action listen on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Video screenshot

The City of Antioch is one of 10 new cities selected nationwide to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Public Safety Partnership (NPSP).  NPSP resources include aim to enhance the Antioch Police Department’s (APD’s) capacity to address gun violence, expand community engagement and, ultimately, prevent violent crime. To be considered for selection, a site must have sustained levels of violence that far exceed the national average and demonstrate a commitment to reducing crime and enhancing community engagement.

“Violence—gun violence in particular—has taken a heavy toll on communities across the country, and its impact has been felt most deeply in neighborhoods where resources have always been scarce and justice has historically been elusive,” said Amy L. Solomon, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, whose Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers the PSP initiative.  “We are proud to join local leaders and our partners from across the Department of Justice as we work together to stem the tide of violent crime in these hard-hit communities.”

Officers will receive intensive training and technical assistance (TTA) from DOJ in the key areas of constitutional policing and community engagement to assess and implement collaborative strategies and a lasting coordination structure that prevent and combat violent crime, especially related to gun violence.

“The goal of this partnership is to gain better insight into the unique violent crime challenges in Antioch and inform future investments in what works,” Morefield said. “The guidance will help determine system-wide approaches to crime reduction and enhanced public safety.”

First Announced on Oct. 6

According to the NPSP website, the 2021 PSP sites were introduced by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco at the Major Cities Chiefs Association meeting on October 6, in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was also announced in a press release that same day on the DOJ’s BJA website.

Yet, Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Interim Chief of Police Tony Morefield held a press conference, Thursday to inform the Antioch community about the initiative. They were joined by Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock and four members of Moms Demand Justice. Also in attendance were the city manager, city attorney, assistant city manager and economic development director. (See press conference video)

During the press conference Thorpe tied the program participation to the council’s police reform efforts earlier this year. However, the police department applied for the program in 2020.

“The collaboration between the Antioch Police Department (APD) and the DOJ National Public Safety Partnership is important to lowering crime rates in Antioch,” said Thorpe. “APD will receive support that will improve crime prevention strategies and improve our service to all of Antioch, including historically neglected neighborhoods.”

The Antioch City Council recently passed a resolution mandating the integration and enhancement of specific topics into the training matrix of Antioch Police Department sworn personnel. These topics include de-escalation strategies, crisis intervention and conflict resolution, procedural justice, implicit bias, and meaningful engagement with members of the LGBTQ+ and youth communities.

“The integration of these topics, along with APD’s partnership with PSP, provide a mechanism for increasing our community’s access to justice and better supporting crime victims in this City,” says Interim Chief Morefield.

This is the seventh year for the DOJ program.

“From five to now 50 jurisdictions in seven years, PSP has taught the Department a new way to work with communities.  We have learned that it is only by leveraging the power of community and using all our collective resources and dedicating all our efforts that we will reduce crime,” said BJA Acting Director Kristen Mahoney.  “We look forward to partnering with the 10 new sites to achieve what we are all working toward—safe places to live and work.”

Torres-Walker Offers Comments on Program

While she was not in attendance at the press conference, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker posted a written and video message of congratulations on her official Facebook page in support of the program. “Congratulations Antioch for being selected as one of the 10 newest sites to be excepted [sic] into the Department of Justice’s Public Safety Partnership to advance racial equity reduce gun violence and promote Community engagement to build public trust and transparency,” she wrote. “We are ahead of the game in Antioch and for the first time in years, this city is ready to invest in violence intervention and prevention efforts that will get at the root cause of violence in our community.”

The focus has been on racial equity and community engagement to reduce violence, especially gun violence.

“This is an opportunity that comes with great resources, training and technical assistance towards violence prevention and intervention and creating public trust and transparency with our police department,” Torres-Walker said. She went on to speak about the council’s Community Violence Solution Ad Hoc Committee that was formed in June “with myself as the co-chair and the mayor as the chair” that has “met bi-weekly”. She also called for a review of “departmental policies where the police department can crack open the books and get someone to come in and do an honest look at violence but also look at our policies that aren’t racially equitable.”

Barbanica Wouldn’t Attend Press Conference

However, District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica did not attend the press conference because he didn’t think the council should appear to take any credit for the program. “The city council had nothing to do with this and it wasn’t part of the police reform efforts, this year. APD applied for it in 2020.” But he does support the program.

About the National Public Safety Partnership

The PSP team supports local law enforcement and other key stakeholders in developing each site’s capacity to address its unique violent crime challenges to enhance public safety. Through a collaborative approach and data-driven decision making, the PSP approach ensures that local resources are maximized, and federal assets are leveraged where they are most needed. Implemented in 2014 as a pilot program, PSP has served more than 40 sites nationwide. The PSP team’s work is driven by local needs and priorities focused on increasing capacities to reduce violent crime and increase community engagement.

For more information, visit www.nationalpublicsafetypartnership.org.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law.  More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

Rolando Bonilla, City of Antioch PIO, contributed to this report.

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Antioch councilwomen claim tenants are being harassed, face eviction, want new protection ordinances

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker speaks as Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson (far right) and others, including representatives of Contra Costa County’s chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment listen at the press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Photo from her official Facebook page.

Hold press conference to ask Mayor Thorpe to place tenant anti-harassment and just cause for eviction policies on next meeting agenda; fail to invite local media; council members and mayor refuse to answer questions about the proposals

By Allen Payton

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker held a press conference to highlight claims of Antioch renters getting harassed by their landlords and facing eviction, and call on Mayor Lamar Thorpe to place both an anti-harassment and a just cause for eviction ordinances on the next council meeting agenda. The councilwomen did not invite local media to attend.

A KTVU FOX2 news article from the press conference reports, “they were joined by members of Contra Costa County’s chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which has campaigned for similar tenant anti-harassment ordinances in other cities.” A similar anti-harassment ordinance was adopted by the Los Angeles City Council in June. According to the ordinance, “violation of the ordinance can be either a criminal misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine for each offense), or a civil violation (damages, rent refunds for reduction in housing services, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, fine of up to $10,000 per violation, or tenant relocation)”.

Tenant protections against eviction, rent increases and late fees ended in Contra Costa County on Sept. 30. The Board of Supervisors on a 2-3 vote chose not to extend the protections. (See related article)

The state’s protections also ended Sept. 30.

KTVU also reported Thorpe said, “I personally have concerns with Antioch tenants being harassed, especially during the pandemic, so conceptually, I agree with these protections.”

On her official Facebook page, on Oct. 12, Torres-Walker posted the following statement about the effort with photos from the press conference, including three people who spoke, besides the two councilwomen.

“Antioch had the highest rate of evictions out of any Bay Area city during the pandemic, and researchers are predicting it is likely to be a hotspot for evictions after the statewide eviction moratorium lifts. Sadly the highest concentration of evictions in Antioch has been in District 1.

In September I requested that an anti-displacement policy be brought to the council for immediate action as Statewide and County-wide moratoriums were coming to an end and renters facing eviction were calling on us as city leaders to do something. I was honored to have the support of mayor pro tem Monica Wilson who back up that request last month stating that she as well wanted to see policies around anti-landlord harassment and just cause evictions to be brought to the council.

In July I met with over 20 residents in the River Town [sic] area who were facing eviction and devastated about their family’s future I met with even more residents in the Sycamore community who had the same concerns that their families would end up on the streets.

The government assistance that was promised to make renters and landlords whole has been slow to reach the ground, slow to meet the need, and moratoriums have only been a band-aid for a larger issue around housing access and affordability in the region.

Proposed policies:

Anti-Harassment Ordinance

An anti-harassment ordinance defines certain bad-faith landlord behaviors as unlawful harassment. Tenants can then enforce their rights against landlords who engage in these behaviors. Harassment can include lack of repairs, a landlord not taking care while doing construction or other repairs, discriminatory behavior like sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or disability discrimination, a landlord threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities, a landlord threatening violence, and other behaviors designed to make tenants’ lives more difficult or cause them to leave their homes. If a tenant wins in court, their landlord will pay damages and their attorneys’ fees.

Harassment of tenants is a way for some landlords to circumvent other legal tenant protections. When some landlords can’t legally evict a tenant to raise the rent, they will instead harass the tenant until they have no choice but to leave their home. This makes existing tenant protections less effective.

An anti-harassment ordinance removes the financial incentive for harassment by adding penalties for bad actor landlords. Landlords who don’t harass tenants don’t need to worry about the anti-harassment ordinance because they won’t need to change their behavior to comply with it. Instead, an anti-harassment ordinance promotes neighborhood stability and safe and healthy housing.

Just Cause Supplements

Tenants also need effective eviction protections to remain in their homes. The statewide just cause for eviction law, AB 1482, contains several eviction loopholes that allow landlords to evict tenants for ‘no-fault’ reasons and then re-rent the unit at a higher rent once the tenants have been forced out. To prevent unscrupulous actors from using these ‘building clearing’ loopholes, a city can pass a “just cause” supplement.

‘No fault’ evictions can happen to tenants who are paying their rent and complying with their lease. ‘Substantial renovation’ and ‘removal from the rental market’ are examples of two ‘no-fault’ types of evictions that, unless regulated, can result in tenant displacement.

Under the substantial renovation loophole, a landlord can evict a tenant under state law to remodel their unit, and the tenant has no right of return. In contrast, under a local just cause supplement, a tenant may only be required to temporarily move out, once the landlord has secured all necessary building permits, and can return at the same rent amount once the repairs are made.

Similarly, under the ‘withdrawal’ loophole, state law allows a landlord to evict a tenant to remove a property from the rental market for an unspecified amount of time. But under a local just cause ordinance designed to prevent unfair evictions, the removal must be long-term (ten years), give the tenant additional notice, and allow the tenant to return at the same rent if the property is re-rented.

These ‘building clearing’ loopholes, when used by unscrupulous actors, can put entire neighborhoods at risk. However, the loopholes can be easily closed under an ordinance to stop pretextual evictions and prevent displacement.”

Questions for Councilwomen, Mayor

Questions were sent to the councilwomen and mayor early Friday morning asking, what landlords are harassing tenants? In apartments or single-family residences? How many and which tenants were or are being harassed? What do they mean by harassment? Requiring they pay their rent or face eviction? Or was their rent raised or late fees assessed illegally up until Sept 30 when the county protections for tenants ended? Did any of you, including Mayor Thorpe, speak with any of the landlords to get their side of the story? Was it anything to do with COVID that the tenants couldn’t pay their rent or some other reason the tenants were facing eviction?

In response to Torres-Walker’s Facebook post more questions were asked, including, what can the City of Antioch actually do to enforce such an ordinance? Can a general law city, like Antioch, adopt and enforce a just cause evictions ordinance (like Los Angeles, which is a charter city)? Do you have a sample of one you can provide? Would the city sue the landlord or help the tenant sue their landlord? Can the city fine the property owner?”

In addition, Saturday night, questions were posted below the photos on Torres-Walker’s Facebook post asking who are the other that spoke during the press conference and appear in the photos and what did they say.

Thorpe responded Friday morning, but only with “Please remove me from this discussion. This press conference was put together by these two Council members not me. They have requested these items come before council so let’s be cognizant of the Brown Act.”

The same questions were then immediately resent to just the two councilwomen, and a separate email was sent to the mayor.

The questions were resent, again early Sunday morning, Oct. 17 to the councilwomen and mayor, in two separate emails. As of Sunday night, none of the three had responded to the questions from the Herald.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Antioch Council to hold special workshop for public input on redistricting Saturday morning

Friday, October 15th, 2021

Map of the Antioch City Council districts for the 2020 elections showing the population deviations from average based on 2010 Census data.

Boundaries for at least District 2 will have to expand to the south and east, possibly placing both Barbanica and Mayor Pro Tem and Wilson into the same district.

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council will hold a special meeting/workshop for public input on redistricting of the four council districts tomorrow morning, Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be online.

The council held a study session Tuesday night, prior to their regular meeting during which the consultant, Karin Mac Donald of Q2 Data & Research stated the adjusted population total of 115,580 is only for redistricting. It includes those people who are incarcerated in the state and are included in the geographic areas where their last residence is located. The population from the Census Data is unadjusted for purposes of receiving state and federal funding.

That results in the ideal population of 28,895 residents per district with a +/-5% allowed deviation or +/-1,545 people per district, she shared during her presentation.

The consultant spoke of the federal laws and state laws with which the council districts must comply, including the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), and the state Fair and Inclusive Redistricting for Municipalities and Political Subdivisions (Fair Maps) Act. That law, according to the California Secretary of State’s website, “requires cities and counties to engage communities in the redistricting process by holding public hearings and/or workshops and doing public outreach, including to non-English-speaking communities.” According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest of the bill, the CVRA “prohibits the use of an at-large election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election”. The CVRA was the basis for the threatened lawsuit against the City of Antioch forcing the council into district elections in 2018, which went into effect, last year. While the council cannot intentionally split up a race or language minority population diluting their ability to elect a member of a minority, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that race cannot be the primary basis for drawing districts. Minorities include people who are Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American, Mac Donald explained.

She also explained the other criteria the council should follow in redrawing the district lines, besides the equal population required by the U.S. Constitution, specifically the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the 5% deviation allowed by state law. Those include Communities of Interest (COI’s), using natural boundaries and those easily identifiable by the public, such as major streets, compactness as well as contiguity, which means districts can’t be split up in parts with gaps in between. In addition, the district boundaries cannot favor or discriminate against political parties.

Current Antioch City Council districts approved in 2018 and population deviations from average based on 2020 Census data. Source: Q2 Data & Research presentation.

Included in Mac Donald’s presentation was a map of the current council districts showing the population deviations, showing District 3s and 4, not surprisingly, have experienced the greatest population growth. District 3 has a deviation of 6.08%, greater than the 5% allowed, while District 4 is barely in compliance with a deviation of 4.63% from average. The results will be boundaries for at least District 2 will have to expand to the south and east, possibly placing both District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and Mayor Pro Tem and District 3 Councilwoman Monica Wilson into the same district.

Antioch Council redistricting meeting schedule

Tuesday, November 9, 2021 – (Special meeting prior to City Council meeting)

Optional Additional Meeting (e.g. Antioch Community Center)

Tuesday, January 11, 2021 – (Regular City Council meeting. Introduction of Ordinance:

First Reading)

Tuesday, January 25, 2021 – (Regular City Council meeting. Second Reading: Adoption

of Ordinance)

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 8:00 a.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at:
  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 8:00 a.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 8:00 a.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.

 

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Antioch Police provide more details of Oct 3 incident at councilwoman’s home, won’t release video footage yet

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker.

By Allen Payton

The Antioch Police Department responded on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 to a request sent on Monday, Oct. 4, for more information and copies of the officers’ body and car dash cam videos of the incident at District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s home late Saturday night, early Sunday morning, Oct. 2 and 3, 2021. (See related article)

In an email, Police Records Supervisor Lynn Dansie wrote, “The Antioch Police Department is in receipt of your recent Public Records Act request for body camera footage and dash camera footage of a recent incident that resulted in case #21-8418, involving a local Councilwoman.  Because this is an active investigation and still considered to be an open case, the records that may be responsive to your request are being denied for release under GC 6254(f), GC 6254(k) and GC 6255(a), at this time.”

Incident Details

In addition, Dansie wrote, “A press release is not planned to be released.  As described in GC 6254(f)(2), the following details regarding the call, are available.  Officers responded to the 500 block of Gary Ave on October 3, 2021 at 0027 hours, for a report of a loud party and shots heard, in the area.  There were no victims, no injuries, and no property loss determined at the time of officers’ arrival.  As mentioned, this is an open and continuing investigation at this time.”

Asked when he expects the investigation to be completed, Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield responded, “I do not have an estimation of when this investigation will conclude.”

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