Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

City of Antioch seeks high school juniors and seniors for Springboard Project paid internship program

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

Learn more about the program in this video.

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Register for Antioch Mayor Thorpe’s annual State of the City address Wednesday morning

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

Register here: 2022 State of the City Address Tickets, Wed, May 11, 2022 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite

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Antioch interim city manager welcomes new interim police chief to lead depleted force

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

New Antioch Interim Chief of Police Dr. Steve Ford introduced by Mayor Lamar Thorpe Wednesday morning, Feb. 23, 2022. Herald file photo.

SFPD Commander Steve Ford. Source: SFPD

By Allen D. Payton

In his City Manager’s Bi-Monthly Update on Tuesday, April 26, Antioch Interim City Manager welcomed new Interim Police Chief Dr. Steve Ford whose hiring was announced by Mayor Lamar Thorpe during a press conference on February 23 without the knowledge of at least three other council members. (See related article)

Ford reportedly began his new position yesterday, Monday, April 25 and former Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield, who has held the position since former Chief Tammany Brooks’ retirement last fall, returned to his position as a Captain on the police force. Neither Thorpe nor Johnson ever answered the question why the change in interim police chiefs was necessary.

Ford had to complete his background check before his hiring could be finalized, which was expected to be done by Easter. Johnson inadvertently fired Morefield in an email to him and others, including all five council members and Ford, the day after Thorpe’s announcement. That was rescinded a short while later. (See related article)

Johnson’s message reads as follows:

“WELCOME CHIEF DR. STEVE A. FORD

‘Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.’ Publilius Syrus

As a former police officer, who honorably served 30 years in law enforcement and is currently serving the City of Antioch as its Interim City Manager, there is no greater honor and privilege than having both the benefit and opportunity of appointing a new Chief of Police. The Chief of Police is an iconic city figure who must be beyond reproach and possess impeccable personal character. With great humility, I would like to introduce Dr. Steve A. Ford as the City of Antioch’s newly appointed Interim Chief of Police. A very special thank you to Captain Tony Morefield who stepped in as Interim Chief of Police since October 2021.

Dr. Steven A. Ford, Ed.D, M.S., B.S., who recently retired from the San Francisco Police Department as a Commander, grew up in one of San Francisco’s crime-ridden and gang-infested communities, notoriously known at the time as the Ingleside-Oceanview district. His law enforcement background spans thirty-one-plus years with the San Francisco Police Department and has included assignments in Operations, Investigations, Administration, Special Operations-Homeland Security, and Professional Standards-Strategic Management Bureaus. Dr. Ford currently serves as faculty at San Francisco City College and San Francisco State University, where he instructs administration of justice courses and course work in the MPA program.

Dr. Ford holds an Associate of Sciences Degree from San Francisco City College, a Bachelor of Science Degree from San Francisco State University, a Master of Science Degree from California State University-Long Beach, and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s College-California. Chief Ford has attended the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute, Robert Presley Institute of Criminal Investigations, California POST Command College, California Police Chiefs Executive Leadership Institute at Drucker-Claremont Graduate University, POST Executive Development, San Francisco Leadership S.F. Chamber of Commerce, and San Francisco Police Department Leadership Development Institute.

Dr. Ford considers his leadership and professional philosophy to be that of a contemporary leader who values the profession’s history, is focused on current challenges, and has a vision for the future of policing. Please join Mayor Lamar Thorpe, the entire City Council, and me in welcoming our new Antioch Police Department Interim Chief of Police, Dr. Steven A. Ford, to our beautiful city, where Opportunity Lives.”

Challenges Ford Will Face

Ford steps in at a time the Antioch Police force is down 14 sworn officers to 101 from the 115 budgeted, and down 24 active sworn officers with five of them on paid leave pending the investigation by the Contra Costa DA’s Office and FBI. In addition, he will face an attrition problem that, according to Antioch Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello based on exit interviews of officers leaving the department, is due to the current council majority, specifically the mayor and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, and their attitudes toward and actions affecting the police department.

Ford and Thorpe recently proposed adding four more sworn officers to the current over hire figure of six, and a signing bonus for lateral and new academy graduates, including a housing allocation. Both items are on tonight’s (Tuesday’s) council meeting agenda for discussion. (See related article)

In addition, Ford begins his tenure in his new position at a time neither he nor any of the City’s other department heads are allowed to speak to council members or the media, by Johnson’s directive, without the interim city manager’s approval, presence or the presence of Johnson’s representative.

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Antioch non-profit leaders not happy new city department will displace 16 Rivertown Resource Center organizations

Monday, April 18th, 2022

The Rivertown Resource Center which houses 16 non-profit organizations on the corner of W. 10th and D Street is the former location of the Antioch Police Department. Photos: Allen D. Payton

Primary leader, Betty Smith recently honored as Antioch Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement; pay property taxes but don’t have to according to County Assessor

By Allen D. Payton

During the Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, three long-time community leaders and volunteers spoke out against the city council and staff locating the new Public Safety and Community Services Department at the Rivertown Resource Center on W. 10th Street (See related article)

One of those leaders is Betty Smith who was recently honored by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce as the 2021 Antioch Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement. (See related article)

An incomplete tenants list on the wall near the front entrance.

The organizations located at the Rivertown Resource Center that will be displaced are Delta 2000, Community Violence Solutions, Antioch Rivertown Jamboree, Center for Human Development, An Elderly Wish Foundation, East County Senior Coalition, Pop Up-Patty, Rivertown Community Radio, Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity (ECHO) Housing, Todos Unidos, Family Purpose/Casual Recovery, Mission Possible Community Development Center of Antioch (MPCDCA), Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch, Empowerment Program:  Supporting LGBTQ Youth, Prison-From-The Inside-Out, and Village Keepers African American Wellness Center.

“The Delta 2000 Rivertown Resource Center’s mission is to facilitate coordination of services between public, private and community groups to create a healthy and safe community for Contra Costa County,” said Betty Smith reading from prepared remarks, while visibly emotional. “Delta 2000 continues to be the leading resource agency in East County dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and impact of the nonprofit sector by providing technical assistance and support, coordination resource development programs, conduction needs assessments and assisting community-based organizations serving the East County Region.  Delta 2000 offers support services which allow groups to focus on the work of providing vital services.”

“For over 33 years Delta 2000 has assisted more than 86 grassroots organizations to incorporate…and pursue a 501c3 tax exempt status from the IRS,” she stated.

Former Antioch mayor and current Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha spoke next, saying, “I was at the meeting where the city manager plus five department heads were present to let us know that it was possible that they would take over the Rivertown Resource Center to locate five future programs they want to develop.”

“My question is why displace 16 non-profits that support the community when the City has a large empty building at the Nick Rodriguez Center?” she asked. “The Senior Center is located in a small portion of that large building and the building is operated by the city. You could consider using parts of that building for your employees’ needs.  The programs the City would like to create would be beneficial to seniors at this location and surrounding community.”

“I think you need to reconsider,” Rocha added.

“I’m on the board and use the services at the Rivertown Resource Center,” said Bill Chapman. “We’ve had 10 unidentified staff tour the building and not one of them displayed a business card.”

“They taped a message on our front door and said they were going to inspect our exits,” he continued. “They came and took pictures of every room and every item in each room. I request we get a copy of (Interim City Manager) Cornelius Johnson’s report so we can put in our two cents.”

“You can’t produce one document,” Chapman stated. “We had to produce a copy of all our leases and within 24 hours. We did that.”

“What do we get to say on our side?” he asked. “The building is safe. We need a place where our volunteers can go after 5:00 p.m. because many of them work other jobs.”

Questions for City Staff, Council Members

In an email Wednesday morning, April 13 Interim City Manager Con Johnson, all five council members and Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore were asked the following questions:

“Is what the three representatives of Delta 2000 and the Rivertown Resource Center, Mary Rocha, Betty Smith and Bill Chapman, said at last night’s council meeting correct, that the city is planning to use that building for the new Department of Public Safety and Community Resources and displace 16 non-profit organizations?

If so, what is the timeframe and how much notification are you going to give the organizations?

When do you plan to launch the two new services – mental health crisis response and violence intervention and prevention? When are you planning on moving them and the other five services into the Rivertown Resource Center?

When are you planning on hiring the director for the new department? Do you already have someone in mind for the position?

Has the city considered as Mary Rocha suggested, using the Nick Rodriguez Community Center instead?”

They were then asked if what Chapman said about how city staff treated them is true. “If so, is that the way long-time community leaders and volunteers should be treated?”

Councilwoman Torres-Walker was specifically asked, “As a non-profit organization leader, is this how you and your organization would want to be treated? Were you aware that the new department would use the Rivertown Resource Center and displace 16 non-profits? Was that part of your plan when you proposed the new department? If not, what will you do to help those organizations and address their concerns?”

They were all also asked, “Since staff for four of the five responsibilities of the new department – which excludes one which can’t be relocated, Animal Services – are currently located at either City Hall or the Antioch Community Center, isn’t there space at either of those buildings for the new department head and coordinators of the two new divisions?

Is the new department really necessary since five of the responsibilities are currently handled by other, existing city departments? Why not just put the two new divisions at the PD and leave the others where they are and hire a coordinator at a much lower cost?”

Ogorchock Only One to Respond

“I will tell you it is,” in response to question if it’s true what the leaders. “If you listen to the meeting before last the mayor said something about this building being used as the new center.  I then said there has been no further discussion regarding the use of this building for this purpose, it has not been brought back to council for consideration, he flat out said this is the spot!  I guess he knows he has the votes for this to happen.”

Regarding the timeframe and notification to the organizations, she replied, “I have no clue as again as this item has not come back before council to discuss.

Regarding launching the two new services Ogorchock wrote, “We do not have a vendor for the mental health crisis response as of yet and the other has not been discussed.”

As for when the director for the new department, she responded, “I am not sure on this one either.  I believe that the ad-hoc committee is to bring back to council the vision, values and scope to council for discussion, but who knows?”
In response to the question if the city has considered using the Nick Rodriguez Community Center instead, the District 3 councilwoman responded, “Nope, and they (3) are not looking at any other spot.

Bill Chapman said, ‘We’ve had 10 unidentified staff tour the building and not one of them displayed a business card. They taped a message on our front door and said they were going to inspect our exits. They came and took pictures of every room and every item in each room. We had to produce a copy of all our leases and within 24 hours.’  He is correct, they have had several individuals going through the building.  None of which have given a business card to be in the building other than to say we are here to look at the premises.  What Mr. Bill is talking about is there was a meeting a week ago where 6 staff, Con, Thomas, Rosanna, John, Forrest and Tasha were all present. Why so many, you got me.  Mr. Bill asked Con for a card, he said he was just at an event and he handed out all of his cards!  Then he asked Thomas who just flat out said I don’t have any on me, then Rosanna stepped up to the plate and handed out her cards.”

“It is sad that they are booting out the very organizations that this new department is supposed to help.  Is that not an oxymoron?” Ogorchock continued.

Regarding space at either City Hall or the Antioch Community Center for the new department head and coordinators of the two new divisions, the councilwoman replied, “There is, but the 3 want a new dept.”

To the final questions about the necessity for the new department, placing the two new divisions at the PD and hiring a coordinator at a much lower cost Ogorchock wrote, “I’ve been asking this question all along.  I have no clue other than this is what Tamisha wants and since they all vote for each other’s items, is that to be considered a quid-pro-quo? This is a misuse of taxpayers’ dollars if you ask me.”

No other responses were received as of Monday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m.

Delta 2000 property tax bill 2021-22. Source: Betty Smith

Delta 2000 Paying Property Taxes But Doesn’t Have To

Delta 2000 pays an annual Unsecured Property Tax bill for use of the building of $1,061.92 based on an assessment of $95,579.

Questions were sent Friday, April 15 to County Assessor Gus Kramer and County Tax Collector Russell Watts asking, why they are being charged property taxes and do all government owned buildings pay property taxes.

Watts forwarded the email to County Auditor-Controller Bob Campbell,

“This is a Possessory Interest Bill,” Campbell replied. “The City owns the property but a portion of the property, as determined by the Assessor, isn’t used for a qualifying not taxable or tax-exempt status.”

However, Kramer responded, “All the non-profits have to do is apply for an exemption as a non-profit with the assessor’s office and they will not get a bill.”

He later added that the non-profits have to file their exemption paperwork with the federal government, as well.

 

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Antioch Interim City Manager’s Bi-Monthly Update promotes Pittsburg project, event and council decision that already happened

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

By Allen D. Payton

In his latest City Manager’s Bi-Monthly Update emailed on Wednesday, April 12, Antioch’s Interim City Manager Con Johnson promoted a ribbon cutting event he attended in Pittsburg for an affordable housing community by a company that might build similar homes in Antioch. The photo used is from the groundbreaking for the project that occurred, previously. CM Bi-Monthly Update 041222

He also promoted the Kitten Shower at the Antioch Animal Shelter that occurred last Saturday, April 9.

In addition, Johnson’s update promoted City Council Redistricting, although they chose their final map, during Tuesday night’s meeting in time for the April 17 deadline, thus completing the process.

That announcement reads: “CITY COUNCIL REDISTRICTING The City of Antioch is redistricting after the 2020 Census count. The City Council is holding hearings to receive public input on where district lines should be drawn. For more information email redistricting@antiochca.gov or call (925)779-7008.”

Following is the email message with link to the Update as it appeared in the Herald’s email account:

Questions for Con

The following questions were sent to Johnson on Wednesday afternoon, April 13 asking, “Why doesn’t it read ‘Interim City Manager’s Bi-Monthly Update’ since that’s your actual title? Who does the editing for it, you or someone else?”

He was also asked, “when will you publicly apologize at a council meeting to the council and public for lying on your resume about your qualifications as a retired police captain when that has been proven to not be true and the mayor admitted so, the night he introduced you during the first council meeting in your position?”

As of Thursday, April 14 at 1:15 PM Johnson did not respond.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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New Antioch city department has only two new services, takes five services from other departments

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Has confusing name, director’s compensation will be $275,069 to $327,382 per year; no word on if other department heads will get cut in pay with fewer responsibilities; Torres-Walker redefines term “public safety”; will cost $1.5 million to refurbish Rivertown Resource Center and displace 16 non-profit organizations located there

By Allen D. Payton

The new Antioch city department, with the temporary and confusing name of Public Safety and Community Resources Department, which has nothing to do with police services, moved forward Tuesday night, Feb. 22, 2022, when the city council voted 4-1 to form an ad hoc committee to assist in the formation and determine the scope of activities. Only District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voted against formation of the ad hoc committee. The council also approved the new class specification and salary and compensation for its director at $275,069 to $327,382 per year.

The council then approved forming the ad hoc committee and appointing Districts 1 and 4 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson to it during their March 8 meeting on a 5-0 vote.

New Department Responsibilities, Torres-Walker Redefines Term Public Safety

The department will include, but not be limited to, the existing services of Animal Control, currently part of the Police Department; Youth Services Network Manager, currently part of the Recreation Department; Code Enforcement, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program that are currently part of the Community Development Department, and the Unhoused Resident Coordinator, currently part of the city manager’s office.

The only new services of the department will be mental health crisis response, and violence intervention and prevention, both of which could be handled by the police department.

In choosing a name for the ad hoc committee, Ogorchock said using the words public safety means police to most people and the name is misleading, and former police lieutenant and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said when he hears public safety, he thinks police and fire. But District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, who’s been pushing for the formation of the new department said “I think framing public safety as just policing is misleading. I’ve been having these conversations for over 13 years in my career as an organizer. So, a lot of us have decided that public safety is a lot more than policing. It’s about quality of life, environmental justice, youth services, housing. Public safety is about economic dignity, access to jobs, clean water, clean air. All of those things, not just policing. Policing is a part of public safety and we have forgot about that as a community. And I think being able to have this department be called the Department of Public Safety and Community Resources will also help reorient our community to understand that public safety doesn’t just mean policing. It also means access to quality, well organized resources in the city.”

Mayor Lamar Thorpe said he’s fine with including public safety in the name of the ad hoc committee and that “Public Works are part of public safety because they keep streets repaired”. Councilwoman Monica Wilson went along with the use of public safety in the ad hoc committee’s name.

Questions Go Unanswered by Mayor, Three Council Members and City Staff

The following questions were sent to the five council members and city staff on March 8:

“Since the new Public Safety and Community Resources Department will include, but not be limited to, the existing services of Animal Control, currently part of the Police Department; Youth Services Network Manager, currently part of the Recreation Department; Code Enforcement, the Unhoused Resident Coordinator, and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program that are currently part of the Community Development Department, and the only new services of the department will be mental health crisis response, and violence intervention and prevention, is a new department really needed?

Can’t both of the new services be handled by the police department and leave the current services where they are?

Finally, since you will be paying the director of the new department at a cost of $275,069 to $327,382 per year, will the police chief and directors of the other departments who currently oversee the five existing services be given a pay cut since they will have less responsibility and to offset the cost for the director of the new department?

If you must use the name of the new department, couldn’t you, instead simply hire a Public Safety and Community Resources Coordinator, at a much lower cost than a department head, who can work with each of those services and each of the department heads that currently and would oversee the seven services and either answer to the city manager or assistant city manager?

Or do some of you already have someone picked out for the position of director for the new department and some commitment has already been made for it?”

Ogorchock Calls it a “Mini City Hall”, Will Displace 16 Non-Profits from Rivertown Resource Center

Ogorchock was responded by writing, “I have voted against this new dept., since the onset.  These depts., are currently under different directors already.  You are forgetting the cost of the refurbishment of the old PD to the tune of 1.5+ million of taxpayer dollars. You’ve also left off Environmental Services. When and if the old PD is used, all of the nonprofits will be kicked out, left to find another spot to do the work for our residents!” She’s referring to the use of the Antioch Rivertown Resources Center on W. 10th Street to house the new department.

Regarding cutting the salaries for those department heads currently handling the existing services she wrote, “I doubt that will happen, if it does I can just about guarantee they too will be leaving the city, and go where they are appreciated.”

In response to merely hiring a coordinator instead Ogorchock replied, “It is my understanding that this dept., will be too big, it will be a mini city hall! Look at the number of employees that will fill it, code enforcement alone will be 14 officers, manager, and 2 technicians, (I think).  I could be off by 1.”

In response to the question if someone has already been picked out as the department head she wrote, “I believe they do, I am not privy to that information.”

Other Questions for Council & City Staff

Additional questions were asked of the council and staff including, “On a side note, I saw a job opening for the Unhoused Resident Coordinator. Is that old? Or is it new and Jazmin Ridley is no longer in that position? If so, did she take another position on city staff or leave city staff? On another side note, why does the city need another interim chief of police? Isn’t our current Interim Chief of Police Tony Morefield doing the job that’s needed to be done?”

Ogorchock responded to the first question writing, “Jazmin was not a full-time employee, her position is now going to be a full time job.  We authorized the budget on our last budget cycle.  This is a very important position, we need to continue the work on a full time basis.”

To the second she replied, “You’re asking another question I’ve asked.  I did so when I was interviewed by KRON 4. You may want to watch that interview as I asked several questions, including that this individual needs to go thru what all other officers that are hired from the outside.  Then listen to Lamar’s interview indicating Steve was/is the new Interim Chief of Police.”

No other answers were received as of Tuesday, April 12 at 5:00 p.m.

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Interim Antioch city manager fires interim police chief for a few hours, one day after new interim chief announced

Friday, March 25th, 2022

A copy of the letter in which Johnson (top right) terminated Morefield (bottom right) on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. 

Before new chief on staff leaving city without a police chief during that time; violated Morefield’s rights as a city employee and police officer; still police chief as of Friday, March 25

By Allen D. Payton

It was reported earlier this month by multiple sources who all chose to not be identified, and now confirmed with copies received anonymously on Thursday, March 24, 2022, that on Thursday, February 24, 2022, at 8:49 AM, Interim Antioch City Manager Con Johnson sent a letter by email to current Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield, that Morefield had been terminated. Johnson copied all five city council members, plus City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, the president of the Antioch Police Officers Association Corporal Steve Aiello and Dr. Steve Ford.

It was the day after Mayor Lamar Thorpe announced the hiring of Ford as the city’s new interim police chief, but who was not on city staff at the time, as he had not yet passed his background check. That left the city without a police chief for a little more than an hour and possibly longer as it’s been reported that Johnson met with Morefield earlier that morning to inform him of the decision. (See related article)

According to the reports, immediately after receiving the email, Smith went to Johnson’s office and told him he needed to retract it. That is assumed what Johnson did in a following email at 10:05 AM the same day. But it is unclear because in that second email the interim city manager wrote he was “tracking” the letter of termination, not retracting it.

Because Johnson included Ford in the emails, they no longer have protection as a personnel matter according to an outside attorney consulted by the Herald. Yet, Smith has refused to release them to the media, even after multiple Public Records Act requests were submitted.

Also, according to the reports, the announcement of Morefield’s termination quickly spread throughout the Antioch Police Department and had also been previously announced to other department heads by Johnson.

Questions for Johnson Go Unanswered

An email was sent on Monday, March 7, 2022, to Johnson, copying the city council members, City Attorney, Morefield, Assistant City Manager Roseanna Bayon Moore and city Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla with the following: “I’ve been informed that an email was sent out by you, as the interim city manager to council members and city staff in which you announced you had fired Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield and a follow up email in which you wrote that you were tracking those emails. Please provide copies of those emails.

Did that mean you’re tracking where those emails are sent and to whom by those who received it? Or did you intend to write that you’re ‘retracting’ the previous email? If the latter, was your action retracted? If not, what day did you fire the interim chief? (That last question has been answered as Morefield continued in his position as of Thursday, March 24).

Why did you believe it was necessary to send out such an email? Had Dr. Ford already passed his background check by then? Or were your emails sent out prior to Lamar making the announcement of Dr. Ford’s hiring at the press conference, to which at least three of the other four council members weren’t invited and who also knew nothing about the appointment? (It wasn’t clear at the time if Johnson’s emails were sent on Feb. 23 or 24).

Is that the normal procedure and standard practice for how things were handled in the City of San Francisco and/or in the SFPD while you worked there? Send out an email blast announcing an interim department head has been fired?

Why did you retract it, assuming that’s what you intended to write in your second email? Was it because it wasn’t true? Or because you had changed your mind? Did someone ask or tell you to do that?

If Dr. Ford hadn’t yet passed his background check by then, has he passed it, yet? If so, when is his start date? Also, won’t Interim Chief Morefield simply return to his role and title as a captain within the department once Dr. Ford starts?

If one of you doesn’t provide copies of the emails to me by Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at noon, please consider this is a formal Public Records Act request for copies of the two emails.

Then once I receive them, I’m sure I will have more questions.

Thomas, did Con violate personnel protections for Tony by sending out that email to others on city staff and Dr. Ford who was not yet on staff at that time?  Are you the one who directed Con to retract his first email?

How could Tony be fired without due process? Isn’t he protected by the Peace Officer Bill of Rights and as a city employee? AB301

Con, shouldn’t you have known that as a former police manager? When did you inform Tony of your decision to terminate him? Was it before you sent out the email? At what time was his termination effective? Was it announced to anyone else prior to the first email being sent out? Was another leader in the APD given the position of interim police chief between the time of the first email and the second one retracting the first? If so, when did that occur? Who was assigned that role? Was it Captain Trevor Schnitzius?”

No responses were received as of Friday, March 25 at 5:00 p.m.

Outside Attorney Says Emails Are Not Privileged

The Herald sought legal advice on the matter from an attorney who wrote the following, which was also shared via email with City Attorney Smith, Johnson, the city council members, Morefield, Bayon Moore and Bonilla shortly after 5:00 p.m. Thursday, March 17:

“In a case entitled City of San Jose v. Superior Court (2017) 2 Ccal.th 608, the California Supreme Court said that emails sent by City Officials (in that case, they were emails generated by City Council members) which relate in any way to ‘the conduct of public business’ are required to be disclosed under the Public Records Act (specifically, Government Code Section 6252(e)) even if they are sent from the public official’s personal cell phone.  There is no doubt that the email to Acting Chief Morefield from the Interim City Manager Con Johnson concerned ‘the conduct of public business.’  Moreover, there cannot possibly be a privilege attached to the email, as it was not sent to seek advice from the City Attorney, but was essentially ‘blasted’ to a bunch of people, including the person who was supposedly replacing Morefield, who was not even a City employee at the time, and others, who had no legal right to know about this ‘personnel matter’ which should have been confidential under penal code section 832.7.  Since Johnson sent it to people with whom he shared no legal privilege of confidentiality, and who otherwise had no legal right to know what was happening to Morefield, any claim that the email was ‘privileged’ is total nonsense.”

The Herald wrote smith that the emails were expected to be received on Friday, March 18. They were not.

City Attorney Fails to Respond to PRA Request Within 10-Day Legal Limit

Government agencies are required to respond to Public Records Act requests within 10 business days. The city attorney was required to respond to the Herald’s PRA request dated March 8 by Tuesday, March 23. But no response was received from Smith even as of Friday afternoon at close of business.

Councilmembers Refuse to Share Letter, Email

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock each said they would not release the emails to the Herald. However, earlier this week, Barbanica posted a video about Johnson’s letter and email. But that has since been removed.

Johnson email “tracking”/retracting letter terminating Morefield sent on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

Copies of Letter and Email Received by Herald March 24

On Thursday afternoon, March 24 copies of Johnson’s letter and his follow up email were received by the Herald from someone who chose to remain anonymous. The letter reads as follows:

“To: Tony Morefield

Captain of Police

FR: Cornelius H. Johnson

Interim City Manager

Date: February 24, 2022

Subject: Letter of Termination

Confidential

Captain Morefield,

Effective immediately, your employment with the Antioch Police Department as the Interim Chief of Police has been terminated. Please cease and desists [sic] with any further duties or responsibilities that are associated with the Interim Chief of Police position.

I want to thank you for your service while serving as the City of Antioch Interim Chief of Police. I wish you the best in your future professional endeavors.”

Johnson’s Follow-Up Email “Tracking” Termination Letter

In an email to Morefield, copying the same individuals, received at 10:05 a.m. the same day Johnson wrote:

“Subject: Letter of Termination

To All concern [sic]

Due to the personnel sensitivity, I am immediately tracking the letter of termination to Captain Tony Morefield.

Cornelius H. Johnson

Interim City Manager

Morefield Still Interim Chief

Asked Friday, March 25 if he was still Antioch’s interim police chief, Morefield said, “I am still the interim chief of police until such time as the city manager hires a new one.”

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Contra Costa Elections office to test Dominion Voting Systems equipment for accuracy Friday, March 25

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Dominion’s ImageCast X equipment. From company brochure.

Public test of Vote-by-Mail counting equipment

The April 5, 2022 Special Election for the California Assembly District 11 office is underway in California. The Contra Costa County Elections Division will perform the county’s official logic and accuracy testing on central ballot counting and processing equipment at 10:00 am Friday, March 25, 2022 at the Elections Office, located at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez and the public is invited to observe.

According to Helen Nolan, Assistant Registrar, “Contra Costa County purchased its ballot counting and processing equipment from Dominion Voting Systems. We originally purchased this ballot tabulation system in March 2018 and will be conducting our 11th election with the system in April using the Dominion Democracy Suite 5.10a.  Brand names used in the system include Dell, Canon, InoTec, OKI, AValue, and HP.” (See related article)

Logic and accuracy testing is a standard pre-election procedure. The test will confirm that all central count equipment is in working order and functioning properly. A set of test ballots will be run through each scanner to ensure they are properly programmed and operating as expected.

Visitors are asked to check-in at the Elections lobby.  For more information, call 925-335-7800.

 

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