Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Glover takes one year pass on gavel, hands chair to Mitchoff in her final year on Contra Costa Board of Supervisors

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

New Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Mitchoff and Vice Chair Federal Glover. Photos: CCC

County public meetings to continue online for 30 more days; COVID cases decrease by 27.9% over past two weeks

By Daniel Borsuk

In a show of respect for her 34 years of public service, retiring Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor Karen Mitchoff will manage the board’s gavel in 2022, a year when vice chair Federal Glover would have taken over the board leadership duties from current chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood.

Vice chair Glover of Pittsburg, who would have customarily been automatically approved by his supervisorial colleagues as chair for 2022, made the motion to transfer the board chair duties to Mitchoff as an act of respect for her public service dating back to 1981 in the office of late Contra Costa Sherriff-Coroner Richard Rainey as his executive secretary.

Glover, who represents District 5 on the board, will continue to serve as vice chair in 2022 and assume the chair duties in 2023.

Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill has served as District IV Supervisor since January 2011.

Supervisor Mitchoff had initially announced her candidacy for the position of Contra Costa County Recorder-Clerk when former officer holder Joe Canciamilla resigned and sentenced for violating Fair Political Practices Commission laws by spending more than $130,000 in campaign funds for personal uses. Mitchoff eventually stepped away from actively pursuing the County Recorder-Clerk post when Assistant Recorder-Clerk Debbi Cooper announced her candidacy and eventually won the supervisors’ approval to accept the top post.

“I talked to Supervisor Mitchoff, who plans to not run for reelection after next year, to serve as our chairperson as an honor,” said Supervisor Glover. “Therefore, I would make a motion to nominate Karen Mitchoff as chair for 2022 and Glover serve as vice chair for 2022.”

Glover’s motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

“I want to thank Mr. Glover to allow me to serve as board chair in my final year on the board,” said Mitchoff. “It shows how wonderful it is to be on this board. We are always respectful and kind.”

Mitchoff’s eventual departure raises the question of who might run for her position.

Among some of the potential candidates are Ken Carlson, a gay retired Concord police officer who serves on the Pleasant Hill City Council. Concord City Councilmember Edi Birsan has also frequently said he would run for the supervisorial post.

Mitchoff, a Portland, OR native, is a Cal State East Bay B.A. graduate in Human Development and has an elected and appointed public service record that includes election to the Pleasant Hill City Council in 2008 and service as mayor in 2010. She was appointed to the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District Board of Directors in 2003 and election to the Board of Directors in 2004 and 2006. From 1992 to 1996 she served on the Pleasant Hill Planning Commission.

Online Meetings for 30 More Days

The return of in person public meetings, especially at the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ brand new $100 million county administration building in downtown Martinez, will be on hold for at least another 30 days because of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 361. The law now allows public meeting to be held onlin through January 31, 2022. At least through November the supervisors and all county commissions and advisory panels – the Assessment Appeals Board, Merit Board, Planning Commission, and Measure X Advisory Commission – will continue to conduct meetings remotely.

The supervisor’s resolution states:

“The Board of Supervisors finds that in person meetings of the Board of Supervisors would present risks to the health or safety of the public, staff and officials attending meetings, in light of the high case rate of COVID-19 infections in the county.

“As authorized by Assembly Bill 361, effective immediately and for the next 30 days the Board of Supervisors, acting in all its capacities and all its subcommittees, will use teleconferencing for meetings with the provisions of Government Code section 54953e.”

County COVID-19 Cases and Vaccinations

In the meantime, the Contra Costa Health Services reported there were 1,532 COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks, for a 36.8 percent decrease. Seventy-three COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, a 27.9 decrease over the past two weeks, department records show.

The Contra Costa County Health Services also reported the county’s vaccination rate for residents ages 12 and older, who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, is 86.3 percent compared to a 75.9 percent national rate.

 

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Antioch Council agrees to form commission on homelessness

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Graphic from Unhoused Strategies report. City of Antioch.

By Allen Payton

During their discussion of forming a commission on homelessness, the Antioch City Council was split on when to do so. Proposed by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, both District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock wanted to wait until after the Bridge Housing Task Force is done with its reasons.

Although Torres-Walker said she had proposed a task force, she argued in favor of forming a permanent commission to deal with both homelessness and renters, saying the issue is on-going.

“It can become concurrent with the phasing out of our Bridge Housing Task Force,” said Mayor Lamar Thorpe, offering a compromise to Barbanica and Ogorchock.

He then joined Torres-Walker and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson in supporting the formation of the commission.

There was no formal vote to form the commission, yet but merely direction to staff that the council wants to form one. Council will still need to decide the number of members on the commission and the proposed purpose and duties of the commission.

A vote to form the commission will be brought back by staff at a future council meeting.

General Public Comments

At the end of the meeting, during general public comments for items not on the agenda, Angelo Quinto’s mother and father, Cassandra Quinto and her husband Robert Collins, called for a third-party investigation of the Antioch Police Department. She claims there was a cover-up regarding the reports by the four officers, whom she named, that interacted with her son last December, after which he ended up in the hospital, where he died three days later.

Regarding Angelo Quinto’s death, the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office stated, “Although the decedent had injuries consistent with a struggle with his family and law enforcement, none of the injuries appeared to be fatal.”

“I will never be silent. I will forever be Angelo’s voice,” his mother added.

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Gov. Newsom signs bill extending government agency online meetings through end of 2023

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Was set to expire at the end of this month

By Allen Payton

On Sept. 16, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 361, entitled “Open meetings: state and local agencies: teleconferences,” extending the time period for online meetings of government agencies until Jan. 1, 2024. The current order allowing the online meetings until the end of this month, will expire on Oct. 1 under an executive order he signed, on Monday, Sept. 20.

According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, “This bill, until January 1, 2024, would authorize a local agency to use teleconferencing without complying with the teleconferencing requirements imposed by the Ralph M. Brown Act when a legislative body of a local agency holds a meeting during a declared state of emergency, as that term is defined, when state or local health officials have imposed or recommended measures to promote social distancing, during a proclaimed state of emergency held for the purpose of determining, by majority vote, whether meeting in person would present imminent risks to the health or safety of attendees, and during a proclaimed state of emergency when the legislative body has determined that meeting in person would present imminent risks to the health or safety of attendees, as provided.”

However, government agencies can still choose to return to meeting in person. Both the Antioch City Council and Antioch School Board planned to return to in-person meetings next month. But now they will have the option to continue to hold their meetings online.

 

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Two fire boards approve annexation of far east county fire district with larger Con Fire

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Contra Costa Fire and East Contra Costa Fire Protection Districts to move forward with applications to Local Agency Formation Commission

By Steve Hill, PIO, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District & Steve Aubert, Fire Marshal/PIO, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) announced Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, their boards of directors have each approved resolutions for the annexation of ECCFPD into the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. The agencies are now expected to make applications to the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for formal approval of the annexation.

“Annexation into Con Fire is a huge victory for the businesses and residents of East Contra Costa,” said ECCFPD Board of Directors President Brian Oftedal. “We explored every option to fix this historically underfunded district and provide a better service delivery model. Annexation will improve response times, open fire stations and provide a paramedic level of service for our communities.”

ECCFPD was formed in November of 2002 by combining the Bethel Island Fire District, the East Diablo Fire District, and the Oakley Fire District.  It serves Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron and the unincorporated area to the Clayton city limits.

ECCFPD Service Area Map.

“I am so excited and proud of the teamwork that has brought us to this point,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board Chair Diane Burgis, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “With the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors acting as the Con Fire fire board unanimously approving the request to formally apply for annexation of ECCFPD, and the ECCFPD board voting unanimously to move forward, we are a giant step closer to providing improved fire and rescue services in East Contra Costa County.”

“I look forward to continuing to work to push this across the finish line,” she added.

Once approved by LAFCo, Con Fire will absorb the firefighting staff, support staff, facilities and equipment of today’s ECCFPD and the newly merged organization will provide improved fire and emergency services to the more than 128,000 residents of eastern Contra Costa County. The annexation approval process is expected to take four-to-six months followed by operational and administrative consolidation of the two entities.

“I am pleased by the decisions of the two agencies’ boards, approving our requests to formally apply for annexation of East Contra Costa Fire into Con Fire,” said Chief Lewis Broschard of Con Fire. “I look forward to now beginning in earnest the implementation of this long-studied initiative that will provide more effective, efficient and safer fire and emergency services across our county.”

Benefits of annexation for residents are expected to include more coordinated, cohesive and streamlined fire and emergency services. While both fire districts already work very closely on mutual aid assignments across current borders, each maintains separate operations, training and administrative functions, creating potential for economies of scale by bringing the separate operational entities under one administrative structure.

Another important benefit will be better alignment of firefighting models across districts that could net both increased fire services and improved firefighter safety. Annexation is also expected to reduce current burdens on the agencies’ busiest stations by increasing resources within Battalion 5 in East County.

ECCFPD Chief Brian Helmick. Official photo

“ECCFPD’s citizens and businesses are one step closer to receiving adequate fire and rescue service levels,” said ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick. “My staff and I will continue to diligently work to ensure the remaining consolidation processes go through seamlessly and in a timely manner.”

When reached for comment, he added, “it still needs both LAFCo and state Board of Equalization approval. It is anticipated both those processes will go smoothly and we expect to be one agency by March 2022. It’s just a process issue. At this time, we have heard of no opposition to either board’s identical resolutions.”

Asked about what his new position will be, Helmick responded, “that’s still being worked out. We’ll probably know what that looks like in the next couple months. They’re working on finalizing positions for many people in the organization.”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, acting as the Con Fire Board, unanimously approved a resolution for Con Fire to annex East Contra Costa Fire in its regular monthly meeting on September 14, 2021.

The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted unanimously to move forward with consolidation with Contra Costa County Fire Protection District at a special Fire Board meeting on September 16, 2021. (See related article)

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader – – Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model across the District and beyond to include some 520 square miles of the county. In 2020, the District responded to some 75,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property, and the environment.

About East Contra Costa Fire Protection District — The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) is a rural-funded fire district that currently operates three fire stations and has a three-station deficit. The district protects a population of more than 128,000 across its 249 square-mile service area. ECCFPD provides firefighting personnel, emergency medical services (basic life support) and fire prevention to the residents and businesses of the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, and unincorporated communities of Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek, and Morgan Territory. Learn more at www.eccfpd.org or social media via Facebook (East Contra Costa Fire Protection District), Instagram(@east_contra_costa_fire), Twitter (@ECCFPD ) or our YouTube channel (East Contra Costa Fire Protection District).

 

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Fire fighters protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate at Contra Costa Supervisors meeting

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Goes into effect tomorrow, Sept. 17; Board supports LAFCO consolidation of fire departments

By Daniel Borsuk

With the clock ticking, a battalion of upset Contra Costa County Fire District fire fighters remotely protested before the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors that they refuse to obey a “draconian” August 13 Contra Costa Health Services order requiring county first responders to be fully vaccinated or face termination.

The county health order that goes into effect Friday, Sept. 17 was drafted by Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano and adopted by the board of supervisors in a closed session because of its employment ramifications for many veteran fire fighters and sheriff deputies and other first responders who might refuse to take the vaccine for personal, political or religious reasons.

Dr. Farnitano claims the tough vaccine employment order for first responders arises at a time the number of COVID-19 patients in county hospitals is on the rise.

But a check with the Contra Costa Health Department’s COVID-19 website shows there are 154 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals. That is down 9.3 percent over the past two weeks, the CCCHD website showed.

In addition, the county health department reported 2,421 active COVID-19 cases. That is down 45.9 percent from two weeks ago.

Nearly 85 percent of Contra Costa residents are vaccinated, county health department data shows. The national vaccination rate is 73.9 percent.

The new vaccine employment edict applies to fire department and sheriff office personnel. There were no personnel from the sheriff’s office who protested against Dr. Farnitano’s vaccination/employment order.

Nearly 40 firefighters, many with more than 20 years in service, from all ranks including engineers, firefighters, and captains, protested against the county health officer’s order.

“This is an infringement of our freedom of choice,” said Collin Spencer, a fire fighter/paramedic.

Upon opposing the vaccine mandate, fire fighter Nick Sandburg, a father of two with a “pregnant wife” commented, “I don’t think the vaccine is effective. I oppose the vaccine mandate. Just give us universal testing.”

“None of us took this lightly,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. “This is about protecting the public.”

District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen was more direct commenting “I am really shocked about the misinformation that our fire fighters have about the COVID-19 vaccine. Somewhere there is a big disconnect.”

It’ll be interesting what the fire fighters will do when the Sept. 17 deadline arrives. The county could be in a major fire crisis if large numbers of well trained, experienced fire fighters are let go especially during the start of the county’s peak fire season.

In the past month, there were 206 vegetation fires that CCCFD responded to and in one day there were seven structure fires, reported Contra Costa County Fire Department Chief Louis Brousard III.

Board Supports LAFCO Consolidation of Fire Departments

Supervisors, serving as commissioners of the Contra Costa County Fire District, pushed along on a 5-0 vote to have the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) to act on consolidating the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and financially struggling East Contra Costa Fire District.

ECCFD board member Joe Young told supervisors he will oppose the consolidation at the district’s board meeting on Sept. 16 because the consolidated district will continue to inadequately fund fire services in Oakley, Brentwood, and Discovery Bay. Young not elaborate at the supervisors’ meeting.

“There are a lot of details that have yet to be addressed on consolidation,” admitted CCCFPD Fire Chief Broussard. “We’ll bring leaders from both organizations to make this a successful annexation.”

While giving Board Chair Diane Burgis credit for being a key player in the merger of the two districts, District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said the newly enlarged fire district will draw fire protection upgrades especially with equipment and personnel once “millions of dollars of Proposition X sales tax funds” pour into the district. Gioia was a big backer for the Prop. X ballot measure to appear on last November’s election ballot.

A proposal to consolidate the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District into the enlarged CCCFPD was not considered by the supervisors. That proposal was dropped.

 

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Contra Costa restaurants, gyms, theaters must require proof of vax or COVID test as of Sept. 22

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

“How is it our responsibility to be the vaccine police!!” – Contra Costa restaurant owner

“the peak of the surge seems to have passed” – CC Health Services

We can’t give you an exact percentage of cases that can be attributed to restaurants and the other high-risk venues covered in the order.” – CC Health Services spokesman

No “metric” for ending latest order; county wants “significant portion” of 5-11 year-olds vaccinated

By Allen Payton

Source: The Rutherford Institute.

Shades of Nazi Brown Shirts will begin next week in Contra Costa County as patrons of restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues will hear something similar to the phrase used during World War II by the Hitler-led German regime, “Your Papers, Please!” That’s because as of Wednesday, Sept. 22, by order of the county’s unelected health officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano, those types of businesses in the county must require patrons show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test in order to enter, even though “the peak of the surge seems to have passed” as mentioned in the press release from Contra Costa Health Services.

According to the press release, “The new order applies to businesses where people remove face coverings to eat or drink indoors, such as restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, and to gyms and other indoor fitness facilities, including yoga and dance studios, where patrons breathe more heavily due to exercise.”

However, the announcement doesn’t provide what percentage of COVID cases in the county can be attributed to those types of businesses, supporting the need for the order. It also doesn’t allow for those who have proof of recovering from COVID in the past three months, as they have higher levels of anti-bodies than people who have been fully vaccinated, especially those who received their shot or shots five to eight months ago.

The order was issued Tuesday afternoon in the following press release:

COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination or Test Required for Some Contra Costa Businesses

Contra Costa County joined San Francisco, Berkeley and other communities across the U.S. today with a countywide health order that increases COVID-19 safety in restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses where there is elevated risk of the virus spreading.

The new order, effective September 22, requires patrons of these businesses to show proof they are fully vaccinated to enter indoor areas, or a negative COVID-19 test result from the past three days.

Contra Costa has endured a severe spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations this summer due to the increasing prevalence of the highly infectious delta variant of the virus and unvaccinated residents.

While the peak of the surge seems to have passed, data show the county’s daily case rate remains as high as it was last February. There were 15 COVID-related deaths in Contra Costa from August 25 to 31, and 20 from September 1 to 7, the two highest seven-day totals since March. Unvaccinated residents account for 95.9% of the county’s deaths so far.

COVID-19 case rates are about five times higher in unvaccinated county residents compared to fully vaccinated residents, hospitalization rates are approximately 16 times higher, and death rates are approximately 22 times higher.

“This order is necessary now to save lives, protect our overburdened healthcare system, and slow the pandemic enough to keep our schools open,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer. “Reducing community transmission of the virus now is key to preventing future spikes in cases from overwhelming our county’s hospitals during the winter months.”

The new order applies to businesses where people remove face coverings to eat or drink indoors, such as restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, and to gyms and other indoor fitness facilities, including yoga and dance studios, where patrons breathe more heavily due to exercise.

The order also includes a requirement for workers in indoor areas of these businesses to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 by November 1 or test weekly for COVID-19.

To show proof of vaccination, patrons must show photo ID and their vaccination record cards from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), or copies or pictures of their cards. Documentation from healthcare providers will also be accepted, as will digital COVID-19 vaccine records issued by the State of California.

Visit myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov for a link to your digital vaccination, which can be downloaded on to your smartphone.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus for more information about this health order, or to find a safe, fast and free COVID-19 vaccination in Contra Costa County.

###

Restauranteurs Respond

Restaurant owners in the county responded to the news with frustration. “How is it our responsibility to be the vaccine police!!” shared one owner who chose to remain anonymous.

“Kiss the restaurants good-bye,” said another, also anonymously.

However, another restaurant owner said anonymously, “We need to contribute to the pandemic to get better.”

Questions For Health Services

In response, questions were sent to county health services staff asking, “what percentage of COVID cases in the county can be attributed to restaurants, indoor entertainment venues and gyms, please?”

In addition, they were asked, “why not include what other countries are requiring for those who want to travel there, which is proof of having COVID within the past three months, since those folks have higher levels of antibodies than those who have been vaccinated, especially those who have been five to eight months ago?”

9/16/21 UPDATE: No Percentages of Impact from Affected Businesses

Contra Costa Public Health Services spokesman Will Harper responded with the following: “We can’t give you an exact percentage of cases that can be attributed to restaurants and the other high-risk venues covered in the order. Due to the nature of these businesses, it is not always possible to identify all the patrons who were exposed and infected by a case at one of these sites.  What we can say is that indoor settings where people remove their masks, such as restaurants and bars, or where they breathe heavily, such as in a gym, increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. As the order states, outbreaks have been documented in bars, gyms, and restaurants in California this year.

Currently there is no scientific consensus on the strength or duration of natural immunity after a covid-19 infection, or how reliably to measure this. For now, we felt most confident in requiring proof of vaccination. Vaccination is still recommended for people who have had Covid-19 to boost their immunity and protect them from a repeat infection from Covid-19. We have clear data showing that vaccinated people are more protected the unvaccinated people, regardless or prior Covid-19 infection history.”

9/17/21 UPDATE: No “Metric” for Ending Latest Order, County Wants “Significant Portion” of 5-11 Year Olds Vaccinated

A follow up question was sent asking what factors Dr. Farnitano will use to determine when this latest order will end.

Harper responded, “While we have not defined a specific metric at this time, the key measures we will be looking at to inform when it is safe to lift indoor masking requirements and venue verification and test requirements include the impact on our health care system (have our Covid-19 hospitalization and ICU levels returned to June, 2021 levels), the impact on schools (are significant numbers of students missing out on classroom time due to illness, isolation and quarantine) and our community vaccination rates (which will be crucial to preventing another surge if other public health measures are relaxed), especially if we are able to vaccinate a significant portion of the 5-11 year old population once the vaccines are approved for them. California learned an unfortunate lesson that the vaccination rates we had in June were not sufficient to prevent a serious surge without other interventions like indoor masking in place.”

Additional Questions Go Unanswered

Additional questions were sent to Harper, asking, why do you want to vaccinate a significant portion of the 5-11 population when such a minuscule percentage of that age group are contracting the virus and a much smaller number have died?

In addition, he was asked about one of his previous responses, how can it both be that “Currently there is no scientific consensus on the strength or duration of natural immunity after a covid-19 infection, or how reliably to measure this” and “We have clear data showing that vaccinated people are more protected than unvaccinated people, regardless of prior Covid-19 infection history”?

Please check back later for any other updates to this report.

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Payton Perspective: Antioch mayor and 3 council members need to hold off on city employee vax and testing mandate

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Photo courtesy of CC Health Services.

Only Barbanica wisely voted against; city doesn’t know the costs, yet; lawsuits over similar mandates filed, more expected; no meet and confer, yet with APOA; any policy must include the 3 CDC proclaimed “effective” therapies with the same FDA Emergency Use Authorization the vaccines have had

By Allen Payton, Publisher

During their meeting Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council will consider approving a “COVID-19 Mandatory Testing and Vaccination Policy” for all city employees, contractors and volunteers. It would require they get one of the COVID-19 vaccines or undergo weekly testing. According to the city staff report for the agenda item, “During the August 24, 2021 City Council meeting, the City Council directed staff to return to Council with a resolution…with costs borne by the City, time to do so would be limited to a certain duration, and the policy would include a start and end date.” (See agenda Item 13)

It was proposed by Mayor Lamar Thorpe during a press conference in August and supported by him, and all council members except District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica.”

That was in spite of the fact that two of the council members, Districts 1 and 3 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Lori Ogorchock spoke against a mandate, during that meeting, before voting to support it.

Don’t Know Costs, Yet

Also, according to the staff report the city doesn’t even know, yet what the cost of such a mandate will be. It reads, “Costs related to this policy are unknown at this time. Costs may include, but may not be limited to, the cost of weekly testing, the cost of a third part to administer the test, mileage, loss in productivity.”

Wait for Lawsuits Over Other Mandates to Be Settled

Multiple lawsuits are expected to be filed against President Biden’s national mandate he just issued in an executive order, last week. According to the New York Post, “Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, issued a statement Thursday calling the mandate unnecessary, overbearing and counterintuitive.

‘This executive order villainizes employees for reasonable concerns and hesitancies and interest the federal government into individual medical decisions,’ Cosme said. ‘People should not be made to feel uncomfortable for making a reasonable medical choice.’”

There has also been a lawsuit filed “by a slew of unions” against Mayor DeBlasio for his mandate in that city.

Antioch council members should hold off for the results of those lawsuits before opening up our city to legal challenges and costs.

Violates Health Privacy – Were City Employee Groups Consulted?

Questions were sent to city staff, early Monday afternoon asking, “Have city staff met with the various employee groups to meet and confer on the proposed ordinance for mandating COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing? If so, what were the results of those meet and confer meetings? Do their contracts need to be amended? If so, did all the groups agree to that?”

They were also asked, “isn’t this a violation of privacy of city employees, contractors, and volunteers, specifically with regards to their health and medical care, since they have to reveal to other city staff members if they’ve had a specific medical treatment or not?”

APOA Requests for Meet and Confer Ignored

Corporal Steve Aiello, Vice President of the Antioch Police Officers Association said there’s been no meet and confer, yet for his organization.

“On two occasions the APOA has reached out to the city, to (Administrative Services Director) Nickie Mastay in personnel and requested a meet and confer,” he stated. “But there’s been no response.”

“It’s a work condition change,” Aiello added as the reason a meet and confer is required.

Additional questions were then sent to City Manager Ron Bernal, after Monday work hours with, “Ron, I just spoke with Steve Aiello of the APOA. He said they’ve sent two email messages to Nickie Mastay requesting a meet and confer on the vaccine and testing mandate, but she has not responded. Is that correct? If so, why not? He said it’s required since it’s a change to their work conditions. Is that true? If so, shouldn’t the APOA and all the city’s employee groups have a meet and confer on the mandate before the council takes a vote?” As of 6:30 p.m. he has not responded to either the emailed nor texted questions, nor has City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith.

Please check back later for their responses should they provide them.

Painful Weekly Testing Alternative, Punishment for No Vaccine, One Test Ineffective

Nurse’s tweet of COVID test graphic.

While the proposed policy includes an alternative for weekly testing for those employees, contractors and volunteers who choose to not take a vaccine, have any of the council members been tested? Do they know how painful it is having those swabs scrape the back of your nose and throat? If not, all four should undergo that, first to see what they’re planning on subjecting our city employees, contractors and volunteers to that weekly pain, before voting to mandate it as one of the two options.

According to a New York Times report, “If you’ve seen the test (there are plenty of Instagram videos), then you know it looks as if someone is poking your brain: A swab is inserted deep in through your nostrils…The test itself is quick — only a few seconds — but most describe the sensation as highly uncomfortable.”

According to a Newsweek report, “’This test being demonstrated is a nasopharyngeal swab or NP swab collection. It uses a small flocked swab on a flexible plastic shaft to collect a sample from the posterior nasopharynx,’ Wesley Long, a microbiologist from Houston Methodist Hospital, told Newsweek. ‘Nasopharynx’ is a term that refers to the back part of your nose where it joins the throat.”

I watched as my son get a COVID test last year, and he winced when they put those long swabs up his nostrils. Then I had a test recently and now I know why he winced. I did, too. Ouch, two times! So, basically, that part of the mayor and council majority’s mandate would effectively serve as punishment for those employees, contractors and volunteers who won’t take the vaccine.

Plus, one of the COVID-19 tests that has been in use since February 2020 has been determined ineffective and discontinued by the CDC – but not until Dec. 31, 2021 for some unknown reason – because it can’t tell the difference between the virus and the flu. Yet, those test kits are still being used. The CDC has requested that a new test be developed. The council should wait on that, as well.

Dangerous Side Effects of Vaccines, Other Medical Conditions, Religious Exemption

I’m not going to get into all the details of the fact that there are good reasons for people who don’t want the vaccines due to all their dangerous side effects, have other medical conditions that prevent them from taking the vaccine or have a fundamental religious conviction for not wanting the jab.

Vaccines Still in Clinical Trials, Mandate Violates Nuremberg Code

Plus, all three of the vaccines are still undergoing clinical trials one until Nov. 1, another until 2023 and the third until 2024! (See Moderna Dose-Confirmation Study to Evaluate the Safety, Reactogenicity, and Immunogenicity of mRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccine in Adults Aged 18 Years and Older here, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 BNT162b2 Vaccine Effectiveness Study here, and Janssen-Johnson & Johnson Study of (COVID-19) in Adults here)

So, they’re still experimental and therefore such a mandate clearly violates the Nuremberg Code which was established after World War II in response to the Nazis experimenting on the Jews during the Holocaust and others. It prohibits medical experimentation on humans without their consent.

According to the National Institutes of Health website the first lines read, “The Nuremberg Code 1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”

CDC – “Effective Therapeutics Are Available”

According to the CDC’s website under the subheading, “SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibody Therapies” it reads, “In the United States, there are three anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody treatments with FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of COVID-19: bamlanivimab plus etesevima, casirivimab plus imdevimab, and sotrovima.” In addition, the CDC website reads, “effective therapeutics are available.”

The only public mention of monoclonal antibody therapies by the government or major media that I’ve read or heard has been about what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing in his state to offer it to his state’s residents at multiple locations. Yet, the CDC’s website offers treatment recommendations and guidelines for administering the alternative therapies.

According to a report by CBS4 Miami, “Monoclonal antibody treatments can be prescribed by health care providers to individuals 12 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness and hospitalization.”

Council Should Wait

For these reasons and more, the council should wait to approve the testing and vaccine mandate policy. In the meantime, just follow the current CDC guidelines and if a city employee, contractor or volunteer is experiencing COVID symptoms, the must stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days.

However, if the council insists on moving forward with their mandate, they must include the three effective therapies in their policy, so employees who don’t want the vaccine will have an alternative to painful, weekly testing. Otherwise, they’re acting like they’re medical experts, and worse, Nazis, not following the science, the CDC or FDA, nor abiding by the Nuremberg Code and giving OUR city employees – because they work for and are paid by we the people – all the options available to them.

Proposed Policy

Following is the language for the proposed policy resolution:

RESOLUTION NO. 2021/**

RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANTIOCH ADOPTING A COVID-19 TESTING AND VACCINATION POLICY

WHEREAS, the City has an interest in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of City personnel, community members with whom City personnel interact, and all residents and visitors of the City;

WHEREAS, many City employees come in close contact with members of our community as part of their daily job duties and this often includes members of our community who are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, such as children under the age of twelve, or those with medical conditions contraindicated for the vaccine;

WHEREAS, all City of Antioch employees are designated to be Disaster Service Workers under California Government Code sections 3100-3109 and are required to return to work during an emergency;

WHEREAS, all City employees shall either be vaccinated for COVID-19 or be subject to weekly COVID-9 testing requirements; and

WHEREAS, this policy is an effective way to ensure that City personnel do not pose harm to the public or other employees.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Antioch as follows:

Section 1. The COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Policy shall address: vaccinations; weekly testing for City employees and contracted personnel at the City’s expense for a specified duration that commences on October 1, 2021.

Section 2. Policy implementation shall be administratively executed by the City Manager and incorporatee any applicable Federal, State and local policy directives on an ongoing basis.

 

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Vote to remove Householder as Antioch School Board president on Wednesday night’s meeting agenda

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha and President Ellie Householder. Photos: AUSD

Requested by Trustee Rocha before last Thursday’s special meeting; won’t be their first clash; Services Agreement with private security firm Strategic Threat Management also on the agenda

By Allen Payton

Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha has requested a vote of the board to remove current president Ellie Householder during their regular meeting, tomorrow night, Wednesday, Sept. 8.

It follows the posting of a video of a police incident with a violent student at Antioch High School by Householder, prior to obtaining the details, and then her calling a special board meeting, originally to investigate the incident, last Thursday night, during which nothing was accomplished since both agenda items were tabled for up to 60 days. (See related articles, here, here and here)

The matter is item 10.E. under “Items for Information/Discussion/Action by Board”. (See complete meeting agenda)

“I requested it before last Thursday’s meeting,” Rocha said when reached for comment. “I was surprised how many calls came in calling for her removal.”

“Since Ellie became president, she has included (Area 4 Trustee Dr. Clyde) Lewis, as board vice president, in her meetings with the superintendent about each meeting agenda,” Rocha continued. “So, as a courtesy, I called Lewis and left him a voicemail message to let him know that it would be on tomorrow night’s agenda.”

When reached for comment Lewis confirmed that he attends agenda meetings and that he received Rocha’s message writing, “Yes, I’m in agenda meetings. But if there are other meetings, I’m not aware of them” and “Yes” in response to the second question.

Householder’s one-year, rotated term as board president ends in December and it is expected that Lewis, who is currently the board vice president, will be the next president. But that line of succession has not always occurred, as past boards have bypassed the vice president and voted in another trustee as president.

Rocha and Householder Have Clashed Before

This won’t be the first time that Rocha and Householder will have clashed. Rocha challenged her fellow trustee after Householder had posted some negative comments about Rocha on Twitter, in support of the protesters who broke into the school district headquarters during a board meeting, which was closed to just the trustees and staff due to COVID. Rocha was almost pushed to the ground. In response to that and Householder’s participation in a protest at then-Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts’ home, Rocha attempted to have Householder removed from the School-City Standing Committee but it failed on a 1-4 vote.  (See related articles, here and here)

An effort to reach Householder for comment was unsuccessful prior to publication time.

In addition, during the meeting, the Services Agreement with Strategic Threat Management, Inc., whose security guards were involved in the Antioch High incident and could be seen in the video restraining the student, is on the consent calendar. That could prove to be a lengthy discussion.

UPDATE: Succession and Replacement Process

Superintendent Stephanie Anello was asked, since there is no election item on the agenda, “if Ellie is removed as board president, tonight who becomes board president to at least run the rest of the meeting? Does Clyde automatically become acting board president and will the election for a permanent board president for the remainder of the year be held at the next meeting?

Anello responded, “I believe it would fall to the vice president to run the rest of tonight’s meeting. An item would need to be placed on the next agenda to elect a new president.”

Meeting Viewing and Public Comment Information

The meeting will be livestreamed and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/F-Dsas_w-s0. Persons wishing to make a general public comment or a comment on items on the agenda can submit their comments until 4:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Comments can be submitted via an online form at https://tinyurl.com/ausd-public-comment-card or by email to kelliecavallaro@antiochschools.net. Comments received by 4:00 p.m. will be read to the public during the meeting.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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