Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

City of Antioch Boards & Commissions applications can now be submitted online

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

The deadline to apply for the first round of recruitment is Thursday, March 31st.

💰To fill out an Economic Development Commission application:  https://forms.gle/iuBrckzUsUHfVprV7

🏞 To fill out a Parks and Recreation Commission: https://forms.gle/waw5SSozpDpgXkmk8

🧾 To fill out a Sales Tax Citizens’ Oversight Committee application: https://forms.gle/4Ro5buKSXAhtsCsx9

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Antioch City Clerk Householder explains delay in timely posting of council meeting minutes

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Screenshot of Antioch City Council Agendas and Minutes page on the city’s website as of Wednesday morning, March 23, 2022. Source: Mark Jordan

Contracts with Meeting Minutes Clerk, council not approving them, special meetings

“My office cannot produce what we do not have in our possession” – Householder

Annotated minutes and video are posted within 24-48 hours after meeting

Former City Clerk Simonsen wanted full-time position, quicker type of minutes; says “no legal time limit for approving minutes of a meeting.”

By Allen D. Payton

Complaints have been made to Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder, who is facing possible recall, for not posting the city council meeting minutes on the city’s website in a timely manner. She and former City Clerk Arne Simonsen say they are typed up by the city’s contracted Meeting Minutes Clerk, which has been the process for at least 20 years. The delay is due to too many special council meetings and the council not approving past meeting minutes.

Householder did point out that the Annotated Minutes of the council meetings are posted on the city’s website within 24-48 hours. But they only show the votes by the council members on each agenda item and aren’t posted on the City Council Agendas and Minutes page of the city’s website. Instead, they’re posted below the video of that meeting on a different page, which she pointed out also posted within 24-48 hours, as well. But that requires clicking on the video link for that council meeting on the City Council Agendas and Minutes page and watching the meeting in order to know what the council members said and did. Or clicking on the date of that meeting on the City Council Meetings page of the website where the agendas and minutes aren’t posted.

The following email message and questions were sent to Householder and Deputy City Clerk Christina Garcia on Friday, March 18: “As of today, the minutes for the Antioch City Council meetings from 1/25 through 3/11/22 are not yet posted on the city’s website. The minutes for the meetings of Jan. 25, Feb. 4, 8, and 22 were all on the March 8 meeting agenda. Why weren’t they approved then and are again on next Tuesday’s meeting agenda along with the March 8 and 11 meeting minutes?”

In addition, they were asked, “what is the process for the minutes once they’ve been approved by the council to be uploaded to the website? Can’t you upload the Annotated Minutes until they’re approved? And then replace those with the approved minutes once they have been?”

Householder responded, “Our office contracts with a Meeting Minutes Clerk to provide summary minutes for each Council Meeting. When she completes her task and provides our office with the ‘draft’ Meeting Minutes, they are then placed onto the Council Meeting Agenda for Council to approve.  Once approved by Council, the Meeting Minutes are then uploaded onto our City’s Website.

“My office cannot produce what we do not have in our possession,” she continued. “And as you know, Meeting Minutes are approved by Council.”

“The reason for the one-page staff report is merely requesting Council to ‘Continue’ the Meeting Minutes to a future Council Meeting.  This means we have not received the ‘draft’ Meeting Minutes from our Minutes Clerk,” Householder added. “The Council Meeting video is posted onto our City’s Website within 24 hours of each Council Meeting though.”

Garcia pointed out the special meetings the council has been holding as one reason for the delay in receiving the minutes back from the Meeting Minutes Clerk.

Screenshot of Antioch City Council meeting video and Annotated Minutes page on city’s website. Source: City Clerk Ellie Householder

Additional Questions for Householder Go Unanswered

Additional questions were then sent Monday afternoon March 21 to Householder, copying Garcia, asking, “how long has the city clerk’s office been contracting out the minutes? Why can’t you or the Deputy Clerk handle that responsibility? If it’s taking the outside contractor too long to provide the minutes in a timely manner, have you considered bringing that responsibility back in house or contracting with someone else to get them done in time for the next council meeting? Is there a legal time limit within which the clerk’s office is supposed to have the draft minutes prepared for the city council to adopt?”

But no response was received as of Wednesday, March 23.

Former City Clerk Simonsen Wanted Quicker Type of Minutes and Full-Time City Clerk

Similar questions were also sent to former City Clerk Arne Simonsen, as well.

He responded, “The City Clerk’s Office has contracted a Minutes Clerk for over the past 20+ years. Not just for the City Council meetings, but also the Planning Commission, Police Commission and the Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee. Most cities contract for a Minutes Clerk, unless the Council has approved what are known as ‘Action Minutes’. I tried to get Antioch to use ‘Action Minutes’ which are simple to produce and look similar to the ‘Annotated Minutes’ that I used to produce and post the next day to the City Website.”

“The logic of using Action Minutes is that the DVD of a meeting would be preserved and considered the actual full minutes of a meeting,” Simonsen explained. “Summary Minutes, which Antioch uses take much longer to produce and contain names and comments made not only by council members, but also by the public. And we all know how some in the public like to see their names in those minutes.”

“There is no legal time limit for approving minutes of a meeting. When you have a Council meeting every two weeks, plus throw in any Special Meetings in between, it does take some time,” he pointed out. “Kitty Eiden does a great job with the minutes, and I have absolutely no complaints.  If a Council only met once a month, getting the minutes of the previous meeting on the next agenda would be easy. But every two weeks (and sometimes three a month, plus Special meeting) it does take longer.”

“Would you trust Householder doing the minutes?” Simonsen asked. “The full time Deputy City Clerk has her hands full running all the many other functions of the Clerk’s Office. I tried to get the City Clerk to be full time, as it was from 1872 up until 2010, but my staff reports were turned down every time and never made the agenda.”

“When Kitty was on vacation and the Planning Commission needed a Clerk for the meeting and to produce the minutes, I stepped in to do it and did not receive any extra compensation for doing it,” he added. “Since I had been a Russian linguist for 24 years in the Navy, I routinely transcribed intercepted communications, so taking minutes for me was easy.”

Asked if he remembered ever being five meetings behind when he was city clerk, Simonsen responded, “Only when we had a meeting every week for five weeks in a row.”

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Los Medanos Healthcare District dissolved as of Wednesday eliminating Antioch mayor’s $150K job

Friday, March 11th, 2022

The Los Medanos Community Healthcare District building, formerly Los Medanos Hospital. Photo from the LMCHD Facebook page.

State Supreme Court denies district’s appeal, finalizes Supervisors’ 2017 unanimous vote and LAFCO’s 2018 dissolution decision; county will now receive the funds; Glover believes employees being paid through end of March

By Allen D. Payton

According to a Thursday, March 10, 2022, press release from Contra Costa County, the California Supreme Court denied an appeal by the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District (District), which resulted in the dissolution of the District effective Wednesday afternoon, March 9. The court decision does not affect the operation of the Pittsburg Health Center, which is operated by the Contra Costa County Health Services department and remains open with no changes to regular, ongoing services for patient care.

The County’s efforts to dissolve the district have been ongoing since November 2017 when the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of dissolution. (See related article)

Then in 2018, following Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury recommendations, the Supervisors requested the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which is responsible, in part, for evaluating ways to reorganize, simplify and streamline the structure of governmental entities in California, to dissolve the District and transfer all of its assets and liabilities to the County. The court decision finalizes LAFCO’s dissolution decision that was originally approved in September 2018.

“The court action means we can lower overhead costs significantly and increase grant funding for the benefit of residents’ healthcare priorities and needs in the former District area,” said Supervisor Federal Glover, whose District 5 represents the communities. “We will be able to make a bigger difference for our residents.”

“This has been a thoughtful process to ensure that the community’s needs and concerns are addressed. The County will allocate 90% of funds to health-related programs and establish a reserve fund to help ensure that programs are sustainable moving forward,” stated Board Chair, Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

The Board of Supervisors has established the Los Medanos Healthcare Advisory Committee in July 2018, as part of the plan to dissolve the District, increasing funding available for healthcare programming in the Pittsburg/Bay Point areas. The Committee has been charged with development of an area health plan to determine specific health needs of the community, identify priorities to address those needs and facilitate a request for proposals process to make funding recommendations for health programs in the community to the Board of Supervisors. The Committee includes representatives from the local community and medical practitioners, making this a unique opportunity for collaboration. It is anticipated that the Committee will hold its inaugural meeting in late Spring 2022.

The committee is responsible for making recommendations for grant funding to meet healthcare priorities of residents in the former District area.

The Advisory Committee will be composed of seven (7) members, with the majority being community members (5) who work or live in the Los Medanos area and two (2) healthcare professionals. As appointed by the Board of Supervisors, the Committee includes:

  • (2) Representatives recommended by the City of Pittsburg;
  • (2) Representatives recommended by the Bay Point Municipal Advisory Committee;
  • Representative from the County’s Public Health Division;
  • Representative from the County’s Behavioral Health Division; and
  • At-Large representative who lives or works in the Pittsburg/Bay Point area as recommended by the Board’s Internal Operations Committee.

The benefits of including medical professionals on the Committee are to support impactful grant-making, collaboration, and leveraging of efforts with other healthcare programs and services in the County. An area health plan will be developed that will identify major health disparities to inform funding priorities for consideration by the Board of Supervisors.

“The targeted, coordinated approach to how we focus funding will help us do more for residents in the former District area to improve their health and how they receive healthcare,” added Glover.

No Impact to Pittsburg Health Center Services

Patient care and services at the Pittsburg Health Center are not impacted. Patients should continue to schedule their medical appointments and seek services at the Pittsburg Health Center as they normally do.

The Pittsburg Health Center is the largest clinic in the County’s 10 clinic healthcare delivery system. The County has operated the health center for over 20 years since the bankruptcy of the District in the 1990s and has been responsible for capital improvements since that time. The County most recently completed a multi-million-dollar renovation of the Adult Primary Care area within the facility as well as a comprehensive elevator replacement project.

District Spent $1.3 Million on Staff, Community Garden, Reading Program, Grants

As previously reported by the Herald, the Los Medanos Hospital closed in 1994 but the district, covering Pittsburg and Bay Point, had continued to exist, collecting property tax dollars and using the funds to pay for staff and provide grants to local organizations, direct service programs including a community garden and district sponsored programs including REading ADvantage for early literacy. The district’s 2020-21 Fiscal Year budget projects $1.13 million in tax revenue and $1.3 million in expenses.

Jobs of Antioch Mayor, 2020 Antioch Council Candidate Eliminated, Can’t Talk About It

Former LMCHD executive director and Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe.

The result of the dissolution of the district eliminated the executive director job of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who was given a pay raise last July, from $96,000 to $150,000 per year. In addition, another Antioch resident, homeless advocate and 2020 District 3 council candidate Nichole Gardner, had been his administrative assistant, and may have also lost her job. But she said she could not speak about it.

An attempt last year by former State Assemblyman Jim Frazier to eliminate the healthcare district through a bill co-sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Grayson (D-Concord) was unsuccessful. While it passed the Assembly on a 70-0 vote, it failed to pass out of the State Senate Governance and Finance Committee. (See related articles here, here and here)

Questions were emailed to Thorpe late Thursday night, asking, “What are your plans as a result of the district being dissolved and your job being eliminated? Have you been offered another position within the county government? Did the county give you a severance package or a month or more of compensation to give you time to find another position? Or have you already been pursuing something else and the Supreme Court’s decision was expected?

Also, what about the rest of your staff, including Nichole Gardner? Have they been offered other positions within the county government? How many staff were employed by the district?

Do you have any other comments as the outgoing executive director of the district?”

Website Removed, Phone Number Still Works, Questions Left on Voicemail

A search on Thursday for the hospital district’s website, https://www.lmchd.org resulted in the message, “Unrecognized domain name”. However, the phone number, (925) 432-2200 still works and a message was left with questions about staff still being paid and for any other details that can be shared about the dissolution. No response was received as of Friday morning at 10:45 a.m.

Questions for Glover, County Staff

Questions were also emailed late Thursday night to Susan Shiu the county’s Public Information Officer and Director of the Office of Communications and Media for Contra Costa County, who issued the press release, asking, “What is happening with the district’s staff, including former executive director Lamar Thorpe? Have they been offered other positions within the county government? Were they offered severance packages, or a month or two of compensation to give them time to find other jobs?” But her automatic response message shows she’s out of the office on Friday, March 11.

Efforts to obtain answers from the County Office of Communications and County Health Department’s communications staff about the district’s former employees, Friday were unsuccessful prior to publication time. They and Glover were also asked, “now that the LMCHD website has been taken down, what happened to all the board meeting agendas, related documents and minutes? Who took the website down and why? Shouldn’t it have been archived?”

County Health Department spokesman Karl Fischer responded, “The County Administrator’s Office is the one handling that situation. The CAO said they would get in touch with their PIO to coordinate. They should be able to help.”

Glover Responds, Believes Employees Being Paid Through End of March

Glover responded, “The healthcare district is paying them through the month of March. But I’m not sure about all the details. This had been an active thing. The panel of judges made a decision and the district appealed it to the Supreme Court which denied even hearing it.”

Asked about the website and records of meetings, agendas and minutes he replied, “those are the things we need to see what’s going on. Because that’s all information and documentation that the county has to have. It’s all public records and we will have to make sure they’re available.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report, once Shiu has returned to her office on Monday.

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East Contra Costa Fire District annexation to Con Fire approved

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Will provide improved fire and emergency response throughout county, particularly in East County

When complete, CCCFPD will absorb the firefighting staff, support staff, facilities, equipment of ECCFPD

By Steve Aubert, Fire Marshal and PIO, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District

MARTINEZ, CALIF., March 11, 2022 — On March 9, 2022, the Contra Costa County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) unanimously approved the annexation of East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (CCCFPD) and the dissolution of ECCFPD. The LAFCo action is the final step in the long-planned, collaborative effort to consolidate fire services in eastern Contra Costa County.

Benefits of annexation for residents are expected to enhance and expand fire and emergency medical services to East Contra Costa County while improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of fire protection services in the region.

“The annexation of East Contra Costa Fire into Contra Costa County Fire, together with the allocation of Measure X funds, will double the number of stations serving East County residents, with additional stations opening as soon as this summer,” said Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis. “This has rightly been characterized as a historic achievement, resolving service deficits that have plagued East County for decades. When I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony of 27 Con Fire recruits last week, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the brave firefighters that serve us every day, the many community leaders who worked long hours to achieve this outcome, and the residents who entrusted us with the resources to improve services.”

“Today is a day for celebration,” said Brian J. Oftedal, President of the ECCFPD Board of Directors. “The cooperation and collaboration of so many individuals has made this annexation a reality. Residents in East Contra Costa will now receive the services they deserve. Response times will improve, fire apparatus will arrive with a paramedic on board, and slowly but surely, improved ISO rating will help residents and businesses save money on annual fire insurance bills. For everyone that has been a part of improving public safety in our county, thank you.”

Finally bringing this decades-long concept of annexation to reality for our two fire districts will improve fire, rescue, and emergency medical service delivery and improve safety for our firefighters throughout the many communities we serve in the eastern portions of our county,” said Lewis Broschard, Fire Chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “As we move ahead to implementing the changes that will see the benefits of annexation become reality, I am grateful to our board of directors, labor organizations, and our fire district staff for their support.”

“On behalf of the ECCFPD, we are pleased that this monumental day has come in joining our two agencies to improve emergency services throughout East County,” said East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire Chief Brian Helmick. “Thank you to Supervisor Burgis and to all those who have supported us to reach this historical day.”

With LAFCo’s actions, CCCFPD will complete the operational and administrative consolidation of the two entities. When complete, CCCFPD will absorb the firefighting staff, support staff, facilities, and equipment of the 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.

While both fire districts already work very closely on mutual aid assignments across current borders, each maintains separate operations, training, and administrative functions, annexation will allow for achieving economies of scale by bringing the separate operational entities under one administrative structure.

Annexation is also expected to reduce current burdens on the agencies’ busiest stations by increasing resources within the current footprint of East Contra Costa Fire District in East County.

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service Leader – Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to some 625,000 residents in 14 cities and unincorporated areas across our 304 square-mile jurisdiction. And, through our unique ambulance Alliance, we provide EMS and ambulance transport services to much of the remainder 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 2021, the District responded to more than 141,000 incidents of all types, including some 55,000 fire and EMS emergencies, and dispatched nearly 100,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 75,000 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 on 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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House on AUSD property on Deer Valley Road in Sand Creek area to be torn down

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Aerial view of the property at 6600 Deer Valley Road owned by the Antioch school district. Source: AUSD

Used for storage, vandalized, Board declared it “obsolete”

By Allen D. Payton

Screenshot of Facebook post of the “rant” about the house being demolished.

The house owned by the Antioch Unified School District, located at 6600 Deer Valley Road south of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and southeast of the Antioch Kaiser Medical Center, will be torn down after years of sitting vacant and being “terribly vandalized” according to AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello. The board voted to demolish it.

In a recent comment on Facebook, Cambria Dejesus wrote, “Rant… Demo to be done on the school property on Deer Valley Rd.  A beautiful home built in the late 80’s or early 90’s, remodeled for use for the school board, which they no longer use, voted to be destroyed due to vandalism.  It has permanent seating in the yard for at least 100 people, gazebos, and it’s an absolute shame that it set to demo.  I lease property from AUSD and offered to lease it so it can remain to possibly introduce FFA or some agriculture program to the curriculum but was told the board already voted to demo. There is minimal damage to the home from vandalism but something that would stop if occupied.   I think it’s a crying shame it’s going to be destroyed.   Shouldn’t the money be spent on the students, some use planned for the property that will give Antioch’s students a place to get away from it all and perhaps save a few from taking the wrong path.  Country heals.  Rant over.”

Questions were sent to AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello asking, “is this true? If so, has the district been using the home? If so, how? If it’s not being used why hasn’t the district been renting it out to someone to create a revenue stream? What are the plans for the property and how many acres does it include?”

According to Anello, “The Board declared the home on the property as ‘obsolete’ at a Board Meeting, as the home has not been used or occupied in decades and has been terribly vandalized over the years. I am not aware of any money being used in the past to renovate the property as stated” in the comment. “To clarify, it has been used for storage, just not used for staff or students.”

“Right now, it is being leased for grazing and we have no immediate alternative plans,” she added. “Our plans will, of course, change depending on the development of the area.”

The property consists of 20.98 acres.

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Interim city manager tried to evict Congressman from Antioch Community Center office, break lease ending next January

Monday, February 21st, 2022

Middle paragraph of McNerney’s response letter to City of Antioch’s eviction notice dated Jan. 13, 2022.

Will now negotiate with Congressman’s office, U.S. House of Representatives’ legal counsel during closed door meeting Tuesday night

Also gave boot to local non-profit; to use it for Community Resources Department; Councilwoman Ogorchock not happy, expected to locate it inside Rivertown Resource Center instead

McNerney helped Mayor Thorpe with recall fundraising roast next day

By Allen D. Payton

In the first two weeks in his new position, Antioch’s Interim City Manager Con Johnson through Parks and Recreation Director Brad Helfenberger, attempted to evict Congressman Jerry McNerney from the office space he leases inside the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park on Lone Tree Way almost 11 months earlier than the lease ends next January. In a Jan. 10, 2022, letter to McNerney, Helfenberger wrote, “Pursuant to Section 10 of the District Office Lease Attachment, the City of Antioch hereby terminates the District Office Lease Agreement effective February 15, 2022. You are required to vacate the premises…by 5pm on February 15th, 2022.” Helfenberger letter to McNerney 01-10-22  McNerney-Antioch Lease

In a Jan. 13 response the congressman, who is retiring at the end of this year and will no longer need the space, and whose district, CD-9, will no longer include portions of Antioch, wrote a letter to Mayor Lamar Thorpe – who McNerney helped with his recall campaign fundraising roast, the following day – Johnson and Helfenberger and copied each of the other four council members. McNerney wrote, “This letter is to inform you that I will not close this office on February 15, 2022. Our current lease does not expire until January 2, 2023, at which time we will vacate the premises. Section 10 of the District Office Lease Attachment, which you cited in your letter, does not establish the right of either party to end the lease before the expiration date.” McNerney response letter 01-13-22

Section 10 of the McNerney-City of Antioch lease.

McNerney’s Office Had to Get U.S. House of Representatives’ Legal Counsel Involved

In a follow up email to Johnson and Helfenberger dated Jan. 11, 2022, McNerney’s Chief of Staff Nicole Damasco wrote, “I have discussed this matter with the House of Representative’s Associate Administrative Counsel, Cecilia Daly. In her opinion, since the original 2013 lease, which has been extended without changes, does not include an early termination clause, section 10 does not apply. Cecelia, Chiakis, and I would like to schedule a conference call with you and the City’s legal representative tomorrow to discuss this in more detail.” McNerney-Antioch lease & eviction emails 01-22

That refers to Chiakis (Xiong) Ornelas, McNerney’s Senior Field Representative who works in his Stockton office.

Then in another email from Damasco on Jan. 13, she wrote, “We have spoken with the House Administrative Counsel’s office who assure us that section 10 of the District Office Lease Attachment does not confer an early termination clause for either party, and that we are legally entitled to stay in our space until January 2, 2023.

Additionally, we have been informed that it will not be possible to relocate our office by February 15, 2022, even if we chose to move. This is because House rules require that the General Services Administration (GSA) arrange to move House-owned furniture and equipment, and we are unable to coordinate with the GSA in the time allotted. Even though we are legally entitled to stay in the space until the current lease expires, Rep. McNerney is amenable to working together to find a solution that will ensure the best services for the residents of Antioch.”

Local Business and Organization Also Shown the Door

Emerald Consulting, owned by Keith and Iris Archuleta, who run the Youth Intervention Network, also had their lease terminated by the City for the office space they have been in the community center since May 2015. Keith is also the executive director of the Antioch Community Foundation, but that organization was not leasing the space.

“We allowed the community foundation to use the space for meetings,” Iris Archuleta told the Herald, last month. “We’re on a month-to-month, so we’re not going to dispute it. We just told them we’ll move out by the end of the month.”

“From what they say is, they’re going to put the person who they hired to run the youth programs,” she continued. “We received a letter and a phone call from the recreation department. We took our stuff out and removed our information from the door.”

Space to be Used for New Community Resources Department

The city plans to use the space for the Community Resources Department, created by the city council, last year, which will include a yet to be hired Community Resources and Public Safety Director, Antioch Youth Services Network Manager, Tasha Johnson, and the city’s Unhoused Resident Coordinator, Jazmin Ridley. The public safety portion of the new department will not oversee police services, but community crisis intervention response, violence intervention and prevention, animal services and code enforcement. The department will also include environmental resources and the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

The council will discuss forming an ad hoc committee to develop the details about the department during their Tuesday, Feb. 22 meeting under regular agenda item 10.

Councilwoman Ogorchock “Blown Away” by Johnson’s Efforts

In a Jan. 19 email, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, in whose district the Antioch Community Center is located, questioned Johnson over his effort to evict the congressman. She also asked him why the city wouldn’t use the Rivertown Resource Center on W. 10th Street, the old police station, that houses other non-profit organizations. Ogorchock email 01-19-22

Ogorchock wrote, “I am very surprised by this email. When did we start to look at the Community Center as a location for this new dept.? Why would we think that it would be ok to give a 30 day notice to a Federal elected official who has been there for quite sometime? Has the Congressman been there since we opened the Community Center?

Congressman McNerney sees our constituents there on a regular basis, and some of those individuals are our veterans.

How much research have you completed into those who lease portions of that building? Since you have only been CM for a short period of time, 15 days (?), I would assume you’ve not had ample time to properly vet the effects of these actions, one example of this would be the city attorney not being a party to the emails being forwarded. When did you come up with the notion to use the Community Center for this dept.?

We just approved on the consent agenda on Tuesday the expense of hiring an independent evaluation of the Resource building on 10th St., (old police building). Why would we spend money to do that when it was your intent to use the Community Center? We authorized up to $50k to have the evaluation completed, that would be a waste of taxpayers’ funds. That would not be financially sound move on our part.

Should we not have had the city attorney look at the lease prior to having the Director of Recreation reach out to the Congressman’s office? Why was it his responsibility and not yours or the city attorney’s.

To be totally honest with you I am blown away by this move, not sure that I am happy about it either. We need to maintain an amicable relationship with the Congressman, to make sure he is in our community so that he is accessible to our community.”

City Council to Negotiate New Lease Tuesday

Now, the city council will meet during closed session, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, to negotiate the lease of three of the rooms in the community center, according to the meeting agenda.

The closed session agenda Item 2 reads as follows: “CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATONS pursuant to California Government Code section 54956.8: Property: Antioch Community Center Rooms 125, 126, and 127 (consisting of 474 square feet of office space) located at 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch CA 94531; Agency Negotiation: Cornelius Johnson, City Manager, and Thomas Lloyd Smith, City Attorney; Negotiating Parties: Jerry McNerney, United States Congressman; Under Negotiation: Price and Terms of Payment.”

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Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office issues important warning to taxpayers

Thursday, February 10th, 2022

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Contra Costa, 9 other Bay Area and Santa Cruz county health officers to lift most indoor mask mandates for vaccinated Feb. 16

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

Matching state’s order one day prior; order comes one day after Contra Costa Supervisors appoint new county health officer; statcontinues to require masking in K-12 school settings

In alignment with the State, the Bay Area counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma, the City of Berkeley, and Santa Cruz County will lift universal mask requirements for vaccinated individuals in most indoor public settings beginning Wednesday, February 16. The change comes one day after Contra Costa Supervisors appointed Dr. Orli Tzvieli as the county’s new health officer. (See related article)

The change aligns with the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) decision to let expire the statewide indoor mask requirement, which was instated on December 15 during the latest COVID-19 surge, in spite of scientific evidence masks don’t work in preventing the spread of the virus. That’s because the size of the COVID molecule is much smaller than the gaps in the fabric of most if not all masks being used. In addition, a 2021 study (that has not yet been peer-reviewed), conducted using data from the CDC covering multiple seasons, reports that “mask mandates and use are not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among US states.” That study also shows “case growth was not significantly different between mandate and non-mandate states at low or high transmission rates, and surges were equivocal.”

Yet, unvaccinated individuals over age 2 will continue to be required to wear masks in all indoor public settings. Businesses, venue operators and hosts may determine their own paths forward to protect staff and patrons and may choose to require all patrons to wear masks.

Plus, indoor masking is still required by the State for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in public transportation; health care settings; congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters; long term care facilities; and in K-12 schools and childcare settings.

Bay Area health officers, in alignment with CDPH, continue to strongly recommend masks be used as an effective tool to prevent the spread of the virus especially when case rates are high, or when additional personal protection is needed. Continuing to mask in indoor public settings, especially crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, remains the safest choice for an individual and protects those who are medically vulnerable or are not able to get vaccinated, like our youngest children. As evidence continues to show, vaccinations and boosters remain the best defense against the virus.

The highly contagious Omicron variant brought on a new stage of the pandemic with a high number of new infections, but significantly fewer cases of life-threatening illnesses, especially for those who are vaccinated and boosted. While relaxing indoor masking requirements is part of a population-level shift toward a “new normal” of living with the disease, the Health Officers recognize that essential workers and communities of color continue to be highly impacted by COVID-19 and will need additional support to limit widening health disparities. Changes to health orders and recommendations may be updated as Health Officers follow the science and the data to evaluate whether additional protective measures may be needed as the virus evolves and if future surges occur.

People should continue to choose layered prevention strategies, such as wearing well-fitted masks (N95 or double layer cloth over surgical are best); staying home and testing when symptomatic; testing before gatherings; and improving indoor ventilation in situations where these strategies can add protection for themselves and others. Staying “up to date” on vaccinations, meaning primary series and boosters when eligible, remains the most important way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

After reaching a high on January 9 of 2,835 new cases per day, Contra Costa’s case rates have rapidly declined to a 7-day average of 958 on February 1 and continue to drop. Meanwhile, hospitalizations, a lagging indicator of disease, have begun to drop and never exceeded local capacity during this latest surge because of the county’s overall high rates of vaccinations (80%) and boosters (49% of those eligible). Contra Costa’s universal mask mandate has been in place since August 2 when cases began climbing from the Delta variant.

A combination of preventative strategies, along with the community’s cooperation helped get the Bay Area through this last surge together as a stronger community.

“We are able to take this next major step of removing the universal indoor mask requirement because we have laid a strong foundation in good public health protections…and know we can reduce severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Ori Tzvieli, health officer for Contra Costa County.

By aligning with the state masking rules, the participating Bay Area counties will not need to meet previously established criteria for lifting local masking orders, which were devised at a different point in the pandemic.

CDPH continues to require masking in K-12 school settings but has indicated adjustments to the state’s policies will be shared in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there is work to be done in closing the remaining gaps in vaccinations and boosters among children with a particular focus on equity gaps within the most highly impacted communities.

For early education programs, such as preschool and childcare settings, CDPH continues to require masking for children older than age two. Vaccinations for children under 5 are currently undergoing federal review. Workplaces will continue to follow the COVID-19 prevention standards set by CalOSHA.

Some people may understandably feel anxious about these changes to masking requirements in the county. People can continue to choose to wear face coverings around others whether it’s mandated or not and should respect people’s choices around their health. Community members who are vaccinated and choose not to mask should respect the choices of those who continue to mask. Officials ask residents and visitors to be kind and respectful as people evaluate their risks and make choices to protect themselves and those around them.

 

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

 

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