Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Letter writer questions suspension of teacher for Halloween costume

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

Dear Editor:

What lesson has the Antioch California School District taught by suspending, investigating and ultimately shaming a teacher for free speech that was (probably by children, at least) regarded, innocently? (See related article)

I believe you have brought the attention of our children to the limits of healthy dialog.  In a dangerous period in our country, when history lessons are being taken out of schools, violence is allowed to be perpetrated by groups, you could have taught love, understanding, sensitivity and had discussion about intentions, misinterpretations, and perspective.

You could have first met with parents, staff and professionals to discuss and learn why blackening one’s face in a costume could be offensive for Black people. Then you could have had lessons within the schools that attempt to teach sensitivity, respect and regard for all cultural backgrounds. You could have had discussion, about listening to and hearing each other.  Without discussion, a lesson is lost.

Karen Motenko-Neal

Valley Springs, CA

Writer asks Senators to support National Alzheimer’s Project Reauthorization Act

Friday, October 27th, 2023

Shares story of caring for her mother for National Family Caregivers Month in November

I’d like to begin by reminding all of you that November is National Family Caregivers Month. It’s a time to recognize the incredible dedication and sacrifices of those who care for their loved ones, particularly those grappling with dementia, in any of its forms. I come to you not just as a speaker but as someone who has experienced the profound impact of dementia firsthand, a journey that started when my mother asked for my help back in 2014.

My mom’s story is one that many of you might find familiar. She was a vibrant woman who, as she approached her 68th birthday, began exhibiting signs of something amiss. Her social withdrawal, erratic medication intake, and a fainting episode that led her to the hospital in Walnut Creek were all red flags. It wasn’t until 2019 that a diagnosis was finally confirmed – vascular dementia. A young, dismissive doctor delivered the news, but our suspicions had been growing for years. The truth was that my mom had been prescribed what I’ve come to call “the dementia cocktail” in 2012, when she was just 61. It consisted of Aricept and Memantine, but her decline was slow, leading to moments of despair. By 2019, she had reached a point where she couldn’t care for herself, yet medical professionals seemed hesitant to make the diagnosis, leaving me feeling isolated in my role as her advocate.

However, my journey took an unexpected turn on my 40th birthday. That day, my mom embarked on a 36-hour odyssey across the Bay Area, signifying her fading independence. She drove across the Bay Bridge twice and even crossed the Golden Gate Bridge once. She was found disoriented and alone, wandering along Alemany Boulevard in Daly City at 3 am, having left her car in front of someone’s house, a silent testament to her deteriorating condition.

My 40th birthday celebration was anything but joyful; it marked the beginning of a deeply personal battle to protect and care for the woman who had once cared for me. My mom’s story is a vivid reminder of the complex and urgent challenge that dementia presents. It’s a disease that not only affects individuals but also places tremendous emotional and physical strain on their caregivers.

In addition to November being National Caregiver Month, let us also acknowledge the importance of the National Alzheimer’s Plan. This initiative has played a vital role in advancing research and support for individuals and families dealing with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. However, we cannot afford to let this plan expire. We must ensure its continued existence and strength.

I call upon our new Senator Laphonza Butler and Senator Alex Padilla to take a stand in this critical moment. I urge them to cosponsor the bipartisan NAPA (National Alzheimer’s Project Act) Reauthorization Act (S. 133) to renew and bolster the National Alzheimer’s Plan, ensuring that the needs of those affected by dementia are met, and research into this disease continues to progress.

In closing, if you or someone you know needs information or assistance in caring for a loved one with dementia, please reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association at 800.272.3900. Together, we can provide the support and resources needed for those battling this heart-wrenching disease. Thank you for your attention and let us work collectively to make a difference.

Latrice Phillips Brown

Pittsburg, CA

Letters: Former councilwoman blasts Antioch Councilmembers, resident for taking swipes at other public speakers

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023
Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker and Mayor Lamar Thorpe respond to public criticism during the council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. Video screenshots

“you do not have a right to admonish people publicly and where they cannot respond.” – Joy Motts

Editor’s Note: At the Antioch City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, comments were made by Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker during the City Council Committee Reports and Communications portion and by Mayor Lamar Thorpe during his Mayor’s Comments, responding to public criticism, and by a resident, directed toward another public speaker. In response, former Antioch Councilwoman Joy Motts, a Rivertown resident and president of Celebrate Antioch Foundation sent the following email to the five council members Tuesday night. It was shared with the Herald, Wednesday afternoon. (For context, see the 1:35:10, 2:16:15 and 2:48:45 marks of the council meeting video)

Mayor and Council,

It was clear tonight, that some on Council are not aware that City Council meetings are held in public not for your benefit, but because these meetings are the business of the people. Whether you like what the people of your city have to say or not, they have every right to communicate to you, their feelings. And to admonish them publicly for expressing their views is to undermine their 1st Amendment rights and discourage residents to participate in our government.

And to say that prior Councils were not blamed or admonished by residents for Antioch’s current problems at that time is absurd. From the minute I was on Council I felt like everything that went wrong, the last 50 years was my fault. And the community let me know and all of us know. It was hard and it’s not easy to take but as a representative of all the residents of Antioch, it is your job.

And what is even worse is you have taught some that support you to bully and embarrass those that don’t agree with them. Andrew Becker should be admonished. He is a bully, how dare anyone disagree with him. He has no right to disparage residents that come to speak their mind at the people’s meetings! You have allowed that. This is not good or fair governance. You have become so accustomed to this behavior that I do not even think you realize it or maybe you like it this way.

You speak of unity, but you are actively discouraging this community to participate unless they agree with you. This never happened when I was on Council or prior councils. Lamar, we sat there and took it, and respected people’s rights. You have the ability to communicate your feelings on your personal pages, or Op Ed’s, or websites but you do not have a right to admonish people publicly and where they cannot respond.

I do not know why anyone who disagrees with a policy, or has a grave concern, or has an idea other than yours would attend a council meeting. And from what I have seen tonight no one will. There were people that came that wanted to speak tonight… but they left. Who would want to suffer the consequences of speaking up? A tragedy for Antioch.

Joy Motts


Letter writer says beware shopping at Slatten Ranch

Friday, June 2nd, 2023


Our “new normal” seems to require acceptance of crime.

California’s Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act (prop. 47) served to decriminalize theft below $950 and embolden thieves. 

Politically correct society now pretends: a) criminals don’t exist; b) criminal acts aren’t in fact criminal: or worse, c) criminals are actually victims; and d) unhoused persons don’t commit crime.

Case in point: Slatten Ranch has a large homeless encampment behind the fence near Target. This fence has openings to allow foot traffic. Occasionally the tents get removed, but they always come back.

Target combats theft by storing products in locked cases (inconvenient, much?), but shoppers need to beware, too. Cars should be parked in a visible place with any valuables hidden from view. Cyclists can just expect to have their bikes stolen. There is no real security, just a disclaimer that stores are not responsible for customers’ lost or stolen property.

Certainly, we can choose to avoid shopping at places that become too slum-like, but the real issue is the amount of lawlessness our community accepts.

Who is in charge? How long before people say enough is enough?

Annie Ray


Letters: We don’t need secretaries for the Antioch City Council

Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

Dear Editor:

If the Mayor and his two councilwomen (Walker and Wilson) need secretaries to help them do their jobs, then we need them to resign and be replaced by others capable of doing their elected jobs! The excuses that were given, as to why getting these secretaries for themselves, are ludicrous! (See related article)

As a past council member, as well as others past, I too had a full-time job and still carried out my elected duties without any personal hired secretaries. Many others, unhired help volunteers, provided any extra assistance that I and other mayors and council members may have needed to carry out our duties. This they can get freely, from their friends and families to start with! Their arguments in favor of getting their own paid Secretaries ignore our already hired various employees, and THAT is how we did it. We had many various events, communications with the public, as well as various other duties that this mayor and two councilwomen do not have now. It worked and can work now!

Having full time jobs is no excuse either. They never complained about such when they ran for their separate elections. If they cannot do their elected jobs, without the planned new hired secretaries, then it is time for them to pack it up and leave their positions! Council Members Barbanica and Ogorchock voted against the hired help and have no issues doing their elected duties, both presently having full time jobs and then some.

What we, the public need, and have soundly made clear for many years now, is more police Officers to begin with. In that alone they have failed to do and only made excuses over these past years why it hasn’t been done! I know and have heard their excuses and it does not “wash” with me and many others. They have failed and that is that.

Perhaps the mayor and his two Councilwomen should quit their full-time jobs instead and therefore have more time to do their various self-serving activities that they regularly have created to have the public ooh and aww about them.

If the mayor alone would quit with his constant unjustified press conferences and unnecessary press releases, using up our other employees to set these things up (like the transporting, setting up, and then reversing it after he is done) then he could devote that time to do those things he should instead be doing. Let’s not forget either that Councilwomen Walker and Wilson show up to attend these ridiculous things with him.

We need more police, not personal Secretaries as agreed to instead. Either do their elected jobs or resign is my take on the matter. We did it and so should they, without the extra secretaries!

Ralph A. Hernandez

former Antioch Council Member

Former Antioch councilman labels Wilson, Torres-Walker “Thorpettes” endorses Rocha, Gibson-Gray, Ogorchock

Monday, October 3rd, 2022


Please think about for whom you will vote in the upcoming local Antioch elections. Your votes should not just be to help place someone in elected public office. Those whom we choose should serve the public at large, honestly and with integrity. Your vote is precious and worth more than just a pat on the back, only to be forgotten and ignored thereafter.

I have been a resident here in East County for 70 years now, the past 47 plus years residing in Antioch. I have been involved in voting and its related political matters since I was 18 years old. I consider my participation in my community to be very important and with the hope that our elected leaders serve all the public equally and without favoring mostly the special interests over all of us.

I really care about what happens in our community and want our elected leaders to at least have half a brain and not be taken in by those who put aside the public for their own interests and gains. I want independent thinkers and doers elected, not some robots manipulated by evil doers.

In the governing of the City of Antioch, of late, we have been promised much by sweet-talking and smiling individuals who were elected to represent us. Some of their decision making has had some acceptable results, but there have been a number of their decisions that have placed our community into a downwards spiral with a number of consequences yet to be fully exacted upon us.

For well over ten years our public safety has been compromised to the extent that many in our city no longer are safe. Instead of spending our budget monies to at least continue and provide for the past, safer Antioch we have had our available public monies budgeted and spent on things that negatively impact our quality of life here. We are ignored when we demand more sworn police manpower and resources, which were promised but not even maintained. Instead, some of our elected officials seem to enjoy making our city less safe, take away from our business community with nonsense, and we are exposed repeatedly with irrational decision making by our city council majority.

When Lamar Thorpe initially ran for a city council seat myself and many others voted for him, giving him the opportunity to represent us as he had campaign-promised. Lo and behold he has gone on a downward spiral since then and even gotten worse once elected as the city’s mayor. Then it became clear that the elected Monica Wilson, too joined him in her votes many a time and has progressed to the point that what Lamar Thorpe wants and votes for she is there voting with him without question.

Then Tamisha Walker was shortly thereafter elected to the city council and she too seems to have similarly gone along with the other two in most of her positions and votes. The other two elected council members therefore have been relegated to fighting against the three’s lock-step voting patterns and for the most part rendered by the three others just figureheads.

The mayor, Lamar Thorpe, Monica Wilson and Tamisha Walker, it appears, have an undisclosed questionable agenda that may even be personal in nature. This lock-step alliance cannot continue. Antioch has been made the laughingstock and butt of many jokes by so many within and outside of Antioch. Lamar and his backup singers, the two ‘Thorpettes’ (Monica Wilson and Tamisha Walker) do not at times, in special interests matters especially, even abide by certain of the city’s long-established ordinances and meaningful ways, to the public’s detriment. This they have most recently again done, without explanation. It seems that whatever Thorpe sings his two ‘Thorpettes’ follow.

Friends and supporters, in this current election cycle, please vote for Mary Rocha for the Antioch School Board, Diane Gibson-Gray for Antioch City Council representing District #1, and Lori Ogorchock for Antioch City Council representing District #4. Sure, there are other candidates running but it is my opinion and recommendation to you as to whom to choose that would serve you better than the others.

Ralph A. Hernandez

Former Antioch City Council Member



Former Antioch resident and mayoral candidate offers council election observations

Thursday, September 29th, 2022


There is a social media page called “You know you’re from Antioch” on Facebook….great postings that speak about the wonders of a small community that almost reads like a Norman Rockwell story.

I moved to Antioch in 2008 engulfing myself into the local activities to help my community to be better, safer and be the ideal city to raise a family. If it was voicing my thoughts at City Council, Police Commission or School Board meetings, I tried to bring me and my neighbors’ voices to the table. Always acknowledged by elected or appointed leadership, the actions that was to follow was from far too few. I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood where everyone knew each other, and we were more than neighbors; we were family.

Over the years, the political forum became clearer and the levels of back door dealings more transparent. Things moved and people stood silent as it appears this was the norm. As we entered into 2016, the silo’s that existed in silence in Antioch grew even larger and more visible. It was the change that many cities were facing, but never one would think it would be as large as it was in Antioch. The generation and culture change that occurred was beyond what the city could manage. The implementation of programs yielded minimum to no results. The actions of leaders were far from being implemented, vision was clouded, and words had no substance. This became more evident as we entered the COVID era and government had to continue, but it seemed that city leaders were more divided than ever. Past political actions came to the forefront and voters led the way on who they wanted to have govern them. It was a change that now created more separatism on many scales.

Many look at the “Now” and do not realize that those elected must undo the actions of previous administrations. The discoveries or like they say, hidden skeletons, came forward and one needs to realize that they need to own or manage it if change cannot happen. Most importantly, have professional courtesy and acknowledge each other as tensions were high. It is fine to agree to disagree but do so with respect and consideration. But we are not seeing this as special interests and idealism have taken charge.

The voters of Antioch have the ability to bring a change this November. The Antioch of the old has perished and the new Antioch is having true growing pains. The key question is, who can bring your voice to the table and help Antioch to be the city of opportunity?

The community literally has the ability to vote out candidates who have been in office that really have not been able to reach across the aisle to bridge their differences. They allow and encourage the separatism of the community to exist. You need to ask those who have been in office – “What have you done to better Antioch?”

Those that are trying to be reelected will speak more about the division rather than responding to the question. If you look at existing candidates’ endeavors, you will find that many were not completed or never got off the ground. Basically, all talk and no action. And sadly, the backdoor deals continue to present themselves as one candidate posted signs that they had APOA support prior to the official APOA announcement or candidates you never see in your neighborhood, now appear and provide excuses on why they need your vote.

New candidates bring a fresh and eager way and maybe, just maybe, they can work with their peers in order to have the new Antioch be on the pathway of a community that you want to have. When looking at the candidates, I see very familiar faces as well as a new one. The realization is that many of these candidates all speak to the issues that concern many (e.g., crime, schools, safety and blight). But ask yourself, “Who has the experience – the hands-on experience?”

Review the candidates and don’t pick someone because they are your friend, or someone told you to. Examine who they are and if they have the experience necessary to really make a change.  Being on a committee or member of local community groups do not outweigh having hands-on experience. You wouldn’t take your car to be fixed by a person who sells homes or provides therapy, would you?

As a former resident of Antioch until a couple months ago, I cannot provide an opinion on who would best represent you. But I hope this read brings some thoughts into mind that your vote in this election will shift the momentum of the city and bring it forward; or take it backwards. Remember, think what is important for you and don’t allow special interests, family, friends or outside support groups decide for you. This is not about being a Democrat, Republican, liberal, Green, etc.… this is about aligning your vote to the candidate that best represents the values you have and what you want for your family or community. What is most important, is they have the experience necessary to make it so.

In heart,

Gil Murillo

Former Antioch resident of Council District 4 and 2016 candidate for mayor

Writer asks why a council member can postpone a community forum with Antioch Police

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Dear Editor:

The community forum’s post says the purpose of the meeting is to have a conversation with the chief and officers in our department. Why is Torres-Walker able to postpone it? (See related article)

I want to talk to the chief not council members or anyone other than police. The council has their chance every council meeting or if members of the council would answer their emails other than Lori. I have never had an email returned and they have all been polite, with the exception of one email conversation with Lamar and he did not answer my question.

Thanks,Norm Machado