Archive for the ‘Letters to the Editor’ Category

Editorial: Where’s Ellie? Antioch City Clerk failing to do her job, keeping public uninformed, lacks transparency

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

From the Antioch City Council 2021 Agendas and Minutes page on the City of Antioch website.

Hasn’t posted council meeting minutes since June 22; council not holding her accountable; if Householder can’t handle the job she should resign and save the voters the hassle of a recall

Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder. Official photo by City of Antioch.

By Allen Payton

Antioch City Clerk Ellie Householder is failing to completely do her job and as a result the public is not being provided with the information they seek and deserve to know in a transparent manner. As one example, the minutes from the past 12 council meetings have not yet been posted on the City Council’s Agendas and Minutes page on the City’s website. As of Thursday, December 9, 2021, the most recent minutes posted there are for the council’s June 22, 2021 meeting.

While the minutes for previous meetings are supposed to be included in the next council meeting’s agenda, until that is posted on the City’s website, members of the public and media must watch the council meeting video of the previous meeting to learn what was said and done for any particular agenda item during.

While the annotated agendas, which are on that webpage, show what the total votes were, they don’t show how each council member voted.

Worse, in the past few months, the minutes for several previous council meetings are being lumped in with the current meeting agenda and/or they’re being forwarded to a future council meeting.

For example, on the annotated agenda for the Nov. 9th council meeting, the council was asked to approve the minutes from the meetings on Sept. 28, Oct. 12, Oct. 16 and Oct. 26. Each of them were, on 5-0 votes. Yet none of the minutes from those meetings have been added to the webpage.

Then on the annotated agenda for the Nov. 23rd council meeting the minutes for the Oct. 26, Nov. 2, Nov. 9 and Nov. 16 council meetings all show, “It is recommended that the City Council continue the Meeting Minutes” and the council approved each of them on 5-0 votes.

Householder is making it difficult for the council, public and media to know what the council members said during previous council meetings and requiring them to spend more of their time searching for the information.

Why aren’t the minutes being included in the following council meeting agendas? If the minutes for a previous council meeting are already included in the next meeting’s agenda, what is so difficult for Householder to ensure a copy of them is posted on the council’s Agendas and Minutes page, especially now that the clerk’s office has added another staff member? Plus, the city clerk doesn’t even type up the minutes from each meeting. She has a minutes clerk handle that!

Another example is instead of Householder attending the City Clerk’s conference, this week – in her first year in the position – she sent Deputy City Clerk Christina Garcia, to learn about any new laws, rules or procedures for doing her job.

Also, while it is a part-time position, Householder doesn’t work in her office at City Hall but chooses to work remotely, so she’s not available to answer her taxpayer funded phoneline nor readily available to meet with members of the public who she was elected to serve.

Another example has been Householder taking the full 10 days – each time – to respond to the recall petitions for Mayor Thorpe submitted by the organizers, when it only took the County Clerk two days to do the same for the organizers of the recall to remove Householder from her position as Antioch School Board trustee. While it’s believed she did that intentionally to delay the signature gathering, Householder has yet to answer the repeated question why it took her so long, each time.

Finally, after a call to the clerk’s office, a call to Householder’s cell phone and sending two emails – one to her and Garcia at 11:31 AM and another one to the email address used by the clerk’s administrative assistant at 11:33 AM, today, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021 asking for a copy of the Nov. 9th council meeting minutes or where they could be found on the City’s website, as of 7:00 p.m. there was no response.

If Householder is too busy to fulfill the duties of her job and both of her elected positions of Antioch School Board trustee and City Clerk, then she should resign from the city clerk’s position – the duties for which she’s clearly dropping the ball on – and save the voters from having to go through the process to remove her via a recall.

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Letters: Antioch recall proponent felt pressured to stop signature gathering during Holiday Delites event

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Dear Editor:

After an over two-month limbo period, the proponents for the recall Lamar Thorpe campaign received the news we have all been waiting for on December 2nd, 2021. We finally had the go-ahead to begin gathering signatures to start the process to recall Lamar Thorpe.

The Holiday Delites event seemed a perfect fit to have our first signature gathering event. We knew so many of our fellow residents who support this cause would be in attendance. So, image our surprise when Joy Motts, candidate for District 1 in the 2022 elections and president of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation, attempted to halt our signature gathering and interfered with local businesses obtaining new clientele.

I, along with several other proponents for both Recall Lamar Thorpe and Recall Ellie Householder (AUSD), spent Saturday from 10 AM to 4:30 PM in front of both Rivertown Treasure Chest on G St. and RiverTown Sweets on 2nd Street with the blessing from both owners.

We were informed that day that Motts made multiple attempts to contact business owners and asked other individuals to contact us to say we either must move inside or stop the signature gathering. Motts eventually approached me herself around 2:00 pm and asked that I move inside the already crowded bakery which I was in front. I responded that it was our plan to be off the street before the start of the parade. Motts continue to ask that we immediately vacate.

Crystal Philbrook, owner of RiverTown Sweets advised Motts that every time there was a recall signature gathering new customer business was up over 50% and with that kind of statistics, she advised Joy that we would be welcome to be in front of her location anytime as we brought in business. The same sentiment was echoed by the owner of Rivertown Treasure Chest. Being true to our word we vacated the 2nd Street location – which was the Holiday Delites parade route at 4 pm for a parade that started at 5 pm.

Joy Motts being part of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation (a local nonprofit) and a District 1 2022 candidate was completely out of line to make such a request. Joy Motts’ bullying tactics will not be tolerated, nor will it deter us from the mission of gathering the required signatures. Businesses giving permission to us to gather signatures in front of their stores have seen increased foot traffic and sales when having the signature gathering events in front of their storefront, something that Motts and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation doesn’t seem to care about.

If Joy Motts and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation were concerned that the signature gathering tables brought a negative political aspect to the Holiday Delites event, then why are political floats allowed in the parade?

It appears she wanted us off the street as her friend, the mayor, was going to be in the parade with Householder. Yet another example of dirty underhanded politics at play in the City of Antioch.

It makes me wonder, what truly were Ms. Motts’ motives by all her behind the scenes activity to stop us?

Kathy Cabrera

Recall Lamar Thorpe proponent

Publisher’s Note: Asked when an organization is granted a street closure by the City if that means they also control the sidewalks, Motts said she didn’t think so. She shared that the concern of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation leadership was there would be a perception the non-profit organization, which works with the City, was taking sides in a political issue and that they stay out of politics. Motts also said they were informed the signature gathering would occur inside the businesses and wanted to ensure the table on W. Second Street wouldn’t be there during the parade for the public to be able to use the sidewalk. 

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Letter: Antioch resident challenges interim city manager candidate’s experience, says hiring is quid pro quo

Monday, November 8th, 2021

Says mayor, council members should recuse themselves from vote

“This looks just like an old time Chicago political payback.”

The following was sent as an email to Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and council members regarding the appointment of Cornelious Johnson as interim city manager.

Mayor and Council Members,

I do not know Mr. Cornelius Johnson and believe that we have never met. From what I have read, he appears to be a fine person and a retired public servant from San Francisco.  It is often stated he is a retired captain, however it appears that is a misrepresentation of fact.

In whole, it is probable that he would make a solid section as an interim city manager were it not for the obvious fact that his appointment smacks of QUID PRO QUO.

This appointment by certain members of the Council appears as pay back for campaign donations and event sponsorship. Are you really going to give this for that?

Mr. Thorpe and Ms. Wilson should recuse themselves from the vote. And they know very well, why.  And then there is Ms. Walker.  Based on her statements concerning police services and member of the force, she also
should recuse herself.

That leaves the quandary. Should a minority of two member make the decision? No majority? The answer is a simple; no.

Therefore, irrespective as to whether Mr. Johnson is qualified for the job he should not be considered or approved. Find another qualified individual. This looks just like an old time Chicago political payback.

Mark Jordan

Antioch

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Letters: Writer says DA Becton is supposed to be an example, shouldn’t have violated COVID-19 restrictions

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Editor:

An open letter to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

Ms. Becton, have you ever read John Chapter 8 about the woman who was caught doing something wrong? According to the law, she should have been punished.  No, she should have been killed because she went against the law. As a lawyer, a judge, and a manager, you are supposed to be a servant of the law in CCC.  You hold people accountable to the law and you punish them for breaking it.  But who are you to judge them when you put yourself above the law? Do you consider yourself “more privileged?” You are supposed to be an example.

In August 2020, when the governor mandated the county to avoid “gatherings of any size” because of a high health alert for Covid-19, you, nonetheless, disregarded that order and organized an event with 20 – 30 people in attendance.  In addition, you announced your plans to all of your neighbors so they could expect a lot of cars in the neighborhood.  You say, “I had a wedding in my yard that was really based upon the love that we shared.”  Really?  Love?  Not on the “scientific data?” Not on the state regulations? What about the love for a dying person in the hospital and the spouse is forbidden to be at their bedside? Shouldn’t they be allowed in “for love?” Are you the same person whose office is part of a task force cracking down on violators of state and county coronavirus guidelines?  How could you have not known “the rules” for public gatherings?  Really?

You are a violator. And you’re in the wrong profession.  You should step down.  You do not hold the line of integrity this county needs. You have broken trust with the public.  You are living a double standard and NOT living by the oath you took in September 2017.  You deliberately defied the governor’s order.  But the real question is this: Did you knowingly disregard the order because you really don’t believe the coronavirus is truly a serious threat to our society?  Perhaps you really believe that the governor is using Covid as an excuse to “mandate” his agenda for the state. Maybe you really believe that having a wedding reception IS a safe event for everyone who attended.  Maybe you shouldn’t be on the task force representing state and county “guidelines.”

You took an oath and said, “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” Your actions prove otherwise, and you now join the ranks of hypocrites with our governor and his co-horts.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real right and wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him, he will be complaining, ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”

Laquetta Franz

Antioch

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Writer shares letter to Antioch Council on holding Torres-Walker accountable

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Dear Council Members,

I have watched the FB live videos from Ms. Torres-Walker and Mr. Thorpe.  I noticed that you both promote and are seeking “accountability” from the police department regarding the police interaction with Ms. Torres-Walker’s children (23-year-old and 13-year-old sons).  Your demand for accountability revolves around alleged racial bias, alleged police misconduct and excessive force by the Antioch Police.

The word “Accountable” is defined as: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

I agree that all parents have an obligation to protect their children.  We also have an obligation to model and teach accountability.  As an adult we have to hold ourselves accountable and admit our own wrong doings.  We must also hold our children accountable for their actions.

As City leaders, you are held to a higher standard.  You are “accountable” to your community!  You are expected to behave in a professional manner, a manner that does not bring disrepute to our city and does not create a division amongst city offices and the community.  Your personal beliefs and personal agendas are not to interfere with your job as a council member.  As elected officials; you took an oath to “bear true faith and allegiance to the United States and the Constitution of the State of California”, and you agreed to discharge your duties faithfully.

Your videos have displayed a blatant disregard of your oath and obligation to our community.  Ms. Torres-Walker renounced her position as a council member, she did not uphold her oath and she behaved in an unprofessional manner while spewing her discord toward our city government and community.  Ms. Torres-Walker’s threats of violence toward our police officers, threat to organize protests against our police department and threats of a potential lawsuit are inexcusable.  Ms. Torres-Walker’s rant and rhetoric serve only to deflect her accountability (along with the accountability of her children) and blame the police for the unlawful behavior of her “23- and 13-year-old children.”

Mr. Thorpe, your attempt to downplay, defend and excuse Ms. Torres-Walker’s rhetoric is inexcusable.  The fact that a council member under your leadership has behaved in such a horrific and divisive manner reflects poorly upon you and your leadership abilities.

As a longtime community member and business owner, I am asking that you publicly condemn Ms. Torres-Walker’s behavior/threats and that you ensure our community that her behavior or similar behavior by anyone will not be tolerated.

Ms. Torres-Walker admitted she allowed her 13-year-old (an unlicensed driver) to drive an off-road quad runner on a public roadway.  This is a clear violation of Vehicle code 12500 (a) which states: “a person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code.”  California Penal Code Section 273 (a) states: “Any person who willfully causes or permits that a child be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in a state prison for two, four or six years.” The discussions this evening would not be occurring had Ms. Torres-Walker and her 23-year-old child (who video recorded himself driving his off-road motorcycle in a reckless manner and endangered/abandoned his 13-year-old brother while evading the police on a public roadway) followed the law.

Mr. Thorpe, if you truly want accountability and unity within our community, then you must start by holding Ms. Torres-Walker accountable for her actions and decisions that led the Antioch Police Officers to come in contact with her children who were unlawfully operating motor vehicles on public roadways and subsequently decided to initiate a vehicle pursuit when the police arrived.  You must also hold Ms. Torres-Walker accountable for spewing hateful, divisive remarks, unprofessional behavior and threats of violence toward our police officers and community.  Your decision to justify Ms. Torres-Walker’s efforts to demonize our police department and divide our community is unacceptable!  Your decision to defend poor behavior has created a further division amongst community members.

This incident occurred while you were vacationing out of the country, during a pandemic that has our nation, state, county and city under strict COVID pandemic restrictions.  Your justifications of Ms. Torres-Walker’s poor decisions and your actions of leaving the country have given the impression that you believe you are “above the law.”

A true leader will always lead by example and will not excuse poor behavior.    Accountability is paramount and it builds trust and unity.  It is my hope that you will reflect upon your decision to support Ms. Torres-Walker’s poor behavior, you will hold yourself accountable and that you will make an effort to correct the division you created.

Everyone makes mistakes, but only a person with integrity owns up to them!

Jesse Zuniga Jr.

Community Member since 1989 and Antioch Business Owner since 2002

 

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Construction workers’ organization unhappy with “discriminatory and costly” PLA in Antioch’s desal plant contract

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Note: The following letter was sent via email to the five members of the Antioch City Council on Thursday, Dec. 24.

Antioch City Councilmembers,

When you placed a discriminatory and costly Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the Brackish Desal Plant in 2018 we warned you not only what it would do to discriminate against local construction workers but what it would do to your costs. Judging by the manner in which you snuck the approval for the contract to build it through on a Friday night before Christmas with no public notice, you obviously did not want us to remind you.

But here we are.

A reminder of the bigotry you approved: Your welfare for local union bosses in the form of a PLA forces all workers to pay union dues, pay into union pensions they’ll never vest in (that’s wage theft) and explicitly discriminates against young men and women in state approved non-union apprentice programs by banning them from working at all. Any union-free contractor who worked on the job would only be allowed a few of their own employees period with all others coming from union hiring halls. The result? Reduced bidders and increased costs. 85% of the local workforce is union-free, as is the state’s construction workforce. That number holds true for your contractor base as well. These companies simply don’t bid work with PLAs on it so the results are higher bids from those who do, as every major study conducted proves and as you just learned firsthand.

So, a project that you had estimated would cost $60 million before the PLA has now been awarded for $86,689,000. BUT THAT OF COURSE IS NOT ALL. There is a 5% contingency of $4,334,450 in case of “unforeseen costs” (count on it) for a total of $91,023,450. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL EITHER. In addition, you authorized city staff to increase the total budget for the desalination project to $110 million.

In 21 years of fighting PLAs we have never seen a PLA come in this far over budget. Ever. Congrats.

Of course, a body who took their fiduciary responsibility to ratepayers seriously would have rebid this with no PLA and compared costs but your canine affection for big labor special interests wouldn’t allow for this. So here we are.

We will continue to monitor this debacle and make sure citizens are kept updated. The story that recently ran in the East Bay Times about this last-minute cram down before Christmas did not mention the PLA. We will make sure the next one does.

Merry Christmas.

Eric Christen

Executive Director

Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction

 

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Opponent says Wilson offers more talk no action on Antioch’s downtown Rivertown and homeless problem

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Dear Editor:

Over five years ago, in 2015 the Antioch City Council approved the Downtown Specific Plan Update and finalized it in 2018. Yet nothing has happened to implement those plans since then. During Tuesday night’s Antioch City Council meeting incumbent Councilwoman Monica Wilson offered no action items for the rest of the council to vote on to help improve Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown. It was just more talk from the council’s Waterfront subcommittee that she serves on.

Worse, the committee did not include all the business owners that have been trying to improve the downtown Rivertown or would like to upgrade their buildings. They have not publicized their meetings so that other Rivertown business and building owners can attend and give their input and ideas.

Monica has done more harm than good for our city’s downtown. Earlier this year she marched with protesters all the way down the middle of W. 2nd Street to the police station, blocking the road to traffic in front of businesses that were struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some of those businesses boarded up out of fear of looting and damage to their store windows. But Wilson did not care about the Rivertown businesses and the impacts of the protests. She was trying to score points with the protesters for another future run for higher office, which is what she really wants. Wilson wanted to be mayor, this year, and was unsuccessfully when she ran for Supervisor in 2016.

What has Wilson accomplished in her eight years on the council? For Rivertown, only one thing, when she voted in August to spend $15,000 on barriers for the restaurants to have outdoor dining where the parking stalls are located in front of their businesses. They have barely been used so that was a big waste of money. But that is it. Plus, the portable toilets for the homeless who stay in Waldie Plaza and along the railroad tracks.

That’s another thing she has done nothing about, other than vote to apply for five FEMA trailers from the state which arrived in March but are still sitting in the city’s maintenance yard, and to spend our tax dollars on consultants and a new city staff member. Monica voted last December to allocate over $500,000 to do something about the homeless problem in our city but then voted to spend $73,000 of it to hire a consultant on homelessness to help develop a plan to hire an Unhoused Resident Coordinator at a cost of $100,000 per year. Then, before anything was done with the rest of the money, Wilson voted to spend as much as $1 million to create a homeless hotel on E. 18th Street.

We need people on the city council who are going to take action and quit talking about improving Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown and actually do something about the homeless issue in our city. Plus, not promise us 22 police immediately then take six years to deliver on that commitment.

That is why I am running. If you want action and results and not just more talk and delays and kicking the can down the road, eventually getting around to it, I ask for your vote for Antioch City Council in District 4.

Thank you,

Sandra White

Antioch

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Writers says Fernando Sandoval running for college board is an inspiring candidate and breath of fresh air

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Dear Editor:

Daniel Borenstein, in his editorial, endorsed candidate Fernando Sandoval for Contra Costa Community College Board of Trustees Ward 5. But he has left out very important assets and characteristics of Mr. Sandoval that I would like to mention for those who would like to hear of his good character and important background that he would bring to the college board which I have found to be very inspiring.

As a person of color, I’m excited to know that we have a chance to elect Mr. Sandoval who will bring equity, diversity and inclusion to everyone entering their first year of upper education in addition to faculty and staff. Mr. Sandoval’s priority will be to keep first year students engaged and motivated to move on to either universities or well-paying skilled jobs. I have worked on community education projects with Mr. Sandoval where he has displayed his motivation, passion, sensitivity, and creativity to work with youth or those wanting to go back to school to improve their jobs and careers.

He has also recently written a book that inspires those to move on and improve their lives. He has spoken on identity, motivation and achievement to young students using his book as his historical journey. He also provides this book as a gift to others. I am a retired person now and I was even inspired by his book.

In addition to his passion for education, Mr. Sandoval also has a 25-year career in information technology and finance consulting with worldwide banking institutions and research corporations providing management strategies and budgeting models for economic recovery.

With this background, Mr. Sandoval will increase fiscal accountability and transparency to manage District funding that will support our taxpayers’ investment in our community colleges.

With Mr. Sandoval’s background, he has inspired many of us to support him including Faculty and Classified Professionals including over 40 Community Educators and Leaders and many elected officials. These important individuals are gravely disappointed in the incumbent and are looking to replace him with all that Mr. Sandoval offers; finding a breath of fresh air, commitment and inspiration with Mr. Fernando Sandoval.

Linda Olvera

Martinez

 

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