Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

After weeks of waiting, wrangling with city staff, emails between Torres-Walker and Chief Brooks on rideout released

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Instagram post by Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s adult son, Yomani, promoting the rideout planned for Sunday, June 20th in Antioch and offering to provide the location for those who would direct message him. (Edited due to profanity) (Herald file screenshot)

Show her resistance to helping stop son from promoting illegal dirt bike ride on city streets; same son who fled police during incident in December

By Allen Payton

Following a Public Records Act request on June 16 for the email communication between Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Antioch Police Chief T Brooks regarding the planned rideout that one of her sons was promoting and possibly organizing on social media, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith finally released them last Wednesday evening, July 14. _Emails to & from TBrooks & TTorres-Walker

Smith at first claimed attorney client privilege and provided several state codes to support it. However, the Herald researched and cited those codes in a response email, pointing out to him that nothing in the codes mentions any other city staff member but refers only to an attorney. The Herald asked Smith if he was included in the emails between Brooks and Torres-Walker and any other council member regarding the rideout. He did not respond. A further email was sent to Brooks and City Manager Ron Bernal asking the same question. Rather than responding, Smith released the emails to the Herald, later that day.

Torres-Walker Less Than Fully Cooperative Frustrating Brooks

The emails show resistance from Torres-Walker to Brooks’ request that she talk to her adult son, Yomani, to get him to stop organizing and promoting the event planned for Sunday, June 20, m on his Instagram account under the name “its_kyd”. At first she agreed to talk to him about it, But later Torres-Walker claimed he was not organizing the event nor knew who was, didn’t know where it would be held and that she didn’t think she talking to him would help.

Yomani is her same son who fled police during a pursuit of him and his younger brother who were riding off-road vehicles on A Street on December 29, 2020. That incident resulted in a 9-minute online video post by the councilwoman and has been under investigation by an outside firm hired by the police department at her request. The investigators report has yet to be released. (See related article)

Brooks first email to her on June 14 with the subject line “Need Your Help Please” reads in part:

“Good afternoon Councilmember Torres-Walker,

Several people have contacted me in regards to an illegal event planned to take place in Antioch this Sunday. Please see the attached screenshot advertising the event, which I’m being told is from your son Yomani’s Instagram account. These types of events are not only dangerous but illegal as well.

Some who are aware of this event (and your son’s alleged involvement) have mentioned wanting to notify local media outlets. I have asked that this not happen, but instead, allow me to stop the event from even occurring. My primary goal is to prevent this dangerous activity from taking place in our city. But I also hope to avoid any type of negative attention this would garner from the public (on you as an elected official, and us as a city) as well.

I am asking for your help to get this event canceled. Prevention is my first and ultimate goal. However, if you are unable to help, we will assemble a special enforcement detail using officers on overtime and seeking mutual aid help from neighboring agencies to address the public safety concern this event will create. We will take a zero-tolerance approach to any/all violations, resulting in arrests and towed vehicles for those participating. I would like to avoid this if at all possible.

Please let me know if you can help. I greatly appreciate it.”

He also shared screenshots of posts by Yomani on his Instagram page, previously shared by the Herald.

Torres-Walker responded in an email to Brooks that evening, and copied Bernal, Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla, with the following:

“Hello Chief Brooks,

Thank you for the email. I was not aware of this event and my son has never organized such an event. It looks like he may have shared an event that was organized by someone else on his personal social media page which is not illegal.

I have no power to stop this but I will talk to my son about not attending because I want him to be safe and I understand that once the police engage in these kinds of events people will and have been gravely injured and/or arrested.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.”

Brooks responded that same evening with another email to Torres-Walker:

“Thank you for your response.

I agree with you that these events are extremely dangerous. Injuries can be sustained by participants, spectators, innocent members of the public who are completely unattached to the event itself, and even officers who are assaulted by those who violently resist and/or use their vehicles as weapons against them.

I did not say your son was organizing the event – I said he was advertising it. I hoped that he or they could speak to the organizers and ask them not to bring this event to our community. It is not welcomed here.

Since you do not have the power to stop it, but would still like to help, I’ll ask that you please find out from your son where this event is scheduled to take place and provide me this information? His post says he knows where this is going to occur, and having this information ahead of time would greatly benefit us to secure the area and hopefully deter potential participants from stopping in the first place. Preventing the group from congregating/organizing would greatly reduce any likelihood of confrontation, making it safer for all.

Thank you in advance for helping us work to prevent this dangerous event from occurring in our city.”

Torres-Walker responded, once again, about a half-hour later, attempting to turn it around on police, with a brief reference to the incident in December, and those who had informed Brooks about her son’s social media posts for the June 20th planned rideout. She wrote:

“Hello Chief Brooks,

I get it and my son knows what it’s like to have someone use their vehicle as a weapon to harm him.

It seems like the location is never shared ahead of the day of the event so even if I wanted to help with that request I couldn’t.

Maybe the informants that are reporting activity on my son’s social media page can use their investigative skills to find out who is organizing the event and request the location.

I will talk to my son but since he is not organizing the event and has no idea who is I’m not sure that will help either.

Have a good evening,”

Torres-Walker’s son’s IG posts regarding the expected police response to the planned rideout. The one on the right was posted after Wednesday morning’s press conference by the mayor and police chief and after she apparently had spoken with him. (Herald file screenshots)

The following morning, Tuesday, June 15, Brooks sent an email to Bernal, Thorpe and Bonilla showing additional posts on social media by Yomani on his Instagram account with the words “Stop Snitching” and other posts warning those who might participate in the rideout to “Keep yo head ona swivel” to look out for police during the rideout.

A frustrated Brooks wrote in that email:

“All,

I have no intention on responding to Councilmember Torres-Walker’s below email. It is unfortunate that she is taking this stance and refusing to help prevent a dangerous event such as this from occurring in our city. Although she claims her son is not involved, it is clear from the original screenshot I included to start this conversation that is not true. To further evidence this, please see the below screenshots that her son posted last night. Obviously Councilmember Torres-Walker informed him of my request. But instead of helping prevent the dangerous event and negative publicity it will bring us as a city, it has appeared to embolden him and he has doubled down on his messaging to continue on with the event as planned. Not only will this cost the city taxpayers’ money in unnecessary police overtime, it is endangering the lives of those illegally riding on our streets, the innocent motorists on our roadways, and the officers tasked with trying to enforce the laws being willfully disregarded. This type of behavior is not good for our community.

T”

The following day, Wed., June 16, Thorpe and Brooks held a press conference about the rideout, asking people not to participate and warning them of a multi-agency effort, fines and $3,000 impound fees, should they be caught. During that press conference, Thorpe was asked if he had spoken to her to tell her son not to promote or participate in them. Thorpe responded, “this is about cancelling the event and let the public know we are going to hold people accountable. I’m not playing games.” (See related article)

The warnings appear to have worked, as the planned rideout did not occur that Sunday.

Challenge Obtaining Emails

By state law, government officials have 10 business days to release records requested by either the media or public. However, agencies can postpone the release by up to an additional 14 calendar days under certain circumstances. It took four weeks for Attorney Smith to release the requested emails.

On June 30th Lynn Dansie, the Police Records Supervisor, sent a letter to the Herald which read, “At the request of the City Attorney we have been asked to extend our response time…for up to 14 additional calendar days, in order to search for and collect records from a separate office/unit holding the information requested. You will be notified with a response to your request on our before, July 12, 2021.” (See              )

Asked what separate office/unit was holding the information and are all communications between city staff and council members done through their official city email accounts, neither Dansie nor Smith responded.

Then on July 1, the Herald made an additional request of all emails between Attorney Smith and council members about the rideout.

On July 8, Dansie emailed another letter that read, “Per the City Attorney, records requested are not releasable at this time. The records requests are being denied under GC (government code) 6254(k) as well as the attorney client privilege under EC 954 and attorney work product privilege under Cal. Code Civ. Pro. 2018.030(a).”

Asked if the letter applied to all emails, Dansie responsed, “The codes of GC 6254(k), EC 954 and Cal Code Civ Pro 2018.030(a) are applicable to both of the records requests involving emails.”

This reporter responded on July 13 with the following, which included citing the language from the sections of those government codes:

“Thomas,

Were you included in the emails between Chief Brooks and Councilwoman Torres-Walker or any other member of the APD staff and any council member regarding the planned rideout on June 20, 2021?

Because I researched the codes provided in Lynn’s email sent yesterday, and if not, then those codes do not apply as they mention nothing about any other person, only an attorney, and you therefore must release the emails to me…post haste. Otherwise please cite the portion of those codes that do apply.

I understand you trying to protect your clients, the council members, from any possible embarrassment over what they wrote in their communication with the chief and/or any other member of the APD or city staff. But that’s not protected under the PRA according to the codes you have provided. So, let’s stop wasting all of this city staff time…and let’s allow the public to know what’s happening with their government and communicated by their elected representatives.”

Smith responded via email the next day, providing the requested emails and included an explanation of why the emails between him and city council members could not be released.

“Dear Mr. Payton,

On June 16, 2021, the City of Antioch received a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) requesting “copies of any emails/communications between yourself (Chief Brooks)/police department/Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Tamisha Torres-Walker regarding sideshows or rideout”. After further discussion, the City and was agreed that the scope of the request was to be limited to the time period of June 8, 2021 through June 22, 2021.

This letter is in response to your emails dated July 13, 2021 and July 14, 2021.  Attached please find a 10-page document responsive to the CPRA requests that the City has determined is disclosable. Please be advised that other identifiable records are exempt from disclosure because they either involve confidential communications that include the City Attorney and/or they involve confidential communications done at the direction of the City Attorney to accomplish the purpose for which the City Attorney was consulted and are exempt from disclosure.

Thomas Lloyd Smith

City Attorney”

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Antioch council to consider first in region Bicycle Garden during Tuesday night meeting

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Screenshot of Bicycle Garden concept video.

14-item agenda begins with 5-year Capital Improvement Program study session, followed by presentation of Rivertown Dining District marketing program, adopting a Water Shortage Contingency Plan, more youth development programs such as All Inclusive Parks, plus easing restrictions on home occupations, expanding ban on smoking, giving city manager 15% pay raise

By Allen Payton

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 the Antioch City Council will once again deal with 14 agenda items, as they did during last week’s special meeting. They include a study session on the 5-Year Capital Improvement Program beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by a presentation on marketing for the new Rivertown Dining District, adopting a water shortage contingency plan, plus multiple youth development programs.

The council will also consider easing restrictions on home-based businesses, allowing for light manufacturing, such as crafts and other items that are sold on websites such as Etsy, as well as expanding the ban on smoking to include e-cigarettes. Finally, the council will consider increasing City Manager Ron Bernal’s annual salary by 15% to $293,712  which “reflects a positive review”, according to the staff report.

Water Management

The council will consider adopting a Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) as part of the 2020 Urban Water Management Plan Update which will be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources. According to the city staff report, while the WSCP is done each year, this year the city must now provide information not previously required. That includes a description of the process for an annual water supply reliability assessment, five-year drought risk assessment, six water shortage levels and a seismic risk and assessment plan, among others.

Bicycle Garden rendering. From council presentation by CCTA and Safe Streets.

Bicycle Garden

The youth development programs the council will be discussing include a Bicycle Garden, in coordination with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Street Smarts Diablo Region Safe Routes to Schools program. (See concept videoBicycle Garden presentation

According to the city staff report the proposed development of a state-of-the-art Bicycle Garden in Antioch would be the first of its kind in the region and is expected to be completed via public-private partnership funding. The Bicycle Garden would be a permanent, hands-on bicycle training facility fully contained within an existing Antioch park.

Bicycle Garden rendering.

Designed like a miniature city streetscape, the Garden would provide a safe place for youth and adults to ride bikes and learn the rules-of-the-road. The park would consist of small roads that weave in and around landscaped areas with smaller scaled versions of real-life traffic features including signals, traffic signs, road markings, bus stops, bike lanes, train tracks, etc.

In addition to open and free public use by individuals and families, the Bicycle Garden could provide a variety of programming opportunities for the City of Antioch: school field trips, classes for children, teens, and adults of all ages and abilities; summer camp modules, community biking and safety events, private party rentals, and more.

The Antioch Bicycle Garden will serve four goals:

  • SAFETY: Serve as the gold standard model for bicycle safety education, work toward a regional Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatal and severe traffic collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians; and provide hands-on bicycle, pedestrian, and driver safety education designed for both programmed and independent learning in a comfortable, fun, permanent, and car-free facility.
  • COMMUNITY HEALTH: Increase and support community building, exercise, outdoor recreation options, and social and emotional well-being for youth and adults while instilling a “culture of bicycling” in Antioch, and the region.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: Improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by inspiring community members to replace vehicle trips to/from schools and other community destinations with bicycling or walking.
  • EQUITY: Ensure equitable, safe, and no-cost access to the facility for all members of the public, including youth and adults of all ages and abilities.

From Antioch City Council presentation by Gates + Associates.

All Inclusive Parks

The council will also be provided a presentation on All Inclusive Parks, expanding on the All Abilities Playground at Prewett Family Park. They will then discuss and provide direction to staff on a park design policy. All Inclusive Parks presentation

The regular council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. See the complete agenda.

Public Comments

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting in the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
  2. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting, to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers – You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting. – When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.
  3. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, General Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. All emails received by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record for the meeting.

 

 

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Take the Antioch Summer Bike Challenge

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Enter to win an iPad in the Grand Prize Drawing

By Marie Arce, Chair, Antioch Parks & Recreation Commission

Looking for free summertime recreation and fun for the whole family? Check out 511 Contra Costa’s Summer Bike Challenge. From June through August, riders of all ages can explore their hometowns on two wheels. Simply bike to each destination and cross off the squares as you go. Pick up free prizes on select dates, take weekly bonus challenges, and enter the iPad Grand Prize Drawing.

The Summer Bike Challenge is free.

How to Play:

  1. Register& play for free! You’ll be entered in the iPad Grand Prize drawing.
  2. Select your city below and download your gameboard.
  3. Bike to as many squares as you can June-August. Can’t bike to certain Squares? Substitute any square with a bike-able destination of your choice.
  4. Collect prizes at in-person events, find details on your gamecard.
  5. Complete Weekly Bike Ride Challenges, sent to your inbox, for chances to win extra prizes every week.

Ready to roll? Visit 511cc.org/go to get started.

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Payton Perspective: Antioch should set aside western portion of Prewett Park for legal dirt bike and quad riding

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Proposed site of off-road recreational vehicle area at Prewett Park. Bing Maps

By Allen Payton

Of all the proposals from the mayor and council members, this year, one that sounds the craziest might not be such a bad idea. Both Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker are proposing the city find land that can be set aside for youth (and others, hopefully) to ride their dirt bikes and quads, legally, because they aren’t allowed on city streets.

Torres-Walker’s own sons got in trouble in December for riding their dirt bike and quad illegally on city streets and Antioch Police officers who were able to stop the one on the quad. Then, an accident involving a quad and a car occurred just last week, sending the quad rider to the hospital with severe injuries.

Also, during the mayor and Torres-Walker’s press conference about youth activities and proposals a couple weeks ago, which included this idea, it was rather ironic that a dirt bike rider passed by on Lone Tree Way. I said with a chuckle, “he needs a place like that” and everyone laughed.

While at first, I didn’t take the idea seriously, after thinking about it, now I do and think it could be a good thing.

The closest place to legally ride dirt bikes in East County is at the Diablo MX Ranch, off Vasco Road in Byron. It costs $20 for kids, $30 for other riders, and $5 for spectators.

I support the effort for Antioch kids to have a safe and legal place in our city to ride their off-road recreational vehicles and propose it be at the unused area of Prewett Family Park, west of the community center, at the corner of Lone Tree Way and Deer Valley Road, as shown in the yellow area of the map above. The city already owns the land so there would be limited cost.

The city never completed the plans for the entire 115-acre park, which includes a library on the west side of the parking lot next to the community center and much more. Plus, recent councils have not placed an assessment or fee on the new home subdivisions they’ve been approving in either the Sand Creek area nor other parts of the city to pay to finish what those of us in the old 89-1 Mello-Roos District started when we paid to build both the Antioch Water Park and Community Center. So, the plans may never be fulfilled.

Instead of just using a portion of the west side of the parkland for a disc golf course, the city should allow off-road vehicle riders to use that area including the steep hill to have some fun.

Of course, there would have to be limitations, such as hours of when the riding would be allowed, signing legal waivers to hold the city harmless in case of accidents and injuries, and possibly staffing. But I think it’s doable.

During Torres-Walker’s video rant, in response about her sons’ incident, she said other kids are doing it, too, riding their off-road vehicles illegally on city streets. While that doesn’t excuse her for allowing her kids to break the law, what she said is correct. They are and many of us see them riding on city streets pretty regularly.

So, why not accommodate the kids and let them have some fun in a safe and legal way, close to home?

Let’s see what the council decides about the matter, on the agenda as item #6 during their special meeting Tuesday night, May 18. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. ACC mtg 051821 agenda item #6 Off Road Vehicle location

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Antioch Council to discuss 14 items, 10 on youth development recreation, school safety during special meeting Tuesday night

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Includes apology for racism against Chinese residents in the past including burning down the city’s Chinatown in 1876, but no mention of the council majority’s support and residents’ vote attempting to devalue current Chinese American landowners’ property in Antioch without compensation, last year; also school safety proposals including “Potential Increase of Campus Safety Personnel on High School Campuses”

By Allen Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has called a special council meeting for Tuesday night, May 18, for the discussion of 14 agenda items, including 10 on youth development. The items were moved up a week from the council’s regular meeting on May 25 in response to the shooting death of a 12-year-old girl, last week. (See related article)

The items include #1, a previously proposed apology to Chinese residents, described in the city staff report as a “Resolution Apologizing to Early Chinese Immigrants and Their Descendants for Acts of Fundamental Injustice, Seeking Forgiveness and Committing to Rectification of Past Misdeeds.” However, the resolution includes no apology for what the current council majority and a majority of Antioch voters attempted to do, last year to current Chinese American landowners in the city, when they voted to devalue their property by over 97% without compensation. (See related article here and editorial, here) Antioch Council Resolution Apologizing to Early Chinese & Descendants 051821

Each of the other 13 items including 10 labeled “youth development” are preliminary and only offer a recommendation from staff “that the City Council discuss and provide direction to City staff” but without any details. Should a majority of council members support pursuing any of them, those that do will be brought back later for a formal vote.

A related agenda item to the apology resolution is #2, designation of a Chinese Historic District in the city’s downtown, where the Chinese residents owned their property, most of which is now owned by the city, specifically Waldie Plaza and the two adjacent parking lots on West 2nd and I (eye) Streets. The other related agenda item is #3, a discussion on Funding for Planning and Design of Potential Asian Museum Exhibits, Murals and Related Matters.

Item #4, requested by District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock is a discussion on a Social Media Policy for the council and perhaps for city staff and departments, as well.

Youth Development Recreation and Safety Proposals

Some are recreation oriented while others are more focused on anti-violence and youth safety. They include agenda item #5 – Potential Establishment of a Midnight Basketball Initiative Targeting Middle and High School Students, #6 – Securing Location to Legally and Safely Use Off Road Vehicles, #7 – Potential Establishment of Community Violence Solutions Task Force, #8 – Potential Establishment of a Safe Storage Ordinance for Firearms and Ammunition.#9 – Bus Pass Program, #10 – Review of Citywide K-12 Campuses to Determine the Need for Traffic Calming Measures, Including Crossing Guards, #11 – Potential Authorization of Additional Antioch Police Department Overtime For Afterschool Antioch Unified School District Special Events, #12 – Potential Launch of School Watch and Care Program in Partnership with City of Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commission, #13 – Potential Increase of Campus Safety Personnel on High School Campuses, and #14 – Addition of Youth Members to Boards and Commissions.

According to District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, the high school campus safety personnel would not be police, but trained site safety staff. She, along with Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, in one of their first acts as a new council, last December 15, voted to rescind the $750,000 federal grant for placing six sworn Antioch police School Resource Officers at AUSD middle and high school campuses. (See related article)

The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. and can be viewed via livestream on the city’s website at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. See complete agenda, here: Antioch City Council meeting agenda 051821

Public Comments

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting in the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card located at: https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card.
  2. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting, to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers – You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting. – When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.
  3. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, General Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. All emails received by 5:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record for the meeting.

 

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Mayor, councilwoman, parks commission chair propose programs for Antioch youth, reducing gun violence, ammunition storage ordinance

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe speaks at a press conference about youth programs and violence prevention, in front of the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park, on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

By Allen Payton

During a press conference Thursday morning, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, along with District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Marie Arce, introduced several proposals for youth programs, including summer and after school jobs and internships, as well as more school safety staff and an ordinance on keeping ammunition separate from guns in the home. (See complete video of press conference it begins at the 1:55 mark)

Thorpe first introduced the city’s new Parks and Recreation Department director, Brad Helfenberger.

“I worked for the City of Emeryville creating new programs for youth,” he said. “I look forward to working with the city council in investing in our youth.”

Thorpe then spoke about youth in the community.

“Antioch is the second largest city in our county and growing because of youth,” he said. “Kids under age 18 make up a third of Antioch’s population.”

He then introduced, “my new homegirls from (Diablo Valley) Mom’s Demand Action.” Seven members attended the press conference, including some from East County, but none of the 99 members they claim live in Antioch were in attendance.

Thorpe then shared some statistics saying, “Roughly 72% of Antioch’s students are on free and reduced lunch. 30% of them are English learners. Currently, only 49% of students are meeting the state reading standards and in mathematics 60% of our children don’t meet state standards. When our seniors graduate high school, only 23% of students are prepared to go to a four-year college or university.”

“Please don’t take this as an indictment on our school system,” he continued. “My hats off to our local teachers for the many instances of beating the odds by taking a kid living in absolute chaos and producing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round NFL draft pick, Najee Harris; producing an undrafted free agent like Isaiah Dunn and taking him all the way to the New York JETS; taking a kid living on the streets of Antioch with his family, like Sage Bennett, providing him a little stability during the day and preparing him to become a full ride scholarship recipient at UC Berkeley.”

“Right now, at Antioch High School, there is a 16-year-old little girl, who immigrated here from Asia, who literally just learned English a few years ago, getting ready to graduate and enter a pre-dental program at the University of the Pacific,” Thorpe shared.

“By no means is this an indictment on our school system,” he reiterated. “However, it is an indictment on all of us and what our values reflect.”

“In Antioch, we’ve placed a high premium on criminalizing kids than we have on investing in their development,” Thorpe continued. “Don’t take my word for it, look at the city’s budget, its plain as day. And yet, we only seem to talk about our youth when something bad has happened, to point out what they’re not doing right and with absolute contempt.”

“That’s not right,” he stated. “But as mayor, I want our young people to know that I hear you. I hear you when it comes to after-school programs, summer job opportunities, a space for you to express yourselves, equity and safety in our community and much, much more.”

Six Summer Youth Programs

“This summer, we are going to be launching six youth-centererd, pilot programs from May to August, as a way to offer youth alternatives to the streets,” Thorpe stated. “One of these programs is called the Middle School Pop Up Park Program. This will be the city’s first program that specially targets middle school students as our summer recreational programs do not tailor to middle school aged students.”

“These pilot programs will help us gather data and determine scalability,” he continued. “In addition, I’ll be advancing four measures at the May 25th council meeting to aid in this effort.”

Those four proposals include the following:

  1. Develop Midnight Basketball initiative that targets middle and high school students:
  2. Acquire property for youth to legally and safely use off-road vehicles such as ATV’s, dirt bikes, etc.
  3. Continue the Summer Bus Pass initiative
  4. Develop a Parks and Recreation rate structure for AUSD students who qualify for the Free or Reduced Lunch Program to increase access to summer recreational programming

Thorpe also mentioned expanding the Council of Teens.

“We’ll be launching a COVID-19 workforce program…and build an Antioch internship program focusing on ages 18-24 or 15-24,” he shared.

Thorpe mentioned few more proposed initiatives, including a Youth Art Expression program.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Arce then spoke, saying that the Youth Services Advisory Committee gave input in the development of the programs. She focused on the issue of access and affordability.

“We created a mock enrollment to enroll two adults and two children” but “the enrollment fee would consume 42% of income” of those or those on the free school lunch program “and 30% of income” for those who qualify for the reduced lunch program.

The plan is to offer the programs for free to those who qualify.

Gun Violence Prevention

Thorpe then spoke about long-term strategies for community-led violence prevention and intervention strategies.

“Obviously, violence continues to be a challenge for many Bay Area cities including Antioch,” he stated. “We all know, gun violence is a national problem and Antioch is not immune from it. In some parts of Antioch gun violence is a normal occurrence.”

Thorpe spoke of the resolution that the city council recently approved in support of federal legislation on gun violence.

Torres-Walker then spoke on the issue saying, “I have lived in this community for six years. My first experience was gun violence. There were many efforts but nothing sustainable because the city lacked the will and the resources.”

“On March 29th I was informed by the police chief that the Antioch Police Department and Oakland Police Department were working together,” she shared. “The press release of April 15 was no surprise to me.”

“Now my son can walk to the store, safely,” Torres-Walker stated. “I informed the chief that we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. The chief agreed. Those on the Gang Violence Task Force also agreed.”

“We need to curb gun violence in Antioch to make our city safe,” she continued. “But not just gun violence, all violence is up during the pandemic.”

She then spoke of “establishing a task force that will be led by the community and supported by experts…and our police department who show up after violence has occurred but not curb violence.”

Proposed Safe Ammunition Storage Ordinance

Thorpe then shared that he will “be advancing three items for the (May) 25th (council meeting)” including “a Community Led Violence Task Force and an ordinance for safe storage of ammunition.”

Michelle Sinnott, an Alamo resident and Co-Lead of Diablo Valley Moms Demand Action, spoke about gun ownership in America and the impact of gun violence against Black Americans.

“There are more than 393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, or enough for every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over,” she stated. “From March through May 2020, an estimated 5.9 million guns were sold, an 80% increase over the same time period (the previous) year.”

“Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence,” Sinnott continued. “They experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 15 times the gun assaults and three times the fatal police shootings of white Americans.”

“Firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens,” she shared. “More than 1,800 children and teens die by gun homicide every year. For children under the age of 13, these gun homicides most frequently occur in the home and are often connected to domestic or family violence. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely than white children and teens of the same age to die by gun homicide. Black Americans are nearly two times as likely to die from COVID 19 as white Americans and four times as likely to die from gun suicide.”

“Street outreach programs like the ones being proposed by the mayor and Council Member Walker are associated with up to 37% reductions of gun injuries,” said Sinnott. “Violence intervention programs provide evidence and community informed comprehensive support to individuals who are at the greatest risk of gunshot victimization.”

She then spoke of safe storage of guns and ammunition saying, “secure storage prevents shootings by disrupting unauthorized access to firearms.  Make our homes and communities safer by storing guns securely.  Store them locked and unloaded, separate from ammunition.”

“That is what the ordinance would require,” Sinnott explained.

“An estimated 54% of gun owners do not lock their guns securely,” she continued. “Every year 350 children under the age of 18 unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else; 4.6 million children live in homes with at least one unsecured gun; and 80% of gunfire on school grounds occurred because shooters under the age of 18 got their gun from their home or a home of friends and relatives.”

“Suicide is impulsive, and with COVID and increasing isolation the number of suicides is growing,” Sinnott shared. “Assume children and teens can find guns and keep those weapons locked and unloaded to save lives. We saw a 30% increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children in March through May of 2020 versus March through May average over the past three years.”

“The idea that these devices defeat the purpose of owning a gun for self-defense is simply not true,” she stated. “There are many affordable options for firearms that provide owners with quick access to their guns.

“Moms Demand Action support these measures. Let’s make Antioch safer for everyone,” Sinnott concluded.

Long-Term Recreation Programming

“The last item is long term recreation programming,” Thorpe shared. “We’ve got to invest in our children.”

Arce spoke again saying, “we also reached out to community-based organizations. Our programs should be
equitable, sustainable programs for our youth. We have several great community organizations that want to partner with us.”

She then spoke of food access through farmers markets.

“Downtown residents lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Arce said and proposed a youth-run farmers market to learn directly from farmers and learn sustainable farming. “It reduces carbon emissions and increases biodiversity.”

“We can add some after school and summer programs and possibly create Antioch’s own farm,” she continued. Arce spoke of the desire “to create an inclusive environment for youth with all abilities. There is a lack of space, accessibility and parental knowledge. Many spend their days in our parks because it’s free. But during winter months this is a health risk.”

“We are proposing our rec department offer access to programs, and include wrap-around services,” she added.

She then proposed “an All-Abilities Day at the Antioch Water Park” and “after school and summer programs.”

“The youth focus group does not represent all the youth of Antioch,” Arce pointed out.

She then mentioned a “music development program and workshop partnering with LMC and use of their recording studio.”

“We can also partner with CBO’s (community-based organizations)” Arce said, mentioning a basketball program and community garden. “A dedicated space for them to feel safe and welcome.”

She then spoke of “opportunities to connect with employers. Possibly a job fair.”

“The youth would like to see our trails and traffic safety improved so they can travel to school,” Arce continued. “We can create a safe and enjoyable space for our youth in Antioch.”

Thorpe then spoke of “five additional measures to proactively deal with traffic and school safety issues, including private schools” including possible traffic calming devices and a “bicycle garden that will provide hands-on bicycle, pedestrian, and driver safety education designed for both programmed and independent learning in a comfortable, fun, permanent, car-free facility.”

“One of the difficult things as an elected official is to hear the cries of a grieving mother no matter what the circumstances…as they express what they want changed,” he said, then spoke of the mother of Jonathan Parker, the Deer Valley High Student shot and killed following a basketball game, last year.

“Only one simple goal, that we prevent from happening to others what happened to her son,” Thorpe stated. “What she’s asked for is extra security at major AUSD events.”

He then spoke of authorizing police officer overtime for major after school events and suggested Neighborhood Watch members to volunteer at basketball and football games.

“We just need people…watching our children to ensure these events are more safe for our young people,” the mayor added.

Torres-Walker then spoke about “increased campus safety at our local schools.”

“For many years I’ve had the opportunity to work on school safety and environment as a parent and advocate,” she said.

“We operate in a deficit love for our young people,” Torres-Walker said, quoting a pastor.

She spoke of the student, last year who tried to become a student trustee on the Antioch School Board, but was not appointed. That was because the student hadn’t followed the required rules.

“Our school district is not the only perpetrator of this deficit love,” Torres-Walker said. “I’m sure our students feel this deficit love when they don’t feel safe going to and coming from school.”

She then spoke of “school climate and school site safety plans to hire school safety professionals to make our schools safe. We also need people prepared to address safety on our campuses.”

“I’m also recommending we review the REACH program,” Torres-Walker said. “I have heard this program has had much success, but I have not received reports.” She spoke of making changes “or get rid of it if it’s not working for our young folks.”

Thorpe then wrapped up the press conference with some concluding remarks.

“As we enter these summer months all I can say to our young people, plead with you, not to resort to guns,” he said. “Torres-Walker and I are the only council members with children in our schools. We will be criticized. But I don’t care.”

“Be safe this summer. To cease fire. We want to help. But we can’t do it with violence,” the mayor continued. “We want to meet you 99% of the way there but you need to meet us 1% of the way.”

“They’re not always listening in Washington, even though it’s common sense,” Thorpe then said, directing his comments to the Moms Demand Action members. “But dammit, we’re listening, here.”

“I call on family members…I beg you when you see a family member pick up a weapon, call the police…and keep our people alive,” he concluded.

Questions on School Safety Staff

When asked what does she mean by school campus safety professionals, Torres-Walker responded, “every school district has school safety folks…to decrease violence to counsel young folk. What we need to do is make sure they’re trained and equipped.”

She and Thorpe were asked about their votes to cancel the $750,000 federal grant for placing six police officers known as School Resource Officers or SRO’s, on Antioch middle and high school campuses.

“Yes, absolutely I voted against the federal grant just like when there was an opportunity to vote for Cal VIP funds to reduce gun violence in 2019 and the council and chief passed it up,” Torres-Walker responded.

Asked if the Cal VIP funds are still available, she said, “Cal VIP funds are always available for intervention and prevention of gun violence. Antioch has the opportunity to get this funding.”

“We are petitioning the governor right now to increase it to $114 million,” added Sitton.

 

 

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Get away to Skylark Shores Resort at Clear Lake

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

“I invite all my friends and everyone in Antioch to visit us at Skylark Shores Resort, this year. We are committed to providing a clean, safe and fun resort where our guests create happy memories that will last a lifetime.”- Jeff Warrenburg, General Manager

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Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch reopens Wednesday night

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

WOW, it has been 400 days since we had to close Paradise Skate Roller Rink in Antioch. We get to open TONIGHT. Catch is you have to make a reservation, sign a release. Bring that release, your energy, your mask and most important your smiles. We start at 7:30 pm.

Click here to make that reservation. Paradise Skate Antioch – A PartyWirks Partner

We’re located at 1201 W. 10th Street in Antioch.

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