On Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council agreed to move forward with 13 of 14 items on a special city council meeting with the one item not moving forward was a social media policy
During the meeting, many of the items were referred to staff to further investigate or sent into ad-hoc committees for greater work and the joint committee with the Antioch Unified School District.
Social Media Policy
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock brought the item forward highlighting how the League Of Cities highlighted the need to have a policy in place as cities and elected officials are spending more time in litigation over social media. Policies could include roles and responsibilities and best practices for elected officials (or appointed committee members).
“I hope we find value in adding a social media policy,” stated Ogorchock.
During public comments, many whom did not use a real name, were critical of Mayor Lamar Thorpes use of social media making a statement after a homicide involving a 12-year-old, while another commenter said the Mayor is blocking residents from Facebook and deleting comments that go against his agenda. In the middle of public comments, Thorpe attempted to cut them off saying the comments didn’t apply to the topic–some within 3 words into the comment.
City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith interjected saying if it did mention social media, it applied and they needed to read it and suggested they not cut off comments before its read. Thorpe objected saying the topic was social media policy not social media in general.
“If its not related to social media policy, we are not going to read it,” stated Thorpe.
“I think these matters that concern the use of social media fall within the scope of what would be covered by a social media policy. I do think you should be reading a comment if it falls within that scope,” said Smith.
After public comments, members of the city council quickly rejected the idea of moving forward with a policy.
Councilmember Mike Barbanica stated he didn’t need a policy.
“I don’t need a policy to tell me what to post on social media. I communicate with my District everyday on social media and continue to communicate with my District everyday. Every councilmember makes decisions to what they feel what information should go out to the people they represent and sometimes people agree with that and often they don’t agree with that, but I don’t need a policy to tell me what to post that every time I want to communicate I need to go look up a policy to see if I am in violation,” expalined Barbanica.
Mayor Thorpe shared the opinions of Barbanica.
“I don’t I need a policy to tell me what to post, particularly in my role as mayor,” stated Thorpe. “That last thing I will also accept is the premise that somehow councilmembers and elected officials need a special permission slip from our staff on what we should or should not post. I will never stand for that. We all govern based on what is in our heart.”
He noted that everyone is different and not everyone is engaged as others while some just post information and do not engaged in dialogue while stating they are not at a point where they need a policy.
“I am so disgusted by some of the comments that I heard tonight,” stated Thorpe. “As elected officials, we engage with so many different people and sometimes people are literally experiencing tragedy and loss in their lives and to use that as a garbage talking points at the council meeting is so unacceptable and ridiculous… we were elected to represent the people.”
Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson was against the idea of a policy saying she could post whatever she wanted to post on social media while highlighting she is just putting out information. Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker said “no”.
Item 6 – Location to Legally and Safely Use Off Road Vehicles
It was during this item, Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated a property owner in Antioch would lease land to the city for $1 to launch a pilot program. When pressed on which location by Councilwoman Ogorchock, the mayor declined to reveal the location but did say the property was not at the community center on Lone Tree Way.
Thorpe also responded to comments regarding an opinion piece by the Antioch Herald suggesting the Community Center property be used for the off road vehicles.
“No body is talking about the water park, no one is talking about the community center. That had nothing to do with what we are talking about here. That was an idea put out by someone who has nothing to do with this governing board,” stated Thorpe. “We are not talking about this disc golf location and I just have to say this, folks, we gotta decipher information and we have to be good citizens by reading and understanding you can’t take everything you see on a blog as fact. Or, take the time and read to differentiate between opinion and actual news. I say that to say that is not the property we are talking about.”
Councilwoman Torres-Walker acknowledged her ignorance around off road vehicles where they could be ridden and cannot be ridden which led to a “tragic experience” with her sons. She believed riders deserved a safe place to ride and while in lieu of a “no chase policy” to prevent more harm they should do this and was in support.
Barbanica he and his family rides dirt bikes and has seen many serious injuries and had concerns over liability and insurance while noting Diablo MX ranch is off Camino Diablo or people could go to Livermore. Ogorchock agreed that the liability is a concern and not in favor of this item.
Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson stated she didn’t have enough information on this to make a decision and requested more information before making her decision, such as the liability and the cost. She urged they make an education decision on this whereas a lot of people “grabbed information from out of the sky” on this item as truth.
The council directed staff to look at liability and cost. Attorney Smith suggested that as an alternative, they also look at providing transportation to these other facilities to ride versus Antioch taking on the liability–Thorpe stated they will start looking at the property, the liability and cost.
Thorpe stated they all showed concerns over liability and cost but noted there is liability everywhere from parks to literally walking in and out of city hall and suggested the off road vehicle park would not be much different.
“For staff, at the end of the day we will make the decision irrespective of what information we have. That will be our decision, not staffs decision,” said Thorpe. “We can try to keep our personal decisions about it to ourselves. The council needs to make this decision.”
Antioch City Council Just released its Special Meeting Agenda
- RESOLUTION APOLOGIZING TO EARLY CHINESE IMMIGRANTS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS FOR ACTS OF FUNDAMENTAL INJUSTICE, SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND COMMITTING TO RECTIFICATION OF PAST MISDEEDS
- DESIGNATION OF CHINESE HISTORIC DISTRICT
- FUNDING FOR PLANNING AND DESIGN OF POTENTIAL ASIAN MUSEUM EXHIBITS, MURALS AND RELATED MATTERS
- SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – POTENTIAL ESTABLISHMENT OF A MIDNIGHT BASKETBALL INITIATIVE TARGETING MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – SECURING LOCATION TO LEGALLY AND SAFELY USE OFF ROAD VEHICLES
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – POTENTIAL ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMUNITY VIOLENCE SOLUTIONS TASK FORCE
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – POTENTIAL ESTABLISHMENT OF A SAFE STORAGE ORDINANCE FOR FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – BUS PASS PROGRAM
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – REVIEW OF CITYWIDE K-12 CAMPUSES TO DETERMINE THE NEED FOR TRAFFIC CALMING MEASURES, INCLUDING CROSSING GUARDS
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – POTENTIAL AUTHORIZATION OF ADDITIONAL ANTIOCH POLICE DEPARTMENT OVERTIME FOR AFTER SCHOOL ANTIOCH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SPECIAL EVENTS
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – POTENTIAL LAUNCH OF A SCHOOL WATCH AND CARE PROGRAM IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CITY OF ANTIOCH POLICE CRIME PREVENTION COMMISSION
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – POTENTIAL INCREASE OF CAMPUS SAFETY PERSONNEL ON HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUSES
- YOUTH DEVELOPMENT – ADDITION OF YOUTH MEMBERS TO BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS