On Thursday, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock called for the resignation of Mayor Lamar Thorpe during a press conference.
The call for the resignation came after this publication broke the news that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors agreed to a $350k settlement with two victims who sued the Los Medanos Healthcare District and its executive director Lamar Thorpe, who is also Mayor of Antioch.
According to documents released by the county, the settlement was a result of two women who resigned from their positions at the healthcare district due to sexual harassment, unwanted sexual advances, hostile working conditions, and other unlawful actions resulting from Executive Director Lamar Thorpe’s misconduct, and the District’s inaction, despite having knowledge of that misconduct. The settlement did state there was no admission of guilt.
Barbanica said after learning more details on the accusations, he called them “disturbing” and had written the mayor an email to step down.
This is now the second time both Barbanica and Ogorchock have asked the mayor to step down this year.
Transcript from the press conference:
Mike Barbanica, Mayor Pro Tem
“We are here today to talk about an incident that was brought to our attention last night and that is regarding Mayor Thorpe and a settlement that just occurred that was approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors that was to settle a sexual harassment claims. I want to be crystal clear that the mayor has not been convicted of anything, the mayor has not been convicted of anything this has not gone to court. This was a settlement prior to going to court.
To backtrack, a few months ago we had gotten a call regarding the mayor being arrested for DUI and again, to be very fair, everyone is entitled to due process and there has been no conviction on that as of today. However, when I did get that call I did get calls that same day that told me about this case that just settled. So when I gave my last release calling for the mayor to resign, it was not only for the DUI, but I had knowledge that this had been reported as well and had some of the details but not all of the details.
Last night, I learned many more of the details and its very disturbing and this is a distraction for our city. We have a city of 114,000 people and the council has very serious business to do, yet we are sidetracked in these meetings by these types of issues.
This morning, I wrote an email to the mayor where I asked the mayor to step down. I have not yet received a response from the mayor. But I do not believe that the behavior that is suspected, not convicted, but is suspected here, is not indicative of a leader here within our community. Our mayor and our council should be held to a higher standard.
When we are talking about the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voting to have an insurance company pay out $350k to two victims who have outlined sexual harassment claims, I take that very serious.
In my email, I outlined that when we as council are considering early settlements, we are not only considering the settlement due to the cost of litigation, we take into consideration the likelihood to be successful in that litigation which helps us guide in that decision. It doesn’t mean every time we settle the case that we think we are going to lose, it doesn’t mean that, it does mean we take all of that into account, or at least I do, when making those decision on how I am going to vote. This was a 5-0 vote from the County Board of Supervisors.
I take it very serious and I am very concerned with the accusation. I am very concerned with the settlement. I am very concerned with the DUI and I am asking the mayor to step aside, handle his personal business and let the council continue on and let the council take the city where it needs to go.
Lori Ogorchock, Councilwoman
“My first thoughts go out to the two women that came forth and shed a light on what they endured. For them to have the courage to step forth and report the sexual assault and harassment must be intimidating, humiliating and possibly embarrassing. There thoughts of what I may have done to encourage this type of conduct is not fair. Women for far to long have had to endure this type of behavior and it needs to stop. If we as elected officials do not come forth and ask the mayor for his resignation, it will be inexcusable and a lack of leadership on our part. Dominic Foppoli, ex-mayor of Windsor, stepped down when the story about him came out, Lamar needs to do the same thing.”
Q &A Session
After the statements, Barbanica thanked the two women for coming forward.
“What was very telling to me, was the phone calls I received starting last night into today from other people within the community, but the striking calls were from elected officials calling me saying you need to do the right thing, you need to step up and ask the mayor to resign,” stated Barbanica. “That is what we are asking him to.”
Barbanica and Ogorchock stated neither of them had spoken to the two victims and were unaware if any other women may have come forward as of Thursday.
Barbanica said he has spoken to people at the county to walk him through the process and confirm the documents and settlement. He stated after speaking with them he called this “very disturbing”.
Ogorchock also stated she read the documents and called this “inexcusable”.
Barbanica further highlighted at one point Ogorchock brought this item up and she was attacked by people who attended council meetings.
“My hope is that those folks read these documents, read the settlement, and I believe in some circumstances she may be owed an apology,” said Barbanica.
Ogorchock highlighted one of them was the President of the Board of the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, Patt Young, whom the letter was addressed two by the two victims on September 3 (see letter).
“The director came forward and say I was not telling the truth and I was lying, I was not lying and she is even mentioned in the report,” said Ogorchock.
Barbanica added after reading all the documents that he was disappointed and he has received many calls from members of the public asking for him to seek out the resignation of the mayor.
“My feeling is this is not what the citizens of the community want in a leader,” stated Barbanica. “This has nothing to with how I personally feel, I am representing those people in District 2, now do I personally feel he should resign. I absolutely do.”
When asked if they were aware of any other instances involving the mayor, Ogorchock stated she was aware of an incident that occurred in college that was brought to light, but that was the only one she was aware with this type of behavior.
Barbanica confirmed the elected officials who reached out were local, but didn’t want to be involved with city policies but stated they needed to do the right thing and ask for the mayors resignation.
“There will be people that this will be unpopular with. There is no doubt that there will be people who don’t like that councilmember Ogorchock and I stepped up and did this today,” said Barbanica. “Councilmember Ogorchock and I don’t always agree on everything, but we do agree on this. We agree that this is not good for our city and this is not what we should be expecting from a local leader.”
Barbanica and Ogorchock said if the mayor does not resign, it would be up to the voters to take the next steps. Mayor Thorpe’s term expires in 2024.
As of Thursday, no official statements have been provided to ECT by Mayor Thorpe, or councilmembers Tamisha Torres-Walker or Monica Wilson or members of the now defunct Los Medanos Healthcare District.
Diane Gibson-Gray, candidate for Antioch City Council District 1, has publicly called on the mayor to resign.
The next Antioch City Council meeting is on September 27, 2022 at Antioch City Hall.