It has been nearly a month since the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved a $350k sexual harassment settlement involving Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe.
The settlement comes as Thorpe, who was executive director at Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, had two written complaints by employees. A recently released 44-page report outlines 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. (click here to read the full 44-page report).
The mayor has given no indication he will resign as he instead opted to double down denying all accusations while failing to take any sort of responsibility for his behavior or the work environment that he created. This is not acceptable.
Furthermore, in an embarrassing move, Thorpe reorganized the last city council meeting to avoid public comments, allowed himself to cast a couple votes and left the meeting before calling back in to cast another vote–likely should not have been allowed, but that is for another day. He will also not be at the council meeting Tuesday further avoiding public comments.
Thus, it will more than a month before Thorpe faces the community in an open forum in which many will forget or no longer care–this should actually infuriate the community and urge them to speak up by requesting the mayor to stop playing games with the council agenda and get back to the peoples business.
At some point, we have to get back to debating policy and the direction of the city, not the actions of Thorpe who will continue to be a distraction until 2024 at the latest.
All of this is going on while the council has failed to take any action towards a censure or take a stand against sexual harassment–even as Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock did the right thing in calling for his resignation. Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker still is silent, while councilwoman Monica Wilson has failed to walk back her comments calling this a “witch hunt”.
But what can be done? The mayors role is simple as it has three main duties:
- Chair the council meetings
- Nominate individuals for boards/commissions/committees
- Sign documents approved by a council majority.
Since Antioch is a General Law City with an elected mayor, not a lot can be done to remove him from office short of his resignation a recall or he is termed out of office. Nothing can be done to remove him from committees as he is the one that sets them.
But what should have been done has not been done and that is a complete failure of the other four members of the council–because of a likely 2-2 split vote.
The first, a censure should have already been called for and voted on during a council meeting–at that point, Torres-Walker and Wilson are on record of potentially doing nothing. The second, the council should have also moved to restrict the mayors travel budget as he no longer has any business representing the city elsewhere. Again, Torres-Walker and Wilson are on record of potentially doing nothing.
How the Community Should Now Respond
For starters, voters should remember this through the November 8 election and reject Torres-Walker and Wilson in their re-election bids because their silence says compliance. Apparently, both appear to be okay with the behavior of Thorpe. Hopefully voters have different opinions and will decide on another candidate to support.
As for the community, simply stop inviting the mayor to your events, community meetings, functions or fundraisers. Instead, opt to invite the mayor pro tem as the official city representative for the remainder of Thorpe’s term as mayor.
The community should send a strong and clear message that sexual harassment and groping women is not okay. The mayor pro tem should become the face of Antioch whenever possible until a new mayor is named from now or until 2024.
If the mayor will not resign, do the next best thing and simply ignore him–hit him where it hurts, his giant ego. This also prevents him from grandstanding at the expense of others or taking credit for work being done by others in the community.
We Can No Longer Accept Silence
Elected leaders should stop protecting Thorpe and begin speaking out just like they are after Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez resigned as City Council president after racist comments were recorded and then released by the LA Times. The comments were made during a conversation with Martinez, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo.
This prompted many responses from Los Angeles City Councilperson Mike Bonin ( Click here + full statement, here. ) to Gavin Newsom (click here) to Senator Alex Padilla (Click here) to the California Legislative Black Caucus (click here) to countless others. Wednesday, Martinez announced she was taking a leave of absence, and rightfully so.
Thorpe should be doing the same, but again, he will not.
I understand words are hurtful and the commentary was completely disgusting and inexcusable, but so were the actions of Thorpe, just as his failure to take any sort of responsibility or even issue a public apology to the women. Thorpe should face the same scrutiny given to Martinez because his behavior towards women was more than words, it was actual actions which has gone largely ignored by California Democrats.
If the community wants to be unified, the topics to do so is transparency and agreeing that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in any form.
There is a reason for the position of mayor pro tem, now is the time to use it to its full potential. Politics aside, we all have to agree sexual harassment, unwanted sexual advances, and creating hostile working conditions are not okay.
If the council will not step up, the community must in transiting to a mayor in title only for Thorpe. It begins with the mayor pro tem stepping up.
Publisher of ECT
- Oct. 6: Investigative Report Confirms Sexual Harassment Claims Against Lamar Thorpe
- Sept. 27: Editorial: Stop Giving Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe a Free Pass
- Sept. 20: Supervisor Mitchoff Defends County Settlement in Claim Against LMCHD and Lamar Thorpe
- Sept. 19: Lacey Ferguson Issues 24-Minute Statement Regarding Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe
- Sept. 19: Letter: Sandra White Calls on Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe to Resign
- Sept. 18: Antioch City Clerk Issues Open Letter to Antioch Regarding Mayor Lamar Thorpe
- Sept. 18: Letter: Diane Gibson-Gray Calls on Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe to Resign
- Sept. 16: Councilmembers Ask Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe to Resign
- Sept. 15: Contra Costa County Settles Sexual Harassment Claims Involving Lamar Thorpe