The City of Antioch says, “opportunity lives here” and the opportunity to make change is exactly what is staring in front of the city council and the residents at this very moment as Mayor Lamar Thorpe should immediately stop getting a free pass.
First a DUI arrest, then sexual harassment settlement, to accusations of unethical behavior, cocaine use and now retaliation claims by the city clerks office. If this was any other elected official, the media would be relentless and all over this guy. Unfortunately, this is being treated as if its another day at the circus in Antioch.
The city council needs to step up and take a stand for women across the world that sends the message to all predators that their actions have consequences and will not be tolerated, you will be exposed, and run out of town. The residents have an opportunity because an election is just around the corner.
Unfortunately, both Councilmembers Monica Wilson and Tamisha Torres-Walker have thus far remained silent on the incident involving Thorpe who while as executive director of the Los Medanos Healthcare District was accused of 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 case was settled by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors out of court for $350k with Supervisor Karen Mitchoff citing the evidence showed had it gone to court, they would have likely paid a higher award amount to the victims.
Sadly, silence is compliance for Wilson and Torres-Walker who apparently care more about their political futures and maintaining a 3-2 voting block on the Antioch City Council rather than doing the right thing.
Wilson, even taking the bizarre stance of defending Thorpe in another publication, needs a reality check.
The outcry against sexual harassment has nothing to do with a “witch hunt”, with politics or is even racially motivated. Rather, its a response to the individual actions of Thorpe.
At this point, the city council has lost what little, if any, credibility it had left. But it does have an opportunity to begin building some of it back and re-develop trust with the public if it takes several steps.
Here are actions that should immediately occur:
Mayor Lamar Thorpe Should be Censured
If Mayor Lamar Thorpe will not resign from office, he should but he wont, then the council should censure him immediately–and that call should occur as early as Tuesday night.
The call for resignation was made by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock which received no response. Moving on to a censure is the next logical step.
If Torres-Walker or Wilson do not agree to a censure, voters should reject them in November and a censure should come during the first meeting under a newly seated city council as all candidates have already called for the mayors resignation – Diane Gibson Gray, Joy Motts, Shawn Pickett, Sandra White and Ogorchock (District 4).
If more victims do come forward and the mayor refuses to resign, a second recall campaign against the mayor is not out of the question. But time will tell.
City Manager Must be Removed
The fact the city council is still talking about hiring interim city manager Con Johnson is an embarrassment. What they should be doing is remove him as early as Tuesday night and replace him with Rosanna Bayon Moore. Next, move forward with an open and transparent hiring process to find the next city manager.
When a city manager, in this case Johnson, gets involved with protecting the mayor after a DUI crash involving a supporter who left the mayor’s house after drinking, it’s time to show this person the door. In a 24-minute video Lacey Furgeson admits to drinking at the mayor’s house before crashing her vehicle. In true lack of transparency by Antioch, this was never made public before video was released by Furgeson who took responsibility for her actions. It’s even worse that Johnson got involved in trying to track down Ferguson’s vehicle. Neither Thorpe or Johnson have ever apologized for the incident or discussed the incident–in fact, why did Thorpe let someone intoxicated leave his house behind the wheel? Totally irresponsible behavior by him.
Between a lack of an open hiring process that was rigged to hire Con Johnson over more experienced assistant city managers in the first place, it’s time for the rest of the city council to stand up to Mayor Thorpe and begin an open process to find the most qualified candidate to lead the City of Antioch–all while being transparent at each step of the way.
Antioch Public Information Officer Must Be Replaced
From accusations of the Mayor Thorpe working on a campaign of the city public information officer to the city public information officer working on the mayors campaign to the both of them not paying a videographer to the involvement in a DUI involving an Antioch resident, the water is muddier than ever. And this doesn’t even account for the lack of information coming out of city hall these days.
There is clearly a conflict of interest between the city, the mayor and its PIO–its time to cancel the $8k per month contract with Voler Strategic Advisors. It’s time to part ways with this person and either do away with the position completely or find someone else. But this cannot continue. No other city would tolerate this type of shenanigans.
Antioch City Clerks Office Investigation
First and foremost, it was brave for Householder to come forward with her letter and she should be applauded for that while being a safe space for other women who may need assistance. That said, it doesn’t excuse her actions in her position of city clerk. By her own admission, it appears she has abused the office on behalf of the mayor—including the games she played with the recall proponents.
There is also evidence that Householder and Thorpe potentially engaged in criminal conduct and Brown Act Violations according to a Share Order submitted by the Antioch Police Department. This order, from August 2021 is basically sitting with the FBI and Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. The information was collected during search warrants in an arson investigation involving a local activist. Police concluded further investigation was warranted yet it appears no action has been taken.
An outside investigation should be requested to see if any abuse of this office occurred under Householder and Thorpe. If criminal conduct did occur by the office being “undermined” then those should be made public in the most transparent way possible. Depending on what is found, resignations, censures or even jail time are all possibilities.
If Householder blew the whistle after the threat of political payback to prevent the office from being further “undermined” by Thorpe, then she should be applauded. Either way, this office has to be looked at.
Tamisha Torres-Walker Video Must Be Released
I am going to say something that will shock people. Torres-Walker is the only councilperson who shows passion in what she does as a councilmember. We may not like her interactions with Antioch Police officers, she is the only councilperson who is actually trying to help a segment of the community who have been ignored and is trying to better peoples lives through real change–not the Mayor as he would want you to believe.
That said, the body camera footage from October 3, 2021 that is being withheld should be released and the city attorney should stop playing games.
The case has been dismissed. There is no reason, aside from the mayor protecting his 3-2 voting block and Torres-Walker political campaign at stake, for this video not to be released. There is something on this video city hall does not want the world to see.
This is another example of the lack of transparency going on at city hall under Johnson and Thorpe—hence why the city manager and city public information officer must be removed—and if the city attorney is playing a role in this, his firing should come next under a new city manager at the request of a potentially new city council.
For all the good Torres-Walker is attempting to achieve for an underrepresented population, its being undermined by lack of transparency (video) and remaining silent on Thorpe sexual harassment claims. Voters should pay attention to this as ballots drop in the coming weeks.
Thorpe’s behavior is unacceptable and is disgusting. He should not be getting a free pass as if nothing happened. It should not be forgotten and should be a lesson to all of how not to behave. But equally important, we cannot sit by and ignore the many people who have both contributed to the behavior and enabled him–again, silence is compliance.
Those victims who have not spoken up, I urge you to find your strength and speak up as more people will support you than you think. For those that witnesses the behavior of Thorpe and have said nothing, shame on you!
I urge this council, the democratic party and supporters of the progressive agenda to realize you do not need Thorpe to continue to push policies forward. Just find a “replacement” to run for the seat should he resign, be recalled or run against him in 2024. The movement is much bigger than one person and you can still push police reform, rent control, social issues, cannabis to a variety of other important issues.
At some point, society has to remember that actions have consequences regardless of political party, who someone is, or what they look like. It’s about the actions, not the person.
If we all cannot come out and say sexual harassment is wrong or even agree its wrong for that matter. Antioch has bigger problems in terms of moral compass than who is sitting in the mayors seat.
It’s time for the four members of the city council to take a stand and speak up against sexual harassment. Enough is enough.
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