Ensuring Social Justice for Oakley PD Officers

  I received a request from Allen Payton of the Antioch Herald concerning Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s, of Antioch, marginalizing police officers. Below is my response.
     Dear Mr. Payton,
	Before going any further, I need to say that I find the East Contra Costa County NAACP a viable organization that has worked extensively for inclusive communities and continues to create homogeneous communities in East Contra Costa County that are diverse and diverse. I am completing my membership application request to become a member of the association.
	I did attend the Martin Luther King, Jr’s prayer breakfast, sponsored by the East Contra Costa County NAACP. I received an invite from Odessa Lefrancois, installed as President of the group during the meal. I am grateful that Ms. Lefrancois extended the invitation.
	I represented the proclamation that the City Council of Oakley extended honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I did so at the behest of Ms. Lefrancois. The proclamation was the first to honor Dr. King by the City of Oakley City Council. The reception of the proclamation of those attending the breakfast was commendatory.
	Mayor Thorpe followed my presentation. Mayor Thorpe’s first words were, “Some cities just give proclamations; in Antioch, we do something about it.” The statement intended to insult Oakley’s proclamation. It was evident in Mayor Thorpe’s mind that the Oakley City Council gives a token acknowledgment of Dr. King’s legacy but fails to address systemic racism in Oakley. Yes, Mayor Thorpe’s rhetoric and hostile discourse is not valid.
	Mayor Thorpe said he has solved racism in Antioch by “reining in the police.” Mayor Thorpe stated, “we have banned certain control holds that the police can use." “We deny the police the use of military-grade equipment.” “We have created a police oversight commission.” Mayor Thorpe was indicating he had placed the yoke of oppression on Antioch’s police officers and implemented what seemed an era of tyranny towards Antioch officers. Mayor Thorpe said that his efforts have resulted in a fifty percent decrease in murders in Antioch. Antioch residents do not suffer injustices from the police because of his actions. 
	Mayor Thorpe continued that there were three Black council members on the Antioch City Council. Consequently, Mayor Thorpe could implement his agenda, which favored Black lives in Antioch. Also, those who attempted to recall him from the council would experience consequences for trying to do so. In short, Mayor Thorpe marginalized Antioch Police Officers as a violent, out-of-control, racist organization, and he was protecting Antioch from the police.
	Initially, Mayor Thorpe experienced polite applause for his statements. At the end of his lengthy monologue, he received no applause.
	My immediate concern was the well-being of Oakley Police Officers. Oakley officers respond to mutual aid requests from the Antioch Police Officers when the Antioch officers confront an emergency that strains their safety resources. Mayor Thorpe’s statements indicate that he would have no qualms demonizing an Oakley officer for responding to a situation where lives were at risk. The threat to the Oakley officer, and the officer’s family, would be catastrophic. Mayor Thorpe’s outlandish statements are obviously politically motivated, and I believe he would use an Oakley officer as a pawn to advance his political agenda. 
	I believe it is incumbent on the Oakley City Council to determine the threat to Oakley officers and take precautionary measures to protect them as they respond to mutual aid requests in Antioch. I am grateful that the Oakley City Council agreed (except perhaps one member who has publicly commented on my statements) to discuss the issue and reconcile any dangers to Oakley officers.
	The  Oakley police department offers extensive training on professional responses to critical safety issues and contains them with the least amount of force necessary to control the situation. The City of Oakley takes a course of providing adequate funding for the police department to be able to deliver professional police services properly. Oakley officers are aware of systemic racism, even in Oakley, and how to respond to such demagoguery, ensuring the well-being of all members of the Oakley inclusive community.
	An example of Oakley’s professionalism occurred the night of January 15, 2023, the night before the NAACP breakfast; officers responded to a man with a gun in Oakley. Upon arrival, the suspect pointed a gun at the officer. The officer retreated, and the Oakley officers contained the area and called for a mental health team to respond to the location. The mental health team responded by convincing the suspect to surrender their weapon. The officers afforded the health services the suspect so urgently required. That is an example of the” true grit professional police services” Oakley officers deliver. I will not allow those services to be “trashed” by Mayor Thorpe.
	I do not want to see an Oakley officer end their career by saving the life of an Antioch officer or Antioch resident and suffer a catastrophic tyrannical political outburst from the Mayor of Antioch, Lamar Thorpe.
	I previously mentioned to you that Mayor Thorpe made similar comments at the Contra Costa County Mayor's Conference meeting in Hercules, on January 5, 2023.
	Hopefully, the above answers your request.

With best regards,
George Fuller, MPA, MA

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA

Oakley City Attorney Derek Cole Should Have Recused Himself, I Believe

            Tonight, 01-24-2023, at 6:30 pm, the Oakley City Council will review a zoning ordinance. A review of the ordinance by City Attorney Derek Cole took place. Apparently, he has suggested that the ordinance, as originally presented, should not be approved. I am concerned because City Attorney Cole did not support the City Council not approving a McDonald’s across the street from Laurel Elementary School. Matt Beinke of Blackhawk Services and O’Hara Properties, LLC, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Oakley because of the denial of the McDonald’s drive-thru.

            Not surprisingly, Matt Beinke opposes the original proposed zoning ordinance. He did not believe it favored him. Consequently, the law firm of Cox, Castle, and Nicholson sent the council a letter explaining Beinke’s opposition to the original zoning proposal. The letter pretty much summed up the complaints in the lawsuit. The lawsuit is a public record.

            Mr. Cole apparently has sided with the law firm, which supported his position regarding McDonald’s. The City of Oakley hired Adam W. Hofman of the Hanson Bridgett law firm to defend the City in the litigation. My thoughts is Mr. Cole should have recused himself from providing input to the law suit, and allowed Mr. Hofman to advise the council regarding the ordinance.

            I believe that the Council needs to request that Mr. Hofman provide input to the zoning ordinance, and then meet with the council in closed session to discuss his findings.

            I believe it would be prudent for residents to voice their concern regarding the situation. The views should be heard considering that Steven Graham, a law partner in Mr. Cole’s law firm, is the City Attorney of Indio, home of Bryan Montgomery. Bryan Montgomery. Mr. Montgomery was involved in the support of building McDonald’s at Laurel Plaza.

Links to the proposed ordinance and the attorney letters are below.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA   

The Friends of Oakley Library are Thanked for Their Diligence to Build an Oakley Library

Kudos to the Friends of the Oakley Library. The organization has painstakingly worked to bring a library to the City of Oakley. It appears that the members are coming close to accomplishing their goals. Tomorrow night, January 24, at 6:30 pm, in City Hall, the Oakley City Council will discuss the construction of a library in Oakley. Our City Manager, Joshua McMurray, believes the City can construct a library without further taxation of City residents. Please voice your opinions in writing to the council or by attending the meeting.

            The Friends of the Oakley Library are a beaming example of how Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) will enhance our communities. I appreciated that Mayor Aaron Meadows supported my thoughts that NGOs need support in the City of Oakley. I was dismayed that during the Strategic Planning discussion by the council on January 10, Vice Mayor Anissa Williams said the City should only support business development, not NGOs. Vice Mayor Anissa Williams said the City should only support business development, not NGOs. I was also encouraged by City Manager Joshua McMurray’s response that the development of NGOs should be encouraged, and perhaps the City of Oakley can begin to provide workshops on the development of NGOs (non-profits) for community members.

            Thank you, Friends of the Oakley Library, for all you have done for the residents of Oakley.

Below is a segment concerning the Strategic Planning discussion.

City of Oakley City Council to Consider a Gutted Zoning Proposal

The Oakley City Council will review what many would consider a gutted zoning ordinance proposal. Approximately eighteen months ago, Councilmember Williams requested a zoning ordinance change. The item has come to the dais often, only to be sent back to staff or delayed.

Recently, it returned to the dais for approval. Black Hawk Developers, a heavy contributor to Councilmember Henderson’s campaign and Safeway, wrote a response. City Attorney Derek Cole asked for time to review the letters sent, saying the issues were “very complicated.” He did not finish “the review” until following the election.

Mr. Cole informed the city manager “that there is nothing the council can do” and must consent to Blackhawk Developers and Safeway. Mr. Cole has offered this advice habitually over the years. Joshua McMurray has submitted a “gutted ordinance” for approval. One of the provisions that a drive-thru must be 300 feet from a school disappeared entirely from the ordinance.

My thoughts are to leave the original proposed ordinance in place. A developer could apply for a code variance if willing to work with the city for an appropriate design that merits a zoning variance. Councilmembers Henderson and Shaw recently approved a variance for a residential driveway when they sat on the Planning Commission.

Now would be the time to contact Councilmembers regarding your thoughts on the gutted ordinance proposal. A link to the proposal is below. Yes, it will be interesting how Councilmembers Henderson and Shaw will vote on the item, having accepted accepting sizeable campaign donations from developers during their election bids.


George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Seeno and Oakley’s City Attorney Tidbit Information

Seeno and Oakley’s City Attorney bit of insight. Tonight, Jan 10, 2023, at 6:30 pm in Oakley’s City Hall, the city council will decide if the city will allow Seeno, in the guise of Discovery Homes, Discovery Builders, or any other name should be allowed to build homes in a rezoned portion of Brownstone Rd. Seeno is requesting to rezone the property to their economic benefit. There are those of us who are opposed to such a rezoning.

Also, I mentioned a few days ago that Oakley’s City Attorney, Derek Cole, of Cole Hubbard LLC, has one of their law partners, Steven Graham, hooked up with Bryan Montgomery, City Manager of Indio. Mr. Graham has become the City Attorney of Indio.

Now would be a good time for residents to voice their opinions regarding these issues to the city council members.

Below are three articles regarding the issues:

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Oakley’s City Attorney Joins Together with Indio’s City Attorney – Indio, Home of City Manager Bryan Montgomery

Indio’s new City Attorney is Steven Graham who is a law partner with Derek Cole, Oakley’s City Attorney. Yes, law partner with Derek Cole who told the community so many times, in support of Bryan Montgomery, City Manager, that they needed to build a certain fast-food restaurant (or storage facility, or car wash, or gas station, or 7-11) or the city would face a law suit. In my perception, having law partners working in Indio and Oakley is not a wonderful step forward, and new direction, for the City.

Below is a copy of the announcement of Steven Graham’s appointment as City Attorney of Indio.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA  

Developers Continue to Reconfigure the City of Oakley for Their Profit

Seeno comes to Oakley with their hands out again. Discovery Homes (Seeno) is asking the City Council, for a second time within two years, to rezone property on Brownstone Road, west of Main St, for their profit. Discovery Homes (Seeno) wants to construct houses in the residential low zone. The area being discussed is residential very low. Unfortunately, Bryan Montgomery, former City Manager and former city councils, failed to stand tall with the residents of Oakley, instead allowing developers unfettered access to zoning changes and building standards for their desires and profit. So, one comes to understand why Discovery Homes feels confident “they will have their way.”

The residents of the Brownstone area bought into the homes they developed with the understanding the site would retain a rural atmosphere and, believing the City would support their residential aspirations, did develop the houses for their families. Now Seeno would like the City Council to undermine Brownstone Rd, families’ hope and dreams for the ongoing future. I will indicate a no vote should a resolution come forward to allow the area’s rezoning.

The discussion concerning agenda item 7.1 will be interesting. Three council members (Shaw, Henderson, and Meadows) received four-figure dollar amounts for their election campaigns on the dais. Community input into the discussion is encouraged. Please consider attending the council meeting at City Hall this Tuesday, January 10, or contact the council members via email before 5:00 pm, January 10, to voice your opinions.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Oakley’s Finance Director Tim Przybyla is a Marvel

The City of Oakley’s Finance Director, Tim Przybyla, has distinguished himself in his service to the City. Oakley, after a California review of Oakley’s budget and financial reports has rated Oakley as the third highest rating municipal financial management in the state. The score was over ninety-eight percent regarding financial management and solvency.

          Also, Mr. Przybyla has revised budget reporting procedures so it is easily understandable and finite regarding sources of income, and expenditures, including special assessment districts in many neighborhoods in Oakley. I was stunned by the confusion, which often seemed deliberate, at least from my perspective, in how Oakley’s City Manager (Brian Montgomery) publicly presented the budget to the public. One reading the budget found it nearly undiscernible as to the total income collected by the City and how the council spent those funds. The City Council seemed to encourage Montgomery’s reporting

            Mr. Przybyla created a very readable and understandable budget report, allowing everyone in the City to understand the budget, not just a privileged few. I am enthusiastic that Mr. Przybyla chose to join the Oakley City Hall Family.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Oakley City Council has a Full Plate for the New Year

The Oakley City Council for the opening of the new year does have a full agenda. Item 5.1 does cause me concern. The item intends to lay a foundation for the city council to negotiate salaries with the city manager and city attorney. Discussing contracts with those two positions is a significant responsibility of the council. The task should be a team collaboration. The resolution debate on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, during the council meeting is one where the mayor and vice-mayor would act as an ad hoc committee and meet with the city manager and city attorney to negotiate their contracts. The two council members would initially meet with the city council to get direction for the negotiations, then meet with the person involved.

The proposed process is alien to my experience. The ad hoc committee would complete the negotiations, and the item would appear on the city council budget. I have difficulty with the arrangement because the two council members do not discuss the negotiations with the other team members, basically blocking them from further talks with the two city employees. Usually, the negotiator returns to the council with what the two concerned managers have presented, and the ad hoc committee receives further direction.

From my perspective, it is disrespectful to all concerned that the process excludes the council from ongoing negotiations. The disrespect is exceptionally poignant for the newly elected council members who should be merging into the council team rather than being deliberately excluded from the ongoing negotiations. The process is a dinosaur from the Montgomery era, where Bryan Montgomery easily manipulated council direction. I will be asking for an amendment to have the ad hoc committee meet with the council to report on each negotiation session in which they participated.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Thank You Again Fire Chief Brian Helmick

Today there was a secure feeling of safety when I saw a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (ConFire) fire engine company on Laurel Rd. I rest easier at night knowing that ConFire has taken on the responsibility of fire protection for the community. We now have adequate firefighting coverage throughout East Contra Costa County that will not drain our fire protection services.

     We owe Brian Helmick our ongoing gratitude in stepping forward when he was the Chief of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) in bringing to fruition a merger with ConFire. ECCFPD resources were not adequate to protect all residents in case of fire. Chief Helmick worked with the Board of Directors of ECCFPD to merge resources with ConFire with courage and vigor.

    I am grateful that I was able to participate in the completion of the merger while serving on the City of Oakley City Council. It was the right thing to do.

George Fuller, MPA, MA 
    City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA