What is the SJJPA Hiding from Oakley Residents?

What is the SJJPA hiding from Oakley residents? The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) delivers rail service throughout the region, especially within the San Joaquin Valley (from Sacramento to Bakersfield). The agency intends to fund the Amtrak train service to begin arriving at the train platform in Oakley. There has been an ongoing discussion that the ridership on the Oakley to Oakland route will not be sufficient to fund the endeavor.

            On May 23, 2023, Tamika Smith, Director of Rail Services for the SJJPA, presented information to the Oakley City Council regarding the forthcoming (someday) rail service in Oakley. I asked for the ridership anticipated on the train. Ms. Smith did not have the figures with her but promised to forward them to Mr. McMurray. The information did not arrive.

            Mr. McMurray again requested the figures, which have not arrived. I am disappointed. The concern I have is Oakley will begin receiving rail services. Much like we are now experiencing with BART operations, there will not be enough revenue to sustain rail services. I fear the SJJPA Board, predominantly members residing in the San Joaquin Valley, will impose a region-wide tax, including Oakley residents, to build revenue to keep the train operating. We have seen this with BART, where San Mateo County voted to tax counties where BART operates. The vote resulted in all residents with increased taxes continuing to operate BART, including Contra County residents. Contra Costa voters voted no on the tax but still must pay the money because of San Mateo County’s positive vote.

            I have severe reservations concerning the train operation and voted against financing it. I can only hope that we will have another unsuccessful public transportation system in Oakley which will become financially detrimental to those who have chosen to live in our city.

            Yes, Mayor Aaron Meadows, Vice-Mayor Anissa Williams, Councilmembers Shaw, and Henderson voted for the project.

A URL to Ms. Smith’s presentation is below.

George Fuller, Ed.D.
    City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Oakley Public Library Steps Forward – Again!

The Oakley Public Library is sponsoring a children’s dance program at the civic center park on June 27, 2023, at 6:30 pm. The recital is titled Dance Around the World. A flyer for the program is attached. Kudos to the Oakley Public Library. Impressive how the organization has stepped forward lately to take a leadership position in the community. The new library will continue to provide inclusive services for all Oakley residents, at least from my perspective.

George Fuller, Ed.D.
     City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Will the Oakley City Council Fail Its Children?

            Will the City Council of Oakley continue to protect its children Tuesday night, April 11, 2023? A year ago, the council said to a McDonald’s drive-thru at Laurel Plaza. So, then there was an election during which two candidates now sitting on the dais received extraordinary contributions, including Matt Beinke, with Ohara Properties, from Oakley developers., Those developers demand completion of the drive-thru. So, no surprise in my mind that the issue has appeared twice recently. The last time it came up, the council put it off until the Contra Costa Superior Court Judge ruled on the lawsuit that Ohara Properties pushed onto the City of Oakley. The ruling date is April 17.

            So, now in a panic, some of those on the dais want us to decide the issue before April 17. If the council approves the drive-thru, then the lawsuit goes away. McDonald’s goes into Laurel Plaza no matter what the judge may think. Gee, I wonder what they know that we do not. We should hold everything over until the judge issues her ruling and decide how to proceed.

            The original purpose of returning it to the dais so soon was “the City can’t afford the legal fees.” Yes, we do have the sale of surplus property in the City, which will adequately fund a legal defense, which, in my perspective, would be the best path for the City to follow.

             However, people involved in bringing it to the dais again are stepping up, and the vote intends to give Matt Beinke another bite at the apple. Mr. Beinke REALLY WANTS THE DRIVE-THRU BUILT, no matter what. Mr. Palmquist and Mr. Hetrick, two superintendents, have declared the area of the drive-thru a danger to the health and well-being of the children of Oakley. Two superintendents of the Oakley Union School District (OUESD) have written that the drive-thru would be a structure that would threaten the safety and well-being of the elementary school children. The superintendents complied with California Education Code 44808, which dictates that they should ensure the safety of Oakley’s children outside the school when on public grounds in the vicinity of the school, which includes public streets. The legislature indicated that the superintendents, based on their education, experience, and training, have the expertise to determine unsafe conditions outside the school.

            A link to their letters and a link to CaEdCode 44808 are below.

The interlopers arriving in Oakley, Matt Beinke, who resides in Danville, and his experts, who, to the best of my knowledge, live outside of Oakley, have declared that the OUESD superintendents do not know anything about the community outside the schoolhouse doors, and then limited information about what is going on inside the schools. The demeaning and derisory remarks about the superintendents’ abilities are speculation. The implication is “they know what is best for Oakley, and the Oakley City Council should get out of their way.” Beinke and his experts have said at the council podium that they have not talked with school officials concerning the drive-thru and have no intention of asking for their input.

            In reviewing the CEQA documents, Beinke and his experts failed to allow for the variable of the school input and what they might relay. The intentional removal of consideration of the variable makes their studies unreliable and without validity. Thus they should not be considered in assessing permission to build the drive-thru.

            Derek Cole wrote a memo to attach to the agenda. It says council members should not rely on speculation when making a decision. Such memos are very unusual this late in the agenda review. I see it aimed at those who failed to learn more of what the superintendents had to offer in the best interests of OUESD.

            In recent years America has failed to protect elementary school children as they attended classes. Oakley residents can beging to change that situation by holding their City Council accountable for the safety of Oakley children. It is the American thing to do!!

            A link to Mr. Cole’s memo is below.

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

Oakley City Council Needs to Continue to Protect Oakley Children

Two superintendents of OUESD believe a McDonald’s drive-thru at Laurel Plaza is unsafe for students of Laurel Elementary School. I previously reported that one superintendent, Greg Hetrick (now retired), believed adding a drive-thru at McDonald’s would be unsafe for the school children. There is also a letter from the current superintendent of OUESD that finds the drive-thru at McDonald’s would be dangerous for the children of the school.

            Two people who the State of California credentials to provide a safe environment for children attending school. Two people who have worked with children most of their adult lives daily. Two people committed to education, training, and testing to become top administrators in their chosen profession. Both state that the McDonald’s drive-thru at Laurel Plaza is dangerous for children.

            The “traffic experts” completing the traffic impact CEQA refused to talk with the school authorities. The reason was they were the experts, and they counted the cars traveling in the area. Based on the quick visits, they determined the drive-thru was safe because of their expertise. The “experts” further implied that school administrators could not determine safety. I believe it was an arrogant response to a dangerous, life-threatening situation.

            Below are links to the two letters:

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

Oakley Police Officers Need Our Support – Now

Oakley Police Officers need the Council’s support – now. Item 7.1 on this Tuesday’s agenda (03-28-2023) is a work session to discuss enhancing the number of officers in the Oakley Police Department, contracting with the Brentwood Police Department for dispatch service, and ensuring that the Oakley officers do not become entangled with Mayor Thorpe’s (Antioch) political web. Mayor Thorpe has repeatedly stated his belief that all police officers are racist and must be oppressed and controlled. Oakley officers do not need that type of burden imposed by Mayor Thorpe. I am thankful that Councilmembers Meadows and Henderson agreed to discuss the subject from the council dais.

The number of Oakley officers is a concern. Historically there has been a consistent number of officers at home recovering from injuries. The ongoing percentage is approximately twenty-six percent. Our number of officers per one thousand residents is below the county and national average. (I campaigned to increase the number of officers when I ran for election in 2020.) The ongoing injuries situation, which one expects in police work, further reduces the number of officers available to respond to emergencies—increasing the deployment of officers, so the number of officers to cover for the injured officers makes sense to me.

I have negative experiences when I call the Sheriff’s dispatch for an Oakley officer to respond. The frustration has gone on for years. Other Oakley citizens inform me they have encountered the same. The result is the delay in the dispatch of Oakley officers in an emergency. I have heard many good reports regarding the Brentwood Police Department’s communication. It makes sense to me to enable our officers to connect to BPD in an emergency, enabling a faster response time.

Mayor Thorpe is a threat to the well-being of Oakley officers. Oakley officers do respond to mutual aid requests when needed in Antioch. Oakley officers have demonstrated they work well with Antioch officers. However, Mayor Thorpe has clearly stated all police officers are racist. He has said he has not allowed officers to use specific control holds, has a citizen’s commission to review officers’ performance, and eliminated what he perceives to be military-style equipment in Antioch. In short, he is vehemently anti-police.

I do not want an Oakley officer entangled in Mayor Thorpe’s racist web and suffering debilitating consequences. Below are links to news articles describing the governmental disarray that is taking place in Antioch because of Mayor Thorpe’s posture towards the police and Antioch citizens. I have reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of Contra Costa County, which outlines mutual aid. A special note needs acknowledgment that Oakley officers are subject to the use of force policies of Oakley, and the Oakley Police Chief will review officer-involved shootings. (pg 11). Also, Oakley is not bound to respond to mutual aid requests from Antioch, especially if it is a detriment to the officers and the residents of Oakley. (pg 4). I believe the City of Antioch needs to acknowledge these provisions in writing in a separate MOU. Below is a link to a copy of the MOU.

I did discuss the issue during January 24, 2023, meeting. Below is a link to a video of the council session. Yes, it was distressing to see, by their body language, that Councilmembers Shaw and Williams found the suggestion of officer safety and well being bemusing and comical. Fortunately, Mayor Meadows and Councilmember view the subject as serious, so I am confident that three council members will have a mature, professional discussion of the items from the dais. Councilmembers Shaw and Williams published items (Nextdoor and Contra Costa Times) that I suggested Oakley officers not respond to Antioch mutual aid requests. Those statements are simply not true.

Also, Shaw and Williams indicated that officers go to a mutual aid response no matter what. That attitude is dangerous and reckless. Any officer responses need measured judgment, and the governmental structure of Oakley needs to be in concert with their actions. Seasoned officers do support that reckless abandon in responding to an officer needs help calls can have devastating consequences for all concerned.

Again, a link is below to the video and my statements. (Councilmembers Shaw and Williams are sitting to the left as the viewed watches video.) There are links to Shaw and Williams publications also below.







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

An Opportunity to be Heard in Oakley

The discussion of the development of the acreage at the North end occurs at a Town Hall meeting on March 29, 2023, at 7:00 pm. The location is the Recreation Center, 1250 O’Hara Ave, Oakley. Bryan Montgomery, and prior councils working with him, designated the area as a Regional Park. There is no funding for such a park within the City budget. The purpose is to hear from the entire community about their thoughts on a Regional Park developed there or another location for a park expansion, i.e., Creekside Park, more suitable for expansion and use. (Creekside Park is in the Southeast portion of Oakley. The socio-economic level of the residents is below the remainder of the City. The area that is the most culturally inclusive in Oakley.)

The Oakley City Hall Family indicated that the use of the land needs a discussion on a City-wide basis. I have stated such from the dais. I encourage all Oakley people to step forward with their ideas for the future of Oakley and how the acreage can best serve all of the community residents. Yes, I have proposed questions regarding the situation that one may want to ponder. I have posted a link below to my ideas regarding the issue during the council meeting. Yes, two persons on the dais (Williams and Shaw) responded with venomous messages that I was calling for the complete abolishment of a regional park. The statement is simply not true.

Yes, to ensure that citizens are not misquoted or spuriously characterized if they disagree with others about the use of the land, I have requested that the meeting be recorded and memorialized. There is to be a recording of the session. I hope to see many there.


Grit is Needed in the Oakley City Council

McDonald’s at Laurel Plaza is on the Oakley City Hall agenda again. O’Hara Properties, operated by Matt Beinke, the developer pushing for a McDonald’s and developing a Quick Quack car wash on the property, is back at the City Council dais. The issue is should McDonald’s be allowed a drive-thru conditional use permit (CUP) to operate. Also, should Quick Quack Car Wash be permitted to begin operations on the site?

            Yes, there will be increased traffic created by the opening of the two businesses. The Council denied the original request approximately a year ago. Much of the concern was the safety of the children attending Laurel Elementary School having to walk and arrive at school negotiating the businesses in the process.

            The superintendent of the Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) demonstrated grit when he wrote a letter to the Council indicating a threat to the safety of the children with the opening of the businesses. Traffic consultants hired by Beinke proclaimed their own perceived expert opinion, based on “counting cars,” and said there was no threat. The “experts” did not seek input from the school officials and discounted Hetrick’s letter. There is a link below to view his letter.

            I fear that there are now members of the dais who will say the traffic experts are correct. Greg Hetrick is “just one man” and should not be taken seriously in saying the additional businesses across from Laurel Elementary School is not safe for kids. In the process, they are degenerating a person who dedicated his life to elementary school children. In the process, he needed to obtain a Master’s degree in education, pass numerous state tests to gain a school administrator credential and build decades of experience in ensuring the safety of children. Minimalizing his input is “just not right.”

            It will take grit to vote against the businesses. Especially so for the two new members of the Council. Much money was dumped into the last election by Beinke. Saying no to him can leave discomfort in some people.

            I hope the OUESD Board of Trustees takes formal action addressing the issue at their next board meeting on April 5, 2023. Contacting the Board of Trustees now to encourage such action would be prudent, at least in my mind.

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

McDonalds and Quick Quack Car Wash are Back!

McDonalds and Quick Quack Car Wash are back on the City of Oakley City Council Agenda. Yes, most of the council members (not I) want to discuss whether financing the defense of the lawsuit O’Hara Properties filed against the City regarding McDonald’s and Quick Quack Car Wash can operate on Laurel Plaza (across from Laurel Elementary School). The City Council rejected a drive-thru for McDonald’s and did not grant a permit to operate the car wash. The reasons for the denials, among others, are that the safety of the children is in jeopardy with the drive-thru and the noise of the car is “too much” for the neighborhood.

Apparently, people on the council dais believe the expense of defending the lawsuit and protecting the children of the school and surrounding neighbors is too daunting to City Finances, and the City should capitulate to O’Hara Properties’ demands. Now would be the time to contact Oakley City Council members to voice your thoughts regarding abandoning the defense of those Oakley citizens concerned.

A side note of the last Council meeting (February 28, 20230 was Councilmember Williams asked the City Council to consider giving themselves a raise. Councilmember Shaw seconded it. I am not a big fan of council raises, especially when also saying the City cannot afford the defense of a lawsuit against Oakley residents. Below is a link to the request of Councilmember Williams.


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

“Mary Jane” is on the Train and Trying to Step Off in Oakley

Mr. John A. Continente, Jr., has applied to open a cannabis manufacturing and distribution business in Oakley. The intended location for the cannabis business is 112 Shady Lane. I requested a “call forward” by the City Council, bypassing the Planning Commission in this particular business and bringing the matter directly to the council dais for approval (or disapproval).

            I will recommend that the council send the matter of cannabis operations to the voters of Oakley. The issue is complicated. I have previously mentioned that the Rotary Club of Oakley recently visited Antioch’s Cannabis Distributor, CoCo Farms. (A link to the picture of their visit is below.) Three Oakley council members are also members of the Rotary Club of Oakley (Meadows, Henderson, and Shaw). Also, the Oakley City Manager, Joshua McMurray, is a Rotary Club of Oakey member. The best way to ensure there is no bias from city officials regarding the distribution of cannabis in Oakley is to allow the voters to decide the issue.

            A further complication is Mr. Continente owns Hook, Link, and Sinker on Main St in Oakley. Mr. Continente employs Councilmember Henderson to manage the store. The Hook, Line, and Sinker does sell firearms at the store. Suppose Mr. Continente is allowed to operate a cannabis operation in Oakley. In that case, he will involve himself in drug sales and distribution in Oakley and also involves himself in firearms sales in Oakley. The thought of the combination of the businesses does make me “queasy.”

            The proposed name of the business is Continente Cannabis Production Co.

            Now would be the time to contact council members on the dais, encouraging them to “call cannabis forward” to the council dais for consideration. In the process, ask the council members to place the distribution of cannabis in Oakley in front of the voters.

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

Is “Mary Jane” Coming to Oakley?

Below is a link to a Los Angeles Times article concerning the dangers of the Cannabis Industry as it operates in California. As I stated when I reported the Rotary Club of Oakley’s visit to the Antioch cannabis dispensary, CoCo Farms, I am opposed to the cannabis industry gaining a foothold in Oakley.


George Fuller, MPA, MA

City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA