Gathering at the Antioch City Council Chambers, the mayors of Oakley (Jim Frazier-D), Brentwood (Bob Taylor-R) and Antioch (Jim Davis-R) joined with the Vice Mayor of Pittsburg(Ben Johnson-DTS) in an interesting forum hosted by the East County Democrats for Action club in a very civilized non-partisan forum.
Questions were asked from a collection from the audience and ranged all over without any directly partisan or hostile loaded questions.
Some basic salient features were:
1. Brentwood has a substantial kids' shadow government program where the kids spend time with Council members and city staff including the Police Chief. It took a few years to develop but the kids have come around to incorporate it into the education culture of the city. This is a good reminder that some ideas need a little support after a bad start.
2. Both Oakley and Brentwood have substantial financial reserves 29-30% which is astounding considering that most cities are hurting. For example Concord is currently below 7% reserves and is only being rescued by its Measure Q tax increase.
3. Oakley recently cut all its building fees by 50%. This is a matter of interest for future follow up to see if this really makes a difference.
4. Jim Frazier of Oakley is looking forward to the development of its $1B state power plant that has committed sizeable contributions to the city’s income base. He was also very involved in Highway 4 improvements.
5. Antioch and Pittsburg have several Council members involved in direct meetings with its school board(s). Antioch actually has several former school board members now sitting as Councilmen, something interesting to those looking at elected careers and stepping stones.
6. Antioch has an Academy program to help youth based on a Tennessee model, the details of which were not given.
7. Jim Davis of Antioch said he had to be careful in answering about Section Eight impacts on his city because of pending lawsuits, but said he holds the position that the program has to be a “hand up not a hand-out” approach.
8. Redistricting was very interesting because of my own interest in the matter, with Frazier, Davis and Taylor all echoing the positions of wanting an East county district. Brentwood emphasized its association with Oakley and Antioch. Johnson of Pittsburg simply said they were happy with Glover an opening not taken by the others, nor did he talk about any association with Antioch. I suspect that Frazier and Davis are far more interested in the Redistricting than the two other representatives which may give us some indication of future moves.
9. Taylor of Brentwood came back repeatedly that much of their problems come from higher levels of government including Sacramento and Washington including the White House.
10. There were various comments about Mayor Taylor’s turkey routine: he dresses up as a turkey to raise money for turkey’s to be donated at Thanksgiving. There was mention of over 750 turkeys’ that were bought with the money and he apparently gave 200 plus to Oakley folks.
11. Frazier was very proud of La Clinica Raza coming to Oakley to help the community’s needy. He said he has donated half his salary to them with other chunks going to various charities.
The audience included Mary Piepho, Council member Rocha from Antioch as well as other organization leaders such as Chuck Carpenter Chairman of the Democratic Central Committee.
The event was the first of its kind for the club and it is expected to be a yearly event.