I was inspired to write this article by recent commentary from Antioch residents in this newspaper and another local paper regarding their approach to reducing crime, which, as we all know, continues to soar.
The reason? Read on: A newly elected mayor and City Council who we, the voters, thought would bring change and solutions, has brought more of the same old rhetoric. Rather than bringing accountability and proactive leadership and decision making, they continue to think polls, forums, meetings, committees, research, hearings, and information gathering is the solution.
But it doesn't bring resolution. To the contrary, it brings stagnation and inaction that sends a message that Antioch is a safe haven for criminals, and a marketplace for crime and illegal activity. The citizens of Antioch are sick and tired of hearing that increasing taxes is the answer for everything.
We need the mayor, City Council, and the chief of police to be proactive, not reactive, to solve what is the driving force of crime in this city: Locating felons into Antioch through its release program; nonenforcement of city codes, regulations and ordinances; Section 8; student truancy; unchecked roaming gangs and groups; promoting the real estate market in Antioch as a haven for low-income housing, welfare, and absentee landlords; squatters who take up residency and are not evicted or arrested who conduct crime sprees; nonenforcement of a curfew for teens 17 and under; nonresidents from Oakland and Richmond who are allowed to attend local schools who are involved in criminal activity, then simply get away on BART; vagrants, so-called homeless persons, and panhandlers who may be criminals but go unchecked by police; schools allowing students to be off campus thus providing an opportunity to commit crime, then return to school; loitering; and, a lax police department.
Then we have a city manager who has the funds to hire 20 police officers, yet holds out for a tax proposal that he hopes will fund even more officers. And crime continues and continues and continues.
The City Council should be meeting every week to not only discuss these causal factors, but to prioritize, provide a remedy/solution, and to measure progress. Not wait months on end and allow a continued spike in crime.
The "Battle for Antioch" can be won within a short period of time, but only if the mayor, city council, and police department act accountable, decisive, and responsive to the citizens of Antioch. And, of course, aggressive leadership. Anything less -- the battle will be lost -- and the city of Antioch will continue its slide into a pathetic crime-laden ghetto.
Larry Thomas is a resident of Antioch.