Rising to the
A progressive majority on the Richmond City Council!
Thanks to the hundreds of
people who volunteered their time and energy to elect Ben Choi and
Melvin Willis to Richmond City Council! Not only did these first-time
progressive candidates win, but they also were the top vote-getters
for the City Council race -- a truly remarkable feat!
Following the election of Ben Choi and Melvin Willis
to Richmond City Council last night, the RPA steering
committee, Vice-Mayor Eduardo Martinez, Councilmember Gayle
McLaughlin, Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, Councilmember-Elect Ben
Choi, Councilmember-Elect Melvin Willis issued the following
statement. We're reprinting it because it got such a positive
Rising to the
We, the Richmond Progressive Alliance Steering
Committee, and incumbent and elected members of the City Council
extend congratulations to the newly elected Richmond City
Councilmembers: Melvin Willis, Ben Choi and Jael Myrick.
We also applaud the voters' decision to pass
Measure L: Fair and Affordable Richmond for rent control and tenant
protections. As Measure L advocates have said from the start, this
measure alone will not solve our community's housing crisis, but it
constitutes an important step to help seniors and working people stay
in their homes and to prevent evictions without just cause. Moving
forward, Richmond must redouble its efforts to develop more affordable
We appreciate the democratic participation of
all candidates who ran for city council seats. We acknowledge outgoing
Councilmembers Nat Bates, who deserves recognition for his decades of
participation on the council, and Vinay Pimplé, for their dedicated
service to our city. We know it is a very difficult job.
These progressive victories in our city belong
to all those in the progressive movement in Richmond and beyond, who
supported the electoral struggle for progressive measures and
corporate-free candidates. To each and every one of them, our most
sincere gratitude and celebration.
In recent years, voters have elected several
corporate-free council representatives who brought new progressive
approaches to the problems that our city faces. The grassroots
movement that propelled their victories upset the political status
quo. As a result, the differences among councilmembers often receive
more attention than their many shared values.
It is now incumbent for the entire Council to
focus on its primary mutual interest: the betterment of Richmond. The
needs facing our community are too urgent for us to be distracted by
past disagreements or personal grievances.
At times, the members of the Council will
surely disagree with each other about the best ways to solve
Richmond's many challenges. Our city will be well-served when
decisions are debated with rigor, passion, and civility. Given the
extreme challenges from the outcome of the presidential election, our
national government may be wracked by division and malice, but in
Richmond, let our Council demonstrate how dissent and decency can
RPA-supported councilmembers will also disagree
with one another at times, and have amply shown they do not share a
single mindset for casting votes. Faithfully adhering to requirements
of the Brown Act, they will not conspire behind closed doors about how
to vote, and welcome input and open discussion from all sectors of the
One conviction we do share deeply is that
corporate money corrupts our democracy, a belief shared by the Bernie
Sanders revolution. When Bernie Sanders urged supporters to run for
local office, Ben Choi and Melvin Willis heeded his call. Their
campaigns for City Council seats (and the Measure L effort) were
fueled by hundreds of small donations and thousands of volunteer
We look forward to working with Mayor Tom Butt
and Councilmember Jael Myrick in a spirit of constructive
collaboration. There is common ground in many areas and it is land
worth cultivating. Let us all bring our best selves to the table and
rise to this occasion.
- Co-coordinators Marcos Bañales
& Marilyn Langlois for the RPA Steering Committee
- Vice-Mayor Eduardo Martinez
- Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin
- Councilmember Jovanka Beckles
- Councilmember-Elect Ben Choi
- Councilmember-Elect Melvin
This statement drew many
enthusiastic comments, and we share a few of them
[Photo credit: Melvin Willis]
RPA embodies the slogan: Think globally, act locally, and all
politics IS LOCAL! Richmond is the test-pilot for the Bernie
Revolution 2020! Thank you RPA people for all that you do and will
do. You are what I love about living in Richmond!
social justice victories
Election round-up California
Although the results of our national election were devastating for
those working for environmental and social justice, across California,
we saw some heartening victories. In addition to the hard-won
victories here in Richmond, here are a smattering of victories up and
down our state:
- Several new progressives were elected to the Assembly,
including Eloise Gomez Reyes, who defeated a Big Oil-backed moderate
Cheryl Brown; and Ash Kalra who defeated a pro-business candidate.
With these victories and others, Democrats have secured a
super-majority in the Assembly.
- Voters passed Proposition 55, which extends the income tax on the
- Proposition 56 passed, increasing the cigarette tax by $2 per
- Proposition 57 passed, increasing the number of non-violent
criminals eligible for parole
- Voters passed Proposition 58, overturning a policy that restricted
bilingual education in public schools
- Voters passed Proposition 63, which among other things, bans
high-capacity ammunition magazines
- Proposition 67 was defeated, upholding California's plastic bag
- Voters in Monterrey County passed Measure Z, which bans new
- In the Bay Area, rent control measures passed in Alameda,
Berkeley, Oakland, Mountain View, and Palo Alto (in addition to
And in the wake Trump's election, California leadership issued
this statement, standing up for the values of tolerance and social
Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders on
Result of Presidential Election
– California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de
León (D-Los Angeles)
and California Assembly Speaker Anthony
Rendon (D-Paramount) released the following
statement on the results of the President election:
Today, we woke up feeling like
strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed
their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly
inconsistent with the values of the people of California.
We have never been more proud to be
By a margin in the millions,
Californians overwhelmingly rejected politics fueled by resentment,
bigotry, and misogyny.
The largest state of the union and
the strongest driver of our nation's economy has shown it has its
surest conscience as well.
California is – and must always be –
a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks,
ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live,
what language you speak, or who you love.
California has long set an example
for other states to follow. And California will defend its people and
our progress. We are not going to allow one election to reverse
generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity,
scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global
We will be reaching out to federal,
state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will
potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs,
job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal
enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our
state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to
defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.
While Donald Trump may have won the
presidency, he hasn't changed our values. America is greater than any
one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will
lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric
or our Constitution.
California was not a part of this
nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of
[Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr]
What's next for rent control and just cause for
Now that Measure L has passed (by a
huge margin!), here's a practical run-down of what's next from our
friends at Fair and Affordable Richmond:
Measure L will go into effect 10 days
after the election results are certified. Contra Costa County Board of
Elections must certify by December 8th, 2016. It is
possible Measure L will go into effect earlier if the County certifies
The rent rollback will go into effect
immediately with Measure L. Tenants will pay as their new base rent
whatever was charged as of July 21st, 2015. If you started
your tenancy after July 21st 2015, the base rent shall be
the rent that was charged on the first date of the tenancy. If you
paid $1250/mo for your apartment on July 21st 2015, and now
pay $1600/mo, as of December 18th (or when the ordinance
goes into effect) you will return to owing $1250/mo plus adjustment
for inflation as determined by the Richmond Rent Board.
If you have been issued a notice of
eviction, do not ignore it because Measure L passed. You still need to
respond. The courts will be notified when rent control and just cause
is in effect and most no-fault evictions will be immediately
dismissed. If you need legal consultation, you can reach out to
Tenants Together's hotline: 1-888-495-8020 or visit Bay Area Legal Aid
at 1025 Macdonald Ave. Richmond, CA 94801. If you are 62 or older,
Contra Costa County Senior Legal Services at (925) 609-7900 is also a
great resource. Refrain from calling the Measure L campaign line for
legal assistance, it will only be answered periodically and the
campaign volunteers will only reference to the above
Watch out for cash for keys deals. Some
landlords might try to trick tenants into thinking they are being
evicted, and offer a sum of $5k-10k to entice them to vacate. Often
it's a ploy and you should seek legal help before agreeing to or even
discussing such a deal with your landlord.
The City of Richmond will now be working
to implement rent control. We will take care to disseminate notices
issued by the City regarding rules and logistics around
implementation. The goal now is to build a rent board that is
effective, efficient and responsive to the community's needs. If you
have the skill and spirit to support that goal, consider applying for
the Richmond Rent Board through the City of Richmond Boards and
Commissions webpage here.
[Photo credit: Fair and
Trump threatens to
withhold federal funding from Sanctuary Cities
Standing up for all who live in Richmond
One of Trump's pledges in his
First 100 Days in office is to withdraw federal funding for Sanctuary
Cities, cities which refuse to cooperate with federal
immigration authorities on detainee requests.
But from New York
to San Francisco, from Chicago to San Jose, cities are standing their
Richmond, where almost 40 percent of the city are
immigrants, has been a Sanctuary City since 1990. In 2007, in the wake
of immigration raids in Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin took the lead in
passing a City Council resolution "ordering all officers and
employees of this City not to inform, assist or cooperate with the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) formerly known as
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), without the specific
authorization of the Richmond city manager or the chief of
Mayor Tom Butt recently
issued a statement
the City's policy of non-cooperation, saying that "If there are
changes in federal polices after [Trump takes office], we will monitor
them and take appropriate actions to protect our
Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin plans to
resolution reaffirming the City Council's commitment to protect
undocumented immigrants at the December 6, 2017 City Council meeting.
In an email, she states "We will not be cowed into
silence by threats to revoke federal funding. Instead, we stand in
solidarity with other cities and communities nationwide and globally
who share our values and determination to overcome all forms of
racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and
Finally, given the increase in hate
crimes, as well as Trump's various anti-immigrant plans, the RPA will
likely be forming an Action Team on immigration; stay tuned for more
information on how to get involved![Photo credit:
Michael Righi, via Flickr]
New report details
Chevron's political spending
The Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading
While Chevron largely sat out during the 2016 Richmond City Council
elections, the company is still a major political spender in the
state. A report released by the International Transport Workers
Federation, with Greenpeace, the Courage Campaign, Communities for a
Better Environment and others, reveals that massive political spending
by Chevron - the state's largest polluter - seeks to stunt
environmental protection, gouge consumers and reduces funds available
for schools and other essential public services.
The report, The
Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading Democracy,
details how since 2009, Chevron has spent $61 million dollars on
political candidates, committees and lobbying in California, far more
than any other oil company. In this election, in State Assembly and
State Senate races, candidates heavily backed by Chevron lost their
races. In Monterey County, Chevron gave $1.5 million to oppose a local
measure to ban fracking and expanded oil drilling. Despite being
outspent 33 to 1, the measure passed.
The report also points out that although Chevron makes billions
in profits from its huge retail and refining business in California,
it has aggressively cut tax payments to federal, state and local
governments. In 2015, the company paid no net income tax in the US,
but instead banked nearly $1.7 billion in tax credits. In 2015,
Chevron had over $45 billion stashed in offshore accounts, including
the company's 211 active Bermuda subsidiaries, and the company's
global effective tax rate fell to below 3%.
Poetry book launch, RPA Steering Committee, and more
Please save the dates for these upcoming
- RPA Steering
Committee meeting, Monday, November 28 at 6:30pm at the Bobby Bowens
Progressive Center at 2540 Macdonald Ave. All members are welcome to
come and observe, as well as raise issues during the members'
- Release of the
first annual Richmond Anthology of Poetry. This anthology brings
together the work of 62 poets who live in Richmond, California, or
have ties with the city. It will be released Saturday, December 10
from 7-9pm at Kaleidoscope Coffee (109 Park Place, Point Richmond) and
Thursday December 15 from 7-9pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
(2540 Macdonald). For pre-orders and info please contact
- Celebration of Life
for RPA member Marion Fay, January 8, 2017 at 2pm at Northbrae Church
in Berkeley (941 The Alameda). Please stay tuned for more on Marion's
inspiring life in a December issue of The Activist.
- Richmond's 10th
annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway
will be on January 16, 2017. Details and more info to follow. Please
spread the word and mark your calendars now!
Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California.
We have never been more proud to be Californians.
By a margin in the millions, Californians overwhelmingly rejected politics fueled by resentment, bigotry, and misogyny.
The largest state of the union and the strongest driver of our nation's economy has shown it has its surest conscience as well.
California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love.
California has long set an example for other states to follow. And California will defend its people and our progress. We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.
We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.
While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn't changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.
California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future.
The RPA Steering
Why Richmond Needs a Corporate-Free Majority on the City Council
Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the damage that corporate moneyis causing in our democracy, and they want leaders who will fight for them by reducing special interest money in our elections. Here in Richmond, we see the continued power of Chevron and developers, who try to buy elections directly, then influence elected officials with lobbying and promises of support.
"Income and wealth inequality have reached obscene levels…and the billionaire class is now allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy the candidate they want. And it is up to us to stand up and fight back. If we stand together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish."
--Senator Bernie Sanders
In 2014 Richmond voters fought back against corporate domination and elected three progressive city council members who are truly independent from the .01% billionaire class, rejecting all corporate money for their campaigns.
We deserve to feel confident that our council members put our people’s needs first. We need to know they aren’t keeping an ear or a hand out for donations from Chevron, lobbyists, developers, and the big apartment owners.
Which city council candidates have not refused to accept corporate money for their campaigns?
Bates, Boozé, Rogers, Myrick, Pimplé, Uwahemu, Zepeda
Who are the only candidates who reject all corporate money?
Ben Choi and Melvin Willis
The need to get money out of politics may be the one thing Americans agree on. Nearly everyone opposes “Citizens United,” the Supreme Court ruling that allowed corporations to spend unlimited (and unreported) amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections.
But in Richmond, we’ve learned how to do something about it. We’ve fought corporate control of our politics through grassroots organizing and principled council members. Two years ago Chevron poured millions into the city council election, yet its candidates were defeated by the power of organized, fed-up citizens who helped elect three Richmond Progressive Alliance members. Since then these corporate-free progressives have worked hard to get the city to deal with the problems its residents face.
What would a corporate-free council majority mean for Richmond?
Concern: They would vote as a bloc and control the council.
Fact: All elected officials must abide by the Brown Act, which prohibits a majority of council members from communicating about agenda items outside the council meeting. This law assures that all points of view are heard in an open process.
Fact: RPA endorsed council members don’t agree on every single issue, but Richmond residents are guaranteed that each decision they make as independent thinkers is free from corporate influence.
A corporate-free council majority would share progressive values. What does this mean? It means they will respond to Richmond residents’ concerns, not those of outside corporate interests. They will apply progressive solutions to Richmond’s problems.
Corporate-free progressives on the council have supported these issues:
- Addressing the budget crisis by temporarily reducing salaries of top administrators so city services are maintained
- Increased civilian oversight of the police to improve community policing
- Passed rent control and just cause for eviction, and when the apartment owners succeeded in overturning the ordinance, supported putting it on this November’s ballot
- Introduced and implemented a higher minimum wage and “Ban the Box” legislation to end employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated residents
- Promoted development while insisting that it benefit Richmond residents with an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement
- Insisted on an open community process to determine the development of Pt. Molate
- Insisting that Chevron contribute funds to keep Doctors Hospital open
- Pressed Chevron to reduce pollution and danger to the community
A corporate-free majority on the city council could also:
- Expand job training programs
- Repair our infrastructure
- Press the county, state, and universities for a new hospital in West County
- Improve and strengthen our neighborhood public schools
Can Richmond move forward with progressive solutions, or will it be blocked by corporate influence? Will our city council have the strength to stand up to the enormous economic and social power of developers and corporations?
Richmond won national acclaim in 2014 when we defeated Chevron’s control over our politics. We have shown that there are progressive, compassionate alternatives to the politics of hate. The two corporate-free, principled city council candidates, Ben Choi and Melvin Willis, are young, prepared, and experienced. They will work hard to create the better Richmond we all deserve.
This November, let’s elect a city council that represents all Richmond communities, a council that reflects the diversity of our city. Let’s have each council member bring his or her own best and independent thinking to city government, with one characteristic in common: let’s have none of them be influenced by corporate money.
---Richmond Progressive Alliance Steering Committee