July is a Decisive Month
The Chevron Refinery Project is about Choices
That's the headline of a recent flyer from the Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC), urging citizens to participate in upcoming deliberations on Chevron's proposed project:
City Council Review
July 29 and 30
Please read and share the REJC flyer, along with Jeff Kilbreth's analysis and Power Point presentation on key points from the Chevron project EIR, and come prepared to set Richmond's future on a safe, sane course.
Canvass with Mike Parker and Team Richmond
Richmond Rising: Team Richmond Canvassing Bash
Saturday, August 16 at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald (near Harbour), Richmond. Two canvassing shifts: 10am-2pm (arrive at 9:30am for briefing) and 1-5pm (arrive at 12:30pm).
Now's the time and here's the place to start canvassing for Team Richmond! It's seriously fun, and it's the only way we can overcome the financial advantage of our adversaries: talk to our own neighbors one voter at a time. Whether you've already been canvassing, or you've never done it before, please join our Richmond Rising celebration. Our goal: knock on 1,000 doors in a single day! We can do it! We can spread the word around our community: Mike, Gayle, Jovanka, and Eduardo have got what it takes to make Richmond a better place.
Party on afterwards for the canvassers at 5:30pm. Please sign-up here.
“Do not agree that they have the right to continue to poison us.”
Modernization Must Mean a Cleaner Refinery
On 7/22/14, the Richmond City Council heard Chevron appeal conditions on its permit for a project to process higher sulfur crude oil. The conditions would require steps to reduce pollution.
The Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition urged support of the conditions placed by the Planning Commission. Mike Parker, representing REJC, explains why.
Good evening Council. I'm Mike Parker, and I want to thank Chevron for agreeing to accept Alternative 11. As a Chevron spokesman has said, Chevron has responded to community pressure. It shows that a community that stands up for itself can have power, even against a multinational corporation. Alternative 11 was only included in the Final EIR in response to community pressure, and now Chevron is accepting it for the same reason. But Alternative 11 is only a first step, and does not address serious problems.
The Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition urges the Council to accept the full conditions established by the Planning Commission. I want to focus on one issue: the right to breathe clean air, and the enormous cost to the community, in health-care and property values, for the dirty air that we breathe. As the EIR acknowledges, Richmond is an impacted community. It already has high pollution, which creates a higher cancer risk for residents. That is fact. Chevron is not the only cause, but it is a major cause.
Continue to the full transcript.
Join with Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition to Say
City Council Must Uphold Planning Commission
The City Council will deliberate and vote on Chevron's refinery project on July 29, at 6:30 pm at the Richmond Auditorium* (continuing on July 30 if necessary). Please come to that meeting, as a strong presence in favor of protecting the health and well-being of the community will be very important.
The Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC) calls on the Richmond City Council to uphold the Richmond Planning Commission's decision**, which added conditions to Chevron's project to make the refinery cleaner, safer, and more modern, and to create more local jobs.
The project as originally proposed would allow Chevron to process higher-sulfur crude that poses greater threats to the health of the community. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the environmentally superior Alternative 11, as recommended by California's Attorney General.
Continue to the full article.
*Richmond Auditorium is at 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond.
**See the full text of the motion approved by the Planning Commission on July 10.
A Richmonder Speaks Truth to Power at SFGate
Slick Chevron Campaign to Control Richmond
by David Helvarg
If the Supreme Court is right that corporations are people and money is free speech, then Chevron is the biggest loudmouth in Richmond, where I live.
When people think of unlimited campaign spending, they tend to think of national elections, but the most insidious impacts may be taking place at the state and municipal levels. I know Chevron contributes to our local economy because it disbursed more than $2 million in city election campaign money since 2010, or roughly $50 each on me and every other registered voter in our small city of 106,000. The company provides jobs not only at its sprawling Richmond oil refinery but also for public relations, printers and a private detective who was hired a few years ago to smear the mayor.
Chevron wants to get rid of our Green Party mayor and progressive City Council majority because they've challenged the company on property taxes and pollution. That's why in 2012 Chevron spent $422,000 backing a single candidate for one of the seven council seats that pays $16,830 a year. The company wants to return to the days when the council majority was known as the "Chevron 5."
Continue to the full SFGate article.
Wed. July 30, 4:30-5:30pm, Join RNs to Rally & March for DMC
Why Doctors Medical Center Can't Close
West Contra Costa County must have hospital care!
Gather at Doctors Medical Center, 2000 Vale Rd., San Pablo; march with us the short distance to West Contra Costa County Health Clinic.
From Melvin Willis:
"Back in March 2014 while I was visiting my mom at her home she suddenly lost her breath, and couldn't catch it. Her breathing was so labored she could barely talk. An ambulance came and took her to the nearest public hospital, just 5 minutes from her house—Doctors Medical Center.
"The team there quickly went into action and by the time I arrived, she was stabilized. Now, the fate of Doctors Medical Center is undetermined and I keep wondering what if her ambulance drive had been fifteen, or twenty minutes longer? That's about how long it'd take to get to the next nearest public hospital in Oakland."
Continue to the full Richmond Pulse article.
Fri. 8/1, 6:30-8:30pm at BBPC*
Special Screening: Ghost Town to Havana
| Ghost Town to Havana film trailer
Bittersweet barely begins to describe it.
The Richmond/Regla Friendship Committee will be showing the feature-length documentary, Ghost Town to Havana. The event will include a guest appearance by Co-Director/Producer, Eugene Corr, a Richmond native, and time for Q&A after the screening. The film centers on inner city Little League Baseball but deals with larger themes of male-mentorship and the reclaiming of lives and communities.
$5-10 is the suggested donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
*Bobby Bowens Progressive Center is at 1021 Macdonald, near Harbour and Richmond BART.
Add Your Own Endorsement Today
Recent Endorsements for Team Richmond
Recently Team Richmond has received endorsements from these fine folks:
The one from the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club is notable since it's the first time they've supported a slate that is not affiliated with the Democratic Party.
Read about ILWU support for the Maritime Union of Australia in their battle against Chevron's attacks on labor, including their recent meeting with Gayle McLaughlin and Mike Parker.
If you have not already done so, please add your name to the list of endorsers for Team Richmond candidates: Mike Parker for Mayor, Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Gayle McLaughlin for City Council. Send us a brief e-mail with "Endorse Team Richmond" in the subject line. Include your full name, city of residence, and any affiliation or title you would like to include (for identification purposes only). It's free and easy. Your taking this step to support Team Richmond will really be appreciated. Thank you!
Flames Four Stories Tall
July 16th: Another Fire at Chevron
The Contra Costa Times story called the fire "small," yet the first line described "flames as high as four stories tall," and included the claim of a company spokeswoman that the fire "was sparked by materials leaked from a specialized hose and not the result of a pipe leak." Further down, the paper said the leak came from a hose used by maintenance workers in a part of the refinery not in use, per Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie.
Richmond Fire Chief Michael Banks reported to the City Manager: "This morning at 2:10 am, five Richmond Fire units and two Battalion Chiefs were dispatched to a reported structure fire at the Chevron Refinery. Upon arrival, our personnel were assigned to begin a fire attack on the Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) unit. There were visible flames and smoke showing on the second and third levels of this exterior structure. The fire was brought under control by 3:00 am. It was initially reported to us by Chevron personnel that a ¾" processing line had ruptured and was leaking a heavy oil distillate (petroleum product). It was later clarified that a specialized hose failed which contained a partially refined hydrocarbon product. Either way, due to the high temperature of this oily substance, it ignited and created a fire hazard. The fire and subsequent leaking product were contained to the FCC unit. Shut down of the product was eventually completely by fire personnel. Air monitoring was conducted throughout the incident and there were no readings to indicate that smoke or vapors were escaping outside the FCC unit perimeter. A Level One notification was made to Contra Costa Health Services and Cal-OSHA arrived early into the incident. Overall, our Richmond Fire crews did an outstanding job extinguishing the fire and preventing it from spreading into adjoining areas."
We do not know yet the cost to the City of Richmond for responding to this incident.
ABC 7 News had a brief story with 2-3 minutes of video reporting on the most recent fire.
Plan a House Party or Go Out Canvassing
Introduce Team Richmond to Friends & Neighbors
Once the official filing deadline arrives on August 8th, the Team Richmond candidates' campaigns will intensify, so if you're thinking about hosting a house party for some of your neighbors and friends to meet one or two of the Team, please make your plans now, while their schedules are more open. Contact Margaret by email or call 510-595-4661 to work out the details.
And if you'd like to have one of the candidates walk with you while you canvass your area, reserve a session from 4-6pm with this link. To get started with canvassing, attend an orientation any Saturday at 3 pm at the BBPC, 1021 Macdonald. Sign up by email or call 510-331-3985. Thanks.
A Brief History of Alternative 11
Making Sure Modernization is Done Right
In June, Richmond's City Council voted to curtail the power of the Planning Commission over Chevron's refinery project, with an amendment introduced by Tom Butt that will go into effect July 17th; so the Commission is under pressure to complete its process ahead of that deadline.
After that Council decision, Richmond received a second letter on the project from Attorney General Kamala Harris' Office. That letter endorsed Alternative 11 from the Final EIR, which cuts high-sulfur crude inputs and limits hydrogen production, as the only scenario meeting California's environmental objectives—when implemented with the FEIR's pollution mitigation measures and other improvements. Councilman Butt observed that the AG's letter carries significant weight: "There's a presumption that the city will put (Harris' suggestions) into its requirements," Butt said. "The Planning Commission has the power to put this into the conditions of approval."
If Alternative 11 will be required, what else should be included in the conditions of approval? In the conclusion of his Key Points paper, Jeff Kilbreth suggests:
- Public monitoring and oversight of Chevron's improvements on maintenance, safety, and emissions reduction
- No increase in Criteria Air Pollutants or Toxic Air Contaminants
- Requirements for further modernization and emissions reduction over the next 10 years
- Dramatic improvements in emissions monitoring by January 2016
- Any increase in greenhouse gas emissions at the refinery must be mitigated locally
On behalf of RPA and the Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition, Kilbreth presented these proposed conditions to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, July 9. Neither Chevron's statement at that meeting, nor any of the public comments from Chevron supporters, acknowledged the environmentally superior Alternative 11 endorsed by Kamala Harris, or conditions necessary to the goals of plant safety and reduced emissions.
To the cheers of most attending, the Planning Commission unanimously certified the Final EIR and adopted Alternative 11, with supportive conditions of approval, at the continuation of their hearing on Thursday. Now it's in the City Council's court, starting Tuesday, July 22.
A Very Informative Resource
U.S. Chemical Safety Board on Chevron Fire
For a reminder of what's at stake, watch the Chevron Refinery Fire Animation video and review the recommendations on the U.S. Chemical Safety Board's (CSB) webpage about the August 2012 Chevron Refinery Fire and Explosion. It also has links to the CSB's final report and related news stories.
All aboard the Freedom Train to Progress!
Beckles Stood Tall in Juneteenth Parade
Eye on the East Bay, Contra Costa Times
Videos and photos posted to Facebook captured the scene for those who got up late.
Beckles, who is of African descent and is the first openly gay councilwoman in the city's history, rode in the bed of a pick-up truck decorated with wood panels to look like a locomotive. With the title "Freedom Train to Progress," Beckles stood tall and pumped her fist to the incendiary rhythms of Public Enemy's iconic "Fight the Power," the theme song of the 1989 Spike Lee film "Do the Right Thing."
Yellow flags with the words "freedom" and "progress" jutted from the faux smokestacks and whipped in the wind.
It was quite a scene, and the clarion rapping bellow of Chuck D rang timeless:
"Cause I'm Black and I'm proud, I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped, Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps," Chuck D rapped.
Powerful song and powerful imagery. Well-played, councilwoman.
Alternative to Reduce GHG Emissions
Attorney General Supports Alternative to Chevron Proposal
by Mike Parker
The Office of California Attorney General (AGO), Kamala Harris, has sent a letter, dated June 20, to the City planners stating support for the new alternative project described in the final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Chevron Project. Combined with the first letter of June 6*, the AGO is saying that Chevron's original proposal is not adequate under California laws.
Spin on letters
The AGO does say that the Final Environmental Impact Report is acceptable. Many people have taken that to mean that the AGO has signed off on the Chevron project itself. But the reason that the AGO gives for finding the FEIR acceptable is that it includes a new alternative to the proposed Chevron project which "along with other improvements made in the final EIR... would resolve the AGO's concerns." It is this alternative that the AGO is supporting and not the original project as proposed by Chevron.
Continue to the full article.
*For the full text of the first AGO letter click here, and use this link for the second one.
Want Elected Officials Representing You, not Corporations?
Canvass for Team Richmond
We are looking for Richmond residents and other Bay Area supporters to help us spread the word about the great Team Richmond slate. Neighborhood canvassing is key to our success in November (and it's pretty fun!).
How you can help:
- Sign up to canvass your Richmond Neighborhood.
- Sign up to canvass with a Richmond resident (if you are from out of town).
- Canvass with one of our great candidates from 4 to 6 any afternoon.
When you can get started:
- Canvasser trainings will be held at the at the RPA office (1021 Macdonald Ave) every Saturday at 3pm starting on Saturday July 5th. You can also come at 3 pm if you want to just canvass for the afternoon.
- Sign up to canvass with a candidate any day through this webpage.
To sign up or for more info, please contact Janet.
A Familiar Headline
Council Members Push to Aid City’s Underwater Borrowers
"'There are two kinds of cities that Wall Street can't frighten—those that have serious underwater loan and foreclosure problems, and those that have dedicated Mayors and City Councils,' said Robert Hockett, professor of law at Cornell University." Hockett is credited with developing the strategy of a municipality using its power of eminent domain as a tool for principal reduction. He went on to name a city which has both. Could he have been talking about Richmond?
Well, in this case he wasn't; he was referring to the Big Apple! Four New York City Council Members—at least one of whom is underwater himself, along with New York Communities for Change and the Mutual Housing Association of New York, have jointly started to push for a plan similar to the one Richmond may implement, to prevent further foreclosures and their ensuing blight.
Once again, Richmond may have some pretty big feet following in its footsteps.
Read the whole article in the New York Observer.
Letter from the RPA Steering Committee
In Support of The Morning Mix on KPFA
Interim General Manager, KPFA Radio
Dear Mr. Pirodsky,
The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) is a grassroots, volunteer-based organization founded in 2003 in Richmond, California, aimed at eliminating the excessive influence of corporations in local politics and strengthening the ability of local residents to ensure that city policies meet their needs, especially the needs of the most vulnerable. Our organization clearly has much in common with the values of KPFA and Pacifica.
We appreciated the introduction of the weekday 8:00-9:00 program, The Morning Mix, a few years ago, as it has provided the listening audience in Richmond and the greater Bay Area with a variety of excellent programs on topics of interest that are rarely, if ever, heard elsewhere. Andres Soto's program, for example, has included many segments on progressive initiatives in Richmond that communities throughout the region can relate to, on housing, violence prevention, environmental justice, local arts scene and more.
The RPA learned, to our dismay, that you had made the decision last month to cancel The Morning Mix and re-schedule some of its programs to shorter time slots in the mid-afternoon. We believe it is extremely valuable for the morning drive time audience to be able to hear the diversity of programming that The Morning Mix offered, and hence we urge you to reverse your decision and re-instate The Morning Mix to weekdays at 8:00-9:00 am.
Co-coordinators, Richmond Progressive Alliance
If you want to show your support, too, send an email to KPFA iGM Richard Pirodsky.
Please see Richard Pirodsky's response to this letter, below.
Response to RPA's Letter about the Morning Mix
The Listening Audience Calls the Shots
by Richard Pirodsky, Interim General Manager, KPFA
When I was considerably younger, a wise, old (though probably younger than I am now) program director told me: "For any radio station, the ultimate program director is the listening audience." Then as now, when a program airs has a great deal to do with the (primary) target audience and when that audience is available. Another major factor is the size of the audience available to the station at any given hour in the day.
As I stated in my report to the LSB*, 8am on weekdays provides KPFA with access to the greatest number of potential listeners (over six million) within its broadcast range. For the sake of the station's mandate to provide the greatest service to the various listening communities, and for the sake of the station's need to generate operating revenues, KPFA must try to offer programming with broad appeal to this largest audience of the day. If we instead air more narrowly focused programming, which attracts fewer listeners and fewer donations, there is no other time in the day when we can make up for the loss in listenership and revenue. It is the broadcasting equivalent of covering a solar panel during peak hours of sunlight and trying to make up for it by uncovering the panel at night.
Continue to the full letter
* Richard Pirodsky also discussed the reasoning behind his morning-programming decision in a June 14 report to KPFA's Local Station Board.
In the Tradition of Studs Turkel
Interview with Richmond Police Chief Magnus
Richmond resident Steve Early talked with our Chief about the way he wants the force to work in this city. Here's some of what he had to say about community policing:
"If you're really committed to community policing, you have to make structural changes within your organization. Are you going to have community policing officers who are just this small cadre within a department—essentially its public relations wing—or are you going to integrate the larger expectations of community policing into the role of every officer? The latter is what we've tried to do here—to say no matter what your assignment, we expect you to, first and foremost, build quality relationships."
It's a new and apparently effective vision, another one of the ways Richmond is better now.
Read the whole piece, published in In These Times.
Movement Generation’s Newest Satirical Video, Released 6/24
The Greenest Man in America
In case you missed the standing-room only World Premiere at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center last week, here's your chance to see it any time you like:
In the words of Josh Healey, who wrote and is one of the stars of the video: "And if you do like it... please share it around!... Feel free to have fun with it!"
The event last week kicked off summer activities to build the Our Power Campaign, in support of the fight against extreme energy and towards a just transition to sustainable economies and climate jobs. On August 6-9, the second anniversary of the Chevron refinery fire, Richmond will host the Our Power Campaign national gathering. Watch for more info soon.
Chevron Mobilizes for Approval of Its Project
by Mike Parker
Despite the community criticism about increased pollution and greenhouse gasses and the Attorney General's questions about the legality of Chevron's proposed project, Chevron is moving ahead with trying to win public support for its project. It's using its sponsored media like The Richmond Standard, and "Radio Free Richmond" to spin the news on its project. Its paid canvassers are knocking on every door in Richmond.
It also is apparently calling in chits on the community and non-profit groups that it funds.
So 4Richmond, which claims to unite Richmond and proclaims that it "is Richmond," has announced that its Board of Directors, Steering Committee, and staff "unanimously endorse the Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization Project" [emphasis added]. 4Richmond has announced that they will be actively mobilizing community support for the project. (Also, 4Richmond is registered as a 'C4' non-profit which allows it to back candidates—so watch for it to be further involved.)