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Fit For Life
Council Acts to Improve Accountability   
Three Police Commission Items Move Forward

One week ago, the Richmond City Council acted to strengthen the Police Commission by moving to adopt changes proposed by the Commission itself, as well as 2 items introduced by Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez, both co-sponsored by Councilmembers Beckles and McLaughlin. 

Item J 1: First reading of ordinance to amend Richmond Municipal Code related to Police Commission, passed with a 5-1-1 vote with Bates abstaining & Pimple voting No.

Item K 2: Directed staff to initiate a Police Commission Investigation into the shooting death of Pedie Perez (as soon as the Police Commission Investigative Officer position is filled).    Passed with Yes votes from Beckles, Martinez, McLaughlin, and Jael Myrick, with Bates again abstaining and Butt and Pimple voting No.

Item K 3: Directed staff to change language in the ordinance so that any police-involved fatality or serious injury will be automatically investigated by the Citizens Police Review Commission, even if a complaint is not filed. Passed  4-3, with affirmatives from the co-sponsors and Myrick, with Bates, Butt & Pimple voting against it. This directive is the essential first step in getting this reform added to the ordinance. The change will require 2 readings once staff has drafted the necessary language before it becomes law.   

The RPA Steering Committee will be meeting to prepare a formal statement and plan outreach around these reforms. Initially, we are happy to say that:

"We have one of the best police forces in the state and now we'll have one of the best accountability standards and community oversight standards in the state, too.  We're moving very clearly in the right direction and that has required and will continue to require vision and a steady commitment to justice."

Mike Parker sends An Open Letter to Tom Butt On the Police Commission Issue:

Here We Go Again?

[The following letter was submitted by Mike Parker, in reply to recent emails by Tom Butt. --PB]


You seem to believe that an independent investigation of a police action that results in death or serious injury shows "distrust" or "bashing" of our police department. I think most Richmond residents support independent review of the police. It develops public support for the police and can provide information to reduce negative outcomes in the future. Do you oppose independent auditors examining the City's books? Does requiring such an audit mean that you distrust Bill Lindsay and City staff? Or do you think that money is more important than the loss of a human life?

It appears that whenever the Council does not see things your way, you decide it is time to declare war on the Richmond Progressive Alliance and pursue a bridge-burning, scorched earth campaign. You start your message with straight out untruths and arguable "facts" and build from there:

Here we go again. The vast majority of Richmond residents have no interest in an unprecedented, expensive and time-consuming expansion of the mission of the Richmond Police Commission to investigate incidents that have not even resulted in a complaint. But the Richmond Progressive Alliance believes that is now Richmond's top priority, along with reopening an investigation into the death of Pedie Perez. (Tom Butt E-Forum 2/5/16)

The RPA has never said anything that suggests that investigations of the police should be "Richmond's top priority." The RPA considers the policies of community policing, jobs, housing, and the environment all to be high priorities. It does believe that investigations of serious incidents are an important part of strengthening community confidence in our police. Nor should such investigations be assumed "expensive," as I will discuss later. 
*     *     *
You say that "All [councilmembers who supported the resolutions] averred that the Richmond Police Department is the best in the world before proceeding to smash it with visceral verbal attacks." There were NO verbal attacks of any kind on the Richmond Police Department --NONE. Nor was there even any criticism of the department. Here is ALL of what you give for evidence:

Click here for the full letter.
With Bernie National Staff and Richmond City Council Members Beckles and Martinez
Richmond Organizing Rally for Sanders

Fri., 2/12/16, 7- 8:30pm

Grace Lutheran Church, 2369 Barrett Ave, Richmond

From the event announcement:

Join other local volunteers and grassroots organizers as a representative from the national organizing staff, Becky Bond, comes to Richmond for a special organizing event.

We will be joined by special guests and co-sponsors Richmond City Council members Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez.

We will discuss how we can rapidly grow our movement in the next several months as we enter the primary season. We will also be discussing local volunteer activities to help the early primary states. This will be a great opportunity to hear what's going on nationally and locally with the campaign, as well as a chance to meet other Bernie supporters from your community.

Thank you for all that you've contributed and all the hard work that you're about to do!

HOST: Bernie 2016


RSVP here.


(Note: The RPA hasn't made any endorsements for presidential candidates or other partisan races.)

Report on Police Commission's Jan 21st. Special Meeting   
The case for automatic & independent review

9-15-15 photo by Juan Reardon.
Juan Reardon reports that the reforms recommended by the eight current Police Commission members on January 21 are "good first steps," and builds a strong case for the need for an automatic and independent review in any case of a police-involved fatality or severe injury.  He argues:

"Fear of reprisals, ignorance of the law and basic rights, immigration status, false promises by the police department or District Attorney, and offers of quick financial settlements that may leave the officer unpunished, are just some of the reasons why family members (if the victim had a family) may not fully pursue the option of a parallel and independent investigation... ."

"By the end of the meeting the eight current commissioners had voted on a few recommendations that are good first steps, including a change in the name to reflect more independence from the Police Department. It recommended the new name of Citizens' Police Review Commission. The Commission also recommended that copies of all complaints filed with the Commission be immediately sent to each commissioner. It also reaffirmed its intention to be the final decision-maker about the merits of each case filed. The commissioners then voted to extend from 45 days to 120 days the period of time in which a complaint can be filed with the Commission. They also voted to recommend that it shall be the commission itself, and not the investigator, who decides if a case has merits for a late filing beyond that established period.
"It is expected that the City Council will accept these proposals, as well as others, to prepare a new ordinance to empower and regulate the commission for the benefit of the residents of Richmond... ."  
--Juan Reardon

Read the full article and sharpen your arguments in support of Council action for an independent investigation in the Perez case and automatically thereafter if there is another instance of police-involved death or serious injury.

Will Police Commission Investigate?   
Where is Justice in Pedie Perez's Death?

On September 14, 2014 Richard "Pedie" Perez was shot and killed by Officer Wallace Jensen outside Uncle Sam's Liquor Store on Cutting Boulevard.
Like many police involved shootings across the country, the law enforcement authorities, the District Attorney and the Richmond Police Department, quickly concluded that the officer was not at fault. The DA said there was no criminal act and the Richmond police quickly returned Officer Wallace Jenson to duty. (Jensen has since taken long-term medical leave.)
But something is glaringly wrong here. The bottom line is that a young man, who
  • did not have a weapon,
  • did not threaten anyone, and
  • had committed no criminal act (except perhaps being drunk in public)
was shot three times by a person who was supposed to be acting for all of us in maintaining public safety.
click here for full Perez article
--Tarnel Abbott
Mike Parker
Statewide Millie Award goes to Gayle MaLaughlin:  
Fighting for Rent Control & Just Cause

Tenants Together Legal Director Leah Simon-Weisberg presents award.                        Photo: Paul Kilkenny.

On January 23, at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall, Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin received The Millie Award at the 5th Annual Tenants Lawyers Network Conference organized by Tenants Together. Councilmember McLaughlin was recognized for her leadership in the fight to pass the first rent control ordinance in 30 years in the United States.

Millie Atkins-Coley (1952-2014) had a life-long passion for the legal system, serving in various courts, including serving as the highest clerk of the LA Superior Court. The Millie Award is given each year to a person who in his or her professional capacity ensured that tenants have the rights to affordable and safe housing.

The fight for Rent Control and Just Cause is on-going in Richmond and other communities throughout California and the nation. As Stephen T. Harper of Santa Rosa writes, "these policies are a simple step in trying to stabilize rents that have increased roughly 40 percent over the past four years and should be the first part of an overall strategy that seeks to create more affordable housing... and creates a sense of security in our wonderful city residents." He's "a local investment property owner, homeowner and citizen who cares about the diversity and prosperity" of his hometown. He cites a recent independent report, commissioned by the council there, that found "these policies create an efficient and low-cost method to deal with tenant/landlord disputes as well promoting tenant stability that allows for greater civic participation and greater neighborhood investment." Read the full January 24 article in The Press Democrat.
Tues. 2/2, Support item K-1 for stable neighborhoods 
Stop selling to Wall St. speculators, Fannie Mae!

Our communities here in Richmond were hard-hit by the housing crash, and we're still working to recover.

I am outraged that federal agencies, designed to help address the housing needs of our country, are selling-off tens of thousands of troubled mortgages to hedge funds and private equity firms.

We are working locally to preserve homeownership and create more affordable housing, and here are these agencies selling our neighborhoods out from under us! 

The Richmond City Council unanimously passed a resolution early last year, expressing our support for an effort to get troubled mortgages into the hands of mission-driven non-profits, as opposed to having them sold to Wall Street speculators.   On September 30, 2015 I was with other elected officials and community leaders in DC, meeting with federal housing agencies, as well as with Senator Elizabeth Warren, who strongly supports our efforts.  Some change is occurring, but more needs to happen.

Fannie Mae has just announced they're about to make their biggest sale of troubled mortgages yet, worth a total of $1.6 billion in unpaid principal balance. We need these mortgages sold to non-profits who help our struggling homeowners.

On Thursday, February 4th, cities across the country will be calling on Fannie Mae to do better.  There will be a Bay Area-wide press conference in San Francisco at the home of a family facing foreclosure at the hands of Fannie Mae. It will take place on Thursday at 11am at the home of Juana and Jesse Tello, 1778 Newcomb Ave. (S.F.).  Supporters are welcomed.
We need our federal housing agencies to work with us before selling off one more troubled mortgage to a speculator.  I have an item on the Council agenda this Tuesday (Item K-1) directing our staff to write to our federal agencies requesting their lists of troubled mortgages in Richmond and in the state of California.   I encourage residents to come and speak on the item. 

--Gayle McLaughlin

Th., 2/4: Get with the plan & jump on the van to go to SLO
& Mon., 2/8: Benicia Council to vote on Valero project
Upcoming Hearings on Crude by Rail Projects

#1: San Luis Obisbo County Planning Department staff voted last Monday to recommend denial of proposed permits for Phillips 66 to deliver by oil train and to refine tar sands oil.*  As noted in an East Bay Express article

"The general consensus among the comments received is that project benefits do not outweigh the potential hazards it will bring to the public," the report continued. "These hazards mainly stem from rail accidents, oil spills, health hazards, and explosions/fires within communities along rail lines as a result of an increase of crude transport via rail." These risks would affect communities all along the rail lines, from the Bay Area south to Los Angeles. 

*This "Santa Maria Refinery Rail Spur Project" staff report is at:

For a good summary of what's at stake and the story thus far, read this article:

Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) Richmond is organizing a vanpool to go to the SLO Planning Commission hearing on the issue on Thursday, February 4:  Meeting at Richmond BART Station at 4:00am, leaving Richmond at 4:30am, and returning the same day, leaving SLO at 5:30 p.m.

#2: The Benicia city staff recommended approval of the Valero project (see this story:, so it's extremely important that people attend the Benecia City Council meeting on Monday 2/8.; the hearing starts 6:30pm at 250 East L St, Benicia.  A final vote is expected that night. Andres Soto of CBE writes: "The good news in Benicia is that the Final EIR has identified the 'No Project Alternative' as the 'Environmentally Superior Alternative.' People from all over the Bay Area need to converge on Benicia and let them know Crude By Rail is NOT acceptable anywhere!" RSVP here.  More information is available here: There's a Safe Benicia petition to stop the oil trains that you can sign at Late breaking info: Benicia City Council is imposing severe barriers to speaking at the hearing.  One local activist reports that in order to speak there on the 8th, people have to sign up in person that day starting at 8:30am! They're trying to keep people from out of town from speaking and let the oil industry pack the room. And it's going to be a long hearing. Not for the faint of heart!

CBE's plans for carpools: Meet up at 4pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center at 1021 Macdonald Ave. Richmond. Depart from Richmond at 4:30pm. Individual cars will return independently.

To get on the van to SLO or to be part of the carpool to Benicia please contact Andrés Soto, at 510.282.5363, or at

Sat. 2/13, 2pm, Soujourer Truth Presbyterian Church*
First Richmond Screening of Against Hate

"Against Hate
 documents the journey of Richmond Council member Jovanka Beckles, who battles Chevron, a multi-billion dollar oil company, in an election laced with dirty oil, dirty politics, and dirty money. The film explores the lack of inclusion of members of our society by the law, by religion, and by corporations."

The moderators for the discussion to follow the screening:
Rev. Kamal Hassan, Sojourner Truth Sr. Pastor, Host
Rev. Donna Allen, New Revelation Sr. Pastor, Co-host
Jovanka Beckles, Richmond CA Council member

Sponsors: Steve Early, Suzanne Gordon, Courtney Cummings and Native American Health Center, Ben-David Barr and Rainbow Center, Richmond Rainbow Pride, and RYSE.

*Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
 2621 Shane Dr., Richmond CA 84806

Sat. 2/20, 9:30am-2pm, UUCB, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington
Racial Justice Coalition Summit on CCC Priorities

Save these March dates now
Find more information in the next Activist

3/5/15: 9th Annual Sisters in Solidarity Celebration on Saturday from 10am to 2pm at the Richmond Auditorium.

3/11/15: Has U.S. policy towards Cuba really changed? Join a discussion and hear from Miguel Fraga,
First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC.  7-9pm, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA 94804.

Just PublishedSocial Policy Wnter 15

A Social Policy Case Study and Follow-up 
Two Years Later: Richmond Progressive Alliance: Defeating Big Money in Politics 
by Mike Parker                  on RPA Web site 
Want to learn more about the RPA? 

All articles on the RPA website and in the RPA Activist newsletter represent the views of the author. Unsigned text represents the views of the newsletter editor, Patsy Byers, not necessarily those of the RPA. Differing views are welcome. Copyright 2015. Articles may be reprinted by not-for-profit organizations citing authors and source. Send email to