Contrary to all the Chevron-funded billboards, mailers, door hangers, and TV commercials, Gayle McLaughlin has worked long and hard for Richmond, in Richmond. According to a recent Richmond Confidential article, "an analysis of city documents, invoices, travel receipts and bank statements dating to 2010 shows that McLaughlin has traveled less, missed fewer meetings, and spent less money on the trips than City Councilman Nat Bates, a longtime supporter of the oil giant's mammoth refinery here and the Chevron-backed committee's favored candidate for mayor."
Bates outspent our mayor about 3:1 on travel, in terms of both time and money. Apparently his own position on frequent and international trips differs from the stance in his patron's ads; he is quoted in the article: "You can't accomplish things staying at home, and not engaging with global community." All this has led Tom Butt, who is running against Bates for mayor, to conclude that "the Chevron-funded campaign to paint McLaughlin as a frequent traveler who has eschewed her responsibilities is hypocritical."
Andrew Young in Richmond
Prophet of Urban Renewal or Big Oil’s Reverend for Rent?
by Steve Early
In his remarkable six decade career in public life, 82-year old Andy Young has been many things to many people: civil rights movement minister and courageous ally of Dr. Martin Luther King, Democratic Congressman from Georgia, U.S. emissary to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter, two-term mayor of Atlanta in the 1980s, and then leader of the National Council of Churches.
On Monday night, he appeared before a largely African-American crowd at a "community dinner" in Richmond. It was sponsored by a 501 (c) (4) organization known as For Richmond, which dispenses grants to local non-profits like the YMCA. Young’s appearance showcased his most recent incarnation as a skilled, if not uncontroversial, friend of private enterprise, including some of the biggest firms in the world. The timing of his visit was not unrelated to Richmond’s upcoming municipal elections.
Town Hall Meeting Sat. Nov. 1, 11am-3pm
Healthy Communities Richmond: We R Richmond
Residents! How healthy are we in Richmond? What can we all do to promote healthy living in our community? Here is an opportunity to hear from Atty. John L. Burris (handling many claims from the Aug 2012 Chevron explosion and fire) and a host of public agencies concerned about the health of our environment. Let's talk about it while enjoying refreshments and the wealth of talent from our neighborhoods. Eduardo Martinez will speak.
Town Hall Meeting at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 420 Macdonald Ave, Richmond
Town Meeting for Economic Justice
Senator Bernie Sanders Rallies Richmond’s Progressives
by Harriet Rowan
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT-I), a potential 2016 presidential candidate, delivered a rousing speech to an overflowing audience in Richmond on Thursday. His speech focused on the growing economic inequality in the United States and argued for the importance of electing candidates who will implement progressive policies in the face of the growing influence of big money in politics.
"At this profound moment in American history, where the billionaire class wants to get it all... we have got to fight back tooth and nail," Sanders said, drawing boisterous applause from a crowd of about 500. "We cannot allow them to take over Richmond... we cannot allow them to take over America."
Sanders was invited to Richmond by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin to help rally her progressive base in the face of $3 million in spending by Chevron Corp. to oppose McLaughlin and her allies in the Nov. 4 election.
Also see Richmond Confidential's multimedia report on the Bernie Sanders Town Meeting:
Richmond in the National Spotlight
Chevron Trying to Buy Richmond’s Government
Since Rachel Maddow decried Chevron's interference in Richmond politics, numerous national media voices have featured Chevron vs. Richmond as an example of corporate cash dominating American elections:
Show Your Friends and Neighbors
Team Richmond Videos
Fed Up with Chevron’s Constant Smears?
Get Your Team Richmond Lawn-Sign
Lawn-signs won't stop the onslaught of Chevron hit-piece mailers and door hangers, but they're a cheerful sight, and they let your neighbors and passersby know that you support Team Richmond.
To get your free lawn-sign, email us or leave a message with your phone-number & address at 510-412-2260. Delivery will be arranged. You'll be glad you did!
Can Money Buy Your Vote?
Is Richmond’s Election for Sale?
Chevron is on track to spend between $2 and $3 million trying to gain control of the Richmond City Council on Election Day. The corporation will likely pay out $120 per voter—and that’s just the reported expenditures. The other candidates will be lucky to spend one-tenth as much, combined.
Two million dollars buys a lot of billboards, mailers, door knocking and phone-banking. Plus lots of hit pieces on candidates Chevron doesn’t like. It isn’t fair. But it is legal, so this election will be a real test of the power of money in our democracy.
Why does Chevron want to own the Council?
The number one reason is the City’s lawsuit against Chevron over the August 2012 fire and its prior history of accidents.
Chevron and our next City Council will likely settle the case to avoid a trial. The City has hired the same law firm that won $70 million for the town of San Bruno after the 2010 PG&E pipeline explosion.
If Richmond and its lawyers negotiate well, we could see a settlement of more than $100 million—for the costs of the fire to Richmond and the damage to our reputation and property values over the last 20 years.
But a new, Chevron-friendly City Council could settle cheap—and save the company many times what it’s spending on this election.
Does it have a right?
The second reason Chevron wants to control the council is to preserve its “right” to pollute our air. A progressive City Council could work closely with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. We could make Chevron clean up its act over the next ten years, by truly modernizing the refinery.
But Chevron is determined to prevent that.
Third, Chevron loves its sweet deal for low property taxes and doesn’t want any interference.
Remember, when Chevron wants to start a new project, it has to get city approval. That gives the people of Richmond bargaining power. Chevron wants to own both sides of the bargaining table.
Reprinted from the premiere edition of The Richmond Sun (2.5 MB PDF).
A Letter from Mayor McLaughlin
Richmond is Better Now
In the last eight years that I’ve been privileged to be your mayor, we’ve come a long way from our history of scarcity and despair. Richmond has gained national attention as a community courageous enough to define its own destiny.
Residents from every corner of the city are saying: Richmond is better now.
If you agree, please join with me, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez to:
Powerful special interests, like Chevron, may fight us every step of the way, but we stand strong with our community to create prosperity, peace and health for every Richmond resident.
National Luminaries Pitching In
Sanders, Kucinich Rally for East Bay Progressives
by Steve Early
If you’re Gayle McLaughlin, the Green mayor of Richmond, now termed out but running for city council, or Dan Siegel, the radical labor lawyer challenging an incumbent mayor in Oakland, who can rally the troops better than a former mayor who was a pioneering municipal reformer?
Both candidates hope to generate some home-stretch campaign energy, with the help of such invited out-of-town guests, at public forums and related fundraisers in their respective East Bay bailiwicks next week.
On Oct. 16, McLaughlin is hosting Bernie Sanders, former four-term mayor of Burlington, Vermont, at a "Town Meeting" in Richmond, preceded by a reception at her downtown campaign headquarters. Two days later in Oakland, Siegel is bringing in Dennis Kucinich, a one-term mayor of Cleveland, to speak at two similar events, one of which also features Tom Hayden, a leading progressive activist in the 1960s and longtime legislator in Sacramento.
Big Money Influence on Local Politics
Chevron Wants to Buy My Vote
by David Helvarg
If corporations are people then one of them has been stalking me.
When humans think about the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that corporations are people and money is free speech, and about the impact unlimited campaign spending is having on our democracy, they tend to think too big. The most significant consequences may not be at the national or state level but in cities where elections can determine decisions about property taxes, land-use permits and zoning that have a direct effect on people’s lives and on companies' bottom lines...
Until 2008, when a group of candidates calling themselves the Progressive Alliance won seats, Richmond's City Council was dominated by a refinery-friendly majority known by some as the Chevron Five. Now the oil giant is trying to turn Richmond back into a company town where elected officials don’t force it to pay more property taxes, or demand transparent environmental impact reports or challenge it on pollution and local hiring practices.
City Council Honors 3 Richmond Poets Laureate
"Art Plays a Critical Role in Transforming Our City"
by Gayle McLaughlin
At our Sept 23rd City Council meeting, we honored Lincoln Bergman, Brenda Quintanilla, and Donte Clark as the three official Poets Laureate for the City of Richmond for the period of August 2014 through August 2016. Read the proclamation here.
Lincoln Bergman: Lincoln is a Richmond poet who has been writing poetry since childhood, and whose work was first published at the age of 8. Since then he has published several books of poetry, much of which delves into political commentary on the times.
Brenda Quintanilla: Brenda is a 17-year-old Latina from El Salvador. In her poetry she tells the stories of struggle and survival of those who have fled to the United States. A member of RAW Talent (Richmond Artists With Talent), Brenda has shared her poetry at open mics and hopes to motivate other students to tell their stories.
Donte Clark: Donte is a Richmond playwright and poet. His plays include "Po' Boys Kitchen" and "Te's Harmony." Donte is part of a local group called RAW Talent, a poetry workshop that began at Making Waves Education Program in 2007, and which has just merged with RYSE Youth Center.
As I have always said, art plays a critical role in transforming our city. It is the universal way we connect with one another as human beings—heart to heart and soul to soul.
As Audre Lorde says: "Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before."
Thank you Lincoln, Brenda and Donte for giving us your poetry and for helping us build new and authentic human connections in Richmond. We will look forward to hearing your poetry at many events throughout your 2 year period serving as our official Poets Laureate!
The Ribbon’s been Cut & Now It’s Official
Richmond Municipal ID Cards Available
At the reception Tuesday morning, Sept. 30th, Mayor McLaughlin said: "We want to make sure that no resident in our city goes without the banking accounts, the leases, the library cards that make every day possible, simply because they lack identification."
The new ID card program combines valid photo identification with a pre-paid MasterCard ATM debit card option. It is designed to reduce some of the barriers often encountered by homeless residents, immigrants, seniors, youth, and those re-entering the community after being incarcerated, due to their lack of a valid ID or access to banking services.
"The community organized way back in 2008 -- it's been a long time coming and that's why so many of us are so happy it's finally here," said Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, who had sponsored the ordinance creating the card program.
Applications will be accepted starting October 15th at an office in Grace Lutheran Church, 2369 Barrett Ave., Richmond CA. Interested residents can get more information or schedule an appointment here. Walk-ins are also welcomed.
Fri. 10/31, 6pm, Berkeley City Club Hotel, 2315 Durant Ave.
A Special Production of The Iron Heel
The Iron Heel Theatre Collective presents The Iron Heel, based on the Jack London novel, first published in 1908. This dramatic Readers Theater production features mask/puppetry performance, giant hand-painted cantastoria illustrations of the story, and live music.
Jack London's The Iron Heel is a dystopian science fiction novel that predicted the First World War, the rise of fascism, authoritarianism, and its brutal suppression of movements for change. The message is a timely warning in this era of corporate domination of the political process.
The production will be in the ballroom of the Berkeley City Club Hotel at 2315 Durant Ave., between Shattuck and Telegraph Avenues, at 6:00pm. Parking is difficult, but it is a short walk from the Downtown Berkeley BART station.
Requested donation: $10-20. No one turned away for lack of funds.
SB 883 signed by Gov. Brown on September 27
$3M Lifeline for DMC Keeps It Open for Now
This one-time funding will buy a bit more time for Doctors Medical Center and give the district the opportunity to put together a package to keep it open. If you took action to urge Brown to sign SB 883, thank you. All three Team Richmond candidates are committed to doing all they can on Richmond City Council to save the hospital as a full-time, full service facility. That's why they have been endorsed by DMC's greatest champion, the California Nurses Association.
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 2014. Articles may be reprinted by not-for-profit organizations citing authors and source. Send email to RPAActivist@gmail.com