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Below the Fold:

Councilwoman Perseveres through Taunts, Rants and Homophobic Slurs

Reflections on the Council's Chevon Decision

Modernization Must Mean a Cleaner Refinery

Don't Miss:

Building Bridges Between Black and Brown

Fred Jackson

Challenging Chevron's Tax Theft

North Shore Development

Finish for Pt. Molate Casino

2013 State of City

New Approach to Homelessness

Article by Jeff Ritterman in American Journal of Medicine

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Eduardo Martinez
Gayle McLaughlin
Jovanka Beckles

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Fit For Life

Beyond Chron on Chevron Smears

Chevron Sounds Alarm Against East Bay “Anarchism”

by Steve Early

One of the great things about living near Chevron’s big East Bay refinery—yes, the one that caught fire and exploded two years ago—is its system of early warnings about new disasters about to befall Richmond.

In our post-Citizens United era, the nation’s second largest oil producer is now free to spend $1.6 million (or more, if necessary) on direct mail and phone alerts, designed to keep 30,000 likely voters fully informed about threats to their city.

During the last week, glossy mailers from a Chevron-funded group called “Moving Forward” have been flowing our way, at the rate of one or two per day—almost seven weeks before Election Day.

And, then, just to make sure that Chevron’s urgent message is getting through, we’ve also been called by pollsters. They claim to be surveying opinion about Richmond politics, but actually just recite the contents of these same Moving Forward mailers over the phone.

My favorite manifestation of this negative campaigning involves a Latino candidate for Richmond City council. His name is Eduardo Martinez and remembering the Eduardo part is important. By some strange coincidence, Moving Forward—the Chevron-backed “Coalition of Labor Unions, Small Businesses, Public Safety and Firefighters Associations”—is backing another Martinez for city council whose first name is Al and who is apparently not a public safety threat.

Continue to the full Beyond Chron article.

From KPFA’s Up Front, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014

Richmond Today and Tomorrow

In this wide-ranging, half-hour discussion (at 33:35 in KPFA's archive), guest-host Marie Choi asks Mike Parker and Andrés Soto about why Mike withdrew from the mayoral race, Chevron's candidates, the role of social movements, the status and future of Chevron's refinery, progressive strategy, our opposition, the main issue in the 2014 race, and beyond.

Marie Choi: As November elections approach, we're turning our attention to Richmond, California, where the Richmond Progressive Alliance is battling oil-giant Chevron for control of the City Council. For many of us outside of Richmond, the RPA has been an example of what's possible when an independent grassroots organization gains council seats and pushes through a progressive agenda. Through a combination of grassroots-mobilization and holding key council positions, the RPA and its allies have won major concessions from Chevron, defended homeowners from bank foreclosures, and changed the city's approach to policing. We're talking this morning with Mike Parker and Andrés Soto, they are members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and Mike was until recently a mayoral candidate for Richmond, California.

Continue to the full transcript.

Cops Stop Shooting People, Crime Drops Dramatically

When Liberals Take Control of Police

Exerpt from the East Bay Express, September 10

by Robert Gammon

One police department in the East Bay is proving that the law-and-order crowd has been wrong all these years, and that overwhelming force—especially lethal force—is not only unjustified, but completely unnecessary. Since 2007, the Richmond Police Department, under the command of Chief Chris Magnus, the most progressive police chief in the Bay Area, has not had a single fatal shooting by one of its officers, a fact that was first reported last weekend by the Contra Costa Times.

When Magnus took over the troubled Richmond PD in 2006, he quickly realized that overwhelming force was not the answer. In 2006 and 2007, Richmond cops shot five people, killing one of them. So he instituted numerous reforms, including training officers to defuse tense situations without firing their weapons. Magnus also emphasized the importance of investigating crime, and eschewed so-called hotspot policing, in which a department saturates an area with cops like an occupying force. "We are surgical," he told the CoCo Times earlier this year. "We concentrate on people that need to be focused on."

Magnus also installed a robust community-policing program, deploying officers into neighborhoods to forge relationships with residents. The effort was designed to reverse a longstanding problem in Richmond in which residents distrusted the city's violent police force and refused to cooperate with it. Magnus also reformed the way police respond to political demonstrations, training officers to take a softer, gentler approach.

Continue to the full East Bay Express article.

An Interview with Mayor Gayle

Political Decisions from the Heart

by Robert "Han" Bishop

How did Richmond go from being a Chevron company town to the most progressive city in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Why is it so difficult for politicians to make decisions from the heart, even ones who are well-meaning?

Why is the upcoming election critical in preventing Chevron manipulation of the democratic process, and returning Richmond to the past where Chevron always gets what they want, regardless of public safety concerns and increased environmental pollution?

What does it mean to raise human consciousness as a public official?

These and other important issues are addressed in my (16 min) interview with Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond, California.

More Video Showing How Wrong Bates is for Richmond

Nat Bates Promotes Drivers License Check Points that Target Latinos

Richmond used to be noted for its murder. Now it is noted for how it has reduced violence. Mayoral candidate Nat Bates's main program for safety is to return the city to the policies that build distrust between the largest ethnic group in the city (40% Latino) and the police. Bates is the Chevron candidate for Mayor, who has enabled hate-speech at Council meetings.

"That Wily Corporation"

What Could Chevron be Up To?

by Patsy Byers

The SF Weekly recently published a profile of one of the chief "spin doctors" for Chevron, Sam Singer, which gives insights into his methods of damage-control and opinion-shaping. With the August 6, 2012 explosion and fire at the Chevron Richmond refinery, he was probably busy before the first patient had been seen at Doctors Medical Center.

In contrast to Singer, Albany resident John Irminger displayed this understanding of Chevron's operations, published as a letter to the editor on Wednesday in the El Cerrito Journal (emphasis added):

"In addition to financing the campaigns of local politicians, Chevron does million-dollar sweet things all over the East Bay. So people love Chevron.

"But, that wily corporation then finagles hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and property devaluations that primarily affect the ability of local governments to fulfill the needs of their constituents.

"Chevron's strategy ensures it always has some friendly politicians, and that prominent and influential people, especially in charities and education, are dependent on Chevron for their programs. Thus, they (understandably) sing the praises of their benefactor.

Continue to the full article.

Sept. 4 Action at Kinder Morgan Rail Yards

Protesting Crude-by-Rail in Richmond

According to Andrés Soto: On Thursday Sept. 4, the leased Kinder Morgan rail yards in Richmond were the site of a lock-down action, designed to stop the movement of explosive Bakken crude from unsafe DOT 111 rail cars to waiting tanker trucks and then out onto Richmond streets. The Kinder Morgan facility is right across the street from two elementary schools, residences, and businesses in the Iron Triangle and Pt. Richmond.

This action was also designed to highlight the issues involved in the upcoming hearing for the lawsuit against Kinder Morgan and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club. The suit argued that BAAQMD had issued the permit for crude without any notice to the public or environmental, safety and health review, in violation of CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act).

Continue to full article.

For more information on how to get involved, call Andrés Soto, 510-237-6866, or email

Mark Your Calendar

Upcoming September Events

Sun. 9/14, 4-6pm: Richmond Past, Present, & Future. Open House fundraiser for Eduardo Martinez's campaign. Great view, food, and company! Call 510-528-0369 to help planners anticipate the crowd and for valuable driving directions & parking tips.

Tues. 9/16, 6:30pm: First Richmond City Council meeting after summer recess. Show up for civility.

Sun. 9/21: NorCal People's Climate Rally, Lake Merritt, Oakland.

Sun. 9/28, 4-6pm, BBPC: "Are You Game?" Fundraiser for Eduardo.

Richmond On Pace For Another Year Of Record Low Crime Rates

Operation Ceasefire

In case you missed it, here's a 2 1/2 minute KPIX report on the success of Richmond's innovative (& controversial) community policing program.

Celebrating the Richmond Greenway

United for Unity Park

Here's a video that celebrates the work and achievements of the Signers of Friends of the Richmond Greenway, including the RPA, in the creation of Unity Park.

Please Write to Governor Brown

Another DMC Letter needed NOW

by Mike Parker

The AB 39 bill that would have reclassified Doctors Medical Center to provide for greater recovery of costs and a $3 million bridging appropriation was blocked in the Senate by the Hospital Association and some counties.

The $3 million, however, was included in SB 883 which is headed to the Governor's office. Please write Governor Brown, explaining why the hospital is so important to this community and asking him to sign this legislation.

Address letters to:
Governor Edmund Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Send copies of the letter by email to Nancy Skinner's office:

Video: Team Richmond Stands Up for Doctors Hospital

Nurses and the Community Want Doctors Medical Center San Pablo Open!

Several hundred nurses, patients (many in wheelchairs), religious and community leaders, and elected officials marched yesterday [August 5] from Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo to West Contra Costa Health Clinic, where an energetic rally followed.

An array of speakers, from Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin to Pastor Donnell Jones, community organizer from New Direction Ministries in Richmond, spoke passionately about the critical need for keeping DMC and its emergency department open as a full-service, acute-care facility.

The California Nurses Association has endorsed Team Richmond candidates.

SF Chronicle on "the Chevron Candidates"

Chevron Pouring Money into Richmond Election

by Chip Johnson

Chevron, the city's main employer and taxpayer, is also the biggest spender on political campaigns - it set aside $1.6 million in a political action committee called Moving Forward that supports the oil giant's favorite City Council and mayoral candidates.

Let me repeat: $1.6 million. For local elections in a city of a little over 106,000 residents...

Despite all the money thrown around by this corporate giant, it's clear not all of Richmond's residents are so easily swayed by swag. But that's not stopping Chevron from trying to influence the outcome of a city election.

Change is coming to Richmond, slow but steady. Crime is way down, development is on the way up, and the city needs to shed its historical reputation as a "company" town.

Continue to the full SF Chronicle article.

Surpassing Our Goal: Over 1,000 Homes

Richmond Rising a Rousing Success

Get your own nifty Team Richmond t-shirt, exclusively available to our canvassers.
Richmond is Rising! Team Richmond smashed through its goal of knocking on over 1,000 doors. In a single day, we knocked on over 1,130! With over 50 volunteers, including 25 canvassing with us for the first time, we met many supporters and convinced new ones along the way. And it's fun! Together, we show that an organized community has the power to make its voice heard.

Thanks to all of our volunteers for their amazing efforts in support of a progressive Richmond, many of whom joined in from the Sunflower Alliance or the Our Power national convening. Reports say the after-party was good food, good jazz (featuring Andrés Soto on saxophone), and a good time!

Sign up here for the next mass-mobilization canvassing event, on Saturday, Sept. 6, 9:30am, at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave, near Harbour.

Volunteers Needed to Help Coordinate Canvassing

Maintain the Momentum of Richmond Rising

by Janet Johnson

Right now we need volunteers for two projects:

  1. Data entry
    We held a successful and inspiring canvassing event last Saturday, and we need to get the information into our software database to follow up with our supporters. We'll train you, help you get started, and be on tap to answer your questions.
  2. Phoning
    We need to call Team Richmond supporters to recruit them for the next big event in early September. Our campaign's secret ingredient is its volunteer canvassers, folks going door-to-door to talk with voters about the issues. We need to keep working to enlarge this amazing team of dedicated volunteers.

Won't you help us win our campaign for a better Richmond? Many hands make light work, and the work we do now will send ripples far beyond our town. Please join us! Email us and let us know when you're available.

Chevron Candidates Revealed

Chevron Starts with $1.6 Million to Buy City Council

by Mike Parker

Chevron has already given $1.6 Million to its campaign organization to elect Chevron's favored candidates: Nat Bates as mayor and Charles Ramsey, Donna Powers, and Al Martinez to the Richmond City Council.

Here is the official filing. Chevron has already laid out $63,000 for the first phase of a billboard blitz.

These candidates will all doubtless thank Chevron while insisting that they are independent and have offered Chevron nothing in exchange. Sure.

Governor Jerry Brown Wants to Steal My Home

Healthcare Shouldn't Be a Loan

by Chris Darling

Due to the expansion of Medi-Cal under ObamaCare, my wife and I are now covered by that program. But because both of us are over 55, Jerry can steal our house after we die to cover Medi-Cal's expense of paying for our healthcare. A 1993 law gives states the option to take back all the money spent by Medicaid for the healthcare of recipients over 55 by billing the estate after the recipient (and spouse) die. Because California is taking advantage of this option, Medi-Cal for older people is effectively a long term loan.

SB 1124, a bill to fix the problem, has made its way through most of the legislature. If it passes, which is expected, Jerry has threatened to veto it.

Continue to the full article in BeyondChron.

To contact the governor's office in support of SB 1124:

Boost Team Richmond on Sundays in September

Benefit Events for Eduardo Martinez’s Campaign

Richmond: Past, Present, Future

Sunday Sept. 14, 4-6pm, 518 Tremont Ave., Pt. Richmond, $20 and up

Meet Eduardo and hear his ideas for Richmond plus a short Richmond history presentation. Scrumptious catering.

Are You Game?

Sunday Sept. 28, 4-6pm, Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald, suggested donation: $10

From Monopoly to Dominoes to Scrabble and more... Join the fun supporting Eduardo's campaign for City Council! Light refreshments provided.

SF Chronicle on "Anybody but Bates"

United Front Against Bates

by Chip Johnson

Try "Anybody but Bates" - as in Richmond councilman Nat Bates, who is running for mayor.

Bates, 82, is a longtime political presence in Richmond, a walking, talking anachronism who has held office, not continuously, since 1967, including two stints as mayor in the late 1970s.

In the opinion of his rivals, a Bates victory represents a step back in time - and in the wrong direction.

So on Friday, Richmond Progressive Alliance candidate Mike Parker withdrew his candidacy and veteran City Council member Tom Butt announced his mayoral campaign. Uche Uwahemu, a local business owner, is also running for the seat.

The concern among the city's political leaders is that if Parker and Butt split the city's liberal vote, it could provide an opportunity for Bates to win - and both Butt and Parker believe that is something that must be prevented.

Continue to the full SF Chronicle article.

Concentrating our Energies toward Progressive Governance

Mike Parker Withdraws from Mayoral Race

After five months of vigorous campaigning for the office of Richmond Mayor, I am withdrawing from the race. A few days before the final filing deadline, I learned that Tom Butt had decided to enter the race.

My supporters and I determined that in this race the progressive vote would likely be split. We decided my time is better spent campaigning for our team of progressive candidates for the Richmond City Council, Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Gayle McLaughlin.

Taken together Gayle, Eduardo, and Jovanka, and the many campaign supporters behind them, represent a different kind of politics, based on organized people-power—not on corporate power.

I am still an active part of “Team Richmond.” I will work very hard to continue the progress we have made in Richmond and to elect members of the Council who support the fight for Doctors Hospital, a cleaner and safer refinery, jobs for Richmond, and rebuilding our system of public education through community involvement. We need to challenge the Chevron candidates and those unwilling to stand up against Chevron when representing the community.

In the course of this campaign, I have met and been inspired by many wonderful Richmond residents. I thank all those volunteers, unions, and community organizations who have endorsed me and especially those volunteers who worked so hard to make my campaign an exciting grass roots effort. I know we can continue the same spirit and energy to make Team Richmond a success.

In gratitude and solidarity
Mike Parker

Jovanka Beckles Profiled in the SF Chronicle

Councilwoman Perseveres through Taunts, Rants and Homophobic Slurs

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

by Carolyn Jones

Mark Wassberg took to the podium, wagged his finger at the Richmond City Council and said:

"I'm going to keep coming up here and tell you how gays have no morality... You're filth. You're dirt. Because I have the constitutional right to say it."

The comments during a July meeting of the council were directed at Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, the city's first openly lesbian councilwoman. She sighed and listened impassively. After all, she'd heard it all before. For four years.

Continue to the full article.

Mike Parker Comments

While we need to protect free speech, we need to also make it clear that there is no support for the enablers and apologists for this kind of hate speech. My opponent for Mayor, Councilmember Nat Bates, regularly gives support to Wassberg and others and attacks Mayor McLaughlin when she tries to establish order.

At July 30 Rally

Team Richmond Stands Up for DMC

Team Richmond candidates are all putting it on the line for Doctors Medical Center.

Mike, Gayle, and Eduardo, at the rally podium   Photos: Patsy Byers

There in spirit: Jovanka Beckles, who'd moved for including funds for DMC in the Chevron project at Richmond City Council the night before. For an interview where Jovanka explains how the failure to fund DMC contributed to her abstention on the final Chevron project vote, check out this piece in SF Bayview.

Later that evening, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution urging Contra Costa County to integrate DMC into Contra Costa Health Services as a full-service, acute-care hospital to provide healthcare to all the residents of West Contra Costa County.

Final Chevron Project City Council Vote: 5-0-2

Reflections on the Council’s Chevron Decision

Liz Watts with husband Eduardo Martinez  
Photo by Tarnel Abbott

by Patsy Byers

Fearless they were not. The five men on the Council refused to impose on Chevron any of the conditions recommended unanimously by the Planning Commission. The same five voted to cut off all Council debate and discussion, period. So the public was denied the opportunity to hear what each member really thought and felt about the issues. And those five saved themselves the awkward task of explaining what they supported, and why. They also denied Mayor McLaughlin and Vice Mayor Beckles the opportunity to express themselves.

The Contra Costa Times reported shortly after the decision that the community benefits agreement, "agreed to by the oil giant to secure city approval," was a deal "three council members negotiated in a series of private meetings with a Chevron lobbyist."

"Chevron is a company used to getting its own way" begins Steve Early's recent CounterPunch article about the council vote and what's at stake in the upcoming election.

Mike Parker has an analysis that notes several missed opportunities for lowering pollution and health risks, outlines strategies for other approaches to achieve these outcomes, and declares: "If we had a City Council that was more willing to stand up to Chevron, our community could have benefited more."

Mayor McLaughlin wrote of her abstention on the final vote: "My vote reflects the ambivalence of two realities. I believe the proposal that passed reflected significant concessions by Chevron. I believe, just as strongly, that Chevron can still take additional steps to create the cleanest and safest refinery possible - and our community deserves this company's best effort... We pushed Chevron as it has never been pushed before, and we won serious concessions from the oil giant. We are proud of this. And the struggle continues. Doctors Medical Center should have been funded in the Chevron agreement. We will continue to fight for this essential health facility."

On the July 22 Public Hearing

In Defense of the Planning Commission’s Work

Mike Parker   Photo: Juan Reardon

Over 400 people showed up. Over 200 signed up to speak. Chevron had many there with their with signs and blue and white jerseys and impatience for approval. While in smaller blocks, the green shirts of APEN and the red ones of CNA were a welcome sight.

Before the hearing, Chevron announced it would accept the environmentally superior Alternative 11, but the appeal continued, pressing the City Council to lift additional conditions imposed by the Planning Commission.

Greg Karras of Communities for a Better Environment, and RPA's Mike Parker shared the 8 minutes allowed for formal advocacy of the Planning Commission position. Speaking first, Karras made the case for the conditions --lowering emissions, replacing old components subject to corrosion, and funding an expanded Clean Energy Jobs Program-- as consistent with high standards for public health, worker safety, a just transition to a clean energy future, and environmental stewardship.

Mike Parker's statement is worth hearing in its entirety.

About 100 public speakers followed, many urging the City Council to follow the recommendations of the Planning Commission.

For a broader report on the hearing, read the East Bay Express article.

At 23rd & Roosevelt, Southbound on the Right

Richmond es Mejor Ahora

Look for the Team Richmond billboard, up on poles on the NIAD Art Center.

“Do not agree that they have the right to continue to poison us.”

Modernization Must Mean a Cleaner Refinery

Mike Parker to City Council 7/22

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.