Community Protests Salute Eviction
|See SF Gate article: Richmond leaders rally for
beloved restaurateur facing eviction
The Richmond community has given strong support to Salute e Vita
Ristorante and its owner, Menbere Aklilu (Membe) resisting eviction from its
current home on the Marina. The restaurant is known as much for
Menbe's generous community efforts as for its food and ambience. On Thanksgiving its doors are open to the
homeless. Mayor Tom Butt and the Marina Neighborhood Council are
promoting a petition campaign and letter writing drive to try
to get the landlord to reverse the eviction. See Tom's latest update. With so many coming to
Menbe's aid, there is a good chance that she will be successful. But
in addition to supporting Menbe, we also need to remember others, not
so well known, who face similar circumstances. Here are one RPA
member's observations of the Salute rally.
Retaliatory Eviction or Business as Usual?
With an audience that could be
considered who's who in Richmond the Office of the Mayor held a press
conference on the front steps of Salute's Restaurant in Marina
At issue was an eviction notice
given to Salute's Restaurant, a special Richmond institution. It is
especially known for its outreach to homeless for first-class meals
at the restaurant on Thanksgiving. Salute's Restaurant is well-loved
in the community. It's a local business that hires local cooks,
bartenders, servers and support staff.
Mayor Butt opened the press
conference with a dozen or more reporters, some with TV cameras,
making a semi-circle in front of the podium.
Speakers from the Family Justice
Center, Richmond Community Foundation, Channel Lumber, East Bay Center
for the Performing Arts, Former Mayor Irma Anderson, Kathleen
Sullivan, Betty Reid Soskin and representatives from Supervisor John
Gioia, Assembly member Tony Thurmond and State Senator Loni Hancock's
office spoke to the crowd pointing out the injustice in the eviction
and denouncing the landlord, Richard Poe.
Menbere Aklilu (Menbe), proprietor
of Salute's Restaurant then explained that she received an eviction
notice four days ago. She spoke a little about her background and why
she opens her restaurant for special events and meals.
There is an irony in many of this
group protesting an eviction and denouncing certain landlords. It's
like many residential rental evictions faced by carpenters, college
students and families with school age children. Yet some of the
who's who at the press conference would never be at a rally for an
unjust residential eviction. In fact some of the same people are
leaders in the opposition to a measure on the ballot this Novembers
that would help renters address is unjust evictions.
Salute's Restaurant, which has 26
days left before it will be evicted, sits on prime real estate. The
owner of the real estate, Richard Poe, the initiator and funder of
Measures N and O defeated by the voters in June, wants Menbe and her
staff to hit the road. Does Richard Poe have a scheme to get hold of
the property, purchase a vacant dirt parcel next door and build a Poe
Tower? Or is it, as many think, a retaliation for Menbe's public
stance against Measures N and O?
The landlord's actions were unfair
and not in the interests of our community. Menbe deserves our full
support. I would hope that the press, community, and the Mayors Office
showed such support for the hundreds of residential renters in our
community that get evicted unjustly -- because they've complained too
much about mold or unattended needs that make their place
Maybe now the Mayor and others at
the press conference could get behind the Measure this November and
prevent unjust evictions of residential renters.
It's important we do what we can to
help Menbe and keep Salute's in its Richmond home, and it's just as
important to help renters stay in their homes.
Choi-Willis Campaign needs YOUR help
We depend on
people power -- not corporate contributions."
INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS TO A
HOUSE PARTY FOR BEN CHOI AND MELVIN WILLIS— TEAM RICHMOND 2016
Team Richmond does
not accept corporate donations to fund our election campaigns. Instead
we rely on the financial contributions and hard work of our
supporters. House parties are an invaluable opportunity for Richmond
residents to get to know the candidates in a small setting. In
addition to raising money for the campaign we are able to recruit more
volunteers to work on the campaign in a number of roles including
canvassing, telephoning, providing office support, and hosting another
house party. We are asking you to invite some friends and neighbors to
meet Ben Choi and Melvin Willis, our two excellent candidates for City
Council. If you can hold a House Party e-mail @email@example.com or
call 313-575-6565. Margaret Jordan
What else can you do
Endorse Ben and
You are a big name to
Talk to your
It is the best political
Make a $
We rely on volunteers
but mailings and printing costs
Canvas with us in evenings and weekends.
Learn your neighborhood
Phonebank or work in the office
the RPA office at 510-412-2270 (leave a message) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rent Control / Just Cause Kick-off: Yes on L
Saturday 8/20 10 am
2540 Macdonald (across from Civic Center)
We got the letter designation for ballot measure yesterday.
It's time to campaign for a Fair and Affordable Richmond. Come join
tenants and tenant allies for a rally on 8/20, 10am at 2540 Macdonald
Ave. We will have food, hear speeches, and launch into canvassing and
phone banking across the city. Wrap up around 1pm. If you wish to
phone bank, please bring a laptop and a cell phone, if possible. Call
Zak at (510) 621-7566 for questions. Together we will secure Richmond
families from the intense wave of evictions they face with fair
back lead in competition
More than 2700 Rosies
28, 4pm - 7pm, 747 Lobos (corner of Western) in Pt.
FUNd Raiser Party for
Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon held a party to help
turbocharge Ben Choi's campaign at this location. Now they are
hosting another one featuring Melvin. Food, drink, live music, and a
good time by all is guaranteed! Please RSVP to Lsupport@aol.comor 510-260-0636
Melvin is one of thousands of young activists around the country
who have been inspired by Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. Now,
at Bernie's urging, these labor, community, and environmental
activists are stepping up and running for public office themselves.
Born and raised in Richmond, Melvin was the city's youngest-ever city
planning commissioner. He has knocked on doors to fight home
foreclosures, increase the local minimum wage, seek stronger refinery
safety rules and fair taxation of Chevron. He has mentored other young
people as a leader of Black Mobilization Organization Education
Richmond (BMOER). Three years ago, his service to the community won
him national recognition as a recipient of the 17th annual Mario Savio
Melvin has been endorsed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance. If
you are unable to attend on August 28, please consider sending a check
made out to:"Melvin Willis for Richmond City Council 2016" to Box 1573
Richmond, CA. 94802.
Canvassing starting this weekend!
Three things to fight for: Ben and Melvin for City Council and
The RPA is excited about the potential to really make a
difference this November for the future of our city and all its
First up: the chance to pass meaningful
protections to prevent local families from being forced out of
Richmond by sky-high rent hikes and unjust evictions. The Fair and
Affordable Richmond Coalition, comprised of the RPA, Alliance for
Californians for Community Empowerment, Tenants Together and others
worked hard earlier this year to collect enough signatures to put rent
control on the ballot, and now it's time to get out the
Next, we have two strong, experienced, progressive City
Council candidates who are running – Ben Choi and Melvin Willis. As
RPA-endorsed candidates, they take no corporate contributions and are
committed to continuing the progress we have seen in our city for the
last ten years.
As always, the RPA has relied on people
power to bring about the political transformation that has made this
city shine. And as always, mobilizing volunteers – and starting our
work early – is the name of the game. Please join us as we forge
together, for the first time, three awesome campaigns: Fair and
Affordable Richmond, Ben Choi for City Council and Melvin Willis for
City Council! Meet at the new RPA office (2540 MacDonald, across from
Civic Center, 510-412-2260) on Saturdays starting at 10am and Sundays
starting at noon.
A little inspiration from Co-chair Marcos
A new home for the RPA, a renewed commitment to the movement
On July 9, the RPA held a party to celebrate its new
office, located right across from Civic Center. The new space was made
possible thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who searched
tirelessly for this perfect location, and put in hundreds of hours of
labor to prepare the new space. An especially big thank you goes out
to Tim Laidman who led the work, often toiling solo.
RPA Co-chair Marcos Banales gave a
rousing talk to open the space, which was so moving, it's worth
reprinting some of it here. A copy of the full speech is on the RPA
members and supporters of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, we open
the doors of this office with the understanding that this is our home
and the home of the progressive movement in Richmond…
years ago, just across the street next to the library, the RPA was
launched at the Madeline Whittlesey Community Room as a new,
independent local political organization. The RPA came into the
corrupt political life of Richmond as a wave of fresh air, hope, and
decency. We said then: "Corporate money out of our democracy." We
said: "People over profits." We said: "Clean air and no Chevron
pollution." We said: "We want economic, social, and environmental
justice," and we invited all Richmond to participate to make our lives
better, healthier, and happier…
ask each of you to do what several RPA members already do: Show up at
least once a month to the City Council meetings and speak during the
Public Forum segment at the beginning of each meeting. In the few
minutes that you have to bring an issue, take a moment to acknowledge
publicly the good work of our progressive council members. They will
really appreciate it, and the public will be educated more about their
progressive work, votes, and stances.
council members, are a key part of the RPA, but they are only one part
of the RPA. On the contrary, the RPA is all of its members and
supporters working in many grassroots campaigns and efforts throughout
Richmond and beyond. The idea that council members "are" the RPA
imposes on them all the weight of expectations for progressive change.
This is not true, and it is not fair to put that weight on their
shoulders. Moreover, this idea demobilizes the rest of us who have
ownership in this process of local transformation through the many
struggles in which we are involved…
So here we are
in 2016. The RPA has reorganized and has a new and more diverse
Steering Committee. We have moved to this new site at the heart of
Richmond's political life. We have a campaign supporting a ballot
measure to defend the renters of Richmond from the greed of unfair
landlords. We have a great candidate for the Richmond City Council,
Ben Choi, and his campaign is up and running. We are in a good place
and in a favorable time.*
As always, our
hands are full and our time is limited… but we must empower ourselves
with our own RPA history and make ours all the battles fought over the
last twelve years, whether we were involved in them directly or not.
We have a record to proclaim…
On behalf of
the Richmond Progressive Alliance, I am asking each of us today to
invest more time and commitment in the current RPA struggles, learning
from the ones of the past, and dreaming the new reality we
*Editor's note: This talk was given before Melvin Willis candidacy was endorsed by the RPA
Weigh in with Council on your vision.
Pt. Molate: Getting Closer to a Deal?
In 2010, Richmond voters, with the backing of the RPA and many other community groups, voted down a proposal to build a Vegas-style casino at Point Molate. In response, Jim Levine, the casino proponent, sued Richmond; the City prevailed but Levine has appealed the ruling.
The City has since been debating alternate futures for Point Molate. Despite housing a Navy fuel yard for 50 years, Pt. Molate still has outstanding natural values, including significant native plant populations; it is also historically significant as the site of former Chinese shrimping camps, as well as the country's largest pre-Prohibition era winery.
Environmental advocates would like to have the site owned and managed by a public/private (non profit) trust, which could then develop a hotel, conference center, camping sites, and a park. An alternate proposal has come from Levine, who has proposed 1100 senior housing units. A recent statement issued by City Manager Bill Lindsay states that Levine has approached the City with a settlement proposal; the statement did not describe the offer (except to say that it does not include a casino) but reiterated that the Council is "at the earliest stages of any possible process" and that any settlement agreement would be subject to the "required public process for land use approvals." Stay tuned.