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Fit For Life
RPA Meeting Sat. 5/23/15, 3-5pm, at 1021 Macdonald 
Talking Richmond, Talking Politics!

Our focus this month: Talking Housing. The RPA Housing Action Team reports. Learn about the work the HAT's doing on  affordable housing, in lieu fees, city planning & neighborhoods.


Participate and guide RPA Standing Committees and possible new Action Teams.  The Membership Cmte. 

wants your input,  and get updates and ideas for a Health Action Team (HeAT: DMC/Health related), Education Action Team (EAT); Police/Community Action Team (P-CAT: Pedie Perez/Justice/Community Safety) , Global Campus.


Note: To suggest or request topics for additional Action Team interest group attention, please call 510-412-2260.


And we'll revisit RPA's mission statement: What's our aim?


Here's the Facebook event page for the meeting; please, invite your friends.  


New members can join at the door and current members can update their status.  

If you'd like to join now, follow this link to the membership form.  Print and complete the form and mail it in with a check for your dues, which start at $12/yr.  Or, to avoid printing and snail-mailing, you can:

  •  send an email to with the information requested on the form &
  • go to the RPA web page & press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a payment for dues. Any additional contribution helps us keep dues more affordable for those with low income and is welcomed.
Rent Control Debate Updates:
Up to 5000 units* in Richmond would be

In late April the Activist featured Mike Parker's analysis of the distorted statistics and faulty logic in Tom Butt's arguments against rent control.  Read that ReButtal here.

Tom wrote a response to Mike, and that, in turn, provoked an answer from Dean Preston and Dan Harper of Tenants Together, "Richmond Mayor Tom Butt Backs Unlimited Rent Increases," available here.* Their conclusion: "Butt's rebuttal is weak." Tom Butt did circulate it on his e-forum, but least one reader took exception to the introductory comments that were appended. See that response in the next section. 

*Updated estimates of the number of rental units in Richmond eligible for rent control show that nearly one-third of the city's renters could be protected.
Resident's letter to Mayor & Council in support of rent control:
"... I stand with those at the bottom

To Tom Butt and the Richmond City Council,

I do appreciate that Tom Butt sends out media stories in favor of rent control which he personally opposes.  I do not appreciate that he introduces them with his own weak arguments against rent control.  Tom, please stop sounding like the hysterical manager of a real estate firm with a portfolio of apartment complexes who wants to make enormous profits instead of just reasonable profits. You have already made your case too many times in previous emails.

In his intro to Preston and Harper's essay, Tom Butt says that rent control does not happen because "most people don't" believe in it.  When I moved to Richmond in 1998, Chevron had a free hand in Richmond politics.  Does that mean that people supported low taxes for them, weak controls on their emissions and dangerous working conditions that allowed for frequent "accidents" like the one in 2012?  No, in both cases, there is a rich and powerful special interest (real estate owners in once case, Chevron in the other) that spends essentially unlimited money to maintain control over politicians.  Look across the country and what one sees is that in almost all cases money wins.  It takes years of persistent, skillful organizing to win against the 1%.  Only after ten years is the Richmond Progressive Alliance finally in a position to win more often than lose.  Most other communities do not yet have what Richmond does.

I could go on to pick apart how silly Tom Butt's arguments sound, but I thought that Preston and Harper did a good enough job. 

I want Tom Butt to STFU about rent control.  The reasoned and well researched arguments that usually come from him are totally absent on this issue.  If you do not know what STFU means, look it up.  I choose to be crude because he has lost my respect. 

I want rent control to win because I stand with those at the bottom who earn minimum wage; rent control would help some of them.  Of course, there are small time property owners whose profits will be reduced.  But they will still make money if they manage their property well.  Meanwhile, without rent control, there are some people that would be evicted for nonpayment of rapidly rising rent who will be protected if it passes.  Will it protect all such people?  No, but protecting some is better than none.

I urge all of the City Council to back rent control and do it ASAP.


Chris Darling

Richmond resident 
If they build it, won't they fill it?
Sheriff's Office wants more than 400 new jail beds

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office is proposing to expand the West County Detention Facility by building a new 150K square foot building on the current prison grounds (5555 Giant Hwy, Richmond0. The new building would add more than 400 new beds to the facility.


Some background: About two years ago, the CCC Sheriff put together a proposal for $80M in state funds for jail construction under SB 1022,
but the proposal was not successful.


Now, Senate Bill 863 has authorized $500 million to underwrite jail construction projects in California. Once again, the Sheriff's Office is planning to submit an application.  

No one --neither the City nor Richmond residents-- seems to have heard about this plan until very recently. Here are two opportunities to learn about it now.

Reentry Solutions Group Meeting:

Tues. 5/26, noon-2pm, Bermuda Room, Civic Center

Sheriff's Office representatives will be at the meeting to discuss this issue. 

RSG meetings are free and open to all, but you MUST register to attend.

Sheriff's Office presentation of proposal to Richmond City Council
Tues. 5/26, 6:30pm, City Council Chambers 
Wed. 5/27, 7am, Chevron World Headquarters*
otest putting profits above people & planet
Environmental and human rights community protests are planned for outside the Chevron Annual Shareholder Meeting in support of shareholder resolutions on accountability, environmental, and human rights issues. Support communities in Ecuador, Nigeria, Richmond, and around the world that are negatively impacted by Chevron's actions. See 
The True Cost of Chevron is Too High: 
On Climate - Chevron must invest in renewable energy, not dirty crude
On Public Health - Chevron must stop putting our children's health at risk
On Democracy - Chevron must stop corrupting our democracy
On Respect for the Environment and Human rights - Chevron must clean up its toxic messes
On Accountability/Free Speech - Chevron must stop attacking its critics and violating First Amendment rights

*Chevron World Headquarters: 6001 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon, CA 
Sat. 5/30, 2-4pm, Whittlesley Rm., Richmond Public Library :
Absolved by Solidarity: Work by Antonio Guerrero

Antonio Guerrero:
The 'Hole' and Separation (2014).

Exhibit & book presentation. Paintings by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five political prisoners, recently freed after 16 years in U.S. prisons.

The exhibit will feature watercolor paintings by Antonio Guerrero, who learned from fellow inmates how to draw and paint. The 31 images will include a new series contained in the book Absolved by Solidarity and the series "I Will Die the Way I've Lived" painted in 2013. They portray the first 17 months the Cuban Five served in solitary confinement and their year-long trial.

The  Five were arrested in 1998. Antonio Guerrero was one of the three Cubans remaining in prison who were freed on December 17, 2014, under the impact of a worldwide campaign to win their release. All five are now in Cuba.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Richmond Public Library.  Presented by Pathfinder Press.  Free & open to the public.

Fri. 5/29, 729pm, East Bay Ctr. for Performing Arts, 339 11th St.:
Make it Fresh:1 Night Only Showcase/Celebration 

From the Movement Generation (MG) announcement: "Hosted by Josh Healey (NPR Snap Judgment) and Shannon Matesky (HBO Def Poetry) with music from DJLN. 

"FREE and Open to the Community!
Limited Seats. So reserve your spot now by clicking here.


"Join MG and friends for the all-star Make it Fresh performance showcase...for the first time in Richmond! This show will be ONE NIGHT ONLY.   

"Over the last two months, 15 emerging writers, artists, & rockstar activists from Richmond and the greater Bay Area have come together to write, learn, and share their stories. Spoken word, songs, and poetic manifestos, these are stories of refineries and rebellions. Mother Earth and Mac Dre. We have asthma in our lungs, joy in our hearts, and we're ready to shout our stories to the world. 
"Join us for this one-time-only performance showcase, where the newest round of Make it Fresh storytellers will share their freshest creations with the community. 

"Participating artists and activists come from groups like: Urban Tilth, RYSE Center, Rich City Rides, Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization, Gabriela SF, YES Nature to Neighborhoods, Richmond Progressive Alliance, RAW Talent, Youth Speaks, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, The 

Artisanal Hub, Movement Strategy Center, and many more."  


Check out the  Facebook event page here.


Action Alert for Thurs. 6/4, 5pm at City Hall:
Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond

The new Berkeley Global Campus in Richmond could have a bigger impact on the city than Chevron.  It could become a huge asset for the current residents by providing good jobs, boosting local businesses, and helping create affordable housing.  Or it could simply force the cost of housing to sky-rocket while providing mainly minimum wage jobs for Richmond residents. 
The Regents who run the University of California (UC),  representing predominantly right-wing business interests, cannot be counted on to look out for Richmond. Once construction is started the city has very little power over campus construction or policies. It is  crucial that we get the University to agree to a binding Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) while the city still has some leverage. Although CBA's are now common for large projects, UC is resisting a binding agreement. The City has a major role in the organizing and financing of  the infrastructure that will be required for the Campus. We are lobbying in Sacramento to make sure that the legislation that will permit the infrastructure development includes a contingency clause that requires UC to sign a CBA.  
The Raise Up Richmond Coalition, including CCISCO, ACCE, Safe Return Project,  AFSCME 3299, RPA, and others, is fighting to win a CBA that will truly benefit Richmond. The Coalition is working to build community understanding of the importance of this CBA. 

RPA members who want to be more involved in this organizing can contact me by email.
                                                                             --Margaret Jordan
The flyer these images came from didn't show up clearly in the Activist format, but here's one important line from it:

We say no public money without public benefit! 
Sat. 6/13, 6pm, East Bay Center for Performing Arts :
Richmond-Regla Friendship Committee presents:

Films to be shown: Reembarque/Reshipment (2014) & Eyes of the Rainbow (1997).  For a full-page flyer with more details, click here.  
Save these dates now.
Coming in June:

Sun. 6/14, 2-6pm
Richmond Greenway @ 8th Street & @ 16th Street 

Community Design Review Event: Come out and help design UNITY PARK! 

UNITY PARK on the Richmond Greenway is coming!


Wed. 6/17th, 9am-12:30pm at RYSE (205 41st. St.) 
Gender Justice, Trauma, and Healing: Exploring the impact of gender privilege and gender violence on trauma and healing for young people of color.
Registration will open in early June.

Sat. 6/20, all day
Refinery Corridor Healing Walk from Benicia to Rodeo.

This issue was extra-long because I'll be taking a break until about a week before the RYSE event.  Thank you for reading this far!  I hope you find the Activist interesting and useful. --Patsy Byers.