RPA Activist Info Masthead
 
Issue: #108May 4, 2013
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IN THIS ISSUE
Council: Implement CSB Recommendations
Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies
ACCE Honors Mayor May 15
Council Dispute over Mural
Doria Robinson and Urban Tilth
Is Chevron Teaching Our Children?
Chevron Oversight Committee
Tom Butt on Council Problems
RPA Statement on Booze Antics
Change in Power July 1
Bike Month Events
City Integrity Still Under Cloud
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On City Council Agenda next Tuesday

Please Attend and Speak on These Important Items

*Implement Chemical Safety Board Recommendations  

Animation of Fire at Chevron's Richmond Refinery, August 6, 2012
US Chemical Safety Board Animation of Chevron Fire

 

 

Mayor McLaughlin and Councilmembers Beckles and Butt are introducing a resolution for the city to quickly implement the recommendations of the Chemical Safety Board to improve refinery safety.

 

View the animation (Click on the image) produced by the US Chemical Safety Board. (Note: Chevron has says it is misleading and asked that it not be shown.)  

 

 

 

*Make our Money Work for Goal of Reducing Global Warming 

 

Do the Math - The Movie
Do the Math - The Movie
 

Mayor McLaughlin, and Councilmembers Beckles and Butt are also introducing a resolution for the City of Richmond to join the growing movement which is taking the threat of global warming seriously by divesting from the fossil fuel industry  

 

The motion urges the Pension Board of CalPers and PARS to make progress toward full divestment from companies based on fossil fuels.

 

Those who missed the Mayor's presentation and discussion of the movie Do the Math can watch it by clicking on the movie above.

 

 Please Attend and Speak on These Items

Wednesday, May 15  6:30 pm

ACCE to Honor Mayor McLaughlin   

 
Mayor McLaughlin
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin speaks at rally to stop foreclosures 
Let's face it, our Mayor, Gayle McLaughlin, puts up with a lot of crap.

Being the Mayor of a city with a contentious political environment can be a thankless job. And yet through it all she has been a strong ally of our community and an important leader on progressive causes.

She has stood up to Chevron and the Big Banks. She helped pass the General Plan, the Housing Element and the Vacant Property Registration Ordinance.

That's why on Wednesday, May 15th we are honoring Mayor McLaughlin with ACCE's Community Empowerment Award. Join us as we come together to show her we have her back and appreciate her hard work. We will also be screening a 30 minute documentary that highlights ACCE's work to hold the Wall St. Banks Accountable.

The event is a fundraiser. The suggested donation is $20 but no one will be turned away. We'll have food, drinks and raffles (raffle prizes include a kindle, a Nook and a $50 Target gift card) Please join us for this important event!

Thanks,

David Sharples, ACCE

 

Council Fight Over Mural     

Mural
The proposed installation of the mural: Richmond Identities
For three years the community worked on a mural project to be placed on the Richmond Senior Center Building. After numerous community meetings with Professor/Artist Judy Baca and meetings of the Richmond Arts and Culture Commission and the Public Art Advisory Committee the mural is now complete and ready for installation

 

Booze and Bates voted against the mural. They gave numerous reasons. Booze offered his artistic difference with the mural artist trying to show Richmond going into the future by building on the past. " I think the future should be in the background and the past should be in front," Booze stated authoritatively. But the main reasons for their opposition seemed to be that one of the panels of the mural featured Doria Robinson leader of Urban Tilth who actively supports healthy food and supported the proposed tax on sugary drinks. Also Bates and Booze found objectionable a demonstration with a sign that says "Clean Up Chevron" as part of the history of Richmond. (See the frame below. You have to look very closely.)

 

The Council approved installation of the mural with Bates and Booze opposed.

 

See more about the history and process of the mural here. 

 

See more about Prof/Artist Judy Baca here.

A Real Richmond Success Story
Doria Robinson and Urban Tilth

 

 

Panel 5
The last panel of the mural features Doria Robinson with other Richmonders who have helped define the City past to future.

Doria was born and educated in Richmond. Until age 13 she lived at 5th and Nevin. Drive-by shootings prompted her mother to seek a safer place in Richmond  to raise young black children so they moved  to 32nd street.  

 

Doria grew up with a  large extended church family on Richmond's South Side. Her grandfather, Elder Vernon V. Robinson, was the Pastor of Apostolic Temple of Truth Church on Ohio and South 13th.

 

  Struggling with the public school system Doria went to many schools: Peres, Seaview, Wilson, Portola, Kennedy, Independent Study and finally Maybeck High where she graduated with honors. She graduated Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts where she worked on the school's organic farm and studied the environment, multimedia, and philosophy with a focus on Madhyamike Buddhism. 

Eight years ago, after extensive travel to many countries, she returned to Richmond  to work for the Watershed Project and  Urban Creeks Council She became director of Urban Tilth in 2008.

 Doria Robinson

Urban Tilth has become an important resource all over Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo  giving technical assistance to  various efforts at urban gardens, public schools, and three churches.  The most developed gardens are Berryland and the Greenway Community Garden, on  the Greenway at 6th. Edible Forest  is now producing at 16th and the Greenway.  Other projects are  at  Richmond High, North Richmond and AdamsCrest Farm in the Richmond Hills.

 

Growing People  

Less known than the gardens of Urban Tilth is the success in "Growing People".  All of the staff of  Urban Tilth come from Richmond or San Pablo.  Under Doria's leadership the staff intentionally trains itself  in the skills they need to take more responsibility. In addition to the technical knowledge required for farming and healthy food, staff members also learn project management, budgeting, how to read profit and loss statements, conflict resolution and public speaking.

 

Urban Tilth raises money from foundations and believes in paying staff a decent wage.  "You cannot pay attention to improving yourself if you're struggling with how to get money to buy your food," Doria says. Typically people get involved with Urban Tilth by volunteering for specific projects, perhaps through one of the schools Urban Tilth works with.  Many move into the paid summer apprenticeships  and from there to the paid staff apprenticeships and then the full time staff.  Senior staff like Jesse Alberto, Teresa Jimenez, Tania Pulido, Adam Boisvert and Sherman Dean  take  on whole projects  and often represent Urban Tilth to funders or at out-of-area conferences because there is national interest the Urban Tilth programs.

 See Jovanka Beckles Interview with Urban Tilth's leaders
See Jovanka Beckles Interview with Urban Tilth leaders

 

This summer there will be 17 staff and 40 apprentices working on developing their leadership skills while they are improving the health of Richmond and beautifying the city.

 

Urban Tilth's work reaches out and brings together all races in Richmond while being sensitive to and supportive of cultural identities.  It was a major force behind the Martin Luther King Day of Service on the Greenway in January and Caesar Chavez Celebration last month.

 

Is Chevron Teaching  Our Children?

 

Chevron and Education Chevron has started playing a big role in the education of Richmond children.   Chevron is picking up the tab for a Sacramento "strategic advice firm" to develop a 5 year plan for the school district. On Tuesday it plastered the East Bay Center for Performing Arts hall with Chevron logos and self-congratulations as it reported on the results of its $1 Million contributions to local non-profits and educational agencies. What does that mean for Richmond?

 

I want to make it clear that I am in favor of accepting every penny that the Chevron Corporation is willing to donate to our children's education.  Our education system is being systematically strangled financially and needs help.   Ironically, Among the main reasons our education system is so desperate is that Chevron has been underpaying its property and utility taxes and trying to extort more back from the County.  At the ssame time Chevron spends its political money in state and national campaigns to back candidates who want to kill off public education.

 

 

Chevron Reception Anyone who thinks about it will understand that Chevron is donating this money, not because it cares about our children and not because it is a good neighbor. Without even straining it could have paid back WCCUSD's loan years ago.  

 

On the contrary, it is donating because it has been the worst of neighbors and feels the need to improve its PR image.

 

So let's accept this morsel of Chevron's money, but remember that educational decisions must be made by the community and not by a corporation for its own corporate reasons.  

 

One notes the insertion of the organization, "4Richmond" into the West Contra Costa Unified School District. It's name is all over the WCCUSD website. Anybody who knows anything about Richmond politics will appreciate at a glance that the steering committee of "4Richmond" reads like a 'Who's Who' of Chevron sycophants.  We find the ever-faithful BAPAC, the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Industries, etc. Two organizations not proven to be directly financed by Chevron are the Richmond Police Officers Association and the Firefighters Union Local 188.   The Firefighters are notorious for their corrupt former chief, Darrell Reese, convicted of tax evasion, at the same time the union was fined $17,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission.  The RPOA has made its mark with its venomous anti-Latino flyer of 2008 condemned unanimously by the City Council. It then outdid itself with its sickening "expose" of Mayor McLaughlin's medical and financial records in 2010. In other words, "4Richmond" contains the most reactionary entities in Richmond. 

Check out their website if you don't believe me. 

 

I think that the penetration of "4Richmond" into the WCCUSD reflects long-range planning on the part of whoever directs the "Take Richmond Back" campaign at Chevron HQ in San Ramon.

 

By making small contributions to many worthy causes in Richmond Chevron  puts non-profits in the position that they cannot oppose its property tax extortion ($170 million dollars!). Likewise its candidates for Richmond Council  strive to drive a wedge between communities and render city government so dysfunctional that we will need to turn to "4Richmond" to save us.

 

Last year, the WCCUSD (along with our City Council) passed a resolution asking Chevron to drop its property tax appeals. I don't think they will be doing that again any time soon.

 

As an educator of twenty-six years, I see another pernicious aspect to this corporate generosity.  For the most part, the money Chevron donates is going to science, technology, engineering and math.

 

Chevron cannot even run its refinery safely, yet now it wants to show us how to educate our children?

 

In fact, many studies show the qualities needed for future employment have to do with character and values.  They are qualities like curiosity and persistence, creativity and critical thinking.

 

In other words, our students need what their parents asked for at the first Community Forum, they need more art and humanities, music and sports, lower class size, individual attention (relations with people not computers), full time aides in every class, a longer school day and year, bilingual aides, rich after school programs in all subjects, quality pre-schools and fully funded adult education, more counselors and psychologists, and vocational training.

 

Children Learn? None of this wish list is going to be funded by Chevron, Bill Gates, Hewlett Packard or other technocrats.  It will only be funded by the State of California, if and when it receives a fair share of the profits of these corporations.  

 

A good start to improving education would be to support efforts to end Prop. 13's protections for commercial property and impose an oil-severance tax - a levy that's in place in every other oil-producing state and something that Big Oil has defeated in California.

 

And last, but not least, everyone must tell Chevron, over and over, that it will never be a good neighbor until it pays its assessed property taxes as each of its good neighbors do.

 

The last two town hall meetings on the WCCUSD plan are at Pinole Middle Multipurpose on May 9 at 6:30 pm and at Kennedy High Library on May 11 at 10:00 am.

--Michael Beer

County Health Services:

Chevron Safety Inspection/Audit Oversight Committee  

 

The Contra Costa Health Service is moving ahead with a plan to perform a safety evaluation of the Chevron Richmond Refinery. Part of the process includes an oversight committee that will hire the technical consultant and review the report of the consultant. The final report will be presented to the County Board of Supervisors and the Richmond City Council.


The following have been selected for the oversight committee  

   Community Representatives

     Jeff Ritterman
      Marilyn Langlois
      Henry Clark

      Don Woodrow

 

   City of Richmond

      Lina Velasco
      Terry Harris    

 

   United Steel Workers, Local 5

      Mike Smith    

    

   Building Trades

      Tom Hanson

 

   Contra Costa Health Services

      Randy Sawyer  

From Tom Butt's E-FORUM (4/24/13)
Richmond Deserves Better City Council Behavior 
 

Tom Butt I would think people who watch Richmond City Council meetings have noticed that the meetings have become increasingly dysfunctional. Last night was one of the worst yet. This chaotic behavior is embarrassing for the city and has to have a negative impact on the city's prospects for luring jobs, businesses and productive residents. Richmond really deserves better.

 

There is a complete lack of respect for the function and authority of the chair to conduct meetings. Members talk whenever they want to without being recognized, continually interrupting persons who have the floor.

 

Using the city council venue for members to make personal attacks on other members is not acceptable. Rosenberg's Rules of Order, adopted by the City Council many years ago, states, "Debate on policy is healthy; debate on personalities is not. The chair has the right to cut off discussion that is too personal, is too loud, or is too crude."

 

Rosenberg also states, "...it is up to the chair and the members of the body to maintain common courtesy and decorum."

 

I have been on the City Council 18 years, and this is the worst I have ever seen - by far. Over the years, we have had infrequent episodes of decorum lapses, some of which I freely admit to participating in, but we have never had anything like this that continues from meeting to meeting and just gets worse and worse.

 

I lay about 95% of the blame on Corky Booze, who has developed a pattern of incessantly interrupting, speaking out of turn, personally attacking and insulting other members of the City Council from the dais and engaging in lengthy harangues often unrelated to the business at hand. The rest of the blame lies with councilmembers Bates, Rogers and Myrick who enable Booze by failing to support the chair's authority. Myrick likes to characterize himself as someone who can make peace between factions, but the fact is that he is just making things worse. His naivety is starting to show. Similarly, Rogers believes that he can continue to straddle the fence with impunity, floating above the fray and joining with Booze often enough to keep him off his case.

 

You can read the full article here 

 

 

. Past issues of his E-forum can be seen by clicking the E_FORUM tab

 

RPA Statement:

 Booze  Antics and Possible Recall.  


Councilman Corky Booze keeps escalating his efforts to get more air-time in preparation for his November 2014 re-election bid.  It is likely his outrageous behavior also seeks to divert attention from his own well-publicized business transgressions (such as his junk-strewn toxic property (see CC Times article) and personal foibles (see East Bay Express article).

In recent council meetings, Booze's no-content gun control campaign whipped up a frenzy of needless drama.  He constantly and flagrantly disregards Council rules, interrupting and overtalking other council members and the public .

 

Some people dismiss the  Booze antics as just a clown show to seek attention, but he is doing  serious damage.  The Council meetings are nearly dysfunctional and take an unfair toll on council members, staff and members of the public who are trying to deal with all the difficult  problems we face in the city.  Numerous people are driven away from Council meetings and volunteers are alienated from the city by the bullying tactics and poisonous atmosphere of  Councilpersons Booze, Bates, and a handful of combative audience members.
 
There has been a lot of talk in the community about a recall Booze campaign. The RPA believes  that Booze should be defeated in the next election; he should not be the center of attention in a special election that would cost our city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rather than focus on Booze's problematic behavior, we must all attend to the tasks at hand that will create a better Richmond.  We must support candidates who are clear that their priority is the people of Richmond. 
 
Because of heavy corporate involvement in Richmond politics this will require all of us pitching in to do the work.  

--RPA Steering Committee

5/3/13 

July 1  Change in Electricity Provider

Clean Energy Comes to Richmond

 

On July 1, unless they opt out Richmond residents will automatically become part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gasses as they are enrolled to receive their electricity supply from MCE Clean Energy. Electricity delivery will continue to be a PG&E service. As compared to PG&E's energy supply which is approximately 20% renewable, MCE's standard program delivers 50%. A second option ,  "Deep Green" 100% renewable energy, is estimated to cost an additional $5/month.

 

Those individuals currently on need based programs will receive the same benefits with MCE.

 

MCE Solar In addition to providing cleaner energy, MCE provides a number of other advantages.

  • MCE is a non-profit, democratically run, competition to the current PG&E monopoly.
  • All profits are returned to the company to improve services, not distributed to individual shareholders.
  • Agency policy and decisions are made by an elected Board which proportionately represents the participating city's (Richmond, as the largest participant, has a larger vote at meetings). The Board meetings are open to the public.
  • Competition can only help the consumer, as PG&E knows it's not the only game in town.

MCE is working to make sure that residents make an informed choice. Five letters are being sent to inform Richmond residents of the impending change. In addition to speaking at neighborhood councils and churches, community-wide Informational Meetings are being held at Lavonnya De Jean Middle School.  The next will be on Monday, May 13 at 6PM. This session will be conducted in Spanish. A third meeting will be scheduled in July during the enrollment period. More information will follow. You can find details about MCE programs and calculate your own projected rates at mceCleanEnergy.com.

--Margaret Jordan  

Bikes May is BIKE Month    

The Rosie RIDE

On Saturday, May 11th, Rich City RIDES will host the Rosie RIDE - a historic trip through Richmond.  Rich City RIDES will take all interested bikers to several celebrated locations throughout Richmond that were established during the 1940's to support the United States during World War II, an era that sparked a dramatic growth in the City of Richmond. The ride will feature commentary by Andres Soto and will begin with community gardening and bike powered smoothies at 10:00 AM, courtesy of Urban Tilth. The ride will leave from the Richmond Greenway (6th Street & Ohio Avenue) at 12:00 PM. This is a great opportunity to learn about Richmond's rich history in a healthy, fun way.

 

Richmond Ride of Silence

The third annual Richmond Ride of Silence will occur on Wednesday, May 15th. The Richmond Ride of Silence is a slow, quiet ride to honor those who have been seriously hurt or killed while bicycling in Richmond. The ride will traverse areas that the City of Richmond is planning to improve to be safer for cyclists. The Ride of Silence aims to raise community awareness that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways and asks that we all share the road.  Bicyclists are asked to travel no faster than 12 miles an hour, observe the rules of the road, and remain largely silent. Helmets are required. All members of the community are welcome and are encouraged to join the ride. All riders are asked to gather at Civic Center Plaza at 5:00 PM to begin the ride.

   

Team Bike Challenge

If you enjoy saving money, having fun and being healthy on Bike to Work Day, you don't have to stop! Those who want to keep biking through May can join the City of Richmond's team as a part of the Team Bike Challenge or start your own team! The City has a team that will log its miles each week and compete against other cities and organizations in the East Bay. Those who start their own teams (up to five people) can compete for prizes as they log their miles versus other Contra Costa riders. Learn more and join the team by clicking here 

Trust in City Government at Risk

 

Contra Costa Times Seeks City Release of Information on Leslie Knight Conduct

 

Lawyers for the Contra Costa Times are threatening to sue the City to get information about the actions of Human Resources Director Leslie Knight and how the city is handling the issue.   A number of charges were brought by a city financial analyst, Stacie Plummer . The city hired an independent investigator whose report has been kept confidential by the City but according to City Manager, Bill Lindsay, the investigators confirmed at least three areas of misconduct.:

  •  Knight used a City vehicle for personal use at the same time as she took car allowance payments from the city over an extend period of time.
  • Knight used city employees and resources for her own personal business
  • Knight made the email account of Plummer available to other staff in apparent retribution for Plummers' whistle blowing.

 

Lindsay has insisted that the City Charter gives him the sole authority to act in cases like this and it appears that a majority of the council are not willing to take up this issue.  Many Richmond residents and particularly many city employees believe that this is a double standard applied to the highest managers in the city. Knight as the person in charge of personnel polices has issued directives against the very behaviors (like using city employees for private purposes). The failure of the city to take decisive action, reflects badly on a city government which had to root out corruption less than 10 years ago. It also undermines the confidence that both residents and city workers need to have in city officials as we deal with the hard decisions of tight budgets.

 

City attorneys have not yet responded to the requests from the Contra Costa Times lawyers yet, but a legal defense could turn out to be another big financial burden on the city.  

---Mike Parker

RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the author, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Mike Parker, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.