RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #114July 13, 2013
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IN THIS ISSUE
Mayor Asks Costs of Fire
Council Resolution on Costs
Chevron Fire Cost Ranges
Council Honors Pride Month
Stop Hate Speech at Council
Chevron Safety Needs City Action
BART Strike?
Stop Foreclosures with City Power
Ban the Box at Council Tuesday
Fred Jackson
Conflict of Interest?
I Am Bradley Manning
Bobby Bowens Spoken Word Contest
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Please Come to Council Meeting on Tuesday 7/16

Mayor asks for Costs to City of Chevron Fire    

 

Chevron Fire Richmond has suffered a lot of losses from the Chevron Refinery fire last August. The City Government of Richmond has suffered direct losses including costs of emergency services provided, disruption of city services, dedicated staff time to numerous meetings with community and regulatory and investigative agencies, and the loss of property tax income to the city to name a few.

 

In addition the city as a whole has suffered great damages and costs. Examples include the health impact on residents and loss of property values of businesses and residences. (People's homes are their savings.) The City needs to increase services to restore the property values throughout Richmond. In addition, the fire has discouraged businesses from coming to Richmond.  

 

The fire also made clear that we need to be better prepared for such incidents with emergency preparedness and warning systems which require considerable costs. It is important to put additional warning systems in place (phone systems, transportation alternatives, and other systematic preparation) and expand our emergency preparedness.  Getting such systems and preparations in place has a cost attached to it as well.

 

It is essential that the total costs of the fire be gathered and submitted to public scrutiny. I have put a resolution on Tuesday's agenda (see below) that calls for an expert study and public discussion. It directs staff to coordinate with experts in the field (urban economists, academicians, etc.) to come up with the figures and present them to the public.

 

Such an analysis is necessary before any settlement or agreement through any proposed legal strategy with Chevron is made.

--Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
To Come before Council on Tuesday 7/16

 

Resolution in Support of Gathering Expert Data to Assess the Cost of the August 6, 2012 Chevron Richmond Refinery Fire to the City of Richmond 

 

WHEREAS the City Government of Richmond suffered direct losses as a result of the August 6, 2012 Chevron fire, including emergency services provided, disruption of city services, diversion of essential staff time into numerous meetings with regulators and investigators, and the loss of property tax income to the City; and

 

WHEREAS Richmond as a whole suffered great damages and costs as a result of the Chevron fire of August 6, 2012 including but not limited to health impact on residents, loss of property values of residences and businesses, and discouragement of businesses locating in Richmond; and

 

WHEREAS the Chevron fire of August 6, 2012 makes it clear that the City must be better prepared for such incidents with emergency preparedness and warning systems which require considerable costs; and

 

WHEREAS the total costs of the fire have not yet been gathered and submitted to public scrutiny; and

 

WHEREAS such an analysis is necessary with any legal strategy proposed in settling and/or coming to agreement with Chevron; and

 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Richmond City Council calls for an analysis of all the costs to the city of Richmond including public hearings on these costs as a result of the Chevron Fire of August 12, 2012 before any settlement or any other form of agreement with Chevron occurs.

 

How Much did the Chevron Fire Cost Richmond?

Here are some rough estimate ranges of the cost to Richmond from the Chevron fire.  Obviously we need experts to get more precise figures.

 

The settlement must include the direct costs to the City:

Loss of property tax income
$5-8 Million
City costs for handling the fire
$5-10 Million
Costs for emergency preparedness and warning systems for
possible future events

$10-100 Million

The settlement must also include the costs to the people of the city. This is in addition to individual damage suits brought against Chevron.
The County Assessor says the value of city properties
 other than Chevron dropped 800 million
while the surrounding communities like San Pablo all went up.

The values of our homes are our savings. Some of the
drop is temporary and some may be due to
other causes. Assuming ¼ of the drop is due to
Chevron at a minimum, Chevron should return this to
the City government so that the City can increase
services that will restore the property values
throughout Richmond.

$100-300 million
The health of the community near the refinery was at risk
and continues to be at risk. A fund of money must be
created to provide medical care and facilities to detect
and treat health problems which might have been caused
by the refinery.

$100-300 million
The fire discouraged businesses that might have located
in Richmond causing the City loss of direct income
and Richmond residents opportunities for jobs and income.

$20-200 million

Honoring Diversity
Council  Honors Pride Month
Celebrating Pride in Richmond 2013 Part I 
Celebrating Pride in Richmond 2013 Part I

On 6/25/13 The City of Richmond made a Proclamation honoring its LGBTQQIS-2 residents and the LGBT movement.

Here is a three part video showing the positive side of Richmond that celebrates diversity while responding to the unfortunate hate speech
.

Real Leadership Required

Drawing the Line between Hate and Free Speech

 

Hate speech is one of the most difficult issues for those of us who strongly defend the right of free speech. The problem is that hate speech, by creating a climate of fear, discourages other people from participating and deprives them of their rights of free speech. The hate and vulgar speech and atmosphere at the council have already driven away many who would otherwise attend.

 

It is tough to set rules setting the line between hate and free speech. Moreover, this method rarely works in the long run although it may be necessary in the short-run.

 

The most effective way to end the hate speech and atmosphere at Council meetings is for all council members to take individual responsibility to exercise leadership and make it clear that they personally will not tolerate such behaviors at Council Meetings. The problem is that two Councilmembers, Bates and Booze give these hateful behaviors legitimacy by seeming to encourage them from their followers.

 

Nat Bates Hears No Hate!
Nat Bates Hears No Hate!

See this clip from recent Council meetings where Nat Bates could hear no hate!

                                         

 

In calling what is obviously hate speech, a "point of view" he legitimizes it and promotes it.

 

What is Booze's contribution to the atmosphere? After a proclamation honoring the LGBTQQIS-2 community, the Mayor asked everyone who supported Pride month to stand. The video of the Council meeting shows Corky sitting, looking around, and then at the very last moment when he saw he was isolated, standing. But it is not his delay in standing that concerns us most.

 

When it was his turn to speak he did not criticize his supporters' hate speech. He did not support the proclamation. Instead he made up a story to answer members of the community who criticized his staying seated, claiming he was absorbed in reading materials. He then went on to attack his critics including questioning whether Police Chief Magnus could be fair. (The City Council session of 6/25 can be viewed here --the Proclamation is about 20 minutes from the beginning.)  

 

It's time for the community to demand that these two so-called leaders help lead  Richmond into a proud future and stop encouraging behaviors which drag it into the dirt. Those who no longer attend Council meetings have left the field to the hate promoters. We need people who have good things to say about Richmond and its progressive polices to show up and set the tone for these meetings.

 

It's time for the community to demand that the hate promoters end their shameless behavior.

 

Tell the HATE PROMOTERS to STOP
Chevron Safety

Richmond has the Power--Doesn't Use It

 

Corrosion at Refinery
Corroded Pipes at Refinery
(CSB picture  from Richmond Confidential) 

The City of Richmond has the authority and responsibility to cause Chevron to repair the portions of the Richmond refinery that have been identified as dangerously corroded and yet has not exercised that authority. Why not?  

 

 At the April 2013 Planning Commission, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) submitted a petition asking the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on the petition and then, based on the facts, make a "Declaration of a Dangerous Building Condition". This declaration would apply to the portions of the Chevron Richmond refinery that have been identified by Cal OSHA, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) as well as Chevron's own documents, of being dangerously corroded yet having not been repaired.  

 

The "Declaration" would then require Chevron to abate the dangerous conditions and repair them. These unrepaired areas are a clear and present danger to the health and safety of Chevron workers and the West County community.

 

Under the California Building Code it is the responsibility of the Building Director to make this declaration. In Richmond, Planning Director Richard Mitchell is also the Building Director. Despite the City Council adopting a resolution directing staff to implement the findings of the CSB, including the urgent findings to exercise its local authority to conduct a corrosion audit and force repairs of the dangerous portions of the refinery, Richard Mitchell has done nothing except protect Chevron from any accountability.  

 

A committee of the Planning Commission presented a resolution at its July 11, meeting that was adopted unanimously. It expresses the Commission's concern about the corroded sections present and calls upon Richard Mitchell to report back in ten working days with a validation of the citations included in CBE/APEN's original petition and subsequent documents, and to consider making the "Declaration of a Dangerous Building Condition."

 

While this falls far short of what CBE and APEN requested as a community protection measure, it expects the Planning Director to fulfill his responsibility under the law and to adhere to the City Council's direction to do everything possible to protect our community from Chevron's mendacity and unsafe operating conditions.

 

Please show up at the Tuesday's City Council meeting to demand that Richard Mitchell  do his job and protect our community by making the "Declaration of a Dangerous Building Condition" causing Chevron to abate these life threatening conditions.

 

The failure to do this allows Chevron to completely disregard the CSB and Cal OSHA reports and preserve its culture of "profits before safety" at the risk of our community. In Richmond, we can do better!

--Andrés Soto
BART Management Provokes Strike?

Bart Negotiations Will the BART strike resume on August 4th?

BART management hired a chief negotiator with a long record of violating labor law, union busting and discrimination.

It would seem that management planned the strike as part of its strategy.  It certainly has not helped negotiations by its wildly exaggerated stories of  wages
portraying greedy and unskilled workers BART has trained.

With the possibility of a strike at the end of the month, the Chief negotiator has taken a vacation.

There are some signs that the BART Board which has taken a hands-off policy on negotiations is beginning to realize what its management has unleashed.

Using City Power    
Prevent Foreclosure

 

Jovanka Beckles
Councilwoman
Jovanka Beckles
 

Richmond is leading the way in helping stop foreclosures and helping homeowners reduce unreasonably high mortgage payments.

 

Here is the problem.

Before the 2007 economic collapse, many people had good- paying jobs and could afford to buy homes with large mortgage payments. After the collapse their homes were 'underwater" and were worth less than what they owed. Many people who lost jobs can't keep up with the high mortgage payments. Other people have abandoned their homes as economic losses. Banks that own the mortgages have foreclosed the houses and sold them for much less than the owners still owed or have let them decay and add to neighborhood blight. About half of Richmond's mortgages are underwater.

This doesn't make sense. If the banks would reduce the mortgage to one based on current market value before people gave up, then the people living in the house could afford to pay the new mortgage. Everybody wins. The people get to stay in their house with affordable payments, the banks don't have to go through foreclosure proceedings, and neighborhoods stay stable with reduced blight. A few banks have made these adjustments. Other banks can be forced by community action. But a lot of people are still facing impossible mortgage payments.

 

A new solution.

The City of Richmond is working with a group called Mortgage Resolution Partners. This company looks at underwater mortgages and offers the current lenders (banks, mortgage companies) to take the property off their hands at its current lower value and then lower the mortgage payments for the family living in the house. If the lender refuses, then the city uses its power of "eminent domain (its legal right to buy land at current market value for public purposes) and restructures the loan for the current homeowner at the current market value. The city uses its power of eminent domain to help people keep the house they bought! Right now it is a pilot program targeting a certain kind of mortgage (PLS). There are about 1700 homes in this category.
Foreclosure

While the process seems complicated, the result is simple. If your house has lost value and you owe more than its current worth, the amount you owe is lowered and your mortgage payments could be reduced by up to $1000/month. If you want more information contact ACCE at 415-377-9037 or 925-437-9570.

 

This is a big deal for Richmond. Latino and African-American families are hit the hardest by this current financial crisis. A recent report shows that communities of color lost a total of $4,700 per household while white communities lost $2,800 per household. See the Wasted Wealth; Richmond CA report.

 

We in Richmond are getting national coverage for our daring and progressive policies in fighting foreclosures to keep people in their homes. See  The Nation magazine. 

  

Of course the banks don't like these progressive programs and are now putting pressure on Richmond to drop them.

 

The group that has taken the leadership in fighting foreclosures in Richmond and working with the City to make it successful is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). I am proud of ACCE and have supported it in this and its other activities including picketing major banks that prey on our communities. I urge you to join them.

---Jovanka Beckles

Ban the Box
Council Meeting Tuesday,  July 16
Ban the Box Expansion

The ordinance to expand the City's Ban the Box policy to also cover city contractors and recipients of city financial aid has been moved to  the Council meeting  next Tuesday.  The policy prohibits asking a job applicant about prior criminal record on the initial application.  For certain sensitive jobs such questions may be asked as the employment process advances.  
Fred Jackson

Get a copy of Fred Jackson's beautiful CD by calling his sister, Dorothy Fox, at 510-290-4386, or e-mailing glen.fox@sbcglobal.net

 

It's only $10  

Fred Jackson, Presente


Council Doings -- What do you think
Conflict of Interest?

Corky Booze is currently in legal conflicts with the city for violating many codes with his junkyard. This could result in major fines.

 

The lawyer who handles the code enforcement legal matters is on contract to the city.

 

Councilmember Corky Booze participates in the decisions about renewing her contract. (He and Nat Bates opposed it.) Do you think this is a conflict of interest?


I am Bradley Manning (full HD)
I am Bradley Manning (full HD)

Jovanka Beckles
Saturday, July 27,  6pm -- 9pm 
Jovanka's 50/50 Party
 
Come celebrate Jovanka's 50th birthday and at the same time, help raise needed campaign funds. $50 for 50 years. 50/50-we all do our part to keep us on this progressive course in Richmond. You do your part by coming, donating and having fun. Jovanka does her part by being the people's representative.

We'll take you on a musical journey through time. Classic soul, Soca, Funk and old school hip hop. Donations of $50 increments are encouraged/welcomed/accepted

.NHT Natural Healing Tree Women's Wellness Center  
124 Washington,  in downtown  Pt. Richmond 
Saturday, August 3
August 3 Demo

Commeration August 11, 2 - 5 pm
Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald
 Click here for some background 
  NEW MATERIAL POSTED 
 

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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.