RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #117August 6, 2013
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IN THIS ISSUE
Black Panther Leaders at Bowens Dedication
Chevron Guilty on Criminal Charges
What Happened to Monitoring
Santa Fe Stands Up for Itself
Coverage of Richmond Demonstration
A Salute to Those Behind the Scenes
Council Painful--NOT Dysfunctional
City Files Against Chevron
New Tactic Against Foreclosure
Understanding Chevron's Property Taxes
National Night Out & Chevron Fire Anniversary
Union Reform Leader in Richmond
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Black Panther Party Leaders,  Bowens Family to Speak

Dedication of Bobby Bowens Progressive Center   

Sunday  August 11,  2pm  

Bobby Bowens

 

Speakers include:

 

Leann Bowen

Bobby Seale
Elaine Brown
Jovanka Beckles
Gayle McLaughlin



Sponsored by 
  • Richmond Progressive Alliance
  • Black Mobilization, Organization, Education Richmond (BMOER)
  • Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)
  • SEIU 1021-Richmond


Honoring Bobby Lee Bowens, brave Black American soldier, committed Black Panther, dedicated health care worker, Richmond activist and community educator
 
Formal Naming of the  
BOBBY BOWENS PROGRESSIVE CENTER 
1021 Macdonald Ave
 
Pleads "No Contest"
Chevron Guilty on Criminal Charges

You probably already know, but in case you missed it, check out Robert Rogers story in the Contra Costa Times. The Court documents are attached and viewable in the story.

Do you think they use plastic zip-ties or handcuffs for Chevron?

Kory Judd the General Manager of the Richmond refinery sent a letter to the Council saying:
The Company pled no contest and agreed to the terms of probation because it was the quickest way to bring closure to this issue allowing us to focus on actions that will make our refinery processes better. 

Under the terms of the agreement, the Company has been placed on probation for a period of three years and six months. We have agreed to do the following as part of our probation:

  • Complete a 100% component inspection of all carbon steel piping systems identified as susceptible to sulfidation corrosion by August 6, 2014;
  • Identify and create a process to consider potential damage mechanisms and consequences of failure by January 1, 2014;
  • The Refinery will maintain a list of fixed equipment inspection recommendations submitted for each turnaround and document all recommendations that are not accepted by September 30, 2013;
  • By May 6, 2014, develop and implement new training materials concerning specific issues (i.e., leak response, emergency response, and fitness for service determinations);
  • Submit reports to the Contra Costa County DA's office, the CA Attorney General's Office, BAAQMD and Cal/OSHA every 90 days reporting progress in implementing these conditions for the 1st year of probation and every 6 months thereafter until the period of probation ends. 
         And finally, we are agreeing to pay approximately $2M in restitution and fines to local agencies, including BAAQMD, Cal/OSHA, and the California Attorney General's Office.
 
Negotiated in 2010
What Happened to the Monitoring

 August 2, 2013  

 

Pollution
Jack Shirley 
Bill Lindsay, 
Richmond City Council 
Neighborhood Councils

Dear Bill, and Council Members

The attached  information from the San Francisco Chronicle is shocking and says most of what needs to be said. Despite the refinery fire and high asthma and cancer rates in the area surrounding the refinery, this monitoring system project has been repeatedly delayed. I think the City Manager, speaking for the city,  should  demand of Chevron that this project be completed immediately,  And if the project is not completed by the time the Council resumes meeting in September, then the Council should take urgent action to force this to happen. In the meantime, I urge neighborhood councils to take up this issue.

Without this in place, we do not have proper evidence that the renewed operation of the refinery is functioning to assure clean air for ourselves and our children.  

There are other safety issues at Chevron that must be dealt with besides this and they may be as urgent.  But Chevron promised this in 2010 and has still not delivered. Why should we assume that their other promises of safe operation are any better than this one?  And why is the city allowing this delay?  
Thank you

Mike Parker  
Richmond Resident   

See Article on Unconscionable Delay from SF Chronicle 

As this is going out, Chevron has released a letter saying that it is City delays that are responsible.  
Santa Fe Community Stands Up for Itself:  
Council Rejects Marijuana Dispensary 
 
Jamie Holland, President of Santa Fe Neighborhood Council
At the July 30 city council meeting, the Santa Fe neighborhood demonstrated the vital importance of an organized community  A holder of a city license for a marijuana dispensary applied to move into the Santa Fe neighborhood.  At the beginning of the meeting it looked like the four votes needed to accept this request were in the bag.  It appeared that several council members, including Jim Rogers and Jael Myrick. had negotiated a deal in which in exchange for council approval of the move, the dispensary would pay for two full-time police officers to patrol the Santa Fe neighborhood. There was also talk about money for scholarships for Santa Fe residents. 
 
Not to be bribed, the Santa Fe community mobilized against the proposal to bring a marijuana clinic to their community. Numerous speakers from the neighborhood, including Santa Fe Neighborhood Council President Jamie Holland, Rhonda Harris, and Linda Jackson Whitmore gave several reasons for their opposition Some opposed a policy change that would permit dispensaries in C2 districts. Others voiced concern about the fragility of the area and the potential negative impact of the dispensary on a neighborhood already struggling against drugs. Still others questioned the finances and the legality of the operation and whether campaign contributions were involved.    
Councilmember Jovanka Beckles stated that although she believes that medical marijuana provides compassionate care for some patients, there are already adequate sources to obtain it in Richmond. She emphasized a more important factor was the community's opposition to the dispensary in their neighborhood. Based on this neighborhood concern she made a motion to reject the application.

Council members Rogers and Myrick attempted to convince the neighborhood members that it was really advantageous for them to get the two additional police and other benefits promised in the "deal."  But the neighborhood stood firm. In the end Myrick voted for Beckles motion to reject the application. Booze and Rogers voted against the motion, and Bates abstained (which effectively counts as a no vote).   
 
What the "deal makers" did not understand is that the single most important factor in reducing crime and improving our city is involved community members. To discourage community involvement in exchange for two more police makes the neighborhood less safe. 
National Coverage of Richmond  (Artcle in CounterPunch)

 

Cheered on by Ecuador:

California Refinery Town Hits

Chevron With One-Two Punch

  

By Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon

 Ecquador

RICHMOND, CA.--Last Friday and Saturday were busy days for progressive mayor Gayle McLaughlin, She's the earnest, hard-working, and often embattled political leader of this blue-collar city of 100,000, where the biggest industrial employer is Chevron. McLaughlin had lawyers to confer with, reporters to brief, and then hundreds of out-of-town visitors to greet. Some had never been to Richmond before and one traveled all the way from Vermont to speak truth to power and then get arrested here.

            In a one-two punch against Richmond's century-old refinery, McLaughlin first called a press conference on Friday to announce that Richmond was suing Chevron. Twenty-four hours later, she marched to the oil company's main gate with 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben and several thousand other global warming opponents.

There, more than 200 protesters engaged in peaceful civil disobedience, with the best-selling author from Middlebury College leading the way. The biggest anti-Chevron demonstration in Richmond's history was organized by 350.org, as part of its nationwide "Summer Heat" campaign. To its credit, the sponsoring organization worked closely with the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) and other groups to insure that local concerns were properly linked to national and international ones.

            The legal action against Chevron on Friday, followed by direct action over the weekend, marked the first anniversary of the fire and explosion that created a towering plume of toxic smoke on August 6, 2012.  Refinery workers who responded to this emergency narrowly escaped death in the now much-investigated accident. More t

Human Energy at Chevron,. Protest Rally
Human Energy at Chevron Protest Rally
by Mike Bukay
 

han 15,000 people in the Richmond area sought emergency room care after being showered with fall-out from the blast.

  The U.S. Chemical Safety Board uncovered evidence that, more than a decade ago, Chevron's own engineers recommended repair work on the corroded pipe at fault. Cal/OSHA cited Chevron for eleven "willful" safety violations and imposed the largest fine in the agency's history, a one million dollar penalty that the company is contesting. Chevron says it has paid $10 million to reimburse local hospitals and satisfy some of the 24,000 claims filed by individuals affected by the fire.  It also just pleaded no contest to six charges filed by state and local prosecutors and agreed to pay $2 million in fines and restitution.

Richmond's attempt to seek further compensation for its citizenry led to a settlement proposal reported to be $10 million or less. (To keep that amount in perspective, please note that Chevron just reported slightly depressed second quarter profits of $5.37 billion!) In July, the often-fractious city council voted unanimously to pursue environmental justice before a judge and jury in Contra Costa County Superior Court. Richmond's damage suit alleges that last year's mishap reflected "years of neglect, lax oversight, and corporate indifference to necessary safety inspection and repairs." 

 

Summer Heat

The colorful 2-mile march on Saturday focused attention on Chevron's past misbehavior in Richmond and its continuing role in global warming everywhere. Student and cOil Sands Cartoonommunity activists, 350.org supporters from throughout northern California, and a lively contingent of trade unionists assembled near the city's BART station. Their banners and signs highlighted the demands of earlier "Summer Heat" protests in Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Utah, and other states: "No more toxic hazards, no Keystone XL pipeline, no refining tar and or fracked crude-Yes, to a just transition from fossil fuels to union jobs in clean energy!"

Full article will be available on  CounterPunch on August 6..
Salute to those working behind the scenes
Making it Happen

 

Many people had to do great work behind the scenes in order to make the Saturday Demonstration against Climate Chaos. I don't know most of them. I would like to acknowledge as a representative of all those behind-the-scenes workers and creators the people most responsible for the art and beauty of the demonstration. Their coordinator was David Solnit who is known for his thinking as well as his doing.

Sunflower
photo: Mona Caron.

Here are David's  thanks to others:

Honor to work with everyone!

 

Thanks to Mona Caron and Julie Searle who coordinated the street mural today--and Mona took my favorite photos of today (along with  the design for the 4x8 foot ten foot high Chevron sign--since they always hide their name during protest). Also big thanks to the 40 folks who came out this week to make and assemble the art we marched with today. Big thanks for the designs and help silkscreening of picket signs and flags to Santiago Armengod and Jesus Barraza.

A tip of the cap also to Brooke Anderson who did a phenomenal job of organizing an impressive labor contingent.

 

So let these thanks also go to the many people who spent many hours at organizing meetings, doing the the press work, serving as  marshals, playing instruments, getting sound equipment, and all the organizations that pulled together to make August 3 such a big success.

Richmond City Council
Painful--NOT Dysfunctional
 
dysfunctional cartoon

 

Both Nat Bates and Chevron use the same words to describe the City Council - that "it is dysfunctional."   The dictionary definition of "dysfunctional is "not working."

 

The truth is that the Council has accomplished a great deal in the past two years. It hired an excellent lawyer and voted unanimously to sue Chevron. It has worked on the LBNL move to Richmond, It is getting nationwide attention for the city that tries to do something about foreclosures, it has adopted policies that have helped bring crime down. It has passed a leading Ban-the-Box ordinance to do something real to help those returning from prison. Our job training programs get national attention. Our Bay Trail program is second to none. And so on.

 

Yes Council meetings are painful. But that is largely because two Councilmembers, Bates and Booze, and their supporters would like to make the Council dysfunctional. Since we have a Council willing to stand up to Chevron, that is in Chevron's interest also and they contribute heavily to support for these two Council members.

 

Fortunately the Mayor and the rest of the Council have figured out how to keep moving the city forward despite the disruptive tactics and lead the way in solving problems facing cities throughout the country.  

The City has Filed the Suit Against Chevron

Here is what the Lawsuit asks for

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays judgment against Defendants, and each of them, as hereinafter set forth below.

 

1. For compensatory and general damages according to proof;

 

2. For economic damages due to emergency response, fire suppression, and permitting costs according to proof;

 

3. For past and future damages related to environmental remediation and

incidental costs according to proof;

 

4. For diminution in property value according to proof;
 

5. For damages related to harm to public health, obstruction of the free

passage and use of property of public property, and/or the interference with

the comfortable enjoyment of life or property according to proof;

 

6. For pre- and post-judgment interest on all damages as allowed by the law;

 

7. For attorneys and expert/consultant fees under existing law;

 

8. For punitive damages in an amount according to proof or taking some

measure to ensure that an example is made of Defendant to deter similar

future conduct;

 

9. For costs of suit incurred herein; and

 

10. For such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

  

Click here to read full filing  (includes pictures)  

 



Progressive Politics in Richmond Makes Front Page News  
In the New York Times  

A City Invokes Seizure Laws to Save Homes

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Robert and Patricia Castillo paid $420,000 for a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Richmond, Calif., in 2005. It is now worth $125,000.

The power of eminent domain has traditionally worked against home
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
 
 
owners, who can be forced to sell their property to make way for a new highway or shopping mall. But now the working-class city of Richmond, Calif., hopes to use the same legal tool to help people stay right where they are.

 

An abandoned home in Richmond, where roughly half of all homeowners with mortgages are underwater, meaning they owe more than their home is currently worth.

  
 
Gayle McLaughlin, the former schoolteacher who is serving her second term as Richmond's mayor.

Scarcely touched by the nation's housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures.

  

The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond.

The banks have warned that such a move will bring down a hail of lawsuits and all but halt mortgage lending in any city with the temerity to try it.

  

But local officials, frustrated at the lack of large-scale relief from the Obama administration, relatively free of the influence that Wall Street wields in Washington, and faced with fraying neighborhoods and a depleted middle class, are beginning to shrug off those threats.

 

"We're not willing to back down on this," said Gayle McLaughlin, the former schoolteacher who is serving her second term as Richmond's mayor. "They can put forward as much pressure as they would like but I'm very committed to this program and I'm very committed to the well-being of our neighborhoods."

 

PowerPoint Slides
Understanding Chevron Property Taxes

RPA asked  Jeff Kilbreth to research and help us understand the situation with Chevron's property taxes since millions are at stake for the city budget and city services.  Chevron regularly threatens the City and County with expensive legal action. Since the tax laws are deliberately murky and hard for most of us to understand, Chevron frequently gets its way behind closed doors.

Jeff made a presentation to us that made it clear that Chevron gets away with a lot in this process. You can see a revised version of the PowerPoints he presented here.   There will be more revisions and graphics added  later so check back.  In the fall Jeff will give some more presentations on this.

Jeff has just retired from a 30 year career in High Tech, mostly in the Silicon Valley enterprise software business. He has a Masters of Business Administration  from Yale University and kind of likes accounting.
Tuesday August 6
National Night Out  5pm
Commemoration of Chevron Fire 6pm
Civic Center Plaza

National Night Out will begin at 5 pm at the Civic Center Plaza and then  the action will shift to the neighborhood celebrations.

The commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Chevron Fire will take place at the Plaza at 6pm.
The event will be brief so that people can join the National Night Out celebration

Saturday, August 24, 2 pm

GRASSROOTS UNIONISM and

RANK-AND-FILE DEMOCRACY

 

BBQ and Fundraiser

in support of the Teamster Rank-and-File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF)

   

Ken Paff

Join special guest Ken Paff

 

and other labor and union reform activists for a discussion on the latest developments inside labor and the new organizing we need to rebuild our power.
 

Ken Paff is the national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the largest and longest-running grassroots labor reform movement in the U.S.


747 Lobos Ave., Pt. Richmond,  

Directions / Parking: 747 Lobos Ave. is at the corner of Lobos and Western in the part of Pt. Richmond facing the Bay. Parking may be hard to find unless you proceed down Western, toward the Chevron pier and park beside the small park on your left. Call for further info about bus connections from the Richmond BART to Pt. Richmond and possible pick-ups if you are using public transportation.

Call 510-260-0636 to R.S.V.P. or get directions.

 

Join the RPA

RPA Symbol We can only keep this city moving forward, protect our health and safety, and resist corporate domination of our politics if enough of us join together. We are asking you to take sides--to join the RPA.     

 

  

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WHAT RPA MEMBER VOLUNTEERS DO:

  • participate in periodic RPA discussions and events of community interest;
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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.