RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #128
January 6, 2014 
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IN THIS ISSUE
CSB Reports on Wednesday in Richmond
Pittsburg March and Rally
MLK Day on the Greenway
RPA New Year Party 1/25
Salute, Magick Lantern Need your Support
Get Questions on Mortgage Program Answered
Realtor Propaganda and Answers
Corporate Espionage Against Criitics
RPA Membership Drive
Some History of RPA
 To have an item listed send it to
 info@RichmondProgressiveAlliance.net

Progressive Office
1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260

PASS IT ON!!  

Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.

 

Findings on Chevron Fire and  Failure of Regulations
US Chemical Safety Board Hearing in Richmond

 

Wednesday, January 15 

Richmond City Council Chambers

 

Pre-Hearing Rally at 5:30     Hearing at 6:30  

Meet Activists from Benicia and East County who are organizing to stop a refinery storage/transfer project in their community. (see Pittsburg announcement below)      

Chevron
Chevron Fire

The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is the nation's preeminent chemical disaster investigative agency. Its members are all Presidential appointees and confirmed by the US Senate. The CSB has chosen Richmond, CA to release its final report on the causes of the August 6, 2012 Chevron Richmond Refinery Toxic Explosion and Fire.

 

We can expect two major findings to be voted on by the CSB:

  1. The explosion and fire was due to a pipe rupture, but the pipe ruptured due to a management culture of neglect and a pattern of failing to adhere to regulatory agency safety standards or its own safety standards.
  2. The solution to prevent future catastrophic disasters is to have Richmond, Contra Costa County and the State of California to adopt the "Safety Case" regime for regulating refineries.

What is the Safety Case Regime?

 

The Safety Case Regime would require refineries to demonstrate, in advance of permits or construction, that they are using the most inherently safe technologies and have reduced risks to "as low as reasonably possible", or ALARP.

 

Independent competent scientists would then review the plans to determine if the risks level has been reduced to as low as reasonably possible before any construction or operation.

 

Why is it important for all of us to be there?

 

The CSB can only make recommendations - they have NO regulatory authority! We MUST be there to support the CSB and its findings and demand all levels of government adopt the "Safety Case" Regime.

 

The CSB has chosen Richmond because the Chevron Refinery exemplifies the evils of bad refinery operations. The CSB has also said the level of community awareness and political consciousness here was extremely high, this providing the conditions where their recommendations might actually be implemented.

 

What will be the follow up to their recommendations?

 

The CSB is providing a road map for the community to demand better regulation of refinery activity. This has implications for the Chevron Project in Richmond and the Phillips 66 Project in Rodeo, the WesPAC Project in Pittsburg, the Valero Project in Benicia, as well as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the State of California and beyond.

 

For more information about the report:

 

For more information about the rally and hearing contact:

 

Andres Soto, Richmond Organizer, CBE - 510.282.5363, or

Saturday, January 11, 1 PM
Pittsburg Rally and March

Stop Crude Oil Storage and Transfer in the Community
Stop WestPac
Monday, January 20, 9am -- 2pm
Day of Service and Fun on the Greenway

and healthy food, and lively music
Clay Booth
RPA Clay Booth 2013

The RPA will again be  hosting a booth for kids to work with clay.

Last year the booth was very popular.  We need volunteers to help out.
Call the RPA office 510-412-2260 if you can spend a couple of hours in this enjoyable but very useful activity.

January Issue of La Voz
Dispute in 23rd Street Merchants Association
La Voz  January
Get La Voz in stores or click here to download
January  25,  7 -- 10pm   Save the Date
RPA New Year  Party

Richmond Institutions Need Your Support
Periodically we highlight some of the  Richmond businesses, organizations, and community activities that deserve our support.

Salute Restaurant

The inspiring struggle of Menbere Akilu from a shelter to immigration to the US without speaking English, to ownership of Salute Restaurant combines with her commitment to help others in the community. Every Thanksgiving Salute is closed for regular business as Menbere serves Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of Richmond homeless. 

But Salute faces a big challenge.  The city construction of the Moody bypass tunnel makes it hard for people to find the restaurant and regular business has fallen substantially.

But it can be reached. New direction signs are going up and most of us have maps on our phones. So go a little out of your way to help someone who always goes out of her way to help others  

Check out the 
Salute website


Magick Lantern

Playing this Weekend at Magick Lantern
Richmond has another movie theater besides the Hilltop Complex.

This one, located behind Starbucks in Point Richmond, shows first-run films on weekends and has a free Thursday Classics night .

Film buffs will appreciate that the  owner/manager/popcorn-maker, Ross Woodbury, has an extensive knowledge of movies as well as a library of books on movies. Discussion with Ross adds greatly to the value of the movie experience.

Unfortunately despite Ross' many efforts to keep costs down  he needs more attendance to break even or we may lose this valuable cultural addition to Richmond.  So when you are considering a movie, check out the listings on the Magick Lantern website.



Program to Stop Foreclosures and Fight Blight
Get Answers to your Questions



For in-depth information readHere are some good sources you can get on-line
:

Realtor Propaganda Feed
New Argument Against Anti-Blight Program

 

There was not much new said at the realtor's propaganda feed (free dinner) on December 11, with one exception.

 

Josh Genser
Josh Genser

One of the featured speakers was Josh Genser, a bankruptcy and real estate lawyer and land speculator. His website reports that he has been named a Super Lawyer. Genser asserted his authority on the subject of the mortgage reduction program based on his extensive experience in real estate law, and, he made sure to emphasize, his Master's degree in economics from Stanford.

 

Genser's Argument 

Genser went on to explain why the city's plan to restructure mortgages "will not work."

Correctly, he explained that it depends on there being a gap between the market value of the current mortgage and 95% of the actual value of the house (which would be the new mortgage). In other words, if the current value of the house were $200,000 and the value of the  original $400,000 mortgage were actually $160,000,   then the program would acquire the mortgage at $160,000, refinance the mortgage at $190,000.  

 

The previously underwater homeowner would now have $10,000 in equity. The difference of $30,000 would cover the expenses of the program including the City and MRP, and a bonus to investors to make the program attractive to them.

 

BUT, according to Genser, the critical gap does not exist. If the homeowner can qualify for a $190,000 mortgage then that is the minimum of what the fair market value of the original $400,000 mortgage would be. No gap, he says with emphasis, therefore the program cannot work. "Case Closed" his body language said.

 

Response to Genser's Argument 

Banks and other financial institutions buy and sell mortgages. A major factor in the value of a mortgage is how likely it is that the homeowner will default and the costs of the foreclosure process. If I owe you $400,000, but I can't pay it back, then you will have a hard time selling my IOU to someone else for more than a few cents. If my house is collateral (as in a mortgage) then the value of my IOU is the current value of the house minus the quite substantial costs of the default and foreclosure process.

 

Why the original $400,000 mortgage is worth less

  • If the homeowner is underwater it does not usually make good economic sense to try to keep up payments.
  • Because the original mortgage principal is so much bigger, the size of the payments are much bigger so that it is more likely the homeowner will not be able to make them.
  • Many of these bad loans had balloon payments or other features structured in so that the payments required will increase in the future.

These economic realities make it likely and even rational for the homeowner to default. Therefore the value of the mortgage is greatly reduced.

 

Why the restructured $190,000 mortgage is worth more

  • With the restructuring, homeowners now have some positive equity in their homes -they have an investment that want to protect by keeping up payments and keeping the home in good condition.
  • They have a more reasonable mortgage payment since the principle owed has been greatly reduced.

That is why a mortgage with a lower principle can actually have a higher mortgage value for trading, than a mortgage with a high principle owed but little chance of repayment. And that is why there is the gap that gives this program its economic sense.  

 

 

 

As one realtor who attended the meeting to see what was going on commented: "These guys give good realtors a bad name."

--Mike Parker

 

Spooky Business
A New Report on Corporate Espionage Against Non-profits

Giant corporations are employing highly unethical or illegal tools of espionage against nonprofit organizations with near impunity, according to a new report by Essential Information. The report, titled Spooky Business, documents how corporations target nonprofit organizations and whistle blowers. Corporations and associations identified in the report include Chevron, Chamber of Commerce, Walmart and Bank of America.
 RPA Membership Drive Continues 

RPA Bag
Become an RPA member
Under the leadership of Mayor McLaughlin and her progressive colleagues on the City Council, 
Richmond has drawn local, national and international attention with its innovative solutions to persistent problems.  Let's keep the momentum going!  As we gear up for the coming election year in 2014, RPA needs your support more than ever. Join now and be part of history in the making.
 
Dues are just $12 per year (or more if you are able), and go towards paying our share of rent at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave--a space that is used by RPA and other organizations for educational forums, town hall meetings, strategy sessions, campaign organizing, celebrations and many other events open to the community.
 
By joining now you'll get our e-newsletter and action alerts, and opportunities to participate in building a better Richmond.  We'll also give you a large, attractive tote bag--ideal for grocery shopping, now that Richmond has enacted a plastic bag ban as another step toward protecting our precious environment. 
 
Don't put it off--  write, call or e-mail us now!

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.     

 

 

RPA BELIEFS:

UNITY - One Richmond: African-American, Asian, Latino/a, Native Americans, white, united for the good of all.

DEMOCRACY- Government of, for, by the people; all the people, not just those rich enough to buy influence.

DIVERSITY - of ideas: Democrats, Greens, independents, or other. We sometimes disagree but respect each other enough to keep working for a better Richmond together.

WHAT RPA MEMBER VOLUNTEERS DO:

  • participate in periodic RPA discussions and events of community interest;
  • staff the office, make phone calls, meet in committees, arrange events and parties;
  • work on campaigns of RPA-endorsed candidates for city council;
  • engage with neighbors;
  • help shape RPA and its priorities;
  • join in support of other allied organizations working to make a difference in Richmond;
  • read the newsletter at www.richmondprogressivealliance.net for what REALLY goes on in Richmond;
  • eat; have fun.

Download the membership form and mail it in with dues.

OR

Send us an email at info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form.  And go to the RPA web page. Press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a dues contribution. An additional contribution is greatly appreciated and helps us keep dues low for those with low income.

 

Some History and Understanding of the RPA
  Social Policy Article









Long article with pictures 

--have patience in downloading

 

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.