RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #131
March 5, 2014 
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Minimum Wage to Council 3/18
Deadly Trains in Richmond
How and Why of Oil Train Disaster
Focus on Education 3/7
Sisters in Solidarity 3/8
Po' Boys Kitchen 3/7 3/8
Dirt Wars Movie
Bullying Returns to Council Meetings
Letter: CCT Article Unfair
New Video Explains Principal Reduction
RPA Membership Drive
Some History of RPA

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,


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.


Tuesday, March 18,  7:30
Minimum Wage Before Council

Richmond Needs a Raise!  Raise the Minimum Wage!


Join the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, SEIU 1021, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, CCISCO, Somos Richmond, BMOER and the rest of our community ;who are uniting to lift up our City by raising the minimum wage.


The proposal is to raise the minimum wage to $11, $12.30, or $15 an hour and includes a cost of living adjustment annually!  Businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be exempted.


It's time we make Richmond the kind of town where families can afford to put food on the table, keep a roof over our heads, and not have to choose between a paycheck and health!  When workers have more money in their pockets, they spend it in our community, building local businesses, creating jobs, and generating tax revenue for schools and public safety. EVERYONE BENEFITS!


But, your council members need to hear your voice!  On March 18, come add your voice to the growing movement of people taking action to build a better Richmond.


100 Car Trains
Bakkan Crude Rolling to Richmond
BNSF explains how it is bringing Bakken Crude to Richmond

The kind of deadly trains that have been exploding around North America (see next)  are also rolling through Richmond.  Kinder Morgan a chemical transport company quietly converted its Richmond Facility from ethanol to crude oil storage in September last year. [click here for source KM boasts that it is currently the only 100-car unit train crude oil facility in California. 

At this time we do not know whether the storage is for export,  supplying Chevron, or some other customer.    

Packed Meeting
Richmond Hears About Oil Train Disaster

Ruined Lac-Mégantic Downtown
A spokesperson from the Canadian City that was devastated by the exploding Oil train showed a  packed meeting at the Bobby Bowens Center the before-and-after to her town Lac-Mégantic, Québec.  The accident destroyed the downtown and killed 47 people   She explained how the first thing fixed in the town were the rail tracks so the railroad could continue shipping product. 

Speaking with her was Antonia Juhasz, an oil industry expert.  Antonia explained there have been  more accidents in the last year than in the last 20 years.  This is the result of a combination of the huge increase in shipping by rail combined with the increased volatility and danger of fracked oil.  Juhasz  pointed  out that the US National Transportation Safety Board says the US is virtually incapable of regulating the movement of crude-by-rail, and where feasible,these trains should be rerouted to avoid "populated and other sensitive areas." It is thus unthinkable that companies like Chevron, Valero, and WesPac want to introduce crude-by-rail of Bakken and other sources to our area. We should instead support this proclamation, reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, and reject such increasingly hazardous sources of energy.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles  awarded a proclamation to Marilaine Savard representing the committee in Lac-Mégantic that is trying to keep these trains from ever again going through their town or any populated area.  


WHEREAS, in the early morning of July 6, 2013, a train carrying fracked crude Bakken oil from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, a small town in Qué
bec, Canada; and

WHEREAS, 47 people were killed and the downtown destroyed when this highly flammable and volatile crude exploded, causing a massive fire; and

WHEREAS, the community of Lac-Magentic has suffered greatly from this tragedy and is still recovering from this deadly crash; and

WHEREAS, to avoid more such tragedies, Lac-Magentic citizen groups are calling on authorities to move forward with a promised detour of the track, expressing grave concerns about an effort afoot to resume moving the same crude trains through the same downtown; and

WHEREAS, Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche has sent a strong message expressing the community's wish for a rerouting of the tracks and should be commended for her stance; and

WHEREAS, in our own city of Richmond, on August 3, 2012, there were 15,000 people who were treated at local hospitals as a result of a disastrous fire and explosion at the Chevron Richmond Refinery; and

WHEREAS, the community of Richmond has suffered the impacts of many crude oil disasters, the August 3 fire being just one of several incidents in recent years, and as a result the City of Richmond has sued Chevron seeking to avoid all future incidents; and

WHEREAS, it has been reported that Chevron would like to start moving fracked Bakken oil by rail to it's Richmond Refinery; and

WHEREAS, The US National Transportation Safety Board has recently concluded the following:

"Oil spill response planning requirements for rail transportation and oil/petroleum products are practically nonexistent compared with other modes of transportation;" and

"That because conditions have significantly changed with the recent massive growth in crude oil transportation, the regulations are no longer sufficient to mitigate the risks of petroleum product releases in accidents;" and

"Current regulations do not require railroads transporting crude oil in multiple tank cars to develop comprehensive spill response plans and have resources on standby for response to worst-case discharges;" and the NTBS therefore recommends: "where technically feasible... require rerouting [of trains] to avoid transportation of such hazardous materials through populated and other sensitive areas;" and

WHEREAS, these disasters in Lac-Mégantic and in Richmond are not only horrific tragedies, but also corporate crimes; and

WHEREAS, we owe it to all the people who have suffered and died to assign broad culpability by addressing the greed, deregulation and an extreme energy rush and willingness on the part of companies to gamble with human life and the environment; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Vice-Mayor Jovanka Beckles, on behalf of the City of Richmond, do hereby express our heartfelt sadness and solidarity with the hard-hit community of Lac-Mégantic, Québec, for their enormous losses of life and property; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we support the urgent call to respect the people of Lac-Mégantic and not allow crude-by-rail trains through the middle of their city; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that at least and until the governments of the US and Canada fully ensure their ability to fully regulate the movement of crude by rail, such that the health, welfare, and safety of people and the environment are protected, such practices be halted; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we demand full accountability from all private oil and train companies who operate in Lac-Mégantic, Richmond and everywhere and call for a change in their corporate culture such that they put the health and safety of our communities and our environment ahead of their own profits and expediency.  

Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor, City of Richmond
Jovanka Beckle, Vice-Mayor, City of Richmond
March 1, 2014

Friday,  March 7,  6:30  

 Meet With Mayor Focuses on Education



Saturday, March 8,    10am - 3 pm  

Sisters in Solidarity New Location

Free:  Networking, Entertainment, Lunch, Solidarity,  Men Welcome 

Sisters in Solidarity


This Weekend
Monday, March 10, 7pm
Dirty Wars
Bullying Returns to Council Meetings

Last Tuesday's Council meeting  marked new heights in bullying behavior and disrespect for the chair by Councilmembers  Booze and Bates.  Both overtalked the Mayor, ignored council rules  and made deprecating comments about other council members.

What is also disturbing is that it was a terrible lesson in democratic procedure for those watching it.  With exaggerated indignation Booze, who talks more than everyone else combined, continually accused the Mayor of being undemocratic  when she would ask him to stay on subject. Democracy is not allowing  one council member to talk on and on, shutting out the time of other council members and the public. 

The Mayor's insistence that the discussion stick to the item on the agenda is to allow the Council to take care of the business of the city and enables everyone to be heard.  Letting everyone participate and then acting as their representatives to do their business is democracy.

Letter to the Contra Costa Times
Was Richmond Description Fair?

[Regarding your front page story] " City Hall Flap Shakes Faith in Richmond Leaders"]   


One thing is clear to me about your author Robert Rodgers, and that is that he must not live in Richmond, our city where crime is way down, and business is way up.  The front page attack is so full of misinformation and wildly unsupported attacks on the people who have done a wonderful job running our city, that I think it is a parody.  It is nonsense, but a truly shocking political act for the Contra Costa Times to put such a hit job against good and honest people on the front page.  We have lived in Richmond for ten years, and we are thrilled by the improvements we have seen in that time.  The streets near us are filled with businesses where there used to be empty storefronts.  Families are out playing in the parks, where a few old winos used to roam.  Even Chevron has stepped up trying to take credit for the improvements in community life-- although we are still hoping their see some action that matches their rhetoric.


The newspaper has taken up the recent Washington politician's practice of using outright lies with impunity.


Cancel my subscription please.

--Sandra Yolles


editor's note: Rogers in fact does live in Richmond and often writes good articles, but some make you wonder. In the article linked above, every person quoted to show that faith has been shaken,  has actually been an opponent of the progressive leadership for years
Program to Stop Foreclosures and Fight Blight
Get Answers to your Questions

New Videos Explain Principle Reduction Programs

The Real Nightmare on Elm St.: Fighting Foreclosures with Local Principal Reduction 
The Real Nightmare on Elm St.: Fighting Foreclosures with Local Principal Reduction

New from Jeff Ritterman

"Heart Attacks, Depression and Suicide: The Toxic Fallout From the Foreclosure Epidemic and a Prevention Strategy That Just Might Work"

Click here for the Huffington Post article

For in-depth information on the legal and economic theory behind this strategy, readHere are some other good sources you can get on-line

 RPA Membership Drive Continues 

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.     




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.


  • 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.


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.