RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #135
April 23, 2014  
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Public Comments on Chevron DEIR
Iron Heel benefit May 18
Vota Latino Garage Sale Apr 26
Join Canvassers April 27th
"Monopoly Protection?" No thanks!
A little crude-by rail update
Help Wanted for Team Richmond
Point Molate & Youth Summit
Signed Support of Measure C
Endorse Team Richmond
How to comment on Chevron DEIR
Mike Parker's Statement on Chevron DEIR
Minimum Wage Hike Returns to Council
Bravo to the CARES Program
Connect the Dots: Martinez to Benicia
WCC Family Justice Center's WINGS
Homeless Workforce Conference
Beckles on Minimum Wage
Comments on Oil-Backed Race Baiting
Principal Reduction Resources
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.


From the Planning Commission Hearing April 17th:
Public weighs in on Chevron DEIR


The Richmond City Council chambers were packed to capacity last Thursday for the Richmond Planning Commission's Public Comment Hearing on the Chevron Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for its proposed project.  By the Chair's count, 63 people spoke, and by an informal tally those with critical questions and concerns outnumbered the "rubber stamp" advocates by 3-to-1.


At the pre-hearing rally, Andres Soto from Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) noted how great it was to see members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) in their red, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) folks in their green, and the people of Richmond and neighboring communities in all their diversity.  The energy and color carried over into the hearing, where a relatively small group sported blue and white jerseys for Chevron's PR effort, "Richmond Proud." Relatively few in number, they took up prominent seats behind the speaker's podium and were loud clappers. 


Nurses, who handled the front-line emergency treatment following the August 2012 fire and explosion, and who noted the high incidence of chronic respiratory diseases, reproductive problems, and cancers among their patients in Richmond, spoke with credibility and passion.  Many long-term Richmond residents testified about the losses they had suffered among their friends, co-workers, and family members, and they made a plea for cleaner and safer operations, with no local increase in toxic emissions.  Other speakers wanted more details about the 29 new jobs claimed for the completed project, as well as a better understanding of the scope and nature of the temporary employment the construction phase would offer.   


More technical comments addressed a broad range of issues, from calls for more just and effective mitigation measures (including more intense and sustained funding of local alternative energy projects and renewable energy sourcing for Chevron's operational needs) to a suggestion that any increase in CAPs and TACs (Criteria Air Pollutants and Toxic Air Contaminants) may violate the intent of AB 32.  Several speakers questioned the validity of the baseline statistics used to set the "no net increase" goals.  The relatively narrow scope of the proposed project also came under scrutiny, with recommendations that Chevron undertake a full and effective modernization of its whole Richmond facility.   As one APEN member so clearly said of Chevron (in translation): "If they continue making money, they can continue to change!"  


Public comments are now accepted until May 2.  (See the pink section below for details.)  They all will be incorporated into the EIR and addressed in the revision process, and then the modified draft will be circulated for a 10 day review before it comes back to the Planning Commission for action, tentatively on June 19th. 


Fresh from its premier in Ankara, Turkey
Save the date: The Iron Heel, a theatrical benefit for Team Richmond, May 18th at 7pm.

To download the flyer, click here.  For a copy of the press release, use this link
Saturday APRIL 26  10AM-4PM 3511 Barrett Ave (near 35th St)

Benefit for the campaign "VOTA LATINO" in Richmond.
(Promoting Latino Voting and Democratic Participation)

Donations of items appreciated.
Call Marcos at 510-621-8738 to arrange bringing over items for the garage sale.
Sunday, April 27, 1021 Macdonald Avenue, 10 am-1 pm
Take it to the streets with Team Richmond

More than 20 people have already volunteered to join the team of Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Gayle McLaughlin for City Council and Mike Parker for Mayor -- to walk their neighborhoods and talk with residents about our fair city and the upcoming elections. You can swell the number of volunteers eager to help.
In addition, as candidates themselves walk door-to-door throughout the week, it's great to walk along with them.  Let us know the days of the week and times of day when you can walk with Team Richmond candidates.  We will schedule you ahead of time.  
If you are interested in canvassing, please email Alex Early at earlyave@gmail.com or call the RPA office and leave a message if no one is there, 510-412-2260.
Make a call & send email by 4/28 for clean green energy options
Protect our communities' power to choose

As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we in Richmond can feel proud of the positive steps our community has taken to support clean, sustainable policies that improve our lives and health.

Among our many achievements was the implementation in 2013 of "Community Choice Aggregation" (CCA), a plan that enabled Richmond residents to choose cleaner sources of electricity through the Marin Clean Energy (MCE) program. I applaud Councilmember Tom Butt's leadership in bringing this program to Richmond, and his ongoing advocacy as the Council's MCE representative.  


This important program enables cities like Richmond to promote local decision-making and provide consumer energy choice. Through our CCA, our residents choose renewable energy sources that help achieve local environmental goals and greenhouse gas reduction targets.

One essential element to the CCA plan's success is the "opt-out" feature. This means that all residents are included in the clean energy program unless they specifically choose to "opt out." Every other CCA state in the country uses an opt-out process for electricity aggregation.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2145, the "Monopoly Protection Bill," would severely limit CCAs in CA. If passed, it will require individuals within an area to "opt-in" vs. "opt-out" of the program. AB 2145 is pro-monopoly and protects the status quo by returning market power to shareholder-controlled utilities.

AB 2145 is being considered in Sacramento on Monday, April 28, by the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. Please join me, Vice-Mayor Jovanka Beckles, Councilmember Tom Butt, and many others* in voicing your opposition to AB 2145.  Contact Committee Chair Steven Bradford (c/o his staffer davina.flemings@asm.ca.gov , phone 916-319-2062) and let him know that you support consumer choice, local decision-making, and clean energy.

The positive transformation of Richmond has been built on collaborative efforts among City officials, community-based organizations, and individuals to define our own destiny, to make healthy choices that serve our community, not the needs of utility monopolies.

On Earth Day and every day, let us celebrate the advances we've achieved together, defend our progress, and recommit ourselves to building not only a Better Richmond, but a cleaner state and a healthy planet.   --Gayle McLaughlin

*Organizations opposing AB 2145 include the California State Association of Counties, League of California Cities, Sierra Club CA, World Wildlife Fund US, Greenlining Institute, California Solar Energy Industries Association, the Center for Climate Protection, Local Clean Energy Alliance, and Green Cities CA   

"Special meeting" didn't have time
BAAQMD board delays review of its permit for

Now postponed until May 1, 9:30-12;20, at 939 Ellis, in SF, 7th floor.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Superior Court hearing on the BAAQMD/Kinder Morgan lawsuit for Richmond Crude-by-Rail permit, Monday, April 28 at 400 McAllister St., Rm. #302, San Francisco.
Help Wanted: Team Richmond is looking for
Photographers, Calendar & Housing Coordinators

Join our team of photographersWe could publish a list of events we know candidates will attend from which team photographers could choose according to their own schedules. That way we could capture the candidates in action for publication in print and social media.
A Better Richmond Is Happening
>From Point Molate to the Youth Summit

Saturday, April 19th, while many adults and families of the Richmond community were celebrating the grand reopening of Point Molate Beach, young people of the city gathered for the 2014 Richmond Youth Summit at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin hosted the event to bring young people of diverse backgrounds together to provide direction and make clear their priorities for the City of Richmond from a youth perspective. Building on the efforts of youth and youth advocacy groups in Richmond, the event focused on identifying and supporting youth leadership, creating a youth council, and introducing a form of democratic budgeting called participatory budgeting.  In addition to dynamic workshops, the Summit also included inspiring speakers, live entertainment, delicious food, a raffle, and lots of fun.  Learn more here.     --Nicole Valentino. 
Signed Commentary: Why I support Measure C
Save Doctors Medical Center


The problem with "crying wolf," the fable tells us, is that when the wolf really is at the door, nobody will believe you.  In the case of Doctors Hospital there is a good chance that this time if we do not get short-term funding, Doctors will actually close, and with it the emergency room that provides around 2/3 of the emergency care in the region.   


Even those who have Kaiser coverage will suffer, since its small emergency room will be hugely overcrowded and overwhelmed.  The choice of really long waits or traveling to Martinez for emergency service should not be acceptable for anyone.

Consider the chaos if there is a major refinery accident, or earthquake injuries. Timely treatment is essential for a heart attack, stroke or a ruptured appendix --even on a busy night.


It is true that the parcel tax method of financing  medical care for the West County is an unfair system and burdensome.  We need to find an alternative, including demanding that the whole County take over more responsibility.  The pollution from the refinery and the threat of serious accidents means that Chevron should also  have an obligation to maintain adequate medical care in West County.

While we are working on these alternative and sustainable means of funding, we cannot afford to lose these emergency services.   


I urge a Yes vote On C and a new campaign to find ways that offer a fair and sustainable funding support for DMC.  Completed ballots for this mail-in only election must be returned by May 6.



Mike Parker 


Editor's note:  The RPA has not adopted a position on Measure C. 

Quick, easy and free!
Endorse Team Richmond Now

As you know, 2014 is going to be a super important election here in Richmond, if we want to keep the progressive momentum going and keep building on the good things happening in recent years.  You've probably noticed how Chevron is already spending tons of money on PR...
Here's a free and easy way to show support for Team Richmond.  Your endorsement is valuable and will make a difference!   Please let us know if you endorse the Team Richmond candidates:  Mike Parker for Mayor and Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez and Gayle McLaughlin for City Council.  
Simply send a brief e-mail to langlois-rine@comcast.net, with "endorse Team Richmond" in the subject line. Include your full name, city of residence, and any affiliation or title you would like to include (affiliation is for identification purposes only).
Thank you.  It only takes a moment and will be greatly appreciated!

If you want to comment on the Chevron DEIR

LINK Click here to download  the full EIR or sections    


Graphic by Michael Beer 
Hard copies of the Draft EIR and Appendices are available for review at:
  • Richmond Public Library - Main Branch, 325 Civic Center Plaza
  • Richmond Public Library - Bayview Branch, 5100 Hartnett Ave.
  • City of Richmond, Planning and Building Services Department, City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza  
Written comments to the Planning Division must be received before 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2014.  Address comments to: Lina Velasco, City of Richmond Planning Division, 450 Civic Center Plaza, PO Box 4046, Richmond, CA 94804, or send via email to Lina_Velasco@ci.richmond.ca.us
From Mike Parker, Candidate for Mayor
Statement on the Chevron Draft EIR

Photo by Michael Beer
1. Almost everybody in Richmond favors a "Newer, Safer, Cleaner" refinery.
We have to work to make sure that such a project does go forward.

2. The Draft EIR is a real victory in terms of accountability and transparency. City staff, consultants and Chevron did excellent work on the Draft EIR. It provides a lot of information and allows a careful reader to understand most of what they need to know. There are still some questions to be answered and some additional scenarios that need to be run, but we're right on schedule. We never got this much information in the past, so the report is a big step forward. Everyone should celebrate this document as a victory for good government and thank the organizations who forced the disclosure of so much information - CBE, APEN, the RPA and the West County Toxics Coalition.

3. The Draft EIR misses important scenarios. The Draft EIR provides us with an assessment of the likely and possible impacts on the community from this project under different project scenarios. Under CEQA, it is up to the city planning commission and ultimately the Richmond City Council to determine the final set of "reasonable alternatives" that should be considered and to determine what conditions to set, if any, in permitting a specific project. This is a negotiation.

4. Chevron places higher profits abpve controlling emissions. Despite
being the 3rd  most profitable company in America, Chevron has proposed a project that increases both local toxic emissions that damage our health and greenhouse gas emissions that damage our planet. Couldn't they do better?
...To read the full statement, click here.
Before Council Again on May 6 
Minimum Wage Delayed for More Info

Richmond's minimum wage ordinance was delayed by the February 15th Council meeting.
The second reading of the ordinance was on the consent calendar and was pulled by a business owner who said he'd have to fire everyone and move his business (28 employees, about half of whom are paid minimum wage) if this ordinance is adopted.  (Considering that he'll have to raise the wage from $8 to $9 in July anyway when the state minimum wage goes up, it is hard to believe he won't be able to raise his workers' wage from $9 to $9.60 in Jan. 2015...).  A number of businesses in Richmond recognize the poverty level of minimum wage and support its increase.  Many already pay well more than the minimum wage. 

A majority of the Council (Bates, Booze, Rogers, and Butt) felt that the vote should be delayed some to allow more people, especially in the business community, to be heard and to get the city report on the impact of the proposal.  All said they favored an increase in the minimum wage.  
There was an additional wrinkle, when Tom noticed an  error in the wording of the proposed ordinance which would cause confusion about when the $9/hr wage would first come into effect. Because the ordinance would need to be corrected for this, when it comes back to the Council on May 6, that will be its first reading.

What seems to get lost in the technicalities  discussion is that it is not right that people work at a wage where even with full-time work they can not get out of poverty.  Even if a few jobs are lost (most studies find very little job loss)  minimum wage workers as a whole benefit from the increase. Further the increase provides a stimulus to the local area economy, thus increasing the number of available jobs.                          --Marilyn Langlois & Mike Parker 
Have you seen this?  Cynthia Burke's guest commentary:
"Foreclosure prevention program will improve Richmond's financial health"

From the Contra Costa Times of Saturday, April 19th.  Read it now, here.

Thank you for your wisdom and your courage, Cynthia!
Connect the Dots' Second Leg: Martinez to Benicia May 17th
Join in the Refinery Corridor Healing Walk

Photo from the Sunflower Alliance.
Before you sit down at 7 pm on Sunday May 18th to enjoy The Iron Heel, wear off a bit of your own shoe leather --or your vegan alternative-- the day before, on the second Connect the Dots Refinery Corridor Healing Walk, going from Martinez to Benicia this time.  Organized by Idle No More SF Bay, the Sunflower Alliance, and others, this walk is the second of 4 planned monthly through July to bring attention to the northeast San Francisco Bay refinery corridor and the 5 refineries in 4 cities. 
For details and updates, check this link.
Workshops offered by WCC Family Justice Center start May 6th
WINGS: Women Inspired to Grow and Succeed

Coming June 16-17 Saffron Strand's Fifth Annual
Homeless Workforce Conference: Policy, Programs, At-Risk Youth

Dynamic and evolving --that's the job market, with or without recession. For
anybody who has been out of work 2 years or more, getting back into the
job market is tough, especially when their skills no longer match the skills
employers need.

Dr. Helen Benjamin, Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District, knows how to optimize college opportunities the long-term unemployed, including the hard-to-employ and the homeless. She's speaking during the Monday
and Tuesday plenaries, June 16-17, at Saffron Strand's Fifth Annual Homeless Workforce Conference at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium.  


The conference provides specialized training for professionals, case workers, and others in employment services as well as health care and housing services. It also promotes increased knowledge and new perspectives among community leaders, local businesses, agency directors, and elected officials.

Vice-Mayor Jovanka Beckles:
Why the Minimum Wage is Good for Richmond

Jovanka [The first reading of the new minimum wage ordinance passed at the City Council March 18. The final vote is scheduled for the meeting tomorrow, April 1.  The ordinance will phase in a minimum wage of $12.30/hr, See article in previous newsletter]

Richmond is attempting to solve several issues at the same time. One, we are helping residents by providing a wage that will help more families  live with dignity. Two, we are helping businesses. When residents have more to spend, more disposable income, they spend it. When they spend it, demand increases. When demand increases, business improves; businesses thrive. When business improves and thrive, more people get hired. When those who want to work work, we create a healthy thriving city. 

Minimum wage increases have been shown to act as a stimulus to those cities where it was raised. A recent article in the San Jose Mercury stated, "A year later, it is clear that raising San Jose's minimum wage has been an incredible success. The data shows that under San Jose's minimum wage, unemployment was reduced, the number of businesses grew, the number of minimum wage jobs expanded, average employee hours remained constant and the economy was stimulated." 
In fact, I know several Richmond employers who already pay their employees at least $12 an hour and they are quite successful. They shared with me that when employees make a wage that they can live on, turn over is low thus allowing for stability in their business. 
There are some who say Richmond isn't in a bubble. We can't just raise it in Richmond and not have it affect businesses negatively because people can shop in the nearby cities. We are not in a bubble. But when other cities see the difference that it makes here in Richmond, the people will demand change in their cities as well.  
FDR once said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little."- Franklin D. Roosevelt

BeyondChron comments on "Oil-Backed Race Baiting"
Chevron Provides "Community News" to Richmond
 by Randy Shaw 
Richmond Standard
Funded By Chevron
[BeyondChron,  San Francisco's popular online daily, took note of Chevron's role in shaping the news here in Richmond.]

As many get their news from local websites like BeyondChron, Chevron has gotten into the act: its Richmond Standard provides "community news" to Richmond.... from the oil company's perspective.

If you come across the website for the Richmond Standard, you'll find stories about local coffee shops, a skateboarding vandal, the performance of the local high school basketball team, and what's playing in local theaters. It looks very much like sites like Berkeleyside with one key difference: it is funded and controlled by a powerful corporation whose political donations seek to dominate Richmond politics.

The site states on its front page: "This news website is brought to you by Chevron Richmond. We aim to provide Richmond residents with important information about what's going on in the community, and to provide a voice for Chevron Richmond on civic issues."

What "important information" is Chevron conveying?
Read full article here 


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
  For in-depth information on the legal and economic theory behind this strategy, read Here 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 authors, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Patsy Byers, 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.