RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #140
July 8, 2014  
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

7/9: Planning Commission Hearing on Chevron, 6:30, Kennedy H.S. cafeteria
This Activist Offers Resources for the Hearing
Read these Key Points on Chevron EIR
More on P. C. Hearing
REJC Mailer: We have power!
Send Email to Commissioners
Remember the U.S. CSB!
Get Trained to Canvass
Work to stop JROTC in WCCUSD
Sat 7/12: Connect the Dots #4:Rodeo to Richmond
Saving the Best Till Last!

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.


Wed. July 9, 6:30 pm, Kennedy H.S. Cafeteria (Cutting & Berk)
Planning Commission Hearing on Chevron FEIR

The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the proposed Chevron Modernization Project will come under review by Richmond Planning Commission in Special Meetings this week.  These hearings are our next --and perhaps best-- chance to help shape the conditions of approval to be imposed on Chevron, with a clear statement of how essential safe operations and emissions reductions are to us.

Please plan to attend these sessions.  If you want to make comments, you must file a speaker form with staff before the Commission begins to consider the issue.  Each public speaker will be limited to 2 minutes.  Chevron's supporters, some almost certainly paid to attend, will undoubtedly be there in large numbers.  In the wake of the letters from the Attorney General's Office (AGO), specifying only one acceptable alternative to the proposed project, Chevron has not let up on its PR campaign to foster the appearance of widespread public approval, nor has it offered much indication of how it would respond to the changes endorsed by the AGO.  

To reach the Kennedy High School cafeteria, 4300 Cutting, enter through the parking lot at the southeast corner of Cutting Blvd & Berk Avenue.
  The hearings will start July 9th and are likely be continued on the 10th, again at Kennedy cafeteria starting at 6:30pm.

The Richmond City Council is expected to review any action taken by the Planning Commission at sessions July 22, 29, & 30.  Mark your calendars now.
Exceptional times call for exceptional measures.
Resources for the Chevron Project Hearings

The RPA Activist usually strives for a balance among issues.  This edition will be an exception, with a focus on resources to help those who wish to participate actively in the Planning Commission (and City Council) hearings on the proposed Chevron Project.  
Here's help making sense of the 6000 page FEIR.
Key Points on Chevron Project available here.

Whether or not you reviewed them earlier, please read these Key Points from the  Environmental Impact Report on the Chevron Project, prepared by Jeff Kilbreth.  This version is revised and expanded slightly.  As noted, he has done the hard work for us: Preparing a concise summary of the most important issues, the still-unanswered questions, and the conditions that should be imposed on any "modernization" effort.  


Jeff's work could be very helpful in preparing comments for the Planning Commission Hearings, and, later, at the City Council reviews.     


Some background notes on the Planning Commission's work
And what is to be done?

The official agenda for the Special Meeting of the Planning Commission is available here.  The formal process of introduction and preliminary analysis by staff, applicant's presentation, comments in favor, opposition comments, rebuttals, staff summaries, close of hearing, Commission discussion and decision-making, and public announcements, is clearly outlined.  Each of the advocacy components will have time limits, as will the Hearings as a whole.  The Chevron project is the only item under consideration.  Again, speakers must complete a form and return it to staff before the Commission begins to consider an item.

Earlier in June, a majority of City Council voted to curtail the power of the Commission in this matter, with an amendment --introduced and championed by Tom Butt-- that will go into effect July 17th, so the Commission is under pressure to complete its process ahead of that deadline.   

After that Council decision, Richmond received the second letter on the Chevron project from the Attorney General's Office.  That letter stated that the only scenario to meet California's environmental objectives was "Alternative 6.5.11," which cuts the proposed high sulfur crude inputs and limits hydrogen production, when implemented with the FEIR's pollution mitigation measures and other improvements.  Afterwards, Butt was reported in the Contra Costa Times (here) as saying that the AG's letter carries significant weight in the process.

"There's a presumption that the city will put (Harris' suggestions) into its requirements," Butt said. "The Planning Commission has the power to put this into the conditions of approval."

Assuming for the moment that Butt's presumption is correct and that Alternative 6.5.11 will be required, what else should be included in the conditions of approval?  Here's what's suggested by Jeff Kilbreth at the conclusion of his "Key Points" paper (see the previous section for more info): 
  • Public monitoring and competent centralized oversight of Chevron's operational performance and improvements on maintenance, safety and emissions reduction  
  •  No increase in Criteria Air Pollutants (CAP) or toxic air contaminants (TAC) emissions with binding "not to exceed" emissions  levels for all CAP and TAC emissions and with high fines for emissions above agreed levels
  • Requirements for significant further modernization and emissions reduction over the next 10 years with a 3 year committed plan negotiated now as part of the project and commitments for the next turnaround, and a working plan for 2018-2024 based on the EPA checklist and the remaining opportunities identified in the EIR
  • Dramatic improvements in emissions measurement and monitoring by January 2016
  • Any increase in local greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the refinery must be 100% mitigated via a local Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program (CGRP) focused equally on job creation and GHG reduction 
Richmond Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC) says:
"We have the power to make Chevron choose clean air and safety for Richmond residents and refinery workers."
That's an important message in the mailer on the Chevron Modernization project that's arriving in Richmond mailboxes.  Read it through, too!

Chevron will only make better choices if we exercise our power.  Without significant public pressure, the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) would not have contained the only alternative deemed acceptable by the Attorney General's Office.  The initial EIR's 4500 or so pages failed to outline a project Kamala Harris and her staff thought adequate to meet environmental and safety considerations. (For more information, see RPA Activist #138 & #139, or go to the RPA webpage.) This alternative and the other measures necessary to protect residents, workers, and the planet will not be "voluntarily" adopted by Chevron's managers; their first mandate is to maximize profits.

Let's be prepared to exercise our power wisely. 
If you can't speak at the Planning Commission Hearings,
Send an email to the Commissioners
If you do not plan to speak at the Planning Commission hearings, consider sending emails to the members.  Here are the Commissioners' addresses:
One more resource:
U.S. Chemical Safety Board Investigates Chevron

If you need a reminder of what is at stake here, watch the Chevron Refinery Fire Animation video and review some of the 121 outstanding recommendations on the U.S. Chemical Safety Board's (CSB) webpage about the August 2012 Chevron Refinery Fire and Explosion.  It also includes links to the CSB's 129- page FINAL REPORT: Draft Regulatory Report as of May 1, 2014, and other related news stories.  The CSB's Investigation is currently ongoing. 
Next Trainings Sat. July 12th & 19th at 3pm:
Start your canvassing now for TEAM RICHMOND

A few hours a month now can make a valuable contribution to victory in November for the Team Richmond slate.  Do your bit to help Mike Parker for mayor, and city council candidates Jovanka Beckles, Gayle McLauglin, and Eduardo Martinez. Neighborhood canvassing is key to our success as a grassroots movement. 
  • Sign up to canvass your Richmond Neighborhood or, if you are from out of town, plan to canvass with a Richmond resident.  Contact: Alex (email, 617-816-4260) or Kathleen (email).
  • Canvass with one of our great candidates from 4 to 6 any afternoon; sign for any day with this link
  • Get started with a brief training, now every Saturday at 3 pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald (near Harbor), in Richmond.  BART is close by. 

There is no better time than today. 

Fri. July 11, 4;30pm, meeting in Richmond:
Organize for No JROTC in WCCUSD schools!

If you object to a military presence at our high schools (and at WCCUSD expense), come to a meeting this Friday, July 11, 4:30 p.m. at my home in Richmond. Contact me for directions, and/or to contribute info and see how you can help.  (Please let me know if you will be at the meeting.)
 --Susan  Wehrle 
Sat. July 12, Rodeo to Richmond Refinery Corridor Healing Walk:
Connect the Dots Closes the Circle at Chevron

The fourth and final 2014 Refinery Corridor Healing Walk will progress in prayer
and conversation on a route from Rodeo to Richmond.  Walkers will begin in Lone Tree Park (Parker & San Pablo), Rodeo, at 8am, with a path of about 13 miles to the Chevron Gate and then on to Keller Beach Park.  Support vehicles will be available the length of the route, so walkers can rest whenever they'd like.

This event is part of the [NO!] Oil by Rail Week of Action, July 6-13: Rise with the residents of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, to send the message: Keep the Oil Off the Rails and In the Ground!

If you would like to help, the next organizing meeting for the walk is Tuesday, July 8th at 7pm at the BBPC, 1021 MacDonald Ave, Richmond.  (Apologies for the short notice!)

Find more info on the event at this link:
https://actionnetwork.org/events/connect-the-dots-refinery-corridor-healing-walk-4 (Copy & paste the URL into your browser to see the full page faster.)  This link includes a detailed route map and information about suggested joining points, carpools, and walking tips.

All aboard the Freedom Train to Progress!
"Beckles stood tall" in Juneteenth Parade


The last Activist hinted at something special from Jovanka Beckles for the Juneteeth celebration, alluding to the Frisbee-style disks she had to give away.

The Vice Mayor & her "float" were way better than the plastic freebies:

As reported in "Eye on the East Bay" (Contra Costa Times, 7/6/14):


The Eye never misses a Juneteenth festival in Richmond, a city with a well-deserved reputation as host to some of the best ethnic festivals and parades in the Bay Area. This year was no exception, as thousands flocked to Nicholl Park for an outdoor concert featuring artists such as former En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson and the funk band Slave. The food was great too, and local favorite CJ's Barbecue and Fish was a hit with partygoers as usual.


What the Eye did miss was a powerful entrance to the parade by Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles (the Eye sleeps late on Saturdays), but videos and photos posted to Facebook captured the scene for those who got up late.


Beckles, who is of African descent and is the first openly gay councilwoman in the city's history, rode in the bed of a pick-up truck decorated with wood panels to look like a locomotive. With the title "Freedom Train to Progress," Beckles stood tall and pumped her fist to the incendiary rhythms of Public Enemy's iconic "Fight the Power," the theme song of the 1989 Spike Lee film "Do the Right Thing."


Yellow flags with the words "freedom" and "progress" jutted from the faux smokestacks and whipped in the wind.


It was quite a scene, and the clarion rapping bellow of Chuck D rang timeless:


"Cause I'm Black and I'm proud, I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped, Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps," Chuck D rapped.


Powerful song and powerful imagery. Well-played, councilwoman.


--Staff writers Paul Burgarino and Robert Rogers contributed to this column.


Here's a brief snippet of the action:
Fight The Power in Richmond, CA. Video by Shoji.
Fight The Power in Richmond, CA. Video by Shoji.

 That kind of train is welcome to roll through Richmond any time! 

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!

 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.