RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #143
August 5, 2014  
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

8/6: Vigil on 2nd Anniversary of Chevron Fire
8/9: Our Power Day of Action
8/16: Richmond Rising Canvass Bash
Vice Mayor Beckles's "Remarkable decorum"
Team Richmond supports DMC
Meet to Stop JROTC
Reflections on the Chevron project decision

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. Aug. 6, 6pm, Civic Center Plaza
Vigil on Second Anniversary of Chevron Fire
Photo: www.mikewallach.com

The second anniversary of the massive Chevron Richmond refinery explosion and fire and the sixty-ninth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima will be marked by a vigil at the Civic Center Wednesday evening.  Hundreds of activists from around the country, in town for the Our Power convening, will join Richmond and Bay Area residents to remember these events and to strengthen our resolve:  Never again! 
Sat. 8/9, Our Power Day of Action, Getting where we need to be:
>From extreme energy to a local living economy
That's the premise of the upcoming Our Power convening happening here in Richmond this week.  On Saturday, join the participants for the Day of Action.  They'll come from the intense program with energy and an enriched vision of a just transition to an environmentally and socially sustainable future.  A theme of Our Power is "Reclaiming our energy, our democracy, and our work."

Saturday's events are all free and everyone is welcome. 

At 9:30, rally at the Kinder Morgan rail yards (gate entrance on S. Garrard Blvd.), where they're bringing crude by rail in to Richmond.  Then we'll walk to the Richmond Greenway for a community speak-out.  That'll be at the 16th Street entrance (between Ohio & Chanslor Ave).  In the afternoon, be part of the Community Solutions Festival featuring local projects that show what can be done with imagination, resourcefulness, resistance, and resilience.  The day will be capped by the "Unplug the Empire" solar-powered concert.   

For more details and info about transit options, go to http://www.sunflower-alliance.org/2014_our_power_day_of_action?utm_campaign=wa_20140804&utm_medium=email&utm_source=350bayarea 
Sat. 8/16, Sign up & start knocking for Team Richmond!
Richmond Rising Canvassing Extravaganza!
If the Team Richmond slate is going to win the 3 city council seats and the mayor's chair this fall, it needs us to hit the streets, walking the talk all around Richmond.  Show your support of Eduardo, Gayle, Jovanka, and Mike by talking with folks where they live.  The goal for August 16th is 1000 homes.  Do your part!  Sign up here.

There will be 2 sessions on Saturday the 16th: A briefing at 9:30 followed by a 10-2 canvass and a 12:30 briefing, with canvassing 1-5.  Light refreshments will be offered at the briefings, but be prepared to go out for an active shift (or 2!): Wear sunscreen, layered clothing, and comfortable shoes for walking, carry water and maybe a snack, and have fun, then party back at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (1021 Macdonald Ave.), the Rising's epicenter, from 5:30 on.  
Headline in San Francisco Chronicle:
"Richmond councilwoman perseveres through hate speech"

The SF Chronicle article on Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles ran in the News section on Monday, August 5th.  It was written by Carolyn Jones.  Here's an excerpt:


"Since she was elected in 2010, Beckles, 51, has endured taunts, rants and ridicule about her sexual orientation and race - she's from Panama and identifies herself as a black Latina - during City Council meetings.


"Sometimes it comes from the public, and sometimes it comes from fellow council members."


It adds: "Much of the wrath comes from Councilman Corky BoozĂ© and a handful of community members, who attack her almost weekly," referring to "the antics of BoozĂ© and his cohorts."   


In a comment online, Mike Parker pointed out: "While we need to protect free speech, we need to also make it clear that there is no support for the enablers and apologists for this kind of hate speech. My opponent for Mayor, Councilmember Nat Bates, regularly gives support to Wassberg and others and attacks Mayor McLaughlin when she tries to establish order."  See, for example:

Nat Bates Hears No Hate! 
Nat Bates Hears No Hate!


In this Chronicle article, at least, Jovanka Beckels got the last word: "'We're making big strides,' she said, noting the drop in crime, surge in new jobs, and proliferation of community gardens and renovated parks. 'I think things will eventually change for the better in this city, and, in the end, that's a cause I think is worth fighting for. It's worth putting up with all this other stuff.'"   


You can read the full piece here.  Be sure to scroll through the photos, too. 


While Jim Rogers was sending out a bad poem*,
Team Richmond stands up for DMC at 7/30 Rally.

Mike Parker, Gayle McLaughlin, & Eduardo Martinez  
Photos: Patsy Byers.
at the rally podium.





Several hundred nurses, patients, and community members gathered for the march and rally. 


There in spirit: Jovanka Beckles, who'd moved for including funds for DMC in the Chevron project at Richmond City Council the night before.  For an interview where Jovanka explains how the failure to fund DMC contributed to her abstention on the final Chevron project vote, check out this piece in SF Bayview.  


Later that evening, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution urging Contra Costa County to integrate DMC into Contra Costa Health Services as a full-service, acute-care hospital to provide healthcare to all the residents of West Contra Costa County.    


*See the last section to learn about the poem. 


Sat. 8/16: Canvass early, then rest your feet before the party
Want to stop Jr ROTC in WCCUSD?  Meet now.

The location of the meeting, set for 4pm, is available from Susan by phone ( 510) 234-0645 or email.  It will be in Richmond, near I-80.
July 29th: Final Chevron project City Council vote: 5-0-2.
Reflections on the Council's Chevron decision.

In the week since City Council made its decision on the Chevron Project, I have struggled to figure out just what I thought, felt, and wanted to write about it.  I know I am disappointed and angry.  Much is still unresolved.  But I do not want to abuse the power of this position (maybe I'm newly re-sensitized to that!) so I am going to refer you to others' comments and writings, primarily. 
One public speaker on July 29th,  Amalia Darling, ran out of time before she could read
Liz Watts & her husband, City Council candidate & Planning Commissioner, Eduardo Martinez.  
Photo by Tarnel Abbott
the conclusion of her statement, but here it is:  "Mayor McLaughlin was just named 'the most fearless mayor in the East Bay' by the East Bay Express. Let's make it the most fearless City Council!  Please hold strong for ALL of the Richmond Planning Commission's conditions and send a clear message to Chevron that YOU govern the City of Richmond." 

Fearless they were not.  The 5 men on the council refused to impose on Chevron any of the conditions recommended unanimously by the Planning Commission.  The same 5 voted to cut off all Council debate and discussion, period.  So the public was denied the opportunity to hear what each member really thought and felt about the issues, and those 5 saved themselves the awkward task of explaining what they supported, and why.  They also denied Mayor McLaughlin and Vice Mayor Beckles the opportunity to express themselves.  Is this a working democracy?

The Contra Costa Times reported shortly after the decision (see here) that the community benefits agreement, "agreed to by the oil giant to secure city approval," was a deal "three council members negotiated in a series of private meetings with a Chevron lobbyist."

I keep wondering what would have happened if Jim Rogers, Jael Myrick, and Tom Butt had asked themselves the questions posted on RPA's Facebook page August 2nd: "Did these council men ever look around and ask: 'How come we're the only ones in the room?' 'Have we been designated by the council to negotiate?' 'Who are we to be doing this?'"

And then what would have happened if one, or two, or all three of them had said, "Un-uh, it's not for me.  I'm outta here!"

"Chevron is a company used to getting its own way" begins Steve Early's recent article in CounterPunch (available here): "Chevron Goes Another Round With Richmond," about the council vote and what's at stake in the upcoming election.

Mike Parker (see his full statement here) has an analysis that notes several missed opportunities for lowering pollution and health risks, outlines strategies for other approaches to achieve these outcomes, and declares: "If we had a City Council that was more willing to stand up to Chevron, our community could have benefited more."

The day after the decision, Jim Rogers, apparently confused about corporations not being people, emailed out a poem parody that concluded, "And there is joy in Richmond -- mighty Chevron has hit one out."  He clearly put himself  on Chevron's winning team, and assigned CBE the role of the opposing pitcher.

In contrast, in her email (Subject line: "Our community deserves the best") Mayor McLaughlin wrote of her abstention on the final vote: "My vote reflects the ambivalence of two realities. I believe the proposal that passed reflected significant concessions by Chevron. I believe, just as strongly, that Chevron can still take additional steps to create the cleanest and safest refinery possible - and our community deserves this company's best effort...
"In the words of Frederick Douglass:  'Power concedes nothing without a
demand.  It never did and it never will.'  We pushed Chevron as it has
never been pushed before, and we won serious concessions from the oil
giant. We are proud of this.  And the struggle continues. Doctors Medical
Center should have been funded in the Chevron agreement. We will continue
to fight for this essential health facility."
In case the print's too fine, it says: "Chevron is Richmond PROUD: Poisoning Residents & Openly Undermining Democracy."

I believe "the three swing votes" on the Council chose repeatedly to do business as usual, for what will prove to be a relatively short and small agreement, and that in so doing they failed to represent the best interests of the people of Richmond.  I agree with the Richmond resident who told Council last week: "My town is not for sale.  Don't give our kids backpacks and ice cream and then give them asthma and cancer.  Money that will be gone in a few years is no substitute for clean air, safety, and health for our community for the rest of our lives."

I know that I do not want those same 5 men, who muzzled the whole council last week --three of whom took it upon themselves to negotiate secretly and privately with Chevron's lobbyist on the City's behalf-- playing critical roles when it's time to decide on the terms of settlement for damages in the lawsuit the City has brought against Chevron for the August 2012 explosion and fire.  Never again!
                                                                                                          --Patsy Byers

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

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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.