RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #153
November 10, 2014  
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Team Richmond Sweeps!
Thanks from Gayle McLaughlin
Jovanka Beckles sends her thanks
Eduardo Martinez thanks all his teammates
Mike Parker on why progressives won Richmond
Team Richmond supported with heART & soul
Kaiser Nurses to strike Tues & Wed.
Help design Greenway Connection
Crude by Rail update
Oil industry strategies

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.


Not only did their website go down on Election Day,
Contra Costa vote tally a cliff hanger till last Friday

The local and national press* called the Richmond City Council election long before the RPA and Team Richmond could comfortably, and happily they were not wrong: All 3 of the Team Richmond candidates won 4 year City Council seats!

The County Registrar reported 95,000 ballots --last minute and hand-delivered vote-by-mail envelopes and provisional ballots-- still to be counted when it stopped the tally on November 5th, with just under 160,000 votes in, countywide.  At that point, Eduardo Martinez was in third place, 292 votes ahead of Jim Rogers, with about 11,000 Richmond voters counted.  Rogers had significantly outpolled Eduardo in the first 4000 mail-in ballots, and 2/3 of Eduardo's total then had come from election day voters at the polls.  If the remaining ballots had followed the earlier trend, Rogers would have been re-elected, and the voters would have given a bigger victory to the incumbents than to Team Richmond.

An update wasn't posted until 4:45pm on Friday, November 7th (nearly 3 days after the voting ended), but it showed Eduardo's lead had widened, to 644 votes!

A little while later, Mike Parker sent out an email: "We can safely claim a sweep."  With Eduardo's victory, the message in Richmond was clear:  The people had chosen the progressive slate. 

*Here's a good article from one of those presumptuous news sources.  More media coverage is posted on the Team Richmond site, here
"A profound thank you..."
Letter from councilmember-elect, Mayor Gayle

Dear friends:


What a great victory for the people of Richmond on Tuesday!


See the election results here.  


Team Richmond (Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, & I) won the 4-year City Council seats.


In addition, Tom Butt won the Mayor's seat and Jael Myrick won the 2-year City Council seat.


A profound thank you to the hundreds of Team Richmond volunteers for your hard work and dedication. Together we overcame 3 million dollars plus of corporate money!


My heartfelt appreciation to the Richmond voters who made it clear that our democracy cannot be bought!


This historic election marks the culmination of a decade of hard work by so many in our grassroots movement. At a time when our nation's democracy is in peril due to the outsized influence of corporate money, grassroots democracy has prevailed in Richmond. What an awesome accomplishment we have achieved together!


So proud and honored to be part of our ongoing transformation...


With respect and appreciation,
Gayle McLaughlin

Contact Information:
phone: (510) 237-1456
email: GayleforCouncil@gmail.com
P.S. Check out the Bill Moyers Show where I had the opportunity, along with Richmond Confidential reporter Harriet Blair Rowan, to discuss Richmond and the election. See the show online here: Facing Down Corporate Election Greed. (This links to the more polished final version, with some text below the video.) Or, watch:
Segment: Facing Down Corporate Election Greed 
Moyers & Company Segment: Facing Down Corporate Election Greed

A letter of thanks from Jovanka
Truth and Integrity Prevailed

Greetings good people,


As I've been saying for a long time: there is so much good going on in Richmond! Tuesday's election victory is yet another good thing to add to Richmond's pride and purpose.   


Tuesday's victory is a victory for the people of Richmond in a big way.  Truth and integrity prevailed. Team Richmond (Gayle McLaughlin, Eduardo Martinez and I) won the 4-year City Council seats. Tom Butt won the seat for Mayor and Jael Myrick won the 2-year City Council seat.


We were faced with more than a $3 million dollar war chest that Chevron had at its disposal and utilized to defeat the people of Richmond, but it did not succeed in buying our election and our government.  The people of Richmond mobilized and united to defeat a giant of a corporation, sending a loud message that our government is not for sale!


I send you my sincere appreciation and deep gratitude for all the ways so many of you showed up and dedicated time energy and resources to help bring about this victory. Thank you for your donations. Thank you for volunteering by walking precincts, phone banking and reaching out through social media. Thank you for organizing precincts, using your artistic talents to fix vandalized signs [see below], helping to create mailers and billboards and greeting voters at the poll. Thank you for all that I am aware that you did as well as that of which I am unaware. There was simply so much happening by so many of you so much of the time! It was our united effort that helped defeat $3 million dollars of false ads and propaganda. Together, as with our efforts during WWII, we did it! 

Graphics: Najari Smith



I am incredibly proud and honored to be part of our ongoing transformation in Richmond. I am so proud of Richmond!


peace and blessings, 
"I consider each & every one of you...as a fellow teammate..."
Eduardo's statement of thanks

Photo: Nancy Baer

At the beginning I was overwhelmed by the massive onslaught of misinformation that Chevron money bought. Not only was my mailbox crammed with glossy flyers, but my phone rang with push-pull surveys, my internet was peppered with ads, our city was covered with billboards and bus stop signs, all designed to promote the Chevron candidates and to make Team Richmond look like cartoon villains. Moving Forward with their multi-million budget had a voice louder and more invasive than any individual could ever muster, but the people of Richmond refused to be shouted out.


When Bernie Sanders came to Richmond, he wanted to see grassroots action at work. He said, "The real challenge for progressives in the coming days, months, and years is to build a powerful grassroots movement that is able to break the stranglehold that big money and corporate interests have placed on the nation's democratic institutions." Today in Richmond we see the fruits of the grassroots action that Bernie was looking for, thanks to all of you who are part of Team Richmond.


I consider each and every one of you who participated in this process of democracy that led to our resounding win as a fellow teammate, and I thank you for joining us in this historic victory. Without your help Citizens United would have triumphed over the will of the people. Instead, the canvassing, phone banking, fundraising, organizing and all the other aspects of running a campaign beat the multi-million dollar blitz launched by Chevron via Moving Forward and their many re-creations of various PACs. We have shown the world that grassroots organizing can trump the power of money. Now we must prove to the world that this movement is sustainable, that we can and will continue to move our city in a direction that reflects our shared commitment to economic, environmental, and social justice.


Since the election, I have had the honor of celebrating the official opening of Harbor-8 Park and participating in the "Magnifying Richmond's Voice, Where Do We Go From Here?" workshop. As your future council member, I will continue to serve as the involved community member I have always been. I hope to continue to show my appreciation through my service during my term on the Richmond City Council. Thanks to all of you again and again!


                                                                                         --Eduardo  Martinez 

Mike Parker, Team Richmond Campaign Manager, asks:
Why did progressives win Richmond?

Across the country big money almost totally dominated the elections. Why did
progressives win Richmond?

Many factors contributed to our winning, including:
  • The contributions of so many individuals
  • Chevron shot itself in the foot
  • Our great candidates
  • Their poor candidates
  • Cartoons
  • Alliances
  • Great allies
  • Good literature
  • Better use of data
  • Ground campaign
But all of these were true in many areas of the country. Over-the-top attack
literature worked. Many of the more progressive campaigns had good candidates, literature, allies, ground campaign, etc.  But they lost.

Not only did we have to beat back Chevron's money and expert campaign firms, we  additionally faced $100,000 from the realtors and the active opposition of the Building Trades unions, the official Democratic Party, and groups like BAPAC and the Chamber of Commerce. Our opposition also  had, or made it appear that they had, the endorsement of the big name popular politicians like George Miller.

What made us able to turn around the hit pieces and the essential ingredient in
our victory is that we have been organizing and building for 10 years, and we have built roots through everyday community activity. We have built alliances with
unions and other organizations with whom we share basic values. The Bobby
Bowens Progressive Center, located in the Iron Triangle and staffed entirely by
volunteers, has become a community center, regularly used by all kinds of local
groups. We have trained leaders and supported leaders developing through
other organizations. It was organization that enabled us to put together all the
individual factors above.

Our basic values have been simple: a progressive movement in Richmond
prioritizes improving the health and quality of life of working people and those
disadvantaged in the society. It is independent of corporate money, and it
supports diversity in our city while unifying on those issues that improve the city
as a whole. Our power comes from empowering still more people.

It is no accident that for the last two years the Chevron representatives on the
Council, Booze and Bates, have been mercilessly attacking the RPA, culminating
in an absurd and desperate piece of racist literature in the last days of the
campaign. It is no accident that the only candidates Chevron specifically attacked
were the three RPA-endorsed candidates. Their consultants recognized us as a threat to its power because we were.

The RPA is the key to achieving a progressive agenda and making Richmond
still better. The challenge now is to continue building and broadening the RPA
between elections.

              Mike Parker     
As someone on the Team Richmond facebook page noted:  
Money can't buy you love!
You gotta have heart

In the last weeks before the election, many of the Team Richmond signs were vandalized, some repeatedly.  They were also restored.  In these photos, this work was done by artists Regina Gilligan and Susan Wehrle.  Many thanks to all who contributed their creative talents in many media to bring joy, depth, humor --and votes!-- to the campaign.

Photo: Tim Laidman
Photos: Tarnel Abbott

Tues. & Wed. Nov. 11 & 12:
Kaiser nurses plan 2 day statewide strike

They will be picketing at Kaiser Richmond all day Tuesday and on Wednesday morning.  They most want people to show support at noon Tuesday, but it helps when people come by and talk other times, as well.
Thurs. & Fri. Nov. 13 & 14, 2-6pm
Come & share your ideas for Greenway Extension

You're invited to help plan connecting the western end of the Richmond Greenway with the Bay Trail along Garrard Blvd. This event is sponsored by Pogo Park and UC Berkeley Landscape Architecture graduate students.

As shown on the Bay Trail map below, completing the western end of the Greenway will provide a safe walking, jogging and bicycling connection with the Plunge, Keller Beach and the rest of Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline to the south as well as Point Pinole Regional Shoreline to the north. The extension is the dotted yellow line just below the "Ohio Ave." label .

Richmond CC urges BAAQMD action to stop Crude by Rail
Zoom in on Richmond: Its 107,000 are in danger

At its last meeting before the election, October 28th,  Richmond City Council unanimously* passed a resolution calling on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD)  to "review" and "if feasible, revoke" the permit given to Kinder Morgan to bring in crude oil by rail through Richmond.  The resolution also instructs the City Attorney to research and report back on options for restricting the use of tanker trucks carrying Bakken crude oil through city streets.  There's a sobering and informative piece here, by Phil James in the Richmond Confidential, that begins: "If you go to the website explosive-crude-by-rail.org and zoom in on Richmond, what you'll find is disconcerting. According to the 1-3 mile buffer zone on the map, the entire city and its 107,000 residents are in danger if trains carrying crude oil explode."

*An article posted by Nick Despota on the Sunflower Alliance website, here, noted that Councilmembers Bates and Booze were absent for the vote although present for the meeting, having left the chamber.
Important "background" reading
What we are up against with the oil industry

"Millions spent on front groups, lobbying, & scare tactics to keep Californians dependent on oil," says a National Resources Defense Council report, available here.

And here's a New York Times piece,  subtitled "Energy Industry Talk Secretly Taped," that reveals a strategy for "an endless war" on environmentalists, clearly manifested in the recent assault on Team Richmond, where this time the industry "lost ugly."
 RPA Membership Drive Reinvigorated 

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 celebrate our success in election year in 2014 and plan further work, 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.  While supplies last, 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.