RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #158
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Reminder: 1/13 at 6:30, Council Swearing-In
1/31: RPA All Members Meeting
Clay Play on MLK Day, 1/19
Framing a debate on party politics
Progressive Candidates for Democratic Party Delegation
"Why I am not a Democratic Party member"
1/9, 5pm: RHS Stories That Matter
1/13: Striking Kaiser Mental Health Workers will picket in Richmond
1/18: California at Crossroads Forum on Climate Leadership
1/21: Citizens United Anniversary Event

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.


Tues., 1/13, 6:30pm in Richmond City Council Chamber
Witness Team Richmond seated at Council


Just a quick reminder to start off:  We are all invited to the Swearing-In Ceremony for Jovanka Beckles, Gayle McLaughlin, Eduardo Martinez, the new mayor, and the other councilmembers.   


A celebratory reception in the lobby of the Richmond Memorial Convention Center will follow the ceremony.   


Plan to be there to join in the festivities, share congratulations, and show support for the progressive work to come.

Join the RPA Sat. 1/31/15, 2-5pm, at 1021 Macdonald 
Carrying forward our election victory!
RPA Logo

For our first Membership Meeting of 2015, the RPA Membership Committee is planning an event like no other.  The details are still being worked out, but, please, save the date now.  


Together, we'll need to take lessons from the 2014 campaign and carry them on in the even harder work of developing policies, programs, and alliances to meet the needs of the people of Richmond.


All three of our newly sworn-in City Councilmembers will be there, letting us know what advice and support they'd like from us to meet the challenges ahead.


We'll also present results from the survey of volunteers.  If you volunteered in the election campaign and you have not yet completed a survey, please do so now.  (Find the email entitled "A Letter of Special Thanks" with the survey's URL at the bottom, or respond to the reminder email which will be sent to volunteers later this week, or fill in a hard copy at BBPC, 2-5pm, M-F.)   


We'll have some news about initiatives RPA has begun to improve organizational effectiveness, and ways that all members can contribute to making both the Richmond Progressive Alliance and Richmond stronger and more vibrant communities. 


All this, and light refreshments!


New members can join at the door and current members can update their status.  

If you'd like to join now, follow this link to the membership form.  Print and complete the form and mail it in with a check for your dues, which start at $12/yr.  Or, to avoid printing and snail-mailing, you can:

  •  send an email to info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form &
  • go to the RPA web page & press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a payment for dues. Any additional contribution helps us keep dues more affordable for those with low income and is welcomed.
Mon., 1/19, 9am-1pm, MLK Day on the Greenway
Dirty your hands for the RPA

Here's a way to enjoy yourself and contribute to RPA's presence in the community: Volunteer at the Clay Table, an art activity for children of all ages.  Once again, we'll have blocks of self-drying clay to cut into chunks for any and all to get their hands on, with the option of saving our creations and taking them home.  Help with set up before 9, for an hour or 2 in the morning or around lunchtime,  or with clean up.  If you're interested, willing, and able, send an email to Michael Beer.

Other planning for the event is still underway.  Look for a flyer &/ more info later in January, on the RPA Facebook page.  The emphasis this year will be on surveying neighborhood residents to get a better idea of what they want the Greenway to become, learning what projects or components they would most value.

There's likely to be music, speakers from noon to 12;30, and poetry, too.   
Introducing the debate reflected in the next two articles:
Does the Democratic Party offer progressives real hope?

From its inception the Richmond Progressive Alliance has been an alliance of people with different political beliefs who identify as Democrats, Greens, Independents, Socialists, Peace and Freedom and others. We all believe that promoting a progressive agenda in Richmond requires breaking the corporate and wealth control of our politics.  We believe that moving ahead requires connection between social/political movements and elected representatives in an organization that is independent of corporate and wealth control.

We have worked together effectively to achieve progressive results. But we also have differences over how to advance these ideas beyond Richmond.

Some of us believe that the road forward is to build a truly progressive wing in the
Democratic Party by winning delegates to Party bodies and, given our two party system, this is the only way for progressives to gain power at the state and national levels.

Others of us believe that the Democratic Party is effectively controlled by corporations and that so-called reform efforts in the Democratic Party are an illusion of popular control as a way to draw in, co-opt, and dissipate popular movements. More people are recognizing this, and one of our jobs is to educate and demonstrate this reality.

Following are two articles that represent these positions. We look forward to continuing this discussion within the RPA as we continue to struggle for a progressive agenda and an independent movement in Richmond, and beyond.
                                                                                --Mike Parker & Patsy Byers  
"California's Future" Democratic Party Delegate Candidates
Progressives who want to represent AD15

In the words of Jovanka Beckles: "This is an attempt to change the status quo in the Democratic Party.  I invite the progressive Democrats among us to come out and help change the current machine."

From their Facebook page: These are the 14 candidates on the California's Future slate. They are diverse geographically, as well as in their age, areas of interest, and race. Most importantly, they are committed to working within the California Democratic Party to move it in a more progressive and grassroots direction.  [Brief bios, candidate statements (and larger photos!) are available via the Facebook link.]  


California's Future is the only slate endorsed by Tony Thurmond and the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.  


Voters must have registered to vote as Democrats before Oct. 20, 2014 in the AD-15 district in order to vote. If Tony Thurmond was on your ballot in the last general election then you are in the right district!  These candidates ask you to take an hour out of your day Saturday, January 10 and to vote for California's Future at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., between 2pm and 4pm.   You must be in line before 4pm if you want to be able to vote. 

The California's Future slate is seeking a resounding mandate for moving the California Democratic Party in a progressive direction.  
A different perspective from Gayle McLaughlin:
Why I am not a Democratic Party member

It has been such an incredibly rich and dynamic experience these past 8 years serving in the role of Richmond mayor.  It is both gratifying and bittersweet as I move through these last few weeks before I term out as mayor and take my city council seat.  Throughout these past 8 years, many of you know that I have often been identified within the media as the "Green mayor."  The reason for this is because I am a registered member of the Green Party.  While I am not active in the internal politics of the Green Party, I do agree with the 10 key values they promote which include grassroots democracy, social justice, equal opportunity, and ecological wisdom, to name a few.

My more active affiliation lies with the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), an organization I co-founded in 2003 with other Richmond activists and organizers.   A small group of us came together at that time forming an alliance of Greens, progressive democrats, and independents to promote our shared values and run candidates for local office who took no corporate donations.   Our local elected offices in Richmond and in most cities of the U.S. are non-partisan offices, so party politics do not play an official role in our local elections.  Those of us in the RPA are tied together through our shared values and a commitment to a healthy and progressive city.   While we work closely with allies outside of the RPA, we are proud of the RPA's work in creating a model that really works on a local level.

With our clean sweep of the elections this year, defeating more than 3 million dollars of corporate money, our city has been thrust into the spotlight across the nation as an example of a community standing up for itself, making it clear that our local democracy is not for sale.  While we have been strengthened by our local progressive wins, we must not forget the fact that Richmond is not an island.  We are impacted by events nationally.  And the outcome of the
elections nationally was anything but a win for democracy.  The power of money successfully wielded its influence throughout the nation and by doing so, democracy was suppressed.  It is for that reason I decided to write this article and share why I have chosen (ever since I was 20 years old) to remain outside the Democratic Party.  

It is my belief that the 2-party system that exists in this country is an impediment to achieving true democracy.  Both major parties (Democrats and Republicans alike) are funded heavily by corporate money.  In fact, most big corporations donate to both parties to keep their corporate-backed 2-party system in place.  This is different than in all other advanced industrial countries where multi-party systems have developed and more democratic electoral laws have been enacted.  Parties exist in these countries that are based on promoting the specific interest of non-corporate sectors, such as ordinary working people.

Most attempts to build political alternatives in our country have not been able to develop.  For over 140 years the two major parties have effectively prevented the emergence of any mass political formations that could challenge them.  Their ties to corporate America and a corporate-backed media have assured the 2-party monopoly.

In spite of this pro-corporate political monopoly, mass struggles for social progress and struggles to expand democracy and civil rights have periodically exploded throughout United States history, demonstrating the power of independent political action.

And on a local level in Richmond we have seen the results of grassroots organizing and independent movement-building over the past decade, culminating in the results of the recent campaign season.  Yet in order to maintain and deepen our progressive outcome in Richmond, we need to be mindful that we live in the context of a broader political climate.  

The challenges we face nationally are great, but developments like the nationwide protests against police brutality, strikes by low wage workers for better pay, and marches for a sustainable planet indicate widespread opposition and the need for better political representation.

In the meantime, many people have chosen to affiliate with no political party, while some of us have registered with smaller parties.  And clearly there are many people who remain registered Democrats, but hold an oppositional view of how their party functions in this era of corporate domination.  

There are also well-intentioned people who are engaged in attempts to reform the Democratic Party.  While I applaud their efforts, it is important to point out that history has shown time and time again the futility of such attempts.  When independent movements have appeared historically, the Democratic Party has called on people to join the Democratic Party and work from within. But sadly mass mobilizations for democracy and social justice have repeatedly found the Democratic Party to be the burial ground for their movements.  As a party, the
Democrats have always stopped short of any serious challenge to the corporate system that backs them.  As a result, under both parties, wealth inequality has grown; wars have continued; Wall Street has been bailed out at the expense of hard-working families; public education has suffered...and movements have been derailed.

That is why I am not a member of the Democratic Party.  I do at times join with elected officials of the Democratic Party behind specific issues, but stand in opposition to the 2-party system, choosing instead to promote better political representation with a blossoming of choices.  I also remain proud to stand with my colleagues in Team Richmond, the RPA and our many allies, regardless of their party affiliation or no party affiliation, who choose to put their main focus on
building our independent local movement.  We have shown that the power of people united (at least in Richmond, CA) is stronger than the power of money.  

In a speech I delivered at the 2nd RPA forum on Feb. 23, 2004 (where we welcomed Rep. Dennis Kucinich to Richmond during his presidential run in the Democratic primary), I state that "democracy is running out of time."  That statement is truer today than ever. To read this speech, click here.  It's striking how far we have come since 2004 in shaping a new local political landscape.  By doing so, we have become a shining example of what can happen in other cities, AND on the broader political landscape, when people unite!
                                                                                          --Gayle McLaughlin 
& now for something completely different: Fri., 1/9, 5pm:
Richmond High School Stories That Matter

Original Student TedTalks (2): Stories and presentations written, developed, and delivered by Richmond High drama students, taught by Eugenia Ives, working with the model of TedTalks. 

Enter the school through the main entrance for 1250 23rd Street.  The performance will be held in the RHS Little Theater, on the right before you reach the main office. 

A collaboration between the CAPA and Multi-Media Academies

Free Admission

Also on Tues., 1/13, join the Richmond Kaiser picket line:
Mental Health workers to strike for better care

Mental Health clinicians at Kaiser Permanente will hold a week-long statewide strike over the HMO's (Health Maintenance Organization) failure to provide timely, adequate care to patients.  More details about the issue are available here, in the
press release from the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHC), which represents the 2600 Kaiser California psychologists, therapists, and social workers who are set to strike.

The Richmond picket line at 901 Nevin Ave. will be on Tuesday, January 13. Come out in support of the workers who are protesting lengthy treatment delays caused by Kaiser's chronic understaffing. 
Sun., 1/18, 7-9pm, 2000 Franklin St., Oakland (Near BART)
"What real climate leadership looks like"

Come hear an inspiring panel of real climate leaders who are unafraid to face this challenge head on:
  • Assemblyperson Tony Thurmond of AD 15
  • Richmond City Councilperson Eduardo Martinez
  • Representatives of the California Nurses Association
  • The East Bay faith community
  • AndrĂ©s Soto, Communities for a Better Environment
  • Margaret Gordon, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
  • Pennie Opal Plant offers the opening invocation.

The forum MC is New Yorkers Against Fracking co-founder and Californians Against Fracking organizer, David Braun.  Other speakers to be announced.


Hosted by Californians Against Fracking, California Nurses Association, Sunflower Alliance, 350.org, 350 Bay Area, Sierra Club, and others.  More info is available here


Wed. 1/21, 4-7pm, Justin Herman Plaza, 1 Market, San Francisco:
Mourn & Organize 5 years after Citizens United.

From the statement of the event organizers, Money Out! People In!:

Photo source: Sunflower Alliance webpage 
On this, the 5th anniversary of the Citizens United decision, we:
  * Mourn the Supreme Court decisions granting corporations unlimited campaign spending rights.
  * Mourn our lost American democracy,
  * Mourn the loss of government that no longer works for us.
  * Vow to recreate a government by the people.
  * And find hope that democracy will be resurrected in America

Gayle McLaughlin says: I will be marching and speaking at the rally not only to continue to denounce the Citizens United ruling but also to speak about the fact that the power of people CAN overcome the power of money as we have done in Richmond!

More information about the event and the campaign's goals can be found here
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.