RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #160
2-8 -15   
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Throw your support for Marilyn Langlois for Council Appointment
RPA Membership Meetings
How to join the RPA
2/12: Support UC/BGC CBA for Richmond
Steel Workers on Strike for Safety
Critical Analysis of Street Repair Decisions
Where DMC Stands Now
ACLU & Local Privacy Protections
2/13 & 14:War on drugs: Will it ever end?
Celebraton for Gayle, a forum, & Amnesia: A New Play, coming up
Animals Against Extinction: That Includes Us!

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. Feb. 10, 6:30pm until (very) late:
City Council to consider vacancy appointment


There are 17 (or maybe 18!) self-nominated candidates for the Council seat that was vacated by Tom Butt when he became mayor.  The RPA Steering Committee is supporting Marilyn Langlois to fill the position until an election in 2016.  We believe Marilyn is the best qualified and the best prepared person for the job.  For an example of her thorough and thoughtful analysis of issues, see her article on funding street repairs in a section below.


Her appointment will meet with resistance from some on council (& 4 votes are necessary to succeed).  We urge you to contact the mayor & council members to express your views. 


Here are a few brief comments from letters submitted in support of Marilyn:   

  • "Marilyn Langlois has demonstrated that she is a friend to all the people of Richmond, continuously working inside and outside government for a fair and equitable political, economic and social agenda."     
  • "She has a unusually broad network of community support from the many community groups she has worked to support."
  • "She is the only candidate who can hit the ground running and become an effective council member immediately."
  • "She is very sharp, but she also has a wonderfully open heart."

Please seriously consider giving support to Marilyn's candidacy by letter, email, phone call, or in person (with a modest sign, perhaps) at the meeting Tuesday.  All the Council members will make their own decisions, but we in the public need to make our positions clear to them!


Contact Information: 
Mayor Tom Butt
Office: 510-236-7435 Fax: 510-232-5325

Vice Mayor Jael Myrick
Office: 510-620-6636

Nat Bates
Office: 510-620-6743

Jovanka Beckles
Office: 510-620-6568 

Eduardo Martinez
Office: 510-620-6593

Gayle McLaughlin   
Office: 510-620-5431

Letters may be sent to each Council member at:
City Council Chambers  
Civic Center Campus       
440 Civic Center Plaza  
Richmond, CA  94804 

The fax number for all Council members is 510-620-6824
Membership Meeting Exceeded Wildest Expectations!
Save the Date: RPA
Meets again Sat. 2/28 at 3pm.

Any way you look at it, the open meeting for friends and members of the RPA on January 31st was a big success.  Happily, we had a large turn-out, with time for intense conversations, updates from the Council members, brain-storming, giving feedback, and sharing good food together.

All meeting photos by Mike Parker. *
Save the date now: the next Richmond Progressive Alliance meeting will be Saturday, 2/28, at 3pm, in the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (1021 Macdonald, downtown Richmond).  Members and all who would like to join are welcomed! 

We will be organizing ourselves to get down to work on the issues we identified.  Please plan to be there!

* The white haired woman (standing near the center of the photo) in the Team Richmond tee shirt is Membership Chair Kathleen Wimer, who so ably handled the mic & deserves credit for much of the success of the meeting.

Join the RPA now & avoid the rush at the door on Feb. 28 
We are building a better Richmond together!
RPA Logo

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.
Let's show We Love Richmond right before Valentine's Day
UCB's Global Campus at Richmond Bay:  Invest in housing, training, jobs, & more for Richmond!

Safe Refineries Save Lives :
Show Support for Striking Steelworkers

SWA workers before the Chemical Safety Board hearing, 1/21/15.  Photos: Mike Parker   
The Martinez Tesoro refinery is completely shut down.  Thanks to all who stood with the workers last Friday in the rain!  The picket line is up 24/7, and public support is very much appreciated anytime you can be there: 150 Solano Way, Pacheco.  It's close to Highways 680 and 4. Tesoro Martinez underwent an "orderly shutdown" cooperatively conducted by workers and management.  However, Chevron management has indicated that if the strike spreads to Richmond, they will continue to run the refinery --using people who may not have enough training and experience to run it safely.

As noted in last week's Key List, a USW worker suggested contacting Chevron Richmond manager Kory Judd and Richmond's Mayor Tom Butt about Chevron's threat to run their refinery here with scabs.


[For more background on the strike, there's an article from Labor Notes now posted in Portside .] 
Marilyn Langlois gives her analysis:
Street repair: To borrow or not to borrow?

Massive street repair program in Richmond over the next five years?  Who
wouldn't want that?!  But, as is often the case, the devil is in the details.

In November, Richmond voters approved Measure U, a ½% sales tax increase
that is estimated to bring an additional $7.5 million in revenue each year to the
City.  The City Council has indicated that it would like to dedicate half of that--
$3.75 million-towards street repair each year.  Staff had done some study about
the possibility of issuing 30 year bonds (i.e., borrowing money) to do much
needed street repair now and use half of the Measure U revenues to make the
annual principal-plus-interest payments on the debt.  In the short term, it seemed like a real win-win solution, but following public requests for a longer-term analysis that was presented to the City Council on Jan. 27, a lurking poison pill emerged.

Staff analyzed four scenarios and recommended 3A:

1. Use no Measure U revenues at all for street repair (status quo)

2. Don't go into debt and use half of Measure U revenues--$3.75
million-along with our existing gas tax revenues of $2.5 million to spend  
$6.25 million annually over the long-term on street repair and maintenance
(pay as you go) 

3A. Go $44 million into debt for 30 years (issuing bonds) and use it as follows:  $36.2M during the coming 5 years for street repairs, $0.8M for one-time financing costs, $4M for "gateways" (street enhancement on major corridors), $0.6M for public art, and $2.8M to provide the matching funds required for other grant-funded projects.  Over the long-term we'd have the existing $2.5M from the gas tax plus $1.1M from Measure U, totaling $3.6M annually for street repair, with $2.65M annually from Measure U being paid for 30 years for debt service. 

3B. Go $63 million into debt for 30 years (issuing bonds) and use it as follows:  $54.4M during the coming 5 years for street repairs, $1M for one-time financing costs, $4M for "gateways" (street enhancement on major corridors), $1M for public art, and $2.8M to provide the matching funds required for other grant-funded projects.  Over the long-term we'd have only the existing $2.5M gas tax each year for street repair, with $3.75M annually from Measure U being paid 30 years for debt service. 

Strategies 3A and 3B would have more benefits in the short term (5-10 years
from now), but would put us in a worse situation 20 and 30 years down the road
when funds for ongoing maintenance dry up, as evidenced from the two graphs
showing projected differences in PCI (Pavement Condition Index) and remaining
deferred maintenance over time.  The pay as you go strategy appears to be more
beneficial in the long haul (think of our children and grandchildren).

Graphics from Richmond City Council agenda packet; prepared by City staff. 
Strategies 3A and 3B (City borrowing either $44 or $63 million) would both
require significant interest payments to financial institutions ($36 million or $48.5
million over 30 years, respectively), nearly doubling the total amount of money needing to be repaid, whereas pay as you go would provide a steady source of income dedicated to street repair and no need for interest payments at all.  Generally speaking, it's considered reasonable to go into debt for major capital
improvements (like remodeling Civic Center) but not for maintenance.  

Pay as you go offers the opportunity for an increase in sustainable, long-term
good local jobs (perhaps even putting them all in the City's Public Works Dept.!)
for street repair.  Strategies 3A and 3B, on the other hand, would create a larger
number of jobs (likely with more going to non-Richmonders) in the short term, but
all those jobs would disappear in five years.

Pay as you go allows for slower but steady and more sustainable improvement of
our city streets with only a brief and minimal dip in 5 years, followed by steady
improvement.  Strategies 3A and 3B would have improvements that spike in 5
years and then descend to well below the current status 20 and 30 years from

With pay as you go, we could be more flexible with how we spend the money--
using more some years if we're able and there's a specific need, or holding back
if there's another financial crisis.  We could also use some of the remaining half
of Measure U revenues for added street repair in the first few years.  With 3A and
3B, we have to make those interest payments to banks no matter what.

All that said, it's also clear that the public wants to see more up front
improvements than pay as you go would allow.  Therefore, at Council member
McLaughlin's urging, the Council has asked staff to bring back further analysis of
a scenario with only $22 of debt, in order to have at least some additional funds
now to repair the worst streets that are failing.  If we go this way, priority should
be given to failing streets in the lowest income neighborhoods.  

Another option to consider would be a smaller amount of debt financed over 15
instead of 30 years, which would lower the overall interest payment and allow for
spending the full half of Measure U revenues for street maintenance each year
after 15 years, at a time when it will be badly needed.

A word on "gateways," public art and grant-funded projects:  Providing the $2.8
million in matching funds for the grant funded projects should be a priority, and
could be paid over 3 years with $0.9 million per year from Measure U or reduced
bond proceeds (possibly even from the other half of U revenues, since only half
of the $7.5 in annual Measure U funds are currently being earmarked for street
repair).  These grant-funded projects total over $12 million in improvements,
including bike lanes on Carlson between Bayview and Broadway, completing the
gap between the Richmond Greenway and San Pablo Avenue, and several

Public art by law is included as a small percentage of any capital improvement
projects, and so some amount of that will happen no matter what.

"Gateways" would be very nice to have, but it's questionable whether it's worth
going into debt for them.  For such one-time capital intensive streetscape
improvements, public or private grant funds are often available.

In the bigger picture, who knows what the situation of street usage and
transportation will look like 20 years from now?  Maybe there will be better paving
materials developed, or maybe gasoline powered cars will be phasing out, or
maybe vehicles will be lighter, or more and better public transit will be entering
the scene.  With pay as you go or a lower debt load, we can adapt to all these
evolving situations as they arise.  By going deeper into debt ($44 or $63 million),
we'd be locking ourselves into current street paving technology for a relatively
short term benefit.   
An update on Doctors Medical Center:
RPA gives DMC critical care.

The future of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo will be determined in the
next few weeks.  In 2014, incredible community organizing by nurses, doctors, healthcare workers and community residents --especially members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance-- clearly demanded a full service acute care hospital to serve all people in West Contra Costa County regardless of their ability to pay, supporting healthcare is a basic human right.

The RPA successfully made the operation of DMC an issue in the city council elections.  This past October, every current Richmond City Council member voted to allocate $15 million for DMC in the Community Benefit Agreement that Chevron offered as part of the refinery 'modernization'.  Even Chevron's hand-picked candidates decided they needed to take real steps to save DMC if they hoped to be elected in Richmond.

At the direction of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond City Manger Bill Lindsay developed a funding plan for DMC that would operate the hospital for the next three to five years.  As part of this plan, Contra Costa County will waive some interest payments DMC was required to make into the county's financial reserves.  A parcel tax in the same amount as those previously approved by West Contra Costa residents --rather than the much larger parcel tax sought last year (which did receive a majority of voter approval but not the required two-thirds)-- is also included in this plan.  Indisputably, the Richmond Progressive Alliance successfully fought to save DMC when no one else would.  

Now, DMC is faced with how to continue operating until funds from the Richmond plan are obtained.  The West Contra Costa Healthcare District Board is considering multiple offers to purchase the land DMC is located on, including those from a for-profit group named Venturatta, an unnamed investor, and a non-profit called Angels Care.  Each of these offers would, essentially, purchase the existing DMC land and lease the property back to DMC to operate as a hospital for some period of time while it develops a plan to build a new seismically safe hospital building.

None of the purchase offers represent an ideal solution for DMC.  The City of San Pablo has made the most serious offer for DMC's land, but they only offer $11 million in cash and a deed to land already promised to DMC.  San Pablo can and should provide a better offer to DMC because it will improve the hospital's chances of survival.

Our campaign to save DMC continues because nurses and the members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance will not let the people of West county be denied basic human rights.  We will need to assure that the City of San Pablo, or any other purchaser of DMC's land, acts in the best interest of our community.  Moreover, we must work together in 2015 to pass a parcel tax increase

(much smaller than Measure C)  to help stabilize funding for DMC. Ultimately we need the county to take responsibility and/or a fix to Federal funding, as we finalize a plan to build a seismically safe hospital to ensure that West County's health needs are met in the long run. 

                                                      --Zach Goldman, California Nurses Association 
The ACLU is Smart about Surveillance:
Momentum Builds for Local Privacy Laws

Super-secret Stingrays, which masquerade as cell-phone towers to scoop up all mobile communications, hundreds of thousands of automated license-plate readings to recover just one stolen vehicle, and security spooks surveilling their girlfriends --these are just a few of the abuses and follies we suffer in the Mass Surveillance State. Nationwide, untold billions are wasted on ineffective technologies, while our "right to be left alone" is shattered.  


Gene Hackman in The Conversation. 

The ACLU has devised a brilliant strategy to restore democracy, one city or county at a time. Their plan is outlined in a new report, with model legislation to require community approval and yearly audits of all local surveillance programs.  

From the report's conclusion:

"Communities increasingly understand the need to make smart choices about surveillance technology and ensure that time, energy, and resources are not spent on systems that cost more, do less, and have a greater impact on the rights of community members than you expect. And following public outcry about NSA spying and the use of military equipment by local police, community members demand-and deserve-both a voice in any decision to deploy surveillance technology and reassurance that robust safeguards and public oversight will be in place if surveillance is going to be used."


The Los Angeles Times , the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, and the RPA have endorsed this local approach to surveillance oversight.


For more information, see the ACLU's  Smart About Surveillance webpage. Also see  Oakland Poised to Lead in Protecting Privacy in the February 4th East Bay Express.

                                                                                                 --Daniel Goodwin 
100 years of war on drugs:
Will it ever end?

From the event announcement: "Valentine's Day provides an occasion for people to acknowledge the importance of love in their lives. But for many of our friends and neighbors, Valentine's Day is a reminder of loved ones lost, casualties of the unending war on drugs. The policy of punitive drug prohibition has failed to achieve its stated goals, of reducing illicit drug consumption and improving public health. Our vision is of a society where there is education and health care for all, drug treatment for all who require it, jobs for all who need them, and a sense of belonging to a community.

"This forum will inform our community and a national task force of the Presbyterian Church-USA (PCUSA) that is visiting Richmond, about the impacts in Richmond of the war on drugs, and what community members, leaders, and agencies are doing in response. Richmond has been deeply affected and is also innovative in addressing those impacts. Public testimony will be documented in a report and used for national advocacy tools for continued education and outreach on this issue.

"Please come and share you experiences to help inform the Task Force of the local impacts of drug policies. Your voice and views are important."

Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
2621 Shane Drive, Richmond

Friday, February 13, 1:30 - 4:00 pm: Testimony

Saturday, February 14, 9am-12:30pm: Panel of Community Leaders

                                     12:30-2:30pm: Lunch & Discussion of Next Steps 

3 More Upcoming events
Later in the shortest month:

*     *     *               *     *     *               *     *     *
*     *     *                    *     *     *                    *     *     *
Friday, Feb. 27, 8pm at East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond.
Click here to buy tickets.

   More information about these events will be in the next issue of the Activist.


Gov. Brown: Ban Fracking in California like, yesterday, already!
Worth at least 6000 words, from 1 point of view

Photos: Patsy Byers 
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.