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Issue: # 16 April 2, 2010
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IN THIS ISSUE
Van Jones to Help Kickoff Gayle's Campaign
Chevron's Newest Dirty Trick
Lopez, Rogers, Ritterman on Chevron
Tom Butt
Democracy for California
Southeast Shorline
 Saturday,  April 17     1 - 3 pm
 Van Jones  to help kickoff Gayle's campaign
Celebrate
Positive Steps  for Richmond with
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
 
1021 Macdonald Ave, Richmond

Special Guest Speakers: 
 
  • Van Jones (Former Special Advisor for Green Jobs to President Obama) 
                                 
     
  • Nativo Lopez-Vigil (National President of the Mexican American Political Association),
  • Jeff Ritterman, M.D. (Richmond's Vice Mayor)
  •  
To protect its special perk:
Chevron's New Dirty Trick

 For 25 years Chevron has paid a lower rate of utility users tax than we all pay.  
 Every household and small business pays a 10% utility users tax that supports basic  services in Richmond. To avoid paying its fair share, Chevron is trying to put a  measure on the ballot that will devastate Richmond's schools, streets, parks and 
police. Chevron calls it "The City of Richmond Utillity Users Tax Reform Act."
 
 
The Richmond City Council had  scheduled a ballot measure for the fall which will end Chevron's Perk.  It simply says that Chevron has to pay the same tax rate on its utilities that everybody else pays. (It ends a special flat rate that only Chevron can use).  Knowing that it can not beat this measure which calls for simple fairness,  Chevron is trying to ride the hardship Richmond voters are facing by proposing to cut everybody's taxes a little in order for Chevron to save big. Chevron's measure will cut the Utility Tax in half and exempt poor and seniors from paying any utility tax at all.  All of us will save a few dollars a month while Chevron saves millions. 
But we will all pay the cost because this will force cuts in our schools, our roads, our parks and our police protection
 
Chevron hopes at least  to confuse voters to get them to vote both  measures down. 
 
Chevron will have to get the measure on the ballot by  paying a petition firm two to five dollars a signature.  (The  actual signature gatherers only get a small part of that.)  
 
Don't sign Chevron's Petition
 
How you can help.
  •  If you see petition circulators, try to convince them not to help Chevron hurt Richmond. 
     
  •  Call the RPA at 510-595-4661. We will  be sending out truth squads to provide information to people in any signature gathering location.
     
  • Help us let people know.  We will be leafleting shopping areas  and going door to door.
     
  • Drop us an email  with  your name, phone number, and times you are available.
 
Remember the only answer to Chevron's money and PR  is  when we all participate.


Councilmembers Myrna Lopez,  Jeff Ritterman,  Jim Rogers on Chevron's action:

THERE THEY GO AGAIN 

  Decades ago Chevron got a tax loophole which now lets them save roughly $15-20 million per year by paying a lower percent on their Utility Tax than regular Richmond taxpayers.

  When the City Council unanimously put the Stop Chevron's Perks on this November's ballot, Chevron trotted out the argument that this was "Chevron-bashing". After their polling revealed this argument wasn't getting any traction (because voters understand that letting Chevron save millions at the expense of Richmond residents who end up paying the bill would be "taxpayer-bashing"), Chevron is  now going to place their own initiative on the ballot to try to preserve their tax loophole by confusing voters and sinking both measures.

There they go again.

As we write this, we don't know the details of where they're going with their counter-initiative, but  you can bet it will try to distract voters from a simple question: should Chevron be allowed to pay a lower percent on their utility tax than you and I?

Chevron knows that voters wouldn't be happy about a tax loophole for Chevron in any year, but especially not in a year when Richmond is laying off employees and cutting back on  pothole repairs, due to State tax grabs and the slow economy.

We have no shortage of ideas on how to reverse the  tragic homicide rate, which is predictably high during the recession: police, keeping the schools open that are slated to be closed (Kennedy, Grant, and Olinda), paramedic services, neighborhood outreach workers, job-training, library services, parks and recreation, encouraging new employers by fixing our City's blight and potholes, etc.

But we have a shortage of money to make those ideas happen.

If you appreciate the jobs and tax base Chevron brings to Richmond (as we do), then buy from Chevron even when its a few pennies more per gallon (as we do.)

We can afford that.

But don't sign any initiative that gives Chevron a loophole to keep their $15-20 million per year perk.

We can't afford that.

Councilmember Myrna Lopez
Councilmember Jeff Ritterman
Councilmember Jim Rogers


 

Tom Butt  on Chevron's Measure:
Hate and Greed
In a face slap beyond cynical, Chevron filed their utility user tax  ballot measure yesterday, deceptively entitled "City of Richmond Utility Users Tax Reform Act,"  that would hold Chevron's tax payment at approximately the current minimum level while cutting everyone else's in half and exempting low income persons and persons over 60. Click here for a copy

Why is this cynical? Richmond receives about 25% of its general fund revenue from utility user taxes. Chevron's measure would not only artificially cap the amount Chevron pays; it would reduce the total utility tax revenue by at least $10 million and maybe as much as $15 million. That wouldn't just punish the City Council; it would punish every resident and business in Richmond by causing layoffs of police and firefighters, increasing potholes, abandoning park maintenance and generally forcing the condition of the City and the quality of life of its residents to decline. In fact, it could drive the City into bankruptcy or reduce services to the extent Richmond could no longer function effectively.
 
 Chevron's ploy, of course, is to convince voters to act selfishly to reduce their own taxes while taking care of Chevron.

This ballot measure is so vicious and so potentially devastating that it is a clear metaphor for the visceral hate that Chevron, the corporation, must have for the people of Richmond.

 This is not just my perspective. See the editorial below entitled "There They go Again" from Councilmembers Rogers, Lopez and Ritterman.

 In addition to mounting this greedy initiative, Chevron continues to assault City and County treasuries with property tax appeals and other litigation. See the story about the already devastated Contra Costa County having to return $18 million to Chevron. Yes, this is the same financially strapped county we live in that is laying off sheriff deputies and prosecutors so that crime can increase with impunity in West County.
 
See Tom Butt's EFORUM 
Deadline approaching.  Act now  
California Democracy Act:
               End Special Interest Rule
 
April 12 is deadline for  petition signatures to get the California Democracy Act on the ballot.  This initiative would  end the tyranny of a small minority in the state legislature blocking budgets and protecting the tax breaks of the wealthy.  It would allow democratic decisions based on a majority. 
 
We need action on two fronts. 
 
We must finish the job of collecting signatures.  Circulate a petition if you can.  If you do not have time you can submit your name by  going to this website.  And if you forward this information to your lists we can get this job done.
 
 
We must make sure that the ballot measure is worded fairly for it to have a chance.   Jeff Ritterman is urging us all to write Attorney General Jerry Brown.   
 
Dear fellow Californians,
 
Restore Democracy in California.
 
Our state is financially broke and we can't even keep our schools open.  We are 49th in school funding.  The best way to change this is to be like every other state and pass a budget with a simple majority.  In California 34% of the state senate or state assembly can block the budget.  A handful of Republican legislators have held the state hostage and all of us, especially our children are suffering.
 
Write Attorney General Jerry Brown at initiative.coordinator@doj.ca.gov
 
Tell Jerry:
 
 to provide a title and summary of the resubmitted California Democracy Act according to its actual intent as follows: Ensures that all legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote, and ends the ability of a minority of legislators to block the will of the majority on such legislation.
 
If we want to save public education in California and prevent a complete state financial meltdown, this is how to do it.
 
Please send this out to your email lists, tell your neighbors and friends.  The future of our state is at stake.
 
In partnership,
Jeff Ritterman
Vice Mayor
Richmond, CA
 
Thursday  April 8,   6:30-9 pm 
 
Southeast Shoreline Area (RSSA) Community Advisory Group (CAG)
The future of the Southeast shoreline and nearby communities needs your vigilance.
 
The City of Richmond Planning Director, Richard Mitchell, will be speaking at the Thursday,  4/8/2010, RSSA CAG meeting.  He will talk about the General Plan carve out for the Richmond southeast shoreline area which includes the Zeneca/Cherokee site, UC Richmond Field Station, Harborfront Tract and Union Pacific (Blair Landfill) properties, all south of Interstate-580 to the San Francisco Bay.  He will be taking questions from the CAG and the public.  The area was previously part of a special zone, the Knox Freeway Corridor Zone, which required buffers between various land use extremes.
 
Demand that the planning director Richard Mitchell answer to the residents and not
to mega-developers. Mitchell has never seen a developer that he did not like.
It is up to the residents to protect Richmond from mega-developers and from Mitchell's plans.
 
The RSSA CAG meets on the second Thursday of every month, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Richmond City Hall, 440 Civic Center Plaza, Basement Conference Room, Richmond, CA 94804.
 
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend/participate. 
 
Juan Reardon

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 the email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

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