RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #180
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Celebrate & rate Unity Park design Saturday
Friday the 13th: A lucky day with Cuba Program at East Bay Center
Nominating Committee continues its work
ACCE's Community Empowerment Award goes to Jovanka Beckles
Modern-day local (s)heroes
Watch trailer for Against Hate here
Chevron machinations revealed

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.


Looking forward with hope; looking back with appreciation   
Let's take a deep breath.

A year ago this week, our city's voters swept  RPA candidates Jovanka Beckles, Gayle McLaughlin, and Eduardo Martinez onto the Richmond City Council.  Once again, thanks to all of you who supported them and worked on their campaigns.

At this time next year, three other City Council races will be decided.  We'll have a busy year ahead!  For this issue, the stories that came in were oddly absent urgency, ugliness, or despair.  Perhaps it's an opportunity to celebrate a little, or at least to catch our collective breath.  We'll start with upcoming events, and then move on to enjoy a bit of recent recognition for what we're achieving together.

Sat. 11/7, 11am-2pm, Nevin Community Center
Final Community Design Review of UNITY PARK

The Richmond Progressive Alliance is a member of the Friends of the Richmond Greenway.  Come along, give your ideas, and enjoy the celebration!
Para mayor información contacte Alfonso Martinez al 510-223-1693. Si necesita enviarnos algo mándelo a nuestro patrocinador fiscal "Richmond Friends of Recreation" P.O. Box 70105 Richmond, CA 94807 www.richmondgreenway.org 

Fri. 11/13, 7:30pm, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts 
U.S.-Cuba relations from a Cuban viewpoint

ICAP, founded in 1960, is a social organization promoting international understanding and solidarity.  Some of the small print above says: "This will be a unique opportunity to hear from the Cuban perspective about the new stage of U.S.-Cuba relations and the role that the U.S. Cuba solidarity movement can pay in ending the U.S. blockade."
The latest from the Nominating Committee
Upcoming Steering Committee election 

The Nominating Committee for the first RPA Steering Committee elections is finishing its work on developing a slate of candidates, to be announced soon.  Any others wishing to run will be able to do so, as long as the deadline (2 weeks before the election) is met. Those candidates will have equal access to RPA media. 

All candidates for the RPA Steering Committee are expected to submit a statement, to be distributed to RPA members in advance of the election.  The statement should address these questions:
  • What would you like RPA to accomplish? 
  • What is your vision for where RPA is headed? 
  • What are some concrete steps to move toward the vision? 
  • And for organizations, how would [allied organization] want to engage with RPA over the course of the year?
Saturday, December 12, is the projected election day, although Nominating Committee member Kathleen Wimer says contacting nominated individuals to discuss service on the RPA Steering Committee moves more slowly than anticipated!  In fact, the Nominating Committee may request of the incumbent Steering Committee that the election be rescheduled to January to permit completion of their work. Stay tuned for exact details and meeting dates.

At the election, all voters must be RPA members in good standing,  and they must be 
present at the meeting.
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.

At the fundraising party
ACCE 2015 Fighter Awards

Photo: Tarnel Abbott

Jovanka Beckles, Richmond City Councilmember, speaking after ACCE's Melvin Willis and Edith Pastrano presented her with the  ACCE Community Empowerment Award.

Other recipients were AFSCME Local 3299 and SEIU Local 1012, each receiving an Ally Award.

S.F. Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club honors Gayle & Jovanka:
Phil Burton Badge of Courage awards

In late October, the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club honored Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles as "progressive champions of the Richmond City Council" and "modern-day local heroes" at the David Brower dinner.
Sierra Club  San Francisco Bay Chapter Director Michelle Myers presenting Gayle with her award. Photo: Paul Kilkenny.

From the Sierra Club announcement: "Gayle and Jovanka are current Richmond City Council members and long-term members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), a community organization whose members and supporters are active on city commissions, neighborhood councils, and community organizations to advocate for a better Richmond. Richmond's neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by the fossil fuel industry. The entire city lies in the blast zone of a potential oil-train explosion; children breathe in the toxic emissions from the Chevron refinery; and neighbors suffer the consequences when lax safety standards cause fires and other refinery accidents. Gayle and Jovanka understand these threats and have been working diligently for years to correct them, even withstanding unprecedented political attacks from Chevron to show that people power is stronger than dirty fossil fuel power."

Congratulations to our Councilwomen and thanks to the Sierra Club!

"Preserving the History & Exploring the Future of Free Speech"
Against Hate "envisions a politics of coalition."

Richmond filmmaker Brenda K. Williams has received the American INSIGHT award as an Official Selection for her documentary Against Hate.  The film focuses on the 2014 reelection campaign of Jovanka Beckles, the barrage of hostility and intimidation she experienced, and the community's mobilization against hate speech.

SFSU professor Darius Bost commented that the film uses "an intersectional lens, demonstrating how race, gender, sexuality, state, and capitalism converge to produce these localized enactments of discipline and regulation on this black lesbian local representative's body.  ...The film not only reveals the contradictions of state inclusion, but also how systems of oppression still pervade so-called 'post-racial'and now 'post-LGBTQ' state forms.  The film asks what LGBTQ politics has to say about issues such as urban poverty and environmental justice. And it envisions a politics of coalition. ..." 

Official trailer, also posted here.
Details of a screening in Richmond will be given here as soon as they are set.
Key witness admits Chevron paid him $2M to lie
Chevron's RICO case implodes

"Faced with a likely multi-billion dollar verdict against it for deliberate pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon, in 2010 Chevron began fabricating an elaborate story of bribery, corruption and ghostwriting to strike back. It claimed everyone and everything against it was part of a scheme [the claimed rationale for its RICO "racketeering" case] --the evidence, the contamination, the Ecuadorian villagers, all the environmental and human rights organizations-- everyone. The company spent millions to concoct its cover story. There was only one big problem: it all hinges upon the testimony of a completely non-credible witness who has now admitted on the stand that he lied about it in exchange for payments from Chevron." Thus begins the Amazon Watch blog post with the latest developments in the long-running battle to get Chevron to pay for environmental destruction in Ecuador (attributable to Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron along with its liabilities).

In a letter to supporters last month, Amazon Watch's Paul Paz y Miño wrote: 
Former Ecuadorian judge Alberto Guerra --the key witness in Chevron's RICO case against Steven Donziger and the Ecuadorians-- has admitted under oath to the Hague's tribunal that he lied about being offered a bribe by the Ecuadorians or their lawyers. As we have asserted from the beginning, there was neither a bribe nor a ghost-written verdict. Forensic evidence proves the verdict was not ghost-written and now Guerra has admitted that he told Judge Kaplan those things because Chevron was paying him --upwards of $2 million to date.
The video link below is to tapes received by Amazon Watch from "a friend from Chevron," showing how the company conducted pre-inspections, trying to find places to take "clean" samples for the court, in the Ecuadorian case which resulted in a $9B judgment against Chevron.
The Chevron Tapes from Amazon Watch
The Chevron Tapes from Amazon Watch

Once again, "the Dirty Hand of Chevron" resonates in Richmond.
Want to learn more about the RPA?
Here are some links, suggested by Mike Parker

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.