RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #185
 1-10-16    
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IN THIS ISSUE
Justice for Pedie Perez
New RPA Steering Committee
Alameda Moves Toward Rent Control
Housing Action Team Meets 1/23
Schools: Fair Share for Richmond?
MLK Day on Greenway 1/18
The Radical Martin Luther King
Community Presses Development Project
How Independents Can Vote Bernie
RPA and Richmond Budget
Report From Paris
The Potential Project Grants
Briefly Noted
New Article on RPA
Links for your edification on the RPA
 

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,
510-412-2260


PASS IT ON!!  

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.

 

Will Police Commission Investigate?   
Where is Justice in Pedie Perez's Death?

On September 14, 2014 Richard "Pedie" Perez was shot and killed by Officer Wallace Jensen outside Uncle Sam's Liquor Store on Cutting Boulevard.
Like many police involved shootings across the country, the law enforcement authorities, the District Attorney and the Richmond Police Department, quickly concluded that the officer was not at fault. The DA said there was no criminal act and the Richmond police quickly returned Officer Wallace Jenson to duty. (Jensen has since taken long-term medical leave.)
 
But something is glaringly wrong here. The bottom line is that a young man, who
  • did not have a weapon,
  • did not threaten anyone, and
  • had committed no criminal act (except perhaps being drunk in public)
was shot three times by a person who was supposed to be acting for all of us in maintaining public safety.
.
click here for full Perez article
--Tarnel Abbott
Mike Parker
Membership Meeting elections!
Welcome New RPA Steering Committee!

Through a process that began over a year ago, members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, on Saturday, January 9, elected a new Steering Committee. The Steering Committee's job is to:
  • foster and support member action teams and standing committees
  • bring recommendations for policy initiatives and candidate endorsement  from RPA's committees to the membership at quarterly meetings, and to
  • act for the RPA between meetings.
The Steering Committee includes 23 members. A majority are people of color and a majority are women.
 
Co-coordinators Marcos Banales and Marilyn Langlois
Communications Chair - Najari Smith,
Membership Chair - Zak Wear,
Office Chair - Tarnell Abbott,
Treasurer - Shoji
Recording Secretary - Michelle Chan
Arts and Culture Team - Patsy Byers
Housing Action Team - Melvin Willis
At-large members - Jovanka Beckles, Ben Choi, Claudia Jimenez, Eduardo Martinez, Chy Nair, Tania Pulido, Malik Seneferu, Sergio Solis, and Sharron Williams.
 
The Steering Committee also includes representatives of allied organizations: Sung Ae Choi of the CCC Racial Justice Coalition, Millie Cleveland for SEIU Local 1021, Janet Johnson from the Sunflower Alliance, David Sharples of ACCE, and Marie Walcek from the California Nurses Association.
 
In January 2015, the Steering Committee announced to the membership formation of a committee responsible for considering an organizational structure that could propel RPA into its second decade. The Restructure Committee - in the course of its work - interviewed some 35 Richmond community activists to determine possible organizational approaches.  
 
Chief among the bylaws RPA members adopted in September to reflect those recommended approaches is, "Item III - Inclusion, affirmative action, and new leadership development. The RPA seeks to build power for all people.  We recognize that history, the economic system, unequal educational opportunities and physical abilities have created a non-level field.  In all our activities, internal and external, we make a priority of the needs and leadership development of those who are disadvantaged by the system: people of color, lower income people, women, LGBTQ, disabled, young people, seniors."
 
photo:Juan Reardon 
Through a lengthy process, members of the Nominating Committee (Tarnel Abbott, Marcos Banales, Michelle Choi, Stephanie Hervey, Claudia Jimenez, Andres Soto, Zak Wear, Kathleen Wimer, Cesar Zepepda) considered the nominations of well over 50 individuals and representatives of allied organizations; interviewed each interested nominee, and received from each interested nominee a candidate statement to share with the membership.
 
The Nominating Committee released their proposed slate 30 days in advance of the January 2016 election.  At the same time, the committee sought additional nominations whose candidate statements would also have been circulated to the membership for consideration.
 
There being no additional nominations, the membership adopted the recommended slate as presented by the Nominating Committee amidst much fanfare and merriment.
--Kathleen Wimer

Rent Control News
Alameda takes Big Step to Rent Control:

Early Wednesday morning, the Alameda City Council unanimously extended the City's moratorium against evictions and rent increases. The moratorium was set to expire January 9, 2016. It has been extended 60 days. Under the law, landlords must have "just cause" to evict and cannot impose rent increases above 8%. The extension of the moratorium was crucial to prevent rent gouging in anticipation of the adoption of a more comprehensive rent control law. This is a huge victory for the Alameda Renters Coalition and builds momentum for their campaign for meaningful rent control.  For more see Tenants Together blog

 
Saturday, January 23, 3 pm 
RPA Housing  Action Team  

The RPA Housing Action Team (open to anyone interested in expanding, diversifying, and preserving affordable housing and in monitoring housing development in Richmond) holds its next monthly meeting Saturday, January 23 from 3 - 5 pm at the Bobbie Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald.

This month we will
  • continue our efforts to learn and get up to speed with what's happening with housing in Richmond, especially 
    • get an update on any Richmond City plans to utilize "Boomerang" Funds
    • review info on status and operation of in lieu funds housing developers pay the city instead of providing affordable housing themselves
    • review the City Planning Department's Planning Forecast Calendar
    • review of City's Long Range Property Management Plan
  • review current status of proposed rent control ordinance and, if necessary, discuss RPA's ground game for assuring its adoption.
Joint School Board / City Council Meet  February 3
Improving the Schools in Richmond  

Valley View Parents
                                 More than 60 parents organized                  photo: Peter Chau 
Is Richmond receiving its fair share of the school district's $1.3 billion reconstruction program? How can Richmond and the West Contra Costa Unified School District work to improve public education?  On February 3, the Richmond City Council and West Contra Costa Unified School District's Board of Education will hold a joint meeting to discuss these pressing issues. 

The Feb. 3 joint meeting will present Richmond City Council members the opportunity to press school board members. For instance, the Richmond City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for the immediate demolition of Valley View Elementary School. Valley View will become a dangerous attractive nuisance in May Valley once the facility is abandoned in February 2016. Despite these known risks to kids, the Board of Education has not taken any action to move the Valley View reconstruction project forward.

Will the Board of Education keep voter promises to rebuild or renovate Richmond neighborhood schools? Or will the Board vote for substandard patchwork to "repair" or "modernize" old school facilities? As Councilmember Eduardo Martinez stated at a previous City Council meeting, "Richmond kids go to other cities and their schools, but the rebuilt schools improve property values in those cities and leave Richmond property values depressed."  Richmond residents should remain vigilant to hold our school board accountable! .
--Peter Chau

Also. Read this New York Times Article
How to Fix the Country's Failing Schools. And How Not To.
How Union City, New Jersey, turned around its school system without billionaire help.  
Monday, January 18,  9am - 2pm
MLK Day of Service On Greenway 

Dear Progressive Alliance Members and Friends

kids with clay      Hundreds of people attend this event every year and work with soil, plants, shovels, trowels and wheelbarrows to maintain and improve the Greenway.
    From 9 until 12, work parties weed, mulch, plant and generally help to beautify the Greenway, which is in the process of becoming one of the treasures of the city of Richmond.  From 12 until 2, we relax with a King remembrance, speeches, entertainment and food.

 Need Help with clay and kids 
 Also, for years, the Alliance has hosted a table where childRPA Boothren of all ages can work with clay (an earth material) and form what they wish.  This is red Mexican self-drying clay, no kiln needed, so creations can be taken home and kept as a memento of the day.  
    We have an abundance of clay and will pass it out from 9 until closing.  But we're still looking for volunteers for the minimal help required to get it into people's hands.  No experience is necessary.  To volunteer, for whatever length of time, email Michael at michaelandrewbeer@yahoo.com
    Did I mention that this activity is abundant fun?

in solidarity (after drying), Michael.
Jovanka Beckles reviews
The Radical Martin Luther King 

Most Americans welcome the January day off in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. But most know little about what King actually did or thought. Most know that he gave a great speech to a massive crowd in Washington DC dreaming that someday people would be judged by their character and not their skin color. Most also know that King led civil rights marches to get rid of segregation. And most whites believe that he was successful. After all, we have a holiday for King, segregation laws have been unconstitutional and off the books for years, and we even elected a Black president.

In order to be an acceptable national hero, white America has had to sanitize Martin Luther King so that he was not perceived as a threat to anybody, simply as a religious leader filled with love and high principles. The Radical King, edited and introduced by Cornel West (Beacon Press 2015) reclaims what King really stood for and reminds us that the battle against white supremacy requires taking on a lot more than white racists.

Martin Luther King Jr. understood better than most, the limitations of good intentions and civil rights marches. He understood that abolishing segregation did not mean that Black Americans became free. For most Black folk, getting the right to eat in a restaurant or live in a neighborhood means little without money to pay for them. The end of the color line in job hiring means little without the schooling or the required connections to get the job. The oppression of racism would continue to be as strong as ever as long as the massive inequality in America kept everybody in his or her place. And Dr. King died before the rise of the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration of people of color.

Click here for full  Beckles Review


.This article is also appearing in  the San Francisco Bay View: National Black Newspaper 
Large Development at Terminal One
Community Organizes for Changes in Project  












The Terminal One Development is a major project on prime shoreline property next to the Miller Knox Park. The size, location and density of the project will have a major impact on the surrounding community and especially on the park which is heavily used by all Richmond residents. Community concerns over design, traffic, and infrastructure are coming up against developer desire for greater profitability, and the city's need to get the $10 million dollars from the sale of the land.

Terminal One The community has a general consensus about the economic benefits of the project for the City. At the same time neighbors are concerned that the development be of a size appropriate to the setting, preserve public views, that it not negatively impact Miller Knox Park and be a positive addition to the neighborhood. Once this project is approved we will have to live with it for decades. The time to look for and deal with problems is now. The issues and concerns about this project are the same issues and concerns we face in every
neighborhood and should be of concern to all of Richmond.

As a result of continuing concerns neighbors formed People for a Healthy Shoreline (PHS). The website contains photographs,documents , and up to date news on the approval process PHS goal is to ensure that "the Terminal One Development in Brickyard Cove, Richmond, is a world class development that, provides maximum public access to the shoreline, preserves public views, maintains the character of Brickyard Cove, and complies with the requirements of the Land Disposition Agreement."
--Margaret Jordan

 In California
"Independents" Can Vote for Bernie  
Bernie Sanders

Many Richmond voters do not want to join the Democratic Party, but wish to vote for Bernie Sanders, the only major candidate in national politics who does not take corporate contributions and supports other progressive ideas.

It turns out to be possible. A California voter registered "No Party Preference" (the old "Decline to State"), can go to the polls in the June primary  and simply ask for the Democratic Party ballot. (See notification to County Clerks and Registrars)
--Mike Parker 
Setting the Record Straight
RPA and the Richmond City Budget 

The Richmond budget these days is under the microscope, for good reason. With rising costs the city will not have enough income to fully cover what we are obligated to pay and what we are doing now let alone what we need to do.  And because of the actions of the big financial ratings services like Moody's and S&P, Richmond needs to take action or face still further significant costs.
The choices that we will have to make will not be easy.

Unfortunately, thrown into the budget debate are accusations that the RPA does not take the budget problem seriously because it is actively supporting rent control.  Mayor Butt has made these comments several times recently.  To set the record straight:
  • The Council has many responsibilities. It is possible and indeed necessary for a Council whose job it is to serve the residents of the city to do many things at once. The renters in this city, half the population, are also the poorest people in the city. We are proud of the fact that we are trying to find ways to prevent their displacement by skyrocketing rents and very profitable large landlords. We also think rent control helps provide the stability that neighborhoods need for safety and better schools. We think that Council's job is to be concerned with the needs of residents, global warming, and safety, in working out the budget.
  • Just before Moody's lowered the city credit rating, staff and some members of the Council proposed using the Measure U sales tax funds for backing a major borrowing as the way to finance road repairs. RPA council members, in contrast, argued for "pay as you go" instead of taking on more debt. After the Moody's downgrade all the financial advisers to the city said that the bond issue would have been a major blunder and might have sunk the city's credit further. Since the funds had not been encumbered in a bond they were available to help balance the budget. In fact, the RPA councilmembers deserves credit for prudence, fiscal responsibility and clear sightedness
  • Part of balancing the budget is the ability of the city to raise taxes when necessary. We also pointed out when the Measure U funds were redirected, that if we were to maintain the confidence of the voters we had to explain why the city had to do this and commit a major portion of the expected one-time income to road repair, or the city could not expect to get a yes vote on any tax measure in the future. RPA councilmembers made that commitment in an amendment to the budget.
  • Part of balancing the budget is to work to make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share of the city's income.The Progressive Alliance led the way in demanding an increase in Chevron's business license fees and the closing of the gaping Chevron loophole in the utility user's tax be closed. These campaigns resulted in a settlement which provided the city with critical income to make it through the recession without cutting police and other services as many other cities did. We note that one reason for the city's current financial difficulty is the substantial loss in revenue because Chevron reduced its property tax payments as a result of the 2012 fire.
The members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance have sacrificed and fought hard to bring integrity to this city and I am certain that they will continue to do so. In dealing with the financial challenges the City is having with revenue, the RPA members on the City council will continue the difficult task of prioritizing services to make our city safe and a great place to live, work, and do business.
--Mike Parker 
Report from Paris COP 21
Indigenous People: Agreement Not Enough  

Richmond's Pennie Opal Plant, a leader of Bay Area's Idle No More chapter, attended a gathering of the Indigenous Environmental Network (EIN) in Paris during the COP-21 UN climate convention. She reported on these events at the January 3 Assembly of the Sunflower Alliance. She described how moving it was to meet with indigenous people from around the world and how good they felt holding several demonstrations despite the ban on protests by Paris authorities.
 
The EIN labeled the UN conference a failure because:
1. It includes no binding language or enforcement mechanisms.
2. The commitments of all the governments would not be enough to prevent climate catastrophe. If they were all fulfilled, global temperatures would rise more than 3.5 degrees Centigrade, although the delegates agreed even 2 degrees was dangerously high.
3. The agreement includes no provisions on the rights of indigenous people, although this issue was mentioned in the preamble.
The EIN also opposed the system called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), which allows industrial polluters to meet carbon emissions limits by buying "carbon credits" --  investing in forests in poor countries, while continuing to pollute at home. These schemes have led to the displacement of indigenous people in addition to allowing the ongoing emission of GHGs.
 
For more information on indigenous people's climate views and actions see the Rights of Nature Declaration, the Indigenous Women of the Americas Compact 2015 and Pennie's PowerPoint presentation.
--Jean Tepperman

Editor's Note: This conference had insiders (with credentials)  and outsiders.
See Mayor Tom Butt's reports for an insider view.
 
Potential Project for Students in West County Public Schools
Grant Funds for Ideas to Improve Schools 

The Potential Project provides students in West County with a platform to express their ideas to improve their schools (utilizing the goals laid out in the LCAP).  Teams of students can apply for up to $500 of grant funding to launch their idea.
Applicants need to form a team, and pick one of the Local Accountability Goals  
(see here starting page 13).
Click here for applications. Applications  must be submitted by Friday Feb.12.
For more info contact Pastor Dave Clark at Living Hope Neighborhood Church.
Briefly Noted

Citizens United. The Supreme Court is now allowing the State Legislature to put a proposition on the ballot that allows Californians to go on record against the Citizens United Decision. (Proposition 49 was blocked in 2014)   It is now up to the Secretary of Sate Alex Padilla. Progressive Democrats of America are asking for calls to Secratry of State Padilla  916-653-6814 to urge him to put it on the ballot.  See LA Times article

.
Just PublishedSocial Policy Wnter 15

A Social Policy Case Study and Follow-up 
Two Years Later: Richmond Progressive Alliance: Defeating Big Money in Politics 
 
by Mike Parker                  on RPA Web site 
  
Want to learn more about the RPA? 

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.