RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #186
 1-31-16   
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IN THIS ISSUE
RPA Councilmembers call for independent investigations by Police Commission
After Police Commission Mtg 1/21: Need for Automatic Investigations in case of police-involved death or serious injury
Fight for Rent Control & Just Cause Honored & Ongoing
Sales of troubled mortgages should help - not hurt - homeowners and neighborhoods
2 Important Crude by Rail proposals to be decided soon
Richmond Premiere of "Against Hate" documentary on 2/13
2/20: CCC Racial Justice Coalition Summit on Priorities
Mark your calendars
2/11 Richmond Promise Scholarship Workshop
 

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.

 

Tu. 2/2, after 6:30pm, RCC takes up changes for Police Commission
An independent investigation in Perez case 
& automatically thereafter?

Two items (currently identified as K-2 & K-3) that have been developed following the September 14, 2014 police killing of Richard Perez will be considered by Richmond City Council on Tuesday.  They will be introduced by Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez, and they are co-sponsored by Councilmembers Beckles and McLaughlin. [Note that K-3 is related to item J-1, Changes to Police Commission ordinance recommended by the Police Commission and Mayor (co-sponsored by Jael Myrick).]

K-2 calls for a Police Commission hearing into the death of "Pedie" Perez to be initiated as soon as the position of Police Commission Investigative Officer has been filled.  It would be conducted in order to determine whether excessive or unnecessary force was used in this case, and then to report Police Commission findings publicly to the Richmond City Council to the extent legally possible.  This item is consistent with the Commission's Powers & Duties under the Ordinance's item (d): Perform such other duties as requested by the City Council. 

K-3 directs staff to include language on any upcoming changes to the Police Commission Ordinance to require the Police Commission to conduct an investigation of any instance of a person being killed or seriously injured by police action, to determine whether excessive or unnecessary force and/or racially abusive behavior had occurred, and report Police Commission findings publicly to the Richmond City Council to the extent legally possible. 

More background on the Perez case is available in the RPA newsletter archives (for example: #169,171, & 177), including the article that's currently on the RPA homepage, "Where is Justice in Pedie Perez's Death?" from #185. A report on the Police Commission's special meeting earlier this month and an examination of the importance of instituting automatic independent investigations whenever police actions result in death or serious injury is offered in the section immediately below this one.

Report on Police Commission's Jan 21st. Special Meeting   
The case for automatic & independent review

9-15-15 photo by Juan Reardon.
Juan Reardon reports that the reforms recommended by the eight current Police Commission members on January 21 are "good first steps," and builds a strong case for the need for an automatic and independent review in any case of a police-involved fatality or severe injury.  He argues:

"Fear of reprisals, ignorance of the law and basic rights, immigration status, false promises by the police department or District Attorney, and offers of quick financial settlements that may leave the officer unpunished, are just some of the reasons why family members (if the victim had a family) may not fully pursue the option of a parallel and independent investigation... ."

"By the end of the meeting the eight current commissioners had voted on a few recommendations that are good first steps, including a change in the name to reflect more independence from the Police Department. It recommended the new name of Citizens' Police Review Commission. The Commission also recommended that copies of all complaints filed with the Commission be immediately sent to each commissioner. It also reaffirmed its intention to be the final decision-maker about the merits of each case filed. The commissioners then voted to extend from 45 days to 120 days the period of time in which a complaint can be filed with the Commission. They also voted to recommend that it shall be the commission itself, and not the investigator, who decides if a case has merits for a late filing beyond that established period.
 
"It is expected that the City Council will accept these proposals, as well as others, to prepare a new ordinance to empower and regulate the commission for the benefit of the residents of Richmond... ."  
                                                                                                                                       --Juan Reardon

Read the full article and sharpen your arguments in support of Council action for an independent investigation in the Perez case and automatically thereafter if there is another instance of police-involved death or serious injury.

Statewide Millie Award goes to Gayle MaLaughlin:  
Fighting for Rent Control & Just Cause

Tenants Together Legal Director Leah Simon-Weisberg presents award.                        Photo: Paul Kilkenny.


On January 23, at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall, Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin received The Millie Award at the 5th Annual Tenants Lawyers Network Conference organized by Tenants Together. Councilmember McLaughlin was recognized for her leadership in the fight to pass the first rent control ordinance in 30 years in the United States.

Millie Atkins-Coley (1952-2014) had a life-long passion for the legal system, serving in various courts, including serving as the highest clerk of the LA Superior Court. The Millie Award is given each year to a person who in his or her professional capacity ensured that tenants have the rights to affordable and safe housing.

The fight for Rent Control and Just Cause is on-going in Richmond and other communities throughout California and the nation. As Stephen T. Harper of Santa Rosa writes, "these policies are a simple step in trying to stabilize rents that have increased roughly 40 percent over the past four years and should be the first part of an overall strategy that seeks to create more affordable housing... and creates a sense of security in our wonderful city residents." He's "a local investment property owner, homeowner and citizen who cares about the diversity and prosperity" of his hometown. He cites a recent independent report, commissioned by the council there, that found "these policies create an efficient and low-cost method to deal with tenant/landlord disputes as well promoting tenant stability that allows for greater civic participation and greater neighborhood investment." Read the full January 24 article in The Press Democrat.
 
Tues. 2/2, Support item K-1 for stable neighborhoods 
Stop selling to Wall St. speculators, Fannie Mae!

Our communities here in Richmond were hard-hit by the housing crash, and we're still working to recover.

I am outraged that federal agencies, designed to help address the housing needs of our country, are selling-off tens of thousands of troubled mortgages to hedge funds and private equity firms.

We are working locally to preserve homeownership and create more affordable housing, and here are these agencies selling our neighborhoods out from under us! 

The Richmond City Council unanimously passed a resolution early last year, expressing our support for an effort to get troubled mortgages into the hands of mission-driven non-profits, as opposed to having them sold to Wall Street speculators.   On September 30, 2015 I was with other elected officials and community leaders in DC, meeting with federal housing agencies, as well as with Senator Elizabeth Warren, who strongly supports our efforts.  Some change is occurring, but more needs to happen.

Fannie Mae has just announced they're about to make their biggest sale of troubled mortgages yet, worth a total of $1.6 billion in unpaid principal balance. We need these mortgages sold to non-profits who help our struggling homeowners.

On Thursday, February 4th, cities across the country will be calling on Fannie Mae to do better.  There will be a Bay Area-wide press conference in San Francisco at the home of a family facing foreclosure at the hands of Fannie Mae. It will take place on Thursday at 11am at the home of Juana and Jesse Tello, 1778 Newcomb Ave. (S.F.).  Supporters are welcomed.
 
We need our federal housing agencies to work with us before selling off one more troubled mortgage to a speculator.  I have an item on the Council agenda this Tuesday (Item K-1) directing our staff to write to our federal agencies requesting their lists of troubled mortgages in Richmond and in the state of California.   I encourage residents to come and speak on the item. 

                                                                                                      --Gayle McLaughlin

Th., 2/4: Get with the plan & jump on the van to go to SLO
& Mon., 2/8: Benicia Council to vote on Valero project
Upcoming Hearings on Crude by Rail Projects

#1: San Luis Obisbo County Planning Department staff voted last Monday to recommend denial of proposed permits for Phillips 66 to deliver by oil train and to refine tar sands oil.*  As noted in an East Bay Express article

"The general consensus among the comments received is that project benefits do not outweigh the potential hazards it will bring to the public," the report continued. "These hazards mainly stem from rail accidents, oil spills, health hazards, and explosions/fires within communities along rail lines as a result of an increase of crude transport via rail." These risks would affect communities all along the rail lines, from the Bay Area south to Los Angeles. 

*This "Santa Maria Refinery Rail Spur Project" staff report is at:
http://agenda.slocounty.ca.gov/agenda/sanluisobispo/Proposal.html?select=5611

For a good summary of what's at stake and the story thus far, read this article: http://www.sunflower-alliance.org/stop_phillips_slo_project_20160204.

Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) Richmond is organizing a vanpool to go to the SLO Planning Commission hearing on the issue on Thursday, February 4:  Meeting at Richmond BART Station at 4:00am, leaving Richmond at 4:30am, and returning the same day, leaving SLO at 5:30 p.m.

#2: The Benicia city staff recommended approval of the Valero project (see this story: http://www.sunflower-alliance.org/valero_cbr_public_hearing_20160208), so it's extremely important that people attend the Benecia City Council meeting on Monday 2/8.; the hearing starts 6:30pm at 250 East L St, Benicia.  A final vote is expected that night. Andres Soto of CBE writes: "The good news in Benicia is that the Final EIR has identified the 'No Project Alternative' as the 'Environmentally Superior Alternative.' People from all over the Bay Area need to converge on Benicia and let them know Crude By Rail is NOT acceptable anywhere!" RSVP here.  More information is available here:http://safebenicia.org. There's a Safe Benicia petition to stop the oil trains that you can sign at http://bit.ly/StopValeroOilTrains. Late breaking info: Benicia City Council is imposing severe barriers to speaking at the hearing.  One local activist reports that in order to speak there on the 8th, people have to sign up in person that day starting at 8:30am! They're trying to keep people from out of town from speaking and let the oil industry pack the room. And it's going to be a long hearing. Not for the faint of heart!

CBE's plans for carpools: Meet up at 4pm at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center at 1021 Macdonald Ave. Richmond. Depart from Richmond at 4:30pm. Individual cars will return independently.


To get on the van to SLO or to be part of the carpool to Benicia please contact Andrés Soto, at 510.282.5363, or at andres@cbecal.org.

Sat. 2/13, 2pm, Soujourer Truth Presbyterian Church*
First Richmond Screening of Against Hate


"Against Hate
 documents the journey of Richmond Council member Jovanka Beckles, who battles Chevron, a multi-billion dollar oil company, in an election laced with dirty oil, dirty politics, and dirty money. The film explores the lack of inclusion of members of our society by the law, by religion, and by corporations."

The moderators for the discussion to follow the screening:
Rev. Kamal Hassan, Sojourner Truth Sr. Pastor, Host
Rev. Donna Allen, New Revelation Sr. Pastor, Co-host
Jovanka Beckles, Richmond CA Council member

Sponsors: Steve Early, Suzanne Gordon, Courtney Cummings and Native American Health Center, Ben-David Barr and Rainbow Center, Richmond Rainbow Pride, and RYSE.

*Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
 2621 Shane Dr., Richmond CA 84806

Sat. 2/20, 9:30am-2pm, UUCB, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington
Racial Justice Coalition Summit on CCC Priorities


Save these March dates now
Find more information in the next Activist

3/5/15: 9th Annual Sisters in Solidarity Celebration on Saturday from 10am to 2pm at the Richmond Auditorium.

3/11/15: Has U.S. policy towards Cuba really changed? Join a discussion and hear from Miguel Fraga,
First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC.  7-9pm, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA 94804.

.
Th. 2/11, 6-7pm, Multipurpose Rm., DeJean Middle School*
Richmond Promise scholarships workshop


From the flyer: The workshop will focus on the goals and eligibility requirements to apply for a Richmond Promise scholarship, and it will provide an opportunity for questions and answers.  The presentation will also include information on how to fill out a successful application for 2016 seniors who are Richmond residents and attend a high school in the WCCUSD boundaries.

.*3400 Macdonald Ave., Richmond

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