RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #212, 10-31-2016

In this issue:
Help us get out the vote... and win a progressive majority in Richmond!
Who inspires us: Interview with volunteer canvasser Diana Wear
Rules for sign planting

Fair chance housing ordinance at City Council meeting

Only one week left and we need you!
Help us get out the vote... and win a progressive majority in Richmond!

"Real change is not easy and real change never takes place from the top on down, always from the bottom on up. And, that is what our political revolution is all about... We need you, and you, and you, to get involved at the local level."

-- Bernie Sanders, June 23, 2016

November 8th is only one week away, and we need you to continue our political revolution by getting involved in our local election!

Many thanks to everyone who has canvassed, phone banked, passed out literature, made a donation, or shown their support. Now is the time to step it up -- if you have pitched in already, we ask you to keep it up until Tuesday. And for those who have not yet done so, it's not too late!

Phone banking.
We are phone banking every day up until the election. Bring your cell phone, and a tablet or laptop if you have one to the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald Ave.). You can RSVP online or call Zak Wear at 510 621 7566. If these times don't work for you, you can schedule something that works for you.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 6-8pm
  • Friday: 4-6pm, and 6-8pm
  • Saturday: 10-1pm, 1-4pm
  • Sunday: 12-4pm, 4-8pm
  • Monday: 10-1pm, 1-5pm, 5- 8pm

We have lots of canvass opportunities too! Meet at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 5-8pm
  • Saturday: 10-1pm, 1-4pm
  • Sunday: 12-4pm, 4-8pm
  • Monday: 10-1pm, 1-5pm, 5- 8pm

Volunteer on election day.
This is a huge day for us. We need people to hand out slate cards at polling stations, canvass the day-of, and work the phones in order to get out the vote. If you can help out all day, please do so -- otherwise we have plenty of shifts ranging from 2 hours or more. RSVP here.

Donations. Of course, your donations are always needed and welcome. Donate securely to the campaigns of Ben Choi  and Melvin Willis.

Get creative! You don't have to volunteer through an organized event to get involved. RPA supporters have been seen mingling and passing out literature at community events and concerts, flyering in front of grocery stores, handing out The Richmond Sun at BART stations, and waving placards on street corners during rush hour. Come by the RPA office to pick up supplies and get out there! As Bernie says, real change always starts from the bottom up!
Who inspires us: volunteer canvasser Diana Wear

We caught up with Diana Wear last weekend for our third in a series of interviews with volunteer RPA canvassers. Diana says that canvassing is "rich and meaningful experience" that has made her feel "more connected to Richmond." She also shared how, in the course of having a heartfelt conversation at the door, she was offered some freshly caught salmon (!). Just goes to show: you never know what great stuff might await when you connect with your neighbors.

When did you begin canvassing?

My first day out was when we kicked off the campaign at this year’s Cinco de Mayo Parade. A lot of people were at the parade and I enjoyed meeting folks before the parade, talking about rent control. I canvassed in the neighborhood of the parade so a lot of people weren’t home but I did meet a few people who weren’t registered to vote and they were appreciative to get voter reg cards since they were unfamiliar with the process. I did however, have some meaningful conversations with some Richmond residents that day.

Any memorable experiences canvassing?

I was in a neighborhood not far from the RPA office.  I walked a good few blocks, knocking on doors and no one was home.  Finally, I came across a gentleman and his wife who have been longtime Richmond residents and homeowners. They were astonished by the rising rents in their own neighborhood, commenting, “We’ve lived here for so long. It breaks our hearts to know that we could not afford to live here if we had to rent.” He mentioned a house across the street that had been recently renovated, “It’s crazy for an 800 square foot, one bedroom house to be asking for that much money.”  He also mentioned he had been salmon fishing the day before and offered me some fresh-caught salmon. So I got a good catch too!  But more than that, he was grateful to see canvassers taking the time to talk about the issues—that day I was talking about both rent control and our two terrific city council candidates, Melvin and Ben.

How do you feel about the campaign materials you give out?

I think they’re quite good. I’ve gotten them in the mail and my husband and I have discussed them. They’re helpful. I also appreciate seeing the endorsements of other groups.

Do you have any advice for first time canvassers?

In the beginning, if you’re not familiar with it, go with another person. My first time out was with Marcos—it was great that he could speak Spanish with some residents and he was also an experienced canvasser, so I learned a few tips. A second time I went with a woman and we walked a big apartment complex. We split up and went different ways and kept getting lost in the huge complex but by budding up we were able to keep each other going. 

Final comments?

Canvassing for Ben, Melvin and rent control have been good experiences. I’ve been able to whole-heartedly stand behind them and the issue and speak with genuine excitement. A good number of people that I’ve talked with in a variety of neighborhoods have expressed appreciation for my taking the time to talk with them about the issues.  I’ve also felt more connected to Richmond is reaching out to fellow voters on issues facing our entire community.  It’s a rich and meaningful experience—I highly recommend it.

[Photo credit: M Beer]

Election 2016
Rules for sign planting

We have received several comments and questions in light of the recent correction that was issued on sign planting. RPA co-chairs Marilyn Langlois and Marcos Banales offer the following clarification:

For better or worse lawn signs have become an expected part of campaigns. They are frequently an important part of free speech to show support of candidates and ideas. And like all freedoms there are always some abuses. The city of Richmond has adopted a reasonable policy on signs that allows residents, candidates and groups the opportunity to express themselves and at the same time make sure that the city is not blighted. The most important rules are:

  1. There must be permission to post a sign
  2. That political signs can only be put up 90 days before an election  and must be taken down immediately after an election by the candidates and committees that posted them.

A quick tour of any section of Richmond shows that there are signs of every candidate (including Team Richmond candidates) that are clearly in violation of city regulations.

The RPA supports the city policy on signs and we urge supporters  

  • To place signs in legal places and ask residents/property owners to place them on their lawns, windows or fences.  We will remind campaign committees to inform volunteers that the planting signs policy is "planting with permission".
  • To oppose any defacement or damage to the signs of other political candidates or issues
  • To remove all signs that we have put up immediately after the election

- Marilyn Langlois and Marcos Banales, RPA Co-chairs

Tuesday, 11/1 6:30pm
Fair Chance Housing ordinance at City Council meeting

On Tuesday, November 1 (6:30pm) the City Council will be debating the Fair Chance Housing Policy. This ordinance would remove barriers to housing for formerly incarcerated people by limiting the use of information about past convictions to deny people access to public and subsidized housing in Richmond. The Safe Return Project, in collaboration with others, has been working with the city manager and city staff to develop the policy, and urges people to come out and speak in support of this policy.

Summary of Fair Chance Ordinance

  • Applies to all city-owned and subsidized units in the city.  Does not apply to market-rate housing, housing subsidized by the city that doesn’t have an affordability requirement (like home rehabilitation loans).
  • Prohibits housing providers from using a 'blanket ban' on applicants with past convictions.
  • Prohibits housing providers from asking about past convictions, or obtaining a background check, until they have determined that an applicant has met all other criteria to be a finalist, and have offered the applicant a conditional lease.
  • Housing providers are required to provide the applicant with the background check and rationale for denying them housing if they are going to do so.
  • Creates an appeal process through which an applicant can provide information correcting the background check, proof of rehabilitation, and other relevant info. The enforcement entity will be designated by the city.
  • Policy will be implemented 6 months after passing, giving the city and housing providers time to adjust their protocols.

For questions email or call Tamisha Walker, Director of Safe Return Project (cell: 925-335-6738).

Signed articles are the opinion of the author. Official RPA positions are noted as Steering Committee decisions. Other content created by Michelle Chan, editor.