|Issue: # 42||January 29,2011|
Come to Council Meeting, Tuesday, 2/1:
Green Campus/ Green Jobs for Richmond
Richmond has led the way in seeking to create 21st century jobs. A new project may give a big boost to our transformation to an economy based on research and use of green energy sources and technologies. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories operated by the University of California for the Department of Energy is looking to consolidate a number of its labs spread out around the bay area as well as some new ones into a large second campus.
Richmond is an excellent prospect for the new campus. It is close to the main campus in Berkeley and offers a beautiful environment both of which are high LBNL priorities. (See the RFQ) The three main areas of research on the campus will be Genomics, Life Sciences, and Physical Biosciences. One focus would be on bio-mass projects -- developing fuels from plant crops.
There are rumors of proposals being made from several communities including Alameda, Oakland, and Albany. Within Richmond there are possible site proposals for the Hilltop Bayer facility and Pt. Molate. But the proposal which seems to the front runner is one which bases the new NBNL campus on part of the present Richmond Field Station area with extensions in the Marina Bay.
The importance of this project goes far beyond the construction jobs it will bring and the new jobs on the campus itself. The campus will expand the city's reputation as a center for alternative energy research. Research centers attract businesses to the surrounding areas and also spin off new businesses as researchers seek to commercialize results.
There is also discussion of establishing a Green Exploratorium and other educational components of a green economy.
One result of this development at the Richmond Field Station is that part of the area will be cleaned up. It will also make adjoining parts of RFS and the neighboring Zeneca site (which contain identified dangerous toxics) attractive and increase the incentive for cleaning them. University unions and the Citizens Advisory Group which works with California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) see this is an opportunity to work on means to protect the workers who will work on the site as well as the surrounding community impacted by pollution.
As with any project of this scope there are many details, ranging from road access to zoning, to be worked out. Jeff Ritterman has been working closely with city officials and local businesses to put the pieces together so the project can proceed smoothly in Richmond. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin has spoken twice before business groups to encourage the project.
The issue will first come up to the City Council on February 1 with a resolution cosponsored by council members Ritterman and Butt, and Mayor McLaughlin calling for strong support for the project coming to Richmond. A strong show of support for moving ahead on this project will help guarantee that it is located n Richmond. The Council meeting begins 6:30 in the Council chambers in Civic Center
illustration: David Moore
Resources for Green Jobs
The RPA Green Jobs Committee has been gathering resources. Here are some that may be of use to you. .
The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UC Berkeley is starting a series on Job Creation and Local Communities. The first four are:
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 12:30-2pm
Job Creation: An Informal Conversation with Bob Giloth
Bob Giloth, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Monday, February 14, 2011 - 12:30-2pm
The Role of State Fiscal Policy in Job Creation
Ken Jacobs, Center for Labor, Research and Education
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 12:30-2p
Jobs Tax Credits and Job Creation
Jesse Rothstein, Goldman School of Public Policy
Discussant: Carrie Portis, San Francisco Works
Monday, February 28, 2011 - 12:30-2pm
The Cleveland Model: From Green Jobs to Green Ownership
Ted Howard, Evergreen Cooperatives and The Democracy Collaborative
Go here for details and the Full List in this series
The City of Richmond and several other public agencies and non-profits have put together
The city sponsored web site, Richmond Center for Green Business, includes lists and locations of Green businesses with interactive maps.
Cleveland Ohio Evergreen Co-op
Mondragon Spain Co-op
Report by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Marilyn Langlois on their visit to Mondragon
Push for Safe Athletic Fields for Education
SAFE Coalition Forms
Organizations and residents of Richmond are coming together to push for the establishment of new fields and more use of current ones by teams and community groups throughout Richmond. In their first meeting, on January 22 the coalition agreed to organize for "sufficient multi-purpose, all-weather, illuminated and safe fields in Richmond for all our children and adult needs, as well as to be able to welcome players/teams from other places."
The first action by the group was to attend the joint City Council / School Board meeting on January 25. Gelberg Rodriguez, Cesar Portillo, Antonio Cordoba, Eduardo Martinez, Bruce Greenlee, Roberto Reyes and Juan Reardon all asked that WCUSD and the Coty of Richmond to do better to respond to the needs clubs, parents, and children have for sports fields. We asked for
- Free access to sports fields in Richmond schools
- A commitment by the City of Richmond to work towards fulfilling its mission to promote recreation in the city by subsidizing any fields costs that are currently paid by Richmond Clubs, Teams or Leagues.
- Free access to the turf fields in Richmond High schools for Richmond teams
- Free use of the city auditorium for futsal, basketball, and other appropriate sports
- Free access to Richmond and WCCUSD fields or facilities (for indoor sports), .
Our Next Meeting: Thursday February 10, 7-9 PM at 3727 Barret Ave (at 38th Ave.)
The meeting room can accommodate 25-30. Bring representatives of other sports, teams, clubs, and invite them to join the work of our coalition.
illustration: David Moore
Labor Conference Maps Progressive Taxation Strategies
More than 70 representatives of public sector unions considered strategies for the current assaults on public workers. The January 15 conference organized by the San Francisco Labor Council to talk about how to win campaigns for funding state and local public services over the next few years.
With the State and the Cities facing budget shortfalls, there are pressures to cut public services to rebalance the budget. In addition, rightwing forces have launched a direct attack on public sector unions, blaming them for the budget problems, claiming that they have won unreasonable wages and benefits.
There was general agreement that the fight had to be carried on at two levels. First, It is now necessary to defend the idea that it is good when the public through its government handles certain services rather than depending on profit making corporations. One example is public education. The California Federation of Teachers has put out some great educational pieces on taxation.
Secondly we have to stop accepting the idea that this is a "budget" crisis. It is not. It is a "funding crisis" caused by a political ideology that says that the wealthy deserve more. If we were to close obvious loopholes and return the tax only on the wealthiest to back where it was 30 years ago when the state was prosperous, we could cover funding for needed programs
For example the California Tax Reform Association estimates that billions could be reclaimed through :
- Oil Severance Tax $1.2 Billion
- Eliminate Corporate loopholes $2 Billion
- Reinstate top income tax bracket $4 B
- Close Corporate Property Tax Loopholes $2 B
For more information about further such meetings contact Robert Lehman, SEIU 1000, SFLC, email@example.com or Tom Edminster UESF/AFT61 firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on rtax reform in California:
California Federation of Teachers
California Budget Project
California Tax Reform Association.
Is it time to revive "Just Cause" in Richmond?
Protecting tenants from arbitrary evictions and sky-rocketing rents could be right around the corner in Richmond, given the progressive majority on the City Council and the prevailing real estate values. Richmond Vision, a coalition of faith, labor and community groups coordinated by FaithWorks and co-chaired by Rev. Phil Lawson and Art Hatchett, is planning to bring back a proposal for a Just Cause Eviciton and Fair Rent Ordinance that went into cold storage five years ago due to lack of support from the former City Council.
Current Law -Under current state law, tenants can be evicted with 3 days notice for certain reasons, including severe property damage or creating unsafe conditions, which the landlord must disclose and document. A landlord may evict a tenant with 30-60 days notice, however, without giving any reason whatsoever. There is no limit on rent increases. Richmond did pass a "mini-Just Cause Eviction" ordinance, introduced by Councilmember Ritterman, in 2009, which states that tenants in foreclosed properties that are owned by the bank cannot be evicted without just cause.
Proposed ordinance -- A typical Just Cause Eviction, Fair Rent ordinance has three components:
1) Just Cause Eviction: protection from arbitrary evictions, meaning that landlords can evict tenants with 30-60 days notice only for certain reasons (just cause)-- such as non-payment of rent, owner move-in, damage to property, etc.-which the landlord must disclose and document.
2) Fair Rent: protection from excessive rent increases, stipulating the maximum amount rents can be increased per year, usually a modest percentage tied to the Consumer Price Index.
3) Rent Board: establishment of a rent board to monitor compliance and adjudicate disputes that arise from implementation of the ordinance.
Recent history of Just Cause in Richmond - Richmond's Just Cause Coalition--with key players including the RPA, Laotian Organizing Project of APEN, FaithWorks, Urban Habitat, Central Labor Council, and GRIP-worked intensively for about three years (2002-2005) doing tenant organizing, holding town hall meetings, and working with pro-bono attorneys to craft a Just Cause Eviction and Fair Rent ordinance that takes many elements from similar legislation that has been successful in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.
In spite of Just Cause supporters packing the chambers at Human Relations Commission and City Council meetings, it became clear that the Council at the time (with the prominent exception of then-Councilmember McLaughlin) was siding with the interests of landlords (who also packed the chambers) and would not support the tenant protections guaranteed by the proposed ordinance.
In mid-2005, the Council called on then-Mayor Anderson to form an ad hoc committee with representatives from all sides to see if they could come up with an ordinance that everyone could agree on. Grassroots community and tenant organizing dwindled at this point, as a handful of Just Cause Coalition members (including myself as RPA rep) participated in the ad hoc committee along with representatives from the Association of Realtors, the California Apartment Association, and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The committee was facilitated by the former Mayor's staff and met for 18 months in a very collegial and congenial fashion with agreement on many things, including the need for more affordable housing, the importance of educating the public about tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities, etc. However, when the discussion was distilled down to the core elements of the proposed ordinance, without which it would cease to be meaningful, the opponents would not budge, and the committee was disbanded at the end of 2006.
Looking forward - Fast forward to 2011, it's now a new day and we have a new City Council. The economy has meanwhile plummeted, and countless individuals and families who have lost and continue to lose their homes to foreclosure are joining the ranks of renters, who make up over 50% of Richmond's population. The depressed real estate values have kept rents from being exorbitant for the time being, but that can change at any time. A Just Cause Eviction and Fair Rent ordinance could provide housing stability for otherwise vulnerable residents, many of whom have already been displaced. Is it time to revive Just Cause in Richmond?
The Latino Caucus of the Richmond Progressive Alliance invites you and your organization to be part of the
Richmond ID Cards in 2011 Coalition
Following-up the on the great work done by coalition members in previous years and encouraged by the implementation of programs in neighboring cities, an invitation is made to every person interested in the goal of a good Richmond ID Card program to participate in this year's broad-based coalition.
The time was right and ripe for the City of Richmond to create and implement a much needed MID program
Join the coalition to make it a reality.
When: Wednesday February 9, 7:00-9:00 P.M.
Where: Madeline Whittlesey Community room [Next to the Richmond main library] Macdonald at Civic Center
Why: Having ID is important to access goods, services, facilities, institutions and to participate civic life. Many undocumented immigrants, homeless, elderly, children and youth, LGBT and others lack and ID card for different eligibility reasons. Having ID allows for better integration to libraries, education opportunities, transportation, legitimacy, and for better safety. The interaction of residents with police and other law enforcement is facilitated, reporting a crime is facilitated by removing fears of consequences for not having ID; It improves access to hospitals and healthcare. It allows age verificationand helps the interactions with financial institutions, local merchants and their incentives. Many Richmond residents lack ID and Richmond can help.
· 'Municipal ID Cards and its Multiple Uses' presentation and discussion
· What steps are needed in Richmond?
· Working Committees to prepare the community and City Council for the program.
· Coordination and next steps.
Democracy in Haiti Requires Shift in U.S. Policy
The new Richmond City Council's January 11 swearing-in ceremony reminded Pierre Labossiere of the exuberant feeling he had both times Aristide won elections in Haiti. Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee (www.haitisolidarity.net), gladly took time out of his busy schedule to come from Oakland to Richmond to witness the significant shift towards popular democracy that is taking place in our city.
Haiti has been on the news a lot during the past year, with reports of multiple catastrophes. The media, however, has been silent about the underlying problem, one that can be readily grasped by Richmond activists who are asserting their right to self-determination and rejecting the undue influence of wealthy special interests on our daily lives.
Haiti's biggest problem is the United States' active opposition to democracy in Haiti. Though counterintuitive to Americans who have genuine compassion for Haitians and have donated generously since last year's earthquake, this reality must be understood so that Americans who truly care can insist on a change in policy.
Ever since former slaves succeeded in freeing themselves in 1804, the US has consistently used its muscle to impose anti-democratic structures in Haiti that benefit the wealthy elite and their international partners. From 1915-1934 the US occupied Haiti militarily. In the last 50 years we've seen US support for the brutal Duvalier dictatorships, US trade policies devastate Haiti's local rice economy, US support for two coups d'etat (in 1991 and 2004) that ousted wildly popular and democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, US blocking approved loans to the Aristide government (2000-2004) for building water systems that could have curbed the present cholera epidemic, US military invasion in 2004 and subsequent support for the ongoing United Nations military occupation.
Following the earthquake, US leaders have blocked distribution of billions of dollars in promised aid and failed to denounce November's deeply flawed presidential election that excluded Haiti's most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas. Now, brutal former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier is allowed to return to the scene of his crimes in Haiti, while twic
e democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide remains in forced exile.
A 2005 Wikileaks cable documents US government "insistence that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process."
While president, Aristide encouraged broad participation by Haitians to address the human rights and basic needs of the entire population, and many positive steps were taken. His influence is as democratic as it gets.
Why does the US persist in undermining Haiti's democracy? The US appears to prioritize maintaining a large cheap labor pool close to its borders, controlling Haiti's natural mineral resources (yes, there are many, including oil!), and preventing Haitians from setting an example to other nations of how a poor, black, formerly enslaved population can empower itself, control its own destiny and thrive. If you disagree with these priorities, speak up!
Grassroots activists in Haiti have told us how much they appreciate the many statements Mayor McLaughlin of Richmond has made publicly supporting their movement and key leaders who have been disappeared and imprisoned.
In the spirit of international solidarity, I invite you to join the Global Women's Strike and Haiti Action Committee in supporting the Haitian Women's Petition for the Return of Aristide and his Family.
Member, Haiti Action Committee ( www.haitisolidarity.net )
Board member, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund ( www.haitiemergencyrelief.org)
Help Build the RPA
A good city council is only part of the solution. Progress in Richmond requires us to keep working block-by-block, issue-by-issue. The RPA is re-gearing to meet this new challenge. Richmond already has an effective system of neighborhood councils which should be strengthened. In addition the RPA has set up ten issue committees to address different needs in our community.
Currently the RPA Committees and the initial convenors are:
- Arts Committee (Gayle McLaughlin)
- Climate Justice/Environment (Margaret Jordan)
- Green Campus Jobs Committee (Jeff Ritterman)
- Recreation Committee (Juan Reardon)
- Office/Newsletter Committee (Mike Parker)
- Worker Owned Co-op Committee (Marilyn Langlois)
- Culture of Peace Committee (Vivien Feyer)
- Education Committee (Eduardo Martinez)
- Pt Molate Committee (Andres Soto)
- Foreclosure and Homeless Committee (tbd)
You can see more description of these committees here.
We invite you to join our effort. Let us know if you are interested in working on one of these committees. Email us at email@example.com.
The Arizona Murders:
Is Anger the Problem? .
There are a lot of people blaming the tragic deaths in Arizona on the "inflammatory rhetoric" of the right. The solution, it would follow, would be to tone down the discussion and return to more civil discourse. There are editorials and even petitions to this effect.
I think this liberal response is another failure of what passes for political leadership in this country and points us in the wrong direction. What drives a mentally unstable person to commit any act is very difficult to determine. What we do know is that public health programs have been decimated. When Loughner was thought to be mentally unstable at a Community College, all the system could do was expel him,-- make sure he had another reason to be bitter-- not give him treatment and help. It was not inflammatory rhetoric which has blocked public mental health programs but cold calculation of policy and profits.
Further back in the funnel of causality is most likely the collapse of the American Dream for millions during the last five years. Millions have lost their savings, homes, pensions, medical care and face bleak futures. This is a real cause of many desperate actions. People are justifiably angry. Seeing no reasonable explanations or what seems to be a reasonable way out, people accept conspiracy theories and acts of individual martyrdom.
I join with millions in mourning the loss of lives in Arizona and particularly the death of 9 year old Christina Green with the bright future ahead of her. And let's provide the same mourning for thousands of children her age in the US who will die because of lack of medical care and immunization? When we deprive children of those shots by simple act of deciding to spend our money on prisons or to increase the fortunes of our wealthiest through tax cuts we murder many of these kids. Their deaths are longer and more painful. Instead of comfort and support from the society, the parents of these kids receive only the prospect of similar death for more of their children.
I am sorry for the families of the Arizona victims. That should give us appreciation for the millions of families who have to cope with the sense of life failure as they lose their own homes or care for their parents who have lost their life's savings and their pensions and their medical care.
What we need now is more anger and activity. Not phony yelling on the one hand or the pretense that we all want the same thing and that we should calmly accept the status quo. We need to channel our anger at the cause of this unnecessary suffering -- the system which allows growing inequality, massive wealth with massive poverty. We need to use this anger to motivate organizing. We need collective action so that people can start feeling like they have some power over their society. We need to start "telling it like it is." And stop pretending that if we only talked nice these problems would disappear.
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 author, unsigned text the views of the editor, Mike Parker, 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.