|Issue: # 43||February 12, 2011|
Tuesday February 15, 6:30 pm
Richmond Honors Fred Jackson
On Tuesday, February 15, at the City Council meeting Mayor McLaughlin will be presenting our beloved friend and community activist Fred Jackson with a proclamation honoring his exemplary service to the Richmond community.
Fred has shared with us that he was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, yet he remains upbeat and welcomes the company and moral support of friends, family and fellow activists, as he faces this serious challenge.
Come out on February 15 at 6:30 pm in the City Council chambers to cheer him on. For the full text of the proclamation, click here.
Right: From Fred's soon-to-be-published book, Thoughts Set Free on the Wings of Expression, a collection of his essays and reflections.
Below: Fred with Mayor McLaughlin at the 2010 Juneteenth parade.
Black History Month Book Review
Our History Built Richmond
To Place Our Deeds: The African American community in Richmond , CA 1910 - 1963 by Shirley Anne Wilson Moore, University of California Press; 2000
While African-Americans have always lived in Richmond, it was the demand for round-the-clock construction of ships in the Kaiser Shipyards that drew African-Americans here from all parts of the United States, but particularly from the rural South. The story of the Rosies who joined the work force is well known.
The contributions of African Americans is less well documented. Prof. Moore provides a parallel story for Black Americans. At the start, urban California African-Americans who had lived in Richmond were suspicious of the newcomers whose ways seemed "country" to them. However, during the war years and into the fifties, these newcomers contributed enormously to the war effort, helped support a flourishing economy and even started a musical renaissance in North Richmond . One fascinating chapter that delighted me, I might re-title "Blues Club Women," for many of the venues, like Tapper's Inn, the Pink Kitchen, and Minnie Lou's were founded or managed by Black women.
After the war, racial tensions flared as Black Americans began to assert their civil rights. Housing was one of the areas fought with strife and struggle. At the same time racial discrimination was rampant, many sincere white liberals and radicals saw injustice and challenged it..... see the full review
See also Jovanka's pamphlet on the struggle of the Gary family.
Green Campus/ Green Jobs for Richmond
The RPA strongly supports the efforts by the city of Richmond to promote Richmond as the best place to locate the proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories second campus.
We believe that this is an excellent fit.
We in Richmond are on the cutting edge of the green economy already. We have won the Contra Costa sustainability award for the government sector. We are number one in the bay area for solar installed per capita. We have over 50 core green businesses, dealing with green products and services and countless businesses 'greening' their business practices in one way or another.
We have an internationally-renowned green job training program that specializes in training our residents in solar installation, weatherization, and green building practices.
We have been designated an official 'Green City' in California and we are part of the East Bay Green Corridor which has been officially designated as a "hub of green innovation" by the State of California. We have cutting edge ordinances, policies and initiatives in place and many more to come.
Richmond has excellent connectivity to the region and state through I 80/580 freeways, and BART/AMTRAK. The soon to be re-constructed Ohlone Greenway and the Bay Trail offers non-motorized connections with Berkeley. The Bay Trail provides for excellent recreation and access to beautiful shoreline areas. Richmond has created ambitious pedestrian and bicycle plans, which greatly aid mobility and accessibility around Richmond for all modes of travel.
The location of the LBNL in Richmond fits well with our attempt to transform our economy to one based on 21st century jobs and the new green economy. Not only will it provide direct jobs for construction and operation, but it will provide many indirect jobs though services required, spin offs, and most importantly, green oriented businesses choosing to locate nearby, attracted by this research center.
Richmond has informed and engaged residents who are eager to work with the City, LBNL and all other involved parties towards maximizing everyone's benefits from having LBNL located here. If the Richmond Field Station site is selected, LBNL would have the opportunity to collaborate with Richmond's Southeast Shoreline Community Advisory Group, which has been studying this area of the city for the last six years and is well-equipped to partnering with experts from LBNL in addressing issues of existing toxins at the site.
We believe the commitment of the city to welcome good paying jobs, in a healthy environment, that contribute to protecting the environment and improving the conditions for humanity will be enhanced in this process.
We welcome the LBNL to Richmond.
-RPA Steering Committee 2/4/11
-illustration: David Moore
Richmond Identification Cards 2011
An active coalition is working to win Richmond ID Cards program for residents of the City of Richmond.
A meeting on February 9 started with a recognition of past local efforts of the Contra Costa County Municipal ID Task Force and ended with the commitment of those present to continue and take these efforts to a successful culmination.
Most of the meeting was conducted simultaneously in English and Spanish
Initial Agreements included:
- The coalition will pursue for Richmond a program similar to the one approved in Oakland, download here with the ID cards serving also as ATM cards and a program with no cost to the City.
- The services included will be determined locally by the coalition and partners (City).
- The coalition will meet monthly.
- All key decisions of the coalitions will be made democratically at these meetings.
- A tentative time line of the year's work culminating in the first Richmond IDs by December 2011 was outlined.
- Several coalition committees were formed. Click here for the details of committees, contact people and next steps.
Next meeting Wednesday March 9, 7-9 PM place: TBA
To endorse this effort, download this form.
Affirming our Future in 2011
Mayor McLaughlin's State of the the City
Now that we are into the second month of the new year, I want to be sure that everyone is up-to-date on where we are at as a city, as we move forward together continuing the work for a better future.
In my 2011 State of the City Address last month, I recapped some of projects, developments, and activites of the past year.
Click on this link for the slide presentation to get a feel for what we have done and are doing in spite of these difficult times. Please read my concluding remarks here as well.
There is no question that there were significant accomplishments in 2010!
And what can we expect from 2011? Well given that 2011 has ushered in a new era of city governance with a new City Council, we can expect a heightened sense of commitment to our positive, progressive direction. We can expect new perspectives that look to the common good and seek real avenues of transformation based on the social and economic needs of the people, offering real solutions for reversing decades of disenfranchisement. Expect community empowerment to be the rule and not the exception.
One final note to remember: Our progressive journey in Richmond is young. We have shown our ability to take positive steps, but there remains so much more of our journey yet unlived. Our integrity and desire to improve is our assurance of vigorous change to come...and that is what drives us to enthusiastically continue the journey!
Critical Report Now Available
Point Molate Final Environmental Impact Report
The Final EIR, dated can be viewed or downloaded here. It is very large.
A City Council study session for the Final EIR will be February 22. The Public Hearing is scheduled for March 8. All members of the public may submit written comments to the City Council or three-minute oral comments on March 8.
The RPA Pt. Molate Committee will be studying the FEIR. This is an important document and how it is evaluated may well determine whether we are done with the Casino once and for all. Your contributions to the discussion are welcome. Send comments to RPAActivist-at-gmail.com
New CBE Study
Why "Crude Switch" Matters
|Global Shift to Heavier Crude |
Chevron's expansion and modification project is still blocked by the courts because of a flawed Environmental Impact Report submitted by Chevron and passed by the previous City Council.
The key issues revolved around whether Chevron planned to refine a heavier,"dirtier" crude oil. Why is this important? The heavier the crude oil, the more environmentally destructive greenhouse gasses are produced, the more toxic "hot spots" are in the surrounding communities, and the more toxic contaminants are potentially released.
A recent research study by Greg Karras of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) clarifies the issue. The technical report was published in a peer reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society in November.
Now CBE has produced an excellent leaflet which explains the issues and their importance in non-technical terms. Click Here to download.
Community Film & Discussion
Thursday, February 24,
Richmond Public Library Community Room
325 Civic Center Plaza (enter via patio)
CRUDE: The True Cost of Oil 2009 Joe Berlnger - Documentary 104 minutes - Epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion "Amazon Chernobyl" case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly disappearing indigenous cultures.
Sponsored by: Communities for a Better Environment
- Richmond Progressive Alliance
Peace & Freedom Party, Contra Costa County Central Committee
Download Flyer Here
Salute the People of Egypt
Rarely do our rulers look more absurd than when faced with a popular upheaval. As fear and apathy are broken, ordinary people -- housewives, students, sanitation workers, the unemployed -- remake themselves. Having been objects of history, they become its agents. Marching in their millions, reclaiming public space, attending meetings and debating their society's future, they discover in themselves capacities for organization and action they had never imagined. They arrest secret police, defend their communities and their rallies, organize the distribution of food, water and medical supplies. Exhilarated by new solidarities and empowered by the understanding that they are making history, they shed old habits of deference and passivity.
David McNally, The Bullet
As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn't help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the United States. I think it's on the ropes. We're in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only.
While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn't really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance. (see full column)
Bob Herbert, New York Times 2/11/11
Governor Brown's Budget
ABSCONDING WITH LOCAL GOVT. FUNDS
Although there is a new Governor of California, the frame is changed but it is the same ole picture regarding state government continuing its unprincipled and misguided effort to abscond with local government funds. Such actions exacerbate the polarization between state and local government. Brown's budget proposal has been called "refreshingly honest" by some supporters who acquiesce regarding the electoral larceny attempt. Governor Brown claims that everything is on the table and that the fiscal crisis requires sacrifice from every sector of the state because "we have no choice." In point of fact, Governor Brown has proposed to balance the budget on the medically indigent, early childhood development, community college and university students, welfare recipients, the differently-abled, state employees and local government. His budget proposal is tantamount to an obscenity of injustice.
If Governor Brown had the political will, instead of cannibalizing local revenue he could propose an oil severance tax, sales tax on Wall Street transactions, taxes on the wealthy whose income has increased over the past twenty years, tax corporations and tax Internet sales. If he had the courage, he would propose to reform Prop 13 to compel commercial property to be assessed at fair market value as a matter of equity. Fourteen percent of federal taxes come from California but only 11%, amounting to $52 billion, returns to the state. He could lead the state legislature in petitioning the 55 California members of Congress to return an equal portion of federal taxes. California has the third largest number of Fortune 500 companies after Texas and New York. Some of these firms have paid as little as $800 in taxes annually. The $2 billion in tax breaks that many corporations received in the midst of the fiscal crisis ought to be rescinded.
The state government proposal to eradicate redevelopment as local revenue undermines the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1952 as a tool to address blighted urban areas. The call for the eradication of redevelopment goes against the voters who supported both Prop 1A and Prop 22 that prevent the state government from borrowing, redirecting local government funds. Let us not forget that the state government already owes cities more than $900 million from previous borrowing. It is totally absurd to force local government to bail out state government in the midst of cities dealing their own budgetary issues attributed to property and sales tax decline and the mortgage foreclosure crisis. In proposing to shift local economic development to local government, Governor Brown advocates eliminating redevelopment as a catalyst for economic development. This tortures logic.
Governor Brown and his supporters in the state legislature have done little to justify any claim to leadership in terms of fiscal management. As an epitome of hypocrisy, members of the state legislature who served in city and county government now seek to take away funds from cities in their own assembly and senate districts. The proposal to eradicate redevelopment and assume its debt service which has doubled since 2000 makes about as much sense as the rescinded proposal to sell off state property and then rent it back at a higher rate that the original mortgage. California has suffered more job loss than the rest of the country during the recession and the unemployed workers outnumber the available jobs five to one. Yet, Governor Brown proposes to eliminate the $40 billion in goods and services and the 304,000 jobs generated by redevelopment in the midst of an unemployment rate of nearly 13%.
In some instances, redevelopment has been used as a vehicle for "urban renewal" and gentrification of low-income and working-class and non-white communities. This is a manifestation of racism and class bias, not the fault of redevelopment. For the most part, redevelopment helps flow investment dollars into historically neglected urban areas and has been a catalyst for economic development for construction jobs, infrastructure, transit-oriented development and small business development. The vast majority of funding for affordable housing comes from redevelopment agencies, the second largest funder of affordable housing after the federal government.
Critics claim redevelopment funds have been misspent and divert dollars to developers and away from schools and other local services. By such reasoning, one could claim that fire services take funds from housing, public safety takes away from human services, education diverts funds from economic development and housing redirects resources from infrastructure. If the discussion is about subsidies to corporations then the discourse should point to the corporate welfare that abounds. The zero sum game pits essential social services against one another and begs the question of what is more important: education, housing, employment, park, recreation, infrastructure, health care, child development. Of course, they all are critical human needs and services. Governor Brown's budget proposal further erodes confidence in the state government's ability to be a fiscal steward.
Leonard McNeil is a San Pablo City Council member and a Professor of Political Science at Contra Costa College.
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)
- Homeless Committee (Yvonne Nair)
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.
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.