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Issue: # 44February 27,2011
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IN THIS ISSUE
Casino: Where Are We?
Free Democracy from Corporate Control
Free Energy Upgrades
Cuts in Adult Education?
Play Addresses Violence
Reich: Republican Shakedown
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Mayor McLaughlin explains where we are in the process 
Point Molate Casino
  

Dear friends,

The process of reviewing the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Pt. Molate Mixed-Use Tribal Destination Resort and Casino is underway.  Last Tuesday, February 22nd, a study session was held on the FEIR at our City Council meeting.  We received a presentation from staff, and members of the public as well as the City Council asked questions and made comments, but no decisions were made.  This was simply a presentation to give the Council and the public a chance to get a better understanding of the process for reviewing this enormous three volume document.

On March 8, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the FEIR.    At the closing of the public hearing, the City Council will need to make a decision on the question of certification of this document.   It needs to be made clear that certification of the EIR is separate and distinct from project approval.  

We have been informed that one section of the FEIR, the socio-economic impact section, is only included in this document for "informational purposes" (and not for consideration in the certification process) since the California Environmental Quality Act  (CEQA) applies only to an impact on the  physical environment.  This socio-economic section, however, must be considered when the federal authorities do their review -  a necessary requirement in regard to this project. 

Nevertheless, even though we are not required to review the socio-economic impact on a local level, it is my belief that we need to place as much information and data as possible in the FEIR to strengthen it.   Therefore, I will be asking the City Council to include studies in the FEIR that provide additional data on the impact of crime, health, and gambling addictions, as well as negative economic impact. 

As I stated above, the process for certification of the EIR is distinct from project approval.   March 8th, the public hearing on the EIR, is but one step we must complete.  At a subsequent meeting of the City Council, we will look at whether or not to approve the project. 

While the City Council is aware of the advisory vote of the Richmond electorate who soundly defeated Measure U, which indicated that voters do not want a project that includes a casino, we are legally obligated to undergo a step by step review, deliberation and determination process in this matter.  As decision-makers, the City Council will be looking diligently at all materials and listening conscientiously to all comments presented to us in every step of the process underway.  I encourage the public to come out on March 8th, 6:30 pm, to share your comments on the FEIR. 

I will also be informing the public as to a subsequent City Council meeting date (likely on  April 5th) at which the Council will look at approval or disapproval of the project.  This subsequent meeting will be an especially important meeting, as it will provide the City Council's up or down vote on whether or not to allow the casino project in Richmond to proceed.

My best regards,

Mayor McLaughlin

City Council Agenda  March 1 
Resolution to Free Democracy from Corporate Control
  
Money Voting graphicAt its March 1, meeting the Council will consider a resolution sponsored by McLaughlin, Butt, and Beckles that opposes the current legal campaign extending to corporations the rights of human citizens.  In particular the resolution challenges the corporate "personhood" notion in the Supreme Court decision which allows corporations to spend unlimited money in political campaigns and supports a constitutional amendment to overturn this decision  The resolution details the problems with this concept.  Key parts of it  are:
  

WHEREAS, when freedom to speak is equated with freedom to spend money, millions of
people who have less money are disenfranchised, thus denying their full rights to free
speech;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Richmond City Council calls for freeing
democracy from corporate control by amending the U.S. Constitution to establish that:
1. Corporations are not natural persons and not entitled to constitutional rights.
2. Money is not speech

Click here for full resolution

Also on March 1 City Council Agenda

Resolution to invite Chevron to file another EIR for the expansion modernization project (Butt, McLaughlin, Ritterman)  Click here for resolution  

Appeal of Planning Commission denial for a new Subway Sandwich shop in Point Richmond

For moderate income Richmond home owners 
Free Energy Efficiency Upgrades Available
  

Attic InsulationGETS Energy Services in partnership with City of Richmond can provide energy efficiency upgrades worth up to $5000 FREE for eligible moderate-income Richmond homeowners, and help provide "on the job" training for Richmond residents who have graduated from the GETS Program.  Who is eligible?  Homeowners living in their primary  single-family or duplex residence. There must not be a lien or foreclosure on the home. The money comes from Federal stimulus funds

The program offers a wide menu of services to make your home more comfortable, energy efficient, safe, and durable:  attic insulation, draft sealing, furnace filter replacement, furnace duct sealing, compact fluorescent lights, water heater blankets, programmable thermostats and more!

Call Khaia McGill at 510-647-8000 or email mcgill@risingsunenergy.org for application or go on-line here for more information. 

Your child's success depends on YOUR learning! 
New Threat to Adult Education Funds
Stop Adult Ed Cuts
School Board Meeting
Wednesday, March 2  6:15 pm
DeJean Middle School
3400 Macdonald Ave. 
Multipurpose Room
  

The West Contra Costa Board of Education plans to take another $1 million from adult education.
 
Come to the meeting and ask:
"How do you plan to spend the $1 million you are taking from adult education?"

Play addresses domestic violence, gangs, abuse 
U R Not alone  


Dear Friends,  Please join me at Richmond High on March 5 at 7 pm (doors open at 6 pm) to experience this celebrated play that both entertains and educates.  Richmond High School students are incoporated into this play, so please come out and support our youth as they display their creative talents!
 
I will be saying a few words of welcome, so hope to see you there!  - Mayor McLaughlin

Tickets are $10 ($5 with student ID)

Robert Reich: 
The Republican Shakedown
  

You can't fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top - and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of the nation's bills - Republicans will convince people it's all about government and unions.

Demonstration in Egypt
Everyone is making the connection

Republicans claim to have a mandate from voters for the showdowns and shutdowns they're launching. Governors say they're not against unions but voters have told them to cut costs, and unions are in the way. House Republicans say they're not seeking a government shutdown but standing on principle. "Republicans' goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government," says House leader John Boehner, "not to shut it down." But if a shutdown is necessary to achieve the goal, so be it.


The Republican message is bloated government is responsible for the lousy economy that most people continue to experience. Cut the bloat and jobs and wages will return.  
Nothing could be further from the truth, but for some reason Obama and the Democrats aren't responding with the truth. Their response is: We agree but you're going too far. Government employees should give up some more wages and benefits but don't take away their bargaining rights. Private-sector unionized workers should make more concessions but don't bust the unions. Non-defense discretionary spending should be cut but don't cut so much.


In the face of showdowns and shutdowns, the "you're right but you're going too far" response doesn't hack it. If Republicans are correct on principle, they're more likely to be seen as taking a strong principled stand than as going "too far." If they're basically correct that the problem is too much government spending why not go as far as possible to cut the bloat?

 
The truth that Obama and Democrats must tell is government spending has absolutely nothing to do with high unemployment, declining wages, falling home prices, and all the other horribles that continue to haunt most Americans.


Indeed, too little spending will prolong the horribles for years more because there's not enough demand in the economy without it. 


The truth is that while the proximate cause of America's economic plunge was Wall Street's excesses leading up to the crash of 2008, its underlying cause - and the reason the economy continues to be lousy for most Americans - is so much income and wealth have been going to the very top that the vast majority no longer has the purchasing power to lift the economy out of its doldrums. American's aren't buying cars (they bought 17 million new cars in 2005, just 12 million last year). They're not buying homes (7.5 million in 2005, 4.6 million last year). They're not going to the malls (high-end retailers are booming but Wal-Mart's sales are down).


Only the richest 5 percent of Americans are back in the stores because their stock portfolios have soared. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has doubled from its crisis low. Wall Street pay is up to record levels. Total compensation and benefits at the 25 major Wall St firms had been $130 billion in 2007, before the crash; now it's close to $140 billion.


But a strong recovery can't be built on the purchases of the richest 5 percent.
The truth is if the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, government wouldn't be broke. If Governor Scott Walker hadn't handed out tax breaks to corporations and the well-off, Wisconsin wouldn't be in a budget crisis. If Washington hadn't extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, eviscerated the estate tax, and created loopholes for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, the federal budget wouldn't look nearly as bad.


And if America had higher marginal tax rates and more tax brackets at the top - for those raking in $1 million, $5 million, $15 million a year - the budget would look even better. We wouldn't be firing teachers or slashing Medicaid or hurting the most vulnerable members of our society. We wouldn't be in a tizzy over Social Security. We'd slow the rise in healthcare costs but we wouldn't cut Medicare. We'd cut defense spending and lop off subsidies to giant agribusinesses but we wouldn't view the government as our national nemesis.


The final truth is as income and wealth have risen to the top, so has political power. The reason all of this is proving so difficult to get across is the super-rich, such as the Koch brothers, have been using their billions to corrupt politics, hoodwink the public, and enlarge and entrench their outsized fortunes.  They're bankrolling Republicans who are mounting showdowns and threatening shutdowns, and who want the public to believe government spending is the problem. 


They are behind the Republican shakedown. 
These are the truths that Democrats must start telling, and soon. Otherwise the Republican shakedown may well succeed.

February 23, 2011
From Robert Reich's Blog

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.

 

 
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