newsletter masthead
Issue: #46 March 18 ,2011
QUICK LINKS

Join Our Mailing List

RPAActivist@gmail.com
510-595-4661 

IN THIS ISSUE
Fighting Foreclosures 3/19
Casino Decision Day 4/5
Council supports Wisconsin Struggle
Solidarity Action 4/4
Japan
City Stands Up to Veolia
Promoting Real Richmond
Silly Parade 4/2
 To have an item listed send it to
Fighting Back Against the Banks
March 19 Action Against Foreclosures 
Buses leave 5th and Macdonald 9:00am (return 12:30)

  

Homeowners, faith leaders, unions and others, coming together under the banner REFUND California are determined to hold the big banks accountable for the havoc they are wreaking on our communities. It's time for them to REFUND California for some of the enormous economic costs to our state resulting from their greed.

 
The Campaign is sponsored by ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), PICO CA (People Improving Communities through Organizing), the California Reinvestment Coalition and various SEIU Locals and supported by the Richmond Progressive Alliance and other groups

At first  foreclosure may seem to be an issue of personal failure.  But when it happens to one out of five Californians and  in some sections of Richmond,  one out of two homeowners, then it is clear that the system is broken.  Banks get rich on mortgages and foreclosures, individuals pay in personal tragedies  In addition  the whole community  pays.  Foreclosures  cause property values of the surrounding neighborhood to go down.  Foreclosed houses attract drugs, crime and blight.  And the lower property values means lower income to the communities from property taxes. 

 

At the state level, the Campaign is  pushing for legislation:
 

  • Foreclosure Fee:  Imposes a fee on the banks for each foreclosure to support public education, public safety and other vital services. 
  • Foreclosure Prevention: Requires that mortgage servicers complete negotiations around a loan modification before the foreclosure process proceeds, and provide(s) borrowers legal recourse if this law is violated.
  • Title Transparency: Would mandate recording of all mortgage deeds/trusts and assignments, and payment of the requisite fees, and would also require that the mortgage note be filed prior to issuing a Notices of Default to ensure that the foreclosing party has the right to foreclose. 
At the local level, Richmond has led the way  passing laws to iimpose daily  fines on banks for unmaintained, vacant properties and working to make sure that big banks and other major corporations are paying the property taxes they owe.

 

 

On Saturday, March 19th we are holding a statewide town hall in Oakland where over 1,000 community leaders are coming together to advance solutions to the foreclosure crisis.  We will be calling on our state legislators to support our "homeowner protection" package of 3 bills and calling on the State Attorneys General to reach a strong settlement with the big banks nationally. Buses will leave from 5ht and Macdonald (across from Nevin  Community Center)  9 am  March 19th.  They will return  around 12:30 after noon.  Please call  510-866-5032 so we can plan for enough buses.
 

.Foreclosure cartoon

Contest: Fill in the comments. Or add one for the banker.  Send to RPAActivist@gmail.com

Cartoon by David Moore

April 5 
Casino Decision Day
  No Casino

As things stand now on April 5,  the City Council  will get to vote on the Casino and end this threat to the Richmond Community.  Mark the date. Plan to help.

 

There are still a couple  of city council members  who don't quite get it that Richmond voters voted down the Casino overwhelmingly despite the promises  and threats made to a community which is under great economic hardship.  We need  a hard campaign in the next two weeks and a large and strong turnout at the Council meeting.   Drop us an email to let us know if you can help with phoning and writing letters  rpaactivst@gmail.com.

 

With all the money at stake and al the lawyers involved it is always possible that dates can be changed and new issues can come up.  Check the RPA newsletter and web site  regularly for updates.

Council Passes Strong Resolution
Support for Workers in Wisconsin and Rights of Collective Bargaining

 National Income Share 

 The City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for strong support for the rights of collective bargaining  and "the courageous actions of the workers, students and other citizens of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana who are taking a firm stand in the traditions of the great civil rights and labor struggles of the United States and struggles for democracy around the world."
The resolution  focuses on the link between the attacks on unions, the rapidly growing inequality in the U.S. and the decline of  decent jobs: 


WHEREAS, Governor Walker is continuing the attack on organized labor started by President Ronald Reagan who fired 12,000 air traffic controllers soon after taking office in 1981 in order to break their strike and begin a new era of labor suppression;

WHEREAS, the unremitting attacks on the labor movement, and the weakening of unions is a major cause of the most massive upward redistribution of income and wealth in US history;

WHEREAS, this upward redistribution of income has resulted in the United States becoming the most unequal rich country on earth;

WHEREAS, rising income inequality is correlated with lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, more homicides, more teen pregnancies, more prisoners per capita, lower scholastic achievement, less civic trust, more obesity, and less recycling;

WHEREAS, this de-unionization movement is a step toward further disinvestment in the public sector, trimming away vital government functions that serve ordinary families; ...


Jeff Ritterman framed the resolution with a brief  slide presentation demonstrating  why the rights of unions are so important, the impact of inequality on  all of us, and why this is very relevant to our immediate problems in Richmond.  You can see the full resolution  with some of Jeff's introduction here.  A number of officials from other cities are looking at this resolution and considering  introducing it.   Please forward it to folks in other cities so we can help keep this building.
 

Jeff's presentation to the Council is on the city video site  and makes a good presentation for groups and individuals. Select item I2 (3:32:03)

April 4  Monday 11 am to 1 pm
Stand up in Solidarity Wisconsin demo

 

The Labor Councils of Contra Costa and  Napa/Solano are planning a  March and Rally in support of  Wisconsin workers and support of the rights of collective bargaining  at the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge (new Carquinez Bridge).  RPA members  and others in Richmond are planning to support this activity.   Details and meeting locations will be announced.

 

April 4, is the anniversary of the assassination of  Dr. Martin Luther King  in Memphis in 1968, where he was supporting  unionized sanitation workers in their struggle for decent working conditions.  This year the date  has become the target date for national support for workers in Wisconsin, Ohio,  and Indiana, in their struggle to maintain their unions, their solidarity, and their collective bargaining rights.

JAPAN
What Unions Are Doing; How You Can Help.

 Japan Destruction

The international trade union movement has published a lot of information on the web - but chances are you don't know much about it.


Here are some of the pages you might want to check out: 


 The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has a page with extensive information on the earthquake, tsunami and what followed.


* The ICEM, which represents chemical, energy and mine workers -- whose members are currently involved in the efforts to prevent catastrophes at the nuclear power stations -- has a web page with details on how to pass on donations directly to the Japanese unions, who have set up a special bank account for this purpose.

* The International Metalworkers Federation also has detailed information on how your union can donate money directly to the Japanese unions. 

 

These are from LabourStart

Photo from Press Association Images

City Stands Up to Veolia

 

Veolia, an International Corporation which specializes in control of  privatized water and sewer systems  manages the city-owned waste treatment plant that serves much of Richmond.  As with efforts to privatize city-run facilities, this one, although  partial,  included elimination of a unionized workforce and a consistent pattern of  service declining while costs rose.  The latest problem and the city council's response at its March 15 meeting are described in this letter.

 
Wednesday March 16

     This morning I awoke tired but incredibly energized.

     Last night, at well after midnight, the Richmond City Council did something that was, quite frankly, somewhat amazing to watch given its reputation for letting industry dictate policy in its community: It stood up to a multi-billion dollar company and said loudly and proudly that it was standing with the people. 

     After months and months of community battles with Veolia water regarding hydrogen sulfide releases from the plant it is managing at the Canal Street waste treatment plant in Point Richmond the led to illnesses and its eventual shut-down in October 2010, the council weighed in and along with the community made it clear that it will no longer tolerate discussion that pits dollars against community health. Even with Veolia executives and lawyers present and exerting pressure, the council voted to look into alternative waste options that may eventually lead to the closing of the plant and voted to keep the plant digesters from restarting until the plant is clearly shown to be safe for the surrounding community.

     This truly was civic drama at its best and was an example of what happens when elections put the people's people in power.

     Please all, consider forwarding this to as many other Richmond residents as you can. We can be so incredibly proud of our council. Only one member appeared to be standing firm on the side of making sure we protected the contractor - all others stood firmly with all of us and the residents who spoke. Wowza, we can all be so proud! 

     I was somewhat disheartened not to see Veolia pushed a bit more with respect to facts that are now known and documented-- that they knew about the more than a dozen rips in the digester cover weeks before their shut-down (the guy form Veolia last night said they shut down the digester immediately upon learning of the rips), that they didn't even own a hand-held hydrogen sulfide measuring device to do investigations required of their contract at the time of the failure, and that during the time of the failure they uniformly ignored or delayed responding to complaints by community members and never measured hydrogen sulfide during that time - a requirement of their contract. Having said this, I know these issues are being dealt with behind closed doors at the city level, by the air board, by the Attorney General's Office, and now, as I understand it, by the U.S. EPA criminal division. As such, I guess we may not get to see Veolia answer for these specific issues on camera. What they had to answer for last night certainly was a close second.

Here is the link -- it starts at 5:49. Keep in mind -- it is already after midnight. It heats up.


All the best,

Laura (Dr. Laura Jelliffe-Pawlowski PhD)

Letter:
Promoting the Real Richmond

 

 Dear RPA,
Thank you for the post by Jessie West about the Casino.  I was most struck by the comment about creating a billboard depicting the "Real Richmond."

 

 I  would love to see a billboard campaign showing the lives of real Richmond residents -- not old media stereotypes -- in my wonderful city.  I would have pictures of us tending our roses, playing soccer, working in community gardens,running small vital businesses, going to church,  feeding and housing our homeless, supporting our libraries, hiking on our highly developed segments of the Bay Trail, caring for our young people and old people and disabled people and immigrants.... with the header, "This is MY Richmond." I hope you will seriously consider helping update the Bay Area's outdated ideas about Richmond. 

 

Like Jessie, I would love an opportunity to promote the "Real Richmond" in a targeted campaign highlighting our great attributes.  As the executive director of Richmond Main Street, one of our primary goals is to improve the image of our downtown and city to support business, arts entertainment and clean and safe initiatives.  

 

I think we should continue to encourage everyone to spread the word about the positive happenings in our great city to improve the negative stereotypes so frequently promoted in the media.  I am happy to work with Jesse and others who want to push this effort forward.  Thank you.

 
Amanda Elliott
Executive Director, Richmond Main Street

510-236-4049;   

  Silly Parade

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.

 

 
This email was sent to mparker@rts-tech.com by rpaactivist@gmail.com |  
Richmond Progressive Alliance | P.O. Box 160 | Station A | Richmond | CA | 94808