Let Sacramento know
Stop Attempts to Weaken CEQA
It's a continuing battle. Major corporations and the state Chamber of Commerce are always trying to weaken the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) . The Act is one of the few tools available to local communities to make sure that major projects by private companies or public agencies do not threaten the environment. We in Richmond know from experience that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required by CEQA gives us some badly needed power in protecting our city and our lives.
Attempts to weaken CEQA have taken a number of forms. Last year there were ballot propositions to suspend pollution protection until unemployment drops below 5%; out-right exemptions for specific projects show up as part of budget deals; legislators regularly propose nibbling away by amendments to "expedite" decisions."
The danger is now that CEQA will be damaged in the Sacramento horse-trading to try to get Republican support for Governor Brown's package of cuts and regressive taxes. (See LA Times and RPA newsletter)
There are a number of bills in the legislature to weaken CEQA. The most immediate is AB 880 sponsored by Democrat Manuel Perez It is backed by the Chamber of Commerce and scheduled to go before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee next week.
The Richmond City Council at its April 26 meeting adopted a position opposing these changes in the committee.
You can help. Representative Nancy Skinner who is on the Natural Resources Committee and State Senators DeSaulnier and Hancock have all said that they oppose weakening CEQA. Send them email endorsing their position and email Governor Brown making it clear that CEQA can not be a bargaining chip
For Governor Brown: http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php
The Chevron Project and CEQA
Lobbyists try to stay in the dark, but there is good reason to believe that Chevron is promoting attacks on CEQA. Having twice been found in violation of CEQA by Republican appointed judges who then blocked its project, Chevron would clearly benefit from having the law weakened.
To be explicit, we want to see the Chevron renewal project back on track in a way that cleans up the air and water in Richmond, reduces pollution of all types, and provides good jobs. Such a solution is possible and apparently there was much common ground in the negotiations that took place last fall. With the return of Chevron's refinery to profitability, Chevron wants the project restarted. The City Council voted on March 1 to invite Chevron to submit new plans to the City so these issues can be worked out quickly. But whether as a negotiating strategy with the city or because it is seriously trying to find a way to bypass CEQA, legislators known to be close to Chevron have been going after the CEQA laws in Sacramento apparently with Chevron's encouragement.
While Chevron seems to talk about cooperation it has been increasing both its carrot and its stick in dealing with the local community. It is spending a lot on publicizing its contributions to local charities at the same time playing legal hardball to get $60 million in property tax rebates which will seriously hurt the County and City. Chevron, number 4 on Senator Bernie Sanders "list of corporate freeloaders," got an IRS refund of $19 million last year while raking in $10 billion in profits.
Chevron does not need our sympathy; it does not need special rules. If the BP spill and the Fukushima nuclear power disaster taught us anything, it should be that we need more care and regulation to protect our lives and the environment.
|Congressional Progressive Caucus
The People's Budget
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has proposed an alternative to both the Republican Ryan Budget which slashes the social safety net and Obama's proposed budget which gives the Republicans most of what they want. See the Federal People's Budget. Its main elements are:
1. Fair Taxes: Tax the Wealthy
Make the Individual Tax system fairer: Tax the wealthy including amore progressive income tax and a progressive estate tax.
Reform corporate taxation: end various deduction loopholes, end corporate welfare for oil, gas and coal companies; reinstate superfund taxes to clean up pollution.
2. Cut Military Expenditures
3. Create Jobs by investing in rebuilding education, healthcare and infrastructure.
The authors project that this budget, unlike the Obama or the Ryan proposals, will actually balance the budget in 8 years.
Now that we have some common sense in Washington, how about the same approach in California. We need leaders who will push for reforming the state income tax, closing corporate property tax loop holes and a severance tax on oil. And that is for starters. Unfortunately, although polls indicate that this approach is supported by overwhelming numbers, politicians are afraid to challenge the giant corporations and come up with a CALIFORNIA PEOPLE'S BUDGET.
| Saturday April 30, 10 am, 24th and Barrett
Cinco de Mayo Parade
Building ONE RICHMOND means showing respect for each of the cultures in our diversity. Everyone concerned with unifying Richmond should be in the Cinco de Mayo parade, and about 45 days later in the Juneteenth celebration. Plan on joining us this Saturday.
From Mayor McLaughlin:
I invite you all to join my contingent of the Cinco de Mayo parade. The parade will take place on Saturday, April 30. The parade will start at 10 a.m. at 24th and Barrett.
We have a couple of banners: the "Reaching out for a Better Richmond" banner and the banner with the Benito Juarez quote.
Other banners are welcome to express our progressive cause. The Municipal ID committee will be marching with our contingent and will have a banner calling for: Richmond Municipal IDs for everyone.
Click here for full sized leaflet
Another "American Exceptionalism"
The United States is exceptional in many ways, as proven again and again in science, technology, and world affairs since our nation's founding near the close of the 18th Century. However, now in the 21th Century, the U.S. faces challenges which frustrate the legendary American qualities to which we attribute much of our success: Individualism, hard work, liberty, justice, and economic opportunity.
One of America's biggest challenges is homelessness, which is exceptional compared to other wealthy, industrialized countries.
A recent article by David Morris in his blog "Defending the Public Good" shows how the U.S. stacks up against other countries in a number of income distribution, health, and social categories, including homelessness. Here is one of several charts collected by Morris.
Why is there so much homelessness in America? Morris offers an historical perspective and suggests that America's "lucky" history and ill-informed belief in American superiority has not prepared the country for the tough times it now confronts. Other countries have many fewer homeless than the U.S., measured per capita and in absolute terms.
Morris points out that in order to help their low-income citizens other rich countries "have designed most of their social benefits to be universal... unlike here where residents have to prostrate themselves before bureaucrats to validate their penury before they are grudgingly doled out ever-smaller and temporary amounts of assistance."
In Contra Costa County, the most recent data estimates the homeless population at 16,000-20,000, roughly 1,000-5,000 more than the pre-recession count. More than half of the county's homeless reside in the West County area with the majority in Richmond. The unremitting growth in homelessness -- and the current inability of most agencies, institutions, and communities to stem the rise - makes Saffron Strand's 2011 Conference more important than ever. For more on "Sustainable Solutions to Homelessness: Integrating Employment, Health Care & Housing" - May 16-17 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center go to
Saffron Strand's website
May 16-17, 2011
Sustainable Solutions to Homelessness:
Integrating Employment, Health Care & Housing
Richmond Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center
Saffron Strand's Second Annual Conference breaks through the barriers that hinder the homeless from achieving and sustaining gainful employment:
Healing the trauma of homelessness
Building the capacity for work
Enabling re-entry from the criminal justice system
Rekindling hopes and dreams
Our 2011 Conference features nationally renowned authorities and the Bay Area's most innovative and successful leaders who help the homeless and other vulnerable low-income populations. In addition to plenary sessions Monday and Tuesday, the Conference includes more than 20 workshops and participatory activities.
For more information - complete program, online registration, hotel reservations, sponsors, etc. - visit www.SaffronStrand.org Download Conference Flyer
America is # 1!
As the above article shows David Morris: The Real American Exceptionalism: Defending the Public Good contains some startling graphs that show that America is #1 in quite a few ways that it shouldn't be. And there is a connection.
Click here for more graphs and references on everything from CEO pay, to prisoners, to healthcare.
Click here for the David Morris article.
Victory for Youth Artists and freedom of Expression
After intense organizing led by youth and their adult allies, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously on April 19, 2011 to protect the right of Gompers High School students to re-paint their mural adjacent to the new Gompers community garden on the Richmond Greenway at 8th Street.
Thus the unfortunate outcome of a big misunderstanding last fall was able to be reversed and repaired.
Last October, the students, under the guidance of their art teacher Gretchen Borg and youth mentor David Meza, had designed and painted a vibrant mural done in graffiti art style that expressed their pride in their school and community. They had obtained permission from the property owner and attempted to get permission from the City of Richmond, only to discover that there is no process available for doing so. After the mural was complete, the City's Code Enforcement Division, which is part of the Police Department, determined that the mural constituted "unauthorized graffiti" and ordered it painted over. In a few moments their work of the previous several weeks was gone. Read More
Tuesday, May 3 All Day
Stand with United Teachers of Richmond
Cutting and San Pablo Ave. 6:00 AM-6:00 PM
Stand Together with the United Teachers of Richmond, Tuesday, May 3, 2010 "Day of the Teacher." Support working people, education, our students, higher education, protect ALL of our rights and fairness.
Join the All Day Demonstration, public and private sector employees line the streets of the community to show the pivotal role these employees play in the community,
California schools have been cut by $18 Billion in the last three years and we now face another $4 Billion!
We may lose 20,000 teachers this year, on top of the 30,000 we've lost in the past three years!
· Our class sizes are outrageous!
· Students' instruction days are being eliminated!
· Our counselors are disappearing!
· Our arts, our music, our PE, our athletic programs are gone or going!
· Our library books are deteriorating!
For more information: www.unitedteachersofrichmond.com
Phone: 510-222-5112 United Teachers of Richmond, CTA/NEA.
Teachers Declare State of Emergency
Occupy State Capitol May 9 -13
Bring signs that say:
· Tax the Rich and the Corporations
· Fully Fund Public Education and Public Services
· California for All: Transfer the Wealth to the Bottom
The California Teachers' Association (CTA) has declared a "State of Emergency" in public education and public services and issued a call to all unions and their allies to support a Week of Action, May 9 - 13, to occupy the Capitol in Sacramento. The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) has also endorsed this action. See here for more information.
Educators for a Democratic Union (EDU) in San Francisco is asking for a concerted effort to kick off the week of action by having as many of our unions, community members and parents allies join us by occupying the Capitol on Monday, May 9th. Consider coming for as much of the week as you can: EDU hopes to turn out a huge numbers on Monday May 9!
For rides, information
Oakland Education Association (OEA) 510-866-3676
United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) at 956-8373
Saturday, April 30, 9 a.m.
San Francisco Bay Trail Landfill Loop - Grand Opening - 9:00 a.m.
Come out Saturday, April 30 to celebrate the grand opening of a new 4 mile segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail in Richmond. Cyclists will meet at The Plunge (Richmond Municipal Natatorium) at 8:00 a.m. for a bicycle parade to the new trail. The 9 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony at the foot of Parr Blvd. will be followed by hikes around the loop, and lunch in the afternoon. For directions see the event flyer here.
Saturday, April 30
RYSE's fund raiser: "Be a Kid"
Workshops 6:30 p.m. Dance Party 8 p.m.
RYSE Center, 205 41st St
Click here for information and tickets .
Tuesday, May 3,
March & Rally at Wells Fargo's Annual Shareholders Meeting
Buses leaving from Richmond (510 Macdonald) 10 a.m.
Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero & Market Streets, San Francisco) 11:30 a.m
Banks that owe their recovery to taxpayer bailouts in turn owe it to those very taxpayers to help them save their homes and get back to work. It's only fair.
That's why hundreds of homeowners, workers and clergy will gather on May 3 for a march and rally at the Wells Fargo Annual Shareholders Gathering in downtown San Francisco. We will take our message straight to the bank leadership, calling on them to pay their fair share and act now to keep families in their homes, stop predatory lending, and stop profiting from detaining immigrant communities. Sponsored by ACCE, CCISCO, SEIU 1021. (510) 866-5032
Waiting for Obama
In a swirling, misty wet wind, courtesy of the Pacific ocean, we stood across the street from the Masonic Auditorium atop Nob Hill in San Francisco. There were only a few hundred of us huddled up against, Grace Cathedral bundled up and shivering, but we were there nonetheless. With us was the growing gulf between "Haves" and "Have-nots" that has gone unchecked by this administration which began with such hope.
I remember the night President Obama was elected. I was watching the returns in a deli standing next to an African American women in a wheelchair. She was beaming. I could see in her eyes that she felt that she was at the end of a very long road. She seemed to be feeling a huge joy in that she lived to see a black man elected president of the United States. I have to admit that I shared much of that joy and a part of me was very hopeful. However, I'm also pretty jaded after a half century of watching the political process in our nation. There was a voice inside that kept reminding me that no matter how good a person Barak Obama is, or how good his intentions were, he is just one man. He would be a single person in a morass of corporate dollar bought influence, greed based power and policy making for the elite. I knew, but did not want to acknowledge, that the election of Barak Obama would change very little beyond rhetoric, because that is all the Democrats seem to be able to offer. They were, and still are, very long on rhetoric and short on spine. Two years into this administration we have seen a lot of lip service but little action. In fact, we have gone backwards in many ways. The honeymoon is over. We on the progressive left must stand up and be heard. We have been taken for granted long enough. Read More
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.