|Issue: #60||October 9, 2011|
Putting Chevron's "Generosity" Into Perspective
We all know that times are tough. Unemployment soars, families lose homes to foreclosure, and the City and County are constantly squeezed for funds to provide even the most basic public services. Times aren't tough for everybody, however, as we watch income and wealth inequality increase. In other words, the rich get richer, while the rest of us get poorer, exacerbating a host of social ills.
How does this happen? Because people let it happen. We see this phenomenon unfolding right here in Richmond, where an already super-wealthy corporation claims that it paid too much in taxes in recent years and wants to get a refund, all the while mounting a PR campaign to portray itself as a "good neighbor".
As if Chevron weren't already making enough money with it's billions of dollars in profit every three months, the Richmond refinery is currently attempting to require the City of Richmond and Contra Costa County to write a check made out to Chevron for $168 million dollars in refunds on its property taxes from 2004-2009, through multiple claims it has submitted.
While one hand of Chevron boasts about the small donations it makes to local organizations, the other hand is directing it's high-priced lawyers to find a way to rob cash-strapped local government's blind. Chevron's grants in the thousands of dollars to struggling non-profits may seem generous to some, but such amounts are clearly insignificant to this multi-billion dollar corporation. These amounts are also miniscule in comparison to the millions of dollars Richmond will have to pay if Chevron gets its way. In the worst case scenario, City services would be severely disrupted--much worse than the crisis of 2004--likely resulting in massive lay-offs in public safety, library, recreation, public works, as well as termination of service contracts with local businesses and non-profits. It could bankrupt the City.
Do major corporations who say they care about the community go out of their way to cause irreparable financial harm to that community? Chevron does.
Let your elected officials know that you are aware of what Chevron is trying to do and that it's not acceptable. Urge them to continue to pursue every means at their disposal to uphold Chevron's original property assessments and insist that it pay its fair share of taxes to protect jobs and essential community services.
Statement of RPA Steering Committee 9/30/11
Good Neighbor Chevron
Everybody knows that good, healthy, decent paying jobs are required to move Richmond forward. Yet right now Chevron has brought in more than 1600 workers to work a six to eight week period on a "Turnaround" at the Richmond Refinery. A Turnaround is a period where a section of the refinery is shut down and drained for intensive maintenance work. Most of the work pays well and usually includes considerable overtime. It could have meant a big boost to the local economy.
Instead, Chevron chose to use contractors who are hiring much of their labor from well outside the area. By Chevron's figures about 40% come from beyond 50 miles. And the 50 miles for the other 60% is a pretty long way to go.
When there is so much unemployment locally, why does good neighbor Chevron have to go so far for its hiring? It is not because of the lack of skilled workers locally. Rather, it is because Chevron would like to weaken local unions.These unions protect workers in dangerous occupations and keep wages and benefits at levels so these can be considered good jobs.
Don Gosney, a frequent
It takes lots of jobs to keep a refinery operational.
advocate for the local building trades unions, put it this way at the September 27 City Council meeting.
Chevron may tell you that the Bay Area can't supply qualified workers . But that is nothing but bull doogie ... They may try to tell you that out-of-area workers cost them less but that is not true either especially when you factor in the travel and lodging costs The real reason is that Chevron doesn't like unions and their staff wants to micromanage their workers as though they are children and don't know what they are doing.
Chevron, after inquiries from City Council members about this un-neighborly hiring policy, responded that they were providing the visiting workers with lists of Richmond restaurants.
photos by Don Gosney
The Right Time and Place?
Praising Chevron at the City Council
Chevron execs line up for proclamation
The item on the October 4 City Council agenda was supposed to be a recognition of Mike Coyle, former General Manager of the Richmond Refinery, on his promotion to a higher position in Chevron. Somehow, through the work of Chevron's PR department, this personal recognition was transformed into a praise session for Chevron's supposed contributions to the Richmond community. Chevron's key functionaries for handling Richmond all stood in the front of the chambers with Coyle in accepting the award. The proclamation itself went far beyond praising Coyle to praising Chevron for its money donated to local nonprofits and for its PR program.
This was especially inappropriate because this month, on October 24, will be a hearing on Chevron's appeal to force the County, Richmond and other agencies to refund a substantial part of its taxes.Chevron is asking to be paid approximately 20 times the amount that it has contributed to Richmond in the same period. If Chevron gets its way, local services throughout the county will be devastated
Several speakers at that City Council meeting praised Coyle, acknowledged his contributions and at the same time objected to extending this praise to the Chevron policies. Here is what Tarnel Abbott had to say:
Congratulations on your advancement. My comments are not aimed at you as a person, but something is not right when a city council meeting is used as a PR opportunity for the multinational corporation.
I would like to thank and commend Reverend Davis for having the courage to stand up to Chevron in Houston and say "Our Health is not for sale!" - that was a courageous act.
Chevron is being lauded for giving 3.7 million dollars to the community. Let us keep in mind that Chevron has earned record profits, meanwhile they threaten to bankrupt the city with their lawsuit to roll back their property taxes. They give crumbs with one hand, and take away far more with the other. Why now? Is it to make a progressive council look bad?
Chevron is the biggest generator of greenhouse gasses in Northern California. You cannot mitigate the effects of global warming and you cannot mitigate health impacts with dollars. Although the staff report credits Chevron with a 95% reduction in flaring, it was the community that demanded that flaring stop, therefore I honor the people in the community who made that demand.
Mr. Coyle, perhaps in your new role you can help to humanize Chevron Corporation: Hire our youth, they need to work. And put our health first, we deserve it.
Spokes Bike Shop Opens
Making it Happen in Richmond
At long last there is a bicycle shop in Richmond. More important it is a big step forward in building a genuine community institution. There are family memberships, free safety checks, monthly "fix-ins". The Grand Opening was October 2 and hundreds of people came to check it out. Congratulations to Brian Drayton and many co-workers who put it all together.
- no credit cards
- NO debt
- no corporate funding
- no government funding
- no obstacles
- no barriers and is net neutral $$$$
- We are green
- responsive to community need
- here for you
- dedicated as public space
- dedicated to incubating entrepreneurs that understand that we can close the economic loop.
Check out the Spokes Bicycle Lounge at 322 Harbour Way
just up from Macdonald.
While you are at it stop in for a visit at the new RPA office
around the corner at 1021 MacDonald
And enjoy the Richmond Spokes web site
Racism and Personal Attacks Set Back Richmond
Sometime Tuesday evening a letter was sent to city council members and posted on Facebook containing a hateful anti-black characterization of Council member Jovanka Beckles as a pet monkey with a doctored photo. Beckles has also been the subject of racist attacks about her country of origin.
Hate-filled, sick, racist, sexist, homophobic attacks must be wiped out for Richmond to advance. The only people who gain from these are those who do not want to see the people united to make real changes in our city and society.
We still must be willing to take on the huge power that corporations wield in Richmond politics. There are real issues to be addressed and debated. They should be discussed openly with people standing behind their positions. Hate letters and anonymous charges of any kind only intimidate people from participating in politics.
New DTSC Director to attend Thursday October 13
Important Public Meeting on Cleanup of Campus Bay ("Zeneca") site
For the first time in six years a director of the State Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) will attend a meeting of the Richmond Southeast Shoreline Area Community Advisory Group (commonly called the CAG). The CAG's primary focus is the UC Richmond Field Station and the Zeneca site one of the most hazardous sites in the country. The site is the former address of the racially segregated Seaport Apartments, which were finally demolished in large part because of the extraordinary incidence of environmentally-caused illnesses resulting from previous industrial activities at the site. Over 100 dangerous compounds have been identified at the site, many of which are spreading on the shoreline. Any construction activity or natural disturbance of the now temporarily capped site represents a threat to the surrounding Richmond area especially the Annex neighborhoods.
These will require lengthy and complex cleanup, lasting many years, perhaps even decades.
The CAG was formed in 2005, when the late local community activist Ethel Dotson filed a petition with the DTSC. The Department assumed regulatory oversight of "Campus Bay", the former Zeneca/Stauffer Chemical and UC Richmond Field Station (UCRFS) sites. Early support from the DTSC between 2005 and 2008 was a key factor in facilitating the community's public participation in the Zeneca site.
In July, the DTSC released the "Revised Draft Feasibility Study and Remedial Action Plan" for the area. The Draft is a large binder with multiple documents, available at the Richmond Public Library or on line at the DTSC website.
The CAG Executive Committee and Toxics Committee have submitted lengthy comments on the draft Remedial Action Plan. The response argues that the proposal "falls far short" of protecting the public from toxics and in fact is a step backwards from previous Remedial Action Plans. See CAG response here.
The CAG would like to invite the public to share its concerns with DTSC Director Debbie Raphael and key DTSC staff about the challenges of long-term, safe cleanup of the Zeneca site and the other extremely toxic sites that border various residential and business communities in Richmond and drain directly into the San Francisco Bay. The CAG very much appreciates the Director meeting with the community members now, before the DTSC finalizes their comments on the draft.
Thursday October 13, 6:30
City Council Building, 440 Civic Center
Basement Meeting Room
For more information Carolyn Graves, Secretary
email@example.com (510) 625-4459
Clinton Event "Postponed"
Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Director's has decided to postpone the event where Bill Clinto was scheduled to speak for $150,000 . Apparently outrage at the plan that was to pay him with pubic money or in contributions from the companies that the Board regulates had some impact. See
West County Energy Workshop Wednesday October 12
City Council Chambers Refreshments 6:30, Program 7:30
Rebates, grants, and low-interest loans are available to residents to improve their home's comfort and energy efficiency. See
CEQA 101 and New BAAQMD Guidelines
Wednesday October 19 6pm
City Council Chambers
This is the last in the series of community educationals in connection with the revised Chevron expansion project FEIR. See
Climate Action Plan Community Meeting
Monday October 24 6pm
Learn about climate change basics and the City of Richmond's climate efforts to date, and let us know about what you would like to see in the City of Richmond's climate action plan. See
|Free Film & Discussion |
Monday October 17, 7pm
WHY WE COME
POR QUE VENIMOS
A film about the migrants living in San Rafael Canal District
Richmond Progressive Alliance Office
1021 Macdonald Ave. Richmond CA
Light refreshments will be served
Latin American migrants living in San Rafael's Canal district tell why they left their homes to endure the arduous journey to El Norte, the United States.
These powerful, often heartbreaking, yet always stirring and inspiring stories offer an intimate look at lives lived at the outer limits of poverty and at the extraordinary courage of ordinary people as they take great risks seeking a better life for their families, especially for their children.
Sponsored by Richmond Progressive Alliance, Peace & Freedom Party, Contra Costa Central Committee, Librarians for Intellectual Freedom
GRIP Harmony Walk Saturday October 22
The RPA will have a table at the GRIP Harmony event. Stop by or sit with us.
An interesting article on GRIPS response to the recent Obama speech on Jobs
Click here to download flyer
Saturday, October 22
Forging a New California in a Time of Crisis
Berkeley Law School
A conference that addresses the causes of the California budget crisis, the impact across diverse communities, and the most innovative short-term and long-term strategies for forging a new California in this crisis.
Space is Limited!
Early Birds (by Oct. 14) $15
General + Help Someone Else Out $50
The Making Cents conference is seeking video submissions to help develop a common understanding of the impacts of the budget in people's everyday lives.
See our website for up-to-date info
Alliance for Justice, California Civil Rights Coalition, California Fund for Youth Organizing, California Partnership, Center for Latino Policy Research, Center for Race & Gender, Center for a Sustainable California, Critical Resistance, Kids Count Campaign, UCB Multicultural Development Offices, Non-Profits Talking About Taxes, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, UAW Local 2865, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, University of California Student Association, and the Warren Institute on Law & Social Policy.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.