RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #70April 2, 2012
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IN THIS ISSUE
Why Chevron Lost
Science of Refining Dirty Crude Oil
Is Sugar Toxic?
Upcoming Events

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Progressive Office
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Ruling for the Community

Board Rules Against Chevron Claims

 

 Chevron-manThe Contra Costa County Assessment Appeals Board announced its decision today ruling against Chevron and in favor of the Community. For the most part the Board found that the Assessor's valuations for 2007,2008,2009 were reasonable and appropriate. The board found that the Assessor's office inadequately supported its assessment, but that Chevron had also failed to make its case. The Board made its own determination of value. Not only did the board not lower Chevron's property tax assessment, it actually raised it.

 

Taking all three years into consideration, Richmond and other cities in the county, the county, the school district and the state won't have to return approximately $100 million dollars to the immensely profitable oil company. We are entitled to an additional $25 million!  

One panel member suggested that, for all her hard work, the clerk of the panel, Carrie Del Bonta, should immediately apply for a raise. If the decision had gone Chevron's way, she might have been looking at a pay cut or a lay-off.


Richmond Progressive Alliance  

Statement on Chevron Property Tax Appeal Decision

4/2/12

 

Every once in awhile justice triumphs in a system that is heavily weighted in favor the rich and powerful.  The Richmond Progressive Alliance congratulates the Contra Costa Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board for seeing through Chevron's financial sleight of hand, and for bravely rejecting Chevron's thuggish extortion attempt.  We appreciate that you ruled that Chevron must pay the amount originally calculated by the assessor (and more) solely on the evidence.  Notwithstanding this, our senior citizens thank you, our police officers and librarians thank you, our K-12 educators thank you, our ill children thank you, and our school district, and the city and county governments elected by the people to safeguard their health and welfare thank you, too. 


Community Action makes a difference   

Why We Won 

 

Justice was Served

Justice was served by the Board's decision.  While the community is suffering from high unemployment, foreclosures, loss of vital safety-net services and threats of more lay-offs, Chevron posted profits of $7.8 billion and $5.1 billion for the previous two quarters and has a very strong cash position. Justice requires that Chevron's share should be more-not less

 

Chevron is able to use its surplus cash to invest in lawyers, lobbyists, "experts", and PR firms to  bully local, state and national governments to get legal loop holes and judgments.  As individuals, most of us cannot afford the legal and political costs to get our property taxes reduced.  The county and cities cannot afford the legal and expert costs to prepare assessments that withstand legal challenges and to fully defend the community from avaricious attacks Courts. Appeals board hearings are not neutral when Chevron gets a bigger part in writing the rules and has the overwhelming advantage in interpreting them.

 

Chevron won its appeal for the 2004, 2005, 2006 with a very similar case. (That decision is now being appealed in the courts by both sides.) Even though one person was on both Appeal Boards, in both cases the decision were unanimous. Why this complete reversal when the playing field  is not level?

 

Not having a Chevron Agent on the Appeals Board certainly helped

In the earlier case Joe Fisher, leader of Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC) of Contra Costa was on the Appeals Board. BAPAC had  received large contributions from Chevron as well as campaign contributions which it distributed to favored candidates who supported Chevron's policies. See East Bay Express article.

 

Public Attention

Another difference between this appeal and the first appeal was that this time the Richmond Progressive Alliance worked hard to keep the proceedings in the public's eye. Citizens wrote letters and attended the hearings and county workers received flyers describing the impact a Chevron victory would have on them. Public rallies kept the issue in the press. Chevron-man was booed when he spoke in favor of the 1%. Articles appeared frequently in the RPA newsletter, the CC Times, Richmond Confidential and the Chronicle. These activities helped focus attention on the crucial importance of the outcome and thus supported the county lawyers as they went about their job. Thanks to all those who worked with us to keep this issue in front of the public and giving support to the exceptionally hard-working and underpaid county lawyers and the refinery assessor and major witness, Mr. Yu.

 

Political Climate

The Occupy movement helped create the political climate of a much greater understanding of how the 1% were using the laws, lobbyists, and political contributions to increase their unfair share.

 

Kissing-up to Power Does Not Work

In the last few city council meetings, when the issue of Chevron's appeal came up, Council members Booze and Bates made it a point to praise Chevron and emphasize how much Chevron gave to the community in taxes and contributions. Their attitude seems to be that since Chevron is so big and so powerful, we have to support its policies. Booze absented himself when the Council voted to request Chevron to drop the appeal. This may be the influence of Chevron's substantial political contributions, past and future. Or perhaps its a case of political "Stockholm Syndrome" in which captives come to identify with their captors or where people who are abused defend their abusers?

 

Chevron is a corporation. Its bottom line is profits. The people who run it are human and should be treated as such, but the decisions are based on corporate needs not human needs. Corporations don't respond to people being nice to them. They respond only to things that affect their bottom line. Their "positive" PR strategies, their support and cooperation for community projects ultimately are intended to create a political climate that allows them to conduct their business in a way which benefits their bottom line.

 

In the days before the announcement, Chevron is rumored to have offered assurances to the city that it would not require the city to pay back all the money that they expected would be owed to them. They were trying to appear to be the "good guys." In reality they were attempting to exert control over our city government with a "favor" in exchange for benefits to them in the future. This amounts to an attempt to usurp our democracy.  If they genuinely wanted to help the city and its people they would never have brought the appeal to lower their taxes, potentially bankrupting the city.

 

It is not over

Even though we won, Chevron cost the County millions in legal defense. Chevron will probably appeal and keep appealing. Chevron can afford the cash for lawyers- the County cannot. Chevron may well press for a compromise so the County can save the costs of litigation. The County and Richmond must stand tough against the bully technique. If Chevron wants to be a good neighbor let it start by dropping all of its tax appeals.  

 

Let's enjoy these moments of people's victory. But remember that the big picture has not changed. It just depends on our willingness to organize.

--Mike Parker

 

 The Science of  Refining Dirtier Crude Oil  

City of Richmond Informational on Refinery Efficiency

Wednesday, April 4,  6:00 -- 8:00 pm  

City Council Chambers   

 

 (City of Richmond is providing light refreshments & interpretation available in Spanish & Lao)

 

Featuring Greg Karras,  

Scientist from Communities for a Better Environment  

  

This will be the first time CBE presents our groundbreaking new science on impacts of refining heavier, dirtier crude at a public meeting in California.  The City says it wants this to be a scientific discussion that will focus on why some refineries emit more greenhouse gases than others by burning more fuel.  It also invited Solomon Associates (a company that works with refineries to help them monitor themselves) to make a presentation.  The City has scheduled a question-and-answer discussion after the presentations where members of the public can speak.

 

For more information on this issue check out this article published by New American Media 

Dirty Crude Spells Dirty Air in California


Sugar
60 Minutes Program on Sugar. Is it Toxic?

Featuring Dr. Rob Lustig

Click here to view


Upcoming Events

Richmond Silly Parade (6th annual) 

Saturday, April 14th 11:32am (if it rains, April 21st is the alternate date) 

23rd st & Macdonald

 

Join Richmond community in a family friendly April fool's event.  Feel free to dress up and be in the march or just watch and cheer the parade on.  This is a fun, free event you don't want to miss!  

for more info contact:   

Richmond Silly Parade Committee 510-235-5519 or richmondsillyparade@gmail.com   

 

 

Think Outside the Boss: How to Create a Worker-Owned Business 

Saturday,  April 14  10:30 am -- 2 pm
 Richmond Progressive Alliance Office

1021 Macdonald  

 This workshop is hosted by the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), and the City of Richmond Worker Cooperative Initiative.  The target audience for this workshop is community members (particularly low-income people and people of color) and non-profit organizations interested in incubating worker-owned businesses.

Cost: free  

 Register here 

 

Occupy Earthday March & Rally  

Friday April 20th  5:00pm  

at Richmond BART

 

 

Clean Up Pt Molate for Earth Day

Saturday,  April 21   10:30 am - 1:30 pm

Come to the Pt Molate Beach

 

Citizens For a Sustainable Point Molate is teaming up with The Watershed Project  to clean up the Point Molate beach. As the CFSPM facilitates a community dialogue about the future of Point Molate, we realize the importance of having as many community members as possible visit Point Molate. People need to find out for themselves how wonderful our shoreline is. On April 21 we'll have that opportunity and at the same time we'll be cleaning up the beach making a contribution towards helping to preserve its beauty. We are asking you and your friends to join us. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided and a free BBQ will be on the agenda along with free Point Molate buttons.  

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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