Is Gary Bell a Chevron Candidate
Is Gary Bell the "independent" bringing great financial skills to the city that his campaign portrays?
Chevron is spending more than $1 million dollars to elect Gary Bell to the City Council and defeat Marilyn Langlois and Eduardo Martinez by posting billboards, and sending out candidate mailings. "I can't help it if Chevron supports me," Bell repeats over and over.
Bell's record would seem to support Chevron's judgment that he is a good candidate for Chevron. In his one term on the Council before he was defeated for reelection, On Feb 5, 2002 , June 4, 2004, and September 10, 2004, Bell voted with Chevron on environmental reports that came before the council. Bell supported Chevron's side when community groups and Tom Butt wanted protection against risks from Chevron projects.
In fact, when has Bell ever taken a position at odds with Chevron?
|Video: Bell Covers for Chevron on Fire |
Shortly after the Chevron fire, at the Southside Plus One Candidates night, August 20, Gary Bell was asked what he would do to prevent such occurrences. He used the opportunity to place the blame on environmentalists and others, suggesting that if Chevron's stalled expansion project had proceeded, the fire might have been prevented.
Bell's facts were wrong, as most informed people knew. The expansion project had nothing to do with the Crude Unit that burned. It was not blocked by the Council which had given Chevron's flawed EIR a pass. It was blocked by a court which saw the omissions and lies in Chevron's EIR.
Bell was either uninformed or purposely trying to shift the blame away from Chevron. We can't afford either scenario on a City Council that has to deal with Chevron.
Part of Bell's campaign is that he is good with numbers or a financial wizard. Many would question that given his defeat for reelection in 2004, due to voters' dissatisfaction with his performance during a period of serious financial crisis in Richmond.
Financial responsibility means more than knowing financial terminology. It's about valuing and protecting the public funds. It's also about "how" you use the public's money. Bell's use of $3000 of Richmond money to pay for a trip he and his wife took to Las Vegas after he lost his 2004 re-election bid, in the last weeks of his term, raised lots of concerns.*
With all of his supposed knowledge about real estate values and city finances, one might have thought that he would be one of the first to speak out about the injustice of Chevron's demands for property tax refunds. Chevron won a refund the first time because Chevron was wheeling and dealing in dark rooms and one of the members of the County Assessment Appeals Board was the beneficiary of Chevron's "charitable contributions." Bell never spoke up.
And even after a campaign developed to expose Chevron's tax-bullying during the next set of appeals, Bell still did not joined in and add his voice and "expertise" to demand that Chevron pay its full fair share of taxes.
This is the kind of "independent" Chevron loves.
*Bell responded to these claims in the East Bay Express that "None of the article is true" and that they are "lies". Bell got into an exchange with reporter John Gelurardi demanding that he produce documentation. Geluardi replied:
As you well know, I have the documents to back up my story. I always do. Your attempt to discredit me by claiming I am in league with the Richmond Progressive Alliance is baseless and offensive.
If you can produce receipts showing you repaid the city for your 2004 Vegas trip, I'll happily write a retraction. Until then, the record shows you charged the trip to your city of Richmond travel account, which was at The Mechanics Bank and managed by Trina Jackson then with the city's finance department. All of the charges were made after you were voted off the council. The charges, $2,552.37 not including meals, were as follows:
11-15-04 South West Airlines $160.20
11-18-04 Novogradac $ CO LLP $1,287.12
12-6-04 Dollar Rental-Las Vegas $406.60
12-6-04 Four Seasons-Las Vegas $704.45
Please let me know if you would like to review the documents.
Click here for source--see Comments.