Chevron Community Meetings
Chevron has scheduled Town Hall Meetings to gain adulation for their $3 Million per year contributions to their favored organizations and projects in Richmond. The RPA has been distributing leaflets at these events.
How Chevron Got a Good Deal
Settlement of Chevron's Property Tax Appeals
The details of the property tax settlement will never be fully understood because the important information is “proprietary” to Chevron, but based on the limited information made public at the Assessment Appeals Board hearing that finalized the deal, we can report that the deal had three main components:
What lessons can we learn from all of this?
5 to 2 for Respect
The Richmond Council and senior city staff held their long-planned daylong retreat on Friday at the Marriott to discuss how to improve the functioning and perception of the City Council.
Organized and run by a facilitator selected by City Manager Bill Lindsay, there seemed to be agreement that despite different value systems that produced differences on what was important and how the city should respond, it should be possible for there to be agreement on a number of policy and procedural issues.
Many useful ideas were generated during the discussions. Some activities the Council could work on as united body included plans to assist the struggling Hilltop commercial area, implementing the General Plan, and passing a small tax increase to pay for a program that will repair the streets.
There were also a number of ideas to make Council meetings go more smoothly. One suggestion that had support was that City Clerk Diane Holmes be empowered to examine items placed on the agenda and talk to Council members about placing non-action items as study sessions during the third Council meeting. Another was to allow the Mayor and City Manager to recommend an agenda based on city priorities and expectations about how many people would be attending the Council meeting for that item. A third was to not allow a council member or public member to pull an item from the Consent Calendar unless he or she first talked to the staff person in charge of the item. A fourth proposal that had broad support was to limit the time each Council speaker could speak each time to three-to five minutes. (After a round, Council members would get additional chances to speak.) But no votes or even polls were taken on these items.
As the meeting was drawing to a close, Bill Lindsay noted with disappointment that they never reached the point on the agenda about what people would do differently as a result of the retreat. The facilitator started a discussion on this. Jovanka Beckles proposed that they could all agree that each would treat each other with respect at Council meetings. The facilitator said this was important and added "demand respect from others and for my colleagues." Lindsay said that even if respect wasn't defined, the commitment to do this was important. Each Council person was asked, and five Council members (McLaughlin, Beckles, Butt, Rogers, and Myrick) made that commitment. Corky Booze said he could not make that commitment because he had to stay true to his principles. Nat Bates, the Councilmember who pressed for this retreat, but missed half of it to attend a funeral said he could not commit to respecting other council members at this time.
Resources on Anti-Blight Plan
From Training Program
Dedication of Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
More photos and videos in next issue
Speakers at the ceremony included:
Honoring Bobby Lee Bowens, brave Black American soldier, committed Black Panther, dedicated health care worker, Richmond activist and community educator
BOBBY BOWENS PROGRESSIVE CENTER
1021 Macdonald Ave
Here is what the Lawsuit asks for
The City has Filed the Suit Against Chevron
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays judgment against Defendants, and each of them, as hereinafter set forth below.
1. For compensatory and general damages according to proof;
2. For economic damages due to emergency response, fire suppression, and permitting costs according to proof;
3. For past and future damages related to environmental remediation and
incidental costs according to proof;
4. For diminution in property value according to proof;
5. For damages related to harm to public health, obstruction of the free
passage and use of property of public property, and/or the interference with
the comfortable enjoyment of life or property according to proof;
6. For pre- and post-judgment interest on all damages as allowed by the law;
7. For attorneys and expert/consultant fees under existing law;
8. For punitive damages in an amount according to proof or taking some
measure to ensure that an example is made of Defendant to deter similar
9. For costs of suit incurred herein; and
10. For such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
Click here to read full filing (includes pictures)
With Liberty and Justice for Some
We Still Need Real Justice for Trayvon Martin
The verdict in the George Zimmerman trial demonstrates that People of Color cannot live free in the United States.
Whatever the reasons for the jury’s verdict – a racist law, a racist community, or ineffective prosecution lawyers, the facts are clear. Trayvon Martin was walking where he had a right to be. He was minding his own business, and he was shot dead. His only crime was being a young Black male.
We remember that simply electing a Black President, does not change the fact that racism still grips everyday life in the United States. It produces and promotes economic deprivation, poor schools and unequal educational opportunities, blatant and subtle discrimination and, as in this case, death.
The pain in the African-American community from this decision is intense. And although it is experienced differently among non-black allies in the struggle to eliminate racism, we all share the outrage of the injustice. We all understand the destructive impact racism has every day. Every day and every time the “pledge of allegiance” is recited, we must recommit ourselves to the struggle of justice for all.
First everyone can sign the NAACP petition. Click here. http://www.naacp.org/ (The website has been crashing because so many people are trying to sign it. If you have trouble, try later.)
Then begins the real work.
Disruption of Council Meeting on 7/23/13
We want to be clear.
Civil disobedience and demonstrations, including disruption, have a proud history. The civil rights movement, labor struggles, and the movements of opposition to apartheid, unjust wars, and dictatorship have all used these methods.
These movements also understood that these tactics must be used selectively and carefully. They must have a point by which they can be judged. They must have a clear message so that innocent folks know it is not directed against them.
Last Tuesday night's disruption had no discernible message and did not meet these standards. Instead it was intended to create chaos, to stop the City Council from functioning --and done simply as an exercise of power.
This is an escalation of a strategy that Council members Booze and Bates have been pursuing since the last election. Since they have no positive program of their own to put forward in the city, they hope to build their political careers by defending Chevron and other corporate interests. They seek to tear down the work that progressives have done and are doing to advance the city.
One element of this strategy is to try to discredit Mayor McLaughlin by making City Council meetings chaotic and uncomfortable. First, they tried overtalking the Mayor at council meetings and tried to prevent her from carrying out her responsibilities as the presiding officer of the meetings. Then there were pointless filibusters to prevent important business from coming up and intimidating questions to members of the public who spoke. As the Mayor developed techniques to handle these tactics, such as rulings on order and recessing the meeting, Booze and Bates relied more on the antics of their small band of followers in the audience to create an insulting and chaotic atmosphere.
Last Tuesday's disruption was just the logical continuation of that process.
It has to stop. It will stop when citizens of Richmond demand that it stop. It won't stop by repeating "The Council needs to work together" as though the responsibility lies equally with all members of the Council or by repeating Bates' line that "the Council is dysfunctional."
In fact the Council is not dysfunctional. It has accomplished a lot despite the disruption and ugly behavior of two of its members and their supporters.
The disruption will stop when people shine a light on and condemn the actions or lack of action by the few, including Bates and Booze, whose interests are served by disruption and chaos at the meetings. Richmond residents need to stand up and be counted by writing letters to editors, posting comments on blogs, and coming to city council meetings.
One result of this kind of public outrage already is that Councilmember Booze finally issued a statement distancing him from the hate speech (Click here for Booze statement.). His statement is more than a year late. Also his actions speak louder than and different from his words. For the last two years he has led this group of hate-promoters. During recesses that he creates by not following the rules of order and trying to overtalk the Mayor, Booze goes into the audience and shakes the hands and puts his arm around the makers of the statements from which he supposedly dissociates himself. And Councilman Bates covers for the hate-promoters by declaring that their speech is just another point of view.
---RPA Steering Committee 7/28/13
Real Leadership Required
Drawing the Line between Hate and Free Speech
Hate speech is one of the most difficult issues for those of us who strongly defend the right of free speech. The problem is that hate speech, by creating a climate of fear, discourages other people from participating and deprives them of their rights of free speech. The hate and vulgar speech and atmosphere at the council have already driven away many who would otherwise attend.
It is tough to set rules setting the line between hate and free speech. Moreover, this method rarely works in the long run although it may be necessary in the short-run.
The most effective way to end the hate speech and atmosphere at Council meetings is for all council members to take individual responsibility to exercise leadership and make it clear that they personally will not tolerate such behaviors at Council Meetings. The problem is that two Councilmembers, Bates and Booze give these hateful behaviors legitimacy by seeming to encourage them from their followers.
See this clip from recent Council meetings where Nat Bates could hear no hate!
In calling what is obviously hate speech, a "point of view" he legitimizes it and promotes it.
What is Booze's contribution to the atmosphere? After a proclamation honoring the LGBTQQIS-2 community, the Mayor asked everyone who supported Pride month to stand. The video of the Council meeting shows Corky sitting, looking around, and then at the very last moment when he saw he was isolated, standing. But it is not his delay in standing that concerns us most.
When it was his turn to speak he did not criticize his supporters' hate speech. He did not support the proclamation. Instead he made up a story to answer members of the community who criticized his staying seated, claiming he was absorbed in reading materials. He then went on to attack his critics including questioning whether Police Chief Magnus could be fair. (The City Council session of 6/25 can be viewed here --the Proclamation is about 20 minutes from the beginning.)
It's time for the community to demand that these two so-called leaders help lead Richmond into a proud future and stop encouraging behaviors which drag it into the dirt. Those who no longer attend Council meetings have left the field to the hate promoters. We need people who have good things to say about Richmond and its progressive polices to show up and set the tone for these meetings.
It's time for the community to demand that the hate promoters end their shameless behavior.
Tell the HATE PROMOTERS to STOP
Council Honors Pride Month
Progressive Politics in Richmond Makes Front Page News
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
An abandoned home in Richmond, where roughly half of all homeowners with mortgages are underwater, meaning they owe more than their home is currently worth.
Scarcely touched by the nation's housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures.
The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond.
The banks have warned that such a move will bring down a hail of lawsuits and all but halt mortgage lending in any city with the temerity to try it.
But local officials, frustrated at the lack of large-scale relief from the Obama administration, relatively free of the influence that Wall Street wields in Washington, and faced with fraying neighborhoods and a depleted middle class, are beginning to shrug off those threats.
Real Answers to FAQ
Questions about Chevron's Richmond Refinery and its Relationship to Richmond?
Chevron Richmond has assigned numerous staff members to circulate in the community to spread Chevron's views on community safety, Chevron tax policy, and what a good neighbor Chevron is. They spend millions on media promotion of the company in Richmond. At the same time same time they spend 10's of millions on a legal assault on the City and County. Did you know that the county and the city are paying more than $2 million dollars for lawyers just to defend the public from Chevron's suits?
Want to hear some answers other than Chevron's official line?
RPA has posted answers to Frequently Asked Questions by Richmond resident and researcher, Jeff Kilbreth. Check it out. If you have a question that isn't answered or you want more information, just ask and we will try to get it for you.
San Quentin Richmond Project
Getting the Word Out
I, along with my office staff, have been making regular visits to the men of the San Quentin Richmond Project (men from Richmond serving time in San Quentin) and are making connections for them with the "outside community." We are circulating this video, produced by the men, among our violence prevention groups, youth groups, city staff and the community at large.
It is deeply important that we showcase the transformation that these men are making while in prison and share their message with our community, especially our youth.
Please feel free to forward this video link http://youtu.be/o_-coLXrqfU to your lists. We'll continue to update the community on efforts of the Richmond Project as we continue to prioritize this "inside/outside" connection in the interest of a safer, more peaceful Richmond.
You can help further the work of the Richmond Project by writing a check to San Quentin TRUST (write Richmond Project in the memo section of the check) and sending to:
Accounting, San Quentin State Prison, 1 Main Street, San Quentin, CA 94964
Mayor, City of Richmond
Board Votes for Re-Entry Services
On Friday the executive committee of the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) of Contra Costa County, meeting in Martinez, voted to:
- fund the Community Advisory Board's (CAB) proposals for comprehensive re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals in the AB109 prison realignment population (6-1 vote)
- remove funding for jail expansion out of the Sheriff's budget and put it into a general reserve fund (7-0 vote)
Bonus item: Thanks also to Sheriff Livingston for dialoguing with community organizations and making plans to stop honoring ICE immigration holds for low level offenses.
Next steps: RFP/RFQ process will be initiated, and the AB109 budget for 2012-13, as voted on by the CCP, will be submitted to the County's Board of Supervisors on January 15, 2013 for final approval.
This all happened because of the strong and unified community mobilization that started in Richmond and spread throughout the county, involving many grassroots organizations (including CCISCO, Safe Return Project and Richmond Progressive Alliance), non-profits, faith-based groups and concerned residents. THANKS and CONGRATULATIONS to EVERYONE who was part of this effort!
Regular Community Testimony at CCP meetings was critical in shifting the funds