Wednesday, May 15 6:30 pm
ACCE to Honor Mayor McLaughlin
Let's face it, our Mayor, Gayle McLaughlin, puts up with a lot of crap.
Being the Mayor of a city with a contentious political environment can be a thankless job. And yet through it all she has been a strong ally of our community and an important leader on progressive causes.
She has stood up to Chevron and the Big Banks. She helped pass the General Plan, the Housing Element and the Vacant Property Registration Ordinance.
That's why on Wednesday, May 15th we are honoring Mayor McLaughlin with ACCE's Community Empowerment Award. Join us as we come together to show her we have her back and appreciate her hard work. We will also be screening a 30 minute documentary that highlights ACCE's work to hold the Wall St. Banks Accountable.
The event is a fundraiser. The suggested donation is $20 but no one will be turned away. We'll have food, drinks and raffles (raffle prizes include a kindle, a Nook and a $50 Target gift card) Please join us for this important event!
David Sharples, ACCE
A Real Richmond Success Story
Doria Robinson and Urban Tilth
Doria was born and educated in Richmond. Until age 13 she lived at 5th and Nevin. Drive-by shootings prompted her mother to seek a safer place in Richmond to raise young black children so they moved to 32nd street.
Doria grew up with a large extended church family on Richmond's South Side. Her grandfather, Elder Vernon V. Robinson, was the Pastor of Apostolic Temple of Truth Church on Ohio and South 13th.
City must take action
Integrity of City at Risk
Richmond has to act quickly to remove Leslie Knight as Human Resources Director/Assistant City Manager.
This is a serious, but necessary, action. The issues are not rumor, normal workplace conflicts, or an extension of some political struggle. The action is required based on the report of investigators selected by the City Manager, and paid for by the city. We do not need to know everything that was in the full thousand page report. The portion of the report that was released by the City Manager by itself calls for the action. Specifically it is clear that for some substantial period of time, Knight
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
Does Nat Bates Encourage Mark Wassberg?
At most Council meetings over the last year Mark Wassberg, also a candidate for Council, makes comments that are racist or homophobic. Frequently his remarks are admiring of Hitler's actions toward the Jews. He often uses vulgar language or gestures and yells out from audience.
Video: Candidates Bates and Wassberg
Bates has not officially endorsed Wassberg. But Bates seems to be encouraging Wassberg in his "political" career. (See video --warning--offensive language.)
Wassberg's actions serve two functions for Bates. First, Wassberg can make the vicious attacks on the RPA while Bates poses as a "reasonable person" on the council. Second, Wassberg and the small group he sits with, who cheer each other and Bates and Booze, help create chaos in council chambers during meetings to make things difficult for Mayor McLaughlin. Bates then blames the chaos on McLaughlin.
Community Compensation is What We Need
People must get compensated for individual medical conditions and damages caused by the Chevron fire. People have a right to get this compensation easily, without red tape, and without having to sign away their rights for future compensation if new problems develop later.
Compensation is also a community issue. It should be solved at the community level. It is the opportunity to establish a new relationship between the community and energy company that provides for safe operation, shared prosperity, and increasingly sustainable and less polluting energy.
It should not be solved by Chevron picking some non-profits it finds worthy (and friendly to it) but by the City Council with genuine community input that democratically represents the community surrounding Chevron
Chevron should pay its full property taxes and stop the appeals that hold the county and city hostage and cost funds for defending against the appeal. But taxes are just the starting point-the obligation of all citizens. Chevron should be funding substantially more.
It is clear from the recent accident that the community bears considerable costs by having Chevron as a neighbor. The costs come in both short term and long term health problems, pollution in our air, soil, and water and even the loss of property values and attractiveness to new jobs and industry in Richmond. Years of work improving the image of Richmond were wiped away by the fire.
A Chevron Community Benefits settlement should include the following:
- Establish and fully fund community hospitals and clinics that continually provide access in normal times and are equipped for emergencies. Supply all people subjected to possible pollution by Chevron access regardless of financial situation.
- Fund an effective warning system, under community control.
- Enlist community involvement in monitoring effectively both internal plant processes and outputs to insure maximum reasonable safety. Include enhanced emergency safety procedures with immediate and precautionary shut-down of production equipment at first sign of gas leak or breach of hydrocarbon containment.
- Supply mitigation funds for community centers and community projects.
- Pay fair taxes.
- Hire locally and provide preference to people living in immediate plant vicinity; supply upgrade training to provide those hired access to better jobs.
- A statement by Chevron that once and for all ends the suggestions that environmentalist objections to its expansion plans in some way prevented modernization of the refinery and would have prevented the fire. The section of the refinery was not involved in the previous expansion plans and decisions about replacing the faulty piping were solely within Chevron's control.
RPA Steering Committee
Chevron Explosions and Fire
We are glad that there were no direct serious injuries from the blast and the fire. The long term damage to people is yet to be determined and likely to be serious. We thank the emergency personnel for the job they did in containing what might have been an even more serious disaster.
Some questions require immediate answers:
- When will we have a complete list of toxic chemicals that were in the smoke from the fire and flares that blanketed our community for many hours?
- What symptoms should be looked for besides respiratory problems?
- If people have respiratory problems or other symptoms, where can they get immediate medical attention?
- How will medical bills be paid?
- What about compensation for lost work or damage to property?
Safety must come first. We do not have to accept that these things just happen, "like tornadoes and floods." There are serious questions about whether Chevron makes safety its highest priority. During the last contract negotiations Chevron opposed union proposals for more trained people devoted to safety tasks. In fact Chevron made plans to use workers inexperienced with the Richmond refinery to keep operating if negotiations broke down.
The warning system needs much improvement. The cost of improvements and maintenance must be borne by Chevron.
Our property tax system pays for county medical and emergency services. Chevron's efforts to get a massive refund on their property tax threatens these services and shows that Chevron does not recognize the costs its operation imposes on us. Chevron must drop these appeals immediately as a first step to becoming a good neighbor.
If BART and buses cannot run, then there must be alternative housing or transportation for people left stranded. Chevron must absorb costs for these preparations.
Heavier crude oil contains more known and unknown toxic pollutants which are released in accidents like this. The cracking of heavier crude requires more energy and higher temperatures increasing the probability of explosions. Chevron's plans to use dirtier, heavier crude was the issue in the last Chevron expansion plans and continues to be an issue in the current expansion plans. We want jobs with safety first at the Refinery.
It is up to the City Council to protect its residents. As long as we must refine fossil fuels, Richmond should take the lead in making sure that refining in Richmond leads in safety procedures. Should we have Councilmembers like Nat Bates who take campaign money and assistance from Chevron and its political front groups in charge of protecting us in this vital area? Candidates Eduardo Martinez and Marilyn Langlois take no contributions from Chevron or any other corporation. They are loyal only to Richmond.
While it is step forward for Chevron to call a community meeting, we think the timing shows a lack of understanding of the Richmond community. It's unfortunate that Chevron chose to hold its town hall meeting at 6pm, during our National Night Out event that neighborhood groups have been planning for months. It could have been scheduled for 4pm or 9pm (or both to accommodate more people) out of respect for the community members who are working together to reduce crime. National Night Out is important in Richmond.
We hope this is not another Chevron scripted PR event but that community questions are answered directly and fully.
We know some questions may take more time to get answers: We support Mayor McLaughlin's call for full independent investigation and transparency to determine both causes and what can be done to make this refinery as safe as possible. When we live with a potential bomb in our community, we cannot accept that information is protected by "proprietary interests" and "trade secrets." There also must be discussion about what Chevron can do to repay the community.
--RPA Steering Committee