Finally – Mark Peterson is out, having resigned after the California AG state charged him with 13 felonies associated with misusing campaign contributions. His plea deal allowed him to drop 12 charges in exchange for resigning and pleading no-contest to one count of perjury. (This is the man who refused to prosecute a Richmond police officer in the killing of Richard Pedie Perez, who was unarmed when he was shot three times)
So what is next? By the end of September, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will appoint an interim District Attorney to serve out the remainder of Peterson’s term. And whoever gets this post will have an advantage in the 2018 election.
Applications are due on July 21, and so far four candidates have come forward. They include Patrick Vanier, a Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County who previously worked in the Contra Costa DA’s office; Paul Graves, a Senior Deputy DA in Contra Costa County, where he worked under former DA Mark Peterson; Bill Green, a criminal defense attorney and former public defender; and District Attorney Kensak.
By the beginning of August, the Board of Supervisors will develop a short list of 3-5 applicants. Then the public gets a chance to weigh in at a public meeting on August 15. A special Board of Supervisors meeting has also been scheduled for September 12 to debate the candidates (another chance for the public to engage). Local criminal justice reform groups are tracking this process; folks can get plugged in by visiting www.eastbayactioncoalition.com
As you have probably heard, Richmond City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin has decided to step down from her seat on the City Council to focus on her campaign for California Lieutenant Governor (Statement from Gayle McLaughlin). The RPA Steering Committee issued its own statement thanking Gayle for her many years of service to the City of Richmond, and encouraging her as she brings her progressive leadership to a larger community (Thank You to Gayle from the RPA Steering Committee).
The City Council will vote to appoint a replacement for Gayle. At its next meeting on July 19th at 6:30 pm, the RPA Steering Committee will discuss making an endorsement for that position. Current members of the City Council will not take part in the endorsement discussion. Those who would like to be considered for an endorsement, or want to recommend others for it, can email Steering Committee Co-Chairs Marcos Banales (email@example.com) and Sharron SK Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please put the word ENDORSEMENT in the subject line of your email.
Like so many other public services endangered by encroaching privatization, the main post office in Richmond at 1025 Nevin Ave. is being threatened with closure.
Richmond’s Mayor, Congressman DeSaulnier, and Supervisor Gioia have joined with the Richmond Main Street initiative to mount a campaign against the proposed closure, which follows the recent shuttering of Station A on Broadway.
The closure would pose significant hardship to seniors, those who rely on public transit, those with limited access to the Internet, as well as small businesses in the downtown area. As Supervisor Gioia said in a letter to the USPS, the Nevin post office is “central to the health of downtown.” Built during the New Deal, the location has historical value as well.
The main post office is located at the heart of a historically underserved and diverse community, and the alternative site on Chanslor is far from public transportation and has limited parking. Residents who rely on public transportation have voiced their concerns at public meetings, most recently at the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council last week. The Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council has said it will file a lawsuit against the USPS if the closure is approved.
Officials have also expressed concern over the effect the closure would have on the revitalization of Richmond downtown. Over 1,000 new units of housing and 60,000 square feet of retail at 12th St. and Macdonald Ave. are in the pipeline and have been moving toward completion. These residents and businesses will need more services, not fewer.
The USPS has said that comments will be heavily weighted in the decision. Comment letters, not emails, are due before 6/30, so they need to be mailed no later than 6/26 so they arrive on time. You can download a comment letter and sign the petition here.
It is with utmost respect that the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) Steering Committee salutes Council Member Gayle McLaughlin as she steps down from the Richmond City Council to pursue her organizing electoral campaign as the next Lieutenant Governor of the State of California. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to her for 13 plus years serving as council member and mayor of the City of Richmond.
We will not be dismayed that our huge loss will be someone else’s gain, because who will gain when she succeeds? “They” are us. “We, the people” all stand to gain. Great things that need to be done on the state level can be moved forward: things like reforming proposition 13 so that local municipalities can thrive again. Gayle is taking our RPA experience to cities and communities all over California and encouraging them to follow our example of creating progressive grassroots organizations that are corporate-free, inclusive, diverse and that run candidates for local office to gain political power for the people.
She will also be promoting and bringing people together for statewide policies badly needed such as single payer health care, split-roll Proposition 13 reform, no-fracking, oil severance tax, immigrants rights, affordable housing, defending public education and opposing its privatization and the charter schools expansion, campaign finance reform, opposing the privatization of jails and detention centers, aiding cities for sustainable development.…so many struggles, so many opportunities.
Gayle’s message of hope and reason that a “better world is possible”, will resonate with people who are in desperate need of hope right now in these frightening and terrible days of the current federal administration. Hope is the life raft that gives us courage and strength to persevere against the odds.
The RPA membership has a proud history of participating in the tremendous struggle we have been engaged with here: particularly removing Chevron’s stranglehold on local politics and all the many other battles for health, justice and equity in which we continue to be engaged. Through the platform of this state-wide campaign, let us share our success and inspire others. May there be many Progressive Alliances throughout the state.
The RPA Steering Committee will discuss the issue of the seat vacated by Gayle McLaughlin without the participation of the Steering Committee members who are current councilmembers.
Sharron SK Williams and Marcos Banales
RPA Steerting Committee Co-Chairs
RPA officers and a new steering committee were elected at a well attended and enthusiastic membership meeting on February 25. The new Committee consists of:
Co-coordinator - Sharron SK Williams
Co-coordinator - Marcos Bañales
Communications Chair - Sue Wilson
Membership Chair - Kabir Kapur
Office Chair - Tarnell Abbott
Treasurer - Shoji
Recording Secretary - Michelle Chan
Schools Action Team - Peter Chau
Jovanka Beckles, Nancy Combs, Ben Choi, Sung Ae Cho, Porschea Brown, Kelly Dugan, Malia Everette, Laura Garcia-Santiago,Marilyn Langlois, Paul Larudee, Juan Reardon, Ada Recinos, Carlos Taboada, Zak Wear, and Melvin Willis
Representatives of allied organizations:
Claudia Jimenez, CCC Racial Justice Coalition
Millie Cleveland, SEIU Local 1021
David Sharples, ACCE
Alyssa Kang, California Nurses Association.
Brenda Williams, Richmond Rainbow Pride
There was some momentary confusion over an error on the RPA website, which mistakenly included Eduardo Martinez as a member of the new Steering Committee. Mayor Butt cried foul in his E-Forum, citing potential violations of the Brown Act. He later published a note of clarification from Eduardo Martinez, which unfortunately was made to sound as if he stepped off the committee only after he was called out on it. In actuality, Eduardo, who had served on the previous RPA Steering Committee, immediately resigned after the November 2016 election, in order to comply with the Brown Act. He was not nominated to serve on the current Steering Committee, nor did he seek to. Current City council members serving on the RPA Steering Committee include Jovanka Beckles, Melvin Willis and Ben Choi.
Tom Butt brought up a Brown Act issue when reading the RPA’s announcement of it’s new member-elected Steering Committee. The RPA Steering Committee has known since its inception that it could never have more than three council members on it. There was an error on our website with Eduardo Martinez' name mistakenly included on the 2017 RPA Steering Committee that has since been corrected. Eduardo had been on the RPA Steering Committee prior to the 2016 election, and right after the election in November 2016, he resigned in order to comply with the Brown Act, since we now had Jovanka and two council members elect (Melvin and Ben) on it. Jovanka, Melvin and Ben were also on the nominated slate for the 2017 RPA Steering Committee. Eduardo was not.