Issues

How Should Richmond Spend Its Stimulus Money?

Richmond will receive at least $20.8 million in stimulus money under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  This is a one-time grant that the city must spend before the end of 2024. The money must be used for projects that address the health and economic consequences of COVID-19.

ARPA, which was signed into law by President Biden in March, will transfer more than $350 billion to state, county and city governments this year. The formula used to calculate each grant amount has not been made public, and the $20.8 million received by Richmond actually seems low compared to what other similarly-sized cities have received. The RPA Budget Action Team is seeking clarification from city, county and federal agencies about whether Richmond received its full and fair share of the money (see related article).

Though cities have a lot of leeway in how to use the ARPA stimulus money, the federal government has set some restrictions. More details will be provided to the city over time, but right now we know that the money can be used:

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Is Richmond not getting its fair-share of stimulus money?

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) Budget Action Team (BAT) has been meeting regularly to learn about the city budget process, consider new sources of revenue, and try to make sure money is spent in the best possible ways. At the March meeting, Richmond resident Jaime Perez looked over a list of cities receiving COVID-19-related stimulus money and raised a concern -- it really seems like Richmond is not getting its fair share.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021 includes $42.3 billion dollars in payments to city and county governments in California.  The money is paid to cities in two installments, and all of it must be spent by the end of 2024 on projects that help offset the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.  The amount allocated for Richmond is $20.8 million.  That sounded great to the RPA Budget Action Team, until Jaime looked at the list of what other cities are getting and saw that Berkeley is receiving 68.26 million dollars in ARPA stimulus money, despite having about the same-sized population as Richmond. 

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Why Richmond Should Worry About Sea Level Rise at the Zeneca Site

By Tarnel Abbott

“The tides are rising and so are we.”

This has become a rallying cry for climate activists, and Richmond, with its 32 miles of shoreline, must rise up to prevent rising sea levels from poisoning our people and our Bay. Just a couple feet above sea level north of Point Isabel, developers are planning to build a 4,000-unit housing development on top of the toxic “Zeneca site” while leaving its 550,000 cubic yards of toxic material in place.

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Anti-Chevron Day Protest at Richmond Refinery May 21st 12-1:30

Join this in-person, global event to hear about the injustices Chevron has committed around the world against people’s health, economic stability, and their right to protest.  People from Ecuador to Australia to right here in Richmond are building the global movement to stop them!  We will be gathering at the Richmond Chevron Refinery at noon on Friday, May 21st.  You can RSVP on Facebook if you choose.

Save the Date: Richmond Rainbow Pride Celebration on June 6 at noon

The Richmond Rainbow Pride community is putting the final touches on a pride celebration which will be held online on Sunday, June 6 at noon.

From RRP: "We’re not quite ready for in person events, but we wouldn’t miss a chance to gather together in PRIDE. Join us as we broadcast from the city of pride and purpose: Richmond, California. We’ll be updating you as we go and we want to get our community involved."

You can go to Richmond Rainbow Pride's website or Facebook page to learn more and find updates.

Reimagining Public Safety Task Force proposals

 

City Council meeting agenda on June 1 contained item J3, brought forward by City Manager Laura Snideman’s office. While city staff was tasked by Council on May 10, 2021 to integrate the approved Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force proposals into this year’s City budget, the staff report for tonight’s item indicates that the City Manager has chosen to go beyond the purview of her authority. At stake are not only the vital issues of police accountability and racial justice, but also the democratically-bestowed mandate of our progressive City Council members. RPA members are thus strongly encouraged to make public comments during meetings on the matter.

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Richmond Progressive Alliance Members Elect New Leaders

In the biennial elections held at the February membership meeting, Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) members re-elected twelve members to the Steering Committee (SC) and added four newcomers.  

Both the returning Steering Committee members and the newly elected can be characterized as bridge-builders. Collectively, the SC members actively engage with at least 24 city and/or community organizations on top of their work with RPA. Going beyond our core group of members to cultivate relationships with more people and organizations is a shared goal of this Steering Committee. That’s how political power grows.

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More People Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccination

 

As of 3/31, EVERYONE 16 years or older who lives or works in Contra Costa County can be vaccinated at one of the county-run vaccination sites - without health issues, without being a front-line worker.  You can request a county appointment online here or by calling 1-833-829-2626.  Vaccination sites run by the State (which you find on My Turn), health systems (like Kaiser or Sutter), and pharmacies (like CVS and Walgreens) are also vaccinating, but they might have more restrictions than the sites run by the county do. Contra Costa County continues to maintain an excellent webpage that lists who is qualified for vaccination at each kind of vaccination center, and gives links and phone numbers for all the places you can schedule a vaccination appointment locally. Because supplies of the vaccine are still limited, you may need to try more than one option, more than one time, to find an appointment.

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Richmond Passes Real Eviction Protection

Out of all the strategies to stop the spread of COVID-19, the ability for people to isolate is one of the most obvious and impactful. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that stopping all US evictions and utility shutoffs through November of last year could have saved 164,000 lives lost to the virus. Never has there been a more urgent need to prevent individuals from sliding into homelessness. 

On March 23, the Richmond City Council passed a an urgency ordinance to enact a temporary moratorium on evictions related to the pandemic. Richmond tenants are now protected from eviction for the duration of the state of emergency and 60 days thereafter.

With SB91, the COVID-19 tenant relief act signed into law in January, California legislators also took some partial steps to help tenants across the state. The Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency recently published resources and eligibility guidelines for renters and small landlords seeking relief through the Housing Is Key program. This information is also available in Spanish, and by phone at 1-833-430-2122.

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Sign Petition for Medicare for All!

From Healthy California Now, a healthcare reform coalition of which RPA is a part: 

We are Californians who believe that healthcare should be guaranteed as a human right. We are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to fulfill his promise to fight for single-payer healthcare in California.  Sign the petition here www.petition.healthcare.

Gavin Newsom led the fight for universal healthcare as mayor in San Francisco and made single-payer a pillar of his campaign for governor. On his first day as Governor, he made the same request of Trump that we’re now asking him to make of the Biden Administration. It seems complicated, but requesting the federal Medicare waivers is mandatory for a state to have its own single-payer system. The official who would grant these waivers is the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Biden Administration has nominated Xavier Becerra — who is also an advocate for single-payer, and is the outgoing California Attorney General under Governor Newsom's administration. With this unique situation, there has never been such an enormous opportunity for Governor Newsom to guarantee that every Californian receives high-quality, comprehensive healthcare.

We understand the power of the healthcare industry and the millions they will spend trying to defeat our efforts. We are asking Governor Newsom to lead the way and request the necessary federal waivers, to fulfill his promise of single-payer healthcare. Californians, please join our fight.