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
Adult school teachers, students and supporters rallied and spoke during general public comment at school board meetings on both May 24 and June 14, demanding that the adult school not be removed from its flagship Serra site. Adult school supporters requested that the matter of Serra Adult School be placed on the agenda for the June 14 meeting, but because their request was ignored, they were only able to speak during general public comment. A request to put Serra on the agenda for the June 28 meeting was similarly ignored.
As reported in earlier editions of The Activist, the district decided to establish a Mandarin immersion elementary school at the Serra site without soliciting input from adult school students and teachers. After adult school supporters pointed out that displacement of the adult school would fragment the adult education program and negatively impact students—particularly immigrants, who are directly under attack by the Trump Administration—the district arranged for most adult school classes to stay at Serra for one more year, co-located with the Mandarin school kindergarten program. However, the adult school community is concerned about the future. Unless the district finds another site for the Mandarin school, adult school programs will have to leave Serra as the Mandarin school adds grades.
The Mandarin school has now taken over three classrooms, the multipurpose room, and the office at Serra, and the adult school programs that will remain will be in the remaining 10 classrooms for 2017-2018. The Mandarin school will have to move eventually, as Serra is too small to house the K-6 program that is envisioned for it. Adult school supporters will continue to fight to keep Serra, and keep pressure on the district to find another, more appropriate site for the Mandarin school going forward.
One immediate positive outcome of the protests around the jail expansion is that our activism put the final nail in the coffin for corrupt Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson. The San Francisco Chronicle pointed to the anger of protestors as part of what made his resignation "inevitable." The Chron reported that in "exchange for his resignation and his no-contest plea to one count of perjury for making false statements on state campaign disclosure forms, state prosecutors dropped the other 12 charges." The judge sentenced him to 250 hours of community service and three years of probation -- a light sentence for someone who caused so much harm in our community. We are a year and a half away from the next District Attorney election; in the meantime the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors will appoint a successor. Progressive organizations have called for a transparent appointment process and recommended that none of the announced candidates for the 2018 election be considered for appointment. The Supervisors have committed to hold a public forum to discuss the process, which is tentatively scheduled for August 15th.
During his term, DA Peterson refused to prosecute a Richmond police officer in the death of Richard “Pedie” Perez III, who was intoxicated and unarmed when he was shot three times by a police officer in Richmond. His family continues to organize in Pedie's memory, pushing for greater accountability for police who use force under questionable circumstances. Specifically they are organizing in favor of a bill that would require an independent investigation of any situation where a police officer kills or seriously harms a person.
On June 21st, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) staff tried to "grandfather in" exceptions to the first-in-nation rule to regulate local refinery-emitted greenhouse gases. But a coalition that includes Communities for a Better Environment, Sun flower Alliance, the RPA, Sierra Club, 350 Bay Area, Center for Biological Diversity, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and many other groups from around the Bay Area brought more than 200 supporters, as well as local print and TV media, to the meeting, making it impossible for the last-minute changes to take place.
As reported by CNA Community Organizer Alyssa Kang: Good news! The BAAQMD Board voted 13-6 to set aside the staff's eleventh hour proposed changes to Rule 12-16 (refinery emissions caps on greenhouse gases) that would have allowed increased refinery emissions by the oil industry and would result in pollution worse than current levels! We will need to mobilize again and continue to organize. The fight continues!
You can read more about this victory in this post from the Sunflower Alliance.
--Photo by Alyssa Kang
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 protected]) and Sharron SK Williams ([email protected]). Please put the word ENDORSEMENT in the subject line of your email.
The Richmond City Council voted 6 to 1 (Tom Butt opposed) to direct staff to draft an ordinance increasing the Richmond Minimum wage in steps to $15.00/hr by January 2019. The ordinance also will remove several exemptions in our current ordinance. While this is still far below a “living wage” in the Bay Area it is a big improvement for low wage workers. The draft ordinance will be brought to the Council for a first reading on July 11. Council members felt it was important to move quickly to give businesses time to prepare for the first step increase in January 2018 and because low wage workers are hurting in this economy.
There are a lot of details and much work required to get a new program going. I am pleased to say that the Board and the City staff have been working well together and we are making progress.
- Interviewing candidates for Executive Director of the Board.
- Approving the expense side of our budget (completed last meeting).
- Working on the revenue side—proposing the fee that landlords will pay to support the program (to be voted on by the City Council).
- Establishing the 2017 maximum Annual Adjustment for Rents for tenancies prior to September 2016.
The Rent Control Ordinance can be found here.
Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond’s only corporate-free progressive mayor (2007-2014), started her campaign for Lt. Governor of California on June 6, 2017, with the goals of “putting people first, organizing corporate-free local groups throughout the state, and giving voters the choice of a corporate-free candidate.”
Gayle believes the best way to advance the transformation of our cities, state and nation is for progressives to come together into local political organizations that are corporate-free (no corporate money), inclusive and diverse, and function year-round. The key to success is the essence of the RPA model: A local coalition or alliance of all the neighbors and supporters willing, regardless of party affiliation, to work for the betterment of their local community.
Gayle has traveled and met with residents of California cities from San Diego to Redding. Presentations have taken place in San Jose, Pinole, El Cerrito, Pacifica, San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County, San Leandro, Albany, Shasta County, Napa County, and Lake County. In the coming days she will visit Concord, Oakland, San Francisco, Monterey, Watsonville, San Luis Obispo and San Bernardino. Some of the groups welcoming her are Our Revolution affiliates. Some groups are well-established, and others are just starting up and thinking about how to act locally to gain political control of their city governments, too often in the hands of corporations and their representatives.
Gayle is received with great affection, preceded by the recognition she has gained over the years as the person who led the transformation of Richmond. People listen with great interest when Gayle describes the organizational experience of progressives in Richmond and the RPA's successes. Audience members say they appreciate learning how Gayle and the RPA were able to endure difficult early years, overcome obstacles, and achieve many great victories in the transformation of Richmond.
“We will consider our campaign successful if by the end of 2018 we have helped to established grass-roots corporate-free progressive organizations in 100 California cities, and when members of these organizations are running for local city councils and local school boards without taking corporate money and supported by their local alliances. If the people of California also elect me as their first corporate-free progressive Lt. Governor of California, fantastic! I will use the position to diligently watch for corporate corruption in Sacramento, to denounce it, and to rally the people of California, and to expand further grassroots organizing throughout the state. With my record you know that I will not let the people down,” Gayle added.
To express your support and donate to Gayle’s campaign. Also refer your contacts throughout the state to Gayle’s website. www.gayleforcalifornia.org
Richmond’s very own Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles is the only corporate money-free candidate running for Assembly District 15.
Think about those friends and neighbors who are disgusted by Trump but haven't jumped into RPA's campaigns yet. They're frustrated, maybe showed up to a thing or two but not much else. We need you to invite them to a house party this summer so their energy can go toward a corporate-free Sacramento. Multi-billion dollar corporations buying elections and setting the agenda in Sacramento are not going to create the future we all want for California. Jovanka’s people powered campaign is changing the way voters view candidates and proving that candidates do not need to be beholden to deep-pocketed corporate interests to succeed!
Join Jovanka’s campaign to lift up the voices of working families in Sacramento: jovanka.org or call us at (510) 621-7566 to host or co-host a house party. Be sure to stay up to date with her campaign activities and endorsements by following her on Facebook at @JBfordistrict15.
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.