Save the Richmond Post Office
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.
RPA Thanks Gayle McLaughlin as She Steps Down as Councilmember
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
Kabir Kapur is the RPA!
Who is the RPA? It’s made up of volunteers with passion, progressive values, and who love Richmond. In this series, we get to know the new faces on the RPA Steering Committee. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kabir Kapur, who came to the RPA after volunteering with the Bernie Sanders campaign.
TA: Please tell us about your involvement progressive politics.
KK: I was involved with Occupy UC Davis in November of 2011, when the infamous Pepper Spraying incident occurred. The following quarter I was elected to the ASUCD Senate, the student government at UC Davis, running on a platform to “Empower Student Advocacy” by increasing student involved in lobbying on higher education issues in the Capitol in Sacramento and in administrative decisions made on campus.
I then interned for Assemblymember Roger Dickinson in the California State Assembly. I was also involved in the initial organization of both the UC Davis for Bernie Sanders and Davis for Bernie Sanders groups, and traveled to Iowa for a couple weeks to volunteer for the Sanders campaign. Currently I am involved with organizing the Richmond chapter of Our Revolution.
TA: What are your ideas about how change and progress occur?
KK: I believe that change and progress occur through coalition building and working with people that you may not agree on every political issue on but are willing to find common ground to accomplish a collective mission.
I agree with Bernie Sanders when he says “Change takes place because people struggle” and “Change never takes place from the top down. It always takes place from the bottom up.” I also believe progress takes place we people are honest and genuine with each other, and are transparent about public affairs.
TA: What are you interested in bringing to the RPA?
KK: I am interested in bringing a millennial perspective to the Richmond Progressive Alliance. I believe the future of our society and species depends on the actions of my generation, and that we must act swiftly and steadfastly to save the future of both our planet and species and evolve into a democratic socialist and humanist society.
Gayle Runs For Lieutenant Governor!
See www.GayleforCalifornia.org for the latest info and to contribute to Gayle's campaign!
The former mayor of Richmond, California, Gayle McLaughlin, announced today that she is running for the office of Lieutenant Governor of California with the goals of “putting people first, organizing corporate-free local groups throughout the state, and giving the voters the choice of a corporate-free candidate.”
McLaughlin, called the Bernie Sanders of the East Bay, pledged not to accept any money from corporations for her campaign and to only represent the interests of working people.
“Corporations have all the advantages and too much influence in California’s government. This has serious consequences for our communities, cities, counties, and schools and hospitals. Corporate perks starve regular working families of the resources they need,” said Gayle McLaughlin.
“The big companies of California need to be regulated into behaving as good neighbors and paying their fair share of taxes. And this cannot happen when the whole political establishment is taking in corporate money by the truck-load, directly and mostly indirectly through corporate PACs and loading the parties’ coffers.”
“Change did not happen in CADEM-Sacramento in 2017, and we, the progressive forces of our state need to continue building from below, changing the mind-set of candidates and voters, reminding all that elected officials cannot serve well both the people and the corporations. Corporate money is both toxic and addictive. Our democracy needs to get clean and sober.”
McLaughlin says that throughout her grassroots campaign, and later as Lt. Governor, she will support the struggles of the people of California, build progressive coalitions, promote progressive policies, and mobilize all Californians of good will, regardless of party affiliation, who are willing to transform the state.Read more
Jackson Michigan Joins the Ranks of “Rebel Cities”
Just a few weeks after the November elections, Kate Shea Baird of Working Families Party wrote an article titled America needs a network of rebel cities to stand up to Trump, in which she argued that “it will fall to America’s cities and local leaders to act as the institutional frontline of resistance against the Trump administration.”
But she is quick to point out that “cities can be more than just a last line of defense against the worst excesses of an authoritarian central government; they have huge, positive potential as spaces from which to radicalize democracy and build alternatives to the neoliberal economic model. The urgent questions that progressive activists in the States are now asking themselves are, not just how to fight back against Trump, but also how to harness the momentum of Bernie Sanders’ primary run to fight for the change he promised. As we consider potential strategies going forward, a look at the global context suggests that local politics may be the best place to start.”
Richmond has been one of the cities gaining national attention for its progressive politics. In a recent town hall, Bernie Sanders specifically gave a shout out to Richmond (the RPA is officially an Our Revolution affiliate), and the RPA Outreach team is busy giving presentations across the country to activists wanting to create durable progressive change.Read more
Ban Willful Defiance Suspensions
By the RPA Schools Action Team
The list of twenty violations for which a student can be suspended in the West Contra Costa School District includes threats, weapons, damage to school property, and fighting. The catchall “willful defiance” of “valid authority” is a controversial cause for suspension that can include wearing a cap, answering back, or standing when asked to sit.
Willful defiance is not just vague, it is discriminatory, since it is used disproportionately against African-American students. Moreover, once a student is sent home, he or she becomes more likely to become involved in gang activity, drop out of school entirely, or engage in other high-risk behaviors. For these and other reasons, some school districts have eliminated the policy. California law bans it for grades 3 and under, and the California State Senate just passed SB 607, the “Keep Kids in School Act” that will extend the ban through grade 12.
WCCUSD Board member Mister Phillips recently proposed that the board adopt an immediate ban on all willful defiance suspensions. Leadership of the United Teachers of Richmond union and others objected on two grounds: the teachers were not consulted, and the district lacks appropriate measures to handle disruptive students. UTR supported the policy to ban the practice but called for different groups, including teachers, to study the issue.
RPA Schools Action Team supports the ban but recognizes that the issues raised by UTR are valid. Without restorative justice or other practices in place to handle disruptive students, the ban may be ignored or result in classroom chaos. Nonetheless, we recognize that an open-ended request for more study often results in slow death for a proposal. Accordingly, we suggest the school board immediately declare a ban that will take effect in six months, and in the interim, in consultation with all stakeholders, consider and implement meaningful alternatives to suspension.
It's Not Just That Mark Peterson Is A Crook...
By Mike Parker
Even the Contra Costa Times is calling for Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson’s resignation or removal. He illegally diverted $66,000 from his campaign fund for personal use. He lied on sworn statements he filed. As many have pointed out he prosecutes people who have stolen far less and who have not violated the public trust. And all of this while making a salary of $300,000 per year. Most people who are caught embezzling money do not get to keep their job.
This highlights the gross injustice of what we call our “justice system.” Mark Peterson’s career as DA may be toast, but replacing him with a like-minded DA who has not been caught just maintains the unfair justice system. In the 2018t election we need a DA whose main campaign promise is that he will go after the bank executives who are fleecing poor people, the managements of the refineries who make unsafe decisions and the police and other government officials who use their authority to abuse people.
At the same time the DA must take a different approach to the crimes that come from poverty and youthful mistaken decisions. There are actually DAs who take this approach. Going viral right now is a TED talk by a Boston prosecutor Adam Foss. It is worth the time to hear how we can use government to fix some of our problems.
Services Not Cells
The fight against the Sheriff’s $95 million West County Detention Center expansion is growing, with electeds such as State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Richmond Mayor Tom Butt and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia joining cities such as Richmond and El Cerrito in opposing the plan.
What’s a better use of $95 million? How about more funding for programs for young people, expanded mental health care and additional job training programs? If you agree, you are no alone – in fact you are in the vast majority. A recent survey of voters in Contra Costa County found that seven in ten voters support shifting investment from the local sheriff’s department to community reinvestment policies: “Voters strongly support an array of community reinvestment policies which emphasize access to health care services; increased access to early education and after-school programs; and employment opportunities for the most vulnerable, including communities of color, foster youth, low-income families, and the formerly incarcerated.”
Although the CCC Board of Supervisors voted in February in favor of the jail expansion, they don’t have the money for it. The county would need to pay at least $25 million, and are relying on the state to come up with the rest of the funding. So it is applying for a $70 million grant from the Board of State and Community Corrections.
Please consider signing a petition to the Board of State and Community Corrections.
Jovanka Beckles is the RPA!
Richmond Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles has announced her intention to run for Assembly District 15.
TA: Tell us a little bit about what you have achieved as a Councilmember in Richmond.
JB: As a city council member, I stood up to big real estate interests and helped Richmond become the first new rent control city in a generation. Big Soda spent millions as I campaigned to tax their deeply unhealthy products and invest the funds in nutrition and youth athletics. Working with law enforcement, I created the Richmond Municipal ID Program that allows immigrants to safely identify themselves to the police. I introduced and led the effort to raise the minimum wage and banned the box for city contractors and public housing applications in Richmond.
TA: The RPA has endorsed you multiple times for City Council, not only because of your progressive values, but also because of your vow to not take corporate political contributions. Will you continue that pledge?
JB: Billion-dollar corporations buying elections are not going to create the future we all want for California. That is why I do not take contributions from corporations -- and never will.
I am running a campaign built on individual donations and support from ordinary people. Not interest groups that are trying to influence the process for the benefit of the very few.
This campaign is for the people: it’s for regular folks who work for their living and need real change in our politics, economy and culture to thrive. I believe that by working together for a corporate-free government, we can pass laws and budgets that will expand the middle class of California for decades to come.
TA: In your experience, how has the repudiation of corporate campaign contributions made a difference in Richmond?
JB: As a member of the Richmond City Council I received a lesson in how big corporate special interests try to dominate the political process.
Chevron spent more than $3 million against me because I insisted on strong environmental protections for our community. But Chevron lost as thousands of Richmond residents re-elected me and voted for a progressive direction for our city. Richmond transformed as we revitalized the way neighbors fight for their democracy.
Critical Decision on Refinery Emission Caps
We are coming up to a critical juncture in the four-year effort to set transparent, enforceable caps on refinery emissions.
At issue is Bay Area Air Quality Management District Rule 12-16, which would finally set facility-wide emission limits on greenhouse gases, particulates, and toxic sulfur oxide and nitrous oxide from refineries. Right now BAAQMD only regulates various parts of refineries, and if the District does not quickly put a facility-wide cap on emissions, oil refiners such as Chevron will be allowed to process dirtier, heavier crude (such as tar sands) that could increase overall refinery emissions by 40-100 percent region-wide.