RPA September Calendar

Here are upcoming RPA meetings and events. Note, most meetings are only open to RPA members, although allies and guests are often welcome. If you are interested in becoming a member, you may do so here. Dues may be waived if they are a barrier to you joining the RPA. If you have questions about joining the RPA, or are interested in attending a meeting as a non-member, please contact  [email protected]

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Is it Chevron?

By Sue Wilson

If you live in Richmond, you’ve probably seen something from “Richmond Represented.” They are slick social media ads on your Facebook or Instagram. They consist of glossy eight-page flyers. 

You may have seen some of them this past March and April, imploring you to fight for this map and oppose that map during the city's arcane redistricting process. 

Now there are more ads and more shiny mailers blaming the Richmond Progressive Alliance for everything from homelessness to bad driving in Richmond. The recent batch seem intent on lowering the election chances of the two candidates endorsed by the RPA — Eduardo Martinez for Mayor and Jamin Pursell for City Council in District 4.

These ads and mailers are suspicious because they have no FPPC number, which means that whoever is sending them isn't following California's campaign finance laws. They often list the Coronado Neighborhood Council as the sender. What Richmond neighborhood council has enough money to enter this political fray? Aren't neighborhood councils supposed to stay out of city elections? Who is behind all this?

We've done some digging, and we're fairly confident that Chevron is behind this mudslinging. 

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Sunsetting of Rydin Road

By Alfredo Angulo

The July 26th City Council meeting gave us a disturbing view of the deeply harmful effects that a polarized council can have on the most vulnerable people in our community. That evening, a minority of the city council used its power to dismiss a much-needed discussion on the situation at Rydin Road. Many residents eagerly awaited their turn to address their council representatives and express their frustration for the way the situation is unfolding. For weeks prior, a group of advocates from various organizations like the Housing Consortium of the East Bay (HCEB), Collaborizing, city staff, and Vice-Mayor Martinez have worked to develop an equitable plan to connect Rydin Road residents with dignified housing. The rapidity with which some council members decided to table this agenda item with no aforementioned desire to revisit it before the August recess was extremely disappointing to both the residents of Rydin Road, and those of us that have been working to present a plan that responds to their needs in a humane and restorative way.

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What is Richmond Represented? Is it Chevron?

The following is an attempt to document several possible violations of city policy, campaign finance laws, and tax law taking place now in Richmond, California, all involving an entity calling itself “Richmond Represented.”  See Appendix 1 for a diagram of the relationships between organizations involved as they are believed to exist.

In addition to describing possible illegal activity, the goal of this is to draw attention to the fact that the Chevron Corporation seems to be exerting undue influence on Richmond city elections once again. There is increasing evidence that Chevron, working through their public relations firm BMWL and Partners, under the “Richmond Represented” banner, and drawing in several Richmond Neighborhood Councils, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to gerrymander Richmond city council districts in early 2022. And now they are spending equal amounts trying to defeat progressive city council candidates and elect others more favorable to their interests.

In Richmond, Neighborhood Councils are un-elected bodies that are supposed to act as a conduit between the city council, city staff including police, and residents. Neighborhood councils are prohibited from campaigning in city elections under their bylaws and also because they are part of a 501c3 charitable organization. But evidence shows that several people have been misusing their status as neighborhood council leaders to help Richmond Represented achieve its aims, and that corporate money has deeply infected the neighborhood council system.

A central figure in this seems to be Joe L. Fisher, a neighborhood council president who formed an additional charitable organization with the same name as the neighborhood council he serves – Coronado Neighborhood Council (1).  In early 2022 Mr. Fisher was part of the Richmond Represented campaign to influence city redistricting. As of July 2022, his Coronado Neighborhood Council has joined with Richmond Represented for a large-scale media campaign to oppose progressive candidates in Richmond. No source of funding is given for these activities, but Fisher has decades-long ties to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Chevron Corporation, and the consultancy firm that is secretly running the Richmond Represented campaign. 

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End Climate Chaos

On August 6, 2012, a massive fire tore through the Chevron Richmond refinery, sending a huge plume of black smoke over West Contra Costa County. The fire blanketed neighborhoods in black smoke and the sky turned dark as the smoke blocked out the sun. 15,000 residents sought medical treatment, and many report developing long-term respiratory issues as a result.

In the aftermath of the fire, thousands of people mobilized to City Hall, demanding that our politicians and air regulators take real action to hold Chevron accountable and protect the health and safety of workers and communities.  Investigators with Cal/OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board found that Chevron had ignored a decade of warnings about severe corrosion in the pipe that caused the refinery fire.  

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In late May 2022, the City Council heard an inspiring account of a key component of the investment recommendations made by Richmond’s Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force, this one highlighting YouthWORKS. Tamara Walker, Deputy Director for Employment and Training, led the presentation. She worked in the city in the 1990s and was actually a founder of this forward-moving program. She did not take full credit, of course, noting that there is a full staff participating in this venture. She handed the mic over to Fred Lucero, Manager for Richmond Build and YouthBuild and Bouakhay Phongboupha, Interim YouthWORKS program manager for their accounts of preparing young people to work. Lucero noted that his group aims to ensure continuing education and training in year-round and summer programs helping youth prepare for high-growth and high-wage jobs in the building trades as well as develop skills that will aid them in adulthood.

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Arbulu Art Design

By Jamin Pursell

My name is Michael Arbulu. I am the owner and lead designer of Arbulu Art Design here in Richmond. I have been running my studio since 2019. Arbulu Art Design provides custom design and fabrication services for homeowners and businesses in our local community. 

My studio was born out of the belief that art can and should be a part of everyday life. My goal is to bring a customer’s unique vision to life, drawing upon my skill in fine art, industrial and graphic design, and fabrication experience. I approach design from the viewpoint of an artist and come up with creative solutions to design challenges big and small, to fit ideas into a myriad of spaces—outdoor decks, custom furniture, art deco pieces, and many other objects.

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RPA August Calendar

Here are upcoming RPA meetings and events. Note, most meetings are only open to RPA members, although allies and guests are often welcome. If you are interested in becoming a member, you may do so here. Dues may be waived if they are a barrier to you joining the RPA. If you have questions about joining the RPA, or are interested in attending a meeting as a non-member, please contact  [email protected]

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The Next Step in Police Accountability: A Look at RPD’s Expiring Contract

By Reimagine Richmond

Any time one sector of municipal government workers get a raise, police officers get a raise. If city workers get a raise, police get a raise. If city management gets a raise, police get a raise. If police management gets a raise, police officers get a raise. If firefighters get a raise, police get a raise. 

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Supreme Court Reversal of Roe v. Wade

The Richmond Progressive Alliance joins many across the country in outrage and heartache over the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 49 year old ruling that granted federal protection of abortion rights.

We support reproductive rights, bodily autonomy and health care rights for all. Abortion is a health care issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of pregnant people and their loved ones each year. We believe abortion is a public good, a right that should be universally legal, free, and safe.

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