RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #116July 28, 2013
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Fix Dangerous Refinery!
West Coast Demo on Climate and Energy Aug 3
Disruption at Council
Chaos as a Poltical Strategy
Record of Disruptors
Ban-the-Box Gets Broad Council Support
Ceasefire Citywide Walk
Understanding Chevron's Property Taxes
Stand Up for BART Workers
National Night Out & Cheron Fire Anniversary
Taxing the Rich --How to do it
Bobby Bowens Spoken Word Contest
A Bit of Richmond History
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1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260


Since we don't take corporate money,  our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.


Your Voice Needed at Council Meeting Tuesday July 30

Fix Chevron's Dangerous Conditions 


Corrosion It is imperative the RPA supporters come out in large numbers to this Tuesday night's City Council meeting to demand Chevron finally clean up its act!


We the people of Richmond will be able to tell our City Council to exercise their unique power to make Chevron ensure our community's safety.


Agenda item J-2 is a resolution directing city staff to fulfill their responsibility under the law by making a "Declaration of a Dangerous Building Condition" on all of the corroded portions of the Chevron Richmond Refinery.


As we approach the one-year anniversary of the August 6, 2012, Chevron Richmond Toxic Explosion and Fire, we now know that Chevron willfully violated worker health and safety laws and has deliberately failed to repair the wide spread high risk corrosion in the refinery that has been identified by the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and Cal OSHA.


In April 2013, based on the CSB's Urgent Findings, Communities for a Better Environment and APEN filed a petition requesting the Planning Commission make the Declaration of a Dangerous Building Condition and presented evidence of the life threatening risk the existent corrosion presents to the workers and community.


The Planning Director, who has the statutory responsibility to make the Declaration, and City Attorney told the Richmond Planning Commission they did not have the authority to make the Declaration. The Planning Director then failed to make the Declaration himself, thus the Planning Commission unanimously adopted a resolution recommending City Council to provide direction to the staff.


Please wear green shirts and wear the CBE provided yellow "Safety First" button to identify yourself as a supporter of this critical resolution.


Please share with your family and friends how they too can help Richmond be a safer community. Please call or e-mail Tom Butt tom.butt@intres.com 510.220.1577 and Jim Rogers 510-867-5725 elirapty@aol.com 

urging them to support item J-2 on Tuesday night.

--Andres Soto 


West Coast Demonstration Focuses on Richmond

Global Warming, Keystone XL Pipeline,

Energy Companies in Politics

Saturday, August 3,  10am, Richmond BART Station




The disruption that masqueraded as a civil rights protest at Tuesday's Council meeting made all the news. Unfortunately it distracted from some really important developments at the meeting. Here is one.  The other, Ban-the-Box is below. 


City finally hires lawyer

Major Development in Chevron Damages Case


Joe Cochette
The National Law Journal says that Joseph W. Cotchett is considered by plaintiffs and defense attorneys alike to be one of the foremost trial lawyers in the country. He has been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the nation for the past 15 years.
Almost nobody noticed. The city attorney announced:


"that the Council voted [in closed session] unanimously, 7 to 0, to direct that the agreement with the Cochette law firm be signed and the Cochette law firm be directed to file the complaint against Chevron."


This means that the City and Chevron did not come up with an acceptable agreement to cover costs to the City from the fire and the City will now proceed with legal action against Chevron.


Now that the "settlement" for the costs of the fire is on the proper track, we must  focus our attention on the safety issues. We need as many people as possible to come to the next Council meeting where we will attempt to get  the city to use all of its powers to force Chevron to correct the dangerous conditions that still exist at the refinery.


Next Tuesday Council Chambers 6:30.  

Be there for the safety and future of Richmond

RPA Statement
Disruption of  Council Meeting on 7/23/13


We want to be clear.

Civil disobedience and demonstrations, including disruption, have a proud history. The civil rights movement, labor struggles, and the movements of opposition to apartheid, unjust wars, and dictatorship have all used these methods.


These movements also understood that these tactics must be used selectively and carefully. They must have a point by which they can be judged. They must have a clear message so that innocent folks know it is not directed against them.  


Richmond Council Disruption 7/23/13 
Richmond Council Disruption 7/23/13
Last Tuesday night's disruption had no discernible message and did not meet these standards. Instead it was intended to create chaos, to stop the City Council from functioning --and done simply as an exercise of power.


This is an escalation of a strategy that Council members Booze and Bates have been pursuing since the last election. Since they have no positive program of their own to put forward in the city, they hope to build their political careers by defending Chevron and other corporate interests. They seek to tear down the work that progressives have done and are doing to advance the city.


One element of this strategy is to try to discredit Mayor McLaughlin by making City Council meetings chaotic and uncomfortable. First, they tried overtalking the Mayor at council meetings and tried to prevent her from carrying out her responsibilities as the presiding officer of the meetings. Then there were pointless filibusters to prevent important business from coming up and intimidating questions to members of the public who spoke. As the Mayor developed techniques to handle these tactics, such as rulings on order and recessing the meeting, Booze and Bates relied more on the antics of their small band of followers in the audience to create an insulting and chaotic atmosphere.

Last Tuesday's disruption was just the logical continuation of that process.


It has to stop. It will stop when citizens of Richmond demand that it stop. It won't stop by repeating "The Council needs to work together" as though the responsibility lies equally with all members of the Council or by repeating Bates' line that "the Council is dysfunctional."


In fact the Council is not dysfunctional. It has accomplished a lot despite the disruption and ugly behavior of two of its members and their supporters.  


The disruption will stop when people shine a light on and condemn the actions or lack of action by the few, including Bates and Booze, whose interests are served by disruption and chaos at the meetings. Richmond residents need to stand up and be counted by writing letters to editors, posting comments on blogs, and coming to city council meetings.


One result of this kind of public outrage already is that Councilmember Booze finally issued a statement distancing him from the hate speech (Click here for Booze statement.). His statement is more than a year late. Also his actions speak louder than and different from his words. For the last two years he has led this group of hate-promoters. During recesses that he creates by not following the rules of order and trying to overtalk the Mayor, Booze goes into the audience and shakes the hands and puts his arm around the makers of the statements from which he supposedly dissociates himself. And Councilman Bates covers for the hate-promoters by declaring that their speech is just another point of view.

---RPA Steering Committee  7/28/13


disruption cartoon


Disruptors' Record of Hate Speech 
Nat Bates Hears No Hate! 
Nat Bates Hears No Hate!
There is now strong reason to believe that the disruptors at Tuesday's Council meeting who had not been seen at previous council meetings were paid $5.00 to $8.00 to participate in the action.  At least two people who have worked with the homeless recognized and talked to some of the participants who related how they had been approached at nearby liquor stores. 

The leaders of the disruption however are frequently at Council meetings and indeed were the the hate-promoters at recent ones.
Hear No Hate
Broad Support for Fairness in Hiring Ban the Box
Council Passes Ban- the-Box Expansion

The Council passed a new Ban-the-Box ordinance extending the Ban-the-Box requirement to contractors who do business with the city.   The second reading comes up at next Council meeting. So powerful were the presentations from the public and
particularly the Safe Return Team, combined with obvious research and legwork, that the Ordinance passed 6-1. It won the votes of council members who had previously indicated mixed or negative attitudes toward the ordinance. 

Fairness in hiring Tom Butt voted "No" it when his amendment to weaken it failed. There may be an attempt to fight or amend the proposal at the second reading at the Council meeting on 7/30.

The CCISCO Facebook page  summed it up:   "Powerful step forward for liberty and opportunity in Richmond last night. Much appreciation to the Richmond City Council and Councilmember Jovanka Beckles for working with the Safe Return Project to pass one of the strongest "Fairness in Hiring" policies and having a real conversation about race and opportunity in America. Richmond took a courageous step forward last night."  

Alive and Free 

Richmond Citywide Ceasefire Night Walk       

 It was an exciting walk.
There were a lot of regulars. but also many people who had never met each other until this four-hour walk. We went from North through Central to  South Richmond, crossing neighborhoods that have experienced gang struggles, in a display of unity and peace.  At each of the places we stopped there were some short speeches and testimonials from marchers and new commitments.

There were young people, in college and recent graduates who committed to rebuild this movement with youth because this city is their future.

The stops were:

  • New Hope Missionary Baptist Church (Fred Jackson Way and  Alamo Ave, North Richmond)
  • Elm Playlot (7th and Elm)
  • St Marks (Bissel and  Harbor Way)
  • Providence Baptist Church (3145 12th)
  • Miracle Temple (2425 Cutting)
  • Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church (684 Juliga Woods)  
Cease Fire
PowerPoint Slides
Understanding Chevron Property Taxes

RPA asked  Jeff Kilbreth to research and help us understand the situation with Chevron's property taxes since millions are at stake for the city budget and city services.  Chevron regularly threatens the City and County with expensive legal action. Since the tax laws are deliberately murky and hard for most of us to understand, Chevron frequently gets its way behind closed doors.

Jeff made a presentation to us that made it clear that Chevron gets away with a lot in this process. You can see a revised version of  the PowerPoints he presented here.   There will be more revisions and graphics added  later so check back.  In the fall Jeff will give some more presentations on this.

Jeff has just retired from a 30 year career in High Tech, mostly in the Silicon Valley enterprise software business. He has a Masters of Business Administration  from Yale University and kind of likes accounting.
Thursday, August 1, 5pm
Stand Up for BART Workers 
Bart Rally

Tuesday August 6
National Night Out  5pm
Commemoration of Chevron Fire 6pm
Civic Center Plaza

National Night Out will begin at 5 pm at the Civic Center Plaza and then  the action will shift to the neighborhood celebrations.

The commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Chevron Fire will take place at the Plaza at 6pm.
The event will be brief so that people can join the National Night Out celebration

The Story Behind the Millionaires Tax and Proposition 30
How to Tax the Rich
by Fred Glass

Millionaires Tax There is no alternative to austerity," insist the rich, along with their politicians, foundations, think tanks, and media. They've been saying it for decades. "Taxes are bad," they also claim. "Government doesn't work. And public employees are greedy." Consequently, common wisdom had it that "you can't raise taxes." Even people who should have known better believed this-while the public sector slid down the tubes. So how did Proposition 30 succeed? This measure, passed by voters last November, raises $6 billion a year for schools and services-in California, a supposedly "anti-tax" state. The money comes mostly through an income tax hike on rich people, along with a tiny sales tax increase of percent. The story should be better known, because with the right preparation, you could make it happen in your state, too. - Click here to see full article 

Commeration August 11, 2 - 5 pm
Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald
 Click here for some background 
53 Ford Seen on the East Coast
1953 Ford -- Among Last Made at Ford Richmond Plant

Join the RPA

RPA Symbol We can only keep this city moving forward, protect our health and safety, and resist corporate domination of our politics if enough of us join together. We are asking you to take sides--to join the RPA.     




UNITY - One Richmond: African-American, Asian, Latino/a, Native Americans, white, united for the good of all.

DEMOCRACY- Government of, for, by the people; all the people, not just those rich enough to buy influence.

DIVERSITY - of ideas: Democrats, Greens, independents, or other. We sometimes disagree but respect each other enough to keep working for a better Richmond together.


  • participate in periodic RPA discussions and events of community interest;
  • staff the office, make phone calls, meet in committees, arrange events and parties;
  • work on campaigns of RPA-endorsed candidates for city council;
  • engage with neighbors;
  • help shape RPA and its priorities;
  • join in support of other allied organizations working to make a difference in Richmond;
  • read the newsletter at www.richmondprogressivealliance.net for what REALLY goes on in Richmond;
  • eat; have fun.

Download the membership form and mail it in with dues.


Send us an email at info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form.  And go to the RPA web page. Press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a dues contribution. An additional contribution is greatly appreciated and helps us keep dues low for those with low income.


RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the author, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Mike Parker, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.