RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #134
March 31, 2014  
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Demanding Oil Train Safety
Mitchell Rescinds "Average" Rule
Chevron EIR. Where, Meetings
Earth Day march
Sugar Kills: What to do
Beckles on Minimum Wage
Homeless Workforce Conference
Comments on Oil-Backed Race Baiting
Principal Reduction Resources
RPA Membership Drive
Some History of RPA

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,


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.


Update on Crude-by-rail in Richmond:
Stop! In the Name of Life

by Patsy Byers

Department of Transportation Statistics

Richmond and neighboring East Bay communities are acting to halt the dangerous rail transport of fracked Bakken and other crude oils. Two approaches were implemented this week: Council resolutions calling for Federal regulation and a lawsuit demanding environmental review. Both tactics say: Stop shipments until safety is adequately addressed.


First, on Tuesday, March 27, the Richmond City Council unanimously adopted a resolution, introduced by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, calling on Congress to halt the movement of crude oil by rail until it develops effective safety regulations. The Mayor's resolution [click here for the full text] was augmented by a friendly amendment from Tom Butt, instructing staff to research the feasibility of a moratorium on tanker trucks carrying crude on Richmond city streets.


The same night, Berkeley City Council passed a similar resolution opposing a plan to transport crude through West Berkeley, along the tracks used by Amtrak's Capitol Corridor and coastal passenger trains.


The lawsuit, filed March 28 by Earthjustice, seeks to immediately stop crude-by-rail into Richmond until the project withstands a "full and transparent review" under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Brought on behalf of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the complaint and injunction are directed against Kinder Morgan, the transporter and rail yard leaser, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), whose staff issued permits without public notice or environmental and health review.


Sandy Saeteurn, an APEN organizer in Richmond, said: "The idea of trains carrying explosive Bakken crude oil in and out of our neighborhoods is outrageous. It's like BAAQMD just pulled the pin off a bomb, allowing it to roll all around town, knowing it's only a matter of time before it stops ticking, and explodes on all of us."


Tuesday's Richmond vote was preceded by a presentation on the dangers of crude-by-rail, given by oil industry analyst and author Antonia Juhasz, who contributed significantly to getting full council support. In response to skepticism about the value of the Mayor's proposed resolution, she replied: "It wouldn't just be an exercise. It would be a community -that's actually experiencing it-- saying to the Federal government: You need to actually start regulating, and we're a community that's demanding that you do that, adding to the cacophony of voices that are making that demand."




Community and Council Pressure on "Maximum" vs "Average"
Mitchell Rescinds Controversial Memo

Planning director Richard Mitchell has withdrawn his ruling that maximum building height really means  the average height of all the buildings in the project. Since every building counts the same, the ruling would mean that "maximum" height  of 35 ft in medium density residential areas would actually allow four small 15 ft buildings and a 115 ft  building with a massive footprint.

Although apparently Mitchell made this ruling to benefit a specific development, community members argued that this would  effect all of Richmond.  Community members tried to appeal Mitchell's ruling but were told there could not be an appeal except for the Council to overturn the memo.  The community members lead by Kathryn  Dienst, a retired urban planner, circulated well reasoned documents about how Mitchell's interpretation would destroy or muddle many critical areas of the general plan.

Vice-Mayor Jovanka Beckles put an item calling for overruling the memo on the Council agenda.  Shortly after that  Richard Mitchell issued a letter saying that the memo was withdrawn  and that the issue would be dealt with in another fashion more specific to the area of the initial project although this might involve an amendment to the General Plan
Read the Chevron Project Environmental Impact Report

Click here to download  the full EIR or sections   



Important EIR Dates


Wednesday April 2, the City consultants (paid by Chevron) who drafted the EIR will have two workshops to give important information at the Richmond Auditorium

        9am to 3pm longer version

        6pm to 8:30pm  shorter version   


Thursday April 3, 6:30pm. A study session at the Richmond Planning Commission, City Council Chambers,


Saturday, April 12, 10am -2pm. The Richmond, Environmental Justice Coalition (REJC) is hosting a community training to be held at St. Luke's UMC at 32nd and Barrett Ave. from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The training will be on CEQA, the Chevron EIR and our vision for the future of Richmond. This is designed to prepare the community to comment on the Chevron EIR beginning on Thursday, April 17, at the Richmond Planning Commission Public Comment Hearing. The REJC is Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Richmond Progressive Alliance, 350 BA, Urban Tilth, ACCE, BABC.


Thursday, April 17,  6:30pm.  Richmond Planning Commission, Chevron EIR  Public Comment Hearing, 6:30 p.m. Richmond City Council Chambers. This is the first opportunity to inform the Planning Commission of the community's ideas and concerns about the Chevron EIR. There will be a pre-meeting rally at 5:30 p.m. in the Richmond Civic Center Plaza. We need to have a strong showing and good comments at this critical meeting.



Connect the Dots April 12
Opportunity to Join In after the REJC Community Training

Earth Day
Earth Day 2013
After the REJC community training on Saturday April 12, stretch your legs and join up with other activists on the Connect the Dots: Refinery Corridor Healing Walk.  Organized by Idle No More SF Bay, the Sunflower Alliance, and others, this walk is the first of 4 planned monthly through July to
bring attention to the northeast San Francisco Bay refinery corridor and the  5 refineries in 4 cities.

The first walk, of approximately 15 miles, will begin with a rally at 9:00 a.m. at the Pittsburg Marina Park.  The public is invited to join the walk at any point along the way
for any amount of time. To join the walk as it is taking place, call 510-619-8279 for a location.

To join at 5pm, and walk the last few blocks, meet at the
Contra Costa County Superior Courthouse at 725 Court St./Main in Martinez.
The Ending Rally will be held at the end of Ferry St. in Martinez Waterfront Park, 5:30-6pm.  Participants will be encouraged to imagine our communities beyond fossil fuel, take part in an art project, and picnic together.   
The other walks are planned for: 
Martinez to Benicia - Saturday, May 17
Benicia to Rodeo - Saturday, June 14
Rodeo to Richmond - Saturday, July 12   
For more information, and some walking tips, see [http://sunflower-alliance.org/connect-the-dots/ ]

Enjoy yourself even more, bring something to the picnic, and arrange a carpool from St. Luke's UMC to Martinez! 
Jeff Ritterman:
Sugar Kills! How Do We Decrease Consumption?

Jeff Ritterman That was the question 12 of us pondered for three hours. We were from the public health, medical, research, academic, advertising and philanthropic communities and had come together to brainstorm.

Each of us was convinced by the accumulating science that sugar was bad, really bad. A change in our thinking had occurred. The old paradigm was that sugar could be bad if you didn't burn off the excess calories. You would become fat, and being fat would make you prone to a host of medical illnesses like diabetes, and heart disease.

We now know that consumption of sugar can kill by causing heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. Sugar has also been implicated in fatty liver disease, obesity and dementia. You don't need to get fat to be adversely impacted. Forty per cent of normal weight individuals are metabolically abnormal and at risk. Sugar can kill without us being forewarned by the accumulation of fat around our waistlines.
This is a major paradigm change, in essence, a scientific revolution. I spent thirty years working as a cardiologist without ever once wondering what impact sugar had on the heart. I wasn't alone in that.

How do we prevent the future deluge of chronic diseases? What are the best strategies for lowering sugar consumption? What models are there to learn from?


Our group came up with an impressive list of strategies to reduce sugar consumption.  

See full article in Huffington Post  

Vice-Mayor Jovanka Beckles:
Why the Minimum Wage is Good for Richmond

Jovanka [The first reading of the new minimum wage ordinance passed at the City Council March 18. The final vote is scheduled for the meeting tomorrow, April 1.  The ordinance will phase in a minimum wage of $12.30/hr, See article in previous newsletter]

Richmond is attempting to solve several issues at the same time. One, we are helping residents by providing a wage that will help more families  live with dignity. Two, we are helping businesses. When residents have more to spend, more disposable income, they spend it. When they spend it, demand increases. When demand increases, business improves; businesses thrive. When business improves and thrive, more people get hired. When those who want to work work, we create a healthy thriving city. 

Minimum wage increases have been shown to act as a stimulus to those cities where it was raised. A recent article in the San Jose Mercury stated, "A year later, it is clear that raising San Jose's minimum wage has been an incredible success. The data shows that under San Jose's minimum wage, unemployment was reduced, the number of businesses grew, the number of minimum wage jobs expanded, average employee hours remained constant and the economy was stimulated." 
In fact, I know several Richmond employers who already pay their employees at least $12 an hour and they are quite successful. They shared with me that when employees make a wage that they can live on, turn over is low thus allowing for stability in their business. 
There are some who say Richmond isn't in a bubble. We can't just raise it in Richmond and not have it affect businesses negatively because people can shop in the nearby cities. We are not in a bubble. But when other cities see the difference that it makes here in Richmond, the people will demand change in their cities as well.  
FDR once said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little."- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Saffron Strands Fifth Annual Homeless Workforce Conference  
Skills, Jobs, Careers as Paths Out of Poverty  


Saffron Strand's 2014 Conference, June 16-17 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium, is a call to action: Overcome poverty and homelessness by empowering the long-term unemployed, hard-to-employ, and homeless to re-enter the workforce.  


Ira Wolfe This action requires specialized training for professionals, case workers, and others in employment services as well as health care and housing services. It also requires increased knowledge and new perspectives among community leaders, local businesses, agency directors, and elected officials. "Let's Get Serious: Skills, Jobs, Careers as Paths Out of Homelessness and Poverty" answers these urgent needs.  


Saffron Strand's 5th Fifth Annual Homeless Workforce Conference features Dr. Ira Wolfe, nationally-acclaimed consultant and author of The Perfect Labor Storm

. As the opening keynote speaker on Monday, June 16, Dr. Wolfe speaks on "Caught in the Perfect Labor Storm: The Homeless, Hard-to-Employ, and Long-Term Unemployed."     


Saffron Strand's Annual Homeless Workforce Conference is the only forum nationwide to answer the critical question: How do we help the homeless - and those at risk of homelessness - to get back to work and increase their economic independence?    More



Click here for conference preview and list of workshops

Saturday, April 19, 10am - 2pm
Grand Opening of Point Molate Beach Park 
Point Molate Beach Park 
Point Molate Beach Park

  Click here or more information and history 

BeyondChron comments on "Oil-Backed Race Baiting"
Chevron Provides "Community News" to Richmond
 by Randy Shaw 
Richmond Standard
Funded By Chevron
[BeyondChron,  San Francisco's popular online daily, took note of Chevron's role in shaping the news here in Richmond.]

As many get their news from local websites like BeyondChron, Chevron has gotten into the act: its Richmond Standard provides "community news" to Richmond.... from the oil company's perspective.

If you come across the website for the Richmond Standard, you'll find stories about local coffee shops, a skateboarding vandal, the performance of the local high school basketball team, and what's playing in local theaters. It looks very much like sites like Berkeleyside with one key difference: it is funded and controlled by a powerful corporation whose political donations seek to dominate Richmond politics.

The site states on its front page: "This news website is brought to you by Chevron Richmond. We aim to provide Richmond residents with important information about what's going on in the community, and to provide a voice for Chevron Richmond on civic issues."

What "important information" is Chevron conveying?
Read full article here 


Program to Stop Foreclosures and Fight Blight
Get Answers to your Questions

New Videos Explain Principle Reduction Programs

The Real Nightmare on Elm St.: Fighting Foreclosures with Local Principal Reduction 
The Real Nightmare on Elm St.: Fighting Foreclosures with Local Principal Reduction

New from Jeff Ritterman

"Heart Attacks, Depression and Suicide: The Toxic Fallout From the Foreclosure Epidemic and a Prevention Strategy That Just Might Work"

Click here for the Huffington Post article

For in-depth information on the legal and economic theory behind this strategy, readHere are some other good sources you can get on-line

 RPA Membership Drive Continues 

Become an RPA member
Under the leadership of Mayor McLaughlin and her progressive colleagues on the City Council, 
Richmond has drawn local, national and international attention with its innovative solutions to persistent problems.  Let's keep the momentum going!  As we gear up for the coming election year in 2014, RPA needs your support more than ever. Join now and be part of history in the making.
Dues are just $12 per year (or more if you are able), and go towards paying our share of rent at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave--a space that is used by RPA and other organizations for educational forums, town hall meetings, strategy sessions, campaign organizing, celebrations and many other events open to the community.
By joining now you'll get our e-newsletter and action alerts, and opportunities to participate in building a better Richmond.  We'll also give you a large, attractive tote bag--ideal for grocery shopping, now that Richmond has enacted a plastic bag ban as another step toward protecting our precious environment. 
Don't put it off--  write, call or e-mail us now!

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.


Some History and Understanding of the RPA
  Social Policy Article

Long article with pictures 

--have patience in downloading


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.