RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #171
7-2 -15   
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Exacerbating the Divide
Keeping Faith with the Voters
Please circulate the lead articles
Plan for these in July
March & Rally for Justice for Pedie Perez

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.


Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin on Tom Butt's behavior:
Exacerbating the Divide


As many of you know, over recent months Mayor Tom Butt has gotten into the habit of - hmmm, how should I put this?...well, to put it in the best possible light, he has gotten into the habit of showcasing his disdain for the RPA and those of us on the City Council who affiliate ourselves with the RPA (namely - me, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez). This is a sad situation that only seems to grow in scale.


Most recently, Tom Butt has once again launched into a show of contempt against the RPA due to a recent decision made by the Council last night. A bit of background: the mayor wanted to move the Red Oak Victory Ship, a historic World War II ship that is part of our overall history of ship-building in Richmond, to a specific location at the Port. The ship needs to be moved due to our contract with one of our new Port businesses - a winery - whose lease requires the City to move the Red Oak because it currently blocks the view from the winery.   But the mayor wanted to put the ship in a berth that was already in use, citing it was a better location for the Red Oak. However, this would have cost up to an additional $300,000 in relocation costs and would have caused a delay in moving it, thus potentially opening up the City to a lawsuit. We chose instead to move the ship to an empty berth, as that was the most cost and time-efficient solution at this point, and frankly there is nothing standing in the way of us moving the ship again.    

Well, because the vote last night did not go his way, Tom launched this morning into "put RPA down" mode. The fact is that the RPA, as an organization, did not even discuss this issue.   While it was a priority apparently for the mayor, it was not a priority for the RPA.


To understand more about last night's vote, please see this article: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_28407495/richmond-relocation-red-oak-victory-ship-agenda. I think it is an accurate portrayal of the situation. The decision that the Council made was a sensible one. I can certainly understand the mayor feeling disappointed, but the "scorched earth" approach he takes whenever he's disappointed only exacerbates division. And at this point, sadly I believe that is his intention.    


It was quite predictable that Tom Butt's E-Forum would feature an anti-RPA message this morning based on this Port issue.   And it was also predictable that he would follow that up with an E-Forum about the budget, criticizing me and others for adding $6,000 last night to the budget for important community-building efforts like festivals, which frankly pales in comparison to the additional $300,000 he was seeking for relocating the Red Oak Victory Ship.   Contradictions abound here. 


While I expected the mayor to put out his E-Forums today, I didn't expect another "payback" - explained below: 


After deciding to reappoint several of my previous appointees (back when I was mayor) to the Pt Molate Community Advisory Committee, he did an abrupt reversal.   I had to tell these hard-working, dedicated volunteers that they would no longer be reappointed by the mayor.


They, of course, were disappointed and in fact one of them wrote to Mayor Butt asking him to reconsider. Here is his reply as to why he was not reappointing them:

"You need to talk to Gayle. She has strange ideas about collaboration and doesn't understand that her actions and the actions of the RPA have consequences that affect other people, including you."


I can't help but see this as a bit Machiavellian. My "strange ideas about collaboration" are based on honesty and respect for intellectual engagement on the issues.  Does collaboration mean discounting sensible arguments made by other colleagues?   Perhaps Mayor Butt thinks that "collaborating" means bowing to whatever he wants or thinks he needs politically. I'm sorry, but I cannot oblige. And how uncool is it to be punishing citizen volunteers because councilmembers didn't vote in line with him?


Tom also claimed (via email exchange with a constituent): "Then she turned on me, just like Corky Booze did." What?? The fact of the matter is I have remained pretty quiet in recent months over controversies that have developed, as Tom has continuously, through his E-Forum and social media, flung public insults at me and others on the RPA, who I might add actively supported him throughout his mayoral campaign.  So I ask: Who turned on whom? 


AND just this evening, Tom put out another E-Forum, this time criticizing Councilmember Beckles for putting an item on the agenda directing staff to further research a Fair Housing Ordinance to include previously incarcerated residents.   Amazingly, as of this afternoon, Tom was a co-sponsor of this item.   I was just in a meeting this afternoon that included David Gray, one of the mayor's staff, who stated Tom's co-sponsorship of this as an example of the mayor's concern for renters. And as of yesterday the Agenda Report had his name on it. Go figure... 


Please know that I will continue to serve the people of Richmond with conscientiousness and dedication, voting together with any and all my councilmember colleagues (including the mayor) on issues that I feel are important and reasonable for our community. 


                                                      --Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin


This article was distributed in Gayle McLaughlin's email newsletter on Wednesday, July 1.  To join the mailing list for it, click on this link.



Measure U and the Budget Vote: 
Keeping Faith with the Voters

Tom Butt claims he voted against the budget at Tuesday's Council Meeting because it included an amendment offered by Councilmember McLaughlin.

The amendment stated: When one time funds become available, the priority will be for funding for road repair work, including filling out the road crew to its full staffing.

Everyone who worked with this year's budget felt the heat, right or wrong, of the downgrading of the city's bond rating. It is for that reason that everybody agreed to use the Measure U funds to help the city balance the budget immediately. But what to do about the fact that the City Council presented Measure U to voters as the way to get roads repaired?

We believe the worst thing that the City Government can do is squander the trust and credibility of its citizens. Lose that and you can forget about winning support and cooperation for any number of important things from community policing to future taxes. Yes, there are times when the government must change course in response to an immediate crisis. But the government must be transparent, explain the change, and put forward a plan to meet the original promise.

The amendment to the budget did just that. It said that we have not forgotten about the road repair promise and here is how we will keep that promise. It also made clear, because there was some confusion over how one-time funds could be used, that in keeping the promise for road repair it could include filling out the road crew.

It must be a mystery to anyone watching the council meeting why this amendment would be grounds for Butt to refuse to vote for the budget. After all the City Manager had said --and it was accepted by all-- that if the Council did not pass the budget by June 30 there would be further consequences to the city in the bond markets. Many believe that Tom's actions had nothing to do with the budget or this amendment but rather come from his earlier failure to get any support for his closed session item about moving the Red Oak Victory.

                                                                                                         --Mike Parker

This issue is shorter & less lavishly illustrated than I'd like, &
I'm having technical difficulties with photos, but 

I wanted to get the two lead articles to you as soon as possible.  Please share them widely.

Good wishes for a safe & happy interdependence days weekend, everybody.

                                                                                     --Patsy Byers, editor  
Save these dates in July: 5, 11, 18, 19, 21, & 25... whew!  
Stop Crude by Rail, RPA Picnic & Mtg, Just Cause & Rent Control, Healing Walk, Caravan for Peace. 

Sat. 7/11, 11-3, from Atchison Village Pk->K-M /BNSF Yard->Washington Pk
Stop Oil Trains/Lac M├ęgantic Commemoration

Richmond is the site for the Bay Area action, one of many national Stop Oil Trains events.  To learn more and help make this mobilization a major part of the effort to stop Crude by Rail moving throughout the continent, sign up at this site.  At Washington Park there will be music, speakers, and a family-friendly festival.  

All members & friends & their families are invited! RPA will provide compostable paperware, ice, some beverages, and charcoal for the grills from noon to 1:30, if conditions allow fires. There might even be prizes for the games!



Tues. 7/21, 6:30pm, Richmond City Council Chambers

Stand up for Rent Control & Just Cause for Eviction Tenant Protections

Let's speak up to get these important measures passed by Council in July.  Tell the Council you want this ordinance on the books before the August recess!  Staff will be bringing back draft versions.  Let the Council know you want strong and effective protections.  Last estimate was that Rent Control could apply to 9400 units here.  Help promote Development without Displacement.



Sat. 7/25/15, 3-5pm, RPA Members Meeting at BBPC (1021 Macdonald)   

Amply your voice: Unity, Democracy, Diversity!

Hot topics with a Focus on Education
Updates from Steering Committee & Action Teams.  Report on reorganization plans.


New members can join at the door and current members can update their status.**



Sun. 7/19: All day, 4th & final 2015 Refinery Corridor Healing Walk

Connect the Dots from Rodeo to Richmond


Details are available here; more info in the next Activist.



Sun. 7/5, March & tour at noon; Event 1:30-3 at BBPC:
Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

For details, scroll down the RPA webpage, look at the last Activist, or check here.

** To join the RPA now, follow this link to the membership form.  Print and complete the form and mail it in with a check for your dues, which start at $12/yr.  Or, to avoid printing and snail-mailing, you can:
  •  send an email to  info@richmondprogressivealliance.net with the information requested on the form &
  • go to the RPA web page & press the "Donate" button in the left column and make a payment for dues. Any additional contribution helps us keep dues more affordable for those with low income and is much appreciated.

March & rally June 27th:
Call for Justice for Pedie Perez.

March and rally in downtown Richmond Saturday. Photo: Tarnel Abbott

Organizers are calling an independent investigation with an independent prosecutor, openness, and transparency.  They are seeking truth and justice in the shooting death of Richard "Pedie" Perez III  by RPD Officer  Wallace Jensen in September 2014.  

Speakers at the rally (L to R) included Pedie's mother Julie Perez, Danny Garcia, and Stacey Means from the Oscar Grant Committee.  [Photos: Mike Parker.]

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 authors, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Patsy Byers, 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.