RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #184
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Love Splashed at the Mosque
1/9: Welcome the New & Honor the Old: RPA Steering Committee Election at Members Meeting
How the RPA Got Started
Help Rich City Rides continue its good work
Is rent control dead in Richmond? Mike Parker's answer.
From the CCTimes: Problems with petition drives & initiatives.
1/18: MLK Day of Service on the Greenway
"May our community move forward with clarity & compassion."
More corporate welfare for PG&E: PUC hikes our bills.
Human Agenda Award for Democracy
Court rules against pesticide spraying

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.


Christmas eve "Love Splash" at the Richmond Mosque   
All was calm, all was bright

On Dec. 20, a Richmond man was arrested for making threats directed at members of the Masjid Al Rahman mosque in Richmond. Four days later, on Christmas eve, over 100 people of all faiths --and none-- gathered at the mosque to participate in an interactive art action, festooning the entrances to the mosque with messages of support, solidarity, and love.

Photos from Jovanka Beckles.

The event was a warm one on a cold night. Zak Wear "took the ball and ran with it," as the lead organizer, with support from Najari Smith, Eduardo Martinez, Yenny Garcia, and a host of other volunteers. The Richmond Pulse article estimated close to 150 people attended, but folks came and went throughout the evening, so there may well have been more.

Photos: Juan Reardon.

Ayse Gursoz [Grr... correct formatting is not supported!] made a 2-minute video. On its Facebook page, "one of the event speakers" is quoted: "My motto is 'Hate hurts America.' We are stronger together. We are stronger in solidarity."

Save the date: Sat., 1/9, 3-5pm, 1021 Macdonald
Elect the 2016 RPA Steering Committee!

This meeting will be special in a number of ways: In addition to the first annual All-RPA Members' Steering Committee (SC) Election, it will be an opportunity for all of us to get acquainted with the new SC members, and to recognize and thank out-going SC members.

Participate in this historic process!  All current members will be able to vote. The slate of candidates proposed by the nominating committee stands with no additions. As specified in the RPA bylaws, no nominations will be accepted from the floor.

New members are invited to join at the door, and current members can update their status. To shorten the queue at the sign-in tables, you might want to follow the steps for joining the RPA, outlined in the article on Rent Control, below.

RPA co-founder Juan Reardon offers an early history: 
"To make our lives better... starting right here"

In the last week of 2015, with the RPA restructuring well underway and the first election of its Steering Committee rapidly approaching, let's take the time to look back at the origins of the RPA.

Gayle McLaughlin writes: "The history of the Richmond Progressive Alliance is the history of a people defining our own destiny. It took far-sighted vision, bold determination, and a LOT of hard work to get the RPA off the ground.  Juan Reardon, known to be 'the engine of the RPA' in those early years, takes us on a trip down memory lane in his article, 'How did the RPA get started?' Complete with early photos, flyers, documents, and a program of events, Juan's article reminds us of the why, how, and who involved in those early years from 2003-2004. Read it now to experience or re-experience this amazing era when we burst onto the Richmond political scene."

Juan's article begins: "Between the fall of 2003 and the fall of 2004 the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) erupted in Richmond, California, and the city would never be the same. Here are a few notes about the years 2003-2004 and why, how and who got the Richmond Progressive Alliance started that year.

"Why was it started? The short answer: to make our lives better, healthier, happier starting right here, in our city and communities."  For the full article, follow this link or paste this url into your browser: http://richmondprogressivealliance.net/docs/RPA_Origins.pdf. The file is large, and it takes a few moments to load. Your patience will be rewarded.
Make a donation before Jan. 15th & it will be matched!  
Because together we can go farther
Photo: Najari Smith

For the past 3 years, Rich City Rides has been getting people outdoors, getting people healthy, and getting people together through cycling. It's been a fun ride, and we couldn't have done it without the help of each and every one of the 2,391 of you who have ridden with us and the 72 kids who have nurtured their bike mechanic skills and self confidence by joining our Earn-a-Bike Program over the past 3 years!
As we bring this year to a close and usher in the new year, we're calling on supporters like you to help us make our fundraising goal of $20,000.
This year, thanks to the matching pledges of 2 anonymous donors, every donation up to $10,000 will be doubled from now until January 15th!
For some commuters, using a bike is not a choice but a necessity. It is how they get to and from work, store, and home every day. We've rescued 581 bikes from the local landfill, saving energy and improving air quality, and adding them to the commuter cyclist program. Along with bikes we also provided free bike repair workshops and an opportunity to ride together and safely.
Help Rich City Rides continue to keep these programs going into the new year by making a donation today! All donation will be matched from now till January 15, 2016!
                                                                                                             --Najari Smith
The Dec. 22, 2015 Winter Solstice Ride, a Rich City Rides project.
Photo: Melvin Willis.

Online Donation: Make a donation at: http://www.richcityrides.org/donate/.
Or send a check, payable to RCR's fiscal sponsor: Urban Tilth.
Please write in the Memo Line: "Rich City Rides Donation" and mail it to: 
Urban Tilth / Rich City Rides
31 Maine Ave
Richmond, CA 94804

The Richmond Pulse asks: Is rent control dead in Richmond?   
Mike Parker answers for the RPA:

"No, absolutely not."  

Read why the RPA is supporting a ballot measure on rent control, Mike's analysis of anticipated challenges in the up-coming election year, and more, in an interview by Malcom Marshall, here:
Photo: Richmond Pulse.

  As Mike notes: 

  "... we've got our work cut out for us, 
  and we don't take any corporate money."

If you want to help, join the RPA today:  Get the membership form here.  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 welcomed.

Contra Costa Times investigates petition signature processes  
Initative & referendum now "tool of Big Money."

In the Richmond Pulse interview cited above, Mike Parker drew attention to the petition initiative process. Backers of the effort to block the implementation of Richmond's rent control ordinance, he said, "did two things: They not only paid workers a lot of money, but that money also encouraged them to distort, lie or omit [giving] information to people."

And the statement by the RPA Steering Committee [in the  Activist #183 & on the RPA website], urging a "No" vote on the Poe "Richmond Riviera" project --scheduled for the June ballot-- points out another problem with these initiatives, when they are developer-financed: They can be used to bypass established approval protections and as a tool to intimidate city officials, who must either accept their terms or face the costs and burden of a public vote. 

The Christmas-day article, "Richmond: Petition drive put spotlight on industry with little oversight," by Karina Ioffee, is a little present that questions the integrity of the process and points out Gov. Brown's failure thus far to support reforms.  Give it a read!              
Mon. 1/18, 9am-1:30pm, from 4th to 16th Streets, N of Ohio    
MLK Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway

Once again this year, the RPA will have a clay table set up, where we all can get our  hands on a piece of clay and play. If you'd like to help with the activity, please contact Michael at (510) 235-5519, and leave a message with the hours you're available on 1/18.  If you don't get a return call in a day or so, please phone again.
Zak Wear's reflections on recent events
"May our community move forward with clarity..."

Zak Wear brought the issue of the threats against the mosque and the subsequent arrest to the attention of the RPA Steering Committee, and his work formed the basis for the statement put out by the group last week.  We thank him for that, and for the wonderful organizing he did to make the "Love Splash" such a positive and healing event.

Here's what he wrote, in its entirety:

As the world continues to shake with change we will be challenged by politically-motivated terrorism, both foreign and domestic. The shootings at San Bernardino were a profound violation of people's safety, dignity and lives. We mourn that loss with sadness and anger, but resilience.
It is important to be resilient in the face of these challenges because the temptation to react with racism and blind hatred is too great for some in any given community. On Sunday, December 20th a white, male, 55 year-old Richmond resident was arrested by the Richmond Police Department for making threats against a mosque in our community. He allegedly fashioned an explosive device that was found non-functioning at the time of his arrest. His stated motivations point to events transpiring on the Republican presidential campaign trail.
We unequivocally condemn this violent behavior as cowardly, bigoted and counter to the fundamental values of our city and country. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in their right to live, worship, work, and raise their children in peace. The Islamic community is fully and irrevocably worthy of dignity, respect and protection.
To combat bigotry we must educate ourselves to the depth, diversity and gifts of threatened groups in our community. Islam is an ocean that makes up thousands of cultures, traditions and dialects to 1/6th of our world's peoples. Islamic scholars made key discoveries and cultural exchange that brought Europe from the dark ages. When Rome's Counter Reformation was in full swing, committing genocides against Protestants across Europe, the Islamic world took in and gave permanent refuge to many Christians, some of whom were the first Christians to openly preach universal religious tolerance. Today Muslims are part of great technological advances, peacekeeping, medicine, trade and education-they are part of all facets of bringing our world into a more just, sustainable and peaceful future.
May our community move forward from this with clarity and compassion. Peace be upon the Islamic communities of Richmond. Peace be upon those who protect the innocent. Peace be upon the minds that sow hatred. Peace be upon you.

                                                                                                             --Zak Wear

Big money once again beats the people & the planet
More Corporate Welfare for PG&E

On Thursday December 17th, the State Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) gave PG&E another weapon to use against alternative green electric suppliers like MCE (Marin Clean Energy) that supplies most Richmond residents  The PUC approved PG&E's request to almost double the charge to customers who have left PG&E.  Get it?  Because you stopped purchasing electricity from PG&E, they get to charge you an "exit fee" for the indefinite future.  This extortion is called the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) so maybe you won't notice the $13.00 on your bill.  The increase also applies to low-income residents on the CARES program. Charging them the same fee as high income/high users to maintain PG&E profits makes this a doubly regressive tax to provide corporate welfare.

Most Richmond residents and the City itself have been getting electricity from MCE sources, which are over  50% renewables.  (MCE offers a premium service for a slight price increase that is 100% renewables.)  PG&E electrical sources are only 27% renewables.

Up to now MCE has been cheaper than PG&E, saving its customers in Richmond millions. The new exit fee on top of the charge for electricity will push the total cost for MCE above the rates for PG&E customers.

Just at the time that you might think the world would be paying attention to global warming, PG&E with the PUC support is actually penalizing people who choose renewable energy along with the new public organizations formed to provide renewable energy.

But PG&E has to keep its profits up and make the public pay for such "services" as its political campaigns  (like Proposition 16 last year) against  Community Choice Aggregators, the alternative to PG&E's monopoly.  
Getting rid of the "exit fee" makes sense. It is good public policy that will encourage the switch to renewables. The problem is that fighting back means getting the state legislature to act.  And the state legislature, though dominated by Democrats, seems to easily fall under the sway of the utilities, oil industry and those wealthy enough to pay for lobbyists and make huge campaign contributions. So once again, before we can get policies from our government which make sense, we first have to take on the influence of money in politics.

(For clippings on this issue, see http://www.tombutt.com/forum/2015/15-12-21b.html)

                                                                                                             --Mike Parker

Gayle McLaughlin & Richmond honored
Human Agenda Award for Democracy

At the 13th annual Human Rights Awards Banquet of Human Agenda (www.humanagenda.net) on December 13th, Gayle McLaughlin accepted the Democracy Award "on behalf of all the great people of Richmond who have worked so hard to get us this far!" 
Photo credit: Unknown.

Pictured with Gayle are the other award winners, the event's keynote speaker Dolores Huerta (in hat), Human Agenda staff and board members as well as some San Jose and Santa Clara County representatives.  The organization, based in San Jose, gave awards for democracy, equity, cooperation, kindness, and sustainability.
More good work & good news for Richmond 
Our Children's Earth Foundation victory

Earlier this month there was an appellate court victory in two companion cases that invalidated the State's light brown apple moth (LBAM) pesticide program on CEQA grounds. The City was a party in one of the suits, along with several East Bay cities and environmental groups, and Councilmember McLaughlin, when she was mayor, was an individual party in the other.

According to the press release prepared by Earthjustice and the California Environmental Health Initative: "At issue was an ill-conceived California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) statewide pesticide campaign for the light brown apple moth that included plans to aerially spray the San Francisco Bay Area for seven years. The controversial program began by aerially spraying populated areas of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in 2007, resulting in hundreds of complaints of harm to human health and wildlife."

Greg Loarie, Earthjustice staff attorney, says: "This case is about looking before you leap. The Department of Food and Agriculture tried to impose this spraying program on the public without real environmental review, and the court has rightly called foul."
Sun. 1/3, 1-3pm, at BBPC, 1021 Macdonald, Richmond 
Start the new year with the Sunflower Alliance

Pennie Opal Plant, who attended COP21 in Paris as a representative of the Indigenous Environmental Network, will report back.  You're invited.

Brief report on Dec. 16 BAAQMD hearing on refinery emissions
A partial victory that "might save some lives."

Numerous community and environmental organizations from throughout the Bay Area were represented, including  RPA members who rode together on BART or joined the CBE vanpool from the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center. At least 200 community people showed up at the hearing, and many of them spoke, addressing an array of concerns.

Greg Karras from CBE (Communities for a Better Environment) said afterwards: "We won a deadline and commitment to our caps--three months after we proposed, but still a first on the crucial policy question of the moment. And we won three partial, incremental emission reduction measures that do not go far enough but go in the right direction, reduce emissions and thereby might save some lives, and would NOT have happened without our collective organizing to action."

Many thanks to all who have worked so hard to get meaningful improvements in the emissions rules.  The Board will plan its 2016 agenda in January and has given a commitment to consider Rule 12-15: "Gather and track refinery emissions over time" in March and Rule 12-16: "Limit Refinery emissions and the associated health risk caused by those emissions" in May.

Wishing all of you peace & happiness in the new year 
Let's keep on keepin' on

I will be taking a break until the third week of January.  During that time, Mike Parker has agreed to serve as Acting Editor of the RPA Activist and the Key List.  I am sorely sorry to be missing the election meeting on Jan 9!  I look forward to resuming my work here in mid-month.  

I hope you and the progressive communities of Richmond start off 2016 with gusto and joy. --PB

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.


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Richmond Progressive Alliance | P.O. Box 160 | Station A | Richmond | CA | 94808