RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #208, 10-09-2016

In this issue:
Special day of action tomorrow: Come out to canvass for Ben, Melvin and Measure L!
Danny Glover endorses Ben and Melvin
Richmond Needs a Corporate-Free City Council!
Marion Faye, presente!

Monday, 10/10, 11am
Special day of action: Come out to canvass for Ben, Melvin and Measure L!

Tomorrow, October 10th is just about one month before Election Day (it is also Indigenous People's Day, a.k.a. Columbus Day). Let’s drum up our courage, our energy, our determination, our conviction, our support and our friends and family and hit the streets and the phones for Ben, Melvin and Measure L! Some of you who work outside your homes and for other employers will be on holiday. Those who work for themselves (or their children) might be able to take a couple of hours. Whatever your capacity, if you have not yet done anything for our campaign, this is the time to do it! If you have done a lot or some for our campaign our candidates and their committees are so grateful to you and we are asking you to do just a little bit more. 

Please come out to canvass or phone bank on Monday, October 10, 2016 at 11:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. There will be orientation for those who need it and refreshments for all! Meet at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald).

And the endorsements keep coming...
Danny Glover endorses Ben Choi and Melvin Willis for City Council

Along with being some of the first political candidates to be endorsed by Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, Ben Choi and Melvin Willis recently earned the endorsement of actor and social activist Danny Glover.

The two candidates have been also endorsed by a wide array of progressive, community and environmental groups including Communities for a Better Environment, the California Nurses Association, SEIU 1021, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the Sunflower Alliance and others.

For those of you who have not yet had a chance to meet Ben and/or Melvin, please consider coming out to a houseparty on Sunday, October 16 at 2pm (845 37th St, in the North and East neighborhood). Contact Claudia at jimenez.claudia78@gmail.com for more information.

RPA statement
Richmond Needs a Corporate-Free City Council

On September 30, 2016 the RPA Steering Committee issued the following statement on how City Council members must work for the people of Richmond, not corporate campaign contributors. The statement is particularly timely in light of recent revelations that Mayor Tom Butt took campaign contributions from the California Apartment Association
– and then voted against legislation that would have stopped evictions ahead of the Measure L ballot initiative.

Richmond Needs a Corporate-Free City Council

Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the damage that corporate money is causing in our democracy, and they want leaders who will fight for them by reducing special interest money in our elections.


Here in Richmond, we see the continued power of Chevron and developers, who try to buy elections directly, then influence elected officials with lobbying and promises of support. In 2014 Richmond voters fought back against corporate domination and elected three progressive city council members who are truly independent from the 0.01% billionaire class, rejecting all corporate money for their campaigns.


We deserve to feel confident that our council members put our people’s needs first. We need to know they aren’t keeping an ear or a hand out for donations from Chevron, lobbyists, developers, and the big apartment owners. Which city council candidates have not refused to accept corporate money for their campaigns? Bates, Boozé, Rogers, Myrick, Pimplé, Uwahemu, Zepeda


Who are the only candidates who reject all corporate money? Ben Choi and Melvin Willis


The need to get money out of politics may be the one thing Americans agree on. Nearly everyone opposes “Citizens United,” the Supreme Court ruling that allowed corporations to spend unlimited (and unreported) amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections.

But in Richmond, we’ve learned how to do something about it. We’ve fought corporate control of our politics through grassroots organizing and principled council members. Two years ago Chevron poured millions into the city council election, yet its candidates were defeated by the power of organized, fed-up citizens who helped elect three Richmond Progressive Alliance members. Since then these corporate-free progressives have worked hard to get the city to deal with the problems its residents face.


What would a corporate-free council majority mean for Richmond?


Concern: They would vote as a bloc and control the council.


Fact: All elected officials must abide by the Brown Act, which prohibits a majority of council members from communicating about agenda items outside the council meeting. This law assures that all points of view are heard in an open process.


Fact: RPA endorsed council members don’t agree on every single issue, but Richmond residents are guaranteed that each decision they make as independent thinkers is free from corporate influence. A corporate-free council majority would share progressive values. What does this mean?


It means they will respond to Richmond residents’ concerns, not those of outside corporate interests. They will apply progressive solutions to Richmond’s problems. Corporate-free progressives on the council have supported these issues:


  • Addressing the budget crisis by temporarily reducing salaries of top administrators so city services are maintained
  • Increased civilian oversight of the police to improve community policing
  • Passed rent control and just cause for eviction, and when the apartment owners succeeded in overturning the ordinance, supported putting it on this November’s ballot
  • Introduced and implemented a higher minimum wage and “Ban the Box” legislation to end employment discrimination against formerly incarcerated residents
  • Promoted development while insisting that it benefit Richmond residents with an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement
  • Insisted on an open community process to determine the development of Pt. Molate
  • Insisting that Chevron contribute funds to keep Doctors Hospital open
  • Pressed Chevron to reduce pollution and danger to the community


A corporate-free majority on the city council could also:


  • Expand job training programs
  • Repair our infrastructure
  • Press the county, state, and universities for a new hospital in West County
  • Improve and strengthen our neighborhood public schools


Can Richmond move forward with progressive solutions, or will it be blocked by corporate influence? Will our city council have the strength to stand up to the enormous economic and social power of developers and corporations?


Richmond won national acclaim in 2014 when we defeated Chevron’s

control over our politics. We have shown that there are progressive, compassionate alternatives to the politics of hate. The two corporate-free, principled city council candidates, Ben Choi and Melvin Willis, are young, prepared, and experienced. They will work hard to create the better Richmond we all deserve.


This November, let’s elect a city council that represents all Richmond communities, a council that reflects the diversity of our city. Let’s have each council member bring his or her own best and independent thinking to city government, with one characteristic in common: let’s have none of them be influenced by corporate money.

In Memoriam
Marion Fay presente!

Marion Fay usually rode into RPA community events on her bicycle. She followed the news in the Activist and told me she is proud of the community organizing for local control and justice. 

Marion, an energetic, self defined woman, musician, teacher and life long activist, was in a fatal car accident on Hwy 4 on October 1st, 2016. Let her life be an example for us all.
At age 77, she lived her passions; music, theater and a commitment to social justice.

Whenever I saw her at the pool we both frequented, she insisted on discussing RPA progress. She eagerly attended a Candidates Party and was impressed by both Melvin and Ben, proudly contributing and putting up a yard sign.
Marion applied her critical thinking to her theater and music classes, bringing in speakers on prisoners rights, political repression and resistance. Marion cared about her friends, encouraging, criticizing and noticing when we stand up for justice. May we follow her example, expressing our passions and living our values, and encouraging each other. Marion Fay, Presente!

- Rita Barouch