RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #220, 03-22-2017

In this issue:
We have a Rent Board!
Rent control resources
Learn more about single payer universal health care in CA
California, Richmond stand up to Trump's anti-immigrant agenda
New RPA Steering Committee
San Luis Obispo rejects oil trains project
Progressive alliances take off across the Bay
Richmond Renaissance: An original play by RYSE

Measure L implementation
We have a new Rent Board!

On Tuesday, March 21, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to appoint a 5-member rent board. This board will be responsible for implementing rent control: setting a budget for the Richmond Rent Program, hiring an Executive Director and setting regulations.

The newly appointed members include Nancy Combs, a volunteer at Saffron Strand; real estate agent Virginia Finlay, former president of the Marina Bay Neighborhood Council and former Richmond Planning Commissioner; Emma Gerould, a former tenant advocate in the San Francisco Tenderloin; Lauren Maddock, an employee of Mercy Housing; and David Gray, former chief of staff to Mayor Butt who is currently with the San Francisco Public Utility Commission.

Mayor Butt does not support rent control, but after Measure L passed, he was given the authority to name Board members. Given that 2/3 of Richmond voters supported Measure L, the RPA vigorously advocated for at least three of the five members of the Board to be strong rent control proponents. As Cecilia Cissell Lucas and Jeff Shoji said at the March 7 Richmond City Council meeting,We deserve a transparent process in which rent board appointees are publicly vetted and approved by those who actually support Measure L… This should not feel threatening to anyone who is not attempting to obstruct the fair and legal enforcement of an ordinance that passed with a vast majority of the vote. It's time to listen to the will of the people.” Unfortunately, only two of the 5 members of the rent board are strong rent control supporters.

A statement from an RPA subcommittee (the RPA reps to the Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition) explained its reasoning for agreeing to a compromise: They became convinced "that the rent board slate presented by Mayor Butt on March 21 is the best we can get from him, and it certainly could be worse. So, faced with the choice of a less than optimal rent board or no rent board at all for the remainder of his term as mayor, the Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition (of which the RPA is a member) decided to support this slate and move forward with implementation as best we can.”

Onward in the struggle for housing justice!

3/23 and 3/30, 6pm
Rent control workshops

Along with groups like Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, who are educating residents about Measure L, the City of Richmond is hosting a series of education workshops and computer lab sessions on the Rent Program and the Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction, and Homeowner Protection Ordinance.


The next two sessions will be March 23 and March 30 from 6-8pm at the Richmond City Hall computer lab. Attendees will receive computer lab assistance to access and complete online forms; learn more about the Richmond Rent Program; and explore resources for Tenants and Landlords.  Space is limited – RSVP at : https://richmondrentprogram.eventbrite.com
3/23, 11:30am, Oakland
Learn more about single payer health care in CA!

From our friends at the California Nurses Association

As you know, President Trump and Republican leaders are moving quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid - threatening the healthcare and lives of millions of low to moderate income Americans while handing huge tax cuts to the rich and big healthcare corporations. By mid-April, we could be living in the new world of Trumpcare nationally.


In California though, we have the opportunity to not only resist these extreme attacks on our healthcare and lives, but to expand and create the healthcare system we truly need – guaranteed, comprehensive, universal healthcare for all regardless of income or immigration status. Last month, the Healthy California Act (SB 562) was introduced by Senators Lara and Atkins as a key step towards creation of a single payer universal healthcare system for all Californians, and a broad-based statewide coalition, HealthyCA is coming together to advance this exciting, visionary campaign for healthcare justice.


Please join us for a lunchtime briefing about these important issues and to find out how your organization can get involved


Thurs, March 23rd 11:30am – 1:00pm, @ California Nurses Association, 155 Grand Avenue, 1st Floor Conference Room, Oakland


Lunch provided, and translation available upon request.


For more info and to RSVP, contact Carolyn Bowden at cbowden@calnurses.org.

[Photo credit: California Nurses Association]

The resistance is fertile
California, Richmond stand up to Trump! 

The California Values Act, SB 54, cleared an important hurdle on Monday, and is poised to move to a full Senate vote. The bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement from acting as federal immigration officers and bans immigration enforcement at public schools, hospitals and courthouses.


SB 54 has been met with staunch opposition from the California State Sheriffs’ Association, including Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston. On Wednesday, local activists turned out in force at a Martinez rally to protest Livingston’s active campaign against the bill. They also called for the release of Yazmin Elias, a mom and domestic violence survivor currently held in the West County Detention Facility under the Sheriff's multi-million dollar contract with ICE.


Meanwhile, the sanctuary city movement in California has continued to grow. On Tuesday, the El Cerrito city council unanimously voted to declare itself a sanctuary city by adopting a policy of not gathering or release information about the immigration status of residents to federal authorities. The council also called for Contra Costa supervisors to do the same, and passed a resolution in support of SB 54.

And on Wednesday, Richmond announced a lawsuit against Trump’s executive order to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities. Richmond currently receives about $77 million per year in federal funding. "We will not allow intimidation to disrupt our commitment to our residents and their safety," said Mayor Butt at a press conference. San Francisco announced a similar lawsuit in January.


Finally, if this news is leaving you inspired, please consider joining the new RPA Immigration Action Team, which had its inaugural meeting this week. Contact Sharron SK Williams at skwilliams@yurumeinlaw.com

New leadership
RPA membership elects new Steering Committee

RPA officers and a new steering committee were elected at a well attended and enthusiastic membership meeting on February 25. The new Committee consists of:

Co-coordinator - Sharron SK Williams
Co-coordinator - Marcos Bañales
Communications Chair - Sue Wilson
Membership Chair - Kabir Kapur
Office Chair - Tarnell Abbott
Treasurer - Shoji
Recording Secretary - Michelle Chan
Schools Action Team - Peter Chau

At-large members:

Jovanka Beckles, Nancy Combs, Ben Choi, Sung Ae Cho, Porschea Brown, Kelly Dugan, Malia Everette, Laura Garcia-Santiago,Marilyn Langlois, Paul Larudee, Juan Reardon, Ada Recinos, Carlos Taboada, Zak Wear, and Melvin Willis

Representatives of allied organizations:

Claudia Jimenez, CCC Racial Justice Coalition
Millie Cleveland, SEIU Local 1021
David Sharples, ACCE
Alyssa Kang, California Nurses Association.
Brenda Williams, Richmond Rainbow Pride

There was some momentary confusion over an error on the RPA website, which mistakenly included Eduardo Martinez as a member of the new Steering Committee. Mayor Butt cried foul in his E-Forum, citing potential violations of the Brown Act. He later published a note of clarification from Eduardo Martinez, which unfortunately was made to sound as if he stepped off the committee only after he was called out on it. In actuality, Eduardo, who had served on the previous RPA Steering Committee, immediately resigned after the November 2016 election, in order to comply with the Brown Act. He was not nominated to serve on the current Steering Committee, nor did he seek to. Current City council members serving on the RPA Steering Committee include Jovanka Beckles, Melvin Willis and Ben Choi.

[Photo credit: Gail Eierweiss]

Another oil train victory!
San Luis Obispo denies oil trains project

From our friends at Stand and Center for Biological Diversity:


Months after Benecia rejected Valero’s oil trains project, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors voted this month to reject Phillips 66’s proposed oil train offloading terminal. The project was denied with a 3-1 vote, with one supervisor recusing himself in a conflict of interest.


If built, the Phillips 66 oil trains terminal would have allowed more than 7 million gallons of crude oil to be shipped via rail to its local refinery each week, and made it possible for Phillips 66 to refine volatile and carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Canada. Tar sands crude, when prepared for transport, is thinned with an unstable blend of chemicals that have been known to explode in derailment incidents, which have become increasingly frequent in recent years.


Trains servicing the Phillips 66 project would have traveled from the north and south through hundreds of major California cities and smaller communities, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Davis, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose. These trains also would have jeopardized numerous ecologically sensitive areas including the San Francisco Bay and California's iconic central coast.

[Graphics credit: Stand]

The political revolution continues
Progressive Alliances take off across the Bay

The RPA Outreach Team continues to respond to requests from groups of activists interested in starting progressive organizations in their own cities. March was as busy as ever. On March 10, Gayle McLaughlin and Juan Reardon made a presentation to a local group of progressives organizing Our Revolution San Leandro, which attracted some 10 people present from San Leandro, San Lorenzo and City of Alameda. The Team also shared the RPA story at the first meeting of the Pinole Progressive Alliance, which has a huge opportunity to elect progressives onto the Pinole City Council. The Outreach team has also continued to support the South Bay Progressive Alliance (which meets in San Jose). If you know of groups who may be interested in a presentation, please have them contact: outreachteamRPA@gmail.com.

Finally, Steve Early continues to spread the word about the history and work of the RPA through his Refinery Town book tour. If you have not already heard his interview on KQED’s Forum, it’s worth a listen!

5/6 and 5/7, 6pm
Richmond Renaissance: An original RYSE play

The youth at RYSE Center is producing another play this year!

Richmond Renaissance
is set in AnnaBelle's, a Black-owned juke joint in 1940's North Richmond, where history's Blues and roots of love inspire communal growth. The multimedia theatrical performance will counter the traditional Richmond narrative of poverty and violence by highlighting the community’s wealthy cultural past as an epicenter for blues, jazz, and zydeco. Please come and support this youth-led ode to the City of Pride and Purpose!

6-8pm, May 6th & 7th, 2017

El Cerrito Performing Arts Theater

540 Ashbury Ave, El Cerrito

Buy tickets here
. (And come on, spring for the VIP tickets if you can afford it!)