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The Activist

Issue #239, 01-07-2018


In this issue:
Seeking new steering committee members!
1/27: RPA membership meeting
Getting more residents into good jobs
1/15: MLK Day of Service on the Greenway
1/17: School board meeting - say no to Rocketship!
1/20: Solutions for more affordable housing
1/20: Oakland Women's March - walk with Jovanka!
Worth reading: SF Chron on Gayle's campaign
Richmond Family Justice Center
Inspired in 2018

Nominations now open for RPA steering committee!

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RPA is now recruiting for Steering Committee (SC) members to serve a two year term between April 2018-March 2020! 

This is an exciting leadership opportunity and a chance to work alongside other Richmond activists committed to progressive and corporate-free politics. The RPA is growing and can also use expertise of those knowledgeable in organizational development and operations, including finance, fundraising, human resources, technology and the law. Please review the documents below and consider applying yourself or nominating someone else. Due date for nominations is 1/15/18; applications are due 1/26/18. Thanks so much and please email rpascnominations@gmail.com with any questions. 

Letter from Nomination Committee (PDF)

Steering Committee Role Description (PDF)

Steering Committee Application (PDF)

Nominate Someone for Steering Committee (PDF)

1/27: RPA membership meeting

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And speaking of RPA business… Please save the date for the next RPA membership meeting:

Saturday, 1/27

2;30 - 5pm

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center

2540 MacDonald Ave.

You never know what cool stuff you may miss if you don’t make it -- last time we all gathered at our December holiday party Melvin Willis announced that he planning to run for mayor!

You can renew your membership online ($12/year), or come a few minutes early and renew at the door.

Getting more residents into good jobs

Improving conditions in Richmond means getting more residents into steady good-paying jobs with a future. It is great that warehouses are locating here with thousands of new jobs.  But we have to remember that the wages paid for unskilled jobs are not enough to support a family in Richmond.  We need more programs like Richmond Build which will help people to advance from seemingly dead-end jobs into skilled work.  In this and coming articles we will highlight some of the programs available to Richmond residents as well as discuss some new programs that can make a difference. 

Take advantage of programs that already exist like the one below. And spread the word to people you know.

- Mike Parker

help_wanted.pngPlumbers and Steamfitters Local 342 to open apprenticeship sign-ups

This is a great career that pays well. Apprentices start out at about $23.00/hour with raises every 6 months. After a probationary period, family benefits kick-in. After graduating, the pay is better than $60.00/hr.  It is a five year apprenticeship so the commitment has to be serious.

Requirements for applying are minimal: High school or GED, and ability to be on time every day, and pass a physical and drug test. Previous incarceration and spotty work record are not a barrier.

Applicants will then have to pass an initial test covering basic math and spatial relations. It’s worth applying even if you don’t pass this test the first time. You will have a better idea about what the tests are like and can take advantage of some of the special courses and books that help prepare people in these areas.

Applicants will have to apply in person at the training center in Concord February 5- 9. Email Don Gosney dongosney@comcast.net for an information packet including sample questions.

For more information: http://www.ua342.org/Training.html

1/15: MLK Day of Service on the Greenway

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to forge the common ground on which people from all walks of life could join together to address important community issues. The King Day of Service brings together people who might not ordinarily meet, breaks down barriers that have divided us in the past, leads to better understanding and ongoing relationships.

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In Richmond, the MLK Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway attracts hundreds of volunteers to help transform the former railroad tracks into pedestrian and biking trail, community garden, playground, park, and more.

The event is in its 11th year, and a highlight this year will be a grand opening for Unity Park (16th and Ohio at the Richmond Greenway). From 9am-12pm there will be various volunteer projects; from 12pm-2pm, there will be a MLK Remembrance Ceremony, lunch, and entertainment at 16th St. and the Richmond Greenway.

- FREE refreshments will be provided!

- Tools and gloves will be provided. If you have your own pair of gloves please bring them so everyone gets a chance to pitch in.

-Bring your own reusable water bottle.

-Wear comfortable clothing and sturdy closed-toe shoes.

-Let us know if your party has multiple people

-Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Register here

1/17: School board meeting - say no to Rocketship!

As you know, Rocketship is an outside, corporate-run charter management company that has petitioned to take over one of WCCUSD’s neighborhood schools in San Pablo. At the November 15 School Board meeting, there was a fantastic turnout of hundreds of families, community members, educators, and others who strongly urged the Board to reject the Rocketship petition.

In November, Rocketship did not give clear answers to key questions posed by Board members, including whether it is willing to pay its fair share of the financial impact on WCCUSD, and how it would respond if its employees want to unionize.

We need another strong show of force on January 17 to urge the Board to reject the Rocketship charter! (WCCUSD board meeting, Lovonya DeJean Middle School Multipurpose Room, 3400 Macdonald Ave., at 6:30 p.m)

If you cannot make it to the school board meeting on the 17th, write to the members of the School Board and tell them you do not want Rocketship in San Pablo or in ANY part of our district. (Liz Block, Val Cuevas, Tom Panas, Madeline Kronenberg, Mister Phillips)

Finally, if you are wondering why charters are bulldozing their way into West Contra Costa – why, for example, the Board approved the Voices College-Bound Language Academies charter last year even though staff recommended against it  – it’s worth reading this excellent Richmond Confidential article, West Contra Costa school board race attract significant campaign donations as charter schools continue to grow.

WCCUSDmoney.pngYep, it’s Besty Devos-style “money in politics” all over again. The article points out that “Parent Teacher Alliance, an affiliated arm of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) Advocates, poured more than $340,000 worth of nonmonetary contributions to the 2016 West Contra Costa school board race to support Tom Panas, a retired public accountant, and district parent Miriam Sequeira.”

Also, note that much of this money comes from outside the district. All the more reason to support corporate-free candidates in all elected offices!

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1/20: Solutions for more affordable housing

Affordable housing continues to be a major challenge in ensuring the Bay Area is an inclusive place where families can prosper, and communities can flourish.

The Richmond Progressive Alliance Housing Action Team, in cooperation with community allies, invites you to a free, public, community event featuring original poetry and art by Richmond residents, and a new report on housing issues facing the Richmond community, which includes policy solutions that could further an equitable and healthy city for all.

Participants will be served a light breakfast and receive a copy of a new book of poetry from the Staying Power Fellows. A new Haas Institute report, Achieving a Richmond Where Everyone Belongs, will also be featured.

Saturday, January 20

9:30-11:30

Nevin Community Center

598 Nevin Ave

Richmond, CA 94804

image1(1).jpgLater that day, Richard Rothstein, Senior Fellow at the Hass Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, will discuss the impact of government policies that created racially explicit inequalities in the development of housing communities in Richmond, the Bay Area and nationally. His book “The Color of Law:  A forgotten history of how our government segregated America”, was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in nonfiction. 

The free event will take place, Saturday, January, 20, 2018, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Richmond City Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA 94804.  Following the program, there will be a Question and Answer Forum.  Books will be available for purchase and complimentary light refreshments will be provided. 

1/20: Oakland women's march - walk with Jovanka!

Jovanka_RootsAction_banner.pngRemember how uplifting it was to march through Oakland with tens of thousands of like-minded women and men last January? In just two more weeks we get to do it again! Team Jovanka will join the Oakland Women’s March on Saturday, January 20. We’ll be carrying Jovanka’s corporate-free message to voters in Assembly District 15 and beyond: with people-power, we can restore decency and fairness to our political process and take back our democracy.

We’ll meet up in the first two cars of the Warm Springs BART train leaving Richmond at 8:15 and pick up passengers on the way to the Lake Merritt station. Note these times:

Richmond: 8:15

El Cerrito Del Norte: 8:19

El Cerrito Plaza:  8:22

North Berkeley: 8:26

Downtown Berkeley: 8:28

Ashby: 8:30

MacArthur: 8:35

The march is scheduled to begin at 10:00, and If you arrive on a later train, look for our Jovanka banner. We’ll be wearing blue and green Jovanka t-shirts, so if you can match that look we’ll know you’re marching with the team.

Please see the Oakland Women’s March website page for suggestions and the route: womensmarchoakland.org/about-the-march. Important tip: buy your round-trip BART ticket before the 20th.

And if you can contribute your energy by leafleting at the rally at Frank Ozawa Plaza, please drop a line to Kabir.

Hope to see you there!

Worth reading: Chron on Gayle's campaign

If you didn’t have a chance to check out John Wildermuth’s spread in the SF Chron article on Dec 29, Ex-Richmond mayor looks to bring a Bernie Sanders approach to Sacramento, it’s worth a read!

And please don’t forget that Gayle's campaign is gathering signatures to get her on the ballot for Lt. Governor. With three weeks left before the January 22nd deadline, hundreds of volunteers have gathered thousands of signatures but need thousands more. 

Sign up here to contribute as an individual signature gatherer and here if you have a group you can mobilize to gather with you.  If you want to join other people's efforts by taking a shift at an upcoming Bay Area farmer's market, MLK Day event or Women's March, make sure you sign up for the mailing list to find out about opportunities for local supporters. Thanks for helping take Gayle's amazing successes in Richmond to the statehouse in Sacramento so our progressive policies can benefit ALL Californians!

Gayle_chron.pngFor former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, it’s time to take her city’s progressive politics on the road.

McLaughlin, a former Green Party member, is running for lieutenant governor in 2018 as an independent candidate, confident that California is ready for the type of all-in liberal politics that her Richmond Progressive Alliance brought to the East Bay city.

 “I decided that at a certain point I had to do a statewide race,” said the 65-year-old McLaughlin. “If I ran statewide we could spread the Progressive Alliance farther and move it to a larger stage.”

The Chicago-born McLaughlin was one of the founders of the Richmond group, which ran a slate of progressive outsiders in 2004 to replace City Council members they said were both ineffective and too closely tied to Chevron, the city’s most powerful business.

After two years on the council, McLaughlin beat an incumbent mayor by 242 votes in 2006. She held that office until 2014, when she was elected again to the council, where members of the alliance now hold five of the seven seats. She resigned her seat this year so she could campaign to replace termed-out Democrat Gavin Newsom as lieutenant governor.

“We want to show the rest of the state how we did it, how we reduced crime, raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour and put in new rent control rules,” she said. 

To read the whole article, click here.

Richmond's Family Justice Center

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While cases of family violence have traditionally been viewed as isolated incidents, studies are now showing the link between domestic violence and other forms of violence in communities. For instance, a majority of mass shootings (54%) are related to domestic or family violence. In one study examining 10 officer-involved critical incidents in ten years, the suspects had a history of violence against women in 80% of these cases. Research also shows that domestic violence and child abuse often occur in the same families and children living in violent families are more likely to engage in violent activities when they are older.

When a community focuses on reducing the incidents of family and domestic abuse, this effort can provide a measurable benefit to reducing overall crime while promoting overall community health. The Family Justice Center (the “Center”) is a warm and welcoming one-stop center for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking. We bring resources to meet the needs of children, youth and families impacted by interpersonal violence.

The Family Justice Center model has been identified as a best practice in the field of domestic violence by the United States Department of Justice, and is employed in over 100 communities worldwide. The West Center in Richmond opened its pilot site in 2011 and moved to its permanent location in June of 2015. In 2016, the West Center assisted 986 clients, and we expect to serve over 1,000 clients in 2017.

The West Family Justice Center currently has 19 on-site partners, including community based victim advocates, mental health counselors, detectives from the Richmond PD, a Deputy District Attorney, DA victim advocates, attorneys and County public benefits staff. Our programs and services fall under three categories: crisis support, long term safety, and community building and education. The Family Justice Institute offers free workshops on substantive topics, such as “trauma 101” and “Interpersonal violence 101.”

The Family Justice Community Fellows program offers a 10-month long fellowship opportunity in which survivors of violence develop their leadership skills while creating their own projects to support others in their community. On December 8, 2017, the second cohort of nine fellows graduated and and showcased their achievements.  Each fellow completed a project on a range of topics with which they have personal experience, including reducing bullying in schools, supporting foster youth in transition, connecting abuse survivors with pets, and offering art classes to urban youth.

-- Susun Kim, Executive Director – Family Justice Center

256 24th Street, Richmond CA 94804

[Photo: FJC's Community Fellows Leadership Program graduates, 2017. Courtesy of Marilyn Langlois.]

Inspired in 2018

banner.pngGood bye, 2017. You were a real doozy. And we know that with an unhinged President and a Republican-controlled Congress bent on shredding the social safety net, there’s more drama and trauma ahead in 2018.

But here in Richmond, we have been long tilling the fertile fields of bottom-up, people-centered, progressive activism. And with five corporate-free city council members on the dais this year, our efforts continue to bear fruit.

As Melvin Willis pointed out when he announced he was running for mayor, in 2017 RPA-backed councilmembers…

  • Passed a $15 minimum wage
  • Established a ban on small pack cigarettes, menthols and flavored tobacco paraphernalia
  • After twenty years, got a 1 percent tax on development to support the arts in Richmond
  • Passed a balanced budget, and set up more transparency for budget setting in the future
  • Saw the successful implementation of Measure L, which is allowing renters to stay in their homes, instead of being forced out by excessive rent hikes

Looking ahead 2018, I see more exciting policy achievements in 2018. And I see the election of a young, hope-filled, African American mayor to lead our city – someone who will inspire, serve and work side by side with our diverse and dynamic residents.

Throughout California, I see us taking our positive vision of corporate-free progressive politics to the next level, with candidates like Jovanka Beckles running for Assembly District 15, and Gayle McLaughlin running for California Lt. Governor. If in 2017 #MeToo was the courageous rallying cry of women stepping out from the shadows of sexual harassment, next year I hope it represents the empowerment of more and more women as they run for political office – and win.

Nationally, I expect to see the progressive revolution continue to build as we head towards this fall. As Collier Meyerson pointed out in The Nation, this past November Bernie Sanders/ Our Revolution candidates won 27 of 59 races in which the organization made endorsements. So although one might say the Democrats did well during the off-year election, it’s more accurate to say that progressives did well.

And that makes me inspired and ready to fight in 2018.

Thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder with me me in the struggle! This is the year to step it up: to join an RPA Action Team, make a (more generous) donation, come to our upcoming membership meeting, or apply to serve on the Steering Committee. Together as one, we are making another Richmond possible!

- Michelle Chan