The Activist

Issue #244 04-02-2018

In this issue:
RPA endorses Willis, Martinez & Recinos for 2018!
RPA Membership elects new Steering Committee
Richmond at a crossroads for affordable housing
4/9: Public banking and student debt forum
Bring Pt. Molate out from behind closed doors
Richmond honored as a Transformative City
4/15: Gayle's new book launch
ACCE is hiring!
4/28: Save the date for Nina Turner

RPA endorses Willis, Recinos & Martinez for 2018

MAE.pngAt its March 31, 2018 membership meeting, the RPA enthusiastically voted to endorse Melvin Willis for Richmond Mayor, and Eduardo Martinez and Ada Recinos for City Council.

Melvin Willis, Richmond’s current Vice Mayor, announced his intention to run in December and will be running against Mayor Tom Butt. Three Council seats are also up in November: those of Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Ada Recinos.  Jovanka is not seeking re-election in order to focus on her bid for Assembly District 15.

The vote occurred a few weeks after an RPA candidates night, during which RPA members had a chance to meet and get to know several candidates who were seeking the RPA’s endorsement. All candidates seeking endorsement were also asked to fill out a questionnaire and confirm that they would reject corporate campaign donations – the only “bright line” requirement of RPA electoral endorsement.

The RPA is thrilled to back such inspiring candidates with progressive values. Melvin, Eduardo and Ada’s campaigns will take a lot of work by the candidates and the campaign committees, and you can help starting now!

  • Please considering personally endorsing these great candidates. Email to TeamRichmond18@gmail.com. Include your name as you would like to be listed, and any identification you would like with your name. (If you list an organization it will be noted as “Organizations for identification purposes only”). Also please specifically state the names of the candidates you are endorsing; for example: I endorse Melvin Willis for Mayor and Ada Recinos and Eduardo Martinez for City Council. List me as “Sally Activist, teacher” (or Richmond Resident, or union, or name of organization.)
  • If you would like to help in other ways, email us at the address above and give us your phone number
  • Consider meeting Ada Recinos at a houseparty hosted at the home of Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon on Saturday, April 21 from 2-6pm (747 Lobos Ave). RSVP to Steve.

Membership votes in a new Steering Committee

On March 31, the RPA membership voted in its new slate of Steering Committee members, and also amended the organization’s bylaws to have Steering Committee members serve two-year terms.

The new steering committee is comprised of (bios can be found here):

Jovanka Beckles, Richmond City Councilmember

Porschea Brown, RPA Rep, Lift Up Contra Costa Coalition

Michelle Chan, Recording Secretary

Ruscal Cayangyang, Finance and Governance committee

Chris Broglio, Office Committee Chair

Peter Chau, Schools Action Team

Millie Cleveland, SEIU Union Field Representative, Elections and Campaign Committee

Malia Everette, Co-Chair; Agenda Setting, Governance & Finance, Membership Committee

Michael Gliksohn, Treasurer, and Finance and Governance Committee Chair

Alyssa Kang, CNA Representative, Membership Standing Committee

Kabir Kapur, Membership Committee and The Sun

Marilyn Langlois, RPA representative on the Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition and Reentry Solutions Group

Paul Larudee, Fundraising Committee

Mike Parker, Schools Action Team, Agenda Setting Committee, Elections and Campaign Committee, and Fundraising Committees  

Juan Reardon, Sister Alliances Action Team

Ada Recinos, Richmond City Council

David Sharples, ACCE Representative, Fundraising Committee

Carlos Taboada, Schools Action Team

Diana Wear, Chair, SC Development Committee; Membership Committee

BK Williams, Co-chair, Agenda Committee, and Richmond Rainbow Pride

Melvin Willis, Richmond City Council

Sue Wilson, Chair, Communications

Big thanks to the Nominating Committee, which reviewed dozens of applications and conducted many interviews. The 2018-2020 RPA Steering Committee is comprised of an equal number of men and women, and 60 percent people of color.

Richmond affordable housing at a crossroads

housing.jpgForces are coalescing at the state, county and city levels supporting the building of affordable housing. We are at a crossroads in terms of affordable housing; now is the time to build a community based on inclusiveness and diversity. 

On the state level, the legislature passed several bills that would support affordable housing, including one last year that would impose a $75 fee on certain real estate transactions documents (such as deeds and notices, up to a cap of $225 per transaction). These fees are projected to generate between $200 to $300 million annually for support affordable housing. In addition, this November, there will be a statewide affordable housing bond on the ballot aimed to generate $4 billion for affordable housing programs, infill infrastructure projects and the veterans’ homeownership. On the county level, CCC Supervisor John Goia has been working on getting a countywide affordable housing bond on the ballot in 2020, similar to the ones that Alameda ($580 million) and Santa Clara ($950 million) counties passed last year. 

With more affordable housing revenue on the horizon, it is imperative that Richmond be prepared and well-positioned to get its fair share. For example, revenue raised by any County affordable housing bond are slated to go to cities that demonstrate that they are ready and willing to build the housing. Unfortunately, the City currently does not have much staff expertise and capacity to attract or promote new affordable housing development -- and this is where we need all of you to make your voice heard. We need you to help us urge the City to think big, in tens of thousands of units, not just a few hundred. 

Tentatively, the Housing Action Team will be presenting a study session before the City Council on Tuesday, April 24.  Please mark your calendars and watch this space for more details!

Finally, the HAT is working on a number of other projects, including an effort to transform abandoned housing into affordable housing; pressuring the West Contra Costa Unified School District to stop dragging their feet on a teacher housing project; and studying ways to encourage homeowners to take advantage of new laws designed to make it easier for people to build Accessory Dwelling Units (in-law units, one of the cheapest ways to provide affordable housing). If you are interested in joining this Action Team, the HAT meets every third Saturday 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (2450 MacDonald Way)

- Nancy Combs, Chair, Housing Action Team

4/9: Public banks and student debt

PublicBanks.jpegPublic hold public dollars, such as taxes and fees, to keep money local so it serves the public interest, instead of giving it to Wall Street banks who charge high fees and interest rates. There is only one public bank so far in the United States, the Bank of North Dakota, which has been in operation for almost 100 years.

However, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the recent malfeasance of big banks like Wells Fargo, there is now a vibrant movement to create more public banks in the U.S. at the city and state level.  Locally, Oakland is making serious strides by taking the lead on a public bank feasibility study, which should be out this year. Alameda County, Berkeley and Richmond have all chipped in to help Oakland fund this study. And last May, the Richmond City Council voted on a resolution to support Oakland’s efforts to create a public bank; direct the Richmond City Manager to investigate the possibility of forming a mutually beneficial partnership; and consider, if Oakland’s initial feasibility study yields positive results, providing funds for a future business plan.

Advocates around the country are getting galvanized around the idea public banks for different reasons – a way to take one’s money out of big banks that fund the fossil fuel industry, as a potential source for local business, as a money-saver for cities, or providing financial services to the legal (but difficult to bank) cannabis industry. Another big potential benefit: it could help to relieve the burden of student debt that so many of us are struggling with.

Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland, the RPA and others will be hosting a student debt forum on Monday, April 9. CA lieutenant governor candidate Gayle McLaughlin will be the featured speaker at this free event, which is open to all.

Student Debt Community Forum
Monday, April 9, at 7pm
Whittlesey Community Room at
Richmond Public Library – Main Branch
325 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA  94804

Bring Pt. Molate out from behind closed doors

ptmolate.jpgWhat happens with Pt. Molate may well determine what kind of city Richmond becomes. It is a remarkable shoreline property owned by all the people of Richmond. We are entitled to have the major say in what it becomes, and any decision about the destiny of Pt. Molate should go through the established public planning process, not be quietly decided behind closed doors. 

Therefore, the RPA steering committee unanimously supports the city council proceeding with the promised community meetings on the future of Pt. Molate before further settlement negotiations with Jim Levine/Upstream, LLC. After the community meetings, if there are further settlement negotiations between the city and former Pt Molate casino developer, they will be in line with what the people of Richmond want for Pt Molate.

A City has a right to decide how it wants to develop, especially with an important public asset like Pt. Molate. Land use decisions should be determined publicly because they are critical to how a city develops, and for whom. In April, 2012, the City Council approved the 2030 General Plan under resolution 52-12 that included the provision that Pt. Molate’s future land uses be put to a public planning process so residents have the primary say in what happens there.

In September 2016, the city council voted to hold community meetings to fulfill this promise. They asked the Pt Molate Community Advisory Committee to work on the design of the community meetings with Planning Dept Director, Richard Mitchell, but Mayor Butt subsequently dissolved the citizen’s advisory committee.

To ensure that comprehensive and inclusive community meetings on Pt. Molate would occur, Council members Willis and Choi received a unanimous vote in November of last year to pursue the public meetings through another citizen’s advisory body, the Planning Commission. Willis and Choi’s agenda item directed the Commission to work with Mr. Mitchell to offer the scheduled community meetings to Richmond residents late this spring.   

At the start of 2018, the Planning Commission took up the charge and held a public hearing to how to do effective community outreach and organize comprehensive and accessible public planning meetings for Pt. Molate. However, not long afterwards Mayor Butt announced in his email posting that the city had reached a settlement agreement “in principle” with Jim Levine/Upstream, LLC, the proposed Pt Molate casino developer. 

Now, city council members are under intense pressure to approve a rushed settlement deal with Jim Levine, even though the strength of Levine’s lawsuit appears to be overblown. While there are various past studies on Pt. Molate to draw from, a publicly-vetted plan to fulfill the 2012 Council resolution has yet to be done. 

Let the City Council members know that any further settlement negotiations with Jim Levine/Upstream, or any other private developer, must be guided by an open public planning process that involves the people of Richmond. The future of this magnificent 400-acre public land on the SF Bay should not be decided by any backroom deal. Pt. Molate deserves to be looked at within Richmond’s overall future direction, including the kinds of development and community benefits Richmond residents need now and in the decades ahead.

 - Pt Molate Working Group

[Photo credit: Citizens for a Sustainable Pt. Molate]

Richmond honored by Transformative Cities

Untitled.pngIn case you missed it, Richmond was recently honored by the Transnational Institute, a Dutch-based international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world.

Their Transformative Cities project stresses that the award “is not a process where we are going to judge social movements, civil society organizations, citizens platforms or other groups,” but rather a process to “extract lessons can bring unique insights about how to set up transformative political practices, from the strategic to the tactical level.”

Richmond was honored because of what it has been able to achieve in terms of environmental accountability over Chevron, raising its local minimum wage, passing rent control and “by appointing a visionary gay police chief, greatly reduced local crime rates, including homicides, through successful community policing."

The jury particularly noted that “The hybrid RPA has been central to all this. As a membership organization, a coalition of community groups, and a key coordinator of grassroots education and citizen mobilization, it works on issues such as labour, immigrant rights, environmental justice, rent, police accountability, fair taxation of business, community health and environmental protection.”

Jackson, MS was another US city that was honored for its progressive elected officials and growing network of worker-owned cooperatives. Other inspiring stories included efforts in Accra, Ghana to stop the installation of pre-paid water meters, and a successful campaign by mill workers in Mumbai, India to ensure that a portion of land slated for luxury real estate development was reserved for workers’ housing.

4/15: Gayle's book launch

Join Gayle McLaughlin in launching her new book Winning Richmond: How a Progressive Alliance Won City Hall. The book is Gayle’s memoir of her 14-year career as an activist, city councilmember and mayor of Richmond.

Gayle will be signing books and singer/songwriter Patrick O’Malley will be performing. It promises to be a great time.

Steve Early’s provides a review and excerpt of the book in Counterpunch

On issues like promoting renewable energy or improving refinery safety, McLaughlin had, at most, only one reliable ally; when she was elected mayor in 2006, she was still the only Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) member on the council. “I was a working class person consciously representing the voices of many people living in a system dominated by the rich,” she writes. “One of the first things I realized was that I wasn’t going to get anything done without an organizing campaign on each issue.”


ACCE is hiring!

One of our favorite groups, ACCE is hiring! If you or someone know anyone who would be interested, please consider and/or pass it along…


Community outreach worker

This position is temporary and part time. Wage: $16 hr.

As a grassroots social justice community organization, ACCE's mission is to build the leadership of those most impacted by injustice and inequality, empowering them to become leaders and create change in their communities. By coming together and becoming active, ACCE leaders are driving innovative public policy solutions.

Community Canvasser Position: The Canvasser's responsibilities will be to engage in door-todoor and phone outreach. We provide paid training; experience is a plus but not necessary. Must be able to work evenings and weekends. Both outdoor and in-office work is required for this position. 

Job Requirements: • Excellent verbal communications skills. • Self-motivation

Preferred Skills: • Outgoing, enthusiastic and persuasive personality • Bilingual English Spanish a plus.  • Dependable vehicle a plus (Mileage reimbursed) • Basic computer skills, comfortable in Microsoft Office and with the web

How to apply: ACCE is an equal opportunity employer; LGBT, women, and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply. Please email a resume with three professional references—including at least one supervisor—to recruit-coco@calorganize.org

For any further inquiries, please contact David Sharples, (415) 377-9037.

4/28: Save the date for Nina Turner

No, not Tina Turner: Nina Turner. The amazing and fierce woman who is President of Bernie’s Our Revolution will be coming to town for an event with Jovanka on April 28.

Mark your calendars and keep an eye out for further details!