RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #80July 28, 2012

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B-MOER Supports Sugar Tax
Feeding the Grassroots
1% vs. 99% on State Ballot
Yes on 30 Tax Wealthy
No on 32 Phony Populism
Council Limits Money in Politics
Nutiva Jobs in Richmond
Council Runs Smoothly
Jefferson Award
Get Facts on Sugary Drinks
Healthcare Movie
Vermont Healthcare Richmond Discussion
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1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260

Blacks, Mobilizing, Organizing and Educating Richmond 




B-MOER The Richmond-based organization, Blacks, Mobilizing, Organizing and Educating Richmond (B-MOER), endorses the FIT for LIFE Sugary Drinks TAX ballot measures.


Every year obesity kills more people in Richmond than those killed by homicides. Sugary Drinks are responsible for 20% of all the excessive weight gain by the US population between 1997 and 2007.


Nicole Valentino a member of B-MOER stated: "These ballot measures are part of the community's response to the serious health challenges facing our youth - including the childhood obesity epidemic we are suffering in Richmond. More than half of our African American children in Richmond are obese or overweight and they are carrying the dire consequences of obesity into adulthood. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma are rampant diseases in our community and we must do something to start saving the children now"


B-MOER believes that as taxes on cigarettes succeeded in reducing consumption of tobacco the 'sugary drinks' ballot measures will begin the process of reduction of excessive consumption of sugary drinks.


"We have turned our face away from the problem and ignored it for too long. It is time to act" added Richard Boyd, another member of B-MOER .


B-MOER endorses the ballot measures in part because they support the shared desire to get our children moving. When passed by the voters, it will provide funds to create increased opportunities for youth organized sports.


Jovanka Beckles
Councilmember Jovanka Beckles

Jovanka Beckles, a councilmember and a founding member of B-MOER said "Only a relatively small portion of our Richmond African American children practice organized sports. We need to reverse that and we need to have the funds to create more sport fields to offer support to the clubs, to subsidize registration fees and to expand the educational services offered to those practicing sports"


Ultimately, this is a great opportunity to educate the African American community about healthy living and the consequences of unhealthy living - childhood obesity being one of them. It is a great opportunity to mobilize in defense of our community, and our children in particular. They are after all, the victims who are under attack by those pushing BIG SODA for profit and disregarding our rights to a healthy future.

We invite the community to support the sugary drinks ballot measures and to VOTE Yes! this November to give our kids a healthy chance.

Feeding the grass roots

Progressive Ideas for Richmond
Progressive Ideas for Richmond
In some ways sugar and money are similar.  The human body needs sugar for energy and life.  But massive quantities of sugar are toxic.

While massive amounts of money in politics create a toxic political system,  some money is vitally necessary for  printed material, postage to communicate ideas in a truly democratic election.  

On July 21 we had a wonderful fundraising party for two great candidates.  Speeches were short but inspirational:  In addition to Eduardo Martinez and Marilyn Langlois,  Council members Jovanka Beckeles and Jeff Ritterman and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin spoke.  Pitchman Michael Beer compared our party to those of the Richmond REGRESSIVE Alliance: "They just collect money--they don't need to have fun."  Andres Soto and Alta provided Latin Jazz.

1 % vs 99% on State Ballot  


RPA Activist Logo Two measures on the November State ballot are about the domination of wealth in our government. Proposition 30 requires that the wealthy pay more to maintain education and other crucial state services.  


The RPA urges a YES vote on 30. On the same ballot is a measure that will weaken the power of unions while maintaining and increasing the power of wealth in politics. The RPA urges a NO vote on 32. We believe that both the Yes on 30 and the No on 32 are two parts of the same fight and should be waged together against the massive corporate money on the other side.

  Yes on 30: Tax the Wealthy to Fund Education

 RPA Activist Logo

We strongly supported the Millionaires Tax measure. The campaign for the Millionaires Tax forced Governor Brown to modify his Tax proposal. This compromise that is on the ballot raises 90 % of new funds through an increase in taxes on the wealthy. It's main drawbacks are that the of one percent sales tax increase clouds the issue and that the tax increase on the wealthy is only temporary.  


None-the less, Proposition 30 represents an important step in reestablishing the idea that the wealthy should pay more for education and other vital state services.


In Richmond there has been a of talk about the burden of regressive taxes on poor and working people. Public education is being strangled. This is our chance to shift the burden of taxes and defend our educational system.  


Click here to download full flyer that shows how money is to be spent.  Versions in  English and Spanish 


RPA Activist Logo  


Richmond Council says 

NO on 32:  STOP the Political Power Grab 


RPA Activist Logo This measure pretends to be even-handed in "stopping special interests."

In fact it is designed to destroy unions' ability to raise money for political purposes. It  forbids unions from negotiating payroll deduction as a means of collecting funds and requires members to sign yearly individual authorizations It creates red tape to effectively prevent unions from raising money for political campaigns. No similar restrictions are put in place for corporations and some types of profit making enterprises are not even covered. The Richmond City Council voted at the last meeting to strongly oppose 32. 


Not What It Seems
Not What It Seems

Although this measure would prohibit unions and corporations from making   any contributions to candidates, they can give to Political Action Committees which do campaigning. It prevents unions from raising money but does not prevent corporations from spending money in politics.


We have to start challenging the notions that unions are "special interests." Corporations have large resources at the disposal of a few people. They spend the money of their stockholders and customers on politics as they wish. Unions are working people pooling their resources to act together. Their leaders are elected and responsible to their members.


We say this despite the fact that in previous elections far more union money has been spent in attacking the RPA candidates than in supporting them. And we acknowledge that unions are far from perfect- many have tolerated corruption or have leaders who have lost their connection to their labor movement roots or abused their power. But these problems pale  compared to the abuse of the economy through corporate corruption. Unions are subject to control by their members who can elect new leaders or change union policies. Corporations do not have to answer to their customers and to most of their shareholders.


Unions are the largest counterweight to the power of corporations in this society and they have been greatly weakened over the past several decades. This ballot measure is an attempt to kill them politically and they must be defended if we have hope for democratic control in this society. No on 32.

--Mike Parker 


Council addresses money in politics.


The council voted for two measures to counter the influence of money in Richmond politics. First is a change in our the city ordinance to cap the amount of money a candidate can raise ($40,000) if she/he is to get matching funds from the city. With maximum matching funds this would allow a candidate to spend $65,000 on a campaign. Candidates could raise more that $40,000 but the city would not provide any matching funds.   This provision helps level the field for candidates and encourages new candidates who do not have access to wealthy donors.


Second the Council passed on first reading an ordinance to reduce conflict of interest in decisions that come before the council. The ordinance, introduced by Tom Butt, applies state conflict of interest rules covering agencies and staff to elected city officers.


Basically it covers both council members and members of the public. Councilmembers  who receive more than $250 contributions from a party in the last year cannot participate in a decision that involves financial gain and loss for that donor.


Contributors of more than $250 are required to make public the fact of their contribution if they are financially involved in a matter before the council.  

The ordinance provides that contributions can be returned when situations arise to avoid conflict of interest. There are penalties if the ordinance is knowingly violated. Competitive bid contracts and collective bargaining agreements are not covered. 


See Robert Rogers article in Contra Costa Times  for more information 




Attracted by City's Green Reputation 

RPA Activist Logo New Jobs in Richmond


On Tuesday the City Council recognized Nutiva , a distributor of hemp, coconut and chia foods that is relocating to Richmond . The company cited proximity to the port, space availability, and the emphasis of the city on healthy food, and green economy as factors that attracted it to Richmond. 


A job fair will be held on Monday, August 6th from 12-4 PM at the company's new location at 213 W. Cutting Blvd (1/2 mile east of Canal Blvd). Open positions include:  production/warehouse staff, maintenance, customer service, sales, accounting, and administrative positions The company expects to be hiring warehouse and packaging jobs in the fall.


Council meeting runs smoothly 

RPA Activist Logo It is unfortunate commentary on recent council meetings that "running smoothly" is news

The last council meeting 7/24 did run fairly smoothly. Mayor McLaughlin reiterated the rules for orderly meetings (see below). Most of the Council members cooperated by keeping comments short and on the subject under discussion and not responding to real or perceived personal criticisms. The Council covered a lot of important business including two measures to help reduce the influence of money in politics. See the meeting in streaming video. 


RPA Statement


An RPA statement was read at the meeting:   


At the last few council meetings, and in emails circulated this last week, a number of negative and untrue statements have been made about what is in the newsletter of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.


We will not try to answer them here or for that matter in the newsletter because for the most part the newsletter focuses on positive things that Richmond residents can do to improve our city and the economic, social, health, and cultural context of Richmond. You can judge for yourself by googling "RPA Richmond ". You can subscribe to our newsletter at no charge

All of our past newsletters can be seen by going to the archives section.


The RPA is an all volunteer organization of Richmond residents who believe that a better Richmond is possible if the community mobilizes together to fight for its interests rather than accept the domination of large corporations and developers that buy political influence and divide the community.



Mayor McLaughlin's note to the public at Council meetings:


RPA Activist Logo I wanted to share with you some basic rules of the City Council (not new rules, but rules already in existence).  It is my responsibility and duty to keep the meetings moving forward in an efficient and orderly way.


The following paragraph is from our City Council Rules of Procedure and Order:


Duties of Mayor At City Council Meetings


The mayor shall preside at the meetings of the Council and shall preserve strict order and decorum at all regular and special meetings of the Council. The mayor shall state every question coming before the Council and announce the decision of the Council on all subjects, and decide all questions of order. The mayor has final say on all rules, subject to being overturned by a majority of the City Council.


In terms of how our City Council must operate in terms of our discussions, here are some basic rules (from our current rules):


1.     Council members need to be recognized by the chair before they speak and that includes before asking a question of staff or public speakers at the podium.


2.     Council members are expected to speak on topic or motion. The chair's job is to keep the meeting on topic and to move it along. If someone goes off topic, it is my responsibility to  remind him/her of the topic .If off-topic speech continues, it is my responsibility to rule the person out of order and move on.


3.     The chair has the obligation/right to interrupt someone who has the floor to deal with a procedural question or one of order. So when the chair intervenes on such a matter (such as saying: Please return to the topic under discussion, which is Item such-and-such), it is incumbent on the council member to stop talking to hear from the chair.


It is my desire to keep our city council meetings as orderly as possible so that we can address the issues and business of our city and our community.


Mayor McLaughlin



Richmond Municipal Code

2.12.020 - Decorum.

(a)By Councilmember. While the City Council is in session, a Councilmember must preserve order and decorum. No Councilmember shall by conversation or otherwise delay or interrupt the proceedings or the peace of the City Council, disturb any Councilmember while speaking, or refuse to obey the Mayor.


(b)Other persons. Any person who addresses the City Council shall confine his remarks to the matter which is then before the City Council, avoiding indecorous language. Any person who fails to confine himself or herself to the business before the City Council, who becomes boisterous while addressing the Council, who delays or interrupts the proceedings or peace of the City Council, who refuses to obey the Mayor shall be barred from further addressing the City Council at the same meeting unless permission to continue is granted by a majority of the City Council.  


2.12.030 - Enforcement of decorum.

The Chief of Police shall be ex officio sergeant- at-arms of the City Council. He shall carry out all orders and instructions given him by the Mayor for the purpose of maintaining order and decorum in the Council chamber. Any person in the audience who uses loud, boisterous or profane language at a City Council meeting, or any person who interrupts the proceedings of the Council or who refuses to maintain silence or to take a seat when ordered to do so by the Mayor, or any person who by any other action willfully disturbs or disrupts the proceedings of the Council shall, upon order of the Mayor, be removed from the Council chamber by any police officer present.  

Working with homeless through Saffron Strand

Yvonne Nair wins Jefferson Award for Public Service

 Yvonne Nair

The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. They began in 1972 to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Today, their primary purpose is to serve as a "Call to Action for Volunteers" in local communities.   See the story and video here.  


Well deserved, and congratulations Yvonne. 

 Fit-for-LifeGet the Facts.

Every week new studies come out about the dangers of large quantities of sugar.


Every week more experts tell us of the urgency to act to protect our kids.


See the latest on the Fit-for-Life website In the News

El Monte joins Richmond, becomes second California city to propose soda tax

By Robert Rogers Contra Costa Times 7/26/12contracostatimes.com

The City of El Monte's City Council unanimously voted to put a soda tax measure on the November ballot at their meeting July 24.


With this vote, El Monte becomes the second city in California, after Richmond, to propose taxing soda and other sugary drinks as a way to counter their unprecedented childhood obesity crisis. El Monte has the ninth highest rate of childhood overweight and obesity out of 250 cities in California, according to a recent study released by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA)


Overweight and obesity affect more than half (50.2 percent) of the children in the city of El Monte.Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of CCPHA says that the rate is shocking and significantly higher than the overall state rate of childhood obesity of 38 percent. As a consequence California is seeing a dramatic rise in chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which cost the state an estimated $41 billion a year.


"If we are serious about curbing childhood obesity, we have to start with the biggest culprit. Soda and other sugary drinks are the leading contributor to the obesity epidemic. A tax on soda is a smart strategy to raise needed funds for cash-strapped cities such as El Monte and, at the same time, protect children's health," says Goldstein.  


As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the health of Californians, CCPHA has played a major role in uncovering the role soda and other sugary drinks play in the obesity epidemic.


Visit the CCPHA website at: publichealthadvocacy.org.

The Healthcare Movie

Richmond  Discussion of Progressive Politics in Vermont  

Learn From Vermont's Single-Payer Struggle     The Jobs-with-Justice affiliated Vermont Workers' Center (VWC) achieved a major breakthrough last year when the Vermont legislature began the process of building a state-level single payer health care system. On Aug. 11-12, VWC leaders James Haslam, Amy Lester and Anisa Potvin will be in the Bay Area to discuss lessons from Vermont's "Healthcare is a Human Right" campaign and the obstacles and challenges to single-payer implementation in Vermont that still lie ahead.


VWC supporters Suzanne Gordon and Steve Early will host a party, fundraiser, and informal discussion with Vermont Workers' Center activists in Richmond. Come learn more about Vermont's universal healthcare breakthrough, what the national healthcare industry is doing to block fundamental reform, and how Californians can assist this struggle, while fighting for single payer here.   The related work of the Vermont Progressive Party will also be discussed. (Click here


VWC Benefit Party: Saturday, August 11, from 6-9 pm at 747 Lobos Avenue, Richmond, CA. 94801


No minimum donation. For more information or directions, call Steve Early at 617-930-7327 or email him at Lsupport@aol.com

RPA Activist LogoWant to fight  politics dominated by money? The only alternative is that we do the work.  

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Come in or call and tell us what you are willing to do.
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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 author, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Mike Parker, 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