RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #83August 7, 2012

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Rally at 5:30 today
RPA Statement on Chevron Fire
Support Chief Magnus

 To have an item listed send it to

Progressive Office
1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260
Chevron Community Meeting  today  6 pm at Municipal Auditorium
Rally called by APEN  and endorsed by other groups including RPA at 5:30 in Civic Center Plaza.

Richmond Progressive Alliance  Statement  

Chevron Explosions and Fire


Chevron Fire We are glad that there were no direct serious injuries from the blast and the fire. The long term damage to people is yet to be determined and likely to be serious. We thank the emergency personnel for the job they did in containing what might have been an even more serious disaster.


Some questions require immediate answers:

  1. When will we have a complete list of toxic chemicals that were in the smoke from the fire and flares that blanketed our community for many hours?
  2. What symptoms should be looked for besides respiratory problems?
  3. If people have respiratory problems or other symptoms, where can they get immediate medical attention?
  4. How will medical bills be paid?
  5. What about compensation for lost work or damage to property?

Safety must come first. We do not have to accept that these things just happen, "like tornadoes and floods." There are serious questions about whether Chevron makes safety its highest priority. During the last contract negotiations Chevron opposed union proposals for more trained people devoted to safety tasks. In fact Chevron made plans to use workers inexperienced with the Richmond refinery to keep operating if negotiations broke down.


The warning system needs much improvement. The cost of improvements and maintenance must be borne by Chevron.


Our property tax system pays for county medical and emergency services. Chevron's efforts to get a massive refund on their property tax threatens these services and shows that Chevron does not recognize the costs its operation imposes on us. Chevron must drop these appeals immediately as a first step to becoming a good neighbor.


If BART and buses cannot run, then there must be alternative housing or transportation for people left stranded. Chevron must absorb costs for these preparations.


Heavier crude oil contains more known and unknown toxic pollutants which are released in accidents like this. The cracking of heavier crude requires more energy and higher temperatures increasing the probability of explosions. Chevron's plans to use dirtier, heavier crude was the issue in the last Chevron expansion plans and continues to be an issue in the current expansion plans. We want jobs with safety first at the Refinery.


It is up to the City Council to protect its residents.   As long as we must refine fossil fuels, Richmond should take the lead in making sure that refining in Richmond leads in safety procedures. Should we have Councilmembers like Nat Bates who take campaign money and assistance from Chevron and its political front groups in charge of protecting us in this vital area?   Candidates Eduardo Martinez and Marilyn Langlois take no contributions from Chevron or any other corporation. They are loyal only to Richmond.


While it is step forward for Chevron to call a community meeting, we think the timing shows a lack of understanding of the Richmond community. It's unfortunate that Chevron chose to hold its town hall meeting at 6pm, during our National Night Out event that neighborhood groups have been planning for months. It could have been scheduled for 4pm or 9pm (or both to accommodate more people) out of respect for the community members who are working together to reduce crime.  National Night Out is important in Richmond.


We hope this is not another Chevron scripted PR event but that community questions are answered directly and fully.


We know some questions may take more time to get answers: We support Mayor McLaughlin's call for full independent investigation and transparency to determine both causes and what can be done to make this refinery as safe as possible. When we live with a potential bomb in our community, we cannot accept that information is protected by "proprietary interests" and "trade secrets." There also must be discussion about what Chevron can do to repay the community.

--RPA Steering Committee


 One More Important Reason to Turn out Thursday  

Support Chief Magnus
he debate about building more jails is heating up.  The Sheriff is campaigning hard  to spend the $19 million dollars of state "realignment" money on building new jails.    

Police Chief Chris Magnus  who represents County Law enforcement officials on the over-site commission (CCP) has circulated a powerful letter to County Law Enforcement explaining why the old jail system is broken. (Excerpts below).  But now there are rumors that supporters of Sheriff  are now trying to  push Chief Magnus out of the CCP

It is critical that we have a powerful showing at the demonstration on Thursday not only to pressure the County Board of Supervisors but to let the political forces know that there is strong backing for Chief Magnus and his views on using resources to deal with the real problems.  Invest in People Not Prisons   

 The CCP meeting starts early and there will be a press conference at 7:50am outside 50 Douglas Drive in Martinez.   

Buses leave promptly from St. Marks Church (Harbor Way below Macdonald) and New Hope Missionary Baptist Church (321 Alamo Ave in North Richmond) PROMPTLY at 7:15 am Thursday 


Excerpts of letter from Chief Magnus:  

Dear Fellow Chiefs and Sheriff:


One of the themes I have heard repeatedly from the start of the realignment process moving forward is that whatever system we develop at the County level to deal with realignment offenders not simply be a duplication of the failed corrections system at the State level.  I think we are all aware of the outrageously high rate of recidivism among individuals coming out of prison and the general lack of resources in our communities when it comes to programs and services that might change this, including education and employment services, housing, mental health and substance abuse services, and overall community support.


I fully appreciate the Sheriff's concerns about holding dangerous individuals in secure detention, but a very large group of offenders currently held in County detention facilities are there awaiting trial--they haven't been found guilty of anything yet--and in many cases, the only thing separating them from other individuals who are out on bail awaiting trial is lack of financial resources to post bail.  In addition, many of these individuals are not in jail awaiting trial for violent crimes and could potentially be eligible for other forms of pre-trial supervision, including ankle monitoring and home detention. 


Clearly, one of the things we desperately need in Contra Costa County is BAIL REFORM.  We need better tools to assess the relative risk of individuals who are potentially eligible for bail--the kind of risk assessment tools that have been used elsewhere in our state and around the country to better determine who needs to stay in Jail because of their danger to the community, versus who could safely be released in most cases.  This is not just a matter of enhanced community safety, it is a matter of reducing costs.  Keeping low-risk pre-trial inmates in jail is incredibly costly--and it means bed space may not be available for the people we really want there because of the dangers they pose to others.


The Sheriff mentioned the issue of "Secure Communities," the federal program that involves local governments working closely with ICE to identify and assist in the deportation process of non-documented individuals.  What he did not say was that there are many local government and law enforcement leaders around the country who do not support this program and who believe it directly hinders their ability to do effective community policing within their diverse communities.  They also believe that immigration enforcement is a federal, not local law enforcement responsibility.  In addition to the legal distinctions that separate federal, state, and local law enforcement, perhaps the most salient point is that there is no federal funding for local governments to perform this function.


Chris Magnus  


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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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