As this year draws to a close, I want
to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!
2011 was a dynamic year in the City
of Richmond. We have taken many important
positive steps over the course of this
year from disallowing a casino at Pt.
Molate to standing for freedom of expression
by supporting the Gompers students' mural;
from welcoming Lawrence Berkeley National
Lab to Richmond to fostering worker-owned
cooperatives as an economic strategy;
from opposing corporate personhood to
embracing the Precautionary Principle.
Through a unanimous approval of a Municipal
ID for all Richmond residents, the City
Council displayed unity in our understanding
of the importance of providing services
and protection to all people in our city,
including those who lack other forms
of identification, such as our immigrant
and homeless communities.
We have furthered our health and environmental
initiatives throughout the year in many
ways. For example, we launched the Richmond
Recovery Solar Rebate (R3) program, which
offers solar and energy efficiency rebates
to homeowners, and provides jobs for
local graduates of our green job training
academy. Community groups have helped
us beautify our neighborhoods and promote
a healthier Richmond with the planting
of new trees and growing of community
gardens, and we held our first Urban
Agriculture Summit, which has led to
the creation of a Richmond Food Policy
Council to explore ways of accessing
healthier food for our community.
We have seen our community unify and
mobilize around the need for more athletic
fields by forming a new coalition called
SAFE (Safe Athletic Fields for Education),
and most recently, the City Council has
approved putting a Soda Tax measure on next
November's ballot to discourage child
obesity and fund sports fields and anti-obesity
programs. To read a great article on
the Soda Tax issue published in Richmond
Pulse, a youth-led media project focused
on health problems in Richmond, click
with community and faith-based groups,
we have developed new violence prevention
strategies, and we have "Banned
the Box" on City employment applications
so that applicants no longer have to
check a box stating whether they have
ever been convicted of a crime, thus
providing real second chances and setting
an example for private employers.
Keep in mind that this is just a sampling
of the many steps we have taken this
year! I will be presenting my State
of the City Address in late January (further
details to follow) and will be elaborating
more extensively on these accomplishments
and many more.
I'd like to end this New Year's message
with a very special thank you to everyone
who has worked so hard this past year
for real progressive change in our City.
According to Time Magazine, 2011 was
the year of the protester. In Richmond,
we understand the importance of protests.
Whether it be through protesting Chevron's
outrageous appeal of their property taxes
or through protesting the devastating
foreclosure crisis of the big banks,
our community has made its voice heard
time and again this year...and these
efforts and all our efforts to build
a progressive Richmond have been enhanced
by the birth of the Occupy Movement,
which has spread throughout our country
and the globe in recent months. Our
shared desire for a more equitable society
for the 99 percent unites us unequivocally. As
we close out 2011, a ground-breaking
year if there ever was one, let's celebrate
this beautiful quest that has united
so many of us around the world in 2011,
and let's bring in the New Year with
a renewed appreciation of the awe-inspiring
history we are making.
Happy New Year everyone!
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
PS - Please check out http://mayorgayle.net/press.html to
view some of the many news articles about
our progressive work in Richmond!