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Richmond, CA 94805

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The recent spate of hostile acts
Message from Mayor McLaughlin
October 19, 2011


Dear Friends,

I appreciate this chance to share my perspectives about the recent spate of hostile acts against the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), Councilmember Jeff Ritterman, Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, and me. While these attacks have become increasingly aggressive in word, tone, and gesture, I want us all to view these attacks in the larger context of the important advancements our grassroots progressive movement has achieved - and the many struggles that remain in our community.

In 2003, the RPA began from humble origins - a group of friends and neighbors who shared progressive values gathered around a dining room table to brainstorm ideas for positive change in Richmond. From there, the alliance grew, attracting the interest and support of thousands of Richmond residents, from all political parties, from all cultures and walks of life, who shared in our common vision of building a city where everyone can be empowered and involved in the decisions of a democratic system.

In a very short time, the RPA and its supporters have contributed to the first steps of amazing transformations in our city. The RPA helped to organize the community's demands for fair taxation from Chevron, for open space for our shorelines, for clean air, for better schools and no casinos, for respect and fairness for the immigrant community, and for rejecting corporate money in elections. From our minority on the City Council, Jovanka Beckles, Jeff Ritterman and I have promoted policies that reflect the vision of the great majority of Richmond residents who want to elevate the economic and environmental health of our city.

Challenging the status quo always invites resistance. Hostile attacks against the RPA and the candidates it supports for public office are nothing new. We have never been deterred by the poison arrows shot at us by powerful special interests (and their operatives). Industrial polluters, land speculators, and casino developers may have deep pockets to sway public opinion, but the RPA and others have demonstrated that the power of democratic ideals can triumph over the forces of greed.

The intensity and viciousness of recent attacks from a few misguided individuals speak to the fear and anxiety of those who cling to "business as usual." You only need to watch our City Council meetings on our local KCRT television station to see this unbecoming performance unfold. Name-calling and hate speech are cruel and hurtful - but make no mistake - we will never allow these detestable tactics to derail our momentum toward social justice and transparent government. While it is deeply disappointing to see individuals, who I once saw as allies and as part of our progressive efforts, now playing a reactionary role in Richmond politics - either from a seat on the City Council or from the public podium - it only strengthens my resolve to further our progressive work.

My support for Councilmembers Jovanka Beckles and Jeff Ritterman is unwavering. While we don't agree on every single issue that comes before us, we stand united as individuals, along with all our RPA colleagues and principled political people everywhere, who base our politics on a critical reflection on human values and principles. We stand united in our understanding that our attention must be focused on the actions of our biggest adversaries -- those mega-corporations that place a higher value on their profits than on the needs of people. A profound example of this is the current attempt by Chevron to get a 150 million dollar refund on their property taxes from the County and the City of Richmond.

Although we believe there is a place for responsible corporations to contribute and to do good business in our city, we, in the RPA, hold strongly to the principle of opposing corporate domination. We show it, among other ways, by not taking a single dime from corporations for election campaigns. And we are not alone -- we see many at this critical juncture in history who are grasping this principle. The Occupy Wall Street Movement, that is taking place across the country, understands clearly that we are the 99 percent, as opposed to the richest 1 percent that have gained those riches at the expense of everyone else through this system of corporate domination. We applaud this movement and stand with it.

So, in closing, I want you all to know that I, as Mayor and as a member of the RPA, remain deeply committed to working closely with each and every one of you to build the kind of democratic community we all deserve. Our progressive transformation of Richmond is still in its infancy. Given the unprecedented challenges faced by our families, businesses, and neighborhoods, we must redouble our efforts to be champions of truth, justice, and civility.

Join us in building a Better Richmond. Get involved in the RPA or one of many other local organizations that is striving to "become the change we want to see." Visit the RPA at the wonderful new office in downtown Richmond (1021 Macdonald Avenue).   -   (510) 595-4661.

My best,

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin

Contact Information:

Gayle McLaughlin for Mayor 2010
PO Box 5284
Richmond CA 94805
Phone: (510) 237-1456
317 11th Street (must access 11th Street from Nevin)
PO Box 5284,  Richmond, CA 94805
(510) 237-1456   •
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