January 20 - 26, 2010
McLaughlin Delivers State of
the City Address
From the Globe News Desk
During the City Council meeting Tuesday night, Richmond Mayor
Gayle McLaughlin delivered her 2010 State of the City address.
The following is an excerpt from her speech:
“As we enter this new decade, the second decade of the 21st
century, we have much to reflect upon.
“Much hard work was done throughout 2009, and I thank all
who have worked hard and put forward incredible efforts, City
Council members, city staff and members of our wonderful community.
“A major accomplishment in this very busy year is certainly
the completion of our Civic Center revitalization project.
Our Gold LEED-certified buildings and plaza, laced with Richmond’s
incredible public art, has brought us well-deserved attention,
being recognized in architecture magazines and news reports
regionally and nationally. We are now able to experience the
benefits of being home here in the center of the city, with
easier access by our residents to visit and do business at
our City Hall.
“It’s important we analyze the state of our city in terms
of our successes and, of course, in terms of our ongoing challenges.
It is also important that we analyze our city challenges in
the context of the overall challenges faced by the state, the
nation and the global community. …
“In the year 2009, overall violent crime has slightly decreased,
but our city continues to be assailed by homicide. Forty-seven
lives were lost on Richmond streets last year. Additionally,
extremely cruel assaults involving young persons have pained
our residents and further hurt our city’s reputation.
“This is disheartening given that homicides in 2008 had been
cut almost in half. A lot of good efforts went into that dramatic
“The correlation between economic hardship and violent crime
has long been established and is inarguable. The higher the
unemployment rates in California and Richmond, the higher the
number of violent crimes and homicides.
“The current unemployment rates are the highest since the
Great Depression. This is compounded by the thousands of home
foreclosures taking place in Richmond, and the crisis in our
“When unemployment rates doubled as they did in 2009, it is
not surprising that violent crime and homicide also skyrocketed.
In 2009, the number of homicides in our city rose again to
what they were in 2007.
“Let us always remember that these statistics represent real
human lives and people loved, and mourned, by many.
“And let’s also be clear that the nationwide economic collapse
is not currently resolved nor will it be in the near future.
Furthermore, help from the federal and state government, which
was promised and to which we are entitled, is slow to arrive.
“Unfortunately, the money we need for jobs and education is
going to foreign wars for oil and to Wall Street bankers. It
costs $1 million a year to keep each soldier in Afghanistan
or Iraq. We could also solve many of our problems just with
the bonuses being paid with public money to Wall Street CEOs.
“As priorities at the national level continue to neglect our
communities, the responsibility for preventing violent crime
in Richmond rests more and more on our shoulders. We need to
continue the efforts that gave us the significant advances
of 2008, and to become more creative and more determined to
take them further, to use all the resources we have and to
garner all the resources needed to offer help, hope and employment
to our young Richmond residents.
“Clearly, we must double our efforts once again. And that
is precisely what we are doing. I am meeting with our police
chief, our Office of Neighborhood Safety director and others
to examine and review some new initiatives for reducing homicides.
We are both examining new initiatives and keeping up the effort
with projects and programs that are currently in place.
“For example, our police department is currently hiring eight
new police officers, thanks to CalGRIP funding. I was at the
swearing-in ceremony welcoming five of these new officers to
Richmond last week. More dispatchers have been hired, more
code enforcement officers, and more cadets and explorers have
come on board to help the RPD provide law enforcement services
for our neighborhoods.
“In 2009, our Office of Neighborhood Safety focused on re-entry
services for parolees. Given the massive numbers of parolees
that enter our streets monthly, this is essential work that
must continue. My office, along with community groups and other
city staff participated, in the Office of Neighborhood Safety
Advisory Committee until it was disbanded this year. We hope
to see a new community process whereby residents can continue
to give input to our ONS.
“A trauma center opened in Richmond. The Family Institute
of Richmond, temporarily located on 37th St., provides valuable
services for our residents. We also are in the beginning stages
of establishing a Family Justice Center in Richmond, based
on a collaborative of many community groups, our city and the
“We continue to provide the much needed healing that our community
needs through the Healing Circles of Hope project my office
supports. Outreach increased this past year. More support groups
were formed with trained facilitators. My office also continues
to participate in Frontline, Richmond’s wreath-laying vigils
for homicide victims. Healing is part of the human process,
without which anger and pain only continue to fester.
“A critical aspect of anti-violence work is the work to end
rape and hostility against women. We know that violence against
women continues in Richmond, as it does everywhere. Every nine
seconds in our country, a woman is sexually violated. We are
part of a society that needs to work harder at bringing forward
the kind of gender equality that elevates respect for women
and teaches our children and youth to build healthy personal
relationships. We also must build the kind of society that
encourages our youth and all our residents to speak out when
injustice occurs, whether that injustice occurs at a local
high school or in the greater society that has yet to bring
about an end to war, racism, sexism and massive income inequality.
“One of the greatest activities of the year occurred in October
2009. My office had the privilege of co-sponsoring the annual
Youth Stopping Violence Summit. This summit was organized by
our many and diverse youth groups, with SEAYL (SouthEast Asian
Youth Leaders) taking the lead.
“Our youth are leading in Richmond. We saw how students from
Richmond High and our other high schools stood strong in the
face of national media coverage attempting to characterize
all our youth and our entire community in light of the horrific
rape at Richmond High. Our youth refused to be stereotyped
and organized press conferences and vigils, saying loud and
clear, ‘We are the youth of Richmond, and this is our community.’
“I’m looking forward to some of these young leaders coming
on board our new youth commission in 2010 to help us identify
new youth projects for the city. We, as adults, stand for and
with our youth as a community that knows our value and our
“Together, we have clearly come a long way this past year,
in spite of economic difficulties. We are seeing our second-phase
Greenway project going forward; the Richmond Plunge is nearing
completion; Macdonald Avenue from Harbor Way to Richmond BART
is laced with a beautiful streetscape renovation; Carlson Avenue
reconstruction is underway; and work has begun on the historic
Winters Building for our renowned East Bay Center for the Performing
“We have taken great strides in 2009. Yet we must commit to
work harder than ever as we double our energies in 2010. We
have efforts underway that will make our burdens lighter. We
have the opportunity to pass the ‘End Chevron’s Perk’ ballot
measure, supported by every member of this City Council. Imagine
what $10 million to $15 million extra in the general fund will
do for us. Imagine a city-funded year-round employment program
broadening horizons and helping to ensure a future for 1,000
youth. When we remove perks for large corporations and require
them to pay their fair share of taxes, that’s exactly what
“Let’s remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when
he said, ‘No one can ride your back unless it’s bent.’ A community
is like a person. Just as a person must stand strong against
injustice, so too a community and a city must stand against
unfairness and injustice. Richmond will not bend its back;
we have the courage, the strength, the talent and the wisdom.
And we have the community willpower. … I look forward to a
great year ahead.”