Does Nat Bates Encourage Mark Wassberg?
At most Council meetings over the last year Mark Wassberg, also a candidate for Council, makes comments that are racist or homophobic. Frequently his remarks are admiring of Hitler's actions toward the Jews. He often uses vulgar language or gestures and yells out from audience.
Bates has not officially endorsed Wassberg. But Bates seems to be encouraging Wassberg in his "political" career. (See video --warning--offensive language.)
Wassberg's actions serve two functions for Bates. First, Wassberg can make the vicious attacks on the RPA while Bates poses as a "reasonable person" on the council. Second, Wassberg and the small group he sits with, who cheer each other and Bates and Booze, help create chaos in council chambers during meetings to make things difficult for Mayor McLaughlin. Bates then blames the chaos on McLaughlin.
City must take action
Integrity of City at Risk
Richmond has to act quickly to remove Leslie Knight as Human Resources Director/Assistant City Manager.
This is a serious, but necessary, action. The issues are not rumor, normal workplace conflicts, or an extension of some political struggle. The action is required based on the report of investigators selected by the City Manager, and paid for by the city. We do not need to know everything that was in the full thousand page report. The portion of the report that was released by the City Manager by itself calls for the action. Specifically it is clear that for some substantial period of time, Knight
Any one of these alone should be the basis for immediate dismissal.
What makes this behavior especially intolerable is that they were committed by the person who is supposed to be modeling behavior appropriate to city employees and who is in charge of interpreting and enforcing the rules.
Before the March 20 Council meeting City Manager Bill Lindsay had indicated that he did not think Knight should be fired, and Councilman Booze gave an interview indicating that he did not think the offenses were serious but more a "humanistic gesture."
At the Council meeting during Open Forum about 30 employees, and residents across political lines, supported by many more in the audience, spoke strongly demanding that the city take action.
The City Charter puts personnel decisions in the hands of the City Manager. Lindsay did not speak on this at the meeting or indicate what he would do in response to the overwhelming community sentiment.
Councilperson Jovanka Beckles and Mayor McLaughlin have prepared a resolution to be presented at the next regular-business City Council meeting on April 2, if the matter is not resolved by then.
Resolution Calling for Restoration of Public Trust through the Removal of Executive City Employee from Current Position
WHEREAS, residents of Richmond pay hard-earned tax money to support necessary city functions carried out by their Richmond City government; and
WHEREAS, it is critical that those who spend this money must be fully trusted by the residents; and
WHEREAS, City employees have the right to working conditions free from retaliation for expressing their opinion or revealing problems with city operations; and
WHEREAS, City employees are expected to carry out the spirit as well as the letter of City policy; and
WHEREAS, those who manage others in the City must be held to the highest standards of ethics and accountability; and
WHEREAS, an investigation reveals at the very least that the Director of Human Resources and Assistant City Manager, Ms. Leslie Knight, violated these standards of ethics and accountability and took money from the City to which she was not entitled; so
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Richmond City Council sees this issue as a matter of the public trust, which has currently been broken and which must be repaired immediately; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED
that we, the Richmond City Council, hereby understand and respect that the City Manager, as per our Charter, has the power and responsibility to hire and remove (if necessary "for the good of the service") City employees; and, it is with that understanding and respect, that we call for the removal of Ms. Leslie Knight from the position of Human Resources Director/Assistant City Manager.
Supervisors Steal Call Center from Richmond
The County Board of Supervisors voted to place the Call Center in Concord. Richmond pulled together on the quotation for the call center. Developer Richard Poe sharpened his pencil. City Council members Myrick and Rogers brought forward proposals which were approved by the City Council, including a proposed $1,000,000 loan to further reduce the final price to the State. John Gioia worked hard arguing for the Richmond site. Councilmembers Beckles, Myrick, Rogers and Mayor McLaughlin made presentations at the Board of Supervisors meeting. In addition there was a good showing of Richmond residents.
The proposal from Richmond was significantly lower and in all respects the best. But when the Supervisors voted we lost.
The city made a remarkable showing and everyone involved was proud of their role. It was reminiscent of LBNL. When the community pulls together it has tremendous imagination and power.
Money in Politics
It is also important to understand the real reason we lost. Some people chalk it up to geography-East County vs West-or racism--white suburbs versus non-white Richmond. While geographic loyalties and racial politics may have been a part of this, there is good evidence that the real reason was financial loyalty. The Garaventa family which made a fortune in garbage collection and which stands to make a fortune from the call center in Concord is a major contributor to the campaigns of the Supes who voted for Concord. There were also family ties. Supervisor Mary Piepho's brother works for Garaventa. These supervisors should have recused themselves.
It is not just Richmond that lost with these kind of politics it is most of the residents of Contra Costa County who will foot the bill for the higher cost to line the pockets of a few landlords and increase a few campaign treasuries.
Most of Richmond can feel proud that in this city we take seriously the idea of fighting the influence of corporations and wealth in our government. Those like Booze and Bates who play the contribution game in Richmond are no better than those County Supervisors who represent their financial contributors and not the people of the County.
Behind the Attacks on RPA
Recent Richmond City Council meetings have been marked by verbal attacks against the RPA by a few Council members, their representatives and supporters. Healthy politics involve disagreement and vigorous debate. But the recent attacks have consistently contained untruths and distortion, and we would like the record to be clear. We are sharing correct information about the RPA here because Council meetings are not the place to dwell on these issues. Council meetings should be focused on how to move Richmond forward—not about vilifying individuals or organizations striving to improve our community.
Councilperson Booze uses almost as much time as all other council members combined. Do his contributions to the meeting warrant this inordinate amount of time?
What about claims by Bates and some audience members that the RPA “wastes” time by taking up ”non-Richmond” issues? The national and state economy, jobs, and the cuts in Federal and state social programs are having a devastating impact on Richmond. Richmond Council actions that address these issues give Richmond citizens a voice and help create support for those at the national and state level trying to create change. The Millionaires Tax in California, for example, will bring in much-needed money for our schools and county social services and will do far more to help Richmond than reckless and divisive speeches by Council members.
The following is a statement of the RPA steering committee 2/21/12