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Issue: # 14 March 14, 2010
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Money Shoreline and Politics
Petition to Support Police Chief
Richmond Appeals on T
Urban Ag, Int Women's Day on web
RPA Opens Office
 Investing in Local Politicians
Money, Shoreline, and Politics
money in envelope

In a recent column (excerpted below) Tom Butt  casts important light on the debate over Richmond's shoreline, as well as a bigger questions about the role of money in American politics


It speaks to one of the guiding principles of the RPA, We refuse contributions from all large corporations and developers.


Why does the RPA make a principle of refusing these contributions?  And  why do we insist on the same from candidates we campaign for?


Because this requirement is the first step in building a movement and having elected officials that can put people before the needs of large developers and corporations.


The case described by Tom Butt is a good example.   Even if it were true that all the elected officials who received campaign money from a developer were to vote against the interest of  this contributor now that it is known, could you have confidence that they would vote against contributors you do not know about? And then you have to ask the question:  Why were these contributions made in the first place?  Was it really from felt need to contribute to outstanding public service?  Or were there other purposes?


While filing requirements and limits on campaign contributions might help, we know from observing Richmond politics that there are many ways around these regulations.  Chevron and developers are masters of this game  They make contributions through so-called issue groups like the "Committee for Quality Government "(sponsored by energy companies)", the " Committee for Industrial Safety," sponsored by Chevron Corporation and energy companies", or the "Committee to Oppose Measure T", a coalition of small businesses, taxpayers, homeowners and energy companies. Or they work through groups like BAPAC which finance themselves through corporate contributions.  .


We believe that corporations have too much power in this society.  These decisions made in the interest of profit have a huge impact on our lives, our jobs, our environment, and our community and that is even before their direct influence on our elected officials.  So the starting point to insure that the people we elect and the groups behind them are responsible to us is to ask them to refuse to take any contributions from large corporations and developers.


Of course there is a downside to refusing such contributions.  If we don't accept large corporate donations how can we compete in campaigns against all their money?  The answer is that we run low budget campaigns substituting a lot of hard and consistent volunteer work for paid campaign workers.  And we dig deep into our own pockets for lots of small contributions.  We think it's not only the best way to go; we think it's the only way to go.  We end up with candidates we can be proud of -Gayle McLaughlin, Jeff Ritterman, and Jovanka Beckles all of whom when faced with complicated, difficult problems in the city, know that their loyalties are with the community.

Or you can  donate on line on the RPA website www.richmondprogressivealliance.net 

TOM BUTT E-FORUM: Get to Know Your Local Northshore Land Speculators

This is the first in a series of pieces intended to engender empathy for Richmond shoreline property owners who are threatened by proposed general Plan changes.
In her recent Guest Editorial, Maria Viramontes suggested the Northshore General Plan change strategy of what she called "manifest destiny" would "unfortunately... result in reducing the middle class in Richmond and driving low income families out of town."
I thought it would be helpful to find out exactly who these landowners are to make sure they are not just hard working middle class and low income Richmond families trying to find a piece of the American dream on the Richmond shoreline.
Let's start with JHS properties, which, according to the Planning department staff report, owns 26 acres and has submitted an application for a "live-work" community next to the Richmond Rod and Gun Club. Presumably, each purchaser would be issued a lifetime supply of earplugs.
Based on information available on the Internet, JHS properties appears to be one of many business entities owned by a wealthy Tiburon family, Joe and Haidy Shekou  (JHS). Among other things, the Shekous apparently own the San Rafael Airport and other real estate investments. As a developer, Joe Shekou has a history of litigating against environmentalists and public agencies that have obstructed his development plans [...] 
You can read much more about the Shekou's by Googling "Joe and Haidy Shekou."
However, in Richmond, the Shekous have invested not in local charitable causes but much more pragmatically in local politicians. Records reflect that Shekou doled out the following:
         $2,500 to Friends of Ludmyrna Lopez
         $2,500 to Friends of Maria Viramontes
         $1,250 to Friends of Nat Bates
         $2,500 to Jim Rogers for City Council
I am not suggesting that these contributions influenced any votes. At least some City Council members remember who Jesse Unruh was and what he said about money and politics. Hint: go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_M._Unruh and look under "Famous Quotes." I also expect that at least one of them will honor Jesse Unruh's legacy and support Northshore open space.
Petition to Support Police Chief Magnus  

The following petition in support of Chief Magnus was initiated by people in the North and East region of Richmond. You can sign the petition by going to the following link 



Background (Petition Preamble):

In 2007 Richmond's Chief of Police Chris Magnus was accused of racial discrimination by members of his command staff. These plaintiffs have most recently engaged in underhanded tactics designed to sway public opinion and deny Chief Magnus his right to a fair trial.

Chief Magnus has, in fact, promoted only minorities and women to the highest ranks of the department. He is held in the highest regard by community leaders of all races. An independent investigation has found virtually no evidence of wrongdoing and instead noted serious, pre- existing racial divisions within the department.



 We, the undersigned residents of Richmond and its neighboring communities, attest that our Chief of Police in the City of Richmond, Chris Magnus, is a man of excellent moral character. He has served our city faithfully and effectively since his appointment in 2006.

He has proven himself to be empathetic to the needs of all residents, regardless of race, class, or gender. He has increased accountability and transparency within the police department. Finally, he has worked tirelessly to reduce violent crime and has successfully established community policing for our city. In our opinion, this is the type of police chief our city has so sorely needed.

We condemn the underhanded actions of the plaintiffs in the ongoing trial. In particular, we condemn the maliciously edited and distributed DVD. We demand that they issue a retraction and an apology. We remind them that, as sworn employees of this city, they are bound to protect the right of Due Process, which must remain unhindered and unblemished until the conclusion of this trial.


Richmond Appeals Measure T Ruling 

At its March 10 meeting the City Council voted to appeal the ruling against Measure T (requiring Chevron to pay its fiar share in business fees) to the State Court of Appeals.
Voting in favor were Mayor McLauglin, and Council members Ritterman, Rogers, and Butt. 
 Voting against were Viramontes, Lopez, and Bates.
 Recent Articles on the RPA Web Site  
 by Michael Beer

Anyone looking for a solution to the problem of youth violence in Richmond should have attended the "2 Farms in 2 Days" event held on February 27 and 28 at Kennedy and Richmond High and organized by Urban Tilth.

     The 2-8000 square foot farms will grow food that directly changes the food landscape of the families in the schools of Richmond. More...
RPA Opens Office
The RPA has opened an office that can be used for distributing literature and signs, phoning, meetings, and work parties.  House warming for the new office will be on Friday after the discussion of Chevron's Threat to Leave.  The office is located on a parking courtyard at 317 11th Street. 
Office pictureYou can drive in from Nevin and 11th.  If  you park on macdonald you can walk past the construction trailer in 11th.  For the beginning the scheduled hours will be 5:30 to 7:30 weekdays
You can call the RPA number at  510-595-4661 and leave a message
or call the office directly 510-412-2260
This is a totally volunteer effort.  If you can volunteer time to staff the office  please call or email us.
We can also use some donations:  Mugs, bookcases, silverware.  And of course cash contribution are always welcome to defray those expense we can not avoid with volunteers.

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 the 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, 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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