|Issue: #106||March 21, 2012|
To have an item listed send it to
1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260
PASS IT ON!!
Since we don't take corporate money, our success depends on our ability to use "people power" to promote activities and programs in Richmond. The RPA Activist is one tool we use to put out our ideas. One simple thing that YOU can do is to forward the RPA Activist to friends and acquaintances. Thanks.
City must take action
Integrity of City at Risk
Stacie Plummer, a city of Richmond finance manager, has accused Leslie Knight, city human resources director, of misuse of funds.(Robert Rogers, CCTimes)
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
- took money from the city to which she was not entitled,
- appeared to try to take action against an employee for being a "whistle blower"
- used city resources and personnel to promote her own private business.
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."
See City Manager's press release.
See Channel 5 news report
See Richmond Confidential
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
, 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
An Indian Call Center with Cubicles (Forbes)
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.
| Chevron Watch|
Planning 25% Production Increase
Chevron Corp. CVX +0.75% told Wall Street on Tuesday [March 12] it is on its way to deliver a small production increase this year and "well positioned" for a 25% production growth by 2017, when it expects its output will reach 3.3 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, or BOED. (a barrel of oil equivalent measures the energy content of a company's combined oil and natural gas production.)
Production declined last year.
Some of the focus will be on unconventional (such as oil shale) onshore fields in North America: Chevron said it plans to increase activity in the liquid-rich Permian Basin, which straddles the Texas-New Mexico border. In Permian's Midland basin, it plans to drill 340 wells this year, up from 300 drilled in 2012.
In Permian's Delaware Basin, the plan is to drill 100 wells, up from 40 last year. It also plans to increase rig activity and expand acreage in the area.
Chevron bought some Permian Basin assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. in September.
Grand Jury Investigation of Chevron
Tactics divide agencies in Chevron probe
Jaxon Van Derbeken, SFGate, March 10, 2013
(Page 1 of 2)
A grand jury probe targeting Chevron in last year's Richmond refinery fire has created a rift between the federal agency investigating the incident and environmental regulators seeking possible criminal charges against the oil giant, The Chronicle has learned.
Grand jury proceedings normally are secret unless the panel hands down indictments. But the federal probe into whether Chevron violated laws as a result of the Aug. 6 blaze has come to light because the U.S. attorney in San Francisco and the Environmental Protection Agency want to compel the lead investigator for a federal fact-finding agency to testify - and the agency is resisting.
Chevron already faces almost $1 million in potential civil penalties for allegedly violating state workplace safety rules as a result of the fire, which spewed toxic gas and smoke into the air around the plant and sent 15,000 people to hospitals seeking medical attention. Federal indictments could expose the company to millions of dollars more in penalties and even raise the possibility of prison time for company officials.
Read full article
Nation Article on Cap and Trade features Richmond
Will California's Cap and Trade Be Fair?
|CO2 and Temperature|
Editor's note: We were going to run a short article about the incredible statements made by Councilmembers Booze and Bates and some of the public speakers about global warming. Councilmember Jael Myrick provided an excellent response and also explained how having a Climate Change Plan made the city eligible for considerable amount of grants for projects.
Then we saw Tom Butt's e-forum piece and thought it said it better so we reprint a shortened version of it here.
TOM BUTT E-FORUM: Bates and Booze Oppose Climate Action Plan - "A Waste of Time," says Booze.
In Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Nat Bates and Corky Booze failed to support the City of Richmond proceeding with a Climate Action Plan. See below from Richmond Confidential
With Booze and Bates voting against, the council also authorized the city manager to work on a Climate Action Plan for Richmond, which would address the city's preparation for climate change, bring the city into compliance with national standards, and serve as a starting point to apply for federal cap-and-trade grants.
Booze called the plan a waste of time, and said that potholes and dark streets in the city are higher priorities. "Potholes are about today and tomorrow,"
Butt disagreed. "This is about our kids and our grandkids. Sure, we're going to spend a lot more money on potholes than we're going to spend on this, but that doesn't mean we just lay this aside and say it's not a priority to us."
... Myrick told the council he was disappointed that the conversation was so controversial. "It doesn't need to be," he said. "A climate action plan doesn't ignore the community, it is for the community."
With 32 miles of shoreline, much of it low-lying, Richmond is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, something in which the City Council should take a high level of interest. Although Nat Bates placed himself on the Obama ticket (Bates/Obama) in the last two elections, he obviously does not join the president's concern about climate change. Only a month before Bates voted against a climate action plan, Obama said the following in his second inaugural address:
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries - we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure - our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Clearly, Bates and Booze don't believe in climate change or don't believe it is caused by human activity, but they are in disagreement with 97% of climatologists who are active publishers on climate change worldwide as well as our president, our governor, the United Nations and the majority of Californians. They are also in disagreement with most Richmond residents who overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2012.
Unfortunately, however, Bates and Booze have lots of company from the 30% - 40% of general public nationwide (probably far fewer in Richmond) who remain skeptical and probably watch a lot of Fox News. So if you are one of those skeptics, I am unlikely to convince you, along with Nat Bates and Corky Booze.
However, here are some interesting facts that Bates and Booze would do well to study:
- AB 32 makes it California law and public policy to reduce greenhouse gases, and SB 375 provides incentives that direct future state funds to those communities that embrace climate change mitigation. Having a climate action plan is step one for a community to address climate change.
- Governor Jerry Brown said, "It's time for courage, it's time for creativity and it's time for boldness to tackle climate change." See the Governor's Office of Planning and Research on climate change.
Both Bates and Booze persist in invoking the "business community" to support their positions on climate change and other policies, as if they had some unique understanding of what "business" wants and needs and other City Council members, including me, don't. What they mostly understand about the business community is that it is a source of tens of thousands of dollars of political donations. Ironically, I remain the only member of the City Council who is actually a "member" of the "business community" in Richmond. Every day, I go to work, supervise employees, market my services, make a payroll, meet a budget, and, hopefully, make a profit.
I am disappointed that the people of Richmond do not let these two dinosaurs know that they expect more from them. It would sure make my job a lot easier and get me home a little earlier on Tuesday nights.
The full version of this article from the Tom Butt newsletter will likely appear in a few days on the e-forum tab of Tom Butt's website
RPA Community Resources Forum
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Unemployment:
How we help people find good jobs and keep them
Featuring presentations and testimonials about the work of
SAFFRON STRAND, INC.
a Richmond-based non-profit dedicated to getting the homeless back to work
6:00 pm food provided and time for networking
6:30 - 8:30 pm program with Q&A
Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 1021 Macdonald Ave., Richmond
Co-sponsored by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, 510-412-2260
Booze Denies Charges in Article
At Tuesday's City Council Meeting, Councilmember Corky Booze gave a six minute filibuster mixing denials of items in the recent East Bay Express article with attempts to blame the RPA and Tom Butt for his bad press. He never answered the questions about his "junk yard" although he suggested that at least one of the pictures was city property not his. He indignantly denied incidents where he was involved in personal violence
"Ladies and Gentlemen at home, follow the dots. It's the RPA -which Madam Mayor and Tom Butt and Jovanka Beckles are the orchestrators and biggest bullies of all."
Some of his denials made no sense.. "Call your friends, call your neighbors. If you ever see me beat up a senior citizen you need to call and make sure to see me at this council and speak to that."
He also threatened legal action but was vague about whom or what.
Judge for yourself. Here is the East Bay Express article .
Also check out the comments at the end of the article
East Bay Express Article
March 13, 2013
Richmond Councilman Gets Called on His Junk
The Richmond city attorney is targeting blighted property controlled by Corky Booze, as previously undisclosed accusations that he battered women come to light.
By John Geluardi
The Richmond City Attorney's Office is cracking down on a blighted property that has been maintained for decades by embattled Vice Mayor Corky Booze. The property, which is overrun with inoperable cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and forklifts, is the latest controversy to envelop Booze, whose two years on the Richmond City Council have been characterized by petty arguments, grandstanding, and race-baiting. In addition, the crackdown coincides with revelations that Booze had been accused previously of battering a female Richmond police officer and a woman who volunteered for him.
In a five-page letter obtained by the Express, city prosecutor Trisha Aljoe described the property that Booze uses at 22 Carlson Boulevard as a public nuisance and a fire hazard. The 69-year-old Booze (pronounced "boo-zay") has claimed for decades that he operates an automotive repair business on the property, according to public records. According to the letter, the property also includes piles of discarded appliances, furniture, storage tanks, and metal cylinders - all of which are maintained illegally. The junkyard has become a threat to public health by "maintaining, permitting or allowing property as a declared public nuisance per se due to blighted and unsightly conditions detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of the public," Aljoe wrote in the March 6 letter.
The abatement order, however, is addressed to a mysterious woman named Laura Baker, a resident of Vallejo who is the owner of record on the property. She also appears as the legal owner of two other properties that Booze at one time owned and continues to control, public records show. The abatement letter also names Booze as the operator of the blighted business on her Carlson Boulevard property.
The city is giving Baker and Booze until March 21 to clean up the 28,000-square-foot property or face further legal action. But exactly what Baker's role is with regards to the property is uncertain. In the past, Booze has claimed publicly to know little about her. But in a 2003 letter to the Contra Costa County Superior Court, he described her as his "domestic partner of 30 years."
During his council campaign, Booze paid Baker $18,000 from his campaign fund, listing the payment as being for the rental of his campaign office at the Carlson property, records show. However, the payment raises questions because Booze has continuously controlled the property, and the only structures on the site are in a deteriorated state, with broken windows and graffiti-covered walls. Booze's business license for the property expired in 2010. Since the city's code enforcement unit opened an investigation into the property, Booze has applied for a license renewal, but it likely will not be granted because the property is not zoned for automotive repair, junkyards, or automobile storage.
This is not the first time that the city has wrangled with Booze over the Carlson property. Booze ignored city abatement orders for the same problems in the early 1990s and then fought the city in court for four years, records show. After losing his final appeal in 1997, the city finally came in and cleaned up the property at taxpayer expense in 1999. More than 65 inoperable vehicles were removed, along with rusting oil drums, assorted garbage, and dog feces, according to court documents.
During the three-day clean-up in 1999, Booze allegedly battered Richmond Police Officer Lisa Pheil when she asked him to move his truck. The 230-pound Booze became angry and yelled obscenities, according to a summary of the police report, and then he moved aggressively toward Pheil, who is 5-foot-4 and weighs 110 pounds, and chest-bumped her. Pheil put her hand up for protection and Booze swatted it down, according to the report.
Pheil, who is now retired, told me recently that she was surprised when Booze wasn't taken to jail for the battery, but not as surprised as she might have been. Five months before, Pheil had pulled Booze over in his truck and had given him a ticket for failing to register the vehicle for multiple years. Pheil said Booze was condescending to her and that he named councilmembers and police officers who were his friends. Pheil said that later that day police brass pressured her to "make the ticket go away." Nonetheless, she said she still doesn't understand why Booze was not arrested for battering a police officer in front of at least three witnesses, including another police officer. "Had it been anyone else, they would have been immediately cuffed, booked, and put in jail," Pheil said. "My supervisor wrote up a crime report, but nothing ever happened, which is a shame because every time Booze gets away with something like that, it just feeds his distorted sense of self-entitlement."
Since Booze was elected to the council in 2010, he also has allegedly battered at least one other woman. On September 21, Booze's volunteer chief of staff Jackie Thompson showed up at the Richmond Police Department shaking and crying, according to a summary of a police report that was shared with the Express. Thompson claimed, according to the report, that Booze had attacked her two days before and that she had injured her head when he pushed her to the ground. Thompson, who at the time was 64 years old, had been a tireless volunteer for Booze's council campaign, and after he was elected, she volunteered to be his chief of staff.
According to the police report summary, on September 19, Thompson showed up at a MacDonald Street office building that Booze had used during his campaign. Thompson believed she had interrupted Booze in a romantic tryst with another city staffer, a much younger woman who Thompson considered her rival for Booze's attentions. Thompson found Booze in a state of undress, and the two argued. Thompson then resigned her position as Booze's chief of staff.
At one point, according the police report summary, Booze began pushing Thompson, who had recently had hip surgery and uses a cane to walk. Thompson fell to the ground and Booze dragged her by the ankle through the campaign office and out onto MacDonald Street, where he left her lying on the sidewalk, according to the police report summary. Thompson's claims of a head injury and chest injuries were verified by a Kaiser emergency room medical report, the summary stated. Nonetheless, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office refused to charge Booze because there were no witnesses. Thompson declined to comment about the incident.
Also in September, Booze was involved in a physical altercation with 72-year-old David Moore, another campaign volunteer. The two got into a brief fistfight outside of a candidates' meeting. Moore was arrested and both men claimed the other started the fight. No charges were ever filed.
Over the years, Booze has had a lot of trouble in the courts. More than thirty civil actions have been filed against him in Contra Costa County, records show. The vast majority of the complaints are for nonpayment of debts; the plaintiffs include banks, credit card companies, and individuals. In one 1997 case, a woman named Jacquelyn Wingfield claimed that Booze had failed to repay $124,736 in loans that he used to bolster his gas station business, which is now defunct. The court found in Wingfield's favor, but there was a problem collecting the money, as there has been with other civil actions against Booze. Until recently, the four properties he controls in Richmond were all in Baker's name, which means that creditors have not been able to file property liens against him. Within the past year, however, he put his residence back in his name. Also on Booze's official statement of economic interests, which all councilmembers are required to file with the city, he reported that he had no salary, no business profits, and no stocks worth more than $500.
In a brief interview, Booze denied any knowledge of the lawsuits and the allegations of battery. He said he is focused on helping the people of Richmond. He pointed to a $200,000 contribution to the Richmond Youthbuild program that Chevron made in his name. "I am just focused on creating jobs. I am a ceaseless advocate for more jobs," he said. "I am focused on helping my community and all of Richmond."
Booze is up for reelection in 2014 and Chevron is expected to back him because he often votes against the progressive majority on the council. Along with Councilman Nat Bates, who is heavily supported by Chevron, Booze has voted against bicycle and pedestrian projects; the general plan, which calls for new infrastructure and health-based policies; and the city's contract with a renewable energy provider. Booze has also called for an end to the free dock rental for the Red Oak Victory ship, which was built in Richmond's historic shipyards during World War II and continues to be a source of local pride. He has also railed against the city's Office of Neighborhood Safety, which is arguably one of the most innovative anti-crime programs in the country.
Ironically, the Richmond chapter of the NAACP awarded Booze with its Peace and Freedom Award in February despite the allegations that he is abusive and engages in divisive, race-baiting tactics. Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who, like Booze, is African-American, called the award a "mockery." "I think that many in Richmond know him to be a bully who makes regular abusive threats, including at council meetings," Beckles told the West County Times. "He has threatened to have physical harm done to me and to others."
News archives »
How Big Business used race to drive a wedge through Richmond's progressive community - and why you should be concerned about it.
|How Unequal Are We?
Play the Video:
|Wealth Inequality in America|
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 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, Mike Parker, 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.