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Issue: # 32September 17, 2010
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RPA Office
317 11th St

Thoughts on Leadership
Wrong Way Bates
No Way Ziesenhenne
Both Ways Viramontes
The Health of Richmond
October 2 -- 2nd Most Important Election Day
Unions Endorse Progressive Candidates
Buttons/Signs Show Support
Phone Banks
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In every candidate appearance  John Ziesenhenne asks for votes claiming he is a "leader."  Is he? What is a leader? 
In this issue we explore this question.  We ask our candidates their views on leadership. We look at what kind of leadership Nat Bates and John Ziesenhenne  provide.  We look at the progress Richmond has made under the leadership of Mayor Gayle Mclaughln and compare this to other Bay Area cities. 
Gayle, Jovanka, Eduardo understand that leaders must be visionaries, they must think into the future while solving the problems of the present. In contrast to the other candidates they do not think of leadership as connecting to the people in power. Rather they understand the strength and value of  building movements, of empowering ordinary people, to stand up for  what the city needs.
An example--While every politician now tries  to take credit for the additional $114 Million that Chevron will pay the city,  these significant funds are the result of a movement that was built in Richmond to demand that Chevron pay its fair share. It was a movement of the people that got Measure T on the ballot and passed. It was a movement that started the campaign for Utility Tax fairness  and against Chevron's phony tax reform proposition earlier this year. As a result of these actions, Chevron knew that the only way it could make the problem go away was to come to the table.  It is true that the whole city council voted for the utility reform measure (and that unity was important for victory). But the campaign was organized and led by the progressive movement in Richmond--not by the incumbents who think that leadership is taking credit for what others have done.


What is Leadership?

We asked our candidates for their thoughts on leadership.


 A leader is one who seeks to understand complicated and difficult situations and develops a vision and direction to cope with them.  A leader looks for new alternatives and new paths.  A leader seeks to encourage others to become leaders and tries to promote the best in everybody.
Leadership is taking a stand for what you believe is right even though you may be criticized or attacked. In a democracy leadership is putting yourself and your ideas forward where people can judge for themselves and make informed decisions.  Leaders don't follow trends, they create new ones.
Leadership is the ability to inspire others to push forward a vision of a better future.  A good leader listens to others and identifies the roots of the problems, and the potential in possible solutions. A good leader is a model for others to follow.

"Wrong Way" Bates

Bates CartoonNat Bates makes much of what he will do with his supposed connections in Washington. The question is: Besides what they have done for him personally, what have his connections brought Richmond?
We expect our leaders to be models.  What kind of model is Nat Bates for ourselves and our children.  Here is a person who is so arrogant about his inside connections that he demonstrates for a New York Times reporter that he is above the law, can go the wrong way down a one way street, and park at a fire hydrant without fear because he has "friends". Here is how the Times reporter tells it:

Mr. Bates, a former high school football star who looks younger than his 78 years, said he believed he often clashed with Ms. McLaughlin and other female officials because "a lot of them have never been participants in athletic programs."
He represents, perhaps, a throwback-style of politics that was on display during a recent drive through downtown to distribute campaign materials.
"The police are friendly with me. Who are they going to ticket?" Mr. Bates said as he drove briefly down the wrong direction of a one-way street. He parked his white pickup truck in front of a fire hydrant as he walked inside C.J.'s Barbeque & Fish shop to put up a campaign poster. (New York Times 9/10/10)


-Mike Parker
cartoon by David Moore

"No Way" Ziesenhenne
John Z cartoon
And then there is John Ziesenhenne who keeps repeating  "I am a leader."
The casino is one of the big issues facing Richmond. 
It is one thing for a candidate to say that he will respect the will of  the majority in a democracy.  But it is quite another for a candidate to refuse to tell voters where he stands when running for an office which will have to implement the specifics of any general policy adopted.  Refusal to state is not leadership--it is crude political calculation.
He is like this on most issues. Check out his web site.  There are no specifics about anything. At candidate nights,  Ziesenhenne fudges every answer. Asked about gay marriage at the RYSYE Center, he would only say that he supported civil unions.
Chevron is supporting Ziesenhenne.  Perhaps that is why his "leadership" does not include challenging Chevron's lobbying the State Legislature for an exemption to the requirement that it get an approved Environmental Impact Report.
Ziesenhenne is the candidate of the Chamber of Commerce.  Nationally the Chamber has opposed every program of the Obama administration, including  minimum wage, financial reform, climate change legislation etc, etc.  The State Chamber has endorsed Meg Whitman for Governor.  
The Local Chamber took Chevron's position opposing Measure T which increased fees for  Chevron while providing relief for small businesses and new businesses directly and indirectly by getting Chevron to pay its fair share.
Ziesenhenne is not responsible for every position of the  Chamber.  But you would think a leader would go on record opposing some of  these positions of the chamber and offering alternative positions.  But either he supports the Chamber on every issue or he is silent.  No leadership there, no matter how many times he repeats "I am a leader, I am a leader".
-Mike Parker
cartoon by David Moore
"Both Ways" Viramontes
Maria VLeadership is what you do, not just what you say.  Maria Viramontes insists that she is against the Casino, although she carefully avoids suggesting a  NO vote on Measure U. 
But in practice she was the leader of the Casino 4  which extended the  Land Disposition Agreement with the Casino developer for  11 months (well past the election). 
She could have killed the Casino right there  by refusing to extend the LDA which was not legally required. She could have been for extending the LDA on condition that Upstream agree to the city hearing  full alternate proposals without the Casino. Instead she created a sham procedure which required all alternates to be presented to the Casino developer.
She could have extended the LDA for just another two months. At a previous council meeting City Manager Lindsay said the short extensions gave the city a lever to press the developer in the negotiations. But after public discussion was closed, Viramontes made a new motion to extend the LDA 11 months, thus weakening the city's negotiating position. (See May 18th city council meeting at end of long discussion of K1.)
So which way is she actually leading? 
Taking the Pulse of Richmond
What is the health of Richmond? Remarkably good, given the current economic challenges Bay Area cities face. Here are some of the facts.
California cities are still struggling in the aftermath of the U.S. financial crisis that began in 2007. A report published in 2009 by the National League of Cities opens, "The fiscal outlook for the nation's cities continues to worsen amid declining economic conditions," and says that 92% of city officials predict that their cities will be less able to meet public needs.(1)
For cities, major revenue sources for day-to-day operations and services come from sales tax, property tax, and other tax sources. (2) Tax revenues are down in all Bay Area cites. As a result of a groundbreaking agreement with Chevron, Richmond will receive  $114 million over the next 15 years, allowing it to successfully compensate for the drop in tax revenues.
Oakland, facing a serious budget deficit, laid off 80 police officers. (3)  In contrast, last summer Richmond passed a balanced budget and laid off no staff. In Richmond, the budget for the Richmond Police Department increased by $300,000, resulting in the continuation of such innovative programs as community policing, ShotSpotter and COMPSTAT, and other programs that improve the quality of life in the city, such as trash abatement. All crimes are down 10%, shots fired are down 37%, and homicides are down 60%.(4)
Job opportunities are increasing in Richmond. The Honda Port of Entry project is bringing Honda to the Port of Richmond as a major customer, already resulting in over 200 jobs with preference given to Richmond residents along with clean air. (5) And, Richmond is building its reputation as a city of the future by being home to for-profit and non-profit solar businesses. Recently, the city won an award for installing more solar watts per capita than any other large California city. (6) While Richmond has been able to swim against the stream of city collapse we can't forget that the stream is powerful. Tens of thousands of Richmond residents are struggling with threats of foreclosure and joblessness.  We have to increase our efforts. 

--Richmond Small Business Owner
1. National League of Cities , "Fiscal Outlook for Cities Worsens in 2009"
Saturday,  11 am  JFK Park (41st and Cutting)
October 2 --2nd most important mobilization day.
Next to election day itself, Saturday, October 2 is probably the most important day in this campaign.  It is the weekend before mail ballots go out.  It is the weekend we expect the infamous "hit  pieces" to fall. (Remember the racist hit piece that came out in the 2008 election?)
 Three important events are happening that day--two here in Richmond.
1. Richmond SEIU 1021 is mobilizing its members to go door-to-door.  They are meeting at JFK park,  41st and Cutting  at 10:30 and after a brief rally spreading out into the community.  We are urging  progressive campaign supporters to join this activity on Saturday. This is the opportunity for a real community-labor coalition.
2.  The Home Front festival is one of the biggest events in Richmond.  We need supporters to help distribute campaign lit where it does not detract from the festival.
 3. Washington DC will see the One Nation demonstration called by the AFL-CIO and NAACP. Among other issues the demonstration is calling for a fair policy on immigration and a WPA type program to rebuild our country's infrastructure and put people back to work.
There are many people from the Bay Area going for this demo and we should have a report next week.
But those of you who are not going to Washington, please call the RPA office and volunteer to pitch in as this campaign enters the crucial weeks. 510-412-2260
Unions Endorse Progressive Candidates.
The Richmond Chapter of the Service Employees International Union  endorsed progressive candidates for Richmond City council after a long and intesive endorsement process. Several weeks ago after hearing from  Gayle and Ziesenhenne, the Chapter overwhelmingly endorsed Gayle.
Last Week the chapter interviewed Council candiates and endorsed  Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and Corky Booze.
AFSCME Local 444, representing water district employees made the same endorsements.
The labor movement in Richmond is split,  with the Building Trades unions backing either Nat Bates or  John Ziesenhenne for Mayor  and the incumbents for council seats.
SEIU 1021 Interviews Council Candidates
SEIU Interviews Council Candidates
Show Your Support for a Grass Roots Campaign


Available with metal stakes as lawn signs or  window/fence signs
Come by the office (weekdays 2-5pm or Saturday 9am -2pm),
317 11th St. to pick some up for yourself and your neighbors.
Or call  510-412-2260 for delivery.

Make A Difference
We don't take  corporate contributions, we depend on on people like you volunteering to make democracy work.
Phone Banking  With Others

phoneEvery Wednesday  6:30pm - 9pm (starting September 1)

At a location convenient  to South Richmond and Annex

            Phones provided


            Email Kay Wallis  kaywallis@hotmail.com


Every Thursday  6:30pm - 9pm

At RPA office  317 11th Street

            If possible, please bring your cell phone,
           charger, and headset


            Call 510-412-2260 

Talk to your neighbors
Door-to-Door Every Saturday 9am--2pm  plus...
Our door-to-door  is a slow process. But it works.  We reach new people and get them involved.
The office is open from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.   The best time to come is  between 9:30 and 10 am  for coffee and  nosh. The candidates are usually there at that time. 317 11th St.   510-412-2260
If you can't come in on Saturday, come in during the week to get the new literature and find out the exciting news.
Remember:  To get this job done we are working every Saturday as a group.  Many of us are also covering our own neighborhoods during the other days.  If you have not picked up walk sheets and literature for your neighborhood call the office to make arrangements. 

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, 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.


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Richmond Progressive Alliance | P.O. Box 160 | Station A | Richmond | CA | 94808