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Issue: # 35October 12, 2010
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RPA Office
317 11th St

Silent Partners at Mugging
Who Backs Viramontes
Signs by Chevron
Chevron Loses Exemption Request
Response to Attack on Gayle
RPOA/RFA History of Corruption
"Collateral Damage"
Co-ops: This Week
Vote for Solano Playlot
Volunteer for Election Day
Proposition Recommendation Correction
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 Silent Partners at a Mugging 
We have all been disgusted by stories about people being attacked while bystanders ignore it or even encourage the attack as entertainment.
We believe the attack on Mayor Gayle McLaughlin perpetrated by the Richmond Police Officers Association and the Richmond Firefighters Association (RPOA/RFA) -- circulating her medical and financial challenges from years prior to becoming Mayor -- is a mugging. It is well-financed and packaged by lawyers and PR firms, but is clearly still an attempted mugging. The outcry from elected officials, community leaders, and the public at large has been loud and clear. 
However, a few key individuals have not uttered a single word against the despicable tactics of RPOA/RFA.
The continuing silence of Candidates Ziesenhenne, Virmamontes, and Lopez is deafening. They stand to directly benefit from the smear campaign if it achieves its intended aims.  Mayoral candidate Ziesenhenne is directly helped if the attack undercuts support for Mayor McLaughlin.  Viramontes and Lopez are directly helped because the Police/Firefighters' campaign has extended the assault on the Mayor to include Jovanka Beckles.
If they truly wanted to distance themselves from this kind of dirty politics, every candidate would not only denounce the attacks, but would repudiate endorsements from the RPOA/RFA and return campaign contributions from these organizations.  The candidates' refusal to do so, testifies to their characters, their politics, and their silent assent to the mugging.
Seeing the Connections:
Who Backs Viramontes
Viramontes Backers
   Police Sign in Pro-Casino Office

RPOA sign in Upstream/Pro-Casino office on Macdonald

The campaign is against Jovanka Beckles also.


Chevron Beautifies a Neighborhood
 Chevron Signs

If you look closely at the fine print on these signs, they are all provided by Chevron.

The Viramontes and Lopez signs say "Jobs Now a Coalition supporting Lopez and Viramontes for City Council 2010 Major Funding by Chevron Corporation..."

The Nat Bates signs say "Get Richmond Working, a Coalition supporting Nat Bates for Mayor in 2010, Major Funding by Chevron Corporation..."

Chevron Loses in Exemption Request

Chevron appears to have lost another round in its attempt to slip a special California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption into the state budget legislation that just passed. Chevron was trying to get exempted from the requirement that it has to file and get approved a local Environmental Impact Report (EIR). For some time, the City of Richmond and environmental groups who brought suit have been negotiating in Sacramento to try to reach agreement to restart the project while protecting Richmond and the environment from pollution. Many observers believe that Chevron has been stalling these negotiations while trying this legislative end run. Chevron twice lost its appeal in State Courts.  Now that Chevron's bypass strategy has failed, perhaps it will be willing to take steps that will provide for a satisfactory project and EIR.

One thing is clear: Chevron is spending a lot of money to buy a lot of politicians (Ziesenhenne, Bates, Viramontes, Lopez) in preparation for coming back to serious negotiations. It does make a difference who is on the City Council.


Response to Attack on Gayle

Gayle at Press ConferenceOnce again the RPOA/RFA dirty politics have created a serious backlash against the RPOA/RFA. It has injected new energy into our campaign. Many are calling up to request signs for Gayle, endorse her campaign, and make contributions as an act of protest against the dirty politics. In political forums, the reaction is clearly negative. Look at the comments on the web blogs of the S.F. Chronicle, Richmond Confidential, or Contra Costa Times. A KGO talk show on the subject very quickly shifted to a two-hour bashing of police and fire pensions.


Millie Cleveland, Rev. Phil LawsonNevertheless, this kind of smear campaign has the potential to do damage. It can spread unanswered rumors and affect voters who minimally follow politics. It drains our small amount of money. Our answer to it is to step up campaigning. We have to reach more voters directly since we cannot afford to compete with the massive mailing campaign to spread this hateful material. So it's important that you add a little bit extra to your support. Contribute money, call or email your friends, and distribute election material in your neighborhood at busy public places and events.

Jovanka BecklesDefend Gayle by Supporting Jovanka and Eduardo and Talking About the Real Issues

With all of this attention focused on Gayle, one of the dangers is that people will not pay attention to the council race. Yet the council race is equally important. It should be clear that this orchestrated attack underscores the need to elect a progressive majority to the Richmond City Council--one which can deal with the issues of jobs, Pt. Molate, and clean air in the intersts of Richmond residents.   

Eduardo MartinezGayle needs Jovanka and Eduardo on the Council. They support the direction that Gayle is leading the city. They do not take corporate contributions; they will represent the people rather than Chevron and the RPOA/RFA.


A Long History of Corruption 

If anyone wants to understand Richmond's long history of sordid politics and corruption they might start with the 2001 article in the East Bay Express which describes the work of Darrell Reese and his connection to many still-active politicians. The article begins by describing Darrell Reese laughing off his felony conviction for tax evasion. It then chronicles a long history of activities resulting in numerous FBI investigations and a sizeable fine imposed by the Fair Political Practices Commission for trying to cover up diverting funds raised for children's charities into his political war chest.

In addition to these transgressions for which he was fined, Reese and his friends engaged in decades of dirty tricks and political smears making or breaking political figures in Richmond. Two years ago they put out the infamous racist election flyer which attacked the Latino community. Who were some of these friends and collaborators? They included Jim Russey, retired firefighter and current leader of the smear campaign against Gayle. Russey was happy to continue to associate with Reese--"He was one of us [a firefighter] for more than thirty years...He's been doing [campaigns] a long time and has valuable expertise and contacts." Another prominent associate and defender of Reese was Nat Bates. Read the full article.

 See also SF Gate.
"Collateral Damage" from Police and Fire Association Attacks

The RPOA/RFA smear campaign is trying to damage Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez, and their supporters. It is worth highlighting the unintentional and collateral damage this ongoing campaign is actually causing:

1. To the extent that the community believes that the RPOA/RFA speak for the police and firefighters trying to do their jobs, it damages community confidence in these institutions. The success of community policing depends on the community believing that the police can be trusted. Part of our job to maintain successful community policing to reduce crime has to be continually point out that most police and firefighters do not support the political maneuvers of the RPOA/RFA.

2. The campaign to discredit a person based on his or her experience with health or financial hardships is unfortunate given the modern recognition of these problems as part of normal life. The economic collapse is a big contributor to marital stress and depression. The RPOA/RFA campaign against the Mayor stigmitizes anyone who has ever coped with an economic or psychological challenge.

3. The disgusting acts of the RPOA/RFA have triggered attacks on the pensions and benefits of public workers, and the existence of public employee unions. They have provided an excuse for union bashers to wade in. We are strong supporters of public employee unions including unions for police and firefighters. Given the dangerous nature of their jobs, we think that their high pay, pensions, and benefits are appropriate. But as long as there is a shortage of funds, the police and firefighters can not expect continued raises at the expense of other public employees and the programs that contribute to a healthy community. As a first step, unions need to unite to win fair taxation in California by closing corporate loopholes in Proposition 13 rather than doing the dirty work for the Chamber of Commerce policies which are strangling California cities.

This Week

The Mondragon Cooperative Experience -
A Model for Richmond?

In the spirit of continuing to work together for the positive transformation of our city where all residents thrive and support each other, Mayor McLaughlin invites you to a presentation and discussion on her recent trip to the Mondragon Cooperatives in Spain. She will discuss the potential for worker cooperatives in Richmond.  The same presentation will be given on two dates to accommodate diverse schedules. Call 510-620-6502 for more info. See the reports

Tuesday, October 12, 7:00-9:00 pm in the Whittlesey Room of the Richmond Library

Thursday, October 14, 1:00-3:00 pm in the Multi-Use Room, 440 Civic Center Plaza


You Can  Vote Every Day  --  Prize is $25,000 play equipment
A few simple votes can mean help for the Playlot

Solano PlaylotThe Solano Playlot (N&E 38th and Solano) is a triangle-shaped park with lots of potential. Solano Playlot has recently been adopted by a dedicated grassroots community group, Solano PLAY (see website), has already improved the park by getting toy donations, painting play structures and benches, and adding planted gardens. These activities have become a focal point for the neighborhood.

The Solano Playlot made it to the final round of a national competition of more than 600 parks. Thanks to months of organizing by neighbors to share stories and photos and earn points for the park it is very close to a winning position. Even more amazing, Solano Playlot is one of the only parks in the finals not affiliated with a school, library, or other entity that has an organized parent base. In this final round, 3 of the 10 parks who get the most votes will win new cutting edge play equipment, which was recently featured in the New York Times. So please cast your vote now.

You are allowed to vote EVERY DAY for the Solano Playlot to win $25k of new play equipment.  It will make such a difference for Richmond's kids.  We are still in 4th place, but only the top 3 parks will win.  Please help us move into 3rd place.  Follow this link today and every day until 10/15: 

                                Register and Cast Your Vote Here

For more info:  Melanie Myers,  Solano PLAY info@solanoplay.org, 510-612-1219

Volunteer for Election Day

One of the most important tasks for the campaign is to have people outside the polls on election day handing out slate cards.  The other campaigns will hire people for this activity. We don't have the money.  We need to count on you.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who vote who do not pay attention to any of the campaign literature and make up their minds at the last minute.  Part of how they vote depends on last-minute personal contact and answering questions.

Most effective is for people to work the polls in their own community so people recognize them.   If you are working, we urge you to take time off from work to help in this.  We know it's a big contribution, but we think it is that important.

We will act as required by law (outside the 100 feet from polling entrance), and we will try to work in pairs. We need lots of people volunteering lots of time to cover 13 hours of polling at 38 polling places. 

Please call the office (412-2260) or email us at rpaactivist@gmail.com. And let us know whether you can help. We would hope many of you can volunteer the entire day, but we know that is not possible for some. 

Cut and paste this form into an email   __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Two-hour blocks you can cover on election day

The most important times are  7-9 am, 4-6 pm, 6-8 pm. But we will try to cover all 13 hours the polls are open.

Please volunteer for as much time as possible.

Time Blocks_____________________________________

Polling place I would prefer _______________________ 

You can find your polling place  by entering your address here 

 Name __________________________


 Phone __________________________

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(This listing corrects the editor's mistake in the last newsletter which incorrectly listed our position on Proposition 24.) 
RPA recommendations on the Ballot Measures
The "No Position" reflects either that there are strong differences within the steering committee, or the feeling that the ballot measure does not properly address the real problem.
19 (Legalization of Marijuana)   No Position
20  (Redistricting)     No Position
21  (Vehicle tax surcharge to support parks)   Yes
22  (Prohibits State from taking funds dedicated to roads, transportation, and local government)  No Position
23 (Kills AB 32 clean air)     NO
24 (Repeals certain business tax breaks and loopholes)  YES 
25 (Majority Vote on Budget)   YES
26 (2/3 vote for local fees)     NO
27 (Redistricting)   No  Position
Measure M  Parcel Tax for Schools  YES
Measure  U   Casino at Pt. Molate  NO
Measure V   Tax on marijuana Sales  YES
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  6:30 pm - 9 pm (starting September 1)

At a location convenient to South Richmond and Annex

            Phones provided


            Email Kay Wallis  kaywallis@hotmail.com


Every Thursday  6:30 pm - 9 pm

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 9 am--2 pm  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 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