|Issue: #62||November 7, 2011|
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Friday, November 11, 11 am
OCCUPY RICHMOND: A DAY OF TESTIMONY
Civic Center Plaza
Unemployed? Lost your house to foreclosure? Working two jobs and still can't pay your bills? No medical coverage? Cost of food too high? Can't send your kids to college? Getting the runaround from banks and creditors? Are you a veteran who has become disillusioned? A student who has had to go deep into debt to get an education and now can't find a job? An immigrant who has become a victim of scapegoating?
OCCUPY RICHMOND is calling for a community gathering on Friday, November 11. We gather in solidarity with people around the country and the world who have been harmed by the economic injustice of the corporate elite (the 1%). We encourage those who identify themselves as part of the 99% who have too little, who are suffering in these hard times, to share their stories, their poetry, and their vision for a just society, to speak truth to power. Join us to share your story and to learn from each other to find solutions. Your testimonies will help us to understand our community and our needs and to respond to them in an intelligent manner.
|Click on image to download 4/sheet|
We come together as one people at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments and corrupt the democratic process through campaign contributions and other forms of influence. As one people, united, we acknowledge that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members and that as human beings we have the right to health, housing, education and work. The international OCCUPY movement is taking a stand against the abuses of the banks and corporations, the wars that have bloated our national debt and contributed to environmental degradation. Help Richmond stand for economic justice, health care for all, and a healthy environment.
On October 13, 2011 Occupy Richmond was born with a march on Macdonald Ave. On November 2, 2011 members of Occupy Richmond marched from the intersection of Macdonald Ave. and San Pablo Ave. in Richmond to 14th and Broadway in Oakland and then to the Port of Oakland in solidarity with OCCUPY OAKLAND and the General Strike. For updates http://www.facebook.com/OccupyRichmondCA.
Concerned individuals and members of the following organizations have worked together to organize the Occupy Richmond community speak out at 11 a.m. on 11/11/11 at Richmond Civic Center: Occupy Richmond, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Black Alliance for Economic Justice (BAJI), Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA).
For more information call 510-412-2260
Download the following Leaflet in English or Spanish
Math according to the 1 %
The Chevron Tax Hearings
The Chevron Refineries property tax appeal hearing began Monday, October 24 at the Contra Costa Administration Building in Martinez.
Members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance were on hand to express our disgust to Chevron for their corporate greed, to lend support to the County Assessor's legal team, to show the three-member appeal board that actual people are facing the consequences of this legalistic battle.
This is the second of Chevron's property tax appeals.
Chevron has already successfully appealed its 2004, 2005 and 2006 assessment, and received a refund of $16 million dollars (to which was added $1.5 million dollars in interest). Real estate agent, Coronado Neighborhood Council president, and recipient of Chevron donations, Joe Fisher, was controversially on the panel that granted the award. (C.f. A friend of Chevron gives it a costly gift , East Bay Express, Oct. 21-27, 2009.)
This round, Chevron is disputing its property tax for 2007, 2008 and 2009 that the county assessed at $3.5, $3.6 and $3.5 billion dollars. Chevron believes its property was worth $1.8, $1.4, and $1.5 billion dollars. If the board believes Chevron, every entity receiving property tax money for those years will have to return the difference.
The refund will be forty times the amount of our good neighbor Chevron's last year's "charitable" giving.
Readers of the RPA newsletter know this refund means that the city of Richmond, Contra Costa County, WCCUSD, and various special districts will have to cough up the dough resulting in cuts to vital services that will impact most severely seniors, youth, and people of color. In addition, the result layoffs of workers will push the region into a downward economic spiral that will damage local businesses, and perhaps bankrupt the city and county. Chevron could care less.
Chevron's lead attorney, Lawrence Hoenig, began his opening remarks impugning the competence of the county's assessor, Peter Yu. Then he argued that fickle consumers were buying less gasoline (not having anything to do with the exorbitant prices). Then he bashed A.B. 32, California's signature Clean Air act that required cleaner emissions. Finally he bashed Richmond for passing Measure T and almost ending Chevron's Utility User's Tax Perk.
Hoenig argued that the resultant financial insecurity might discourage a "willing buyer" from purchasing the refinery at the higher price. Somehow it slipped his mind that Measure T was disallowed on a technicality and the Anti-Perk measure never came to a vote because Chevron and the City settled. Of course, by the same logic, since the City of Richmond is prohibited from enacting any new taxes on Chevron for 15 years, Chevron's property should have increased in value since a "willing buyer" now has complete financial security for years.
Although everyone tries to guess the disposition of the board, it won't work. Sometimes they side with Chevron. Sometimes they side with the people. For example, protestors brought signs into the hearing room and displayed them, and even at one point, took photographs. When Chevron objected, the chair, Mr. Walenta, said, "This is a public hearing and the public will do what they will as long as it doesn't interfere."
However, when I tried to return on Wednesday to watch, Chevron had successfully argued that the people they called were testifying to "confidential" and "proprietary" information, and the session was closed to the public. I suggested to the county lawyers, I could put my fingers in my ears, but ironically I wouldn't have understood much of what they were saying.
After a break, we were allowed to stay to hear the resume of the new witness. Chevron's lawyers called David Aguiar who works at "corporate" (that's what Chevronites call their San Ramon headquarters) on the financial staff specializing in "profit segmentation" and "cost distribution of common services."
Since we know that Chevron is vertically integrated, owning and leasing oil wells, the refinery, the distribution network and gas stations, I don't think many of us will have trouble understanding that Aguiar's job is to move money around to make it look like the refinery is losing money hand over foot while the only profit is at the gas pump.
So forgot those huge gains Chevron posts every quarter, the refinery is actually a loser. Right.
If you research the Contra Costa County Assessment Appeals Board site and search agenda, you will find that many pieces of property that the assessor thought valuable, Chevron thinks have the value of zero. One piece in particular was valued at $9 million, yet Chevron declares its value is $0. I wonder if they would sell it to me for my pocket change.
The RPA urges people to attend the hearings that may last into December. Residents and especially union members might want to watch the process since the outcome will clearly affect their jobs.
If you want to attend the hearing, please call Clerk of the Board, Carrie Del Bonta, at (925)335-1920 to find out if that day's hearing is strictly "confidential."
By the way, Chevron plans to appeal its 2010 property taxes.
Despicable. Disgusting. Obscene. - We agree.
RPA members attended Chevron's media event today. Here is the leaflet we distributed
Putting Chevron's "generosity" into perspective
While Chevron's community affairs staff are at Contra Costa College today to bring media attention to the corporation's $1 million in grants to local non-profits, Chevron's lawyers are in Martinez quietly trying to get property tax refunds of over $100 million from Richmond and Contra Costa County.
We applaud the organizations being honored today as recipients of grants. They are all deserving of support for the important and worthwhile work they do in the community on very tight budgets. For them, $1 million is a lot, but it is a miniscule amount for Chevron, whose profits totaled $7.83 billion in July, August and September-- double what it made in the 3rd quarter last year. The amount Chevron is giving today is also very small compared to what it is trying to take away from our cash-strapped City and County which are struggling to provide basic public services.
For the years 2004-2006, Chevron claimed it paid too much in property tax, and the County's Property Tax Appeals Board has already granted it an $18 million refund. Still not satisfied, Chevron is pursuing the case in court and seeking an additional refund of over $50 million for that period. For the years 2007-2009, Chevron is making similar claims that could result in yet another refund of over $50 million, and this case is currently being heard by the Property Tax Appeals Board in Martinez.
Chevron's property tax appeals are based on its claim that its Richmond refinery property is less valuable than assessed by the County. We believe its case is weak, considering the increasing profitability of the corporation and the refinery's prime location. Chevron, however, has much more money for lawyers than the City and County, and if it gets its way, public services would be severely disrupted, likely resulting in massive lay-offs in public safety, health and social services, library, recreation, public works, as well as termination of service contracts with local businesses and non-profits.
We do not understand why Chevron feels compelled to persist with these appeals while it consistently makes such an abundance of profits. Chevron doesn't really need this additional money, but the residents of Richmond and Contra Costa County depend on it. At a recent City Council meeting, a speaker commented in Open Forum that "Chevron is like a rich man who makes a big show of putting a shiny nickel on the collection plate at church, and then tries to snatch five dollars out of the poor box while nobody's looking."
If Chevron is sincere in wanting to be a good neighbor, we invite it to re-consider the potentially disastrous consequences of its actions, and drop all of its property tax appeals. There's simply no downside to doing so.
--Richmond Progressive Alliance www.richmondprogressivealliance.net 510-595-4661
|Film includes RPA campaign as an example of what we can do|
Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?
Heist successfully premiered a few weeks ago at the Mill Valley Film Festival. The screenings sold out and were extended and it got a great review in Variety:
"... 'Heist' is well timed as a one-stop summary of reasons for ordinary Americans to be furious at our financial systems. Its last third turns from compiling past outrages to encouraging activism, making this snappy, solid docu an ideal candidate for savvy distribs to jump on immediately. With grassroots marketing, pic could ride the wave of burgeoning Occupy Wall Street-related protests as a ready-made primer."
-Dennis Harvey, Variety
The "activism" it poses as an alternative includes the RPA campaigns in 2010 which on principle opposed corporate donations and campaigned directly against corporate domination. You might see yourself in the film.
"Heist reveals how American corporations orchestrated the dismantling of middle-class prosperity through rampant deregulation, the outsourcing of jobs, and tax policies favoring businesses and the wealthy. The collapse of the U.S. economy is the result of conscious choices made over thirty-five years by a small group: leaders of corporations and their elected allies, and the biggest lobbying interest in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To these individuals, the collapse is not a catastrophe, but rather the planned outcome of their long, patient work. For the rest of the country, it is merely the biggest heist in American history."
The Heist producers are looking to raise $10,000 to get free copies of a special 20 minute version of "Heist" to Occupy encampments and other organizations doing critical work in the struggle for economic justice.
They welcome donations of all sizes, and are offering some exciting incentives as a "thank you" for your generosity! Please visit here for more details.
See the Heist website
"OUR VISION OF A NUCLEAR-FREE WORLD"
Peacewalkers for a Nuclear Free World finished a two-week march from the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near San Luis Obispo to the Native American Sacred Site Sogorea Te (Glen Cove) in Vallejo.
The day before the final leg of the march they held a packed, inspirational meeting at the Native American Health Center that linked the Japanese and Native American quest for protection of the earth.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin was honored for her contributions to peace.
Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011 - 4:00-6:00pm
what the corporate media won't tell you
1021 Macdonald Ave., Richmond (close to Richmond BART)
Pierre Labossiere - background on Haiti's grassroots movement
Marilyn Langlois - slide show and report back from her recent trip to Haiti
Learn why the grassroots Lavalas movement in Haiti is so important, and get a first-hand update on its struggles and accomplishments in the face of the ongoing war against the poor being waged by the US and UN.
Military and market-based strategies--advocated by Haiti's current, fraudulently selected president and his top advisor Bill Clinton--are making things worse. True security can only come to Haiti with an end to apartheid conditions separating the very rich from the desperately poor. The demands we heard from Haitians are similar to those being voiced by the Occupy Wall Street movement: Stop funding weapons and war and put more resources into education, health care, housing, decent jobs and infrastructure.
Sponsored by: Suggested donation $5-15
Haiti Action Committee No one turned away for lack of funds
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund Light refreshments - wheelchair accessible
Richmond is right choice for Berkeley lab campus
By Jeff Ritterman, Greg Feere And Alvin C. Bernstine
Click here for the letter in the Contra Costa Times
HELP CREATE GOOD JOBS IN RICHMOND NOW!
Proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) project at Richmond's UC Field Station
Want to help bring jobs and new businesses to Richmond today? The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is in the final stages of deciding whether to build a major, new campus for research and development in Richmond at the UC Field Station. This new campus will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Richmond's economy and create 2,500-3,000 construction jobs thru build out and 800 permanent jobs, but it won't happen without you. LBNL is also considering additional sites outside Richmond. As a Richmond resident, your demonstrated support for this project can help persuade the decision makers at the LBNL to choose Richmond.
Take action today by visiting the city website and filling out the on-line petition of support. Please forward this e-mail to family, friends and co-workers. Thank you for taking action for good jobs today!
The Richmond Partnership for Jobs is a coalition of the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and the Contra Costa Building Trades Council
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.