RPA Activist Info Masthead
Issue: #76May 28, 2012

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Pride Proclamation Marred by Hate
Richmond to Decide on Healthy Kids
FAQ on Sugary Drink Tax
No Casino in North Richmond
Saffron Strand Vigil Against Homelessness
You Are the Only Alternative
Yes on Measure K
Preying on the Poor

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Progressive Office
1021 Macdonald, 510-412-2260

RPA Steering Committee Statement  

Pride Month Proclamation Marred by Hate 

 GLBT presentation

Seven young people form RYSE youth center were at the Richmond City Council on May 22 to accept a proclamation from Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Council Member Jovanka Beckles. The proclamation recognized Pride Month in the City of Richmond and the RYSE Youth Center's PRYDE Initiative to create an inclusive community for LGBT youth and their straight allies.


Pride month is celebrated nationally in June. For the past several years President Obama has issued a Proclamation designating June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender month (See Obama 2011 proclamation). President Obama and the NAACP recently took public positions in support of same sex marriage, as a matter of basic civil rights.  


While many in the audience enthusiastically applauded the youth who received this proclamation, the mood that should have been a celebration of diversity and a recognition of their valuable work was shattered by viciously hateful and blatantly homophobic remarks from some of the public speakers. These speakers, with a few supporters, repeatedly disrupted from the floor and applauded each other.   While we vigorously support the right of free speech we denounce the message of this spectacle, as it is not reflective of the respect and acceptance that we believe most people in Richmond demonstrate for people of other races, ethnicities, and sexual orientation.


After this disgusting display of hate toward a group of African-American youth that had courageously stood before the city council, the Mayor and every Councilmember except Bates and Booze made it clear that these public comments did not represent themselves or the city. Booze and Bates, who are quick to jump to the defense of Chevron whenever a member of the public criticizes it, chose to remain silent rather than criticize their regular supporters. It is extremely important that the Richmond community and its elected officials take a stand against all forms of homophobia and racism and not remain silent.


Several members of the public (some of whom regularly attack the Mayor, Councilmembers Beckles, Ritterman and the RPA) spoke on the Pride resolution to suggest that the selection of June as Pride month undermines Juneteenth, celebrating the freeing of African-American slaves. Sadly, these statements diminished the courageous presence of RYSE Center youth who came to receive the Pride Month proclamation. As the Mayor and others pointed out, Pride Month is celebrated nationally and not selected by the Council and we often have multiple events and causes to celebrate in any given month. Juneteenth is a very important occasion in Richmond. The Council officially recognizes it and devotes funds and staff time to making it a success. A Juneteenth proclamation will be presented at a City Council meeting in June, along with the Juneteenth parade and festival on June 16.


At the May 22 City Council meeting, however, the proclamation at hand was designed to express support to our LGBT community and show that Richmond residents who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and all of their straight allies can live together as One Richmond.


Come to the council meeting on June 5 at 6:30 to express your views on this in Open Forum.

RPA Steering Committee Statement  


You can read the proclamation by

Richmond City Council Gay Pride Proclamation-1 
Richmond City Council Gay Pride Proclamation


clicking here

You can see the proclamation  and the RYSE youth comments by clicking on the video.

We don't recommend watching the remainder of the session because it was so ugly but if you need evidence for what was stated above you can  see the offensive public comment by  clicking here 


Sugar Drink Tax  Vote in November  

Council puts Healthy Kids Measures on Ballot   

At its May 15 meeting the Council voted to let Richmond Voters decide if we want to support sports and healthy kids programs with a tax on sugar drinks.  

Healthy Kids Through Taxing Sugar Sweetened Drinks 
Healthy Kids Through Taxing Sugar Sweetened Drinks

 See Presentation by  

Jeff Ritterman.


More than 51 people signed up to speak. The beverage companies are already investing substantial funds to defeat this measure and it is clear that we have a lot of educational work to do. Many people do not understand the recent scientific findings that sugar drinks in the quantities consumed by kids is far more dangerous than sugar in foods and can be toxic.




See Fit-For-Life website for more information. 

FAQ On Sugar Drink Tax

Is this a tax on beverages and food like the ads say.

NO. It is a tax only on those beverages which have additional sugar sweetening added. It does not tax fruit juice or milk or carbonated water or diet drinks. And sugar sweetened beverages are not food. They have no nutritional value other than calories and new research shows that they are toxic in large quantities especially for children.


Why do we need a tax?

The tax serves three purposes:

  1. It raises money for more athletic fields for kids and programs to fight childhood obesity and diabetes.
  2. The higher price discourages consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.
  3. Its existence helps stimulate the educational discussion about what is healthy for our kids and what does serious long term damage.


Can't we get the money for the fields and programs in some other way?

Unfortunately, the right-wing has succeeded in blocking action in the legislature and passing state-wide rules that limit the ways that we can raise money for things we need in the community. Schools are being squeezed and are even less likely to have the athletic or health programs our kids need. If want it for our kids now then we have to do it ourselves.


Soda is Not Food
Soda is Not Food

Isn't this a regressive tax?

Yes, we are only allowed to use regressive taxes to meet the community needs. A regressive tax is one that taxes the poor a greater amount in proportion to income and we support efforts to make the tax system fair. But in this case at least all the proceeds from the tax will go to helping those in the community who need the help most. The rich do not need public athletic fields--they can go to private clubs. Obesity and diabetes are hitting harder in poor and minority communities.

Further, it is not a tax on necessities. If people cut their consumption of sugary drinks by just 20% they will pay no more. If they cut out sugary drinks totally they will save money.


How do we know that this money will go to athletic fields and programs to help the kids? Why doesn't the measure say this instead of putting the money in the general fund?

Again, the state rules require a 2/3 vote if the measure specifically designates where the money goes. This was passed as part of the infamous Proposition 13. We and most people who care for democracy oppose 2/3 rules for making basic decisions. Especially in the context of an unbalanced political field where the rich control the money available for campaigns, to allow 1/3 to block action by the overwhelming majority is especially undemocratic. A 2/3 vote is simply too high a bar for most decisions.


It is legal to do this by majority vote as we are doing here if the money goes into the general fund. To make sure that the money is spent as we want, a second advisory measure is on the ballot that specifies how it is to be spent.


But politicians could just spend the money as they want?

It's possible, but that is why you need to pay special attention to whom you elect. An elected official who does not take corporate campaign contributions will certainly follow the will of the people in this. Because there is a ballot measure and a campaign, the will of the people will be both clear and highly visible. And you can be certain by electing candidates who are pledged to these programs.


Won't people just go buy in other cities?

There will certainly be some of that. But we expect that other cities will join in. Movements start with someone going first and showing the way. Our kids are too important to wait for others to start doing something.


Won't this be an unfair burden on business?

The law provides that businesses can calculate how much sugar sweetened beverage is sold simply by comparing their inventories. Businesses will also have flexibility. For example they can decide to promote other beverages by putting them in more prominent positions in the store.


Washington says No North Richmond Casino


No CasinoActing Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Donald "Del" Laverdure issued a decision on May 25 blocking a Casino proposed for North Richmond.


Laverdure determined that an application submitted by the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians in Lake County for a 30 acre parcel in Contra Costa County, Calif., does not qualify for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act's equal footing exceptions. The site in North Richmond is, approximately 80 miles from the town of Lakeport in Lake County, where the Tribe's government headquarters are located. The Tribe could not demonstrate it had a significant historical connection to the site.


Here is an excerpt from the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs.


Overview of Analysis - No Significant Historical Connection

  • The Part 292 Regulations allow a tribe to establish a significant historical connection through two ways: 1) the site is within the Tribe's former reservation under a ratified or unratified treaty; or 2) the Tribe submits historical documentation that it engaged in subsistence use or occupancy in the vicinity of the Site.
  • In this case, the proposed gaming site is not located within the Tribe's former reservation. The evidence in the Record also shows that the site is not even within the territory ceded in unratified treaties by the Tribe's ancestors.
  • The Tribe's historical documentation falls far short of demonstrating that it, and its predecessors, made continuous use and/or occupancy of lands in the vicinity of the proposed gaming site.  

Noteworthy Issues

  • The Department's regulations at Part 292 require a tribe to demonstrate that it has a modern connection, a historical connection, and a temporal connection to the proposed gaming site to satisfy the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act's "Restored Lands" Exception.
  • The Department did not make a determination as to whether the Scotts Valley Band established either a modern or temporal connection, because the Band's lack of a historical connection to the proposed gaming site - alone - failed to satisfy the Restored Lands Exception.


 Saffron Strand's Homeless Vigil

Saffron Strand Vigil


Safron Strand Vigil FoodHomeless and Supporters turned out on Saturday evening for a rally and an all night vigil in Civic Center to remind us that we cannot turn our faces away to avoid seeing homelessness in our midst.


Saffron Strand will be following up with its 3rd annual conference:

Defragmenting the Homeless Continuum 

June 18-19, 2012 
Richmond Memorial Auditorium
Click here for more information 

Saffron Strand  group

Saffron Strand  groupphotos Vivien Feyer, Mike Parker  

RPA Activist LogoWant to fight  politics dominated by money? The only alternative is that we do the work.  

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Come in or call and tell us what you are willing to do.
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June  Election

Vote Yes on Measure K


Measure K

The RPA steering committee urges a YES vote on Measure K.  We are working for  better ways to get adequate funds for our schools from the State through closing tax loopholes and taxing those who are not paying their fair share.  But until then we cannot let our children suffer. 




MEASURE K: "To provide local funding the State cannot take away, preserve quality education including: reading, writing, math, science; maintaining reduced class sizes for the youngest children; retaining quality teachers; supporting libraries, improving campus safety; preparing students for college/workforce; shall West Contra Costa Unified School District renew its existing parcel tax for five years, increasing it by three cents/square foot of building area or three dollars/vacant parcel, with no funds for administrator salaries, exempting seniors and requiring citizen oversight?"

For more information click here  

Preying on the Poor    

How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks
By Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara EhrenreichIndividually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month's rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

Read full article here    

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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