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  Collective Amnesia Plagues Chevron Related Actions
June 28, 2005

An E-FORUM reader asked me this morning, “I thought that an agreement was reached to look into Chevron's finances to determine once and for all if they were ‘paying their fair share.” If I recall, the sticking point was around the notion of Councilmembers signing confidentiality agreements. Am I correct?”

I would like to thank the gentlemen for bringing this up, but I have to point out that he is not correct, although his recollection mirrors that of other people, including both staff and some City Council members. As can be seen from the City Council Minutes excerpts below, the City Council authorized a study just less than a year ago. Voting yes were Butt, Belcher, Rogers, Bell, and Viramontes. Griffin and Anderson voted no, and Penn was absent. It came up again on October 20, 2004, when the City Council admonished staff for not following through.

Frustrated some six months later by still seeing no activity by staff on this matter, I tried a different way of getting the information (see attached MSWORD file), but the Council shot it down before it even took wing.

The City Council policy direction of July 20, 2004, is still operative, but I believe no one really wants to go there. As Gayle McLaughlin reminded us in her op ed piece on Saturday, Chevron is the single highest contributor to City Council candidates. This is really unfortunate, because it is entirely possible that forcing Chevron to pay the same utility tax rate the rest of us pay could very well produce the funds to provide both the law enforcement and other programs many believe are needed to chop Richmond’s homicide rate.

City Council Minutes, July 20, 2004

In the matter to review and authorize release of Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Confidential Utility—energy— Utilization Study. Leveron Bryant, Interim City Manager, presented the staff report. The following individual spoke on the matter: Andres Soto. Discussion ensued. A motion was made by Councilmember Rogers, seconded by Councilmember Butt, to authorize releasing the study, and if the Chevron information is  not proprietary. Councilmember Viramontes stated that she would not support the motion because of the risk of a lawsuit.  Councilmember Butt withdrew his second. Further discussion ensued. A motion was made by Councilmember Belcher,    seconded by Councilmember Bell Calling for the Question to  terminate debate passed by the following vote: Ayes:  Councilmembers Belcher, Bates, Bell, Viramontes, and Mayor  Anderson. Noes: Councilmember Butt, Griffin, and Rogers.  Abstentions: None. Absent: Councilmember Penn None. On  motion of Councilmember Butt, seconded by Councilmember  Viramontes authorized release of the Request for Proposal for  Confidential Utility Utilization Study by the following vote:  Ayes: Councilmembers Butt, Belcher, Rogers, Bell, and  Viramontes. Noes: Vice Mayor Griffin and Mayor Anderson.  Abstentions: None. Absent: Councilmember Penn.    

City Council Minutes, October 12, 2004

In the matter of a status report on the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to evaluate Chevron’s energy usage. Everett Jenkins, Interim City Attorney presented an overview of the matter. He stated that the former Interim City Manager, Leveron Bryant prepared a draft RFP prior to his retirement and has been reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office. He said that Phil Batchelor, Interim City Manager would like to address the Council regarding the matter prior to publishing the RFP. Councilmember Butt gave comments regarding the inexcusable actions of City Staff. Councilmember Rogers asked Jay Corey, Acting City Manager to communicate to Mr. Batchelor the frustration experienced when Council adopts resolutions and other policy matters and staff does not act as directed by Council. The following individual spoke on the matter: Bill Idzerda. Following discussion, the matter will be brought back to Council by Phil Batchelor, Interim City Manager.

City Council Minutes, April 3, 2005

In the matter to consider a procedure whereby the City Council considers each application to utilize the maximum tax payable on its merits and with information regarding the financial consequences. Councilmember Butt gave an overview of the mater. Discussion ensued. Following discussion, on motion of Councilmember Butt, seconded by Councilmember McLaughlin directing staff to institute a procedure failed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Butt and McLaughlin. Noes: Councilmembers Penn and griffin, Abstentions: Councilmember Marquez and Mayor Anderson. Absent: Councilmembers Bates and Viramontes.


agenda request utility tax.doc