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Two Richmonds?
Political campaign season highlights the two realities that constitute Richmond.

On one hand we have the Establishment, represented by the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Industries and large real estate developers. Chevron looms particularly large in the first two. These organizations are largely dominated by wealthy individuals who live in Marin County, Piedmont, Orinda, Danville and other highly desirable and expensive domiciles.

If you read the small print on their campaign literature (anti-Measure T and anti-Gayle McLaughlin) you will find the sources to be “Coalition to save Jobs, sponsored by Council of Industries, 150 Post Street, Suite 450, San Francisco” and “Committee to Oppose Measure T, sponsored by Chevron, 150 Post Street, Suite 450, San Francisco.”

We also got a letter from Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf, a Republican incidentally, supporting the reelection of Mayor Irma Anderson, who is a favorite of the Establishment. Although the letter is from Rupf, it was paid for by “Richpac, a committee sponsored by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, major funding by: Coalition to Save Jobs, sponsored by Council of Industries (political committee/industry association), the Cove at Marina Bay (residential community), Richmond Development Company (real estate development), MSH properties (property owner), and Committee for Quality Government, sponsored by Chevron Corporation (political committee/energy company).” In all fairness, I have to point out that Josh Genser of Richmond Development Company is, in fact, a Richmond resident as is Mark Howe of MSH properties. In fact, Mark Howe is, in my book, a genuine Richmond hero, contributing generously to our national park and pioneering in redeveloping and creating jobs in the Iron Triangle. Unfortunately, Josh and Mark seem to have fallen in with the wrong crowd and will undoubtedly see the light some day.

On the other hand, you have the rest of us, some 100,000 Richmond residents, some also small business owners, who want to improve the quality of life in Richmond and perhaps raise our ranking from second worst roads in the Bay Area to maybe the 3rd or 4th worst roads. Unfortunately, these things take money, and we have asked our reluctant corporate businesses to help pay for them.

The misinformation being distributed by the Richmond Establishment will be addressed in a press conference Monday by perhaps unlikely gaggle of councilmembers, brought together in this case to seek the truth, information following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             

Friday, October 27, 2006

Contact:  Gayle McLaughlin, (510) 237-1256

Richmond City Council Members Speak Out for Measure T

On Monday, October 30, four members of the Richmond City Council will hold a press conference to voice their strong support for Measure T, the Business License Act, on the November 7 ballot.  Councilmembers Nat Bates, Tom Butt, Gayle McLaughlin, and Maria Viramontes are presenting this press conference to share correct information about Measure T in the wake of a massive disinformation campaign launched against the measure by Chevron and the Council of Industries.

Measure T would levy a new tax on manufacturing, increase the business license tax by 10%, and adjust the way landlords are taxed.  According to an impartial analysis by the City Attorney’s office, Measure T would generate an estimated $8.5 million each year, of which $8 million (94%) will come from oil refining. By placing the bulk of new taxes on giant corporate manufacturers, Measure T promotes fairness and balance in the City’s tax base.

The press conference is an effort to better inform Richmond voters, who have been deluged with deceptive “hit piece” mailers and street signs, financed by Chevron and the Council of Industries, against Measure T. The mailers use scare tactics to alarm seniors about rent hikes and grossly exaggerate the impact of Measure T on small businesses.  Councilmembers Bates, Butt, McLaughlin, and Viramontes are deeply concerned that Richmond residents are being manipulated and needlessly frightened by the distorted messages, and are eager to set the record straight about the merits of Measure T.

The press conference will be held in front of the Bayview Branch of the Richmond Public Library, which has been closed to the public since 2004.  The library’s closed doors underscore the need for Measure T funds to restore city services, support crime prevention activities, and repair local streets.  Far from being “anti-business,” Measure T will enhance Richmond’s business climate by creating a safer, cleaner, healthier and more livable city.  Improvements to Richmond funded by Measure T will attract new investments, new customers, new small business ventures, new start-ups, and new employees.

 Councilmembers Nat Bates, Tom Butt, Gayle McLaughlin, and Maria Viramontes proudly join neighborhood leaders, law enforcement, fire fighters, labor unions and families in their wholehearted support of Measure T.

Event:  Press Conference:  Richmond City Council Members Speak Out for Measure T

Date:  Monday, October 30, 2006; 1:00 pm

Location:  Front steps of the Bayview Branch of the Richmond Public Library

                                                   5100 Hartnett Ave

                                                   Richmond, CA 94804