|Waning Campaign Thoughts
November 1, 2006
In the mailbox today:
Do you see a pattern here? It’s like a daisy chain. The Council of Industries is a front for Chevron, and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce panders to Chevron because Chevron props up the Chamber financially.
Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce spends an inappropriate amount of time fronting for Chevron rather than helping local small businesses. For example, local restaurants and other small retail specialty businesses in Point Richmond have been trying to get the Chamber of Commerce to help pay for six signs approved by Caltrans directing drivers on I-580 to the “Point Richmond Historic District.” The Chamber has ignored this plea while investing huge resources in protecting Chevron from Measure T. Finally, the Point Richmond Business Association raised funds for the signs. Today, I received my Chamber of Commerce membership bill for $800 (a member for over 30 years and a former board member). I couldn’t throw it in the trash fast enough.
Why are these dying industries
playing such a large role in Richmond elections? None other than
John Troughton, celebrity real estate broker from Cushman &
Wakefield, who likes to call himself “Mr. Richmond,” tells us,
“…over the last 20 years
Another source, a former Chevron employee, tells us, ““The Council of Industries (COI) leadership does not live in Richmond. The COI Executive Director lives in Marin, and the executives of Chevron, Levin Terminals and other leaders of the COI disdain to live in Richmond and disparage our city openly.”
“Richmond should not be ruled by the COI … COI represents a dinosaur en route to extinction. Manufacturing employment in Richmond dropped 24% in only three short years from 2001 to 2004. In fact, only one heavy industry manufacturer (Chevron) was among Richmond's top ten employers in 2006. Moreover, according to the 2000 census, only 25% of jobs in Richmond are occupied by those who live in our city.”
The point is that “industry” has a far higher amount of influence in Richmond than it deserves, trading largely on past glory. Almost all the new jobs in Richmond are generated by small, non-manufacturing businesses. The industrial (and port-related) jobs that do remain have an extremely small density (jobs/acre), utilizing increasingly scarce urban sites for relatively few jobs. That may be one reason why so few Richmond residents can find work here. Even those industries that remain do not necessarily employ Richmond residents. It is believed, for example, that Chevron employs only between 5% and 10% Richmond residents.
What does this have to do with Measure T? The entire opposition to Measure T is being driven by a handful of residual industries, prompted by Chevron.
At the end of this email is an article from yesterday’s West County Times about a press conference where four City Council members, including myself, destroyed claims by Chevron that Measure T will raise rents or adversely affect Richmond business.
The charts I prepared to back this up are shown below. Measure T detractors have never shown any facts to back up their outlandish allegations.
Business License Fee Comparison for a Business with 25 Employees
$82.95/365 = $0.23 per day.
10,000 SF X $.03 = $300.00
Business License Fee Comparison for a Landlord Renting 10,000 SF
For 10,000 SF rented at $1.50/SF per month, the Post Measure T tax would add $2.62/month to a rent of $15,000. That amounts to less than a dime ($0.09) per day.
Mailers inaccurate, officials say
Four R Posted on Tue, Oct. 31, 2006ichmond City Council members stood on the steps of a closed library branch Monday afternoon to set the record straight on Measure T.
Vice Mayor Maria Viramontes, Councilwoman Gayle McLaughlin and councilmen Nat Bates and Tom Butt gathered at the Bayview Branch library to call attention to what they say is a "massive misinformation campaign" by Chevron and the Council of Industries against Measure T.
"This is a tsunami of misinformation," Viramontes said, waving copies of "No on T" mailers. "The message that small-business rents will go up is simply not accurate."
Some of the "No on T" mailers warn that seniors will pay higher rents and businesses will be driven out of town because of business-license fee increases.
If approved by voters next week, Measure T would raise $8.5 million by amending the business-license ordinance. Chevron would pay about $8 million -- or 95 percent of the new revenue -- based on a raw materials tax. Chevron refines millions of barrels of crude oil each year.
The remaining $500,000 would come mostly from a revamped rental-property fee. Under Measure T, landlords would pay $90 per rental unit, with graduated discounts for units above the first 25. Landlords who own fewer than four units would pay less then they do currently.
Commercial property owners would pay about 3 cents per square foot.
Opponents say the new tax will cause rents to rise and discourage new businesses from coming to Richmond.
Proponents argue that the new revenue will help reopen libraries and community centers, repave pothole-pocked streets, hire new police officers and help pay for the renovation of the Civic Center and construction of a new police department.
The Council of Industries, which represents a coalition of businesses including Chevron, has launched a well-funded "No on T" campaign that includes at least six mailers and hundreds of posters.
To counter information in the mailers, Butt handed out a chart Monday that showed his architectural firm, which has 25 employees, would pay only $82.95 more each year if Measure T passes.
"That's 23 cents a day," he said. "I can tell you that 23 cents a day is not going to drive any businesses out of Richmond, and it won't discourage new business from coming to Richmond."
But it is important to keep the big picture in mind, said Joshua Genser, a member of the Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors, which opposes the measure.
"Sure, this particular tax is not that much money, but it's just another thing," he said. "Richmond, unfortunately, is not viewed as a business-friendly place, and this is just another reason for businesses to be viewed as a piggy bank instead of an asset to the community."
The claim that seniors on fixed incomes would have to pay higher rents is outrageous, said Bates, who is known as an advocate for senior issues on the council.
"Seniors issues are very close to my heart," he said. "There is no way I would participate in a tax measure that would harm senior citizens."
There are 4,800 seniors in Richmond, and 77 percent would be exempt from Measure T because they own their own homes. Many of the rest live in single-family rentals, which will not be affected, Bates said.
In fact, seniors would benefit, Viramontes said.
"Seniors will benefit from Measure T because they are the ones using city services like libraries, community centers and senior centers," she said.
McLaughlin, who is running for mayor, said Measure T would be beneficial to both Richmond residents and corporations.
"This revenue will help us create safer streets in Richmond, and when that happens, everybody benefits," she said. "Even mega-corporations."
Richmond is 55 police officers short of a full complement. Funding to hire more officers has been approved, but the city has had trouble finding recruits.
That is another reason the city does not need $8.5 million, said John Ziesenhenne, chairman of the Richmond chamber's board.
"The concern of the chamber is that there's no spending plan for this money," he said. "To say that it will be used to hire more police is not reality because the city already has money to hire new officers. Based on the history of the council the last few years, there's a good chance that without a spending plan, the money will not be well spent."
Early in 2004, the City Council discovered a $35 million budget crisis after years of fiscal mismanagement.
Reach John Geluardi at 510-262-2787 or email@example.com.