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Response to Murphy Oil Company Scholarship Story

The story about Murphy Oil Corporation’s scholarships really struck a chord with E-Forum readers, generating more responses since probably the City Hall operable window fiasco.


Following is a sample of responses, including a couple who thought I might have been a little hard on Chevron.


Incidentally, Chevron’s charitable contributions in West County for 2006 are listed at http://www.chevron.com/products/sitelets/richmond/pdfs/Richmond_Charitable_Donatio.pdf. No listing since then has been posted.


·         I think a matching program from Chevron would be fantastic for Richmond and would be a demonstration of Chevron's commitment to Richmond residents, as opposed to the usual smoke and mirrors offered in their PR campaigns.

·         Exactly!  I heard this story on the radio yesterday.  I do believe it is the responsibility of industry to build good will and support the community.  It’s a relationship that seems to be lacking locally.

·         I frequently wonder why Chevron does not use more of it's windfall profits to benefit the communities which it endangers with it's toxic emissions to the land, air and water, and with it's proximity to their homes. How any person or corporate entity could accumulate so much wealth and then not use it to better the world in some way, is something  will never understand. Chevron could be such a Godsend for this community, which needs help in so many ways, by funneling a small fraction of profits into it. The following story depicts how I wish all corporations behaved with regard to their communities. Chevron are you listening? 

·         Dear Mr. Dean O'hair and Ms. Judy Morgan, I think councilmember Tom Butt's idea of a Richmond Promise funded by Chevron much the way the Murphy Oil Company has done in El Dorado would be a win-win for everyone. We, as a country, desperately need to raise the educational level of our citizens and residents. Chevron desperately needs to improve it's image at home and around the world. Let's use the challenges of today to help Chevron become a model corp I wish there was some instruction for us in the Murphy - Chevron comparison but there isn't.

·         Forgetting about the size comparison for a minute, the two companies could not be more divergent with respect to their context(s).  Murphy is family-owned, "small-town", and must respond to the ethos of that situation.  Chevron is a stock company, world-wide, and must respond to the Wall Street/Washington DC ethos (gulp!).  As long as it is profitable and its officers are not grossly "overpaid" with respect to salaries/pay scales in their small town, Murphy will respond to the local ethos about profit and sharing.  Chevron operates under no such constraint.  It MUST show both profits and management payscales comparable to those earned by the other sharks in the oil patch.  In short, El Dorada aint Houston (or San Ramon). Hats off to Murphy Oil and their counterparts in industries countrywide*.  May their numbers increase.(Does Murphy Oil market gasoline?  If so, what is their brand?)  In the meantime, we probably need sharks like Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, BP, Conoco-Phillips to compete against Saudi/Aramco, Hugo Chavez, Gazprom, the Chinese National Oil Company, Petrobas, etc.  The world-ocean of oil is in the hands of the latter and they do not like us particularly.  I think they would likely have Murphy for lunch.  Chevron and their colleagues are a little harder to swallow. Let's just hope that nothing happens to cheapen the price of gasoline at the pump.  That is the only constraint that you and I and all the rest of us in the USA seem to understand and act on accordingly.  If nothing else, that price might make the price of ocean-transport of goods increase quite a bit.  then, who knows, maybe the Chinese and other Asian producers of Walmart's (another gift from Arkansas) goods just that much more expensive.  Then, maybe, just maybe, jobs might flow back to the US as products here become relatively less expensive. We had a counterpart to Murphy Oil back in the grocery business back in Rochester, NY.  There, Wegman Supermarkets have grown from a family-run, several store operation, widely respected for its management, good jobs, and good food to become a family-run, billion $+ operation, still widely respected and always listed in the top ten of FORTUNE's "best companies to work for.  Wegmans is not cheap but it outcompetes the big national chains in every market where it chooses to set up shop.  Think of it as the Molly Stone or Andronicos of the northeast.  This country is made more livable by such companies.  We should be glad to have them.  They deserve our patronage.

·         I grew up in a small community in Oregon with a sawmill/lumber company that employed many of our fathers/parents.  They too offered a scholarship - to one student a year.  It was quite an honor, and the highlight of the Senior Awards Evening.  Believe me, it was positive PR in our town!

·         How amazing it is to learn of something like the El Dorado Promise! If Chevron did something like it in the Richmond community, it would go a long way toward helping us see our local petro-giant in a different light. I don't imagine El Dorado residents see Murphy Oil as a poison-spewing enemy, but rather as a real "good neighbor." Give it some serious thought, Mr. O'Hair!

·         Funding schools in any way shape or form is a good thing.  i love this example.

·         You have no idea how much I wish we had a major corporation that understood the need to provide an ongoing reliable community benefit funding stream rather than negotiating (semi) large one time payments with no ongoing commitment and calling it a community benefit.

·         I think Chevron should be pressured to provide something similar in Richmond – a city with so many at-risk youth.

·         My college roommate at Texas Tech worked for Murphy Oil as a chemical engineer until his retirement, and had nothing but good things to say about the company. If Chevron took profit at the same proportion as Murphy, it would amount to about $6 billion instead of their reported $18 billion.  It wouldn't even be necessary to spend all the remaining $12 billion to perform a miracle in educating Richmond graduates -- even a measly $100 million would go a long way.

·         As a resident of the Richmond area, I think that this would greatly benefit Richmond.  Nothing is more important than supporting the education of our children in order to provide a secure future.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond.

·         WHAT A FABULOUS “WIN/WIN” Situation for everyone and future generations to come!!!!  A sincerely concerned citizen,

·         What a fabulous idea !  It would reward students of merit in the immediate community which is in need of incentives to stay in school and enrich their lives in the most enduring way. Richmond is not only economically poor but educationally challenged.   I love this idea and I hope you will take it under serious consideration.

·         This is a model that all corporations large and small should emulate insted of paying fantastic salaries and bonuses.  Think of the PR Chevron could obtain if they  donated their land on the west side of Pt Molate for the Regional Park and made a safe trail available for their long term lease on Public Land of the long-wharf!  And also agree to REDUCE emissions.  I doubt if many highly paid executive and employees of Richmond Chevron live nearby??????

·         I saw Murphy Oil Company story on the evening TV news and show all of social responsibility to a impact community.

·         This is a wonderful example of working together. Please do this and/or more cooperative ventures for and in the community.  Thanks!

·         While admittedly I seriously doubt Chevron has the heart to do this, I think it would be a lovely idea to at least propose it to them to see if they would at least come up with some kind of counter offer.  Maybe not for all of Richmond's kids, but perhaps those who live within a toxic cloud from the refinery?  I mean, those are the kids who could really use a helping hand up.

·         Something to think about. This type of program should be presented to Richmond by Chevron, not the other way around. Chevron needs to learn to share its windfall profits.

·         Oh, I think it would be a wonderful program. Can we possibly consider actually providing educational benefits to people whose families have lived under the shadow (or cloud) of Chevron for decades? "Do people really care ?  People do." Well, .... ?

·         Certainly makes sense to me - one of the world's richest oil companies should follow little Murphy Oil's lead and give all our youth an equal chance at a college education - so many of our kids simply have it in their heads that they can't go to college - this attitude needs turned around to make them believers that they can go.  It would definitely benefit our community and the entire Bay Area for the future.  And of course, Chevron would still be one of the world's richest oil companies even after funding these scholarships!  From a Mom with twins in college now,


·         Great idea, Dean! Don't reject it out of hand! Love to discuss it with you. I know a bit about this kind of program.

·         Dear Chevron and Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Please take the example of Murphy Oil in Arkansas, known as the "El Dorado Promise," and start a comparable program for the youth of Richmond as soon as possible.  Such a program would help to mitigate the detrimental impacts that Chevron has caused in this community.

·         Let's do it! God knows Richmond kids need help getting into good schools!

·         I know Chevron sponsors many charitable causes but putting money into Richmond schools would be an extremely good use of funds and have long lasting positive effects on our community. Lets have some scholarships and career counselors at the high schools along with funding for more athletic and arts programs.

·         Tom - you may want to check your facts about Chevron's significant contributions to non-profit organizations, as well as the contributions that employees make to community organizations in donations and volunteer labor.  I'm sure Dean O'hair would be happy to get you up to speed and it sounds like you would be surprised. Many of your recent criticisms of Chevron suggest that you don't know that Chevron is not just the Richmond Refinery.  The Richmond refinery is one of many domestic Chevron refineries and is a very small part of its global operations.  In fact the Richmond Refinery contributes just a tiny fraction to the profit figures you like to cite.  Even so, I would guess that Chevron's support of local community service organizations and programs that benefit Richmond residents is very much consistent with the Murphy Oil program you believe is admirable. As a Richmond resident, I really urge you to focus on the City of Richmond's own house.  Now there is a battle worth fighting!  I'm looking at the condition of the street in front of my house, after driving home today past weed-choked medians and crumbling sidewalks.  I look forward to the time when I'm not embarrassed to live in Richmond.  Other cities could only dream of having the revenue base that Richmond has, yet years of mis-management have given us so little to show for it. If the City of Richmond Could Only Emulate (most any city in California)! 

·         I second and third Tom's proposal.  Chevron, step up to the plate.

·         What a great idea!  As a Richmond resident for 17 years I no longer trust Chevron, do not respect their policies, and feel that they do not have any interest in the people or future of the youth in Richmond.  They bring out the big bucks when they want Richmond to sign up for something that is not in the best interest of Richmond's health but improves the bottom line for Chevron.  Suggest to Chevron that they have a terrible PR problem and that something like this will go a long way toward making them better neighbors.

·         That's amazing!  I never imagined an oil company would do such a wonderful thing.  Kind of puts them in a whole new light, sort of like the old days I hear about when Chevron was more boon than bane to Richmond. Mr. O'hair, you spouted all sorts of platitudes in front of the DRB, none of which anyone believes.  With or without  the current spike in oil revenues, why in the heck can't you at least match this sort of policy?  And don't just grudgingly shell out a few bucks because you're being publicly shamed; help this city prosper.   Imagine if you'd had such a thing in place for the last 10 years.  Your expansion project would probably have met little resistance becasue you'd have the respect and gratitude of nearly everyone in Richmond.

·         Murphy Oil is a REAL example of the 'people care' theme. I encourage the Richmond C of C to approach Chevron and present them with this exciting opportunity to put Chevron's theme into action. Thank you for your time.

·         I have asked continually why Chevron doesn't fund Richmond education!