E-Mail Forum
  Chamber President Comments on Mayor's Response
February 7, 2010

I was offended by both Mike Coyle’s and the Chamber of Commerce’s criticism (see below this email) of Mayor McLaughlin’s State of the City address that did not mention Chevron’s $1 million of grants to several City programs and community organizations.

First of all, let’s put that $1 million in perspective. Chevron is far from being the City’s lead grantor. Richmond booked nearly $4 million in grants from various sources for fiscal year 2009-2010, not even including Chevron’s recent $1 million. No question that Chevron has been generous, but the corporation is neither the most generous nor even represents the majority of donations to the City. In addition to funds granted directly to the City of Richmond government, millions more are given by numerous donors to various community organizations. The mayor no more omitted a reference to Chevron’s charity than she omitted a reference to any of the other hundreds sources of charity to local causes.  She didn’t list any of these donors, a long list of which would have truly left no time for the rest of the speech.

Instead, she focused on a limited number of examples of the organizations and programs that were responsible for delivering services to the people who ultimately benefitted., including some of the programs funded by Chevron.

I can tell you that Chevron has been a consistent funder of Rosie the Riveter Trust, on whose board I serve, and our organization deeply appreciates Chevron’s continued support. We have conveyed that appreciation on more than one occasion. Rosie’s Girls was listed by Coyle as one of the programs funded by Chevron. I’m not sure, however, that it is the mayor’s responsibility to echo that appreciation in her State of the City speech.

Charity is supposed to be something you freely give without expectation of public recognition. Thanks is always nice, but it should not be quid pro quo of charitable giving. Frankly, I thought Both Coyle’s and Morgan’s chastisement of the mayor was a little tacky.

Whether you are religious or not, or if you are, regardless of your brand of faith, there is a lot of wisdom in religious scriptures about the fault of expecting recognition for charity. For example, Matthew 6:1 warns, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

Feeling offended or unappreciated when not given credit for something that was intended as charitable is one of the signs of pride, one of the seven deadly sins. Coyle even admitted his pride: (“Chevron was proud to partner with a large number of those very same organizations in 2009 and provided nearly $1,000,000 in total support for their worthy programs.”) before lamenting his disappointment.

Morgan went on the berate the mayor for running businesses out of Richmond, an accusation for which there is no evidence. She even cited an engineering firm with seven layoffs that she blamed on the mayor as related to the work stoppage on the Chevron project.

Morgan needs to be reminded that it was neither the mayor nor the Richmond City Council that shut down the Chevron project. In fact, the City Council certified the EIR and approved the project. The City issued a permit to construct. It was the Court that shut the project down in response to litigation brought by several non-profit organizations because the City Council majority certified a flawed EIR that lacked clarity that Chevron failed to provide. If the City Council had listened to the mayor and insisted on an accurate and complete EIR, the project would likely be under construction.

Just wanted to set the facts straight.