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  First Richmond Campaign Mailer of 2010
March 25, 2010

You wouldn’t know it from looking at it, but the first mayor/city council campaign mailer landed in your mailbox today from the “Richmond Jobs Coalition,” a typically innocuous sounding organization that must have our best interests at heart.

You don’t have to look far past the code words “down-zoning” to figure out where this is going. This is the opening bet of the Chevron/Casino/Chamber of Commerce/Land Speculator conspiracy that wants to protect the profits of special interests. The overarching goal of this group is to defeat Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and replace her with a “business friendly” mayor and elect three “business friendly” City Council members. They are even going to try and recall me as a distraction, but with the chance that it just might get traction.

Our old nemesis, Darrell Reese, has even come out of obscurity to lend his special talents to this last ditch effort to return Richmond to the corporate control it has enjoyed for over a hundred years until recently. Note the handy little prepaid mail-in postcard that will harvest your name for later contact if you want to “help lower the unemployment rate in Richmond.” The only unemployment these people have in mind is putting Mayor McLaughlin and me out of a job.

The only reason the mailer doesn’t promote McLaughlin’s proposed replacement is that they can’t find anybody who can run and win. They are still looking.

I recommend you put the mailer to its best use and compost it.

There is nothing accurate in the mailer. Doing a little fact checking, the proposed new General Plan dramatically up-zones, not down-zones, many areas of Richmond, with a net increase of the density and use flexibility of those parts of Richmond served by infrastructure, transit and services. It actually increases opportunities for businesses to locate and expand in Richmond.

Richmond’s unemployment rate has nothing to do with current members of the City Council. It is a function of a nationwide recession that has hit California particularly hard and Richmond even harder because of our demographics of poverty, low education levels and an untrained employment pool.

Of the three people featured in the mailer, Jim McMillan is a board member and founder of BAPAC (Back American Political Action Committee), a proven front for Chevron.

Greg Feere is CEO of the powerful Contra Costa Building & Construction Trades Council, which backs the Point Molate Casino, the Chevron Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project and any other project that will result in union construction jobs regardless of environmental, social and public health impacts . I really don’t blame Greg; that’s his job, and he does it well. Last month, I got a letter from Greg asking me not to sign on to a letter from 92 current and former elected officials from all nine Bay Area counties opposing a proposed project by an Arizona developer in Redwood City which would construct up to 12,000 homes on vacant Bay wetlands owned by Cargill Salt for a community of 25,000 people. I signed the letter.

I don’t know why Menbere Akilu is in there. She is just too nice, but Salute’s is the favorite hangout of the Richmond establishment crowd. It was probably hard for her to say “no.”

Led by the Chamber of Commerce crowd, this head in the sand bunch continues to follow Chevron’s lead and trash talk the green economy and green jobs. While decrying Richmond unemployment, they disparage the one part of the California economy that is actually producing jobs. Every credible study shows that implementation of AB 32 will have a net positive impact on the California economy and on jobs creation. It will also reduce dependence on foreign oil, reduce the U.S. negative trade balance, reduce what Californians are paying for fuel and energy, make America more secure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Green business is where the jobs, grants, and federal money are. From 1995 to 2008, 36% of California job growth was in green business while only 13% was in other businesses. From 2000 to 2007, the California economy as a whole has declined 1% while the green California economy has grown 5%. There is a global competition to get a leg up on green technology. California, particularly the Bay Area with its proximity to UC Berkeley, Stanford and Silicon Valley, has the innovative edge to become the leader in spite of massive investments in China, but if we drop out of the game now, it will be over.


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