A Big Step Forward for the Richmond Community -- A Victory for Democracy
Negotiators for the city of Richmond and Chevron have reached an unprecedented agreement that
settles several major tax issues. Chevron has agreed to pay millions of additional dollars to the
city if the city will drop its appeal of Measure T and proposed changes in the Utility Users Tax.
(See below for details.).
The settlement goes to the city council next Tuesday where the Richmond
Progressive Alliance expects and supports its adoption.
As in all settlement agreements, the city did not win everything it rightfully deserves. But we
did win a substantial increase in financial support for the city from Chevron and we can move on
to other issues that we need to deal with like crime, jobs, education, public health and the
No one fought for this victory like the RPA; No one put the pressure on Chevron for fair taxation
like we did. We receive this victory reaffirming our commitment to fairness, justice and health
for all Richmond residents and we expect our City to put a significant part of the income from
this victory into programs our citizens need, determined by democratic process
. Those were the
goals of our succesful Measure T and of the End Chevron's Perks Campaign.
As Mayor Gayle McLaughlin says. "This agreement shows that the Richmond community can be
succesful in gaining more fairness when we stand strong and together. The people of Richmond
organized and mobilized to pressure Chevron to do better. Chevron realized it could not defeat
the people of Richmond. It gave in to many of our demands.Not everything we wanted, but this
partial victory marks the beginning of a new phase in our ongoing struggle for a better, more
just, and healthier Richmond."
This agreement does not resolve all issues with Chevron. Chevron has still not agreed to come to
the table to resolve environmental protections on its expansion project and get workers back on
the job on those projects. We expect that the fifth-largest multi-national company whose bottom
line is profits will be at odds with communities that its refining facilities dominate.
Chevron is still attempting to get reductions in its county property tax. Chevron benefits from
Proposition 13 loopholes for all corporations, and the failure of California to have an oil
severance tax like other oil producing states.
Some of the lessons of recent events are:
It is possible to stand up against the power of a multi-national company. The additional money
for vital city services comes in part from voters challenging Chevron's money, power,and public relations by passing measure T in 2008; from the City Council's placing the End
Chevron's Perk measure on the ballot for this fall; and from the community mobilization against
Chevron's cynical plan to try to strangle the city with its own ballot measure to slash city
income. It helped that the entire City Council on May 4th (Nat Bates was absent) strongly
denounced Chevron's actions. Standing up and organizing makes the difference. It
levels the playing field and makes possible settlements and outcomes that promote the
Councilman Jeff Ritterman:
"This is a real advance for the City of Richmond. In the current economic downturn we have won
significant new financial support for the city, which will prevent layoffs of city workers. It
will enable us to work harder on the many other problems that face us."
Jovanka Beckles, RPA nedorsed candidate for City Council:
"There is no power like the People's power! It does not quit. I'm proud of
this step forward that we have achieved and even when I know that the road ahead is long today I
am hopeful and joyful. How do we get justice for the Richmond residents? How do we change our
City into paradise? One struggle, one victory at the time. I'm happy today with this progress"