E-Mail Forum
  Another Version of Chevron Confrontation
December 19, 2011

The following is from Michael Beer, who requested I share this on the E-FORUM:

Dear Tom,

I’m saddened that the people who receive your e-forum, about 2000 of them, read what you forwarded of Felix Hunziker’s description of an event that took place last week.  Hunziker got it all wrong.  I was there.  How you can repair the damage to the name of the Richmond Progressive Alliance?  You must know that the source is one of a small group determined to vilify and demonize the RPA.

The “big confrontation” didn’t happen.

While three of us were passing out information about the Chevron tax appeal, a security person asked us pleasantly to do it away from the entrance.  Being law-abiding citizens, we went to the sidewalk about fifty yards away.   I left to go inside where Chevron would be presenting the results of their Stakeholder survey.  I happen to be one of the people interviewed.   

Later, Eduardo told me that an agitated woman, who said she was the hotel manager, walked the fifty yards to tongue-lash Eduardo for exercising his first amendment
rights.   Hunziker's informant could not possibly have heard what was said, but there was no “ confrontation" because Eduardo kept his cool through-out. 

Antonio Medrano cannot be considered an “RPA activist.”   He is an elected school board member, and much more active in Latino politics and Democratic Party circles.   Had Hunziker been there and not at the mercy of his “informant” whom he should fire, he would have noted that many people questioned the hypocrisy of Chevron's giving $3.8 million in donations (tax deductible) while demanding back approximately $168 million - about 25 years of charitable giving.   When the Stakeholder survey is published you can read the vigorously critical comments.

There was no “shocked disbelief.”

When he spoke, Medrano began by praising Chevron for its generosity, and then he said something similar to the quotation.  But his informant has gotten the audience response galliwampus.  The audience exploded in unrelenting peals of hilarious laughter because in fact that is precisely how Chevron does treat Richmond and the people there know it, but could not be bold enough to say it.  Personally, I think the laughter was greater because this comment was completely out of character for Antonio.

In the past Tom, I’ve written to praise you for your liberality, like printing the letter when someone hired an opposition researcher to dig up dirt on you.   And just who do you think was that someone?

The fact that Hunziker wasn't even at the meeting should have put you on your guard.   And by now, you know that when it comes to the RPA, Police Commissioner Hunziker seems quite trigger-happy. 

Tell you what, I'll say that Medrano is "rude" as soon as Hunziker admits that what Chevron is about to do to us is "obscene".

Am I the only person in Richmond who is irritated when Chevron plucks a deserving (and photogenic) 8th grader from Helms, gives him and five others "the star treatment" and features him in print and TV ads? 

 Any person in the United States seeing this ad would think, wow Chevron really treats Richmond well.  Abnormally high asthma rates - no way.   Strangling our democracy - no way.  Global warming – nope.   Extorting from us less money than is our due - you've got to be kidding. 

Chevron's even pays a "community engagement" staff to dole out money to worthy groups who suddenly feel compelled to be silent or leave the room.

If you asked the citizens of Richmond if Chevron should drop its tax appeal - and not use it as wedge for a even greater long-term loss of revenue  (How would you define "bully"?), I believe they would vote overwhelmingly for Chevron to drop its tax appeals.   You see Chevron is like that uncle at the Christmas party that brings presents and....

                                                                                                                                                                                                            A better Richmond is possible,                  
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Michael Beer    

Felix Hunziker responds to Michael Beer:


In response to Mr. Beer's letter:

An agitated person giving someone a tongue-lashing certainly sounds like a confrontation to me (ie: a clashing of forces or ideas). That's how it was reported but since it's secondary to the main complaint debating the severity of the clash seems rather pointless.

There wasn't an "informant" - I heard about the "child molester" slur and several other attendees confirmed it when I followed up to see if it was true. Given the WCCUSD's appreciation for Chevron's grants I can only assume Antonio was there as an RPA activist - but if I have that wrong and his unfortunate comment was actually the position of the Board of Education then please let me know. Mr. Beer's spin on audience reaction is amusing but I think I'll stick with the version I was told.

My original letter stated that Antonio recognized Chevron's contributions but that was somehow left out of your E-Forum, as was the entire point of my recent correspondence that precipitated it: that the RPA has certain members that run around town using some of the most vile slurs and behavior I've ever seen in a political organization.

To make matters worse, the progressive city council members who benefit from these activists refuse to denounce this behavior that is contradictory to everything the RPA claims to stand for. Where is the peaceful nature in calling someone a "poverty pimp" or "plantation owner"? How does one garner respect in the community by calling a diverse group of neighborhood council presidents "racists"? How does one build a One Richmond by calling your colleagues "ignorant" or "idiots"? How does splitting the community over an Israel/Palestine issue or flooding meetings with raucous supporters bring Richmond closer together? Where is the democracy in ignoring constituents and ramming through a politicized agenda?

I'm afraid it's Mr. Beer's outlook that is "galliwampus". My goal is not to vilify the RPA but to hold it to its professed ideals. Democracy, respect, and diversity are noble tenets but when they become empty words that belie the real actions of those in power then someone must speak up. I'm just one man and not part of any group, but it's good to see that other people are starting to do the very same thing.