Tom Butt
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  Echols for EBRPD Board
September 30, 2020

The editorial in the East Bay Times at the bottom of this email recommends Elizabeth Echols for the District the includes Richmond. I agree that Echols is the only reasonable choice for this position.

Echols is opposed by a really bad candidate, Norman LaForce, who is no friend of Richmond

In 2010, Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP) entered into a litigation settlement agreement with Upstream Point Molate, the prospective developer of the gigantic and sprawling Point Molate Casino, including parking garages for over 7,500 vehicles. The settlement agreement that LaForce negotiated traded unqualified early support of the casino for tens of millions of dollars targeted for acquisition of open space at other locations. At the time, LaForce was a founding member of the CESP board. He was able to get other environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club to support the settlement terms in exchange for sharing the settlement proceeds. See Contra Costa County Case No. MSN09-0080 (

Of the settlement, Richmond Confidential wrote:

The plan for the casino has made strange bedfellows over the years it’s been debated. Some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, have backed the plan to develop Point Molate as a massive gaming resort complex because the plan would fund extra protections for native habitats and the removal of invasive plant species.” ( Also see
According to the Berkeley Daily Planet:

“Developers, union leaders and representatives from several environmental groups held a news conference at Point Molate today, the site of the proposed $1 billion project, to release details of the Shoreline Protection Agreement. 

The agreement, which settles two lawsuits filed in 2004 and 2009 by Citizens for Eastshore Parks, removes a major obstacle to the tribe's plan to build a casino resort at Point Molate, a shuttered naval fuel depot just north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. 

The project includes a 4,000-slot machine casino, 1,100 hotel rooms, a convention center, a performing arts center, entertainment venues, retail space, a tribal government center and tribal housing. 
Under the agreement, three-fourths of the 412-acre site would be preserved as open space. The tribe has agreed to restore and protect natural habitat and to provide a continuous shoreline trail that would be a new addition to the Bay Trail. 

The tribe also promised to spend $35 million on shoreline acquisition and an additional $5 million on design and maintenance of open space land acquired.” (
LaForce has proven himself as someone who would sell out Richmond in a heartbeat.

LaForce is also known to be litigious, antagonistic and abrasive. In the San Francisco Chronicle article, “Councilman Snubbed for Mayoral Post / El Cerrito panel says he is too antagonistic,” Chip Johnson wrote (when La Force was on the El Cerrito City Council):

There's a big battle raging in the little town of El Cerrito over the largely ceremonial job of mayor, with council members having blackballed the leading candidate because he rubs too many people the wrong way.

Norman La Force
lost out in his bid for a one-year term on a 3-to-2 vote Monday night. Opponents said it was the 45-year-old lawyer's "abrasive" style that did him in.

"There was a feeling in the community that we needed to stop being confrontational and that his attitude was more confrontational than anybody else's," said Councilwoman Jane Bartke, whom the council elected instead. "What's best for the city sometimes isn't the easiest thing to do."
Following in the East Bay Times editorial supporting Echols:

Editorial: Keep East Bay park district on track by electing Echols

Former Obama administration official deserves a full term helping lead nation's largest urban park system

By East Bay Times editorial |
PUBLISHED: September 30, 2020 at 5:10 a.m. | UPDATED: September 30, 2020 at 5:17 a.m.

During the pandemic, the East Bay Regional Park District has proven once again to be an invaluable community asset.
Elizabeth Echols 

With indoor activities a threat to public health, residents turned to the nation’s largest regional urban park district for escape. And the district, consisting of 73 parks with 1,250 miles of trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, has met the challenge.

It’s an organization that generally works cooperatively for the common good. When longtime Director Whitney Dotson stepped down shortly before his death in January, the board appointed former Obama administration official Elizabeth Echols to fill the vacancy.

It was an excellent choice. In the only contested park district race of the Nov. 3 election, voters in Ward 1, stretching from Berkeley to Richmond and El Sobrante, should elect Echols to a full four-year term. She’s the sort of smart, collegial, environmentally sensitive leader the district needs.

Echols has a long history of public service. An attorney who graduated from Stanford Law School, she served in the Commerce Department during the Clinton administration and the Small Business Administration during the Obama administration.In between, she was policy director at Google and then director of the U.S. Green Building Council. And today, she represents utility ratepayers as the director of the Public Advocates Office at the California Public Utilities Commission.

In approach, she and her opponent, attorney and former El Cerrito Councilman Norman La Force, couldn’t be more different. At the park district, La Force is best known as the guy who files legal challenges.

La Force claims in his campaign material that he led the Sierra Club campaign to have the district purchase more land to double the size of the Point Isabel Dog Park, perhaps the East Bay’s most popular escape for canine owners.

Actually, when the park at Point Isabel was expanded in the early 2000s, La Force sought to block dog access to the new area. Not surprisingly, some members of the dog-owner community consider La Force an obstacle, not an ally.

More recently, in 2012, the Sierra Club and an environmental organization La Force heads filed a lawsuit against the park district trying to block off-leash dog access planned as part of the Albany Beach Restoration project.

A court ruled that the district’s analysis in its environmental impact report about the effect of dogs was inadequate. So, the district redid the analysis and when the results again showed no significant effect from the dogs, La Force and his group filed another legal challenge. All told, the litigation lasted four years. In the end, the park district prevailed, but it spent about $325,000 on legal fees.

Now, La Force says, he wants to join the board so he can change the park district from the inside and lead it in a different direction. But we’re quite happy with the district’s current direction. Echols is the candidate who will keep it on track.