After a two-hour closed session in which Point Molate litigation was the only subject, City Attorney Teresa Stricker announced in Open Session that the City Council had withdrawn their previous direction to breach the Development Agreement and Development and Disposition Agreement and not defend the two lawsuits challenging the entitlements previously granted. Last night, April 20, 2021, the city attorney reported, “the City Council voted to defend two lawsuits,” and that the vote was 6-1 with Council Member Eduardo Martinez dissenting. See City Council Actions on Point Molate Put City at Grave Financial Risk, April 10, 2021.
At exactly 11:30 PM last night, the City Council concluded another seven-hour meeting, including 59 minutes discussing how to shorten meetings. Because of the volume of business the City Council routinely has before it, City Manager Laura Snideman asked the City Council to consider adding additional meetings to its schedule. The City Council ultimately complied, adding meetings on second Tuesdays and a meeting on Saturday afternoon May 1. I dissented.
The real reasons for longer meetings that do not finish agendas is a combination of the political style of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) and the failure of City staff to prepare clear staff reports and make crisp presentations.
What we are seeing is that the obsession of the RPA City Council members over Point Molate and Campus Bay is a primary cause of extended City Council meetings. Discussion on litigation involving these two projects consumes hours of valuable meeting time, dominating closed sessions, while the same RPA followers dominate Open Forums with the same tired pleas that we have virtually memorized by now.
Another RPA obsession is placing frivolous items on already crowded agendas, for example Item K-9 that ended with the City Council adopting a resolution authored by Councilmembers Martinez and McLaughlin that resolved, “the City Council of the City of Richmond, California hereby resolves that all new scientific information will be verified and incorporated into the Climate Action Plan.” This was after a PowerPoint presentation from a UC Berkeley professor with a Ph.D. from Harvard who lectured the City Council on sea level rise but did not understand how a toilet works. That discussion consumed an hour and ten minutes. This item was actually a thinly-veiled attempt to undermine the Campus bay entitlements.
Later, Councilmembers Martinez and Willis introduced Item K-5, a radical manifesto entitled “Resolution in Support of the Richmond Peoples Strike Resolution and Task Force,” which concluded with. “The Richmond City Council hereby supports the Richmond People’s Strike Task Force Resolution and urges our Richmond mayor’s Office and the California State Legislature to support the efforts of the Richmond People’s Strike Task Force.” That discussion consumed nearly an hour. See Richmond People’s Strike Task Force? April 7, 2021).
People’s Strike is a growing coalition of workers, community, and political organizations confronting the COVID-19 pandemic by struggling against inept and corrupt government and the forces of capital (banks, corporations, brokers, etc.) that put profit before the people and the planet. (https://peoplesstrike.org/)
If you want to know what is driving long City Council meetings, I think we have our answer.
While spending hours discussing Campus Bay, Point Molate, sea level rise and the People’s Strike, not a single minute was spent on the subjects that dominate the priorities of Richmond residents, including such subjects as COVID-19 (actually the city manager spent about a minute announcing a walk-in vaccination opportunity), crime and police response, homelessness, dumping, jobs, changing flight patterns over Richmond, unwanted noise, streets and potholes, unkempt parks and medians, speeding, parking, affordable housing, fireworks, prostitution and abandoned vehicles.