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Media Coverage
Council Says Center Merits Leftover Funds
February 27, 1997



Thursday, February 27, 1997
Section: news
Page: A04

RICHMOND North Richmond will be the primary beneficiary of Chevron money left over from the now-bankrupt Martin Luther King Jr. health center if the company follows the recommendation of the City Council. 

After a marathon 2 1/2-hour discussion, the council recommended late Tuesday night that Chevron give $550,000 to the county for construction of a new health center in North Richmond something residents there say they've been promised for 40 years. 

"The North Richmond community has long needed a health center and has fought for health care in this community," said Henry Clark, director of the West County Toxics Coalition. 

The remaining $130,000 from the Chevron grant to the King center should be split between two other groups, the council said: Brookside Community Health Center and Rubicon Programs Inc. 

Rubicon asked for $141,000 to buy the 101 Broadway building that housed the King clinic. That would allow the bankruptcy to be finalized, something Chevron has said must happen before it redistributes the money. 

Rubicon's plan would allow Planned Parenthood to continue its operation in the King building. Rubicon also hopes to start a home health care business there. Buying and refurbishing the building would cost about $720,000, said Rick Aubry, Rubicon's executive director. 

Many council members said they had a tough time deciding among three worthy projects. They heard from 23 speakers on the issue. 

"I hate this," Mayor Rosemary Corbin said as the council neared a vote. 

Councilman Tom Butt characterized the tussle as nonprofits fighting for crumbs from Chevron's table. 

He urged the company to release the money immediately, and not wait for the bankruptcy to go through. 

Chevron spokesman Hal Holt was not available for comment late Wednesday. 

The North Richmond Center for Health, slated to be built at the corner of Filbert Street and Chesley Avenue, will be finished within 18 months of when the county gets the money, said county Health Director William Walker. 

But the money should be contingent on the county completing the project in that time, the council agreed. If it isn't, the county should pay all of the money back, the council said. 

Several speakers argued that the bulk of the money should go to the Brookside clinic, since it is already operating and serving many Richmond residents. Others said North Richmond needed it more. Most seemed willing to share. 

"I'm not disappointed," said Margie Boleyn, executive director of the Brookside clinic, following the council's vote. "I'm glad that it's over. I certainly wish we had gotten more money because we needed it, but we're really glad they recognized us. It's better than nothing." 

The council's recommendations came in two votes. 

The first was to give the $550,000 to the North Richmond clinic. It passed 5-2, with council members Powers, Butt, Evans, Bates and Griffin voting yes; Corbin and Councilwoman Irma Anderson voting no, and council members John Marquez and Lesa McIntosh abstaining. 

The second vote, on splitting the remainder between Brookside clinic and Rubicon, was passed by a 7-1 vote, with Evans voting no and Powers abstaining. 

Chevron committed $2.1 million to the MLK center in 1994. The City Council made the donation a condition of the us