El Cerrito 1938: A full day’s cinema entertainment for a dime

The Saturday kiddee matinee at the Cerrito Theatre on the weekend of March 18, 1938 had a full day’s entertainment for a dime.

The bill included “The Robin Hood of El Dorado,” a 1936 MGM feature about 19th century Mexican outlaw Joaquin Murietta. Local legend has it that Murietta once hid out from the pursuit of authorities in the area later known as El Cerrito.

Along with the main feature was a two-reeler with British child star Sybil Jason, a Three Stooges short and a Popeye cartoon, along with free beanies for the kids.

Quite a bargain even in the Great Depression — provided you could keep the children away from the snack counter.

Here’s the trailer for The Robin Hood of El Dorado



Full text of Richmond Mayor McLaughlin’s State of City 2013

Below is the full speech delivered by Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in city council chambers on Jan. 29, 2013.


City Councilmembers, City Staff and members of the community:  2012 was a quite a year!   It was of groundbreaking and historic accomplishments and it was also a year of deep controversy and difference of opinion.   It was eventful and unprecedented in so many ways.  Whether it was difficult controversies or groundbreaking accomplishments, we have risen to the occasion and I remain honored to represent the great diverse community that resides here in our great city.     In the midst of our ongoing challenges, it’s easy to lose sight of the ground we’ve gained.   This is a collective journey, and many, many people, businesses and organizations have made it possible…that is why I’m pleased to share this 2013 State of the City Address with all of you today.


Public Works, Engineering and Development Projects


I want to start off with sharing some of the many accomplishments in terms of Public Works, Parks, Engineering and development projects.


For starters, let’s acknowledge with pride that Richmond won the 2011 Pavement Management Award for “Most Improved Roads” from MTC.  We had an increase of 13 points from 2010.  While we still have a lot of work to do, this is a great achievement. 


In addition to paving many city blocks, Public Works did remodeling work at Fire Stations and painted various city buildings such as the Disabled People’s Recreation Center, the main Library and the interior of the Auditorium.


Our Parks and Landscaping Division were busy, as always, with great projects.  Thanks to our very committed and able Parks staff in collaboration with an engaged community, onAugust 11, 2012, we celebrated the Grand Opening of a beautifully renovated Solano Playlot.  We also celebrated the renovation of Burg Park as well as a new pedestrian bridge at Booker T. Anderson Park.  This in conjunction with ongoing maintenance, repairs, and landscaping work to beautify our city public spaces.


Engineering was extremely busy this year as well.


Projects including the Via Verdi Culvert Replacement Project, previously known as the Via Verdi “sink hole” problem.  El Portal Drive was opened in December and the pipe that ran under the road has been completely replaced.


Some other quick facts include:


100, 000 sq. yards of pavement were slurry sealed.

35 curb ramps were completed

28,589 sq ft of sidewalks were completed through the City program


Engineering should also be congratulated for its Railroad Crossing Improvements.  Richmond is now a national leader in Quiet Zones with a total of eight (8) zones established.  


Engineering also replaced lights on major streets throughout the City (such as Macdonald Ave, Barrett, 23rd, San Pablo, Cutting Blvd, portions of the Parkway, Castro St., Nevin, Bissell, Pennsylvania and various downtown streets.  1,100 antiquated series streetlights were replaced with LED lights.  Old lights use 80% more energy than the new LED lightsAND the LED lights are 4 times brighter than older lights. 


And one more engineering project I want to mention is the Stormwater Improvements at Garrity Creek.  The first large trash capture device was placed in a stormwater pipe at Hilltop Mall such that it captures trash dropped by shoppers preventing the trash from getting in the creek.


New development projects continue to move forward in Richmond:


Rosie the Riveter Visitor and Education Center 

  • The new visitor education center in the historic Oil House, part of the Ford Building Rehabilitation Project is located on the Richmond shoreline and is the new home of the Rosie the Riveter Visitor and Education Center.
  • Restoration improvements of the Oil House include: classrooms, exhibits, and an award winning theater.

Bart garage

  • The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) parking structure is nearing completion.
  • Related transit improvements such as repaving and striping of 16th Street have been completed.  Along with the BART garage construction other improvements with transit center include; pedestrian and bicycle upgrades as well as improvements to bus circulation.
  • The public art is now installed on the east and west parking structure elevations.
  • Once completed the garage will have six levels of parking, with a total of 762-spaces. The garage will include 9,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space fronting on Macdonald Avenue in downtown Richmond. 

Meade Street Bypass Road Project

  • The Meade Street Bypass Road now serves as the primary road in and out of the South Richmond Shoreline Area with no interruption from train activity. This is especially vital to emergency vehicles that need access to the South Richmond Shoreline area unimpeded.
  • Meade Street Bypass Road is great resource for the business community in the area and has potential for new businesses to call Richmond home.
  • This road will serve as a temporary road while the Bradley A. Moody Underpass Grade Separation is constructed

Green aspects of the bypass road project

  • The road consists of green components: State “Energy-Efficient” LED Street Lights will help provide safety to the area and to bicycle riders utilizing the Class II bike lanes
  •  2 acre site includes the largest Richmond Public Works Bio retention Basin that will filter storm water runoff

Rigger’s Loft


Rigger’s Loft, after some controversy, is well into its rehabilitation work and is already being marketed by the City.


Crime and Violence Prevention


Now, I ‘d like to focus a bit on the extraordinary accomplishments we have collectively made happen in the area of crime and violence prevention.


In recent years, we have seen a massive decrease in violent crime.  We ended 2012 with 18 homicides, while it was just a few years back in 2009, we had 45 homicides.  We are clearly moving in a very strong downward trend.  All this reflects a collective effort on the part of our community-involved police department, our Office of Neighborhood Safety, many community violence prevention groups and great programs, such as the Ceasefire Program.


As we all know, one homicide and one shooting is a tragedy beyond words.   Let us always remember that these statistics represent real human lives and people loved, and mourned, by many.


In addition, just recently a great crime prevention victory has been accomplished thanks to a grassroots community organizing effort that was successful in getting state realignment money dedicated to re-entry services as opposed to expanding the county jail.  I will be presenting this year’s MLK Award to those community groups that really helped shift the focus onto resources needed for re-entry service to decrease recidivism….rather than trying at arrest our way out of crime problems.   


My office is also working directly with the Richmond Project, a program in San Quentin, where Richmond residents in prison are transforming themselves and sharing their profound message with our youth encouraging them to focus on healthy lifestyles.


So in many ways we are addressing the roots of our crime and showcasing Richmond as a leader in crime prevention. 


Economic Development and Jobs


And along with moving to a more peaceful Richmond, we have moved to a moved our local economy forward as well.


Richmond saw 249 new businesses started in 2012 which generated 457 jobs.


An example of one of these new businesses is Nutiva. Nutiva the world’s leading brand of organic hemp foods, coconut oil, and chia seeds and moved its headquarters to Richmond this year.  It is in the process of hiring 100 workers and has reached out to our local residents for these jobs.  In addition, Nutiva, is doing great community work, including a commitment of planting fruit tree orchards in every Richmond school, which it has already begun!


Ekso Bionics is another great business that has moved to Richmond.  Ekso Bionics is pioneering the field of exoskeletons, designing and creating some of the most forward-thinking solutions in offering people with physical limitations new, innovative options for extending their physical abilities. Ekso Bionics was named by Time Magazine as “One of the 50 Best Innovations in 2010.”  And we are proud that they chose Richmond to be home to their exciting business.


ANDof course as we all know, The University of California Richmond Field Station was selected as the preferred site for the second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The development of the Richmond Bay Campus in Richmond’s Southern Gateway will serve as a center for innovation, catalyst for other research facilities, and will support broader economic revitalization locally and regionally. The start of the operation is expected between 2017-2020.  


We just recently passed a resolution calling on DTSC to move forward with a clean-up to unrestricted standards of the toxic Zeneca site (which is adjacent to the Richmond Field Station) so that we are not held back in our economic revitalization of the South Gateway, including the development of LBNL’s 2nd campus.


But in addition to traditional models of economic development, we are also promoting alternative models by way of encouraging Richmond worker-owned cooperatives.  In 2011 we saw our first Richmond worker-owned coop get started.  That was the Liberty Ship Café, a healthy catering service owned collectively by Richmond residents.  This year we have continued to promote coops and are seeing a restaurant coop, a bike coop, an urban agriculture coop, an entertainment coop, and a solar installation coop in the works.  This style of economic development has a three-pronged benefit.  Worker Coops are 1. a source of job creation, 2. a source of local wealth-building, and 3. a source of workplace democracy. 


We also saw a non-profit emerge this year, the Richmond Revolving Loan fund, that is helping provide start-up money for local co-ops.


Job training continues to be an extremely high priority for us all.


RichmondBUILD, of course, continues to be a star program in the City as we train and steer our residents toward jobs in the new green economy.


But we’ve also seen some new advancements as part of our YouthWORKS program.  A big plus is that at that at the end of 2012 YouthWORKS moved into their own building at 2705 Macdonald Ave. 


Our 2012 Summer Youth Employment Program employed about the same number of Richmond youth as last year.  We had 263 youth receiving up to 100 hours of meaningful, career path work experience. 


The after-school Academic Program “Straight Talk on Prison” has provided academic support and community service learning to over 70 youth participants. In collaboration with the National Park Service, we saw the emergence of the “Hometown Richmond’ team working in gardens, urban agriculture locations, and planting trees through the community.


Our stellar LEAP program with its excellent staff, instructors and volunteers continues to provide intense learning opportunities so that their graduates succeed educationally, thereby enhancing their earning power.


Health and Sustainability Initiatives


In terms of policies and initiatives, our greatest accomplishment this year was on April 24, when we passed our 2030 General Plan based on health, sustainability and equity.  We now have a great blueprint for a healthy and vital urban landscape meeting the needs of our community as a whole!


Another great initiative occurred on June 19 when we voted to participate in Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) by joining Marin Energy Authority to provide customers with a choice of purchasing electricity with higher renewable energy content.


We’re excited that our R3 – Richmond Recovery Rebate Program provided $377,691 in rebates to residents, generating in the process $3,166,191 in total economic activity and an estimated 35 new, local jobs. For every $1 of R3 funds awarded to a project, $7.1 dollars were invested back into the local economy.


We are making great progress in the field of health and were selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Roadmaps to Health Prize finalist for innovative Community Health and Wellness strategies! 


We also have a new partnership called the Richmond Health Equity Partnership (RHEP), where we are partnering  with Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) and others and are engaging in various strategies and projects to advance full-service community schools and to track and measure health outcomes.   


We’ve also made progress on brownfield assessments to facilitate the development of community gardens and have shared Richmond’s experience with other cities as part of the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities efforts.   Thank you to the community, to the Health Initiatives Team and everyone working to better the health or our community.


In the area of sustainable transportation, our “Easy Go Richmond” project just won a State Award from the Governor’s Office and is providing opportunities for car-sharing, bike sharing and electric and hybrid vehicle usage, as well as discounted public transportation passes.


Further sustainability efforts of course include the city’s various Compost and Tree Giveaways.  In partnership with Self Sustaining Communities and Richmond’s Cities of Service Program, 3,000 various fruit and olive trees were given away.  And Self-Sustaining Communities is continuing to outreach for more trees for our community from regional growers.


Community groups and non-profits, such as Urban Tilth, Groundwork Richmond and Richmond Trees have helped us beautify our neighborhoods and promote a healthier Richmond with the planting of new trees and growing of community gardens. 


And our Richmond Food Policy Council continues to explore ways of accessing healthier food for our community. 


We also participated in green tours for Richmond youth in conjunction with Lana Husser and Earth Team so that youth from various schools have an opportunity to see all the great sustainable initiatives we are engaged in. 


In addition, we’ve participated with the community in various healthy recreational activities and events such as the Walk to Nature led by Youth Enrichment Strategies and Bike to Work Day; and we celebrated the closing of a Bay Trail gap with the completion of the Wildcat Marsh Trail. 


Chevron Fire


Amid, all these wonderful things, let’s not forget the horrendous experience of the Chevron Refinery fire which sent 15,000 people to local hospital for treatment of respiratory issues and other health impacts of the fire.  We remain very concerned about the health and safety risk that this major refinery poses to our residents and to the greater Bay area.   I brought forward 2 resolutions in recent months, which the City Council approved, addressed the issue of Chevron’s rebuilding their Crude Unit where the fire occurred.  Concerns remain that they utilize the best technology available and that the highest safety precautions are put into place.  Some of us are watching very closely as more information unfolds.
We are also very concerned that Chevron be held totally accountable for the damage they have imparted on us which includes the health impact, the impact to land and property, and the impact to our City’s image.  Chevron has imparted great harm to our community by way of their pollution, their accidents, and frankly their impact on our elections and democracy for decades.  Many of us remain greatly concerned about all of this.


But while we are putting our nose to the grindstone and making sure that our health and safety isn’t put in jeopardy once again, we continue to develop and rise as a city with heart, mind and soul committed to transform ourselves and bring our dreams into fruition.


Arts/Culture/Festivals/Special events


One of the most profound ways we rise and transform ourselves is through arts, culture, festivals, and special city events.


Festivals and events are a reflection of our diversity and our outlook as a community and we had a flowering of such activities last year.  In addition to some of our now long-standing festivals such as Cinco de Mayo, Juneteenth, the Homefront Festival, National Night Out, and the North Shoreline festival, we had the joy of experiencing our 3rd Annual Native American Pow-Wow last summer….and the 2nd Annual Major Taylor Bike Fiesta organized by Building Blocks for Kids happened last year. 


Other new traditions, including the North Richmond Blues Festival and the North Richmond Green Festival, have continued to build community spirit and empowerment throughout North Richmond.  Our downtown Music on the Main concerts and Pt Richmond’s various music and arts festivals, have shown that we have no shortage of talent in the City of Richmond!


To add to that, we had a great Spirit and Soul Festival in downtown Richmond last summer where thousands of people filled out downtown to experience good food, entertainment and many wonderful vendors showcasing their wares.


In 2012, the 3th Annual Homelessness Conference also took place in Richmond, organized by Saffron Strand, a non-profit dedicated to helping homeless individuals find their way into healthy lifestyles with job opportunities.


Additionally, I am very proud of the continued success by my office and the community in organizing our International Women’s Day event.  Last year was our 5th Annual Sisters in Solidarity event which brought together more women than ever, who demonstrate by their solidarity the kind of Richmond that we can become and are becoming!  


The arts in Richmond continue to thrive with poetry and essay contests, as well as neighborhood arts projects.  This year the City Council established a Poet Laureate Program and we honored Dwayne Parish as our first Poet Laureate in Richmond! 


Creative groups of young people such as RAW Talent and the young people at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts continue to make us proud.


And….public arts murals took center stage in Richmond in 2012 as the Greenway has become transformed with beautiful murals alongside beautiful gardens.


New Volunteer Program


Impact volunteering program, managed and coordinated by Rochelle Monk, branded as “Excellence Serving our Community” with various initiatives already launched like the WriterCoach Connection at Richmond High School to address the writing achievement gap with one-on-one volunteers helping 120 students to improve literacy and writing skills. .  In December 2012, Youth Service America announced its selection of RichmondESCas a lead agency to engage and organize youth to lead projects that improve the Richmond community.


The official launch of theESCis on Feb 20 at 11:30 at Civic Center Plaza.


Youth empowerment


We have also seen that great organizing work around youth sports, activities, and education has taken a big step forward this year.  Our youth, with adult mentors, have shown that yes, they can advocate on their own behalf for more sports fields and more education and youth activities.  Richmond Pulse (a youth-run newspaper) continues to focus on positive happenings in Richmond with the determination of showcasing Richmond as a city with character and integrity. I’m thrilled that my office has worked with these groups to help them move their efforts forward and we will continue to do so.   We continue to work also with the RYSE Center and other youth-focused groups as we explore concrete ways to make sure the City sets the highest priority for youth needs in every decision made, including and especially funding decisions. 


The year ahead


There is much to be done in 2013.   While there will be many surprises, there are a few interesting projects on the near horizon:

  1. In the very near term, on February 4, we will consider filling the City Council seat vacancy.


  1. In the coming months, we will also see our Municipal ID implementation.  The contract should be signed in March and IDs are expected to be issued starting in June. 
  2. We also will see the unrolling of Community Choice Aggregation in Richmond, as we offer residents the option of being customers of MEA.


  1.  In addition to our annual Women’s Day event, my office will also be organizing a Youth Forum later this year that will bring together various youth groups to focus on how our Youth Can Help us build a Better Richmond.


  1. Another exciting effort underway is our Healthy Vendors Ordinance.  We hope to see this completed in 2013 to help stimulate our local economy by way of policies and incentives for healthy food vendors.


  1.  Other efforts underway for 2013 are the Plastic Bag Ordinance and the Climate Action Plan.


  1. Larger efforts, like review of LBNL’s plans and also Chevron Revised Renewal Project plans will of course continue as well.


  1. Efforts surrounding the clean-up of Pt Molate will continue as well, and hopefully the re-opening of Pt Molate Beach will be forthcoming soon, so we can all enjoy this beautiful area that we collectively own as a city and community!




In conclusion, these continue to be difficult, but also very interesting, times we live in.  As we all know, there is much controversy in the political climate of our city.  This controversy should not deter us at all, but only cause us all to look deep at what we want and need. 


I expect the City Council will continue to have different points of view.  I call on every member of the City Council to seek respectful ways to express these differences. 

The future of Richmond rests in many hands shaped by the participation of the community, its elected representatives and our City staff.   Social, environmental and economic justice must continue to be our compass.  We have much to be proud of, but what excites me, what inspires me, is the resiliency and spirit of our community.

So let’s dream big and work hard together in 2013.  We are in this together and together we will continue to open more doorways and overcome more and more challenges!


Thank you very much for your attention.


Richmond’s Nat Bates responds to Mayor’s State of City

A statement released Wednesday:

Those of you who viewed the council meeting last night or read the West County Times news article, hopefully witnessed the start of a mutual respect by the council and a stronger independent and  impartial leadership role by the mayor. Below are a few of my comments I wish to share with several of my friends and contacts.



I thought the mayor did a good job in presenting the state of the city message last night. Her decision to include photos was a great idea as we know a picture is worth a thousand words. On a personal note, although we do not share the same political philosophy, I have always liked the mayor and have found her unlike some of her radical RPA friends, to be friendly, warm, and compassionate. A good example was during last night’s council meeting where there was a choice for vice mayor between council members Corky Booze and Jovanka Beckles. Our policy has always been to appoint the council member with respect to their tenure on the council and their recent place of finish during their election. Therefore, Councilman Booze who finished as the top vote getter in 2010 and Beckles who finished third was entitled to be selected.


The mayor could have simply sat back and allowed the council to fight it out between Booze and Beckles. Given some of the recent comments regarding Booze’s being awarded the NAACP Martin Luther King award, this could have been ugly, nasty, divisive and negativity in our city.  Yet, the mayor set the tone of the debate while assuming the leadership by immediately making the motion to appoint Booze and briefly explaining why. Her quick actions prevented the opportunity for discord. With votes in support of Councilman Booze, four yes (McLaughlin, Rogers, Bates and Booze) vote no (Butt) and vote abstain (Beckles), the mayor’s strong leadership is to be commended. It is my hope she will continue to exercise this kind of independent leadership as we work collectively in moving Richmond forward.


The only criticism I have toward the mayor’s speech is her continued negative fixation toward Chevron. I assume this is her efforts to please RPA radicals but she needs to become an independent leader on this issue. While she blamed Chevron for the fire and their involvement in the political election process, she failed to mention the many contributions Chevron provide to the city and community at large. Millions of dollars by Chevron go to the city, county, a number of 501© nonprofit organizations and thousands of dollars go to our school systems both WCCUSD and Contra Costa College.  The fire was an accident that occurred and we need to move past that point and make sure the plant is reconstructed with the best technology and safety features possible to prevent it from ever happening again. But to continue month after month dwelling upon an unfortunate situation becomes at some point counterproductive.  As far as Chevron’s involvement into the election process, past or future, that is their constitutional right and until the laws are changed, we have to respect our constitution.  Richmond voters are smart and intelligent and will vote their choices regardless of what they receive in the mail or how much money is spent on candidates.  Money do not buy elections and those who think so, try asking Mitt Romney, Meg Whitman and a host of other unsuccessful rich candidates.


I trust and think the mayor is sincere in her speech as she indicated a willingness to move forward for the betterment of this city. That is precisely why voters elected all of us and I am prepared to work with the mayor and do whatever I can to achieve these goals.



Nat Bates


Richmond needs a hand Sunday to prepare Nichol Park baseball fields

The resurgence of youth baseball in Richmond can use your help this weekend. Volunteers are invited to come to Nichol Park at 9 a.m. Sunday to help prepare its ballfields for a new season.
Here is the announcement from Troy Porter, the city’s Youth Sports Coordinator:

Sunday Jan 27th @ 9am, Richmond Little League, The Richmond Parks Department, and The Richmond Recreation Department are teaming up with members from the Oakland A’s Fields crew and a few retired Richmond Major Leaguers to show some love to the Nichol Park Baseball Fields. Two truck loads of Major League field mix, along with dozens of bags of field clay have already been purchased and are awaiting volunteers from Richmond and Richmond Little League Baseball to be spread over Nichol Ball Field #1 and #2. The Professional field crew with be training coaches and board members on techniques to improve and maintain the fields for future generations. We welcome all volunteers who don’t mind grabbing a rake or shovel to come out and supports Richmond’s growing baseball community.


Richmond Charter School to hold open event

For more info click here

Charter Middle School

Information Night Event

Thursday, February 7, 2013, 7:00pm

2925 Technology Court, Richmond, CA

Manzanita is a parent cooperative charter school serving the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Manzanita families donate their time and expertise to the school, creating a close-knit and caring community which enhances student success. As a public charter school, Manzanita does not charge tuition. 


Please join us to learn more about the school, our charter, our curriculum, and the many ways parents are involved in the success of the school.

Click here for more information and how to attend.





Richmond Chamber of Commerce

Your business is our business. 


The odd couple? Tom Butt and Josh Genser’s dueling conceptions of “pro-business”

Tom Butt and Josh Genser are longtime chums, adversaries and business partners. But the two Richmond business titans have a difference of opinion about who or what is “pro business,” and in the basic definition of the phrase itself.

The two men have had a recent rhetorical spar, kind of like Richmond’s own version of the Jefferson/Hamilton written duels of the late 18th century.

Genser’s piece appeared first in the Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s website.

What Is Business Friendly?

January 17, 2013

what-is-business-friendlyArticle written by Joshua Genser, Attorney-at-Law (Genser & Watkins), in response to a posting titled “SF Chronicle – Richmond Councilman Ill, Won’t Take Office” on Tom Butt’s E-Forum, posted on January 8, 2013.

Tom Butt claims that the business community equate “green” with anti-business. Tom is wrong. The Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and even Chevron recognize that protecting the environment is as vital to business as to any other sector of our community. We also all recognize that businesses that provide goods and services for the purpose of meeting “green” governmental mandates are a growing portion of our economy, and that several such “green” businesses have opened in Richmond.

Why, then does the business community consider the Richmond Progressive Alliance anti-business? It’s because they put their agendas, including “green” issues and foreign policy, ahead of the ordinary, day-to-day business of running our City:

What business-friendly city, after all, tries to take developable land zoned for industrial development and locally owned away from its owners without compensation?

What business-friendly city tries to tax its local businesses and put them at a competitive disadvantage in comparison with adjacent cities in order to make a symbolic point about excess consumption of sugar nationwide?

What business-friendly city that wants to entice more businesses to move here tries to impose a tax on manufacturing?

What business-friendly city, with the lowest rents in the entire region, tries to impose rent control?

What business-friendly city populates its planning commission with people who have no experience nor expertise in planning, construction, property development or, even property ownership, but who do have an avowed desire to stop development?

What business-friendly city blocks truck access to local industrial businesses with a bicycle lane?

Tom also insists that the new General Plan is business-friendly, noting that it calls for huge increases in local jobs. What Tom fails to mention, however, is that in the massive document is ammunition for anyone who wants to stop development, and precious few strategies for encouraging it.

Jeff Ritterman is the only Richmond Progressive Alliance member who ever made any attempt to understand the perspective of business, and he was excoriated for it by the RPA. Perhaps if anyone else from the RPA ever asked business organizations what they thought of legislative proposals before they were agendized and made some effort to understand that being in business is hugely risky and difficult, the perception of the RPA might change.

Butt responded with overwhelming force, a lengthy dissection of Genser’s points and a further exploration of what, exactly, constitutes “pro-business.”

From Butt: Because Genser’s editorial is so full of errors and misinformation, it deserves a detailed and unfortunately lengthy response. The underlying flaw in Genser’s piece is that no one has ever provided evidence to support his contention that certain council members, including me, have actually deterred a business from staying in or relocating to Richmond. Nor has he ever provided evidence that a council controlled by so called “pro-business” or “business-friendly” individuals, as defined by him and other Chamber of Commerce leaders, would actually make a difference in a business relocation or retention decision.


First of all, I have never said, “business community equate [sic] “green” with anti-business.” What I have said and written more than once is that certain people who claim to speak for the business community and certain City Council members and candidates have criticized the City Council majority for trying to make green businesses welcome in Richmond. It’s the opposite of what Genser describes. The Chamber and its spokespersons have criticized the Council majority for courting green businesses rather than pointedly ignoring them, despite the fact that green businesses continues to be the fastest growing job producers in California. To paraphrase Willie Sutton, “…that’s where the money is.”


Another frequent Chamber spokesman, Tom Waller similarly wrote:


I assure you there are many of us who believe that any success in attracting and retaining businesses across many sectors in Richmond comes about mostly in spite of, not because of, policies and policy makers in Richmond. I have no doubt that anti-Chevron attitudes and actions which emanate from the City Council majority are not lost on other legacy businesses in Richmond or many non-local businesses in many sectors that might otherwise consider setting up shop in the City, bringing needed investment and hiring people. As for the “green” phenomenon locally, the worthy mantra of “green business is good” long ago morphed into “pure-play green business is best” or even “only pure-play green business is good” so that others can easily feel second-class or worse.


Waller buys into the popular Chevron-controlled Chamber of Commerce myth that the only way to attract business to Richmond is to revert to the days when Chevron controlled not just the Chamber of Commerce but the City Council as well. There is simply no evidence that any existing or prospective businesses cares what the City’s relationship is with Chevron as a litmus test in making locational decisions.


Contrary to Waller’s lamentations, Richmond’s relationship with Chevron is actually remarkably good, considering that the corporation spent $1.2 million trying to buy the last election and unseat the City Council and it has a bevy of property tax appeals and lawsuits on file that would bankrupt the city if they succeed. Genser and Waller apparently believe whatever Chevron does to provoke Richmond is okay. Turn the other cheek. The truth is that you don’t have to love Chevron to treat them fairly and do business with them, and that’s what the City Council has done. Unlike Shakespeare’s Marc Antony and Caesar, the City Council has come to neither bury Chevron nor to praise it. We just want to do business with each party treated fairly.


Despite Chevron’s threats and efforts at unfriendly takeovers, the City Council has repeatedly and unanimously adopted resolutions directing staff to prioritize Chevron permit applications and process them promptly:


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council directs the city manager to make processing a new or amended permit a high priority, to assign necessary staff, engage required consultants and take other appropriate measures as required to process a permit application as promptly as possible consistent with governing laws and regulations … (City Council Resolution 15-11)


Just recently, City staff pulled out every stop to issue final permits for the controversial fire damaged pipe replacement just before Christmas in order to avoid stopping the repair project. This was pursuant to another Resolution 113-12:


BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the City of Richmond is also committed to expeditiously process permits to repair damage from the August 6, 2012, fire…(Resolution 113-12)


If you talk to businesses instead of simply inventing assertions to fit a thesis, you will find that the biggest concern of existing and prospective businesses is crime in Richmond. They want their property and their employees to be safe. Well, Richmond is getting safer every year, at least statistically. But this is not cheap. It requires substantial investment in a police department, both personnel and technology, as well as other services such as the Office of Neighborhood Safety, Code Enforcement and Public Works. This costs a lot of money, and we appreciate the tax revenue that comes from businesses, such as Chevron, to support it. But if Genser and the Chamber had their way, we would dismantle our tax structure, particularly that which affects Chevron. The result would be fewer police offers and less crime prevention, not to mention worse streets, more graffiti and slower processing of permits. That would deter business, not attract it.


Frankly, most businesses and prospective businesses could care less about the relationship between the City of Richmond and Chevron. They have their own priorities, and those generally revolve around location and the cost of buying or renting space. The central location of Richmond in the Bay Area is a big plus, and the relatively low cost of land and built space makes Richmond very attractive.


Unlike City Council critics that simply conjure up reasons that Richmond is unfriendly to business, I have spent a good deal of time actually researching Richmond’s business climate and randomly surveying businesses about their locational decisions. The recurring themes are affordable and available space and location:


·         “We needed bigger space and our lease was up in Emeryville.”

·         “The mall was a good opportunity, dollars per square foot that they are producing, target consumers that populate the area.”

·         ““Location and business cooperation, light to heavy industrial work, old area had issues with neighbors and issues with local agencies like fire departments that made it difficult.”

·         The business was already in operation with a small business in Richmond and then we bought a big one…It’s cheaper.”

·         “We are doing quite a lot of work here, construction management within the city.”

·         “… attractively priced with high quality real estate, other green tech businesses are in the area, the overall physical environment close to the water and out the fog.”

·         “Rent is cheaper, business opportunities.”

·         “…grew up in Richmond, close to all bridges, Martinez, San Raphael, close to the highway.”

·         “We are on the border of Richmond and El Cerrito it’s a great opportunity to sell the area of all the East Bay and also Richmond, our jobs are all over Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond.”

·         “…lived in richmond for a long time, worked in richmond for a long time, served as a city commissioner for the city, passionate about focusing things I do in the city to help develop and provide jobs to the community.”

·         “I live close by, it’s a good place to do business.”

·         “Richmond is closer to Napa since we do business with wineries, we can have enough space and no problems and we want.”


Only one business surveyed even mentioned Chevron, and that was a Chevron contractor.


I also asked them what were the challenges of doing business in Richmond. Safety, infrastructure and amenities were recurring themes. Even trains were mentioned, but the City’s business-related policies came up only twice, once from a Chevron contractor and once from a taxi company who complained that the business license fees were too high. No one mentioned any of the issues cited by Genser in his editorial as examples of unfriendly business practices or policies of the City Council.


·         “Safety is the biggest issue-but says area is pretty good. Economy, Richmond people need enough money to be a consumer to shop and eat.”

·         “I think security is the most important one, making sure we can survive. We need to make sure that we are taken care of, that it is safe. We have drivers held up. It happens more than you would think. We get a robbery 2-4 times a month. People are really nice, the city is great to work with when.”

·         “Road Repairs- on side streets and corners, ditches and cracks in the street and it is difficult for customers to find parking, when it rains it floods. This is the main priorities.”

·         “Where we are located is very nice but the security of my people through the Iron Triangle and going to Chevron is bad. Some of them don’t like to go home and take a long route to go to Vallejo and go around the bad areas. Obvious Safety problems. Personally not that afraid, most locals think I am a cop, I am pissed at the train schedule, they take forever to cross. The cargo trains more than the Amtrak. 15-20 minutes when coming home from the office, it happened twice last week, on Thanksgiving!”

·         “Safety and location of the office. Visible and secure area staffed by three ladies. There is a police substation across the street. We have valuable trucks and they are parked on the premises. Breakage prevention and safety is prime concern. Accessibility for the public, we want to be visible to the public that donate to us, in this location it is helpful. It is close to the individuals we service.”

·         “They need to clean up the streets, it’s terrible, not just the trash and stuff. There are so many beggars and drug addicts! Robbed twice, stolen goods, break into the toy machines. Supplies have been stolen from the back of the store.”

·         “We need affordable space, other businesses around the location to take care of errands, McDonald area does not have a lot around there that you can go to or eat unless you go to Point Richmond or Hilltop, not much in the middle. Develop the mains street or downtown.”

·         “Better internet connectivity and bandwidth, improvements to the information infrastructure, improved options for transportation from Richmond BART to our location, more economic vitality-restaurant options.”

·         “The ability to attract employees, there needs to be safe reasonable cost neighborhoods in which employees can live, homes need to be reasonable to rent or to buy, in many cases we will not find the employees we need locally and they will need to relocate here and need to be able to find accommodations. Being able to attract employees to the area.”

·         “Local support from residents, businesses, government things like that, development, giving us business, recognizing us as a local business. We came back to give back to the community, that’s important to us and our business philosophy. To give as well as receive.”

·         “Safety, location easy, our trucks and cars have been broken into many, many, times and we are considering moving, every two months one of our cars were broken, there wasn’t any good response. Get some kind of type of security, police patrol every once in a while to protect our interest to stay in Richmond, to help us build a gated area that we can store our vehicles since we have over 15 vehicles that we use, let’s assume that 8 are outside of the facility so we need some kind of solution.”

·         “Safety is the biggest issue, to attract business, have more people move into richmond and business will automatically. I am going to buy a house in the Richmond District on 50 something street.”

·         “ Lot of grafitti, broken windows.”


Finally, I asked what the City Council could do to make Richmond more attractive to business. Some respondents were completely satisfied, but safety and quality of life issues continued to dominate. No one mentioned any of the issues Genser wrote about. Only the Chevron contractor mentioned Chevron, saying, “Chevron and oil companies have been trying to be politically correct, but not being recognized. Should work on PR with the businesses. Richmond is seen as the business enemy.”


·         “We have only been here a month or two and everything has worked well with the licensing and inspection everything worked fast good.”

·         “I think things are going good right now. Road repairs on Cutting Boulevard. but not the inter-streets and the Iron Triangle area.”

·         “We have only been here six months, not a lot of issues that we have come across, so far things are going fine.”

·         “Keep it clean and safe.”

·         “Safety is a big problem and businesses don’t feel secure in the Marina and McDonald area. When we are working there and on the construction site we get all sorts of characters walking through the sites. The local business ordinance does help and that’s good and helps the businesses in the city and helps the city compete with out of towners and gives an edge to local businesses with the 5% advantage.”

·         “Challenges and misperceptions about safety, we have felt very loved when we first arrived and trying to connect to clean tech and green tech businesses. AT&T and lack of access is principal. What is frequently valuable is to be located in areas where there are complementary companies and services. Let Richmond and surrounding communities try to encourage clusters to develop doing similar or complementary things, a critical mass of employees. You might find people are becoming available. Make coming here lower cost and doing what they can on taxes. Build the communities that are pleasant to live in, good schools, restaurants, entertainment, neighborhoods — all problems.”

·         “More patrolling of police in the evenings and whatever we can do to make it more secure. Lots of guys wandering around with carts and stealing stuff.”

·         “It’s basically the same answer, be supportive of businesses, not to go outside of the city to find services that we can otherwise provide, treat all the businesses equally and giving as well as receiving, not be competitive but how we survive as a family owned business, competing with franchises. The city council has recognized and supported family owned businesses first. I think that they have done right as far as I’ve seen.”

·         “…safety above all, that is what will attract businesses to come and open or relocate to Richmond, It has a stigma of a bad area that it is not that safe and it is pretty true. If you can do something about that, that will get more business to the area. I can tell you on a personal level that have friends who own businesses that would love to have a better rate for facilities but that will happen only after safety is addressed.”

·         “…bring traffic to the city of richmond, lower the costs the more attractive that place will be.”

·         “Pay more attention with police to drive around businesses to keep bad guys away.”


Only one business surveyed complained about permits, “They can help more with getting the permits, it took forever to open almost four months.”


Many of Richmond’s highest profile businesses have also gone on record characterizing Richmond as business-friendly. The following examples are from http://www.richmondca4business.com/:

·         Galaxy Desserts: As a relatively new business, in operation slightly over seven years, we began in an 18,200 square foot facility in San Rafael, California. Now we have twice that much space in Richmond, with ample parking for our employees. As demand for our award-winning desserts and pastries increased—partly due to publicity from Oprah and O, The Oprah Magazine, and several appearances on the Food Network cable television show—our sales have risen substantially. As a result, we outgrew our space and decided to expand into Richmond because of its prime, affordable commercial property, completely outfitted for food manufacturing. We’ve enjoyed continued success at our new Richmond location and are confident of even sweeter days ahead!

·         Sunpower: SunPower relocated its East Bay operations from Berkeley to Richmond’s historic Ford Point Building, the former Ford Motor Assembly Plant, in December 2007. We had grown to more than 350 employees at our Berkeley facilities, and needed space that would accommodate further growth and support our corporate culture. SunPower designs, manufactures, and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial, and utility-scale power plant customers. Our solar cells and solar panels generate up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar technologies and have an attractive, signature black appearance. On the roof of the Ford Building, we have installed a 1-megawatt SunPower solar power system. We are delighted that this icon of 20th-century industrial production has become a beacon for 21st-century clean, green technology. SunPower is proud to be an integral part of Richmond’s business community!

·         Bob’s Cleaners—located along Richmond’s rejuvenated 23rd Street—is a Contra Costa County certified “green” clothes cleaner. Unlike traditional dry cleaners, Bob’s uses an environmentally friendly process called professional wet cleaning, which eliminates the use of solvents. To reduce waste, we also return cleaned garments in reusable garment bags. Bob’s Cleaners received Greenopia’s 2008–09 Distinguished Business Award. On Earth Day 2007, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin recognized Bob’s Cleaners as a green business. We plan to continue providing high-quality, affordable and environmentally responsible services for years to come!

·         Scientific Arts: From the giant baseball mitt at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park (a replica of a vintage 1927 glove), to museum dioramas with real water and live primitive fish, to murals displayed in venues all over the world, to special effects for award-winning commercials and films, Scientific Art Studio brings the worlds of reality and fantasy to life. Our team of artists and craftsmen has been together for many years, putting a combination of cutting-edge fabrication techniques and old-world skills to work on a variety of projects. After more than a decade in Berkeley, we needed better facilities. Richmond has a solid inventory of buildings, affordable for sale or lease. There are plenty of local suppliers, fabricators, artists, and workers. We can count on companies like C&R Loo for glass materials, California Casting for sand casting, Douglas & Sturgess for sculpting tools and modeling compounds, and ClayPeople for ceramic supplies. Richmond also has great access in every direction, so it was a perfect match.

Recently, the The East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA), a business dominated organization, nominated 85 businesses the most significant contributors to the East Bay’s unique culture and legacy of innovation.  Three Richmond-based companies, Ekso Bionics, Nutiva, and the West Contra Costa Business Development Center made the initial list, and Ekso Bionics emerged as one of the 16 finalists.


As for Nutiva, a self-described green business that recently hired dozens of Richmond residents, it’s CEO John Roulac stated that he liked the emphasis the Richmond political leadership has placed on healthy and organic food production, felt Richmond is “up and coming,” and was complimentary of Richmond City staff, particularly Richard Mitchell, in helping to facilitate the move.


Ekso Bionics relocated to Richmond from Berkeley in April 2012 after outgrowing its apace.  Since 2005, Ekso Bionics has been pioneering the field of bionic exoskeletons to augment human mobility.  Ekso is a wearable robot or exoskeleton that powers people with lower extremity paralysis or weakness to get them standing up and walking.


So it’s fitting that the company is preparing to move into the former Ford Motor Co. Assembly Plant in Richmond, California, which has been turned into a trophy office building. On a sunny late-December morning, Bender shows off the company’s new location, an undivided expanse with lofty ceilings and twice the floor space of the current facility. An area along the windowed outer wall may become a test and demonstration space, which he calls “our Apple Store.”


The 16 companies and organizations, selected by independent industry professionals after a public nomination, are being recognized not only for being instrumental in advancing the region’s culture of innovation, but also for contributing to regional prosperity.  The selected finalists will be recognized at a gala event on January 31, 2013, at the Fox Theater in Oakland.  At the event, East Bay EDA will also announce their first-ever Innovation Award winners. To register for the event go to www.eastbayeda.org/iawards.


Jeffrey A. Leenhouts of the commercial brokerage Cassidy Turley in his most recent newsletter echoes the attraction of low commercial rents and property values in attracting business:


Richmond is still the low price leader when it comes to commercial real estate in the Bay Area.  It is a great market for companies looking to save on their occupancy costs, as well as for investors searching for opportunities.


Leenhouts is optimistic about the commercial real estate market in Richmond:


Richmond had its first year of positive net absorption in its warehouse market in 5 years (+100,000 sf).  Increasing demand for quality warehouse distribution product and lack of supply of it in the more traditional warehouse markets, namely Oakland and Hayward, is driving tenants to consider the warehouse opportunities in Richmond.  Soon, land may play a part.


And although the numbers don’t really reflect it, the market is much healthier.  Tenant demand has picked up.  Well priced, functionally acceptable, decently located properties have sold or leased and what is still out there will have activity now and will sell or lease much quicker than in the last 5 years.  Distressed properties dragging down the market have been absorbed.  Overall pricing has adjusted to the present.


You can see from the chart below that cities clearly perceived as less pro-business than Richmond, such as Berkeley, have lower commercial vacancy rates, and cities known as being aggressively pro-business, such as Newark and Fremont have higher vacancy rates. This underscores my contention that most of the things that chambers of commerce obsess about regarding the business climate are not in the decision tree of businesses considering locations. Location, cost of land and space and quality of life issues are important to business, not whether the city council delves into foreign policy occasionally or supports bike lanes.



East Bay Oakland Manufacturing Report Q4-2012_Page_04

In his Chamber of Commerce editorial, Genser listed a litany of non-business friendly actions by the City Council, or some of its more progressive members, including:

1.    Putting “green” issues and foreign policy, ahead of the ordinary, day-to-day business of running our City

2.    Taking “developable land zoned for industrial development and locally owned away from its owners without compensation.”

3.    Trying “to tax its local businesses and put them at a competitive disadvantage in comparison with adjacent cities in order to make a symbolic point about excess consumption of sugar nationwide.”

4.    Trying to “impose a tax on manufacturing.”

5.    Trying “to impose rent control.”

6.    Populating “its planning commission with people who have no experience nor expertise in planning, construction, property development or, even property ownership, but who do have an avowed desire to stop development”

7.    Blocking “ truck access to local industrial businesses with a bicycle lane.”

8.    Adopting a General Plan that is a “ massive document … ammunition for anyone who wants to stop development, and precious few strategies for encouraging it”

Although these are clearly unpopular with Genser, there is no evidence (and he provides none) to support his contention that any of them have dissuaded any business from locating in Richmond or have driven any business out of Richmond.


Let’s look at them one by one.


1.    I can understand his frustration with occasional but infrequent foreign policy initiatives, and in fact, I share some of them, but they are few and far between, and there is no evidence that they have had any effect on Richmond’s business climate.

2.    This one involves land owned by Genser. Although his characterization of seizing land without compensation is substantially embellished, it eventually was resolved in his favor, thanks to a member of the dreaded RPA, and soda tax author Jeff Ritterman who thought the property might actually produce jobs. If the land at issue is so valuable and has such great business potential, how come it is just sitting there doing nothing but providing pasture for horses? Where are the jobs?

3.    We understand that Genser and the Chamber of Commerce believe that no tax is a good tax. They have to admit, however, that the soda tax campaign was the best short-term job creation program in Richmond history, and it primarily targeted young people who needed the work the most.

4.    The “manufacturing tax” referred to by Genser affected no one but Chevron, and it was passed by a majority of Richmond voters, not a runaway City Council. Is Genser saying the majority of the people of Richmond are bad for business? In any event, the anti-business City Council he loves to put down resolved the issue with Chevron to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, negotiated by those anti-business councilmembers he loves to bash.

5.    Just this week, the City Council unanimously rejected the imposition of rent control as part of the Housing Element of the General Plan. What’s the issue here?

6.    Ah, the Planning Commission. There is no evidence that the Planning Commission has stopped any development, nor do they have the power to do so. Show us the facts.

7.    This is a good one. A bicycle lane blocking truck access to a local business? Where? When? I would like to see that. The only blockages I ever hear about are by long trains, but the Chamber of Commerce is silent about that. Got to look out for those railroad businesses.

8.    Genser is simply wrong about the General Plan. The General Plan 2030 is an aggressively pro-growth document, potentially increasing the opportunities for development in Richmond by thousands of units, acres of commercial space and tens of thousands of jobs. The new General Plan projects between 2005 and 2030 additional population of 41,050 and job growth of 22,488. However, the new General Plan provides capacity for population growth of 50,000 and job growth of 109,165. This is even assuming low density zoning in the North Shoreline which ultimately was not approved. As usual, Genser has no details and no evidence to support his theme that it will stop development and not encourage it. Obviously, he has not read the Economic Development Element of the General Plan — see excerpt below — which focuses on strategies for attracting and retaining businesses.


Key Findings and Recommendations — Richmond will achieve its local economic development goals by leveraging its key assets, which include: excellent location with access to a range of transportation options; proximity to major educational institutions; and access to extensive parklands, trails, developable land and a City-owned and operated port. Residents, businesses and policy makers will identify new and creative ways to support development of a diverse employment base and new sources of revenue that will benefit the community. Richmond will respond to both global climate change and the shift in global industrial activity by promoting the next generation of green industry, research and development and information technology. Another promising opportunity involves the redevelopment of underutilized land. Developable land is scarce in the Bay Area; however, Richmond has a significant number of developable acres with good transit connections near its employment centers. The following key findings and recommendations are derived from the existing conditions and the community’s future vision.


The biggest impediment to business over the last several years in Richmond as everywhere else, has simple been a sluggish economy, but that is changing.


The Bay Area economy in 2012 powered to its strongest job performance since the dot-com boom, a state government report showed Friday, a clear indication that the region has emerged from the Great Recession (Contra Costa Times, “Bay Area added more than 91,000 jobs in 2012, the strongest annual performance in more than a decade,” January 18, 2011)


As Richmond positions itself to attract its share of the recovery and the jobs that go with it, what we need to focus on are public safety, infrastructure, permitting services and quality of life issues. That is what our City Council has been doing and will continue to do. Businesses don’t really care about any of the issues on Genser’s list.


I challenge Genser, Waller and the Chamber of Commerce to work with the City Council on issues that really matter to business and cease spreading the mythology of a city council that is unfriendly to business.


Tom Butt


Chevron-DonorsChoose.org program announces nearly $1 million in school funds

For Immediate Release


Fuel Your School Program Benefits 111,925 Students in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

Chevron-DonorsChoose.org program funded $958,739 for 960 classroom projects

based on 8+ gallon fuel purchases and online project postings


san ramon, Calif., Jan. 16, 2013 Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and DonorsChoose.org today announced that its 2012 Fuel Your School program funded $958,739, benefitting 960 local public school classroom projects and impacting 111,925 students in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Through Chevron’s 2012 Fuel Your School program, teachers at 344 public schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties received critical classroom resources. Linda Townsend Bryson, a first-grade teacher at Peres Elementary School in Richmond, received hands-on science materials, including a Big Screen Microscope and slides, as well as books on forces and motion, to help increase her students’ scientific awareness.

“Despite coming from economically challenging environments, my students can shine when given the right opportunities,” Townsend Bryson said. “With the tools received through Fuel Your School, my students have better and more exciting opportunities to learn about the world around them.”

Through the Fuel Your School program, Chevron contributed $1 for purchases of eight or more gallons, up to $1 million, from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 at participating Chevron and Texaco stations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, adding up to a total contribution of $958,739 to benefit public school classroom projects posted on DonorsChoose.org.

“We’re proud to give back to our local communities through working with specialized and innovative nonprofits, such as DonorsChoose.org,” said Andrea Bailey, community engagement manager at Chevron. “The Fuel Your School program exemplifies Chevron’s commitment to supporting teachers, students and schools by helping them receive the resources and tools they need in their classrooms.”

The purpose of the Fuel Your School program is to help support and improve critical education programming and resources, particularly in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – to help prepare students for the growing number of technical jobs in the modern economy, including possible engineering positions at Chevron.

“Teachers spend on average more than $350 of their own money every year on materials for their students,” said Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose.org. “This incredible demand explains why the Fuel Your School program with Chevron has grown to impact nearly 112,000 students this year in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.”

In 2012, the Fuel Your School program expanded from two markets, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and Salt Lake and Davis counties, Utah, to seven additional markets, including Sacramento County, Kern County and Orange County in Calif.; Multnomah County, Ore.; Harris County, Texas; St. Tammany, Orleans and Plaquemines parishes, La.; and Jackson County, Miss. A total of $4.49 million was generated at participating Chevron and Texaco stations in October 2012, benefitting 5,673 classroom projects at 1,733 K-12 public schools in the nine U.S. markets. Since its inception in 2010, Fuel Your School has benefitted a total of 8,915 classroom projects.

An infographic showing the impact of the 2012 Fuel Your School program and top most requested STEM resources for classrooms is available at http://www.fuelyourschool.com. Portions of projects were funded by other third-party donations.

About Chevron

Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.

About DonorsChoose.org

                Founded in 2000, DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post requests, and individuals can give directly to the ones that inspire them. To date, 250,000 public and charter school teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to secure $165 million in books, art supplies, technology, and other resources that their students need to learn.


# # #


Contact: Brent Tippen, Chevron Corporation



Brent Tippen
Media & External Communications

Chevron Spokesman

Policy, Government and Public Affairs 
Chevron Corporation


Press release announcing Miriam Wong’s support of Sullivan





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 11, 2013








Coalition Spokesperson: Lloyd G. Madden

Contact: 510-691-8057





—On Thursday, January 10, 2013, Miriam Wong, a Latina leader in Richmond and one of the founders of the Building Bridges Between the Black and Brown Community Project, endorsed Kathleen Sullivan for appointment to the Richmond City Council seat that Gary Bell won in the most recent election but, because of a medical condition, he is unable to serve at this time.


Ms. Wong joins the Community Mobilization Leadership Coalition of Richmond’s most powerful African American organizations who endorsed on Wednesday, January 9, 2013,


Ms. Sullivan for that same City Council appointment.


“Kathleen Sullivan is an excellent choice to represent the leadership that would have been provided by Gary Bell,” states Ms. Wong. “I have been working with her for a few years now to unite Black and Brown women in Richmond. We have been so successful, we have now become like sisters,” Ms. Wong added. “So I strongly support Kathleen Sullivan to be appointed to our City Council.”


Ms. Sullivan, 57, is an African American and longtime resident of Richmond who worked, among others, side by side with Ms. Wong three years ago to create the Building Bridges Project. Their purpose was to unify Richmond across ethnic and racial lines. The ladies believed that the Black and Brown women of Richmond could—and should—provide the leadership to have the best chance of healing any wounds and ameliorating any cultural differences between Black and Brown residents of this community.


“I am very appreciative of the relationship that Miriam Wong and I have developed over the years,” Ms. Sullivan said. “And our work continues—now we have to get the Black and Brown men on board,” Ms. Sullivan announced with a chuckle. “I’m very pleased to have her endorsement and pledge to continue this important unity work.”


Ms. Sullivan and Ms. Wong began this project three years ago with a community survey and the use of focus groups to expose and then debunk the myths that both sides—Black and Brown—believed about each other. One of the participants in the focus groups who made a significant contribution was former Richmond City Councilmember John Marquez.


From that beginning the group last year celebrated together Juneteenth—the oldest known holiday commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, dating back to June 19, 1865. Led by Ms. Sullivan and Ms. Wong, Black and Brown women sang and modified the famous James Brown lyrics “I’m Black and I’m Proud” to “I’m Black and I’m Brown” on what became an award-winning unity float that was part of a parade traveling up and down the streets of Richmond.


About Kathleen Sullivan


Ms. Sullivan worked for the Neighborhood House of North Richmond for eight years providing Senior Case Management services to the most at-risk Black families and mothers with young children in Richmond. She has served as Chair of the City of Richmond Human Relations and Human Rights Commission until she termed out last year. In addition, Ms. Sullivan was a member of the Board of the Brookside Community Center for the last eight years until it successfully merged with Lifelong Corporation in 2012.

Ms. Sullivan has been a successful consultant to the foster care system in Contra Costa

County and has fostered more than 42 children in her own Richmond home as well as provided leadership in West County in the redesign of its foster care system.

Currently, Ms. Sullivan is the President of the Richmond/Contra Costa Chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), which has supported local elected officials.

She also recently cofounded the ByExampleNation Project, a group of mostly Richmond women formed to support its members in learning how to make healthy choices about eating, drinking and exercising.

Ms. Sullivan obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from New College San Francisco in Human Relations and was a Master’s candidate in Community Economic Development at the National Economic Development and Law Center.

Ms. Sullivan has adopted two girls while raising two sons with her husband of 13 years, who himself was born and raised in Richmond and comes from one of the African American pioneer families of this community.


About the Community Mobilization Leadership Coalition


This coalition includes, but is not limited to, Black American Political Action Committee

(BAPAC) of Contra Costa County, Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA),

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)-Richmond Branch,

1 Richmond, Men and Women of Purpose, One Accord Project, Men and Women of Valor,

Guardians of Justice, National Brotherhood Alliance (NBA) and Black Men and Women



Don Gosney’s announcement re: replacing Bell on council

From emails today:

Felix Hunziker: If we don’t have a special election I think this is a very appealing alternative. Gosney, a labor leader and community activist, is respected by many and has provided years of volunteer service and insightful commentary to our City. I’m really pleased, though not surprised, with his honorable offer to hold Gary’s seat only until he becomes well enough to serve the voters who elected him.




From: Don Gosney [mailto:dongosney@comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2013 10:33 AM
To: Don Gosney
Subject: Gary Bell’s Vacant Council Seat


Gary Bell’s inability to be sworn in as a member of the Richmond City Council—a seat which he earned with the 11,474 votes cast on November 6th supporting him—has thrown Richmond into a situation which will be nearly as divisive as Point Molate, as the soda tax or as Chevron.  

What to do with that vacant seat?  Should it go to the next runner up?  Should the Council make an appointment? Should they throw it back to the people for a Special Election?  These are all subjects for future discussions (which I will elaborate on in due time).

Right now, though, I’m announcing that when the Council formally declares the seat to be vacant, I will fill out the paperwork seeking the appointment from the Council.  My own qualifications to serve on the Council and to represent my community—the entire city—makes me a candidate who should be given due consideration.  In particular, my core beliefs are very similar to Gary’s and my representation of the people would be similar to the representation that Gary would have provided.  On the other hand, appointing the next highest vote getter from the November 6th election would seat someone with dramatically inconsistent views from Gary’s and would go contrary to the wishes of those 11,474 voters.

It is my firm belief that this seat belongs to Gary Bell.  I would much rather that the Council wait as long as possible to allow Gary an opportunity to become healthy enough to take the seat that has his name on it.  Political expediency for the sake of retaining control over the Council would be a selfish thing to do and would not serve the best interests of the City as a whole.

Absent that as an option, though, I’m seeking the serious consideration of the six remaining members of the Council for their appointment.

I’m making a commitment here and now—in writing—that my appointment would be as a temporary placeholder until Gary becomes healthy enough to take the seat that is rightfully his.  I would publicly commit that if I could get signed commitments from a majority of the Council that they would appoint Gary to fill a vacancy should I resign, then when Gary tells me that he is ready to take his rightful seat, I would step down without hesitation so he could serve this community as they have asked him to do so.

I support Gary Bell as I have since I first met him nearly 15 years ago.  I personally supported Gary Bell for every local position he’s sought and I’ve used my limited influence with Organized Labor, with the business community and with my neighbors to encourage them to support Gary as well.  My support has not diminished just because he’s not yet able to be sworn in.

I will be actively seeking the support of all six members of the Council and will strive to meet with each one as soon as possible to discuss my qualifications and viewpoints so they can assess my qualifications based on what I’ve done, what I believe in and what I can do for our community.

I welcome the thoughts from each and every one of you on this.

Don Gosney
929 Lassen Street
Richmond, CA  94805-1030
Home Office: (510) 233-2060
Mobile: (510) 685-2403