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Reporter’s notebook on Richmond free speech issues

At the July 15 Richmond City Council meeting, there was several hours of debate about how to reduce disruptions and virulent attacks from the public during meetings.

Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who proposed the item asking the city attorney to craft new laws that might tamp down disruptions while protecting free speech, said, “I am a defender of free speech and the right to express obnocxious points of view … but when it leads to action it’s not protected.”

 

She made several other statements:

“Admittedly the lines are little fuzzy.”

“This is for staff to create legal options.”

“Also, disruptions lead to denial of rights to other citizens.”

“Regular insults and homophobic remarks, enabled by some councilmembers, discourage other residents from participating.”

“This chamber is so toxic and hostile you can feel it through the television set.”

“That’s a violation of their free speech. This is not about me.”

“I ask city attorney to work with chief of police for possible options.”

“Handling disruptions in chambers, the chronic and weekly disruptions that’s occurring.”

Councilman Corky Booze asked City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller:  ”Is this putting the city in harms way?”

Goodmiller: The courts decide. The federal courts almost always. Most of the teaching we get comes from 9th circuit. My view and is in a 7 page memo that sets out the Richmond ca views on this topic. It’s on the website.”

Booze: you said not an item we should deal with.

Goodmiller: no sir. It’s a memo legal regarding the topic suspension from the city council chamber for disrupting public meetings.

Booze: what could a resident say to get them suspended for 6 months?

Goodmiller: our memo specifically addresses that point, future attendance, and concludes it is not legally permissible (to suspend). We advise against that.

Booze: open forum. What are the guidelines to adhere to?

Goodmiller: open forum is a limited public forum. Can’t talk as long as they want. People need to speak about items within the city’s jurisdiction.

Booze: if they hurt my feelings, that is just tough stuff.

They can say what they want about us whether we like it or not right?

Goodmiller: yes.

Booze: f word to me is inappropriate, yes?

Goodmiller: that is not for me to say. The rules are silent on that particular point.

Booze: I rest my case.

Councilman Jael Myrick: so a vote in favor of this tonight just directs staff to investigate it more?

Beckles: correct.

Goodmiller: irrelevant attacks are out of order but the government has to be really careful about prohibiting those. The citizens have an absolute right to get up and criticize their public officials.

Goodmiller: if a speaker ignores the counci’ls out of order rulings and causing a disruption … with irrelevant speech disrupts, he or she may be removed …

Beckles: can they yell fire in this building?

Goodmiller. No. the two exceptions are yelling fire to endanger, and so called fighting words.

Bekcles: so the answer is no they can’t say what they want. Fighting words are intentionally directed … so venomous or full of malice. Incite retaliation. Not protected. Sounds to me like breach of peace by yelling fire and also to incite the hearer to want to retaliate.

Goodmiller: I certainly agree with the basic principles. The government woul have to prove the likelihood that the person addressed would immediately physically retaliate.

Myrick: what about protected classes? Harrasment, discrimination, is there any cases on that?

Goodmiller: have a first amendment right to hate speech. That is not prohibited. The city county or state can’t adopt a rule that says you can’t get up and say that in a meeting. Same with sexual harassment.

Booze: because you chose to be elected you have to take the attacks?

Goodmiller: I don’t take pleasure in saying this. But judges ruled that.
The courts have definitely agreed with that, the citizens, it’s the essence of democracy that citizens can come up and criticize their elected leaders.

Booze: tell me a fighting word?

Goodmiller: example from a case. Hey I wanna rip out your bleeping heart and feed it to you. I wanted to kill you. Pound your head in with an ice pick.
I feel like i’m back in law school. I graduated first in my class by the way.

Booze: was that an online study course?

Goodmiller: the point all the courts try to do is they have to be content neutral. Not the content, but the disruption.

Butt: 1942 case. I’ve heard a lot worse said in this council chamber than fascist and rackateer.

Mclaughlin: free speech have guarantees that people can say what they want but off topic is different.

Mayor: do not call people filth or dirt (pounds gavel stops resident)

resident Kenneth Davis: I’ve been called ignorant. You sit there. Lie on me. (talking to council).

resident Don Gosney: It’s the hostile reaction to protected speech that disrupts the meeting. Call me old fashioned but I still believe the people have a right to be part of the process of governing our community.

resident Bea Roberson: you think you’re queen but you’re not a judge.

Mayor ejects rev. davis for disruptions.

Mayoral candidate Mike Parker: the reality of the video shows that Beckles is minding her own business. Then (residents) yelling at her, harassed.

4th recess.

resident Dennis Dalton: the issue isn’t beckles, its whether we should have disruptions with meetings.

Butt: we definitely have work to do on this. I keep hearing about FA rights, but the city attorney’s memo shows that in fact there are multiple limitations to what people can say in this chamber.

Fighting words. We see all of this here.

Myrick: hateful comments have no place in the public square.

Booze: I can’t believe we’re putting this together.

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Richmond firefighters raise funds for Doctors Medical Center

Richmond firefighters raised more than $8,000 this fall by selling pink “Richmond Fire” T-shirts. The money will go to funding breast cancer treatment programs at the Doctors Medical Center Cancer Center in San Pablo our center.

Fire officials will present the hospital a check at 1:45 p.m. Thursday in the cancer center’s parking lot.

A fire truck will be on hand, said DMC spokeswoman Remy Goldsmith.

Firefighters sold the T-shirt at community events to raise the money.

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Mayor McLaughlin to hold annual memorial for Richmond homicide victims

RICHMOND MAYOR TO HONOR THE MEMORY OF 2013 HOMICIDE VICTIMS

PRESS RELEASE: Mayor Gayle McLaughlin invites everyone to share this Friday in a moment of reflection to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost to homicide in Richmond in 2013.

To date there have been 16 homicides in Richmond this year, and the Mayor grieves the untimely loss of each of these lives. Last year, there were 18 homicides. The year before, there were 26 homicides and the year before that over twice as many homicides.

The Mayor is grateful for the increasingly downward trend, which she attributes to the collaborative work of the City with numerous community organizations and neighborhood groups, along with a growing number of positive activities and opportunities for our residents.

She also applauds the collaborations underway to provide comprehensive reentry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals as a way to further address the roots of the violence.

Police Chief Magnus has noted additional factors affecting this downward trend of violent crime in Richmond such as:  More effective crime reduction strategies, including focusing on hotspots and well as key individuals involved in criminal activity;  Community and neighborhood-based policing. We have more active neighborhood and community groups than ever before, all who work closely with the PD;  Data-driven policing, including our COMPSTAT program, that involves the ongoing analysis of crime data and crime trends.

This program also involves assuring this information is shared by the cops working in the neighborhoods and commercial areas of the City.  Increased focus on gun crimes, including more prosecution of gun crimes of any type and severity—as a way of getting guns and gun criminals off the streets.

What: Meet-with-the-Mayor session to honor the memory of 2013 homicide victims When: Friday, December 20, 2013, 5:30 – 6:30 pm Where: Whittlesey Room, Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza ###

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Richmond-El Cerrito fire and police ask for support helping needy families

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 6, 2013

Contact: Michelle Milam  (510) 837-9257

Richmond-El Cerrito Fire/Police Toy Program Needs Santa’s Helpers

Description: Richmond-El Cerrito Fire/Police Toy Program seeks help for needy families 

Richmond, CA —  December 4, 2013 –  First responders from Richmond and El Cerrito are asking the public for help to provide Food and Toy baskets to over 1700 families this coming holiday season.  The Richmond-El Cerrito Toy program is seeking to help needy families who have a hard time making ends meet.  Each year the program gets applications from the two cities from needy families hoping to receive a food basket and toys for their children under 12. This year 1700 families signed up for the program. Others were turned away because of the great need.

 “I think even the most jaded person will believe in miracles when they see these kids faces,” said Richmond firefighter Rod Woods, the brainchild of the 20 year old program, “We believe there are still good people in this world who will help us make this miracle happen.”  “This is not an easy season for many families, which is why we should all help one another when we can,” said Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus, “There are people who gave to this program in the past who will be in line this year due to a job lay off or illness. You always hope help will be there for you if you need it. Sometimes kids give to the program, which is really heartwarming. What better way for parents to show their kids the spirit of the season than to give as a family.”

The public can help donate to the program by visitingwww.toyprogram.org. The public can also help by getting their school, place of employment, or religious organization to make a donation. Sharing the information with friends online via social media also helps. This year every dollar donated up to $10,000 will be matched by Chevron Corporation, so the money goes even further.

The toy program was started 20 years ago when Richmond Firefighter Rod Woods parked his vehicle in a low income neighborhood and distributed toys to the local children during the holidays. A police officer saw that he needed help and assisted him in the distribution. Since then it has grown to serve thousands of needy people each year.

Contact Information: 
Richmond-El Cerrito Food and Toy Program 
Contact: Michelle Milam  (510) 837-9257 
www.toyprogram.org

 

Who: Richmond, El Cerrito Firefighters and Police

What: Toy and Food Program

When: Need online donations

 

Mission

The Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program exists to collect and distribute new, unwrapped toys to economically disadvantaged children in the western Contra Costa County area during the holiday season.

As professional firefighters, we see the ravages brought on by the loss of both homes and property. Our non-profit organization strives to brighten the lives of needy children in Richmond, San Pablo and the surrounding communities, particularly during the holidays. Both monetary donations and donations of new, unwrapped toys are accepted throughout the calendar year. With generous donations from both local corporations and individuals, the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program distributes toys to children ages 12 and under residing in western Contra Costa County. Also, in conjunction with staff from the Richmond Police Department, the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program distributes food baskets so that families can enjoy a holiday dinner.

The primary objective of the Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program is to assist underprivileged children and their families in western Contra Costa County during the holidays.

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5-year anniversary celebration for RYSE Youth Center

 

PRESS RELEASE:

RYSE YOUTH CENTER CELEBRATES FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY & Hosts 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Community Event

What: RYSE Center 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland and FiveYear Anniversary Community Event

Where: RYSE CENTER, 205 41st  Street (at Macdonald Avenue), Richmond, CA

When: Saturday, December 14, 2013, 12 noon – 4 p.m.

RICHMOND, Calif… The RYSE Youth Center will be celebrating five years of youth empowerment and community service by hosting its 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Community Event.

RYSE’s Winter Wonderland, a free community event, will include a toy giveaway for newborns and kids up to 12 years old, music, arts and crafts activities, tree decorating and more! The purpose of this event is to bring communities together, support youth and their families in celebrating the holiday season, and honor RYSE’s fiveyear anniversary and commitment to serving young people in the community.

The Center opened its doors to the community on October 18, 2008 after a string of youthrelated homicides near Richmond High School in 2000 mobilized students to take action to address the violence and lack of safety at school and in the community. Students organized vigils and community forums with more than 1,500 youth and community members, and met and worked with local officials and stakeholders on a comprehensive assessment of youthidentified priorities and solutions.

RYSE Youth Center

Grounded in social justice, RYSE builds youth power for young people ages 1321 living in Richmond and West Contra Costa County to love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities.

Since 2008, more than 3,000 young people have participated in programs and activities. For more information go to www.rysecenter.org.

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Arbor Day tree planting event open to all set for Sunday in Richmond

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Arbor Day, October 19, 2013: Greening Our Community

 

Richmond, CA (October, 2013) Something exciting is happening in Richmond. The citizens are coming together to enrich the urban forest and make the city a better place.

 

Tree-planting at an Arbor Day event is an annual occurrence in Richmond, a “Tree City.” The City of Richmond has been renovating Lucas Park, and this year’s Arbor Day tree-planting will occur there. Groundwork Richmond and the Watershed Project are providing the trees and workers to get them in the ground. Richmond Rotary is sponsoring the event. Richmond Trees is supporting the effort and there will also be volunteers from the Explorers and Pogo Park.

 

Arbor Day at Lucas Park

10th St and Lucas Ave

Richmond, CA

 

8:00 am Check-in/Registration & Breakfast

8:30 am Tree planting workshop with ISA-certified Arborist, Molly Batchelder

9:00 am Tree Planting begins

12:00 pm Lunch (for volunteers) & Speakers

All morning family activities

 

Volunteers will arrive for registration and breakfast from 8:00 to 8:30 am. At 8:30 there will be an orientation and demonstration of how to plant the trees. Then the groups will disperse and plant 35 trees (Redwoods, Cork Oaks, Liquidambars and Crape Myrtles) inside the park. Bay Area Rescue Mission is providing lunch for the volunteers.

 

The event is open to the community. There will be a bouncer, music, refreshments and activities for children. At around 12:00, Chris Chamberlain, City of Richmond’s Parks and Landscape Superintendent, will speak to the volunteers and guests.

 

As evident by the collaboration required to create this event, several groups are interested in planting trees in Richmond, and the reasons are clear. The benefits of a thriving urban canopy include:

  • Removing carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen, slowing global warming
  • Reducing air pollution by absorbing harmful chemicals
  • Replenishing our groundwater supply by reducing storm-water runoff and allowing water to soak into the surrounding soil
  • Providing an urban habitat for wildlife
  • Softening neighborhood noise
  • Reducing speeding traffic
  • Improving public safety
  • Increasing property values by 15% or more

 

More trees are sorely needed in Richmond, a city with plenty of challenges. However, these events are about much more than just planting trees. They are about building community as people come together to do something positive for the city.

For more information about Arbor Day or planting trees in your own Richmond neighborhood, contact Chris Chamberlain, City of Richmond’s Parks & Landscape Superintendent at 510-231-3004 or visit  http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/

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Leaders intervene to save North Richmond senior center

N E W S  RELEASE from office of John Gioia:

Contra Costa County
JOHN GIOIA (joy-a)
District One
Board of Supervisors

For more information contact:
Luz Gomez – Deputy Chief of Staff
Office 510-231-8689
Cell 925-785-2439

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2013

North Richmond Senior Center Saved from Closure

North Richmond, Calif.,
North Richmond seniors can now breathe a sigh of relief.  For months, residents in this tight-knit community feared that a pending foreclosure would shut-down their beloved senior center. Now, thanks to efforts by Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and key community leaders, the North Richmond Multicultural and Family Center (aka the Senior Center) will remain open after a last-minute short-sale averted foreclosure.

The transaction, which closed on October 15, ensures the continuation of services and transfers ownership of the building to the non-profit Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC). Earlier this month, Supervisor Gioia obtained approval by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to use $156,830 in Park Dedication funds to enable CHDC to purchase the building and save the senior center.  Lloyd Madden, Neighborhood House President and CEO, negotiated the short sale price on behalf of their new Board of Directors.

Neighborhood House of North Richmond (“Neighborhood House”) has operated the senior center for nearly 30 years providing residents a safe place to gather for social, recreational, family, and civic events. The center is the hub and heart of the community.

In recent years, Neighborhood House experienced a severe financial crisis leading the building’s mortgage holder to begin foreclosure proceedings due to missed payments. “We came together and brought resources to the table to keep this important community center open” Supervisor Gioia said.

The Park Dedication funds can be used to meet local park and recreation needs, including senior and community centers. According to the County Assessor’s records, the current assessed value of the property is in excess of $325,000.

Through the efforts of Supervisor John Gioia’s Office, Congressman George Miller’s Office, Community Housing Development Corporation, and Neighborhood House of North Richmond, the current mortgage holder agreed to the short sale enabling the transaction. A plan is in place for continued services to seniors and other residents of North Richmond.

“Losing the senior center would have been like losing a beloved family member,” said Corrine Sain, the Center’s Director for the past 29 years. “The entire community depends on us to be here to serve them. I thank Supervisor Gioia, the County, and everyone who helped us to stay open.”

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Free North Richmond Green festival set for Saturday

PRESS RELEASE:

You are invited to attend the “4th Annual North Richmond Green Festival,” which will take place this Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Shields Reid Park and Community Center located on 1410 Kelsey Street in Richmond, California. This will be a free, family friendly, outdoor event, to celebrate efforts that are being made to improve the environment and the health of the community.

 

The festival will follow a beautification project where volunteers will plant flowers in target locations at the Shields Reid Community Center and at the North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church.

Once the festival begins at 10:00am, the highlights of this community event will include giveaways such as free food, free blueberry bushes, pomegranate trees, olive trees, t-shirts, and reusable water bottles, along with live entertainment, arts and crafts, wild animal tours, jumpers, informational booths and more…

 

Click here for flyer: 2013-GreenFestival-Flyer-N To register as a volunteer, or for more information, please contact, Carla Orozco, at 510-776-7568, or at carlaorozco@live.com.

 

Please come join us for a healthy day filled with family fun and community enjoyment!!

 

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Chevron launches major new round of Fuel Your School funding

PRESS RELEASE:

Chevron’s Fuel Your School Program Launch in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

In-person classroom delivery to kick off $1 million local public school funding

With intense budget cuts and an ever-growing list of needed supplies for teachers, Chevron has created an innovative approach to help local public classrooms through its Fuel Your Schoolprogram. Chevron is collaborating with DonorsChoose.org, an online organization that organizes funding for schools across the country, to supply Alameda and Contra Costa counties with materials – ranging from pencils to live spiders – to help make activities come alive for students this year.

 

On Wednesday, Chevron and DonorsChoose.org teams will deliver puzzles, counting trays, shopping simulation supplies and various math and science manipulatives to kindergarten students at Ford Elementary School in Richmond. 

       What: Classroom delivery of needed materials funded through Fuel Your School

·         When: Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 9:15 a.m.

·         Where: Ford Elementary School [2711 Maricopa Ave., Richmond, CA 94804]

   How Fuel Your School Works: Beginning in September, teachers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties submitted projects/materials that need funding at DonorsChoose.org. In the month of October 2013, Chevron will donate $1, up to $1 million, when consumers purchase eight or more gallons of fuel at participating local Chevron and Texaco stations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties to help fund the eligible classroom projects. You can even track the progress of funded projects in participating counties at www.fuelyourschool.com

 

Now follow us on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube

 

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Men and Women of Purpose hold open house to raise AB109 re-entry funds

The Men and Women of Purpose, headed by Antwon Cloird and dedicated to providing mental health, job training, substance abuse and other services to parolees in Richmond, are holding a star-studded open house event on Oct. 2.

MWP is a key player in the city dealing with previously incarcerated residents coming home thanks to AB109 prison reduction policies.

For full information about the event click here: MWP Electronic Invitation (1)