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  SF Chronicle - Richmond Councilman Ill, Won't Take Office
January 8, 2013

The following article by Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones includes some quoted generalizations by others with which I take issue (not with Carolyn).
Bell supporters were quoted as describing factions as , “left-leaning Richmond Progressive Alliance, led by Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, and the more staunchly pro-business faction,” and BAPAC member Joe Fisher as desiring balance between the “Green side and the pro-business side.”
I want to be clear that this has nothing to do with Gary Bell. It’s simply about the discussion of his potential replacement.
As one who more often than not votes with the RPA contingent, I submit that the RPA and other progressive councilmembers have actually been good for business and that being “green” is not being anti-business. These are both myths that continue to be perpetuated without any basis or evidence. They are like the myths that only Republicans can be trusted to balance a budget or manage national defense. Even the Chamber of Commerce sponsored an event called “Green is Gold,” with the objective of bringing green businesses to Richmond and encouraging Richmond businesses to participate in the green economy.
Whether RPA or not, the Richmond City Council majority is decidedly progressive, and this has been good for business and good for Richmond. Most of the high profile businesses that are coming to Richmond fall into the category of “green” businesses. Nutiva, which has been hiring as many as 100 people is a good example. And there is nothing greener, than LNBL. Why anyone interested in promoting Richmond business  would want to alienate green businesses is beyond me.
In 2012, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics released Thursday its first-ever official count of environmentally-friendly jobs across the U.S., and California is leading the nation with about 338,000 green workers.”
The Orange County Register recently published a story that said, “Improving California’s energy efficiency by just 1 percent — a likely result of tough new laws aimed at curbing climate change — could jumpstart California’s economy, not clobber it, increasing the gross state product by $76 billion, household incomes by $48 billion and creating up to 403,000 new jobs in the growing “green” sector of the economy. The predictions come from a new report from University of California economists, who plugged likely effects of California’s new regulations into a computer model.”
The new general plan, supported by progressives, is remarkably pro-business and pro-development. It includes land use changes that encourage Richmond to grow by tens of thousands, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the process. The pro-business faction, bates and Booze, voted against it.
In my discussions with business owners, their biggest concern about Richmond is the crime rate, both the reality of it and the perception of it. Under the current Council majority, the crime rate has been dropping like a rock, and the homicide rate has dropped to tie the lowest on recent history. There is nothing more pro-business that that.
What these critics interpret as pro-business is a clear endorsement of a candidate by Chevron. That’s it.
It’s no secret that Chevron doesn’t like the RPA and has spent millions and millions trying to defeat RPA candidates, but what is interesting is that the RPA has not retaliated. They have taken the high road and have supported every recent policy action by the City Council to assist Chevron in its business by expediting permits and minimizing the chance of project-delaying litigation. In other words, they have taken the high road and done what is right instead of seeking vengeance. That should be applauded by organizations like BAPAC.
As a business owner myself, I am seeing a renaissance developing in Richmond. New businesses are coming to Richmond and leasing or buying long-vacant buildings. The unemployment rate continues to decline. People are going back to work. My clients are demanding green design – it’s not even an option.
I just don’t know what these guys are talking about. They are living in some alternate universe.
The City Council members supported by the so-called pro-business lobby have become essentially the party of “no.” They simply don’t want anything to happen at all.
Richmond councilman ill, won't take office
Carolyn Jones
Updated 9:13 pm, Monday, January 7, 2013

  • Gary Bell, who slipped into a coma, is expected to recover. Photo: -, City Of Richmond / SF

Gary Bell, who slipped into a coma, is expected to recover. Photo: -, City Of Richmond / SF
A political brawl looms in Richmond as its new City Council takes its oath of office Tuesday minus a Chevron-backed candidate who slipped into a coma just after the election.
Gary Bell, 54, fell ill with a severe bacterial sinus infection in November and remains hospitalized. He's undergone two neurosurgeries and is expected to recover, his family said.
But Bell will not take office, his family and City Clerk Diane Holmes said.
The president of a Berkeley credit union, Bell would have been a more moderate voice on the council, providing a balance between the left-leaning Richmond Progressive Alliance, led by Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, and the more staunchly pro-business faction, his supporters said.
He was among several candidates that Chevron spent about $1.2 million to elect, according to campaign donation statements. Incumbent Nat Bates and newcomer Bea Roberson were also on the Chevron slate, although Roberson did not win. Bell would have replaced Jeff Ritterman, the champion of a controversial soda tax who did not seek re-election.
The City Council has 60 days to either appoint a replacement or hold a special election, which would cost about $200,000, according to the city clerk.
Both sides have already dug in their heels. The Black American Political Action Committee, which supported Bell, has two or three candidates it's considering for nomination to the council, said its treasurer, Joe Fisher.
"The people voted, and they said they want balance on the council," Fisher said. "They want someone to mediate between the Green side and the pro-business side."
The Richmond Progressive Alliance is pushing for Eduardo Martinez, 63, a retired elementary school teacher who was the next-highest vote-getter after Bell in the Nov. 6 election.
Martinez, who trailed Bell by 516 votes, said he'd be thrilled to take a seat on the seven-member council.
"I'm 100 percent there," he said. "I don't think we should spend money on a special election, especially since I was the next-highest vote-getter. I think Richmond has better things to spend money on."
City Councilman Tom Butt agrees. The council should not start a costly and divisive battle over the vacant seat, he said.
"I'd like to make the appointment and move on," he said.
In the end, it might not matter who fills the seat. The progressives already have four votes - Butt, McLaughlin, Jim Rogers and Jovanka Beckles - while the more pro-business faction usually consists of Bates and Corky Booze.
In the coming months, the council is set to pass a budget, discuss housing policy and work on Chevron's proposed hydrogen and energy project. Pension reform is also on the horizon, as it is for most cities in California.
Carolyn Jones is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: carolynjones@sfchronicle.com

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Richmond-councilman-ill-won-t-take-office-4173558.php#ixzz2HOuXxbWO