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  Sunday Morning Richmond in the Contra Costa Times
March 31, 2013

In a story about Retiring Contra Costa County's election chief and clerk-recorder Steve Weir, noted for his constituent-friendly style, Times Columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen hinted that Nat Bates might take notice:
Elected officials everywhere would do well to model themselves after Weir: Tell the whole truth early and often. Shoulder all the blame but generously share the credit. Adopt a "give respect, get respect" approach both inside and outside the office.
These practices are not only the right thing to do; they pay big dividends when it comes to voters' trust -- not a single person challenged Weir in six elections.
intervention needed: Richmond Councilman Nat Bates may want to study Weir's constituent style, which was firm but unfailingly polite.
Bates fired off this acerbic and sarcastic email in response to an unnamed resident who objected to his no vote on the city's climate change plan:
"I did not get your vote but of course, you, (Richmond Progressive Alliance) and (Richmond Councilman) Tom Butt are the exceptional people God anointed to save the world.
"That kind of thinking and attitude is exactly (why) I refer to you and your group as plantation politic because you consider yourself superior and masters of the universe and everyone else must be holding to you and your group."
Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com, politicswithlisav.blogspot.com or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.
In Eye on the East Bay, Richmond’s Toxic Tour got a review:
Eye on the East Bay: Richmond debuts environmental disasters tour
Contra Costa Times
Posted:   03/31/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

new kind of city tour: Guided tours of a city's gems are a staple of the tourism industry in great cities across the country.
Richmond has its own, a guided tour by park rangers of the Rosie the Riveter Homefront National Park that has become a big hit.
But now some local volunteers have a new tour, with a twist: Check out the sites of Richmond's environmental disasters, past and present.
The Eye eagerly took the inaugural "Richmond Toxics Tour" on March 23, which began at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center at 1021 Macdonald Ave.
Along with about 25 others, the Eye boarded a bus and hit the road. Andrés Soto, Richmond organizer for Communities for a Better Environment, led the tour with his radio-silk voice and characteristic encyclopedic knowledge and caustic wit.
As Soto narrated ("Welcome to the gates of hell," Soto deadpanned as we drove by the front entrance of Chevron's Richmond refinery), we lumbered past sites besmirched by oil refining, World War II shipbuilding, landfills and chemical manufacturing.
Soto enlivened his monologue with anecdotes of racial and economic class discrimination and the resilience of the people of Richmond, whom he called "pioneers in the environmental justice movement."
The troupe stopped at several sites, and Soto opened up the dialogue, taking questions and hearing tourgoers share their thoughts and personal experiences.
During a pass through Point Richmond, Soto called it "an idyllic village," noted that three of seven council members live there and remarked that it hosted the only outdoor festivals where alcohol was permitted "without cops around."
"There's no drinking at the Cinco de Mayo Festival," Soto wryly noted.
After the tour, the group gathered back at the Bowens center and spent an hour "debriefing," and everyone agreed that the tour was great and Richmond's resilience in the face of environmental challenges is an inspiration.
Soto, a veritable historian on Richmond's last century, said he looked forward to hosting more tours. His pearls of wisdom knew no bounds, ranging from current events ("The county raided illegal dump sites in North Richmond just yesterday!") to relatively ancient history ("We haven't had a council member elected from the Iron Triangle since the 1970s.") The Eye has been educated.
Staff writers Robert Rogers, Jeremy Thomas and Chris Treadway contributed to this column.