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  Stirring the Disruption Pot
July 30, 2013

On July 25, I authored the E-FORUM: Time for Richmond Hate Speech to End - San Francisco Chronicle , July 25, 2013

Heather Kulp from Chevron took exception to my comment about Chevron and wrote the following:

On Jul 26, 2013, at 11:56 AM, "Kulp, Heather P" <Heather.Kulp@chevron.com> wrote:
Dear Tom,

In your recent e-forum (below) you attempt to “connect the dots” of recent City Council meetings, and erroneously state that Chevron indirectly funded the group as a tactic to discredit the mayor and RPA.  This statement is not only troubling but is also entirely false.

Chevron has not and would not fund the activities or actions of this group and we denounce hate speech in any form. In fact, Chevron is a strong supporter of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community, not only in our community, but also with our employees. Chevron’s PRIDE employee network represents LGBT employees at Chevron and represents Chevron’s core belief in diversity and inclusion. Chevron has even been named as one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Human Rights Campaign from 2006 to present because of our commitment to an inclusive workforce. And recently, at a PRIDE celebration at Chevron Richmond, we invited Jovanka Beckles to serve as a keynote speaker.

Chevron strongly supports the return of respect, civility and good government to the Richmond council chambers. For these reasons, I demand that you issue a retraction on your e-forum of this false statement.

Heather Kulp
Public Affairs Manager, Chevron Richmond  

My response to Heather was between me and her, but someone, presumably from Chevron, shared it with the Chamber of Commerce, which published it, along with Heather’s email to me. See http://www.chamberorganizer.com/richmond/v_newsletters/newsletter_7414775.htm.

So, now that this is a public discourse, I provide below my response to Heather, along with an interesting letter from Michael Beer to the chief of police:


This is what I wrote, “We believe the group is indirectly funded by Chevron as a tactic to discredit the mayor and RPA.” Following is the basis for my belief.

There are several related themes going on at Richmond City Council meetings that are both unprecedented and unfortunate.

You have Corky Booze routinely and repeatedly out of order, interrupting, arguing and haranguing the mayor, Jovanka Beckles, the RPA and me. Lately, this includes such staff members as Bill Lindsay, Chris Magnus and Bruce Goodmiller.  His off-point tirades and the frequent recesses called to stop them unnecessarily prolong meetings and keep critical business from being addressed. Although Corky denies it, he encourages, and I believe, facilitates out of order behavior and outbursts from the audience, which also result in ejections, recesses and prolonged meetings.

For being the most disruptive City Council member in recent memory, being involved in fights and being accused of battery by multiple women (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/richmond-councilman-gets-called-on-his-junk/Content?oid=3487459), Booze was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Award at the 2013 NAACP Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. The Banquet was proudly sponsored by Chevron.

Earlier, Chevron burnished Booze’s reputation by presenting him with a $100,000 check for YouthBUILD, a commitment for another $100,000 the following year and the bragging rights to go with it.

According to the Richmond Post, In August 2012, “1Richmond” was founded by "a group of citizens representing local neighborhoods, including North Richmond, Central Richmond, South Richmond and Parchester Village ... to reduce violence, raise public awareness and involvement and advance the education of Richmond's youth." Both Bates and Booze have claimed roles in starting and participating in 1Richmond, and there are reports at some meetings of claims of significant Chevron financial support. Post story.   Members include Nat Bates and Corky Booze as well as Men and Women of Valor member Gerald Bilbo.

     At least twice at meetings of the group that became 1Richmond, Corky announced that Chevron would fund part of operations including buying a building.

In 2010, BAPAC President Lloyd Madden called Jovanka Beckles “dangerous for African-Americans” and attacked her ethnicity. Said Madden, “Jovanka selectively identifies her ethnicity as African American, Latin American, based on the make-up of the neighborhood group or organization she is addressing.”

BAPAC is a significant recipient of Chevron funding (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/a-friend-of-chevron-gives-it-a-costly-gift/Content?oid=1371631). In return, Madden and BAPAC have become Chevron cheerleaders and surrogates.

Lloyd Madden was elected President. He swiftly moved to endorse Chevron’s community support and philanthropic programs. (http://content.postnewsgroup.com/?p=5559%20?iframe=true&width=100%&height=100%)

Joe Fisher, a BAPAC stalwart was once exposed by his current new best friend, Corky Booze, for paying protesters:

One year ago, the supporters of a Richmond ballot measure that would have cost Chevron about $16 million a year in taxes were about to host a press conference. Then, suddenly, a band of protesters who witnesses said appeared to be "street people" showed up to disrupt the event. According to one of the witnesses, the protesters said an influential Richmond businessman had sent them. "They told me, 'Joe Fisher's paying us to be here,'" recalled Courtland "Corky" Booze, who was a Richmond city council candidate at the time. "They told me that they were getting $8 an hour to carry signs and protest." (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/a-friend-of-chevron-gives-it-a-costly-gift/Content?oid=1371631)

In 2010, BAPAC said this about Corky Booze:

The email questioned Booze’s dedication to poorer neighborhoods and asserted that he lacked leadership experience. It also criticized his role in the tent city anti-violence protests and his alliance with the Richmond Progressive Alliance. “Corky is intimidating and his actions or inactions are excessively influenced by Tom Butt and the so-called Progressive Alliance,” the email read. (https://richmondconfidential.org/2010/11/01/bapac-attacks-two-council-candidates/)

However, once Booze was elected, BAPAC reversed themselves and have embraced him ever since:

BAPAC President, Lloyd Madden stated that “Corky Booze will continue to have BAPAC and the community’s support if he continues to be the community voice for the citizens of Richmond who are unable to speak out for themselves, be the arms for those who can’t reach out for the help they need, and be the feet for those who can’t travel to City Council meetings, especially senior citizens and the disabled.” (http://content.postnewsgroup.com/2011/09/corky-booze%E2%80%99s-fundraiser-a-financial-success/)

We are talking about threads and connecting the dots. Chevron provides substantial financial support and sponsorships to several organizations that that promote and encourage Corky Booze and thereby legitimize his antics. By doing so, Chevron tacitly approves of what he is doing.

Then you have Nat Bates, the expert in plausible deniability, who has never publicly criticized or admonished Corky or any of the persons who have had to be repeatedly ejected from the chamber for out of order behavior.

Following a particularly anatomical condemnation of gays and lesbians aimed at Jovanka Beckles at a recent City Council meeting, Bates brushed off the attacks as simply “viewpoints,” as quoted by Chip Johnson (http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/1-million-fine-for-Chevron-not-enough-4240769.php#ixzz2JbGvLVCH):
"First of all, I didn't view the audience as being hateful," Bates said during the council meeting. "For council member Beckles to accuse individuals of being hateful out here. Rev. Ellis had his viewpoints. Others had their viewpoints. I didn't see that as hateful." (http://bit.ly/1c6Xhe6)
During the 2012 campaign, Bates took a particular interest in and lending what legitimacy he could to the most homophobic and xenophobic of candidates, Mark Wassberg, by buying him clothes, giving him rides to campaign events and sitting for an interview with Mark (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbaQ76m89EY).

Chevron continues to support and promote Nat Bates, spending millions on his political campaigns. In return, Bates continues to be Chevron’s staunchest supporter.

The bottom line is that virtually all the local organizations that routinely and repeatedly legitimize what Booze and Bates do are beneficiaries of Chevron, as are Bates and Booze themselves, both directly and indirectly. What all of these individuals who disrupt City Council meetings and spew homophobic and xenophobic hate also have in common is that they routinely criticize the RPA, the mayor and Jovanka Beckles while extolling the virtues of Chevron. Because Chevron stands mute, this is guilt by association, and Chevron benefits politically from the constant drumbeat of RPA condemnation that is consistent with Chevron’s own political policies using millions of dollars to defeat and unseat RPA candidates. This then gives the appearance of a convergence of objectives of these disruptive and hate-mongering people and Chevron.

If this kind of behavior is going to stop, Bates and Booze need to hear from not just their detractors but also their supporters that  it is unacceptable. Only then will they listen.

I challenge Chevron to issue a public statement that Chevron, “is a strong supporter of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community, not only in our community, but also with our employees” and the Chevron “denounce(s) hate speech in any form.” And further, that politicians and organizations that encourage hate speech, tacitly or actively, should not expect to benefit from Chevron financial support.

I would also challenge Chevron to condemn the behavior of both City Council members and members of the public who routinely disrupt City Council meetings. With the fire of last year and the Renewal project permit application in process, Chevron has had and continues to have a lot of business before the City. These disruptions tie up and prolong City Council meetings, delay important business and consume untold hours of staff time, all of which means less time to deal with critical Chevron business such as permits.

You wrote in your email “Chevron strongly supports the return of respect, civility and good government to the Richmond council chambers.” If that is true, Chevron should have the mettle to call out and condemn those individuals who are being disrespectful and uncivil.

I truly believe that if Chevron was willing to stand up clearly and strongly, this reprehensible behavior would quickly fade away.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Letter from Michael Beer to Chief of Police:


Chris Magnus
Chief of Police
City of Richmond

Dear Chief Magnus,

I am writing to ask for your help.  I went to the Tuesday night City Council meeting to hear other citizens, to share my thoughts with them, the council, and the viewing public, and to hear the council members discuss a number of issues.  

I was prevented from fulfilling this desire because a gang of thugs disrupted the meeting leading to the chamber being cleared.  These people who always complain loudly about the loss of their civil rights violated my right to speak.
I am not certain that the officer’s reports will reflect the agitated hostility of the crowd.  I would like you to get a sense of the provocations and manipulated anger that the “protestors” displayed.  I am attaching links to three short YouTube videos I took in the lobby when the chamber was cleared.  There are other videos that show the insanity that took place in the chamber before.
In my first video, one of the leaders, Wesley Ellis, gives me the finger, and Ms. Pam Bilbo dances and taunts us.

In the second video Mr. Booze calls Mr. Ellis aside. 
(One of the other “leaders” of this group was a young woman with her hair pulled back who wore more tailored clothes.  She also appeared to be issuing orders to the group.  When I asked a friend who she was, he said that she was a secretary who worked for the lawyer, John Burris.)
At one point, Mr. Ellis checks his text messages.
In the third video taken moments later, Mr. Ellis is being given instructions by Mr. Booze and later passes these on to his minions. (It’s obvious Mr. Booze is completely in charge of the situation.  Mr. Booze seems to also have a jolly relationship with some police officers in the chambers.) 

Some of Tuesday’s protestors had no idea why they were there
except to make trouble.  One of them mistakenly thought Eduardo Martinez was an organizer and went up to him and asked, “So to whom do I go to get my eight dollars for speaking?”
But I heard the following, which I consider much worse.  Wanting to hear what speakers were saying, I made my way toward the TV screen.  I found myself a foot or two behind Bea Roberson.  On the screen, Andrés Soto, who works for Communities for a Better Environment, was speaking about the upcoming August 6 commemoration of last year’s refinery fire.

Bea Roberson leaned toward her African-American companion and said archly, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if the RPA office burned down on the same day?”       (I was not the only person who overheard this remark.) 
 (This reminded me of the night before the last election, when 30-40 No on N paid youth workers assaulted the Yes on N office (also the RPA office) throwing insults and full bottles of water at our volunteers one of whom was 81 years old.)
Corky and his people are creating a violent atmosphere.  People who have been feed a steady diet of hatred toward the RPA might be easily motivated, or even paid, to do harm to my friends and myself.

This is a dangerous situation to which attention must be given.

I read that these “protestors” are going to come back next Tuesday.  I do not understand why no charges were filed against these characters.  Isn’t there some statute about disorderly conduct, disrupting a public meeting, disturbing the peace, and/or charges of conspiracy that might involve Mr. Booze?  I would be willing to sign a complaint.

I believe in free speech, but if officer sees anyone carrying a bullhorn into the council chamber, I would think it important to have that officer say, “The moment you use that, I am going to charge you with disturbing the peace and arrest you.”

In fact, I think that’s where they are going with these incendiary provocations.  And if the well-coiffed organizer, Wesley Ellis, Pam Bilbo, Jackie Thompson, Mark Wassberg, and Antwon Clorid were arrested, without their “leaders” I believe the crowd would dissipate. 

I am not confident that all the officers on chamber duty understand what my rights are and might think this is all a funny joke.

Chief Magnus, I need your help.  The City of Richmond needs your help, or we have no future.  When I finally spoke to an empty chamber, because I am a positive Richmond booster, I read the nine awards given to Richmond by the East Bay Express including your citation as “Top Cop Who Gets It”.

These thugs may be back in force next week.  How can you help preserve my rights, our democracy, and prevent Richmond from becoming the laughing-stock of the Bay A

Sincerely yours,
Michael Beer


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