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  Did Chevron Hijack Veterans Day?
October 31, 2013

Nice story below, “Riggers loft renovation nears completion,” from Richmond Confidential. The Riggers Loft will be the featured venue at a Veteran’s Day ceremony during which the Riggers Loft will be “rededicated,” presumably having been initially dedicated some 70 years or so ago.
What I know about the rededication came in the invitation shown below from Chevron. I have been told that Chevron is the “chief sponsor” of the event, the reason that their name and logo is so prominently displayed on the invitation. These things used to be sponsored by veteran’s organizations like the VFW or American Legion, but they don’t have as much money and as many members as they used to. New sponsors have to be found. I suppose.

I am not particularly happy about the way this is being handled by the Richmond Museum Association, which owns the SS Red Oak Victory, moored alongside the Riggers Loft . This whole event is being programmed around the Riggers Loft, but Chevron didn’t contribute a cent to the Riggers Loft. The Richmond Museum contributed nothing either; in fact, they mostly complained about the project while it was under construction because they temporarily lost some parking, and their jerry-rigged and illegal utilities were interrupted until they were restored at the City’s cost with code-conforming connections. Now, they want to toast it.

Who did contribute to the Riggers Loft? The City of Richmond contributed some $3 million in grant money and another million dollars traded for (I hope temporarily) giving up quiet zones on Canal Boulevard. Rosie the Riveter Trust contributed $150,000 in grant money from the NPS (thanks to a George Miller earmark)  that was the critical early investment that made it “shovel ready.” A courageous City Council majority had the vision to override the combined recommendations of the city manager, port director, fire chief and police chief to make the Riggers Loft rehabilitation happen. These individuals and organizations are the true heroes and should be recognized as the real “sponsors.”
Now don’t get me wrong. This is not another Chevron bashing. Chevron has been a very generous donor to Rosie the Riveter Trust, and especially its Rosie’s Girls program. I hope Chevron continues supporting these programs. If Chevron makes a contribution to help pay for the Veteran’s Day event, I’m fine with that. I’m fine with acknowledging any corporate sponsors for helping to defray costs of the event. What I’m not fine with is Chevron becoming the featured “chief” sponsor of the event, presumably for some modest contribution that pales in comparison to what others have given to make the Riggers Loft come back to life.
A better way of playing this would have been something like this:

The Richmond Museum of History, the City of Richmond, Rosie the Riveter Trust and the National Park Service invite you to honor our local veterans at the Red Oak Victory and the Riggers Loft, November 11, at 10:00 AM, at which time the recently rehabilitated Riggers Loft will be rededicated. We thank our generous sponsors who have helped make this event possible, including Chevron, ……………………………………….

I welcome Chevron as a partner in so many local events and causes, and I thank them for their generosity. However, in Richmond, Chevron’s philanthropy has an in-your-face and ostentatious air about it that you just can’t escape, and it reinforces the perception of Richmond as a company town. For much of 2012 and even into 2013, all the billboards on Richmond’s main streets were dominated by Chevron ads for its preferred City Council candidates. Then they were replaced with the visage’s of Chevron smiling employees touting the company’s (dubious) safety record. You can’t open the Contra Costa Times without seeing a full page ad about Chevron’s happy and safe employees. Chevron appears constantly on TV and radio. There is nowhere you can go to escape the Chevron logo. Can’t we have a Veteran’s Day event to celebrate the Riggers Loft without being dominated by the Chevron logo?

What happened to philanthropy with modesty?

"What 77% of philanthropists have in common is that they would rather not publicize their giving, according to a recent report by Forbes Insights, “BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index: Measuring Commitment in Europe, Asia, Middle East.”  The Index is derived from a survey of more than 300 individuals with at least $5 million in investable assets that was conducted by Forbes Insights in early 2013." -- Kasia Moreno, Forbes.com

The invitation below has no mention of The Richmond Museum of History, the City of Richmond, Rosie the Riveter Trust, the Richmond City Council, George Miller or the National Park Service. It’s all about Chevron.

I hope you will attend the Chevron event if you are so inclined, but you won’t see me there. If you want to attend a real grassroots Veteran’s Day event, join me at the Richmond Veterans Collaborative Veterans Day Program on Monday, November 11, at 9 a.m., at the Richmond Memorial Veterans Hall, 923 - 23rd Street. The RVC’s mission is “to join together in camaraderie and fellowship for the purpose of preserving  the traditions and promoting the interests of veterans in the city of Richmond.” 


SS Red Oak Victory


Riggers loft renovation nears completion
Renovation work on the historic Riggers Loft is nearly completed (Photo by: Mark Andrew Boyer)
Renovation work on the historic Riggers Loft is nearly completed (Photo by: Mark Andrew Boyer)
By Mark Andrew BoyerPosted October 30, 2013 11:57 am
The Riggers Loft was never the most eye-catching building in Richmond. With gray corrugated metal walls, it does little to separate itself from other nearby manufacturing buildings.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and despite its simple outward appearance, Alan Dreyfuss says it was worth saving.
“I think it’s a beautiful building,” said Dreyfuss, a historic architect with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, who served as the project manager for the Riggers Loft renovation. “From the outside it’s pretty simple and utilitarian, but from the inside you get these 25-foot ceilings and wide-open spaces.”
The Riggers Loft was built by the Kaiser Corporation between 1941 and 1942 as part of Richmond Shipyard Number Three. The single-story building served as a venue for assembling prefabricate ship parts, and it included sheet metal and paint shops. Renovation work began last year, and it is likely to be completed by year’s end. A new Operations Security Center for the Port of Richmond is scheduled to fill about one-fifth of the building.
Richmond City Councilmember Tom Butt is one of the Riggers Loft’s biggest defenders. The city originally planned to put the security center in the old Terminal 3 control tower. The city had about $3 million to spend on the project, but the cost of renovating the control tower would have exceeded that. Butt had been looking for a way to rehab the crumbling Riggers Loft, so he proposed moving the security center inside the historic building.
City Manager Bill Lindsay initially opposed moving the security office to the Riggers Loft due to cost and location. It would have been less expensive to have the security center in the control tower, Lindsay said. And the Riggers Loft is also more difficult to access, because you have to take a long, circuitous route to get there.
Butt ultimately got his wish in June 2012, when the city council voted to move the security center to the Riggers Loft.
“I had my votes on the city council,” Butt said. “It was an extremely hard-fought kind of thing, but eventually I was able to get four or five votes, and we just voted to move the money over here.”
Even though Lindsay would have preferred to keep the security office in the control tower, he is pleased with the outcome of the Riggers Loft renovation project. “I do think that the restoration of the Riggers Loft was a good idea, but I just thought that it would have been more economical for a lot of reasons to wait,” Lindsay said.
The building has survived 70 years—but barely. When Dreyfuss and other members of the design and structural engineering team began working on it, a large portion of the roof had caved in, and the building was in very poor condition. Over time, drains clogged and water accumulated, and the additional weight broke the large wooden trusses supporting the roof. “The roof was totally shot,” said Dreyfuss.
About half of the wooden roof trusses needed to be replaced, Dreyfuss estimates. The exterior siding was heavily corroded, and many of the windows were broken. “It was in pretty rough condition when we got it,” he said.
Despite the challenges, major construction only took about nine months, and most of the work was finished in July. Now, workers are just waiting for final approvals before building out the security office. Once construction begins, Dreyfuss estimates it will take about two months to complete.
The Operations Security Center is scheduled to fill only about 5,000 square feet of the 25,000-square-foot building. The rest of the building will be commercial space.
“Probably the hottest prospect for the Riggers Loft now is a winery,” Butt said. No commercial tenants have signed lease agreements yet, though.