Progressive Brinksmanship Mounts in Richmond
by John Geluardi
February 18, 2015
Richmond city councilmembers again failed to appoint a seventh member to the council last night. The council meeting, at times, resembled an awkward power grab by the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA). The council now has three more meetings to reach agreement on a seventh member or the decision goes to the voters in what promises to become a very expensive election.
· Jovanka Beckles.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, City Clerk Diane Holmes upped the stakes when she announced that a special election will cost city taxpayers an estimated $500,000 instead of the original projection of $200,000. If the decision goes to voters, it will be the first time in 25 years that the council was too divided to make an appointment decision.
The special election would not be held until next November, which means that City Hall would be hampered by a six-member council that is evenly divided. If councilmembers are further divided by a long campaign for the seventh council member, there could be a disruption of development projects, budget approvals, and mayoral appointments to commissions and boards, among many other issues.
Last night, the council voted on only two of the eighteen possible replacements. But neither candidate received the necessary four votes to win appointment to the council. One of the potential replacements is Sheryl Lane, the public policy director at the nonprofit Earned Assets Resource Network, which assists low waged workers. The council also failed to appoint Vinay Pimple, an attorney and teacher who volunteers for Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP).
Two of the three RPA members who are on the council — Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles — are no longer insisting on the appointment of fellow RPA member Marilyn Langlois and have focused on Claudia Jimenez, a former community organizer with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization who is closely associated with the RPA, but not a member. Jimenez also has no experience serving in a government position.
“The applicant must have ongoing and current involvement with the community — hearing voices so they can be part of the civic process,” McLaughlin said. “We need to bring in the most vulnerable.”
Mayor Tom Butt said he has five candidates he would support with no particular preference. He also said all five candidates were progressive minded. “All of the five candidates meet the following criteria; all have held or run for office and endured the rigors of public scrutiny and rigors of campaigning for office,” Butt said. “Or they have served with distinction on Richmond’s boards or commissions. I believe that public scrutiny is how the public can really know the candidates and what they stand for.”
Beckles did some demographic mathematics on the fly and came to the conclusion the appointment should reflect Richmond’s 40 percent Latino population. “It seems to me that this council should represent the population of our community, should it not?” Beckles said. “So it seems to me that we need a woman, and we need her to be Latin American.”
Beckles did not explain why her mathematics didn’t apply at a previous council meeting when she voted against Raquel Donoso, a Latina applicant who is director of the nonprofit Mission Promise Neighborhood.
Want to receive TOM BUTT E-FORUM and other action alerts on Richmond political and community issues delivered to your email address? Email your name and email address and/or the names and email addresses of others who would like to be placed on the mailing list and the message "subscribe" to email@example.com. Comments, arguments and corrections are welcome. Tom Butt is a member of the Richmond City Council when opinions and views expressed, without other attribution, in TOM BUTT E-FORUM, they are those of Tom Butt and do not reflect official views or positions of the City of Richmond or the Richmond City Council unless otherwise noted. Visit the Tom Butt website for additional information about Tom Butt's activities on the Richmond City Council: http://www.tombutt.com. Phone 510/236-7435 or 510/237-2084. Subscription to this service is at the personal discretion of the recipient and may be terminated by responding with “unsubscribe.” It may take a few days to remove addresses from the distribution list.
This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
To the extent that content is excerpted under the fair use doctrine from other media, I urge readers to subscribe to the print versions of these media with print versions to help support professional journalism and the businesses that publish news, and I urge readers to log in to the online versions to access additional content, related content and unrelated news as well as the advertisements that support the media. I especially appreciate local sources of news that include the Contra Costa Times , the San Francisco Chronicle, Richmond Confidential and the East Bay Express.