Tom Butt
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  RPA City Council Members Refuse to Vote on 28 Consent Calendar Items
November 7, 2017

This has never happened before in Richmond history.

Back on September 13 of 2016, the Richmond City Council unanimously adopted Item L-2, which directed staff to “…schedule three public meetings starting in October 2016, after a planning process with stakeholders, so that the public can provide input on key values for Pt. Molate’s rehabilitation and redevelopment.”

The direction was never carried out, primarily because a final resolution of the litigation, expected to be in the City’s favor, was delayed far beyond what was originally anticipated. It was presumed that the public meetings would be more productive once the litigation had concluded, so they were also delayed. To the surprise of many, the 9th Circuit, on appeal, did not eventually find in the City’s favor. It sent the litigation back to the Federal District Court where it could reside for years (see  Setback for City of Richmond in Point Molate Litigation, August 4, 2017)

At some point, the Point Molate litigation will be resolved, either through a judicial decision or settlement. It seemed appropriate to move forward to carry out the City Council’s previous direction, so I agendized Item I-29 on tonight’s meeting to “Direct the city manager, pursuant to previous direction by the City Council, to conduct three public workshops between now and the end of February 2018, to envision future land uses for the city-owned property at Point Molate.” Since it explicitly carried out direction previously adopted by the City Council over a year ago, I figured it would be non-controversial and placed it on the consent calendar.

Now we have a rule in the City Council that anyone can remove an item from the Consent Calendar but only after first contacting the person who sponsored it and discussing his or her concerns. Vice-mayor Beckles asked that it be removed but did not engage in any of the required prerequisite discussions.

It was not removed, and  all four RPA Council members present (Recinos was absent) refused to vote on any of the other 28 items on the consent calendar, including a number of critical approvals such as:

  • Four rent board positions
  • Two contracts for grant funded construction on the Richmond Greenway
  • Re-roofing the Family Justice Center
  • Continuing the emergency designations for slides on Rifle Range Road and Via Verde
  • A grant-funded contract for engineering services to support the Richmond Housing Renovation Program
  • A grant funded contract to restore Baxter Creek at the Miraflores Project

Although not critical, they even refused to vote on a proclamation declaring November as Homeless Awareness Month.

What the RPA members did exhibited a complete lack of leadership on important City items that affect most Richmond residents.. It turned out that what they wanted was to give an opportunity to a small group to speak on Item I-29, including Berkeley resident and former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean. Why she is so keenly interested in Point Molate is anyone’s guess.

As it turned out the Point Molate speakers got their say anyway during Open Forum. When I offered to take I-29 off the consent calendar so Vice-mayer Beckles could finally tell us what her issues were and vote to approve the rest of the Consent Calendar, she refused, and the other three RPA Council members backed her up. This is the kind of leadership being shown by a candidate to replace Tony Thurmond as your Assembly District 15 representative.

The RPA may control the Richmond City Council, but they can’t figure out how to actually get any City business done.