In the course of an extended recent discussion of rent control on a social media site, I was invited by a Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) stalwart and frequent RPA defender to attend the RPA Steering Committee meeting earlier this evening, presumably to see for myself how transparent and reasonable this group is..
I have been a frequent critic of the RPA, going so far as to compare them to a gang or cult that controls the City Council and makes public policy for the City of Richmond from their office conveniently located across the street from City Hall. My host, who disagrees with my past characterizations, wrote, “If you want to see how this so called monolithic entity … operates, come to the next steering committee meeting tomorrow, Thursday 6:30 PM, at its office 2540 Macdonald Ave . The public is welcome to come observe.”
Anticipating that three or more RPA City Council, members might show up tonight, I asked my host what would happen. He assured me that if such were to occur, one of the RPA City Council members would likely graciously excuse him or herself so that I could stay and observe.
So we settled in to the meeting, quickly dispensing with such procedural items as agenda review, recognizing members of the steering committee who were moving on and public comment.
Melvin Willis was chairing the meeting. When the first agenda item of substance came up., “Kids First and Soda Tax Discussion,” chairman Willis asked me to leave to avoid creating a Brown Act violation. He stated that he had already discussed this issue with two other Council members and that If I stayed, there would be a Brown Action violation. I told him that with Jovanka there, there already was a Brown Act Violation even without me.
In any event, the RPA Steering Committee threw me out (along with several other non-steering committee attendees) and proceeded to meet in secret in “closed session.”
So much for public meetings and transparency. Thus my prior perceptions were confirmed that the RPA is essentially a secret society that controls the City of Richmond from their headquarters across from City Hall through a supermajority on the City Council.