Although elections for the mayor’s office and four city council seats are not until November, the infamous Richmond Progressive Alliance is off and running to woo voters toward their slate of candidates. It appears RPA will be supporting Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles, Eduardo Martinez and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin for the four-year term and Michael Parker, mouth piece of the RPA, for mayor.
It is interesting to note RPA seems to have abandoned their name in favor of “Team Richmond” and have been reluctant in identifying themselves as RPA members when speaking during council meetings. Councilman Tom Butt did his very best to persuade and encourage RPA to support his longtime friend and candidate for mayor, Charles Ramsey, to no avail. Without RPA support, Ramsey is out on a thin limb with a decision to continue his quest for mayor or lower his expectations and run for the council. In my opinion, for whatever it is worth, he should remain on the West Contra Costa Unified School District board and clean up the financial mess he has contributed to over the years.
An interesting thing occurred during the Feb. 4 council meeting where McLaughlin, Beckles and Myrick placed an agenda item to rename Macdonald Avenue after the late Nelson Mandela. The mayor acknowledged she had spoken with a few African American citizens and they agreed it was a good idea. When Coucilmen Butt, Councilman Corky Booze and I pointed out the proper way was for the request to go before the Recreation Commission, the mayor became frustrated and irritated, especially when I questioned if anyone knew who Mr. Mcdonald was and what his contributions were to Richmond. The mayor interrupted, saying he was a “developer” as if that was negative.
I pointed out we all admired the work of Mr. Mandela and his worldwide contributions, but rather than renaming a street after someone who long ago made contributions to the city, perhaps it would be more appropriate to rename a street that has numbers like 10th, South 37th Street, etc. or a building, school, park. I further stated some of us would like something later named in honor of President Barack Obama or a more suitable site for Martin Luther King, etc. The mayor obviously was not interested in what I had to say, as she continued to interrupt me as I spoke and finally commented she thought Mr. Mandela’s work far exceeded Mr. Mcdonald’s contributions, thus justifying the name change.
I trust I am not being overly sensitive when I state that I respect all streets named in honor of individuals who in the past and present have made contributions. I highly resent Mayor McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Beckles, Councilman Jael Myrick and RPA attempting to use the renaming of streets for political purposes. If they think this plantation-style politics of renaming Mcdonald Avenue in honor of Mr. Mandela will generate African American votes for their RPA candidates this coming November, they do not know the African American community as I know them.
– Councilman Nat Bates