Councilman Bates: Richmond mayor, RPA lie about accomplishments to boost national profile

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Richmond councilman says mayor and a fellow councilmember need to brush up on the First Amendment.
Councilman Nat Bates

by Councilman Nat Bates,

Richmond Mayor Gayle Mclaughlin and her Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) call themselves Team Richmond. But a good teammate doesn’t take all the credit when his or her team wins – particularly in cases when that teammate doesn’t deserve much credit to begin with.

RPA members recently launched an elections website teamrichmond.net where it claims responsibility for local successes – some of which haven’t even yet come to fruition and might never.

The mayor just loves the national attention and the national media and she’s been putting on a pre-elections show – not for the benefit of local residents but in order to boost her national profile. But does she really deserve it? Let’s discuss some of the mayor’s claims.

“We are safer”

I give about as much credit to the mayor for crime reductions as I do to the entire City Council, which may be about 10 to 15 percent. Our contribution to the reduction in crime is supporting our police department and its various community engagement programs through our budget. The police chief, management staff  and officers are the ones doing the work. They’re the ones deserving the credit, not the politicians. And crime has been dropping in communities around the Bay Area and nation mostly as the result of the modernization of police resources and tactics, such as the strengthening of community engagement. The mayor reminds me of an assistant coach of a winning Super Bowl team taking all the credit for the championship even though he didn’t catch one ball, make one tackle or throw one pass.

“Richmond pays a higher minimum wage”

The RPA jumped the gun when stating that it is responsible for passing the highest minimum wage in the nation, but still it has neglected to edit the error. Their false victory announcement came the night after City Council voted to further study how businesses would be affected by a minimum wage increase. The mayor entirely bypassed local businesses and councilmembers to rush the minimum wage before the elections.  She is now receiving national praise for doing something that everyone on council supports. The difference between her and myself is that even though I support a higher wage I think it’s important to consider the conerns of Richmond residents and businesses, not my national profile.

‘The University of California chose Richmond over twenty other cities…”

This claim is ridiculous. The key reason UC chose Richmond is because they own the land and would have had to purchase land if it wanted to build elsewhere. It was cheaper to do it in Richmond, and the site is ideal because it is close to BART and close to UC itself. The mayor failed to credit the various groups who petitioned and lobbied the UC Board of Regents to build at the Richmond site. Congressman George Miller’s office was asked to call UC regents to encourage their decision to locate in Richmond. Management from Chevron, who the mayor doesn’t want to give any kind of credit, also called to encourage the decision. None of us on council or the mayor was at the bargaining table. To be honest, the city galvanized citizen outreach during a meeting at the Richmond auditorium where many spoke in support of the location to the city. However, few councilmembers knew members of the Board of Regents who eventually made the decision.

“We defeated Casino Point Molate”

Also bogus. The people who were most instrumental in defeating the casino were competing casinos and card clubs in the region and in Reno and Las Vegas. They outspent the pro-casino groups. Their money defeated the casino.

“We are confronting blight and neighborhood destabilization with the CARES program “

They haven’t refinanced or acquired a single foreclosure because they don’t have the power to do it, or the support. They don’t have the money, either, or the super majority on council.

“We balanced our budgets without layoffs”

We have a $7 million deficit. Before that, we had a $4 million deficit. And come July 1, we are expected to have a $10 million deficit. Meanwhile the mayor has been strong-arming the council into shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars toward programs that we cannot afford. Again, all of this in order to boost her national profile as a progressive leader. To balance the budget for 2014-2015, layoffs will occur unless the city hit the mega million or power ball lottery.

Ironically, one of the programs involves spending city money to have youths participate in the budgetary process. While it might be a good program, I’m not convinced we should be spending money to teach our youths how to balance a budget when we cannot seem to do this ourselves. Seems like they’d be better off learning from a city that has been able to balance its budget.

Nearly all of “Team Richmond’s” claims are self-serving and factually false. While the national media is buying into it, I hope that Richmond residents can read between the lines and see the truth.

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