Jun 15, 2016

The Richmond Progressive Alliance members on City Council claimed to be free from special interests when they won a near-majority in the 2014 election, but during budget discussions Tuesday they showed how they’re going to lengths to protect the city union that helped put them in power, according to Mayor Tom Butt.

SEIU-1021, the union representing most city workers, was the principal supporter of RPA candidates during the 2014 elections, and has endorsed RPA initiatives such as rent control. The mayor points out SEIU is an “allied organization” of the RPA and “holds a seat on the 17-member steering committee.”

During a council discussion Tuesday on how to close Richmond’s massive budget deficit, RPA council members Gayle McLaughlin, Eduardo Martinez and Jovanka Beckles did not hide how they have become beholden to SEIU, Mayor Butt noted in his e-forum Wednesday morning.

The RPA councilmembers, according to the mayor, proposed shaving $2.9 million from the city budget by achieving salary concessions from the highest paid city employees, such as high-ranking police and fire officials, with some seeing salary cuts as high as 38 percent. The proposal came after an East Bay Times opinion piece revealed that Richmond’s skyrocketing employee costs may be what’s causing annual budget deficits.

The problem with the RPA’s proposal, Butt says, is it protects SEIU-1021 while targeting other unions that did not support the group during the last elections.

“SEIU would be the least affected by such a plan while other bargaining units would bear the brunt,” Mayor Butt said in his e-forum.

Now, City Manager Bill Lindsay has the difficult task of trying to gain concessions from all city unions before City Council is required to pass a budget by the end of June.

“The next two weeks will likely be dominated by potentially contentious negotiations between the city manager and public employee bargaining units,” Mayor Butt said. “If agreements on OPEB [Other Post-Employment Benefits, i.e. health insurance] reductions cannot be reached, some layoffs will likely occur.”


  1. The RPA also did not hide just how much at a loss they were to deal with the current fiscal crisis. Ms Beckles chose to wage war against Chevron and pit the former Fire Marshall against the Fire Chief and City Manager. Ms McLaughlin chose to try and embarrass and point fingers at the Mayor and his staff. And Mr Martinez was either very, very confused or doing an excellent job impersonating the character ‘Jim’ from the old tv show ‘Taxi’. The problem that the RPA is an extremist organization, just like today’s Republican Party, and just like today’s Republicans are straight jacketed with the party line and cannot think or act outside of their self imposed box. Neither can the extreme left RPA do so either. Which is why in the end they chose to do nothing at all and instead let the grownups on the council make the difficult choices. Kudos to Mr Myrick for not marching goose step with the RPA but thinking for himself and at the bigger picture instead. Mr Bates wisely advised the City Manager to do what needed be done without worrying about “confused” council members. Mayor Butt did his usual great job of moving the proceedings along, which if left to the unending and often pointless and repetitious ramblings of RPA council members, would likely drag on unnecessarily hours longer.

    Distressed Richmond Taxpayer | Jun 15th, 2016
  2. Simple math , the fee’s from the proposed Richmond Riveria project would have covered the amount proposed in cut’s in the article .

    Richard Poe | Jun 15th, 2016
  3. Likely layoffs, give me a break. It is to late for sufficient layoffs this year, and they must give some notice. Therefore, Richmond will not have a balanced budget no matter what it does. If they come up with a balanced budget by June 30th it will be a lie and a fraud.

    But layoffs in the near future are inevitable in the City of Richmond , they have absolutely to many employees (over 750) to survive fiscally. Over half (375 or more) of the employees for this City need to be eliminated, which is a shame, because they should have never been hired in the first place for a city the size of Richmond. Just another example of incompetent city management.

    Also pay close attention to the initiatives they are putting on the ballot this November. Yes, they are yet again, trying to tax the taxpayers and residents out this mess. I am tapped out, and sick of the RPA. They must go!!!

    Tired of the incompetence | Jun 15th, 2016
  4. Richard, you decided to let the voters decide on the Richmond riviera. We did. You lost. Please take your hyperbole and your excess apostrophes and have a time out.

    25 years @ marina bay | Jun 16th, 2016
  5. Something that dovetails with the recent articles about Richmond budget, employees, and RPA graft and deceit: I was told that the MCE, Marin Clean Energy program, employs or hires some RPA members as “consultants”. The MCE is automatic, you must contact them to opt OUT, not opt IN. Many Richmond residents do not know this (by design). And it costs users an average of $40 more per month than PG&E. Seems like conflict of interest or abuse of office to me, if true.

    Using public money for personal projects, businesses and gain is hardly “progressive”.

    Most of Richmond’s budget and private sector unemployment problems would be in the past if the Point Molate casino and convention center had been allowed to go through. Hopefully the Richmond Riviera won’t be blocked by RPA ideologues.

    What we need is an RLA; Richmond Liberal Alliance. Progressives are a fascist offshoot of leftwing political ideology.

    bill | Jun 16th, 2016
  6. Marina Bay if you thought that was a win, I beg to differ. Poe still owns the land and doesn’t have to put anything on it (no revenues to this City in a deep deficit). So who wins? The city was wrong when putting his land in their plans without negotiating with him and coming up with an agreement about its use. Another example of incompetent management.

    Bill, yes this city enrolled all its residents in the MCE program without our permission, and yes we had to opt out of a program we never opted into. That should be against law.

    Also the polls need to be investigated here (among other things), because a number of my neighbors were dropped from the rolls at my polling place where they have voted for years.

    There is something really foul going on the with City of Richmond officials and the way this city is operating. This whole place needs a thorough and complete investigation and audit, especially after being deemed liars, thieves, and frauds by the OIG in a report to the US Department of Treasury to whom they owe millions.

    Tired of the incompetence | Jun 16th, 2016
  7. Simple math.
    Are you referring to the outcome of the initiatives?

    Big Win on N | Jun 16th, 2016
  8. Under the California state Constitution, municipal governments (cities, counties and school districts) are supposed to be non-partisan. Since these agencies exist primarily to maintain public infrastructure and provide essential local services, when they engage in partisan ideology, they stray from their mission. Also, it is NOT the purpose of local government to provide job security and fat compensation for public workers. Since Moonbeam Brown authorized the unionization of public workers in his former term as governor, public employee compensation and benefits have exploded, and the state now faces over a trillion dollars in unfunded post-retirement debt. Do the math: taxpayers cannot and will not bail out the grossly under-funded public worker and teachers pension and health care programs.
    The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association will continue to disclose examples of gross mismanagement by the Richmond city council and the West Contra Costa school district.

    Jack Weir | Jun 17th, 2016
  9. I know this website is a mouthpiece for Chevron, which has been at odds with the RPA, but even accounting for the slant of the articles, there is more than enough evidence to propose a complete audit and investigation.

    When “Mayor Gayle” years ago said that she wanted to shut down Chevron and seize their assets in Richmond, she created a big enemy. She’s not very bright, I’m not a politician and I know how to approach things, and to compromise; she’s a career politician (now) and functions at the level of a grade schooler. it’s really embarrassing that we elect, and keep electing, such incompetents to the Richmond City Council. McLaughlin, Booze, Beckles, Bates, Martinez and other reoccurring faces.

    bill | Jun 17th, 2016
  10. RPA are Communists!! Richmond residents need to get rid of them! Glad to see Butts is standing up to them.

    John Spartan | Jun 19th, 2016

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.