Councilmember’s blindness mocked in ‘ugly’ display by RPA


Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles “screamed” in the face of blind colleague Vinay Pimple following a vote Tuesday, calling him “disgusting” and reciting to him a message on an insulting banner held by members of her group, the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

“[Beckles] added loudly and multiple times that she wanted to tell me about the things I couldn’t see,” Pimple said.

On Wednesday, Pimple spoke out about the ugly episode described in Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum newsletter. It occurred after a proposed 45-day moratorium on rent increases and no-cause evictions failed to garner six votes (East Bay Times) from the seven-member council.

Pimple said Beckles screamed in his face while reciting the message on one of the RPA banners that stated: “Vinay is the Pimple on Tom’s Butt.”

“During this entire display, I sat quietly, not speaking a single word,” Pimple said.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said Wednesday it was the RPA’s special brand of political theater. While the RPA, which currently holds three seats on council, knew the rent moratorium measure would fail, as it has failed in the past, “the sole purpose” of including it as an agenda item was to launch a demonstration, Butt said.

The RPA also used the City Council forum to promote its preferred candidates for City Council. During the council meeting, the RPA featured interviews on social media with their candidates Ben Choi and Melvin Willis. With Pimple up for re-election, the RPA took to Facebook Wednesday to target attacks against the mild-mannered, soft-spoken councilmember.

“Both Pimple and Bates [who voted against the temporary moratorium on evictions until the electorate votes on the Measure L rent control ballot measure in November] are up for reelection,”‘ the RPA post stated, adding, “Shame on you.”

It wasn’t the first such display. In June, as part of its campaigning alongside tenants’ rights groups, the RPA was accused of unfairly branding an 82-year-old Hispanic woman as a greedy landlord and sending protesters to her home.

“Unfortunately, we have become used to the RPA turning council meetings into political theater,” Pimple said. “But yesterday marked a new low that I hope we don’t see again.”

Councilmember Nat Bates, who also reportedly endured Beckles’ close-encounter shouting, at one point said, “This isn’t necessary.”

The debate over rent control has been heating up with Measure L on the November ballot. The measure would implement rent control and just cause for eviction policies in Richmond administered by a new city rent board.

Advocates of rent control — which include the three RPA members on council, Gayle McLaughlin, Eduardo Martinez and Beckles — argue the policy is needed as the technology boom and housing shortage have led to increased rents. Without rent control, low-income residents are being displaced, they say. The policy is being considered in several other Bay Area cities.

Opponents of rent control — including Mayor Butt, Pimple and Bates — say the policy hasn’t been implemented by a jurisdiction in decades because it has proven not to work as intended. And they add that while the RPA appears to fight for affordable housing, its members on council have recently blocked two proposals for affordable housing projects.

While Richmond opponents of rent control agree something must be done to keep rents down, such as increasing housing supply, they point to research showing that a majority of economists believe rent control does not accomplish its intended goals.


  1. The RPA ignored warnings by credible people and institutions backed by data and facts that extreme rent control measures such as the one they’ve placed on the ballot, have more negative effects than positive ones. The truth is that the other measures that the RPA refused to consider would have been far more beneficial to renters and owners alike, had widespread support, and would have been in place a year ago already without all of this unnecessary fighting and drama. I voted for Jovanka Beckles. But the hateful things that she can’t help from spewing out of her mouth from time to time greatly disturb me. I also find the RPA’s mob mentality greatly disturbing as well, and so should we all. How long before they are beating on your door screaming at you and your family to give up your legal rights and cave in to their demands? Or shouting you down for speaking your own mind and opinions or not thinking ‘correctly’? This is dangerous stuff. I hope Richmond doesn’t have to learn it the hard way by suffering through a RPA dictatorship, but perhaps that’s what it will take to wake people up.

  2. There are two bullies on the Richmond City Council one is Mayor T. King Butt and the other is Councilmember Jovanka Beckles. I don’t support either of them .
    I do have an enormous amount of respect for Viny Pimple and I am saddened that he was so disrespected by Councilmember Beckles. This kind of behavior never called for.

  3. Beckles has publicly displayed sociopathic behavior many times in the past, this is no surprise. I am surprised that she was elected to the City council. I think Richmond can do much better than many of the people who are on the council. Do the educated, intelligent Richmond residents not bother with running for elected positions with the city?

  4. Sociopath behavior is being too nice to describe Jovanka. I voted for her too and that’s the vote I regret the most. She is out of control and needs to be kicked out now. No city is going to solve any problems with that vile behavior. Can we impeach her?

  5. Sure, Mayor Butt has his bullying moments, but it’s understandable in my opinion. How would you handle it if you had to try to get things done with all those nutty zealots on the council? He deserves a Purple Heart. Overall I find him reasonable, hard working, a tough advocate for Richmond, and easily the most experienced and qualified person there. I agree with John Knox that we’re lucky to have him.
    I also have much respect for Vinay Pimple and hope we can keep him on the council.
    Now that I think about it I think we’re all better off when Jovanka is playing Scrabble during the council meetings…..

  6. Don’t be fooled folks. The RPA created this hellstrom, even as the alarms sirens were sounding. They kept marching forward. They knew the consequences of their actions. They know that rent control measures have an epic history of failure. They know that these measures cause more damage to the ones in the most need. They know the renters will lose. They chose to ignore the data, evidence, and facts (which are well documented) to elevate their own political aspirations on the backs of the uneducated. Now they want to play the compassion/sympathy card tactics to cover up their dirty deeds. Don’t buy in to it.

    The RPA are sadistic extremist and habitual liars. I attended last night’s meeting and the behavior of Beckles (and RPA surrogates) was appalling and disgusting and yet another example of incompetence of the RPA.

    The RPA and their surrogates make lot of damaging noise, but never have any viable concrete solutions to anything. Renters should be more aware of false prophets, who cannot pull a house from their behinds to offer them at a price they can afford, by any means necessary. Stop disaraging and condemning housing providers and keep in mind they do it by choice not by mandate.

    If Measures L passes it going to get far worst for renters and that is a fact. I say “NO” to L.

  7. Sandra Davenport,
    I can’t quite remember how to do that. Some garlic mirrors and sunlight perhaps? I’ll have to pull out my copy of the Wizard of Oz tonight and see how they did it…..

  8. Also beware of the candidates for the November ballot. Butt has endorsed Myrick and Rogers. The problem with these choices are: Butt and Myrick ran on the RPA ticket in 2014. Therefore I feel they lean RPA, and hence Rogers probably does as well, so no. Choi and Willis are RPA, they have no educational or experience backgrounds and so for me difinite no. Cesar does not have the educational background and is not experienced enough yet, so no.
    I like Corky, because he is a watchdog, and he is compassionate and has been commented to the well being of the city for years. Uche has some of the best experience and educational background I’ve seen in long time, he could be a positive asset.

    Vinay Pimple and Nates Bates are a yes, based on their records, commitments, educational backgrounds, and experience.

    My third choice is still in the air.

  9. Uche is definite the third candidate that deserves to be elected. He is educated, intelligent, smart and knows that Richmond needs to ATTRACT businesses for its citizens to prosper.
    Willis and Choi are really uneducated RPA thugs, who know only how to protest, demand freebees and bang on peoples doors in the middle of the night.
    So far their achievement is UC Berkeley Global Campus fiasco and hundreds of people homeless due to idiotic rent control proposal.
    I think Vinay Pimple is by far the smartest and most intelligent Council member.
    If Richmond loses him it would be a disaster. He holds two degrees in engineering and law, is extremely intelligent and should serve as an example to all Richmond youth how to overcome all odds stacked against a person, and still become a great successful human being.
    As oppose to RPA candidates that violently demand entitlements without even going through an effort of getting a basic education. Shame on them.

  10. As much as the RPA has spun out of control, now that they’ve let there agenda be driven by ACCE, a nationally organized group funded by and its backers, Tom Butt is equally out of control. He rode into office as Mayor on the back of the RPA then turned coat.
    He is vindictive, and assaultive.
    And he is, as much as the RPA is, responsible for the divisiveness in this City.
    Darn good reason he’s not endorsing Vinay, who is the best thing that’s happened to council in a long time. Vinay don’t play the pay to play culture of Tom and City Staff.
    My hand is up to Uche. He might just get these idealogues to heel and be an actual representative face to Richmond, not Tom Butt’s holier than thou white plantation mastah crap, or the RPA’s marxist crap.

  11. Statement from RPA Steering Committee

    Just like that, homeless

    The RPA did not organize a disruption at the 9/13 City Council meeting. On Tuesday night, after dozens of public speakers and four Council members respectfully advocated for a temporary 45-day moratorium on evictions and rent increases over 3%, which required a 6/7 vote supermajority, the item failed. Nat Bates, Tom Butt and Vinay Pimple voted no.

    And just like that, there were people in the room who were made homeless. Some audience members, including tenants who have recently been unjustly evicted, were so frustrated that they erupted into a spontaneous chorus of “Shame on you!” This chant was directed at council members who appeared to have not heard nor responded to the reasoned explanations for enacting a temporary moratorium until voters can make the decision in November.

    The Mayor described this yesterday, in an article, as “a riot.” Nat Bates and Vinay Pimple wrote long articles to explain how they felt disrespected by those in the room. Instead of defending their position, instead of defending their choice, these politicians are projecting a political sideshow to deflect the gravity of what they had done to our community.

    We urge all Richmond residents to watch the full council meeting of 9/13 and judge for themselves who was uncivilized.… (at 2:42:40).

    The council members who voted against it have not and will not want to talk about the merits of a moratorium specifically. In the Mayor’s comments he tried odd discussion points such as equating the moratorium with chickens and turkeys. This seriously is not funny nor illuminating discourse from Mayor Butt. He wants to divert the conversation as much as possible from this indefensible position.

    It was frustrating to hear the lecture by Councilmember Bates that the people who had come to the Council meeting to plead their case for temporary action by the Council were wasting the Council’s time. It was clear that the three had made up their minds prior to the meeting that they would not let anything said at the meeting change their minds.

    In the frustration following the vote some individuals made verbal personal attacks on Councilmembers. We do not support these and we do not support disrupting the normal process of the Council. But we understand where the strong feelings are coming from when people are losing their homes. RPA member and Council member Jovanka Beckles became understandably angry at the thought of seniors, families and children not getting the support of their Council members, and has since apologized.

    Denying the moratorium not only denied people their homes, they were denied the right to vote. One tenant discussed in her testimony how these evictions may function as a form of voter suppression. When tenants don’t get the chance to vote, and instead have to uproot their lives, the community loses its voice.

    This moratorium was not a radical move to make. As Jael Myrick pointed out, in Alameda and Oakland, the much more conservative City Councils voted unanimously for an emergency moratorium on evictions and high rent increases. They understood that it was not fair to the public to deal with a market panic in the run up to a rent control vote. A few of our council members are dead set on sabotaging rent control and blaming anyone else possible for their inaction. Tom Butt and Nat Bates are both landlords themselves.

    We could have stopped the evictions. Whether you agree with rent control or not doesn’t matter, just let people stay long enough to vote and figure out places to go and vote. The moratorium would have cost almost nothing and would have hurt no one. A lot of people are needlessly suffering.

    So while tenants take their evictions to the courts, what we have left is to pass Measure L. If passed, it will go into effect January 1st, 2017. Join us at Thank you.

    The RPA Steering Committee

  12. How can RPA council members and their entourage act the way they do and not get arrested? Maybe that’s what they want, so they can claim martyrdom. Is that psychopath Juan Reardon still creeping around? The Richmond Rasputin?

  13. Zak, RPA, and Myrick,
    I was at the meeting and this was what I observed:
    Many tenants testified that they had moved to Richmond from Oakland, because they could not afford living there any more. This is a fact, you can check the video of the meeting.

    None of the speakers bothered to ask the begging question WHY?

    Why weren’t they moving in the opposite direction from Richmond to rent control heavens Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco?
    I guess the answer is that maybe the rent control did not work very well for them, did it?

    Maybe the “controlled” Oakland landlords did not want to take a chance with not perfectly creditworthy tenants for the fear of being stuck due to the rent control laws, in contrast to the “greedy” Richmond landlords who could afford to take a chance in the rent control free environment.
    These tenants did not have to be homeless now. There were 3 other rent control proposals on the table last year, PROVEN much more effective in dealing with rising rents (i.e. San Leandro model) than the draconian one, currently on the ballot (Oakland/Berkeley model). San Leandro rents are rising much slower than Oakland or Berkeley rents. These proposals had widespread support and could have been easily passed by City Council and implemented by now, no one would have to be homeless, and the rents would have been much lower than they are today.
    But RPA and ECCU wanted to have it their way, and in their brutal war for power and influence they used these poor tenants as human shields instead of compromising for a reasonable solution.
    One has to be especially disgusted by Myrick’s actions in that respect.
    In August of last year he had the swing vote in the Council which could pass one of these widely supported measures.
    But he chose to go along with RPA, hoping that they would return the favor and support his candidacy for the City Council this November. This political maneuvering was done without any thoughtful consideration of how this draconian version of rent control is going to force the property owners to react.

    And now they are playing the compassion card?

    Shame on you!

  14. Homeless just like that? Well, renters have RPA, ACCE, and all their surrogates to thank for that. You knew the unintended consequences of rent control and just cause measures, which are well documented. But you ignored them all.

    Now that these consequences are at the door you want to play the sympathy card. Well quess what, no one is buying it. YOU WERE WARNED. This mess falls directly at your feet.

    Villianizing and condemning the very people that provide housing and expecting them to bow to you is not happening. Housing providers have other options, renting is only one of their choices. So when you try to make their lives a living hell, why should they bother. After all they provide housing because they want be not because they have to.

    Therefore RPA, ACCE, and others, if you are so concerned why don’t you buy the providers out and charge these people what they want. Now that’s a solution! Or stop exploiting these poeple for your own personal gain. Because if L passes buying may be a renter’s only option as housing providers leave the market, or pay extremely high rents like Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco to remain in Richmond.

  15. Only the RPA could think that they could ‘stabilize’ the neighborhoods by destabilizing the rental market.
    Mike Rose said it well, the RPA could have passed a reasonable form of rent control with wide support a year ago. Renters should know it’s the RPA and their draconian Measure L that screwed them and it will only get worse if Measure L passes. Try t0 get an apartment in Oakland Berkeley or San Francisco if you don’t believe that. Another big lie is that ‘good’ landlords will hardly be affected at all by Measure L . Nonsense, every owners risks and costs will go up and they will take measures to protect themselves accordingly. That translates into increased difficulty for the very renters the RPA thinks it’s protecting.
    Measure L is a bad deal for all.

  16. The RPA’s war against landlords is going to go about as well as it’s war against the Berkeley Global Campus, with similar results.

  17. The political strategy of the RPA is very old and transparent, no one who has studied politics or history is fooled by statements and posturing when the ACTIONS are very clear.

    For some groups, gaining political power is achieved by making conditions SO HORRIBLE that everyone demands action, and then that group proclaims that they are the “only ones” who can solve the problem (that they created…). And the icing on the cake is for that group to maintain an atmosphere where citizens are reliant on them so the group can continue to stay in power. If the citizenry were to ever have an increased quality of life independent of the political group, they would lose power. The goal of the group is never to make life better for the citizens; it is to obtain and maintain POWER.

    We’re seeing a macro version of this in Richmond, with the RPA doing almost everything they can to make life worse for Richmond citizens, and claiming o be “helping” people. They trick the unsophisticated and gullible people into supporting them and sometimes inciting violence and destruction by these pawns. All the while maintaining a story that the RPA and the RPA ALONE can “fix” all the problems, but only if all political opposition is removed, because anyone who doesn’t go along with RPA agenda is a “bully” or “racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot”; painting the RPA as victims.

    It’s really laughable, except it seems to be working due to the gullibility via lack of education of so many Richmond residents.

  18. A lot of people here keep talking about, “the RPA” as a person or individual politician. It’s a large, diverse organization of people across Richmond. It is led by a board that is majority people of color, majority women and is ultimately led by members. The Richmond Progressive Alliance is an all-volunteer organization that is funded by it’s members.

    The Richmond Progressive Alliance was originally founded 12 years ago to organize electoral campaigns for candidates who do not take corporate campaign contributions. By working together we defeated the Point Molate Casino, ousted the Chevron 5 from the council and now we’re organizing for rent control via Measure L. You can learn more at:

    Someone just commented above:

    “The goal of the group is never to make life better for the citizens; it is to obtain and maintain POWER.”

    Power for what? We’re a working families coalition. Two of the three incumbents running for re-election this year are Chamber of Commerce Democrats who don’t share a working families agenda. Otis Taylor of SF Chronicle outright questioned this:

    “In his online council biography, Bates is referred to as “the strongest and loudest voice for our families and our neighborhoods,” who “has been fighting on behalf of Richmond’s families for over 40 years.”

    Of the more than 30 speakers who asked — no, begged — the council to pass the moratorium, many spoke of their families with deep roots in Richmond’s neighborhoods. If they’re evicted from their apartments, many have nowhere to go and many don’t want to leave the community they call home.

    Who exactly are the Richmond families Bates is currently fighting for?”

    Article is here:

    The Richmond Standard continues in being a megaphone for conservative activists around town. Please don’t continue reading this rag.

  19. I’m not a conservative by and measure. I’ve been voting solidly Democratic for over 30 years. And I think the Richmond Standard is an excellent local news source. Just because you don’t agree with many commenters here doesn’t make it a ‘conservative news rag’. And why would you suggest people not read it? What are you afraid of? People forming their own opinions? That really screams ‘thought police’ on your part. I read the RPA’s propoganda sites. I don’t agree with them but would never suggest no one read what they have to say. It’s things like that that worry me about the RPA, and cause me to regret voting for them last election. The RPA is very closed minded to others opinions, as evidenced by the previous posters comments. They are clearly an extremist organization and we should be very concerned about that.

  20. Folks, real news can be found here:

    The Richmond Standard was created by Whitehurst-Mosher, a San Fancisco-based consulting firm while they were working for the Chevron refinery in Richmond. They spent hundreds of thousands paying for staff and advertising to build up the brand, then they handed it off to people who have have a long track record of being opposed to the working families coalition. This setup serves them very well, it means they can claim being, “independent” while still disseminating center-right talking points and agenda in the community.

    The anonymous commentator above claims indignation out of being discouraged for reading the RS. I’m sorry, I also encourage folks to stop watching FOX News. FOX is entertainment, not journalism, and this site is also not run by real journalists. It’s a political blog masquerading as a reputable news site.

  21. Obviously the point of the previous comment is that only the news organizations that agree ideologically with commenter above are “real”. All others, if it would be up to her or him, should be banned.
    This is typical line of thinking for all oppressive communist regimes in the world. Usually they first claim they fight for the poor, oppressed, they promise freebies, fool the uneducated, and with their help grab the power ( of course they never say they are for grabbing power, just for serving working people).
    Then the misery comes.
    Everyone realizes by then what happened, but it is to late. Power is held by oppression, persecution and fear at that point. Only “official” propaganda is allowed ( this is what previous commenter dreams about).
    Look at Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, hell holes where everyone is starving and trying to escape from, but they can’t because they get shot.
    The leaders in power there still claim they represent these poor working classes, that is the official propaganda.
    What this extreme oppressive forms of dictatorial communism have in common with RPA , the “innocent community organization”?
    To get a sense of that just look at the three freshly elected RPA council members proudly posing in 2014 against a portrait of Venezuelan bloody communist dictator Hugo Chavez and draw the conclusion yourself.

  22. To the RPA propagandist above,
    Thank you. Your posts only serve to prove our points for us perhaps better than we could ourselves. You are just as bad as Fox News and the far right wingers, only you refuse to look hard enough at yourselves to see it. Look at the denial the RPA is in about their hand in helping to kill Berkeley Global Campus, even though A CAMPUS SPOKESPERSON PUBLICLY AGREED THIS WAS SO. Look at Measure L, which claims to contain ‘homeowners protections’. Where are they? Look at the different standards for example when Jovanka Beckles makes outrageous statements or if a non RPA aligned person makes them. Or consider how is its ok when RPA move into Richmond, but anyone else moving here they’re evil gentrifiers.
    The RPA is simply a left wing version of the Tea Party.

  23. Rest assured citizens of Richmond. The RPA is here to save you by telling what to think, what to read, and how to vote. And if you refuse they will send Zak Wear and his merry band of yellow shirt intimidators to help you ‘think correctly’. Be sure to read their approved party line publication the Red Sun, or else…….

  24. Bragging about chasing away the Point Molate convention center, shopping district and casino which would have provided hundreds of full time jobs that most Richmond residents could obtain without first getting additional education or resume material just shows how backward this “progressive” group is. They also tried to stop the port from getting the contract to unload cars from Japan. Meanwhile, they aggressively seek handouts in the form of government grants and programs to compensate for all the jobs they don’t want Richmond citizens to have. Also were a critical part of Cal Berkeley’s decision to abandon the Global Campus (despite the spin they put forth to say it was someone else’s fault…). I like that they keep Chevron on it’s heels, that’s great, but publicly saying they want to “shut it down, tear it down” doesn’t do anyone any favors. As mentioned above, it IS a little telling when very visible members of the RPA are not embarrassed to express admiration for violent dictators like Mao, Chavez and Castro. Probably because they are contrarians, not because they could actually LIKE the governing style of people like that, right? But that governing style IS Progressive, according to the definitions and goals put forth in the early 20th century.

  25. It should be mentioned that Richmond is a great place for sociopaths that want to be “famous” in politics. Obviously it’s easy to fool the rubes and get elected to city council through agitprop. No real city of 100,000 anywhere in the country would have such a large collection of rabid ideologues elected, with a chip on their shoulder because they were picked last for sports teams in grade school or something.

  26. “Power for what?”
    Why then is the RPA attempting to take full control of the City Council if not for the power to do whatever they want? Why can’t the RPA work with others who have different opinions if they are so all embracing as they claim to be? Why should Richmond residents be comfortable handing over full control of the City Council to an unelected group who will decide what’s best for everyone whether they like it or not? I find that quite disturbing.

  27. The RPA’s rag the Red Sun, or whatever they call it, isn’t journalism either Zak. It promotes their particular point of view just like their website and facebook page do as well. How typically arrogant and self righteous of you to think you’re going to school us about journalism when your own group is just as guilty. First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

  28. As an independent thinker I enjoy reading the Standard. I find others opinions eye opening and interesting. I also see stupidity and ignorance. I believe there are always two sides to any arguments and the truth is usually found somwhere in the middle.

    The problem I see with groups/organizations like the RPA is they never come toward the middle, because they never consider the opposite argument, therefore there is no truth but their own. Their idealeogy is so extreme that they cannot see or think beyond themselves. This makes them dangerous.

  29. I can certainly see why Zak Wear and the RPA don’t want people reading the Richmond Standard. Just look at some of these ultra right wing hit pieces they’ve run recently:

    Hilltop Mall National Chess Day tourney set for Oct. 8

    Richmond nonprofit seeks community’s help in building a new playground

    WCCUSD releases athletics schedule for this week

    St. David’s 11th Annual Fall Festival set for Saturday

    Temple Beth Hillel releases calendar for High Holy Days

    Richmond considers expanding restrictions on polystyrene foam products

    New Richmond library program has kids reading to therapy dogs

    Downtown Richmond festival fundraiser about spirit and soul

    Richmond hosting on-site recruitment for Amazon jobs

    School garden aims to grow Halloween pumpkin for every student

    Richmond set to launch 2nd round of mini-grants for community projects

    League of Women Voters to hold WCCUSD board candidate forums

    Community mourns death of longtime Richmond activist Lillie Mae Jones

    Well, you get the idea. Clearly the Richmond Standard cannot be trusted to keep our residents informed on local news……

  30. Part of “progressive” politics is controlling or censoring the media. That’s why I much prefer Liberals to Progressives. It would be great if the Liberals could take back the Democrat Party from the Progs. A lot of people are mad about what the Progs did to Bernie Sanders to prevent him from being the DNC nominee.

    People still don’t understand that there is a BIG difference between Progs and Liberals.