Bea Roberson: Here's why Mike Parker stopped running for Mayor, and why Tom Butt is better off for it

Radio Free Richmond

blogimage.jpgTom Butt and Mike Parker made a backdoor deal. That much is clear. After the RPA and Mike Parker put tens of thousands behind Parker's mayoral aspirations, he suddenly drops out of the race, and then, just as suddenly, Tom Butt is filing papers to run. It looks like the RPA and Butt thought they would team up. But if the RPA thinks they're going to keep a foot in the mayoral office with Tom Butt, they have another thing coming.

No matter what deal was made, Tom isn't going to be pushed around if he wins the race. In his time in office, Tom has shown that he is a strategist and a very determined man. He doesn't keep his promises if it doesn't suit him, and if Tom wants something, he will do whatever it takes to get it done. Just look at how instrumental Tom was in getting the Craneway sold and getting the riggers loft rehabbed. It seems like Tom was always going to run for Mayor, but only within the past two or three months was he thinking about how to cut down the competition. Before, Tom got Charles Ramsey to run because he thought Ramsey could split votes from Bates. Once Ramsey got out of the race for Mayor, he decided he needed to do something himself.

This is when I think Tom came up with a deal. Word has it that Tom Butt sat down with the RPA board and explained that he and Parker would split the vote if they both ran. Tom said that if Parker drops out, he would vote along with the RPA, appoint Mike Parker to his seat, and help pay off Parker's election debt. To me, that sounds like the truth. Parker wouldn't have backed out and the RPA wouldn't have let their only candidate drop out of the race for nothing. They know that Tom isn't an RPA member, and in the past Tom has voted with them only when it has been advantageous to him.  There is no guarantee whatsoever that Tom will support future RPA measures. And there is another issue with this plan. The whole prospect of Parker taking Tom's seat depends on the RPA retaining a majority on the City Council. If that doesn't happen, then Mike Parker and the RPA are going to be out of luck.

What's going to happen now is that Tom Butt is going to have the RPA and the bulk of Point Richmond behind him, but Tom isn't necessarily going to stand behind them after election. Tom Butt is smart, and he worked his way into a very good position in this race. However, that doesn't mean Tom is going to keep any campaign promises to anyone. The RPA thinks they have Tom Butt in their pocket with this deal, but they are dead wrong about that. If Mike Parker stayed in the race, they may have split the vote, but at least they would have someone they know would stand up for their principles. Tom thinks all’s fair in love and war and campaign promises.  After election, he will do whatever is expedient for Tom Butt.

By: Bea Roberson, Richmond Resident

Showing 9 reactions

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  • Liz V
    commented 2014-09-17 09:42:49 -0700
    Good article and conversation. I think it is a good time to bring in new leadership and push out the corruption. Tom Butt does not speak for me, nor does Nat Bates. Together the nasty attack ads by Chevron and Tom Butt’s campaign coordinators Alex and Daniel are helping make my choice clear.

    Richmond needs real honest leadership and that begins with a clean campaign where you talk about the issues and not whether someone has a law degree (Tom Butt has accused Mr. Uwahemu of lying about his college education) and the claims of anarchy (moving forward mailer).

    They aren’t the only choices in this election. I say bring in a fresh vision of hope.
  • Tom Butt
    commented 2014-09-05 16:37:32 -0700
    Bea, it appears Radio Free Richmond is out of manual control .
  • Bea Roberson
    commented 2014-09-05 16:13:25 -0700

  • Bea Roberson
    commented 2014-09-05 16:10:15 -0700
    I wrote the article—-however I signed it Bea Roberson, Richmond Resident.

    I am not the President of the RNCC and have not been for 2 years now. I am merely a resident and as such am voicing my opinion.
  • Mike Raccoon Eyes
    commented 2014-09-02 00:57:07 -0700
    The green colonial socialist majority on the council and that includes Butt along with Parker & the RPA are now stabbing each other in their OWN backs & cutting each other’s throats! The night of the long knives! NOBODY WANTS BUTT, PARKER, MARTINEZ, BECKLES, OR MCLAUGHIN on our council. The voters will drive them from the city hall! All this talk about Butt is as week as water! Trust in the REAL RICHMOND I live in nobody is talking about him, much lees are gonna vote for him!!
  • Bruce Kaplan
    commented 2014-08-30 14:11:21 -0700
    Bea, you make Tom sound nefarious. But I find him to be pragmatic, and hard-working on behalf of the residents of Richmond. It’s true that he is not ideological, and will not likely vote with the RPA on ever issue. But he usually does the right thing. I can’t say this about his opponent, Nat Bates, someone who supported you when you ran (and lost) against Tom in the last election. It’s pretty evident that Nat Bates (along with Corky Booze, who also endorsed you) are bought and paid for by Chevron and labor officials who both live overwhelmingly outside the city of Richmond.

    In any case, is it appropriate to list your position as President of the RNCC while proffering unsubstantiated theories as to why Tom is running and Mike Parker isn’t? If you’re speaking on behalf of the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council, I would rather see a score card that describes the issues that Neighborhood Counicls care about most, and see which candidate has voted most consistently to promote the interests of the residents of Richmond.

    Charles Smith, so you’re voting for Nat?
  • Tom Butt
    commented 2014-08-28 14:07:27 -0700
    With all due respect to Bea, her detailed description of events and motivations is pure speculation in all respects. The simple truth is that I decided to run for mayor the last day I could file, and Mike Parker decided to stand down that same day. There were no months of planning and machinations. As far as my record goes, it is public and it stands on its own. I joined Jeff Ritterman and Jim Rogers as the negotiating team that settled the tax lawsuit with Chevron for $114 million, and I worked with Jim Rogers and Jael Myrick to pound out a benefits agreement with Chevron for $90 million. The solar farm for MCE was already underway; it just got incorporated into the agreement. My real “pet project” for the benefits agreement was the $35 million Promise Program that Jael and I have been working on for nearly two years. Negotiating over $200 million from Chevron in the last four years was not easy, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t leave anything on the table. As a 2012 Chevron candidate, Bea might want to confirm this with Chevron.
  • Charles Smith
    commented 2014-08-27 20:41:27 -0700
    I strongly agree with Ms. Roberson’s analysis of Richmond Councilman Tom Butt’s character. Although Butt may be the unofficial mayor of Point Richmond, he is not ranked all that highly with the rest of Richmond residents. It appears that white liberals hold Butt in high esteem but they apparently are not paying attention to Butt’s role in Richmond history.

    Butt plays the bad cop with Chevron while Bates plays the good cop but between them Richmond has remained a company town since it incorporated in 1905.

    In 2010 Butt negotiated a closed door agreement between the City and Chevron to receive $114 million dollars on a graduated schedule from Chevron for 15 years; however, the tradeoff was that Chevron would not have any new taxes levied on them for the same period. Currently, Richmond is in serious financial trouble and we are only 4 years into the agreement with payments getting smaller every year.

    In the last 30 days Butt negotiated a deal with Chevron for his pet project, a solar farm for Marin Clean Energy, a company on which he happens to sit on the Board. The tradeoff was that no funds were allotted for the failing Doctors Medical Center resulting in the community’s loss of a critical medical emergency facility, an especially critical resource for our uninsured and indigent residents.

    Butt brought Chevron candidate Charles Ramsey into the Richmond mayoral race to split the Black vote and allow then candidate Mike Parker, another Point Richmond resident, to win. When Ramsey switched to the Council race, Butt pushed neophyte Parker out of the mayoral race and decided to personally take on Bates.

    Butt refused to fire the City Manager Bill Lindsay when he rejected calls to fire the Manager of Employee Relations, Leslie Knight who was caught misappropriating city funds for her own enrichment. Lindsay allowed Knight to retire with full benefits and a glowing letter of recognition and wouldn’t have pushed her out at all if it had not been for the press expose, repeated demonstrations and public outrage.

    Butt supported the Director of Public Housing, Tim Jones, when it was revealed that public housing residents are living under disgraceful conditions, insulting the tenants by suggesting that the problems were their fault. A month ago the investigative reporter who originally broke the story revealed additionally that the money allocated for apartment maintenance was being misappropriated by those in charge of maintenance. Currently the matter is under investigation by the Richmond Police Department while Tim Jones stays on the payroll.

    In 2004 the City announced it was $35 million in debt. Fire stations were closed; library hours were cut back and over 200 City workers were laid off. Butt’s explanation of this financial disaster was that it was an accounting glitch. When he ran for reelection in 2004 the West County Times ran an editorial under the headline “Throw the bums out!”
    When a mega-casino was proposed for Point Molate Butt was initially an avid supporter. It wasn’t until the last months before the Richmond voters voted against it that he changed his mind after the developer couldn’t come up with the money he had promised.

    Butt was instrumental in bringing in Charles Ramsey to run for mayor against Nat Bates. This was no small move since Ramsey had to move to Richmond to be eligible to run. Say what you want about Bates but Ramsey’s track record as the President of the West County School District and prostitute chaser makes Bates look like Mother Theresa. Butt has contributed $67,750 West County School District tax measures while his firm has received more than $9 million in work from the school district.

    Butt is not the good old boy he pretends to be. He is an arrogant, self-serving politician and should be sent a message from the voters of Richmond that we are not fooled by his country boy façade. Don’t waste your vote on Butt.
  • mike
    commented 2014-08-27 13:36:48 -0700
    As a 27+ year RIchmond homeowner, my take’s a little bit different. I’m guessing Tom Butt thought Mike Parker too weak a candidate; the winning Chevron candidate would help usher Richmond back to the good old boys era, and Butt’s willing to give up 4 years of his retirement to keep Richmond’s ship sailing in its current positive direction. If I was Mike Parker, as soon as Butt announced for mayor I’d drop out, deal or no deal, not wanting to split the vote. I doubt the RPA thinks Butt will act any different than he always has, agreeing with many of the RPA’s positions, but certainly not all of them.

    Most of us who have been here for a while know how much Richmond’s improved. And that began to happen when the special interests lost their influence at city hall. I’m guessing that’s what both Butt and the RPA want to continue-a better Richmond for the citizens, not the special interests.
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