Bea Roberson: Special Treatment for Out-of-Towners is Unfair


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blogimage.jpgTuesday’s City Council meeting was disappointing, to say the least.  Once again, people from outside our community came into our city council meeting to speak on local issues.  The worst part is that they were given preferential treatment by our mayor as usual.

The special City Council meeting included discussion of a possible extension of the Chevron Modernization Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) review period by an additional 45 days.  This would double the overall time granted under law for review.  It failed to gain approval from the Council, but not before several people, who are not  residents of Richmond, stood up to urge approval of the extension - once again trying to influence the residents of Richmond.  The DEIR was prepared by the City, and the City chose the experts that did the exhaustive research to make sure that it encompasses all the information needed to make a decision.   The City Manager recommended that we not extend the review period, so that it can be heard before the recess of City Council in the month of August.  If most of the City Council has to understand it, it could take years, as none are engineers, metallurgists, or refinery experts. 

Members of the group Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) showed up – as usual – to denounce Chevron for no good reason.  They claimed they discovered flaws in the DEIR, but were unable to actually identify any such flaws when pressed by the council members to do so.  They insisted that Chevron is trying to pull a fast one; but where is the evidence?  They have none.  It is clear that they want more time to concoct more ridiculous claims against a company that has been a benevolent presence in the Richmond community over the years.

The CBE members know they can simply waltz into Richmond City Council meetings – even though most of them do not actually live in Richmond – and receive special treatment from certain council members, particularly the mayor and vice mayor. It is outrageous that the Richmond Progressive Alliance showers favoritism upon these out-of-towners.

I watched disheartened as the mayor waived the rules to give extra time during the public comment portion of the agenda item to a representative from CBE so that he could present more slides about toxic emissions. No one else is offered the time to present a PowerPoint.  His time was up and yet the mayor said she was interested in what his last slide showed, so she gave him 150% of the total time allotted for any other members of the community who want to speak before the Council.  However those of us who attend council meetings know better that to expect fair and democratic treatment by the mayor.  She interrupts you if your opinion does not go along with hers and cannot keep from answering back that she doesn’t agree with you.  She seems to have no self-control.

It is simply unfair and unconscionable that a company like Chevron, which has sponsored many events in  our community, large and small neighborhood events as well and paid for many infrastructure improvements has to suffer because of the RPA agenda promoted by the mayor and her cohorts.   If anyone is trying to “pull a fast one” on our community, it is CBE and their people.  It seems that they don’t really want answers to their allegations, they just want to make accusations in the press and to the public, (hopefully to embarrass Chevron) so that anyone who doesn’t really know how they work, might believe that there is some basis for their claims.  It is especially strange that CBE comes to our town and works with the RPA to sabotage the modernization project when even RPA figurehead Mike Parker has stood before the Richmond Planning Commission and declared that this DEIR is “an extremely good EIR.”  Why do the RPA members on the Council still insist on siding with the CBE reps against Chevron when it is clear that Chevron is doing its best to be a good citizen of Richmond?  The RPA members say in public that they want the project to go ahead, but they are working behind the scenes to see that it doesn’t have a chance.  

Could the answer to that question be that a 45-day extension of the review period would push the final approval date for the modernization project to a time after the upcoming elections in Richmond?  I’ll let you be the judge….

Showing 4 reactions

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  • commented 2014-04-25 16:06:41 -0700
    Ohhhh….I see now. Bea Roberson is running for Richmond City Council. I wonder how much campaign money she is accepting either directly or indirectly from the Chevron corporation?
  • followed this page 2014-04-25 16:01:54 -0700
  • commented 2014-04-25 16:01:28 -0700
    “… ridiculous claims against a company that has been a benevolent presence in the Richmond community over the years.” That’s an outrageous statement since the company that Bea Roberson is referring to is Chevron. Has she conveniently forgotten that Chevron caused 15,000 residents to go to hospitals on August 6, 2014 because of Chevron’s negligence? That Chevron’s lack of responsible maintenance regularly causes toxins to be released into our communities on an average of every 5 years? Does her idea of “benevolent” include spending millions of dollars to influence local elections? And, regarding her comment about “outsiders”, well, she should know that Chevron’s negligence not only affects Richmond residents. There is no bubble over Richmond that contains these “accidents”. Chevron has been poisoning people in surrounding communities for many years. I wonder what ties Ms. Roberson has to Chevron that she conveniently forgets that the Chevron corporation is anything but “benevolent”. Just take a look at what Chevron has done around the world to destroy environments and lives in addition to how the Richmond refinery prefers to invest money in propaganda and elections instead of maintaining the plant. The world is beyond peak oil. It’s time for Chevron and other fossil fuel corporations to begin to transition to sustainable energy sources. All of the tools are now available for this transition. Google Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson to find out more.
  • commented 2014-04-24 19:05:51 -0700
    Not only did the Mayor give her friend and ally additional time to make his comments, but she also allowed him to get up a second time and speak alongside his CBE lawyer associate. At no time would the Mayor ever allow regular people such opportunities.

    Of additional interest, Vice Mayor Beckles kept falling asleep during the public comment part of this issue. She had her head in the palm of her hand and her head kept slipping. She can try to claim otherwise but we were watching and commenting on this. She does this frequently.

    In the past she has told the public that she was too tired to think straight—and then she voted on three more issues.

    On Tuesday night she eventually packed up her gear and left the chambers so she didn’t even stick around for the vote.

    Between the Mayor and the Vice Mayor, these were the two Councilmembers who spoke so vigorously for an extension when they were the very ones I spoke of when I said that for some people, no length of extension would work, We have some people—and unfortunately some of them are the elected officials who will be allowed to vote on whether to certify this EIR—who will never be able to understand this DEIR. They simply do not have the background, the understanding or even the mental capacity to understand a document about an industry and a process they know virtually nothing about. It reminds me, though, of a time when the Vice Mayor sat on the Planning Commission when a 5,812 page DEIR was in front of her for review and she told the audience that she didn’t need to read it because she already knew everything she needed to know. And still she was allowed to vote.

    Just as we heard at last weeks Planning Committee meeting, we’re seeing a lot of people who are putting the refinery on trial and not just this DEIR. They’re even making comparisons between previous DEIRs as if they’re still open for debate.

    For many of these people, and I suspect that the Mayor and the Vice Mayor fit into this mold, Chevron is a litmus test for them where, in their opinions, there’s nothing that Chevron can do right and everything that Chevron does must be wrong.

    What do you do with elected officials who come to meetings with closed minds and refuse to even talk to people who won’t drink their Kool-Aid?
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