Rosa Lara: Richmond Needs to Return to Basics

blogimage.jpgThe recent article in the West Contra Costa Times “City Hall flaps shake faith in Richmond's leaders” by Robert Rodgers raises important questions - do we focus on substance or fall prey to distractions? Is it better for local leaders to employ a laser or a floodlight?

As a lifelong resident of Richmond, a mother, and a leader in the business community, I believe we need to laser in on substantial issues that impact local residents. Councilmember Tom Butt cites a recent report published in the SF Chronicle that found the key to attract entrepreneurs is simply creating “a great place to live plus a talented pool of potential employees, and excellent access to customers and suppliers” in his E-Mail Forum. We need to focus on public safety, local jobs, education, and good roads—the ingredients for a more prosperous Richmond for all our citizens. Residents, business owners, and customers alike need to feel safe in this city. Educating our youth will result in a stronger more qualified work force. Improving our roads and infrastructure will allow for the easy movement of goods, services, and people across the city. Put another way, need to get back to basics and focus with laser-like precision on prioritizing our city first. We can do this by focusing on the necessities for business growth and local prosperity.

Unfortunately, Mayor McLaughin too often employs a floodlight, not a laser. It seems that she would rather focus on global distractions than issues in her own backyard. She has spent the past year traveling to Ecuador and Cuba. In Cuba, the Mayor’s cultural exchange has not seemed to produce any tangible results for residents, but perhaps made for a few interesting news articles. The Mayor and her cronies tried to pass the ill-advised beverage tax in 2012 and are now pushing a losing battle for the use of eminent domain. We often see the Mayor on national news networks making waves over whatever industry she views as evil or attempting to start or join global “movements.” When lauding her accomplishments she mentions the banning of plastic bags, being a progressive leader, and standing up to Chevron around the world. All this would fine except for the fact that in the process of grandstanding on the many global problems she seeks to solve, the basics of governance are ignored. The Mayor seems far too interested in global issues at the expense of local ones. While these “movements” make for fine distractions, they fall short of effective local leadership.

The Mayor has not taken care of the people and businesses of Richmond.  Investigative stories like the housing authority piece make it hard to attract businesses and customers to Richmond. We would rather have jobs in Richmond than global rhetoric. We would rather have a feeling of safety on 23rd Street than discussions on Fox News. We would rather educate our children for the future than read the highlights on the Mayor’s trips. I sincerely hope that we would rather laser in Richmond, than shoot a floodlight into the clouds.


- Rosa Lara, President, 23rd Street Merchants Association

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