Greetings good people!
In a previous Real Talk, I stated that I cannot be distracted by the lies and distortions being told about me in my re-election campaign. I meant what I said, but it is apparent to me that I do not have the luxury of simply campaigning by putting forth a platform and a substantive honest message. On the contrary, I have heard from certain constituents that the negative mailers are giving them pause. For that reason, I feel compelled to set the record straight. Out of respect for those who have placed their confidence in me, I am providing an explanation of the most recent attack-mailer funded by Chevron to disparage me.
Richmond is rising. We have beautiful parks once again! We have good lighting, once again! We have public art once again! We have gardens once again! Our young people are beginning to feel loved again! We are experiencing increased peace in our community and we have the lowest crime rate in 33 years! All this is the sign of the healthy community we are re-creating together. Richmond is healing, and what could be more beautiful than that?
It is no secret that in this election there have been and continue to be ongoing attempts by the Chevron Corporation, and their candidates, that are designed specifically to distract both progressive candidates and the voters. These desperate attempts distract from the real Richmond; the Richmond that is rich in history, drive, innovation and resourcefulness. These distractions are designed to keep me from staying focused on the vision I have for our City of Pride and Purpose. We are moving in an innovative, progressive direction, and it's incredibly exciting!
The fact is that all members of the Council are paid $14,030.55 per year and $5500 for use on travel and expenses. As with all public agencies and many private businesses, business trips cover meals. The recommended daily amount for travel meal expenditures is $71 per day for Fort Lauderdale.
The fact is that although it was available to me as a newly elected councilmember, I did not initially have much need to use a city credit card and I didn't use one for the first 2 1/2 years of my term. I did use my city credit card on my only trip on city business to attend a conference on Health Disparities in Communities of Color and how to close the gap. I was proud to attend the conference to learn how to be an even more effective public official, and to represent Richmond. I was even more proud of our city when people from all over the nation praised Richmond for our collective innovative solutions.
In terms of the allegations levied against me, if you look at the receipts supplied, you will find that I charged on average $30 or less per day—much less than the standard per diem allowances. In addition, if you take a close look at the receipts, a significant amount of the money went to generous tips to hard working individuals who earned it. I believe that those earning minimum wage deserve to be fairly compensated for the work they do. I've always believed that, and that has been my practice all my adult life. Upon closer look, you will also find that one meal receipt was printed twice in the mailer to make it appear that I spent twice as much as I did.
The creator of the mailer also conveniently neglects to tell the public how I spent the rest of my "expense budget." Given their resources and the thorough review, it's doubtful that they did not see the full records. The record reflects the reality that the rest of my "travel money" was spent on sponsoring Richmond's youth events such as Little League, CLOUD's Dare To Dream conference for immigrant youth desiring to go to college, homeless conferences, and a host of other community-oriented events.
In contrast to my modest and legitimate spending, my colleagues' indiscriminate spending on multiple lavish trips taken by Corky Boozé and Nat Bates to China at the city's expense (going well above their allotted expenses) is largely ignored. Council members Bates and Boozé rationalize their expenses with the claim that the money was well spent as they were able to make the deal with the Chinese Terminal One developer. A claim that is both ludicrous and doubtful.
If Team Richmond had the resources to do the kind of investigation that Chevron pays big bucks for, we would find far worse transgressions than the purchase of reasonable meals to which I am entitled while traveling on City business, all while staying within my total meal allowance. Council member Boozé on the other hand, takes delight in bragging about eating at the extremely expensive Ruth's Chris Steak House in Walnut Creek while on "city business."
Regarding the absences the mailer references, I've never missed a council meeting, although occasionally I might have not been seated for roll call.
Given Chevron's financial resources and their ability to scour the city credit card records, I would say their "revelations" are pretty shameful. In over 4 years the company could not come up with any other expenditures to "expose." I'm proud of that.
From the SF Bayview, September 3, 2014
Keeping My Eyes on The Prize
I have recently been the target of attacks from the Chevron-run Richmond Standard, and BAPAC (Black American Political Action Committee)—a conservative Black organization in Richmond, California that historically sides with corporate and developer interest over the best interest of the people. As an elected official who accepts no corporate contributions, I serve and am beholden only to the People of Richmond. As a public official who is running for re-election in order to continue the groundbreaking progressive work we have begun in our community, I must dedicate my time and energy to what is most important. Our critical transformational work, to bring about equity and social justice for those who call Richmond home, threatens the people who have made a living selling Richmond's interests off to the highest bidder, often with tragic consequences. I cannot and will not respond to every lie and intentional distortion that is published and promoted by my adversaries to disparage me. My positions and policy record must be my focus. I trust the voters are paying attention.
One of the proudest moments in serving our community has been raising the minimum wage in Richmond. If you are minimum wage worker in California, you may have noticed that you've been making a dollar more an hour. In Richmond, you'll receive another raise come January first. Over the next four years, you'll actually be getting $4 an hour more than you do today! And, every year after that, you'll get a raise to keep up with the cost of living!
A May 2014 Richmond City Council meeting agenda staff report tells us something we already know. Richmond workers are struggling to make a livable wage. It also suggests we will see millions in increased revenue as the their wages increase. But most important, we are taking concrete steps to move working people out of poverty. To put things in perspective, in just 4 years the local minimum wage will move full-time workers with a family size of 3 out of poverty. This is a significant reality for those families currently living below the poverty line.
In addition to improving our economy by raising the minimum wage, I sponsored our Ban the Box ordinance to fight discrimination of the formerly incarcerated who must be given opportunities to earn a living. I fought to keep Doctors Hospital open. I helped build new playgrounds for our children and families, and I advocated for improved lighting to increase our public safety. For those with a serious interest in reviewing my record, one only need review my web site, Facebook, Twitter, or review the public record.
My opponents, who vociferously attack me with fabrications and distortions, have no program and no vision of their own. They attack me regardless of the issue, occasionally even when we agree and vote the same way! Recently having nothing of substance to use, they chose to distort a Facebook post that I wrote about the Richmond Police Officer's Association (RPOA). The RPOA is an organization that has taken every opportunity, in each election in which I have been a candidate, to take pot shots at me. My response then was simple and I repeat it here: "The writer of the article knowingly takes quotes and actions out of context. I have been a strong supporter of the Richmond Police who have done a great job with community policing. The Richmond Police Officers Association, however, does not reflect the views of most of the great police officers in Richmond. The RPOA is famous for its dirty hit pieces in every election."
As the elections approach, I imagine there will be more attacks over manufactured controversies. As always, I continue to keep my eyes on the prize and work for the people and a better Richmond.
Peace and blessings,