Misappropriation of societal wealth
Of the existential crises Americans have created for themselves, the destabilizing, anti-democratic and immoral maldistribution of wealth that bedevils this country may be the easiest to resolve.
Unfortunately, the position advocated for in a recent Times editorial, which would deny BART employees and other "essential transit workers" the right to strike, would serve only to exacerbate this problem.
The relentless assault waged by those who own this country on those who create its wealth is successful, in part, by eliminating the ability of working men and women to defend themselves.
As a person who has relied upon mass transportation for commuting to and from work for 24 years, I am aware how disruptive strikes can be and of the hardships they can cause. The larger problem, however, stems not from transit employees demanding decent working conditions and middle-class wages, but as a result of an egregious misappropriation of societal wealth and the flawed, distorted set of priorities engendered thereby.
Residents do have the right to know
Once again, Pinole has a City Council member who has deliberately falsified information on his annual Statement of Economic Interest (form 700).
The Fair Political Practices Commission requires elected and appointed officials to file this form so the public knows their financial interests and can be sure they're not violating ethics rules by voting on or discussing legislation involving companies they work for.
Former Councilman David Cole didn't report his earnings from companies doing business with Pinole. The FPPC found him guilty of 24 ethics violations and fined him $111,500. Cole resigned in 2007.
Now there's Councilman Phil Green, who didn't report $147,000 in earnings from the Richmond Sanitary Services/Republic Services in 2012 and 2013, while participating in several discussions and votes involving these companies. He's being investigated by the FPPC, not his first investigation by this agency.
Green told the Times that Pinole's city clerk told him he didn't have to include this information on his form 700, another untruth. Our city clerk denied telling him this.
I guess Green believes he's above the law.
Krauthammer once again posturing
Charles Krauthammer's argument that "Obama's weakness" in foreign policy is being exploited by Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine is a classic case of feckless, conservative posturing against President Barack Obama.
Time and again, hardliners like Krauthammer launch into such chest-pounding, macho-minded tirades without offering an alternative strategy.
And, Krauthammer's claim that Obama's attempting to reduce military spending is a weakness, conveniently ignores that our annual defense budget exceeds that of the next 10 countries combined -- including Russia!
Doing what's right for the community
Robert Rogers' article about looming Richmond elections focused much on the influence Chevron may have in those races, but never asked, "Is that a good thing for Richmond?"
The "company town" image Chevron engineers for political and PR purposes has actually harmed this community. To this day, Chevron disputes the short- and long-term injuries in the community caused by the refinery fires in 2012.
Richmond schools and Doctors Medical Center -- which the community desperately needs -- continue to struggle for funding despite Chevron's "generous" community involvement.
Richmond Progressives promoted candidates with strong community ties. They took creative steps to deal with community issues. Chevron used its political largesse to oppose matters concerning community health.
The real reason Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates have been successful, where Chevron-backed candidates have failed, is because people like Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles (and others) know and advocate for their community's needs, such as good schools, safe neighborhoods and quality jobs. They didn't need a poll, a la Chevron, to know and do what is right for the community.
Richmond Mason is a supervising business agent with Public Employees Union, Local One.