Charter law reform: Get Buffy and Becky on Board

By Emily Filloy

Deadline:  Immediate and ongoing –

Four charter law reform bills currently are moving through the California legislature: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756 would stop rampant charter school proliferation that comes at the expense of public schools and local control. All are supported by East Bay representatives Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Senator Nancy Skinner. But our newly elected Assemblymembers, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (AD-16) and Buffy WIcks (AD-15) are still on the fence. Wicks ran as a strong supporter of public schools, but the charter school issue was a point of contention during the election, and she hasn’t committed to common-sense reforms that will at least give our democratically governed public schools a fighting chance against the billionaire-backed privatizers. We need to push Rebecca and Buffy off the fence!

Two actions are needed:

  1. If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks or Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, contact her to urge her to support the charter reform package. Read on for more info on the bills, a call script, and contact info.
  2. Sign and circulate the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands four fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. The beauty of this petition is that when you enter your address, it automatically sends your state reps a notice that you support their efforts to reform the Charter School Act.

We previously asked for your support for this package of bills. Things have evolved—read on for the latest:

AB 1505—Our Dream Bill: AB 1505 and 1508 were combined to create one bill that would enact the most needed reforms. AB 1505 now allows districts to deny a charter petition if the new charter school would have a negative fiscal, academic, or facilities impact on the district. It also eliminates charter operators’ ability to appeal to the county and then the State Board of Education if a district says no. These two reforms recognize the adverse impact charters have in heavily targeted cities and also return local control to our school districts. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee, where we expect a decision on May 16. If it passes out of Appropriations, 1505 will go to the Assembly for a floor vote. It will be highly contested.

AB 1506 would impose a cap at the number of charters operating statewide—1,323 right now—and a new charter could only open if one closes. The bill also establishes a cap in each individual district. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee, where we expect a decision on May 16. If it passes out of Appropriations, 1506 will go to the Assembly for a floor vote. It will be highly contested.

AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. The bill has passed out of the Assembly Education Committee.

SB 756 would establish a 5-year moratorium on all new charters statewide unless the reforms in the three bills above are enacted before 2020. The bill has passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

What You Can Do:

1. If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks or Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, please tell her to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756.

What to Say:

My name is___________.  My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember _____  to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and SB 756. This package of bills is essential to holding charter schools accountable to local communities and ensuring that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember _____ to support these bills?

  • Buffy Wicks: 510-286-1400; email
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: 925-328-1515; email

2. Sign and circulate the CharterLawReform.com petition.

 

Emily Filloy is a retired OUSD teacher whose grown children are graduates of Oakland Unified School District. She and other educators started Educators for Democratic Schools to fight for the survival of public education.

Phone and text bank for special elections

Updated May 1: Read below for all details and to see all upcoming dates (and check back for additional dates). Note that if a date has no link to RSVP you can RSVP and send any questions directly to host Nancy Klein at nancyklein44@gmail.com or 510-917-4045

Think nothing is happening in May 2019, so far from November 2020?  Think again – a steady stream of special elections needs YOUR help – texting and phoning is up and running. For example, PA-12 House seat is vacant (the repub resigned right after being re-elected) and we have a shot at flipping another seat!  There is a primary in North Carolina in May.  Virginia elects a new House of Delegates this year.

Hero phone and text bankers in West County, who wore their fingers to the bone dialing and texting for the 2018 Blue Wave, are jumping back into weekly (mostly) phone and text-banking parties on Tuesdays from 1 to 3 PM in El Sobrante, and in Richmond starting on May 14.

They’re focusing on the many upcoming special elections, and you can come help slow the trump train by texting and making calls! Join any of these West County phone or text-bank parties, Tuesdays ongoing, anytime between 1 to 3 PM. We’ll update this article as more events are added, so check back!

All are welcome, from newbies to experienced! The hosts will train you and make sure you’re comfortable calling or texting. Bring your phone, charger, and earbuds (for your comfort) AND a laptop or tablet (or when you sign up, let them know you’d like to borrow one), and don’t forget your good cheer and positive energy to #Resist! And bring friends!

To RSVP (if there’s no link for a date) and if you have any questions, contact host Nancy Klein at nancyklein44@gmail.com or 510-917-4045

Fight Voter Suppression and Free the Vote in California!

Action deadline: Friday April 26 and ongoing –

There’s strength in numbers. (Go Warriors!) Every vote matters, and we need to do everything in our power to combat voter suppression. Restoring voting rights to Californians who are on parole is a critical step, and although we can’t do this in time for the 2020 election, there’s a path to achieve this goal in the near future. And your help is needed.

East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta is coauthor of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, the “Free the Vote Act,” which eliminates the provisions of the California Constitution that disqualify people on parole from voting. A companion bill to ACA 6, AB 646, amends the relevant provisions of the Elections Code. Passage of ACA 6 requires a 2/3 vote in both the Assembly and Senate, followed by ratification by a majority of voters. AB 646, if passed into law, will only take effect if the voters pass ACA 6 in the 2020 election. ACA 6 and AB 646 have been designated as priority measures by CA State Strong.

Almost 50,000 Californians on parole are disqualified from voting, even though they have served their sentences and been released from prison. The right to vote is a pillar of citizenship, and people on parole for felony convictions are still citizens who pay taxes and have an overriding constitutional right to have their voices heard on political issues. As Assemblymember Bonta explains:

After paying their debt to society, people have a right and obligation to contribute to society. Part of building a productive life includes becoming civically engaged and exercising the fundamental right to vote.

Given the “racial underbelly of criminal justice policies in general,” it comes as no surprise that felony disenfranchisement disproportionately impacts people of color. In California, three out of four male prisoners are nonwhite. Black American adults are more than four times more likely to lose the right to vote than non-Black American adults. As the Sentencing Project puts it, research shows that:

African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, and they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.

In other words: Black Americans are more likely to lose their voting rights, and to lose them for longer. To add insult to injury, prisoners are often counted as residents of largely white rural areas where prisons are located for the purposes of redistricting, leading to “prison-based gerrymandering.”

Felony disenfranchisement is a shameful reminder of California’s Jim Crow laws, enshrined in our Constitution. As a matter of fundamental fairness, we must amend the Constitution to restore the right to vote to people with convictions. Restoring the right to vote helps people leaving prison reintegrate into the community. Successful reintegration reduces recidivism and increases public safety. As Secretary of State Padilla commented: “Civic participation is foundational to a sense of community—and it can play a major role in reducing recidivism.”

California has already begun to reform its felony disenfranchisement policies. In 2016, voting rights were restored to people convicted of a felony offense who had been sent to county jail, but not those sent to state or federal prison. ACA 6 and AB 646 will advance this effort by ensuring that people on felony parole who have served their sentences will be treated equally regardless of the facility in which they were incarcerated.

This is an idea whose time has come. An increasing number of states have passed legislation eliminating or modifying felony disenfranchisement. It’s become a topic of discussion for Democratic Presidential hopefuls and other bigwigs and has entered the discourse on social media. California is lagging behind in this national movement to advance democracy.

What you can do:

1. Call your state representatives, now and every day.

If you’re a constituent of Assemblymember Bonta, thank him; if you’re a constituent of Assemblymember Wicks or Bauer-Kahan, call and encourage them to support ACA 6 & AB 646. Yes, call even when your representatives have taken good positions on an issue! The other side is calling, and you need to make your voice heard.

Find your legislator here.

What to say:

For Assemblymembers Wicks and Bauer-Kahan:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want _______ to co-author and support Assembly Constitutional Amendment 6, which restores voting rights to Californians on parole after they have been released from prison. I also want _______ to support AB 646, the companion bill to ACA 6.

For Assemblymember Bonta:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Assemblymember Bonta for coauthoring ACA 6 and supporting voting rights for Californians who are on parole after they have been released from prison. I strongly support ACA 6 and AB 646.

  • Buffy Wicks 510-286-1400; email
  • Rob Bonta 510-286-1670; email
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan 925-328-1515; email

2. Come to Sacramento on May 20 for the 2019 Quest For Democracy Advocacy Day

Join IEB and community partners at this event at the Capitol in Sacramento, where participants will meet to strategize, train, and then advocate directly to legislators. A bus will leave for the event from Fruitvale and West Oakland BART stations in Oakland on the following schedule on May 20:

  • 7 AM: Bus will be at Fruitvale BART
  • 7:15 AM: Bus leaves Fruitvale BART
  • 7:30 AM: bus leaves West Oakland

RSVP (required!) and let them know you’re with IEB.

Read our prior articles:

Can you help work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team? Email: info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

 

December 10 March for voting rights, photograph © Michael Fleshman

Urgent – Support AB 392, Reform Police Use of Deadly Force

Action Deadline: Monday, April 8, 2019 –

Last month, we wrote about a pair of bills concerning police use of deadly force now making their way through the California state legislature. Indivisible East Bay supports AB 392, which would provide real reform to address the serious problem of unnecessary police use of deadly force that kills and injures too many people – especially young men of color – in our state. AB 392 is coming up for a vote in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 9. That means we need you to act NOW. Especially important: Assemblymember Bill Quirk (Hayward) is on the Public Safety Committee; we are hearing that he is flipflopping and has recently been parroting talking points from law enforcement’s competing, toothless bill. He needs to hear from us! Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is also on the committee and is expected to support the bill, but also needs to her from her constituents.

What to do:

If you are a constituent of Assemblymember Quirk (here’s his district map) or Assemblymember Wicks (here’s her district map):

  • Call your Assemblymember and ask him/her to support AB 392. Here’s a sample call script:

    My name is __________, my zip code is ______, I’m a constituent of Assemblymember ________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask Assemblymember _________ to support AB 392. We need to change California’s policy for police use of deadly force. Too many people, mostly young men of color, are killed at the hands of police every year. We need justice in the form of a tougher, better standard for use of force. AB 392 is a commonsense measure and its recommended policy has been proven to reduce killings. Can I count on Assemblymember ___________ to vote YES on AB 392 in the Assembly Public Safety Committee?

Assemblymember Quirk (916) 319-2020; Assemblymember Wicks (510) 990-5350

@AsmBillQuirk, I’m your constituent and a member of @indivisibleeb. I support #AB392 to reform the standard for police use of force and save lives. Can I count on you to vote YES on #AB392 in the Asm. Public Safety Cmte on April 9?

Support AB 857, Public Banking

By Sylvia Chi

Deadline: now and ongoing –

In recent years, a lot more people have started thinking about who’s running their banks, and who’s profiting – and whether they’re the ones who are losing. Now, California Assembly Bill 857 proposes to allow local governments to apply for a banking license from the state, so cities, counties, or regions could establish their own public banks. The legislation is sponsored by the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA), a statewide coalition of grassroots advocates representing areas ranging from San Diego to Eureka, as well as Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Beneficial State Foundation, and Friends of the Earth. The East Bay is home to CPBA member Public Bank East Bay (formerly Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland), one of the pioneers of the public banking movement in the United States, and we’re calling on our state legislators to sign on as co-authors of this bill. Scroll down to see what you can do to help!

In short, a public bank is one that’s owned by a government, accountable to the public, and managed by professional bankers. (For a longer description, check out Wikipedia.) In the US, the main example of a public bank is the Bank of North Dakota (BND), a state-owned institution founded in 1919 that holds state and other public deposits. BND functions mainly as a bankers’ bank, partnering with local community banks and credit unions to issue loans. It has few retail functions, but its partnership with local financial institutions makes North Dakota home to one of the most robust local banking sectors in the country.

AB 857 would allow local governments in California to create their own versions of BND, strengthening our local financial institutions and keeping our public money in the local economy. Currently, Wall Street banks are the only option for banking services for most local governments. These banks enjoy record profits and anticipate regulatory rollbacks. But why should our communities support them, since they profit from financing and enabling precisely the same fossil fuels, private prisons, destruction of communities, and other reprehensible activities that our communities are actively fighting? Public banks can be a much-needed alternative to the mega-banks, help counteract the risky trend towards bank consolidation, and serve as a source of strength for local economies. They can even help finance the projects proposed in the Green New Deal.

Public banking is possible right here in the East Bay. The city councils of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, together with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, authorized a feasibility study for a regional public bank, which reached positive conclusions. After reviewing the study, the Finance and Management Committee of Oakland City Council voted to forward the study to the full City Council, which accepted it. The next step toward creating a public bank for the East Bay is to develop a business plan and apply for a license – which doesn’t exist yet. We need AB 857 to pass so the East Bay can move forward on creating our own local public bank.

AB 857 is gaining support in the state legislature, but the East Bay’s representatives haven’t yet signed on. Let them know you want them to support and co-author AB 857!

What you can do:

Ask your state senator and assemblymember to commit to co-authoring and supporting AB 857. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, enter your address here to find out.

What to say:

My name is _______, I’m a constituent, and I am a member of Indivisible East Bay. I support public banking as a way to strengthen the local economy. We need to pass AB 857 so the East Bay can move forward on creating our own local public bank. A public bank can help the East Bay by providing low-interest loans for underserved small businesses and affordable-housing developers, and for building needed public infrastructure. Please co-author and support AB 857.

  • Senator Nancy Skinner (email) 510-286-1333 (district) or 916-651-4009 (Capitol)
  • Assemblymember Rob Bonta (email) 510-286-1670 (district) or 916-319-2018 (Capitol)
  • Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (email) 510-286-1400 (district) or 916-319-2015 (Capitol)

 

Sylvia Chi is a member of Public Bank East Bay and legislative chair of the California Public Banking Alliance.

Sign on! Petition and bills to reform charter school laws

By Emily Filloy

Deadline: Now and ongoing –

Are you sick and tired of billionaires backing charter schools, while public schools scramble to pay teachers a living wage?

The proliferation of charter schools and the disastrous effect they have on our public schools was brought to the public’s attention in the recent Los Angeles and Oakland teachers strikes. In the Oakland Unified School District alone, charters cost the district $57 million a year—plenty to give the teachers the raise they need. Now that former Governor Jerry Brown is no longer blocking the road to any charter law reform, legislators have proposed a package of reform bills that would give Oakland, LA, and other heavily charter-impacted districts some much-needed relief.

We need you to do two things:

  • First, contact your Assemblymember and State Senator in support of these four bills: AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. Read on for more info, a call script and contact info.
  • Second, sign the CharterLawReform.com petition. This petition demands five fundamental changes to state charter law that would go a long way to leveling the playing field. Once the playing field gets leveled, the billionaires creep back under the rocks they crawled out from. When you sign, this petition will automatically send your state reps a notice that you want them to reform the Charter School Act.

Background:

Throughout Jerry Brown’s tenure as governor, he refused to sign almost all charter reform legislation, even bills requiring charter schools to follow the Brown Act and other sunshine and anti-conflict of interest legislation. Now, Governor Newsom has already signed SB 126, dealing with oversight of charter schools! We know that if we can get reform bills passed, Newsom will sign them; but to do that, we need to keep pressure on the legislature. The charter industry is rich and powerful – spending billions to elect pro-charter legislators and school boards and to fight reform legislation. We citizens need to let our reps know that selling out our public schools to privatizers is not okay.

Right now, this package of four bills would reform laws that currently favor charter schools over public schools throughout California:

  • AB 1505 would make the decision of a local school board to deny a charter petition final. Currently, if a local school board denies a charter petition, the operator may appeal first to the county and then to the state. Like bad parenting—if mom says no, try dad.
  • AB 1506 would impose a cap on the number of new charters, allowing a new charter to open only if an existing one closes.
  • AB 1507 would end the ability of a district to authorize a charter school and then place it in another district. Yes, that happens.
  • AB 1508, introduced by East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta and coauthored by Senator Nancy Skinner, expresses the intent to allow school districts to take into account the fiscal, academic, and facilities impacts of a proposed charter on the district schools where it is to be located. This means that a school board can say, “No, we can’t afford yet another charter school.” Combined with AB 1505, which eliminates appeals, this would allow local school districts to once again have control over the number and location of its schools.

What you can do:

 Sign the petition: CharterLawReform.com

 Contact your state representative in support of AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.

Contact the members of the Assembly Education Committee, where these bills will be heard:

Spread the word!

What to say:

For your local representatives:

My name is___________. My zip code is_________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging Assemblymember/Senator __________ to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508.  This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

For members of the Education Committee:

My name is ________. I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m urging you, as a member of the Education Committee, to support AB 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508. This package of bills will begin to hold charter schools accountable to local communities and ensure that charter proliferation won’t destabilize another school district. Can I count on Assemblymember/Senator ________ to support these bills?

 

Emily Filloy is a retired OUSD teacher whose grown children are graduates of Oakland Unified School District. She and other educators started Educators for Democratic Schools to fight for the survival of public education.

 

Thank Gov. Newsom for closing the Death Chamber

On March 13 Governor Gavin Newsom, by executive order, instituted a moratorium on the death penalty in California and ordered the repeal of California’s lethal injection protocol along with immediate closure of the Death Chamber at San Quentin State Prison. California has the largest death row population (currently 737 people) in the Western Hemisphere, and capital punishment has a long and complicated history in the state.

Newsom said:

The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as Governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual. Our death penalty system has been, by all measures, a failure. It has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation. It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Most of all, the death penalty is absolute. It’s irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error.

The statement released by the Governor’s office expands on the unjust application of capital punishment:

The death penalty is unevenly and unfairly applied to people of color, people with mental disabilities, and people who cannot afford costly legal representation. More than six in ten people on California’s death row are people of color. A 2005 study found that those convicted of killing whites were more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death as those convicted of killing blacks and more than four times as likely as those convicted of killing Latinos. At least 18 of the 25 people executed in the U.S. in 2018 had one or more of the following impairments: significant evidence of mental illness; evidence of brain injury, developmental brain damage, or an IQ in the intellectually disabled range; chronic serious childhood trauma, neglect, and/or abuse.

What You Can Do:

You can watch a recording of Newsom’s announcement here, and then thank him for his brave action. Also, be aware: the SF Chronicle predicts that while Gov. Newsom may not suffer personally for his action, Democrats in swing districts may – so pass this on to your friends!

Use your own words, or check out these resources for reasons why the death penalty should be abolished:

Contact Governor Gavin Newsom:

  • Email
  • Phone: (916) 445-2841 or Fax: (916) 558-3160
  • Postcard: 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
  • Twitter: @CAgovernor

Death Penalty Illegalizer graphic by Ssolbergj

 

 

 

No on SB 230

Remember Stephon Clark? You should. Almost exactly a year ago, in March 2018, he was chased by the police into his grandmother’s back yard in Sacramento, shot multiple times, including in the back, and killed, because the police were suspicious of . . . his cell phone. Now the Attorney General has announced that the police who shot him will not face criminal charges. It’s past time to change when police can use deadly force. Your voice is needed: There are two competing bills in the California state legislature, but only AB 392 is good. The other, SB 230, is a weak bill being pushed by law enforcement as a counterpoint to AB 392. Contact State Senator Nancy Skinner, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee today. Read on for more info, a call script and contact info.

The Sacramento Bee says that AB 392 would provide “serious reform – not window dressing” to address the problem of death and injury caused by police use of deadly force. We need that kind of reform. When this bill was before the legislature last year, as AB 931, it passed the Senate Public Safety Committee, of which Senator Skinner is the chair, but did not pass the Senate. This year, there’s a second chance.

But SB 230 is coming up before Senator Skinner’s Public Safety committee first. Supported by law enforcement agencies, this bill would allow law enforcement officers to use deadly force, even when they have other options available and even when there is no actual threat to others. Although the bill addresses training and policy, it does so in a superficial and vague way, providing no requirements and setting no minimum standards. It does not address the fact that police in our state kill people at significantly higher rates than the national average, and disproportionately kill people of color, particularly those who are unarmed, and does not do anything to prevent future tragedies of this kind. Although it requires all agencies to maintain use of force policies, it includes no requirements for these policies, other than “guidelines” without specificity. SB 230 would thus authorize agencies to issue policies in direct conflict with the recommendations of the California Attorney General, which emphasized clarity and specificity on use of force policies. SB 230 similarly provides toothless training guidelines with no requirements beyond a short list of subjects to be given “adequate consideration.” Beyond the subject, there is no specificity on what standard officers should be trained to. This is NOT the kind of reform we need.

What you can do:

Contact Sen. Nancy Skinner at (916) 651-4009 or (510) 286-1333. Since she is chair of the committee that the bill is before, you can contact her even if you aren’t her constituent; however, if you do live in her district, you should mention that fact.

Check out this list of members of the Senate Public Safety Committeeif any of them represent you, contact them, or if you know anyone in their districts, please send them this article.

What to say:

My name is ___________, my zip code is ___________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking Senator ______ to vote NO on SB 230 when it comes up before the Senate Public Safety Committee. This is a weak policing bill being pushed by law enforcement as a counterpoint to AB 392, which is the real progressive police reform that our state needs to save lives. SB 230 doesn’t deserve to pass the Senate Public Safety Committee. The Public Safety Committee already passed the stronger policy through committee last year as AB 931. It would be disappointing to see the committee pass a weaker bill this year. Can I count on Senator ___________ to help block SB 230 in the Public Safety Committee?

Add for Senator Skinner: I would like Senator Skinner to use her leadership to kill SB 230 in her committee. 

 

Phone and text bank for 2019 special elections

Updated May 1: More phone & text banking dates have been added! Read below for all details and to see all upcoming dates. Note that there may not be links to RSVP for some dates – please RSVP and send any questions directly to host Nancy Klein at nancyklein44@gmail.com or 510-917-4045

 

Think nothing is happening in 2019, so far from November 2020? Think again! Hero phone and text bankers in West County, who wore their fingers to the bone dialing and texting for the 2018 Blue Wave, are jumping back into weekly (mostly) phone and text-banking parties on Tuesdays from 1 to 3 PM in El Sobrante, and starting on May 14, in Richmond.

They’re focusing on the many upcoming special elections, and you can come help slow the trump train by texting and making calls! Join any of these West County phone or text-bank parties, Tuesdays ongoing, anytime between 1 to 3 PM. We’ll update this article as more events are added, so check back!

All are welcome, from newbies to experienced! The hosts will train you and make sure you’re comfortable calling or texting. Bring your phone, charger, and earbuds (for your comfort) AND a laptop or tablet (or when you sign up, let them know you’d like to borrow one), and don’t forget your good cheer and positive energy to #Resist! And bring friends!

To RSVP (if there’s no link for a date) and if you have any questions, contact host Nancy Klein at nancyklein44@gmail.com or 510-917-4045

You Can Help Get Coal Outta Richmond!

By Janis Hashe and Janet Scoll Johnson

Push is quickly coming to shove in the accelerating fight to end coal transport through Richmond. An ordinance that would prohibit new coal handling and storage infrastructure and phase out existing coal operations over a period of years is scheduled to come before the Richmond City Council in late March or early April. The Sierra Club/Sunflower Alliance-backed group No Coal in Richmond is going door-to-door in heavily impacted areas, collecting signatures on a letter to city council members urging them to support the ordinance. Want to help? Read on for more info, and see our action items later in this article.

You might well ask: Why does the Bay Area, a region famous for its environmental leadership, still have coal trains coming through our communities? Why do we have huge, uncovered piles of dirty, dusty coal sitting right next to our Bay at the Levin-Richmond Terminal on the Richmond waterfront? Why is the Port of Richmond one of the last three ports left in the state to export the dirty fossil fuel when California doesn’t even use coal power?

The answer, of course, is money. The coal (and even more dirty petroleum coke, aka petcoke) are being shipped overseas, primarily to Asia, where they are still being burned for power. So, we are exporting our poison to communities overseas … only to have the dirty air drift right back to us in the trade winds.

Due to the falling price of clean energy and the commitment of activists, the coal industry is in retreat in the U.S. We’ve retired 259 coal plants in seven years — that’s one plant retired every 11 days. And more than three million people work in the clean energy economy, which now employs more people than fossil fuels in almost every state in the country. But the coal industry can still make money from overseas sales, and it does not care about the impact on public health or the environment.

What you can do:

1. Help pass “No Coal in Richmond”

Help us get signatures, through canvassing and tabling at local events, to support the strongest possible measures to end this public health and climate menace. 

What: No Coal in Richmond Door-Knocking
When: Saturday 3/2, Sunday 3/10, Saturday 3/16, Sunday 3/24; 1:30–4 pm
Where: Meet at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center, 2540 Macdonald Ave., Richmond
RSVPaction@sunflower-alliance.org

You’ll get a quick briefing, pick up materials and a map, and leave from there with a partner. The work is gratifying and easy; 95% of the people who open their door say “No coal in Richmond? Where do I sign?” If the scheduled times don’t work, and you can door-knock with a local canvasser or help the organizers in other ways, please send an email to action@sunflower-alliance.org

2. Richmond residents, tell your City Council to pass the ordinance

If you’re a Richmond resident, you can call City Council members to urge them to support the ordinance, and you can show up to the meeting in which the ordinance will come up for its first vote. At this time it looks like the ordinance will be placed on the agenda in late March or early April. To help, or if you have questions, contact Janet at action@sunflower-alliance.org  

 

Janis Hashe is a freelance writer/editor/teacher/theatre person. She has been politically active in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and now Richmond. Her deepest personal commitments include fighting climate change, ending factory farming and overturning Citizens United. She’s a member of Indivisible East Bay and the CA-11 team.

Janet Scoll Johnson is a long-time Richmond resident and an organizer for No Coal in Richmond and Sunflower Alliance, which works on the front lines of local fights against fossil fuel pollution and infrastructure expansion in the S.F. Bay Area and throughout California.