Special meeting to discuss vacant City Council seat this Thursday

Inside Richmond City Hall. File photo by Tawanda Kanhema.

Inside Richmond City Hall. File photo by Tawanda Kanhema.

After running out of time to officially declare the council seat left by Gary Bell as vacant at last week’s city council meeting, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin announced a special meeting to be held this Thursday at City Hall to discuss the issue. The time for the meeting has not been specified yet.

“This process is very important and I look forward to getting it started by way of establishing some dates for the process to begin to move forward,” McLaughlin says. “This will happen on Thursday.”

Bell fell ill with a bacterial infection shortly after the November election. He is in a medically–induced coma and has undergone two neurosurgeries.

Deciding on the appropriate method to find a candidate to fill the empty seat is the root of intense arguments among city council members and residents. According to city by-laws, the council must choose a candidate to fill the seat within 60 days of announcing the vacancy. If not, Richmond must hold a special election. But the last council meeting stretched on for so long that McLaughlin was not able to advance an agenda item that would have declared the seat vacant and begun the nomination process for appointed candidates.

Members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, including McLaughin and Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, want to see Eduardo Martinez—also a member of the RPA—fill the seat, since hewas the runner-up during the last election cycle, receiving about 500 fewer votes than Bell.

However, Councilmembers Nat Bates and Corky Booze—who in the past have both been at odds with the RPA over Chevron, the casino, the soda tax, and most other issues, want the city to hold a special election to fill the seat. “Do you really want a person who physically stands in front of a business and protests in front of Wells Fargo? He is going to protest in front of Chevron.” Booze says. “How can this person sit at a table and not be biased? He is like an Occupy person.”

Adding to the already heated debate, Booze is upset because he says the mayor chose a date to hold the meeting when both he and Bates will be attending a conference to celebrate Bates’reelection.

“You can’t very well have people send out RSVPs and tell them, ‘By the way, the mayor had to have an emergency meeting,’” Booze says. “You just can’t do it.”

13 Comments

  1. It’s a shame that this “special” meeting is being held with little advance notice to the public. Because it’s being declared a “special” meeting the Brown Act does not require a public notice until 24 hours in advance.

    Most of us–even those of us glued to our computers–don’t check the City’s web sites several times each day looking to see if someone has called for a “special” meeting. We know, for instance, that our City Council meetings are held on Tuesdays so we check for the agenda packet on Friday afternoon.

    For this meeting, we don’t know exactly what the agenda items looks like and we won’t until the night before. How are we supposed to discuss this agenda item amongst fellow community members and elected officials with so little advance warning?

    We often hear about the need for transparency when it comes to public meetings and issues but there seems to be a lack of transparency with this issue and this disturbs me.

    We heard rumors about this meeting from some members of the Council near the end of last week but we still haven’t heard anything official from City Hall yet. Even some members of the Council have been kept in the dark about this meeting.

    Again, where’s the transparency?

  2. Richmond Warrior

    Corky Bozze said this about Eduardo Martinez. “Do you really want a person who physically stands in front of a business and protests in front of Wells Fargo? He is going to protest in front of Chevron.” Booze says. “How can this person sit at a table and not be biased? He is like an Occupy person.”

    Hell yes we want some one like that. a Council person who represents the community and not Corporate interest. Like pro Establishment Booze and Bates.

    • Vanessa

      I agree with Richmond Warrior. Hell yes, we want someone who is down with the occupy movement!! Why would we want someone who is down for the 1% and always defending them? Those guys remind me of Stephen in Django (the slave who was always looking out for his white master’s best interest and not his fellow slaves, cuz he had it made! He was the head N-word in charge. He came up!

  3. Mr. Martin

    Mr. Booze speaks of bias?

    Let’s take a quick look here – his allies have had their election campaigns funded entirely by Chevron, and the voting record of Nat Bates reflects his complete loyalty to Chevron.

    So yes, that type of “bias” is obviously OK, but Eduardo Martinez protesting AGAINST Chevron is all bad? What a hypocritical joke.

    Sad to say, but I don’t think Richmond would be any worse off if a circus clown like Mark Wassberg was in Mr. Booze’s seat. How anyone can take Mr. Booze seriously at this point (and I don’t know that anyone does) is absolutely beyond me.

  4. Chris Rockskee

    I think Eduardo Martinez has the right to take the vacant seat. Yes, I voted for him, but it also makes sense for the runner-up to be seated. I really can’t support this idea that Richmond should have another election, because we already had one, and the results came in. As for the people who want to compete for the seat, I think they should do exactly that in the next regular election, naturally.

  5. As a REAL COMMUNITY ADVOCATE of some 40 years serving the community of Richmond, unlike these SO-CALLED PROFESSED AND SELF-ANNOITNED advocates, let me tell you the REAL FEEL OF WHAT RICHMOND WANTS REGARDING THIS VACANCY. There has been to many appointments over the past 2 decades by the City Council that THE COMMUNITY DID NOT WANT and it produced a blowback from the community of past Council appointees the COMMUNITY DID NOT WANT!! Most past political Council appointees ended in political scandal and controversy. WHAT THIS COMMUNITY REAL WANTS is regardless of the cost, is a FAIR, CLEAN AND REASONABLE SPECIAL ELECTION. The community wants their due process to VOTE TO ELECT THE COUNCIL MEMBER OF WHOM THIS COMMUNITY WANTS TO FILL THIS VACANCY! SPECIAL ADVISORY: I WILL RUN IN THE SPECIAL ELECTION TO FILL THE VACANCY!!

  6. Everyone who sits on the Richmond City Council should inform the public and quit misleading the public, there WILL BE NO APPOINTEE BECAUSE IT REQUIRES 4 VOTES! And NO one will get appointed because there are simply NO 4 VOTES TO BE HAD REGARDLESS OF WHOM YOU WISH TO SEE APPOINTED!

  7. Charles T. Smith

    “However, Councilmembers Nat Bates and Corky Booze—who in the past have both been at odds with the RPA over Chevron, the casino, the soda tax, and most other issues,”
    Corky campaigned and voted against the proposed casino.

  8. Marilyn Langlois

    I, too, prefer Eduardo Martinez who works with and supports the 99%. And by the way, to correct an error in this article–Councilmember Booze was in full agreement with the RPA in opposing a casino at Point Molate. His 2010 campaign was centered around this issue and he joined Mayor McLaughlin and Councilmembers Beckles, Butt and Ritterman in voting against the casino after being elected to the council.

  9. People on this thread ARE NOT GETTING THE IDEA here! There is NOT enough votes to appoint anyone to the vacant council seat.
    Certain individuals who sit on the Richmond City Council should inform the public and quit misleading the public, there WILL BE NO APPOINTEE BECAUSE IT REQUIRES 4 VOTES! And NO one will get appointed because there are simply NO 4 VOTES TO BE HAD REGARDLESS OF WHOM YOU WISH TO SEE APPOINTED!

  10. Wendi Jonassen Post author

    I apologize for the mistake. Marilyn Langlois is right. Corky was against the casino. Thank you for pointing that out!

  11. Special meeting? More like another attempt for the RPA to pressure Councilmember Rogers into voting for another RPA seat on the council.

  12. After out spending Eduardo 100 to 1 it might be that Chevron doesn’t get its’ man on the board. This is something to celebrate. The refinery, perhaps the biggest carcinagene in California needs the chemo and radiation therapy that an active board can provide.

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