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Richmond City Council

BAPAC attacks two council candidates

on November 1, 2010

The Contra Costa County chapter of BAPAC, The Black American Political Action Committee, circulated an e-mail Oct. 30 criticizing two candidates for city council.

The influential political group called candidate Jovanka Beckles “dangerous for African-Americans.” The note, which was circulated to BAPAC’s e-mail list, also leveled a series of charges at candidate Corky Booze.

“(BAPAC) has been asked repeatedly why we are not supporting Jovanka Beckles and Corky Booze, two African Americans,” the letter began.

“… We are at a time when we need real leadership. Someone who we can trust and depend on, someone who will stand on their own two feet, someone who’s able and willing to represent the entire city, someone who will be the same person with all the people.”

“We don’t see where Jovanka Beckles fits any of these.”

Beckles responded Monday, saying that BAPAC has always tried to politically undermine her by calling her a pawn for Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

“I feel sorry for them. It is a really desperate attempt to discredit forward-thinking leadership in Richmond’s African-American community,” Beckles said.

BAPAC wrote of Beckles: “Jovanka selectively identifies her ethnicity as African American, Latin American, based on the make-up of the neighborhood group or organization she is addressing.”

Beckles, who lived in Panama until the age of nine, said these comments were the most hurtful.

“ I never deny my blackness. What I do say is that I am African-American and Latina because I’m not going to deny that piece of me either.”

BAPAC also took aim at Booze.

The email questioned Booze’s dedication to poorer neighborhoods and asserted that he lacked leadership experience. It also criticized his role in the tent city anti-violence protests and his alliance with the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

“Corky is intimidating and his actions or inactions are excessively influenced by Tom Butt and the so-called Progressive Alliance,” the email read.

Booze dismissed the criticism, saying BAPAC opposes him because he has long refused to “join the club.”

“Here is a so-called black organization saying I am building plantations because of tent city?” That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” Booze said.

“I was trying to save lives out there…. where were they?”

Booze insisted he is not beholden to anyone.

“They are funded directly by Chevron Corp.,” Booze said. “They are afraid of me because I am willing to say how they are profiting for themselves at the expense of the citizens of Richmond.”

BAPAC President Lloyd Madden says his group’s email speaks for itself.

“It is what it is facts are facts. It’s our opinion and nothing else needs to be said,” Madden said.

Madden added that BAPAC has endorsed four Richmond council candidates: Maria Viramontes, Ludmyrna Lopez, Rhonda Harris and Virginia Finlay.

BAPAC remains a powerful political force in western Contra Costa County. It counts County Supervisor John Gioia and Sheriff candidate David Livingston among its prominent endorsees. The organization was established in 1999 to “work for the maximum effective representation of African-Americans in the political and economic systems of Contra Costa County,” according to its mission statement.

Beckles said BAPAC was coming up short of its mission.

“Here we are as African-Americans understanding that this is how we are going to be sustainable and they are trying to make it look like it’s a white thing when it’s not and how incredibly divisive is that,” Beckles said, “that you are willing to take this issue to divide us by color.”

While BAPAC has been active and vocal in its opposition to Booze and Beckles, it does support Mayoral candidate Nat Bates and council candidate Harris, the two other African-American candidates in this year’s field.

Bates and Harris are vocal proponents of Chevron Corp. and a controversial casino at Point Molate, which Booze and Beckles oppose.

Bates responded to BAPAC’s e-mail Monday afternoon.

“I don’t give a damn about what these people [BAPAC] are talking about — I got a campaign that I got to stay focused on,” he said.

Bates says he plans to “ignore all these side antics”

“You got to stay focused on your duties and responsibilities. I got no real comment on it. Good luck to everybody.”

Reporters David Ferry, Robert Rogers and Anne Brice contributed to this report.


  1. Richmond Voter on November 1, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    man Bpac is Full of it there just playing the Typical Hit piece style Tatics that there so Called Hero Nat Bates likes to Play . i can tell you Jovanka is a Strong Positive Black Woman and Latina that really cares for the Community and is not a Sell out to Corporate Interest like Chevron . As for Corky he is a Good man i have had time to to get to know him and his Heart is in the right Place . as for BPAC there just Puppets to Nat Myrna Rhonda Lopez and Chevron and the Casino and you can see who’s interest they Represent . Vote the Right way and get these Sell outs out of Office .

  2. Andres Soto on November 2, 2010 at 12:02 am

    It is quite transparent that these bourgeoisie AfAm “businessmen”. there are no women, are merely pimping the AfAm vote for Chevron, the racist RPOA/RFA and the other “Massas” in the community. They have absolutely o shame or scruples. They launs=der the massa’s money and give it away to “their” candidates at Chevron’s bidding, even if they aren’t AfAm. They get to line their pockets and sell out their people’s health and welfare. How clever. Sounds like a plantation to me! The EuroAm liberals like Gioia and Latino/as like Viramontes are scared s*+#less of being called racists by AfAms so will go along with any of them that will throw money at their campaigns.

    • Felix Hunziker on November 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      Andrés, do you ever not play the race card? You have every right to voice your opinion but did you ever consider that your extremist rhetoric hurts, rather than helps, the RPA candidates you support?

      • Andres Soto on November 3, 2010 at 2:44 am

        Felix, I am sorry you see it that way but I thank you for your observation I will take your comments into consideration. Race politics in Richmond is part of the strategy of division in the community for which those who exploit it and are rewarded for it are replete, or haven’t you noticed. I am completely opposed to it, thus I feel compelled to call it as it is.

  3. Karen Franklin on November 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I was horrified when someone posted that venom-laced BAPAC email on my neighborhood’s listserv, which has a rule against such political missives. But I think it backfired, as it was so transparent. Imagine, attacking a candidate because she has more than one cultural identity! And calling the mega-casino by the euphemism of a “tribal destination resort.”

    At least BAPAC admits it’s not about race, it’s about politics and economics. Hopefully, the money being poured into these hateful smear campaigns by Chevron, the mega-casino backers, and some rogue cops who don’t even live in Richmond (do a Google search for “Darrell Reese, the White Shadow”) won’t sway voters.

    I had a heartening conversation with a young African American woman who was stumping door-to-door for Nat Bates. She confided that she was just doing it for the money, and she actually plans to vote for Mayor Gayle’s reelection and against the casinos (Measure U).

    It just goes to show, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but even $1 million can’t fool all of the people all of the time!

  4. Carole Johnson on November 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I would like to congratulate Mayor McLaughlin on her re-election and I also congratulate Jovanka Beckles and Corky Booze on their election to the City Council. We finally have decent people who are NOT corporate sell-outs and who TRULY represent positive change in Richmond.

  5. Carole Johnson on November 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Just out of curiosity, if BAPAC claims to represent the interests of African-Americans, then why do they support Chevron sell-outs like Nat Bates, when Chevron is causing so many severe health problems in Richmond? Why is Chevron so strongly opposed to paying their fair share of taxes to the people of Richmond, when that amount is pennies compared to their profits each quarter?

  6. […] the new majority will be able to work with local businesses and organizations — many of which opposed the progressives during the campaign. Butt, who was not up for reelection this year but supports the mayor, said he […]

  7. Richmond Voter on November 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Swallow that Bapac your Corporate Sellout Chevron stooges Lost Bates and Lopez and Viramontes are out . Congratulations Jovanka and Corky and of Course Mayor McLaughlin it’s a new day in Richmond and the people are Finally waking up to Reality of the Corporate Run Idiots on the City Council . you made the Right Choice it’s a New Day in Richmond Califaz .

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