Congressman Miller sees Richmond promises
on September 20, 2011
Congressman George Miller flies in and out of the Bay Area on a near weekly basis. When he looks down as he flies over Richmond he sees one of the “last big promising corners in the Bay Area.”
“What you see is this huge asset with a lot of developable properties,” he said to a round-table of reporters in Monday afternoon.
Richmond, Miller said, has most everything it needs to facilitate major growth: easy transit, innovative businesses, forward-thinking public officials. The only piece missing is business investment, he said.
“You need positioning,” he said, “and national economic growth to spin out the Richmond story.”
While Miller lauded Richmond-based companies’ potential to salvage Richmond’s story, the congressman added that, historically, a lot of companies in Richmond don’t stay.
“They want you to move to Silicon Valley to have a certain synergy,” Miller said.
That’s where positioning comes in.
While Richmond waits for investors, Miller said he is working on the federal level to support and supplement Richmond. Miller said that President Obama’s jobs bill could help Richmond to build new highways, construct new tunnels and renovate schools. “All of that is immediate money that will come to California,” he said.
In the education sector, Miller is advocating for Obama’s revamped version of No Child Left Behind, former President Bush’s controversial legislation that evaluates institutions based on reading and math test scores. Miller said the Obama version of NCLB tries to avoid unfair penalties for low-income schools by evaluating institutions on new standards such as attendance.
“We are going to get the schools to change,” Miller said. “We can wait no longer.”
As part of his education proposal Miller mentioned a community college renovation program, which is included in the Obama jobs bill. He said the package would bring immediate funds to California to enhance a growing system of nearly 3 million community college students. “Jobs are changing, technology is changing, and people are really trying to hold onto their place in the job market,” Miller said.
Miller also talked crime, citing a decrease in Richmond but adding, “They have work to do. ”
The Congressman expressed more frustration with North Richmond. The Shotspotter system that Miller secured federal funding for has not been as successful there, struggling with slow response times in areas where there are fewer police. “Somebody has to respond,” Miller said. “There’s not point in having a Shotspotter if no one responds.”
He added, “What happens there impacts other places. These cities are not isolated.”
Despite his frustrations, Miller said he has faith in the community.
“Richmond has it,” he said. “It’s always stunning the things that are done there.”
He marveled in particular at Tinsley Laboratories, a Richmond-based company that developed a mirror for the Hubble Telescope, saying, “The machines were designed by the people in Richmond, because they didn’t exist, to polish those mirrors, to cut those mirrors, to do all that. And there it is in Richmond and nobody knows its there.”
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