Chevron’s community initiative sparks debate at council meeting
on November 27, 2013
If the name of Chevron is attached to an issue, it can incite controversy on the Richmond City Council.
City Council member Jim Rogers introduced a proclamation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting recognizing the oil company for launching a $15.5 million community revitalization initiative funds economic development and education. The program, which was launched in October, will spend $10 million on economic development in poor Richmond neighborhoods. The company will also invest $5.5 million in local schools.
Members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance voiced their opposition to the proclamation, charging that the program is just the latest chapter in the company’s public relations campaign. Before Tuesday’s meeting, RPA members distributed “I Love Richmond” signs that showed an image of the August 2012 refinery fire on the back.
“I think Chevron needs to be reminded that there are people who are offended by its policies,” said RPA member Elly Faden, who along with a handful of others held up the anti-Chevron signs during the proclamation discussion.
Several community members suggested that Chevron is trying to buy goodwill so that its favored politicians will be elected next year. Rogers rejected that notion: “I think that we’re doing our community a disservice when we say that when they give us money, they’re buying the system.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Kanwarpal Dhaliwal, the community health director at Richmond’s RYSE Center delivered a presentation on the organization’s youth center’s Listening Campaign Share Out and gave city officials tips on how to support Richmond youth. The Share Out, which was held on Nov. 12, was a forum for young people to share experiences of trauma, violence, coping and healing.
“Young people are crying out to us and yet…. we still don’t hear it,” said Council member Jovanka Beckles who sponsored the agenda item.
“We need to figure out what we can do as a council for the young people in our city.”
The council passed a motion to direct staff to appoint a city representative to RYSE’s Listening Campaign Advisory Group.
The meeting was adjourned in memory of Richmond’s Fausto Delgado, a junior at El Cerrito High School. The 16-year-old died Nov. 12 after being hit by a train at the El Cerrito del Norte BART Station.
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