Two years after a series of explosions and fires tore through Chevron’s Richmond refinery, city officials are pressing ahead with their lawsuit against the oil giant.
Harriet Rowan and Jimmy Tobias, Richmond Confidential reporters and students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, published an article for The Nation website that explores Chevron’s continuing influence in Richmond after losing big in the election.
Richmond’s relationship with Chevron Corporation hasn’t always been so contentious. For much of the 20th century, after Chevron’s earliest predecessor, the Pacific Coast Oil Company, first bought a tract of land on Richmond’s shores in 1901, the company and the town grew together – if not hand in hand, then at least peacefully and cognizant…
Chevron-funded spending committees backed several losing candidates – to the tune of $3.1 million – on Election Day. Those who were defeated are now left to wonder what happened and whether Chevron’s money may have hurt rather than helped.
Three minutes past midnight, Eduardo Martinez walks out of the Richmond Progressive Alliance office. He turns around and stares back in. Still no final result. He waves goodnight to his supporters. It’s Martinez’s third time running for the Richmond City Council.
As voters head to the polls, the nation’s eyes will be on Richmond as the city decides the future of its leadership. Not only are Richmonders electing a new mayor and new city council members, but they’re also passing judgement on the effects of unlimited political spending.
If you go to the website explosive-crude-by-rail.org and zoom in on Richmond, what you’ll find is disconcerting. According to the 1-3 mile buffer zone on the map, the entire city and its 107,000 residents are in danger if trains carrying crude oil explode.
The phone rang shortly after 6:30 p.m. It was a Monday night in August and Sam Singer was still at his office in downtown San Francisco, writing and brainstorming strategies for clients. He picked up. The call was from the Chevron refinery in Richmond. They were, they said, “having an issue.”
In February, a slick new website showed up on Richmond’s media scene. Dubbed “Radio Free Richmond,” it promised to offer its readers “independent Richmond news, without fear or favor.” But behind Radio Free Richmond’s veneer of independence, a group of Chevron’s campaign consultants act as the website’s administrators.