Occupy Forum: Mayor Gayle McLaughlin: Making Local Democracy Work in the City of Richmond


January 7, 2014 @ 2:00 am – 5:00 am
Unite Here, Local 2, near Civic Center BART
219 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Donations encouraged; no one turned away!
Ruthie Sakheim
A growing disconnect between citizens and government has renewed the need for local leaders to revisit issues of democracy and governance. What can we learn from Richmond? From standing up to Wall Street banks by using eminent domain to stop foreclosures, to taking on Chevron — California’s biggest polluter and a tax evader, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin is actually representing the people of Richmond and showing us representative democracy at its best.

Despite powerful attacks, Richmond became the first municipality in the nation to beat back Wall Street threats, litigation, and a campaign dedicated to end the city’s program using eminent domain to help underwater homeowners. How was the community, led by Mayor McLaughlin, able to hold off the banks, asset managers and securities units of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and AIG, the very same firms that caused the foreclosure crisis in the first place?

For decades, environmental justice groups including Richmond Progressive Alliance, West County Toxics Coalition, and Communities for a better environment have fought Chevron, one of the world’s top polluters and a major tax evader whose refinery has long dominated the city. Chevron’s toxic, explosive, and corrosive chemicals and toxic releases cause devastating harm. To add insult to injury, Chevron vehemently opposes paying its fair share of taxes. Last fall, the oil giant pumped $1.2 million into city elections “They have been polluting our democracy along with polluting our environment,” said McLaughlin. The City of Richmond is currently suing Chevron for damages from the massive 2012 fire and Mayor McLaughlin has called on Chevron to pay its taxes and create a new corporate culture by putting the health and safety needs of Richmond residents before its profits. At the press conference announcing the city’s lawsuit against Chevron, McLaughlin was clear: “This isn’t just about money, it’s also about a culture of abuse. This suit is a situation requiring Chevron to be accountable to our community.”

Richmond is on the rise. Mayor McLaughlin’s focus on working side by side with a community that has suffered decades of injustice is helping to showcase how an urban community is transforming itself in the 21st Century.

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Time will be allotted for Q&A, discussion and announcements. Donations
to OccupyForum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away!

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