Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Public Comment Instructions

Richmond City Council Meeting

Email: cityclerkdept@ci.richmond.ca.us

Email Subject
: Public Comments Agenda Item G-1

Message must contain your first and last name; city of residence is optional.

Email comments received by 3 p.m. on June 30, 2020 will be included by the City Clerk’s office in a report that the City Council members will be given.

The clerk will summarize all the comments received before 3 p.m. and report that at start of meeting.

Live Comments

At 6:30 p.m. when Open Session is scheduled to begin, you can send an email to have your comments read live on your behalf during the meeting by the clerk’s staff.

Alternately, you can request that they call you when public comments on your item can be made. You must send this request before discussion of the agenda item begins.

Be sure to include your phone number. They will call you and put you on hold until it's your turn to speak. Prepare to be on hold for 1-2 hours.

Pledge to defend Richmond, CA Public Libraries

On the June 23, 2020 Richmond City Council meeting, council members Eduardo Martinez and Melvin Willis agreed to the library pledge developed by trusted community librarians, Tarnel Abbot and Andrea Mullarkey.

City Council candidates Gayle McLaughlin and Claudia Jimenez signed on as well. 

Richmond Public Libraries Pledge:
As the Richmond Public Library is an invaluable asset to the community, being the center that creates and holds our history and culture, the one educational institution this city has and which is mandated by the City Charter, recognizing that residents depend on it for lifelong learning, technology, recreational reading, research, literacy, homework help, story times and more,
and that access to these services are made available to all community members of all backgrounds, races, genders, ages, sexual orientations and abilities regardless of ability to pay, housing or immigration status,

I pledge that I will take no action to cut library services or the dedicated frontline workers that deliver them.

Past comments to the city council

My name is Sara Cantor and I am a resident of District 3. I am calling to ask for the city council to reject all 4 proposed budgets and instead create a new budget that DEFUNDS the Richmond Police Department and adequately funds the departments that actually provide for our city’s needs. We need shelter, education, food, and healthcare. We do not need the police. Police do not stop crime, because crime is caused by a lack of resources. The way to stop crime is to provide those resources to the communities with the highest crime rates, which are - not coincidentally - the communities that have historically been denied resources due to our nation’s violent history of white supremacy. To be clear, I am asking you to defund the police and to direct funding to our Black and brown communities.

Chief French has detailed the huge amount of money the Richmond Police Department is currently spending on events and programs designed to build community trust in the police. Why are we spending so much money on asking our neighbors to trust people they do not trust? Why are the police our first responders? We do not need armed officers to respond to most situations. Sworn officers are more expensive per position than non-sworn positions, they are not trusted in their communities, and their presence escalates dangerous situations. Why not employ local leaders chosen by the community who are already trusted?

As we weather this quarantine, I ask that you reject proposals that cut vital city services like libraries and environmental protections. Instead, defund the police. This year’s budget allocated over $71 Million to the police. That is $71 Million too many. The decision is simple - cut the police budget and fund the services we need.—Sara Cantor
I want to urge you to maintain adequate funding for our libraries.

Libraries have a large impact on the local economy and workforce development.
They’re open to all and create a common bond among all those who live in a
community. And especially relevant here in Richmond, libraries are critically important
for early literacy and partnering with all levels of education.

“There continues to exist in this country a vast digital divide. It exists along lines of race
and class, and is only bridged consistently and equitably through the free access
provided by public libraries. About 60 percent of individuals who use public computers in
city libraries are searching for and applying for jobs.” That’s from Mary Dempsey,
Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

From an editorial in the New York Times: “The libraries are where poor children learn to
read and love literature, where immigrants learn English, where job-seekers perfect
their résumés and cover letters, and where those who lack ready access to the Internet
can cross the digital divide.”

Cutting funding for our libraries is not just bad for Richmond’s residents, it’s bad for city
revenue. Studies have demonstrated that for every tax dollar that libraries take in,
communities receive anywhere between $2.38 and $6.54 in return. 

Richmond cannot afford to starve our libraries, cutting off our residents from the stream
of information that powers the development and basic functions of society.
Please provide sufficient funding to keep our all our libraries open and adequately
staffed. Thank you.—Janet Johnson, Richmond resident
A budget is a statement of a city's values. To show where our city's value's are, here are numbers from last year's budget.

Last year, we spent $78 million on policing. For library and cultural services, community services, housing and housing authority, and employment and training combined, we spent less than half of that, around 41%.

The City Manager and Finance Department are trying to re-structure the budget so it's sustainable going forward. But is it sustainable or wise to continue to spend so much on policing instead of spending in ways that will address underlying problems and injustices?

Let's use this unique moment to re-structure our budget to reflect the priorities the community wants and needs. Let's not cut libraries and community services; let's invest in ourselves, our people, our children. In the long run, this will help our budget as it helps our city and all its people thrive. —Pamela Tellew
I am Andrea Mullarkey, a Richmond resident, a public librarian, and a member of SEIU 1021. I am writing to ask you to please protect the Richmond Public Libraries.

Those of us who spend a lot of time in libraries know that they are beloved cultural institutions. We know that a broad cross-section of our community uses libraries and that the collections, the events, the buildings, and the staff reflect that diversity. We offer collections and programs for kids including expected things like books and homework help, but also unexpected things like toys to check out and take home, and master gardening programs for young people. For teens there are the expected career and college prep resources but also skate board science events and access to mental health resources and hotlines because library staff know that the library is a safer space for young adults. Grown-ups will find books of course and computers with fast internet. But they will also find immigration lawyers and seeds to take home and plant and small business resources.

Patrons find all these things and so much more in multiple languages because we know it is the function of the library to offer whatever thing it is that patrons want help with to make their lives better. That includes telling your kids stories and walking teens through their first resume and showing our elders how to zoom with their grandkids.

And so I ask you: please fully fund the library. Do not close branches. Help ensure that these remain vibrant public places open to all and filled with books and events and learning and community.

Cuts to labor should be the very last thing that you do and I urge you to explore every possible avenue for closing the budget gap before resorting to laying off any city workers.
Thank you.—Andrea Mullarkey
Just today the state assembly's appropriations committee has been considering AB 1054, a bill to fund grants for community alternatives to policing, especially during crises or emergencies.

As Richmond faces its budget crisis, our city can serve as a model for other jurisdictions by reducing the amount it allocates to the police and by increasing rather by cutting, vital community services.

A safe and healthy city fully supports its libraries, recreational and cultural programs as well as providing housing security and economic opportunity for its residents.

At a moment of national reckoning over racism and abuses in policing--and Richmond has had its share--the city must devote more of its precious resources to ensuring public safety through essential services. Don't cut the branch libraries, pools or other vital community centers. —Jane Courant
The defunding of our public libraries and recreational services is directly connected to our current political protests in my opinion. We need to be investing in our community in these spaces, not reducing staff and services.

We need to preserve the budget we have and make cuts elsewhere or use the budget reserves. 

If we defund the services people of color depend on and disproportionately fund police services, what does that say about the priorities of our community?

We have a choice to start funding our future or paying to maintain the status quo that is clearly not working. I am fighting to maintain Library and Recreational services to ensure that our most vulnerable community members can continue to benefit from them now in the pandemic and going forward.—Laura Thomas
Dear City Council, a library is an indispensable part of a community, as vital in its way as the police and the fire department, if what it offers can sometimes be visible more slowly. The Richmond Public Library is an excellent source, with a fine collection. And it serves so many crucial purposes. People take their kids there for story time; people use the computers--they may not have computers at home; after school help with homework is available; LEAP provides a way to essential literacy skills; a quiet place to study, whether for school or the GED, is dependably available. At the Library one can find information on career possibilities; enjoy the craft programs, take part in the Summer Reading Game; and it is a safe place to meet friends, for studying or whatever.

The popular children's author Judy Blume has written: "Libraries save lives, by handing the right book at the right time to a kid in need."

The historian Barbara Tuchman has written "To a historian, libraries are food, shelter and even muse."

Please, support and preserve our Richmond Public Library! Thank you very much for your attention. —Dorothy Gilbert
To Richmond City Council,
My name is Adina Rose. My children attended elementary school in Richmond for many years. Please do NOT eliminate The Richmond Public Library from the budget. Public Libraries are a free, safe, and educational resource available to all.
Many families rely on them and the people who run them. If they close, I am deeply concerned that it will further disenfranchise already at risk populations, and set an unhealthy and damaging precedent for our community.

I oppose the layoff of SEIU 1021 members, this will only exacerbate the financial struggle of our community as a whole.

Save public services, reduce the salaries at the top.
Thank you for taking the time to ready this letter. I hope the right choice is made here.—Adina Rose
Dear Richmond Council,
Hello, my name is Robin DeGracia and I am a resident of next-door El Sobrante. My husband worked in Richmond Point, and would often take the kids with him and they would spend the day at the Richmond Library. There my daughter and son were introduced to the Magic Tree House Series, A-Z Mysteries, and many other series of early chapter books. My kids love libraries and it’s often a negotiation on how many they can check out. The libraries are an essential part of our community and part of how we are raising our youngest to be good citizens.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. —Dr. Seuss.

Please consider then when reviewing the Richmond budget and find a way to preserve the libraries. Thank you! —Robin DeGracia