Gayle McLaughlin and the Corporate Free Campaign for California Lieutenant Governor

By Editor Filed in News November 6th, 2017 @ 2:24 pm (Click here to read original article at Corporate Crime Reporter)

Gayle McLaughlin, the former mayor of Richmond, California, has launched what she calls a corporate free campaign for Lieutenant Governor of California.

Gayle McLaughlin

As mayor, along with the Richmond Progressive Alliance, McLaughlin challenged Big Soda with a soda tax referendum, raised the minimum wage,  implemented a rent control law, confronted the city’s largest employer Chevron on its health and safety practices, and sought to use eminent domain to take over underwater mortgages.

Now she wants to take her brand of corporate free governance statewide.

She’s up against a corporate funded Democratic Party establishment in California.

“I’m running for Lieutenant Governor. It’s a corporate free campaign,” McLaughlin told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “And I’m spreading the word about building progressive alliances to gain local political power throughout the state. My campaign is networking these progressive organizations. And with that we have the power to address the statewide issues that I’m also championing – like single payer Medicare for All, free college, taxing the one percent, progressive millionaires tax, an oil extraction tax, reforming Proposition 13, banning fracking.”

When you ran for office in Richmond, you were a member of the Green Party. Now you are an independent. Why did you change?

“I was registered in the Green Party throughout the years I was mayor and prior to that. I decided to switch to no party preference early in 2016 so I could vote for Bernie Sanders. When I saw the momentum that Bernie Sanders was creating, the movement building, all of the enthusiasm, I wanted to be able to vote for him. In California, you could vote for a presidential candidate in the Democratic Party if you are registered no party preference. You could not vote in the Democratic Party primary if you were registered Green Party.”

“Afterward, I decided to stay no party preference. We need to address the issues. People of different parties – progressive Democrats, Green Party members, the millions in California who have no party affiliation – we need to bring people together. This campaign allows me to deepen those relationships regardless of people’s party preference. That’s why I chose to stay no party preference.”

“I am finding that people want to unite around progressive values. That’s what I’m promoting, going up and down the state encouraging these progressive alliances. That’s what we did with the Richmond Progressive Alliance. We are an alliance that has people from various parties. We affiliate not based on parties, but based on values. People are receptive to it. People are fed up with the corporate controlled two party system. Many are fighting the good fight within the Democratic Party — they want to retake control of the party. Those are the Berniecrats that are fighting that battle. I support that battle. But I chose to stay outside the two party system. The outcome of reforming the Democratic Party is uncertain at best. But regardless of whether people are still in the Democratic Party, they still are very receptive to my message. They understand that my standing as an independent is important. They are embracing me. They are standing with me for all of the issues that need to be implemented in California.”

“At this point, party is not as significant. Movement building is key. At some point, every movement needs a party to represent it. At this point, we don’t know. Will it be a new party? What party would that be? At this point, it’s just coming together as progressives to keep our heads above water. And then we will swim together to shore and brainstorm what our party structure will look like. I am of the belief that now is the time not for party building, but for movement building.”

“Chevron has been in the city for over 100 years and greatly harmed the community’s health and the city’s reputation. People know that Richmond has this big refinery. And it limits our ability to attract new businesses.”

“The Richmond Progressive Alliance fought and won against $3.5 million of Chevron money trying to defeat us in one election in 2014. All of the Richmond Progressive Alliance candidates won our elections and all of the Chevron funded candidates lost. Our example in Richmond shows that it can be done. I’m taking this struggle statewide to make sure we get those corporations out of our state politics.”

Do you want Chevron to close its refinery and leave the city?

“Chevron has been here for 100 years. It’s not going to change. It’s not going to just leave. It has a great location on the bay. It’s full infrastructure is in place. No other community wants a refinery. There hasn’t been a new refinery in the United States since the 1970s. We don’t think Chevron is going to leave voluntarily. We want them to become the cleanest and safest refinery in existence.”

“Ultimately, we need to move away from fossil fuels altogether. That means that this giant oil refinery needs to switch to renewables or it will have to leave or go under.”

“But at this point, there is no indication they are leaving, so we are pushing for them to be the safest and cleanest refinery.”

“There was a major refinery fire in Richmond in 2012. Fifteen thousand residents went to hospitals for respiratory treatment. It was a major fire. And the City of Richmond is suing Chevron now. It was the first time in the city’s history where we sued Chevron. I was still mayor. We won. We got the votes to get the lawsuit. That litigation is ongoing.”

What are you seeking?

“We are seeking that Chevron changes its corporate culture to put the safety of our community first. It’s not only this 2012 fire, but there have been over a dozen major incidents since 1990. We want to stop this pattern of the refinery exploding every five years. We are not accepting that. But we also want compensation for the harm they have done to our community. The fire caused a lot of trauma. People were trapped inside the city. We had to shelter in place. Parents pulled their kids off the playgrounds. We all went inside. We had to tape up our windows with duct tape. We had to stay inside for hours. BART would not run into Richmond. The buses would not run into Richmond. People who lived elsewhere but worked in Richmond were trapped in Richmond. And people from Richmond who worked elsewhere could not get back into Richmond. Our city staff spent countless days, months over a year, holding community meetings, meeting with regulators. Our property taxes went down. There was so much damage to the city and the community. Compensation is in order.”

“The Cotchett Pitre law firm is representing us — the same law firm that represented San Bruno in connection with the pipeline explosion that killed eight people. They did a great job for San Bruno and we think they are going to do a great job for us.”

You said that PG&E had caused extensive damage to the people of California and you then went through their corporate wrongdoing, including when eight people died in the San Bruno inferno caused by a natural gas explosion. The company was convicted in that case of felony wrongdoing.”

You sent out an email to your supporters last week about PG&E about their crimes. You called on the state of California to revoke PG&E’s public franchise.  Do you want Chevron to close and leave?

There is a utility in Sacramento that is publically owned. You want to convert PG&E into a public company.

“Yes. In Sacramento, it’s called the Sacramento Municipal Utility District — or SMUD. It has been operating since 1947 as a public utility serving the people of Sacramento for decades. They have done a good job. They are not profit based.”

“PG&E puts its bottom line first above public safety. When you have a public utility like SMUD, there are no profits. Instead, it is operating a healthy and safe utility that is the goal and priority. I am calling for this. It’s about time to start holding this corporate criminal to account. For years, the evidence has pointed to the fact that this utility has not shown itself to be responsible. With all of the life being lost, it’s time to consider a truly public utility for the people of California.”