Around the Way: Gayle McLaughlin

Gayle McLaughlin is running grassroots campaign for Lt. Gov. of California, one small donation at a time.

Statewide, PG&E's corporate greed endangers California

McLaughlin Calls for PG&E to have its public franchise terminated and replaced by a publicly owned and operated utility.​

RICHMOND, CA - Gayle McLaughlin, 12-year elected official in Richmond and candidate for Lt. Governor of California, today announced that for several decades, through greed and mismanagement, PG&E has done extensive damage to California and its residents.​ Thus, the utility should have their franchise terminated and replaced with a publicly owned an operated utility. Much like the city of Sacramento, which has a publicly-owned utility that safely delivers quality services for lower rates.​

From 1952 to 1966. As documented in the 2000 film, Erin Brockovich, PG&E dumped "roughly 370 million gallons" of chromium 6-tainted wastewater into unlined wastewater spreading ponds around the town of Hinkley, CA. More than 1,000 people were affected and residents of Hinkley filed a successful lawsuit against PG&E in which the company paid $333 million.

In 1997, PG&E was found guilty in Nevada City of a pattern of tree-trimming violations that sparked a devastating 1994 wildfire in the Sierra. PG&E was convicted of 739 counts of criminal negligence for failing to trim trees near its power lines—the biggest criminal conviction ever against the state's largest utility.

In 2001 PG&E participated in the energy market manipulation. Having previously divided itself into PG&E production of electricity and PG&E distribution, the latter purchased electricity from the former at exorbitant prices resulting in a $9 billion debt for the state and rate increases of over 40% for many years for ratepayers.

In 2010 PG&E incinerated San Bruno, again putting corporate greed and profits over people. Eight people died in the inferno caused by a 30-inch (76 cm) diameter steel natural gas owned by PG&E exploding into flames in the Crestmoor residential neighborhood. PG&E was convicted of 5 felonies but no executive went to jail.

In 2017 the Santa Rosa and North Bay fires killed at least 42 people and incinerated 5000 homes and buildings. Investigations are still underway, but many experts point to PG&E’s power lines, which were built and maintained in a way that made them de facto fire hazards. PG&E absentee investors are paid higher profits when moneys are saved from maintenance of PG&E’s infrastructure. PG&E asks the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for rates that cover needed infrastructure repairs and upgrades. After receiving approval for increased rates and passing them on the ratepayers, any "economizing" produces leftover funds that go to executives and shareholders.

Take note: According to the Mercury News, PG&E profits nearly doubled during the second quarter of 2017, "reaching $406 million on the heels of a jump in monthly utility bills that went into effect in January."

The city of Sacramento has a publicly-owned utility that safely delivers quality services for lower rates. We can have the same for the entire state. PG&E must have its public franchise terminated and replaced by a publicly owned and operated utility.

This will require us to get active and support corporate-free candidates that fight for the 99% and are not afraid to confront corporations, whether they are PG&E, Chevron or Big Pharma. I am running for Lt. Governor to bring the success we had in Richmond, fighting AND winning against corporate giants, to the statehouse.

We are building a winning campaign centered around putting people before profits!

Photo courtesy California Corrections

For $1 an hour, inmates fight California fires. 'Slave labor' or self-improvement?

On the front lines of some of the deadliest fires raging in California, professional firefighters are working alongside prison inmates with one key difference: pay.

Cal Fire firefighters make at least $10.50 an hour, according to the agency, and inmates make only $2 a day plus $1 an hour.

All the attention on the wildfires over the past two weeks has begun to draw attention to a prison program in California that, according to state corrections spokesman Bill Sessa, can reduce state firefighting costs up to $100 million a year.

The number of inmates fighting fires varies but with 19 fires burning simultaneously at one point, KQED reported that there are about 3,800 state prison inmates who are minimum-custody inmates deemed a low safety risk fighting fires. That’s about 7 percent of the 9,500 firefighters working those fires.


Former Richmond mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who is now running for lieutenant governor, has been the biggest critic of the inmate program wages.

“No matter how you may want to dress it up, if you have people working for nothing or almost nothing, you’ve got slave labor, and it is not acceptable,” McLaughlin says on her campaign website.

Others on social media have shared similar critical reactions:


Female Inmates In California Are Fighting Life-Threatening Wildfires For $1 Per Hour

As the wildfires in California continue to tear across the northern part of the state, all available hands have been on deck to fight the blazes. Over 8,000 firefighters were mobilized by Thursday, according to Cal Fire, but they weren't the only group at the ready. Approximately 200 female inmates fight fires in California as part of an ongoing fire camp program, and they do so for only $1 an hour.

“It's really slave labor," candidate for Lieutenant Governor Gayle McLaughlin says in an interview with Bustle. "It’s saying, 'Hey, we’ll give you a dollar an hour' as if that’s anything at all."

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day!

The struggle for human rights and dignity never pauses. Today we celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day because everything we do builds on the work of our family who came before. We fight for human rights and dignity because that is justice!
In Richmond, where I have been mayor and a city councilor, the Chevron-Texaco refinery is a major element of our lives. We have sued Chevron over the many thousands of lives it has harmed in our community!
In 2013, I met with fellow community officials in Ecuador to witness damage to the rainforest caused by Chevron. The damage was unimaginable if you live in a state like California - these polluters had dumped billions of gallons of toxic wastewater into the rainforest, and more.

We must stand in solidarity. As California's Lt. Governor, I will fight fracking and pollution in each and every one of our communities. I know so many of you stand with me! California must do more for its indigenous people, even if the federal government refuses to recognize them!

- Gayle

No more fire fighting slave labor

by Gayle McLaughlin, former mayor of Richmond, Calif., and candidate for lieutenant governor of California

As our tortured climate pounds the East with water and leaves much of California tinder dry, Southern California fire season seems to grow worse by the year.

And in our growing need for firefighters, California continues the abusive practice of using pennies-an-hour prison labor to fight these fires. About 4,000 California prisoners fight fires for $1 an hour.

This is abuse, simply.

I want to organize with people everywhere to end all prison slave labor, and to close California private prisons.

I support programs where prisoners can reduce their sentences by working in “conservation camps,” clearing brush to prevent forest fires and fighting the fires themselves. But they must be paid fairly for each day of work – and $1 an hour is not fair pay.

No matter how you may want to dress it up, if you have people working for nothing or almost nothing, you’ve got slave labor, and it is not acceptable. Prisoners must not be used by the state as slave labor for the rest of society.

Here in California, our justice system has gone deeply wrong, in many aspects, including this one.

I want inmates in California to learn new skills, including firefighting, and I want that knowledge and experience to pay off for them once they have served their sentence. Excluding the formerly incarcerated from being hired as civilian firefighters needs to be reviewed and adjusted. California is missing out from hiring some of the most experienced firefighters in the world because of these obstacles.

No matter how you may want to dress it up, if you have people working for nothing or almost nothing, you’ve got slave labor, and it is not acceptable.

We also have to fully restore civil rights to people who are serving their sentences in California prisons. This means that they should have the right to vote for their representatives, including state and national government, as is the case in other states.

Yes, our California inmates (generally speaking) broke the law, and that is why they are in prison, but it is also true that the law of our land too often broke them. The inequality of our laws too commonly cornered many of these persons into a world of despair from where their crimes emerged. Nevertheless, they remain citizens of our nation and state (those who are), and as such they have the right to vote to reform and transform that world of inequality that conditioned their lives.

I want our inmates to have the dignified chance to vote for a better California, for better education, better jobs, better health care, better and affordable housing, better environment, better justice system rules, better living and working conditions. I want them invested in their future, in our collective future.

I want inmates in California to learn new skills, including firefighting, and I want that knowledge and experience to pay off for them once they have served their sentence.

California has too many private for-profit prisons, where the goal of the institution is to reach quotas, not to rehabilitate and reduce jail and prison populations.

I do not want for-profit corporations running private prisons any more. Their goal is to keep the prison filled as long as possible and get paid by inmate and day. Did you know that rates of physical assault are higher in many of California’s eight private prisons, and thousands of California inmates are housed in private prisons in other states, away from family support? These folks are more likely to stay in or return to the prison system. That is money in the bank for the private prisons.

As I see it, both the private corporate prisons and the state of California are abusing the prisoners and both are doing it for a financial interest.

I oppose any obstacles placed on legally mandated early-prison release programs justified by a state government’s concern that it could create a substantial reduction in the number of the “pennies-an-hour prison labor-firefighters.” The depletion of the number of cheap inmate-firefighters is not a valid reason for the state to keep a person from been released.

The state must release those due for release, hire them in a civilian unit and pay them fair wages. That’s a real win-win.

As I see it, both the private corporate prisons and the state of California are abusing the prisoners and both are doing it for a financial interest.

The flames are likely to get higher in the years to come. So let’s be smart and strategic in our response plan. Let’s keep giving California inmates an opportunity to learn firefighting skills and to reduce their sentence lengths, let’s pay them a decent minimum wage, and let’s respect their early release program dates.

Once released, let’s hire them and create with these formally incarcerated firefighters the most efficient and experienced firefighting force in the world. California needs them to save our resources and homes.

Learn more at, and email [email protected] or phone 510-984-6536 to contact Gayle and her campaign.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month


September calls for celebrating Hispanic Heritage month.

I send my greetings and my gratitude to the 15 million Californian Latinos, who constitute the largest demographic group in our state. Nothing happens here without Latinos and we are blessed by the historical, cultural, economical, and socio-political investment the Latino family has made in our state.

Gracias to the Latino family in California -- for everything you bring and all that you share with us every day.

Gracias to those who have made amazing  contributions to social change like Jovita Idar, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Ruben Salazar, Reies López Tijerina, Rodolfo Gonzalez, Rigoberta Manchu, Sonia Sotomayor, Arnulfo Romero, and Oscar Lopez Rivera, just to name a few whose impact we have felt here in California.

Gracias to the ones who do thousands of heroic acts of solidarity during their lives, knowing as Mexican resistance leader Marcos has said, “We are nothing if we walk alone; we are everything when we walk together in step with other dignified feet.”

Gracias to the DACA dreamers who resist racism and xenophobia, and call for all undocumented persons to be included in the solutions.

Gracias to the immigrants who have not forgotten their families in their countries of birth and support them with remittances, and share both their joys and sufferings with their faraway loved ones.

Gracias for the music, the sounds of Spanish, the food, the science, the hard work, the can-do attitude, the “si se puede”,  the good leaders who don’t sell out, the teachers, the poets, the artists, the small business folks, the truck drivers, farm workers, nurses, the mariachis and the jornaleros (day laborers).

Gracias a todos por todo. Thank you all for everything.

I remember the words of Cesar Chavez in San Francisco thirty years ago: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

To our Latino hermanos and hermanas: No fear, great pride, much learned. There is no going back.

I’m there with you! Let’s transform our California together.

- Gayle McLaughlin

Rosh Hashanah Greetings to Our Jewish Neighbors

As Jewish communities throughout California and around the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I want to extend my warmest greetings. Our Jewish neighbors usher in 5778 facing a U.S. presidential administration that has nurtured white nationalism and racial hatred. At times like this, we must remember to work together with all marginalized communities. We mustn't allow this administration to scapegoat any oppressed people with its neoliberal policies that favor corporations over people, over the environment, and over peace.

By organizing as a unified force against the administration’s oppressive policies, we can create a California that supports all of its people, protects the environment we share, and becomes a society united for world peace.

Shana Tova, a good and sweet year!
- Gayle

Happy Islamic New Year to Our Muslim Neighbors

Today, September 21, 2017, is the Islamic New Year 1439. The word 'Islam' means 'peace.' I offer my warmest greetings and wishes of peace and prosperity to all our Muslim brothers and sisters around the globe

We are living in an era where the U.S. presidential administration is nurturing white supremacist nationalism, religious intolerance and racial hatred at home, and expanded support for oppression across the globe.

I join the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations and the American Muslims for Palestine in condemning the Neo-Nazi and racist groups promoting violence and division in our American society. I also condemn the illegal occupation of Palestine, the discrimination and attacks on Muslin communities everywhere, the U.S. supported war on the Yemeni people, and the recent escalating hostilities with Iran by the U.S. government.

Only with justice and accountability will peace for all be achieved. We must hold our own government and the government of Israel accountable for their violations of international law and the denials of Palestinian rights and the escalation of conflicts in the Middle East.

Today I salute and honor all the members of the Muslim community who in California and elsewhere stand and work for peace, human dignity, justice, freedom and human rights for all peoples.

Let’s create together a California that is an example to the world with people from every race, background, and faith enjoying together the fruits of our work and creativity, preserving the land, guaranteeing justice and equality, sharing our wealth, contributing to humans everywhere,

As-Salaam alei-kum, peace be with you!

- Gayle