Tag Archives: Richmond

State Attorney General Jerry Brown Endorses Harpreet Sandhu!

Yesterday California State Attorney General, former Governor and Oakland Mayor, Jerry Brown, endorsed Richmond City Councilman Harpreet Sandhu in his race to be elected to the Richmond City Council.

Attorney General Brown, cited Richmond City Councilman Sandhu’s work on behalf of the Democratic Party and his stances on the environment and crime as the reasons for his support.

Councilman Sandhu, said this just might be his biggest endorsement yet and adds immensely to the already impressive list of endorsements.

We have 7 days left to election day. Please forward this on to people in your address book. There is no greater endorsement of a candidate than your personal recommendation.

The Many Friends of Harpreet Sandhu are grateful for Jerry Brown’s endorsement.


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Why Am I Running for the Richmond City Council?

During these past weeks I have been asked by many friends and residents of West County, “Why was I running to be returned to the Richmond City Council, especially given the fact that the meetings are so contentious, quite long and you take so much heat from what appears to be a few  disgruntled people who have nothing else to do but come down and harass the council members?”

I have thought about this question long and hard.  Had I not been appointed, I probably would have never taken the chance of running for office.  It’s not because I didn’t want to serve, quite  the contrary.  I have been involved in West Contra Costa County since I first moved here in 1979.  I have been involved in our schools, the Democrat Party, State and local commissions and as a secretary, treasurer and president of our Sikh Temple in Richmond and San Pablo.

No, I probably would never have run because of what I look like, especially what that can mean to some people after  9/11.  A person wearing a turban, even when a Sikh from India, is not looked upon with great favor.

In fact, most Californians don’t realize how far back in California history we go. Sikhs began coming to California in the 1890’s. They came as farmers, artisans, mechanics and just plain laborers. My own family came to live in Berkeley in 1968 and we have been here ever since. We are proud to be Americans.

However, now that I have a better chance of being returned to the City Council, I feel compelled to run because of the challenge of getting Richmond back to where it was before the terrible financial crisis of 2004 when the city ran up a $35 million dollar deficit. Most of our citizens don’t realize the enormity of the problem that the deficit caused then and still causes today.

In 2004 the city had to lay off almost 300 employees, many of them serving in the police and fire departments.

  • Programs were cut.
  • Services were reduced and in some cases shut down.
  • Our roads went unattended
  • Crime shot up.
  • And many other things went without attention.

I wasn’t on the council when the crisis took place.  But I am able to be a part of the recovery that has been taking place. It hasn’t been easy. During the years after the financial crisis there have been several tax measures presented to the voters of Richmond.  Only one of them has passed.

What does this mean?

It means that in tough economic times the Council and city staff have to be as creative as possible in finding new revenue streams to help pay the bills and restore as many of those city services as possible.

The Council and city staff have pursued attracting new business, reducing crime — crime has been reduced by 25% over the past year — and restoring many of those services that were cut.

I am bothered by the tension between some of the members on the council, especially the ones that feel compelled to vilify other members who might vote differently than they do.  I have watched and been on many boards and commissions.  I don’t believe I have ever seen one of the members on any of those boards berate their colleagues just because they think differently.

I believe I bring some civility to this process even though Councilman Butt wrote that I and two other minority members of the council should “go back to where you belong.”

I believe I can work to solve problems and get the work of the city done by working collegially with the other members of the council and all citizens of Richmond.

Yes, there is a lot left to do to get Richmond back on track.  Yes, it is going to take a lot of work and involve every sector that comprises the city:  our community… business… industry … labor … our neighboring cities and other governmental jurisdiction.  But most importantly, we need a city council that will listen to all of these interests.  We need a city council that will realize that the answer to our problems does not lie with a single interest but in our collective wisdom. We need a city council that will realize that the answer to our problems is in our coming together.

That’s why I’m running.

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More Voices for Harpreet

New videos have been posted on YouTube in support of Harpreet Sandhu for Richmond City Council.  Just visit http://www.youtube.com/user/Sandhu4Richmond to see endorsements from Dr. John Tysell, Carol and David MacDiarmid and John Ziesenhenne.

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Harpreet’s Campaign Featured on Sikh Swim

Harpreet Sandhu’s campaign for Richmond City Council was featured October 16th on national Sikh interest blog Sikh Swim.

Harpreet has served in the leadership of the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area for many years, acting at different times as President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

He wants to continue serving Richmond as a City Council member, bringing all of the city’s diverse communities together to make Richmond a safer, more prosperous place to live.

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An Open Letter to Richmond Voters

Some people are not sure if someone who wears a turban could get elected to office in Richmond.

I’m a Sikh – and the turban is a sacred part of my faith.

But having lived and raised a family in Richmond for over a quarter century, I know my turban isn’t the issue.  The issue is what I will do to make our community safer a place where we can live and raise a family without fear.

We have to solve Richmond’s crime problem. 

I’ve been on the Richmond City Council for nearly two years.  In that time, cracking down on crime has been my focus.  It’s my focus that has earned me the support of the Richmond Police Officers Association.  Until we get control back of Richmond’s streets and make our neighborhoods safe, our schools will suffer and our local economy will suffer.

So, whether you wear a turban, dreadlocks, a hard hat, a fireman’s helmet or a yarmulke, if you want a Councilman whose top priority is safe streets and neighborhoods in Richmond, we have a lot in common.


Harpreet Sandhu

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Observations on Chevron’s Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project

From The Richmond Globe

By Eleanor Boswell-Raine,

Globe Managing Editor

September 10, 2008

One of the hottest controversies preoccupying and blatantly dividing Richmond council members, including the mayor, along with planning commissioners, Bay Area-wide environmentalists, labor groups and everyday residents has been the conditional use permit that would allow the replacement of old Chevron equipment in parts of the Richmond refinery with what proponents call “efficient and environmental functioning ones.”

Opponents contend that Chevron’s Energy and Hydrogen Renewal Project will further expose residents to pollutants and reprehensible intentions by Chevron to pipe heavy, dirty crude for processing in Richmond.  The Globe has published through its “Community Voices” feature opposing points of view from Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Councilwoman Maria Viramontes and others.

The Globe has the following observations to put before our readership:

  • The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the regional regulatory body for air emissions, testified at city hearings that the Chevron project improves air quality because air pollutants and particulate matter are reduced.
  • Emotions have run high at Richmond City Council meetings, with throngs of attendees weighing in on the issue. Noise levels have overwhelmed and inhibited the mayor’s ability to keep order. Most notably, Councilman Tom Butt continues a barrage of emails discrediting his five colleagues whose votes overruled his efforts to vote down the approval of the permit.
  • Despite 10 conditions in the permit that are more stringent than current California state regulatory law, and two conditions that regulate environmental performance of equipment and reduces nitrogen oxides by -104.8 tons per year, opponents insist that these controls do not have enough safeguards to ensure the safety of the environment and air quality.

According to BAAQMD, greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming are reduced to minus zero. When asked why BAAQMD had not raised their standard for regulating sulfur dioxide in their permitting process, their answer was, “The BAAQMD does not have the authority to make sulfur standards more stringent because the daily and annual sulfur dioxide emissions from the use of refinery fuel gas will not increase from existing levels by this project.”

It appears that Richmond raised the regulatory standards for sulfur when the BAAQMD could not. The new conditions with the installation of new equipment are said to reduce -22.3 tons per year of sulfur dioxide.
Apparently, the Richmond permit raised the standard of flaring events because residents were concerned by reporting events at 50,000 standard cubic feet over the state standard of 500,000 standard cubic feet, and therefore increased reporting requirements.

One doctor testified that asthma was impacted by volatile organic compounds, so the permit parameters will reduce volatile organic compounds to zero.

So what is the concern regarding crude oil? Heavier dirty crude, as some have called it, has a gravity characteristic defined by the numbers 1 to 18. The Richmond council approved a condition limit of 28, the light end of medium crude (18-28). Light crude is defined as 28+ and higher. The unit that processes crude is called a Solvent Deasphalter Unit (SDA). This unit is permitted under the federal and state Title V permit to regulate to 66,000 barrels per day. The council succeeded in reducing the capacity of this equipment to 56,000 barrels per day, with the condition and the agreement by Chevron to also reduce the federal and state Title V permit to Richmond’s requirement for lower capacity.

According to Dr. Sahu, the city of Richmond’s consultant on the project, and other experts, 56,000 barrels per day is the equivalent of the capacity to process crude at the lightest end of the medium scale — 28.

The conditional use permit denies Chevron authorization of use of a pipeline. In order for Chevron to ship crude or gas oils by pipeline, it must submit a new or amended application, along with a conditional use permit and new environmental process. The BAAQMD stated the following, “This local condition is more restrictive since it eliminates intermediate or gas oil from another facility being introduced to the SDA unit and eliminates the pipeline.”

While the controversy continues, and opponents and proponents state their cases, it’s clear that no matter where they stand, the community benefits agreement component of the permit stands to bring $61.6 million to the city, including 1,200 jobs. In an imperfect world, it appears that the council is moving forward cautiously and keeping community interests in the forefront as evidenced in its conditional use permit.

While it is clear that the issue has been highly politicized and has caused some council members to abandon decorum at council meetings, we can only hope that the high drama will fade and that honest efforts to pursue solutions that benefit Richmond’s residents will prevail.

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