Connect with us

Bay Area

Nat Bates, First Elected to Richmond Council in 1967, Bids ‘Final Farewell’

After serving this great City of Richmond twice as its mayor, several times as vice mayor, and many years as a councilmember since 1967, this day has very special meaning to me as I emotionally bid my final farewell.

Published

on

Nat Bates. Photo by Mike Kinney.
Nat Bates. Photo by Mike Kinney.

By Nat Bates

(Former Richmond City Councilmember Nat Bates, who at age 91 was the nation’s oldest elected official, penned this farewell speech for his final day in office Jan. 10, 2023.)

After serving this great City of Richmond twice as its mayor, several times as vice mayor, and many years as a councilmember since 1967, this day has very special meaning to me as I emotionally bid my final farewell.

Because of this historical Covid-19 pandemic swearing-in ceremony, I will try to be brief with my final statements as an elected official.

In 1967, when elected on my very first attempt as a city councilman, little did I realize the length of my tenure nor the many contributions I would be involved in making Richmond such a prosperous and quality city.

If I were to qualify my strongest commitments and contributions to the city and community, I would list in no preferable order my solid support for Public Safety, perhaps because of my 30+ years as an Alameda County Probation Officer.

Throughout this nation and universe, public safety of all residents is the number one priority the citizens demand from our government.

Second, no city can survive without a strong business community that includes all of our businesses (small, medium and large) because they contribute immensely to city employment opportunities for our residents, and significant and much needed tax revenue to the City.

I am very proud to have provided leadership roles in the development of the Hilltop Mall Shopping Center, which also included the Auto Row, which at the time, was one of the development showcases of the Bay Area negotiations in attracting Home Depot, Target, Foodco, Costco and other businesses that were frequently met with strong opposition — but the majority of the council stood firm and strong while approving these projects for the betterment of the city.

I am also very proud of my personal working relationships with almost every housing developer including the late Carl Dame (Carriage Hills), Bert Clausen (Brickyard Cove), along with Peterson/Moratti, Former Oakland A’s owner Steve Schott, the Ghilemetti Builders, Toll Brothers, Shea Homes, and the late Robert Poe and his son Richard (Marina Bay to name a few), for the high quality of beautiful housing developments that has made Richmond one of the most desirable places in the Bay Area to reside.

These developments have brought to Richmond a strong group of talented citizens who have contributed significantly to the city by becoming city staff members and or participating on our boards and commissions.

Needless to say, many of these business and housing developments oftentimes have received strong opposition from various members of the community, but we proceeded to move forward, and the city is richer and more prosperous than ever.

Additionally, I wish to thank the voters for their continued support over the years where it afforded me a personal opportunity to meet and work directly with several United States presidents, governors, United States senators, members of Congress and others.

Obviously, one of the highlights of my career was working personally with President Jimmy Carter and his administration in the construction of the John Knox Freeway.

Being the one and only City of Richmond elected official to have been invited to a White House Christmas Celebration by then President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama and personally meeting and communicating with them became the highlight of my political career. This occurred only because of the continued support of the voters, and I thank each of them very much.

Time does not permit me to mention all of those who have assisted me on the way, but I would like to acknowledge City Manager Shasa Curl, City Clerk Pamela Christian, Planning Director Lina Velasco, Community Services Director LaShonda White, Police Chief Bisa French, Fire Chief Angel Montoya, Housing Director Nannette Bechman, IT Director Sue Hartman, City Attorney Dave Aleshire and their entire staffs along with City Council Liaison Trina Jackson-Lincoln and several others — too many to name.

Staff plays such an important role while supporting elected officials in accomplishing their goals and aspirations, and Richmond has some of the best.

I would be derelict — as well as disrespectful — if I did not acknowledge the many who contributed to this five decades of political journey. First was my 1967 campaign committee where many are no longer with us including my late spouse Shirley Bates, the late Mayor George Livingston, a personal friend, along with then Supervisor Jim Kinney; businessman Elton Brombacher; Aileen Hernandez, perhaps the most intelligent and savvy political person I have known who was later elected to NOW (the National Organization of Women); longtime friend Louis Pierce; and Winters Calvin.

Very pleased to continue to have with us committee members are former Councilman Jim McMillan, Meckila Pierce and Willie Reed who has been my sports teammate from El Cerrito High School, Contra Costa College, and the Indian Head Rockets baseball team where the two of us were recently honored by being inducted into the Saskatchewan Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this past August 2022.

I would also like to thank the many mom-and-pop, small and big business groups I have worked with over the years as well as the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, led by James Lee; Council of Richmond Industries, led by Katrinka Ruk; and the Contra Costa Realtors and Apartment Association. Also, many thanks to the labor unions, especially the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council with Bill Whitney, Ché Timmons, Tom Hanson, Don Gosney, and Richmond’s Public Safety — Police and Fire Unions for their years of support.

Thanks to individual friends like Al Engel, Jim Levin, David Spatz, Bobbie Amos, Terry Kwong, Barbara O’Neil, Shawn Molberg, Steve Seher, and the Lompa Family, to name a few.

Lastly, to my devoted and loving family who has been with me each and every step of the way through the good and bad times. My only daughter Gale Bates Anderson, my eldest son Larry Nathaniel Bates, my youngest son Steven Bates as well as their spouses, in-laws, my grand- and great-grandchildren. I owe each of them my appreciation because my journey has also been their journey, and I love them very much.

To incoming Mayor Martinez and the new council, I wish you the very best in solving the many challenges you will be facing immediately and in the future. A city divided serves no purpose for our residents, and please be mindful the business community and their taxes are the life stream of a prosperous and successful city.

There must be some respectful resolution to Measure “U” which is creating and causing havoc in our business community. Remember, as Richmond prospers, we all prosper and as Richmond fails, we collectively also fail.

Finally, to my many loyal friends and supporters, Thanks again for five wonderful and memorable decades filled with love, respect, support and appreciation. We did it together, and I could not have done it without you.

Stay healthy and safe and may God continue to bless each of us and this great city of Richmond, the only home I know and love.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

Published

on

By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Popular Chief LeRonne Armstrong Placed on Administrative Leave During Investigation of Police Misconduct

In a press statement, Mayor Sheng Thao said that placing Armstrong on paid administrative leave was not punitive but was a standard procedure when investigating possible officer wrongdoing. “We must do what we need to do to get out of that oversight,” she said, explaining that she wants to show the public and the court monitor that there will be no favoritism. A rookie officer or the top officer will face the same investigative process.

Published

on

In his remarks, Armstrong defended OPD’s internal affairs department and fellow officers who were criticized in an independent report that found “systemic deficiencies” in the police department.

“I did nothing wrong. I violated no policies,” said Armstrong, speaking at a press conference

By Ken Epstein

Refusing to accept administrative leave during a police misconduct investigation, OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong fired back with a press conference of his own this week, organized by a high-profile corporate public relations and communications firm.

“I should be the chief of police and remain in my position,” he said. “I did nothing wrong. I violated no policies.”

Mayor Sheng Thao placed Armstrong on administrative leave with pay while his role in an officer misconduct cover-up scandal is investigated by internal affairs. The case involves a highly paid police sergeant who was involved in a hit-and-run automobile accident in San Francisco and is accused of later discharging a gun in an OPD freight elevator and disposing of the shell casings by throwing them off the Bay Bridge.

At a press conference Monday at the office of PR consultant Sam Singer’s office in Emeryville, Armstrong did not blame Mayor Sheng Thao for placing him on leave but instead denounced federal monitor, Robert Warshaw, who oversees the police department and evaluates its reform efforts as a representative for the federal court that has overseen OPD for two decades.

In his remarks, Armstrong defended OPD’s internal affairs department and fellow officers who were criticized in an independent report that found “systemic deficiencies” in the police department.

“This to me, clearly, is a last-ditch effort to destroy the credibility of me…and to make the community believe that Oakland police is involved in some shady business,” he said.

He blasted Warshaw’s “ulterior motives,” accusing him and his team of seeking a reason to continue to be paid over $1 million a year to oversee the department, which was potentially set to exit from federal oversight at the end of May.

“It’s hard to say a mayor who’s been in the seat for just a couple of weeks would be able to push back against a monitor at this point,” Armstrong said, adding that some city officials might be “intimidated” by Warshaw’s team.

City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement that her office agreed that the recent report on OPD deficiencies “revealed failures that call into question the integrity of (OPD’s) internal investigation processes.”

Many observers and police accountability activists are saying that the present scandal and subsequent community uproar over Chief Armstrong is best resolved by removing police misconduct investigations from OPD and instead turning the cases over to an independent civilian body.

Defending the department’s internal investigation, Armstrong said the investigation that was conducted was “consistent with the findings that were presented to me.”

“To work and get to this point and have it taken away from you hurts. It doesn’t just hurt me, it hurts my community because every day I come into this job to try to make Oakland better,” he said. Prior to this incident, Armstrong has been widely praised for helping make significant reforms at OPD and paving the way for an end to federal court intervention.

Armstrong said the sergeant involved in the case, who was identified in the media as Michael Chung, was placed on leave following the shooting incident, but that the chief was unable to review the case because Warshaw had taken over the investigation.

Sergeant Chung, one of Oakland’s most highly paid employees, received total pay and benefits of $492,779.77 in 2021, including regular pay of $160,828.84 and overtime pay of $276,959.38.

Armstrong, who has deep ties in the Oakland community, was born and raised in West Oakland, California, and was a graduate of McClymond’s High School. He joined the OPD as a police officer in 1999, after spending four years with the Alameda County Probation Department. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

In a press statement, Mayor Sheng Thao said that placing Armstrong on paid administrative leave was not punitive but was a standard procedure when investigating possible officer wrongdoing.

“We must do what we need to do to get out of that oversight,” she said, explaining that she wants to show the public and the court monitor that there will be no favoritism. A rookie officer or the top officer will face the same investigative process.

“I want to make sure that everyone understands that, under our administration, that we take these findings seriously and it’s important that we look at taking the corrective action that is needed to make sure that we stay on track to make sure that we get out of the federal oversight,” she said.

“My belief is that, by holding ourselves accountable, we can be safer and a more just city,” Mayor Thao said.

At a federal court hearing Tuesday, Judge William Orrick, not addressing the criticisms of Warshaw’s role, said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the findings of the outside report conducted by attorneys hired by the City of Oakland, which revealed “significant cultural problems” that still exist after 20 years of court oversight.

The oversight began as a result of the negotiated resolution to a civil rights lawsuit in the Riders scandal in which plaintiffs alleged that four veteran officers, known as the ‘Riders,’ planted evidence and beat residents, while OPD turned a blind eye to the police misconduct.

“This is the third time since I’ve been overseeing the implementation of the (settlement) that the city has seemed to come close to full compliance,” Judge Orrick said, “only to have a serious episode arise that exposes rot within the department.”

Mayor Sheng Thao said she takes this case seriously, not a minor fender bender as some have dismissed it, and that said those involved will be “disciplined appropriately.”

“This particular misconduct is serious because it provides fertile ground for other misconduct to thrive,” she said at the hearing. “I will not tolerate toxic subcultures that try to demonize or deter officers who do the right thing.”

Continue Reading

Arts and Culture

IN MEMORIAM: Autris Paige

Paige performed regularly at Four Seasons’ Yachats Music Festival in Oregon from 1983-2017, with artists from around the world. Puerto Ricans Ilya and Raphael LeBron, soprano and baritone, remember him: “He leaves us with a warm memory of the simplicity that made him great: as a human being, as a friend and as a masterful artist!” Baritone Anthony Turner of New York says: “Autris was the embodiment of class and elegance. He delivered every song with a warm silken tone and economy of gestures. Autris gave of himself, his truth, his joy and love.”  Pianists Dennis Helmrich and Gerald Hecht often collaborated with Mr. Paige said: “Autris Paige was among the most intuitively refined musicians we have encountered: a pure pleasure and a cherished memory.” Pianist Jeongeun Yom, pianist, responds,”Autris will be remembered for his kindness, cheerfulness, and above all for his voice, with which he touched  the listeners’ heart.”

Published

on

AUTRIS T. PAIGE grew up in Oakland, California where he attended Star Bethel Church and graduated from McClymonds High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State before pursuing advanced studies in musical theatre at the University of Southern California.
AUTRIS T. PAIGE grew up in Oakland, California where he attended Star Bethel Church and graduated from McClymonds High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State before pursuing advanced studies in musical theatre at the University of Southern California.

August 17, 1938 – January 12, 2023

AUTRIS T. PAIGE was the youngest child born to Estella and Overton Paige in Sugar Land, Texas on Aug. 17, 1938.  He passed away on Jan. 12, 2023 in Oakland after a brief illness.  He was supported and comforted by his longtime companion Donna Vaughan.

Mr. Paige grew up in Oakland, California where he attended Star Bethel Church and graduated from McClymonds High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State before pursuing advanced studies in musical theatre at the University of Southern California.

He served in the U.S. Air Force.

In 1971, he made his debut with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, appearing in Candide at the Los Angeles Music Center and at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. He appeared with Ray Charles and the American Ballet Theatre and performed in several musical theatre productions on Broadway including Lost in the Stars; Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope; as Walter Lee in Raisin; and in Timbuktu with Eartha Kitt.

Mr. Paige has also sung with the New York City Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and with the San Francisco Opera. Other opera companies in which he performed include the Seattle Opera and the Glyndebourne Opera in England. He was featured in the PBS film and award-winning EMI recording of Porgy and Bess as well as the recording of the opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X.

When he returned to Oakland to “retire” he met Dr. W. Hazaiah Williams, Founder and Director of Today’s Artists Concerts (now Four Seasons Arts), who auditioned Paige and invited him to perform on his series. Mr. Paige began a new phase of his musical career.

He appeared many times under the auspices of Today’s Artists Concerts/Four Seasons Arts in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and in venues around the Bay Area in their Art of the Spiritual programs. He was featured in his own Spiritual Journey in 2009. His recently released solo CD, Spiritual Journey, based on this program, has received critical acclaim.

Paige performed regularly at Four Seasons’ Yachats Music Festival in Oregon from 1983-2017, with artists from around the world. Puerto Ricans Ilya and Raphael LeBron, soprano and baritone, remember him: “He leaves us with a warm memory of the simplicity that made him great: as a human being, as a friend and as a masterful artist!” Baritone Anthony Turner of New York says: “Autris was the embodiment of class and elegance. He delivered every song with a warm silken tone and economy of gestures. Autris gave of himself, his truth, his joy and love.”  Pianists Dennis Helmrich and Gerald Hecht often collaborated with Mr. Paige said: “Autris Paige was among the most intuitively refined musicians we have encountered: a pure pleasure and a cherished memory.” Pianist Jeongeun Yom, pianist, responds,”Autris will be remembered for his kindness, cheerfulness, and above all for his voice, with which he touched  the listeners’ heart.”

In 2011, Mr. Paige was featured in Four Seasons Arts’ annual W. Hazaiah Williams Memorial Concert with the Lucy Kinchen Chorale and later with soprano Alison Buchanan. In 2013, he performed his Spiritual Journey II in Berkeley with pianist Othello Jefferson. A second CD entitled Classics and Spirituals was released in September 2013. Pianist Jerry Donaldson of Oakland was a frequent collaborator with Mr. Paige, performing throughout the Bay Area.

A Celebration of Life for Autris Paige will take place Friday, Feb. 3 at 11:00 a.m. at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, 1399 McAllister Street, San Francisco.

A repast will follow the service.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending