Rubicon’s November 2018 General Election Voter Guide

By Jonathan Bash October 18, 2018

Use the power of your vote to end poverty in the East Bay

On Tuesday, November 6th, 2018, voters across California will weigh-in on the state’s future by selecting new elected officials and approving—or rejecting—propositions and measures that impact all of our lives.

It’s crucial that we don’t sit on the sidelines; this election is far too important to be ignored. The future of criminal justice reform, housing affordability and the economy are at stake. Will our government work to end poverty, or will it simply accept the status quo?

That’s why Rubicon Programs believes that encouraging our participants, staff and community to participate in the process is absolutely essential to accomplishing our vision of an East Bay—and California—without poverty. Local elections like this one are where you can truly make your voice heard.


This Election Day, voters will be able to weigh-in on many specific policy proposals, and also select our local representatives. Rubicon carefully reviewed each of the propositions and measures on the ballot and we are sharing our positions with you. We have also provided a brief explanation—listed after our endorsements—for each of the offices on the ballot. We hope this will help you in your decision-making process.

Here are our endorsements for state and local propositions in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties:



Affordable Housing Bond. Prop 1 provides $4 Billion in housing-related programs, grants, projects and housing loans for veterans, the homeless and people with disabilities.  Since housing is the largest monthly cost to people in poverty, they will benefit the most from this easier access to affordable housing. More Information.



Homeless Housing Bond. Prop 2 authorizes $2 billion in bonds to fund the No Place Like Home Act of 2016 and permits unused mental health funds to be spent on services and housing for the homeless. Many people in poverty who have a mental illness will benefit from these funds. More information.



Water Bond. Authorizes $8.9 billion in bonds for water-related infrastructure and environmental projects. Although Prop 3 provides funding for worthwhile water infrastructure and environmental projects, a handful of environmental groups are in opposition due to its impact on certain ecosystems and because it diverts some cap-and-trade funds away from climate change prevention efforts. Since there is disagreement among the environmental community, we encourage you to look closer at this measure and decide for yourself. More information.



Children’s Hospital Bonds. Issues $1.5 billion in bonds for improvements to children's hospitals. Prop 4 would help boost declining children's hospital infrastructure, with some funds specifically dedicated to Oakland Children's hospital. Many families on MediCal would benefit from these improvements. More information.



Property Tax Transfers. Prop 5 revises the process for home-buyers who are age 55 or older to transfer their tax assessments between counties when buying a new house of greater value. In effect, this measure would introduce a new property tax loophole that will reduce state property tax revenue by up to $2 billion, adversely affecting critical education and health services. More information.



Elimination of Road & Public Transit Funding. Prop 6 would repeal 2017's fuel tax and vehicle fee increases, and would require a vote on all future increases. Prop 6 would significantly lower investment in much-needed road improvements and public transit opportunities for people in poverty. Many of these projects are long overdue and would pose a safety risk – and cost in wear-and-tear – to drivers if repealed. More information.



All-Year Daylight Savings Time. Prop 7 would permit the state legislature authorize all-year daylight savings time with a two-thirds vote and approval from the U.S. Congress and the President. Some argue that this would lead to a later sunrise that could endanger children walking to school in the dark, and that it introduces costs and complications in aligning interstate business and air travel. Others argue that it could lower energy costs and the risk of heart disease. We encourage you to examine the issue further yourself. More information.



Cap on Dialysis Profits. Prop 8 would put a 15 percent cap on profits for dialysis service providers and was created in an effort to control healthcare costs. Unfortunately, the measure is written in a way that could make it difficult for many providers to include certain unavoidable expenses in their calculations for the cost of services, thus making the business unsustainable. This could lead to closures and fewer service providers, particularly in low-income communities, just as diabetes and kidney disease rates are starting to rise. We agree with the stated goal but are unsure of its practical impact, and leave it to you to weigh the pros and cons. More information.



Allows Local Governments to Institute Rent Control. Housing costs are skyrocketing across California and in the East Bay, and pose a clear barrier to people in poverty. By repealing the Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act, Prop 10 would give cities the option to intervene and implement more comprehensive rent control policies. This would provide municipalities with one more tool to tackle the affordable housing crisis. For that reason, we recommend support for Prop 10, and encourage policymakers to explore additional efforts to increase the affordability of housing. More information.



On-Call Ambulance Employees. Prop 11 would allow private ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during their breaks. Prop 11 would prevent ambulance costs from rising by approximately 25 percent, and ensures maximum coverage in communities that already have long response times. Unfortunately, it would do that at the expense of a worker’s opportunity to have an uninterrupted lunch and/or break period. We leave it to you to weigh the pros and cons. More information.



Farming Standards for Animals. Prop 12 would ban sale of meat from animals confined in spaces below specific sizes. Prop 12 helps many animals. It could also increase the cost of food, which will impact our clients. We leave it to you to decide. More information.



Parcel Tax for Childcare and Early Education. Early Childhood Education (ECE) is the number one preventive measure to end intergenerational poverty. Measure AA is a $198 per year parcel tax that would fund up to $30 million annually for preschool and other ECE services that can help break poverty in the East Bay.



Vacant Property Tax for Homeless Services. Measure W enacts a vacant property tax on parcels used less than 50 days per year, at annual rates of $6,000 per parcel, $3,000 for condominium units, and other specified rates; raising about $10,000,000 annually for 20 years; to fund homeless services. This will help alleviate homelessness while also incentivizing property owners to rent out properties, increasing the housing supply.



Eviction Protections. Measure Y extends just cause eviction protection to residents of duplexes and triplexes, and permits the city council to increase protections for tenants. This will benefit renters and people in poverty in particular.



Workplace Protections and Minimum Wage. Measure Z installs regulations to protect housekeeping and janitorial staff at large hotel chains, increases the hotel minimum wage to $20, and establishes a department to set additional workplace standards for non-hotel workers. This will benefit many of our participants who may take jobs in this industry and others, and generally encourages better treatment of workers in the City of Oakland.



Real Estate Documentary Transfer Tax Increase. Richmond Measure H will increase revenue for crucial city services by charging more on higher-value property sales and transfers. The tax will primary impact high-net-worth landowners and benefit average Richmond residents.


Vacant Property Tax. Richmond Measures T incentivizes the utilization of residential property, lowering the cost of housing in the long run by implementing a tax on vacant properties. Funds raised may be used to fund homeless services and housing, as well as blight and dumping elimination. Since the funds will be distributed by the City's Housing Commission, it is unclear what share of the funds will go to end homelessness, and how much could be spent on the clearing of encampments with no alternatives for people who are being moved.



The following local measures make essential investments in city, county or school operations, and in some cases, necessary facilities improvements. Each has a minor fiscal impact on the average individual – with most of these Measures primarily impacting high net-worth homeowners or purchasers of luxury goods. In exchange, the community and people in poverty receive a significant benefit to the local economy, their quality of life and their education.

  • Antioch City Measure W
  • Contra Costa Measure R
  • East Bay Parks Measure FF
  • Hayward Measure T      
  • Hayward USD Measure H            
  • Martinez Measure X      
  • Martinez USD Measure G
  • Mt. Diablo USD Measure J
  • Oakland Measure X
  • Peralta Community College District Measure E
  • Peralta Community College District Measure G 
  • Pittsburg USD Measure P



This Election Day, residents of Contra Costa County and Alameda County, including most of Rubicon Programs’ participants and staff, will also have the opportunity to vote for some of the following local elected officials:

  • The County Superintendent, who oversees school districts and provide education to incarcerated minors and those with special needs.
  • Community College Board Members, who manage East Bay two-year colleges and contribute to the development of the region’s workforce.
  • School Board Members, who manage the policies and budgets of our K-12 schools.
  • Special District Board Members, who manage our water, parks, public safety and sanitary districts.
  • City Councilmembers & Mayors, who oversee city operations like law enforcement and housing development, and write local laws.
  • Judges, who interpret the law and sentence in criminal proceedings.

They will also choose State Constitutional Officers and legislators, including the:

  • Governor, California’s Chief Executive, responsible for approving the state’s budget and implementing the state’s laws.
  • Lieutenant Governor, who serves as a critical member of the state’s many policy commissions, and fulfills the duties of the Governor when he or she is out of state or indisposed.
  • Attorney General, who prosecutes the law, determines who is charged with state crimes and plays a major role in shaping statewide criminal justice policy.
  • Controller, Treasurer and Board of Equalization Member, who each ensure the state pays its bills, invests its funds, and assesses its taxes responsibly.
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction, who oversees California’s schools, community colleges and universities.
  • Secretary of State, who manages elections and the administration of business.
  • State Senator, State Assemblymember, U.S. Congressmember and U.S. Senator, each of whom write state and federal laws on legislation covering nearly every topic imaginable.

We hope that you - each of our readers and participants - study each of the candidates’ positions, so that you can identify and support candidates that reflect your priorities for criminal justice reform, early childhood education, affordable housing, and social programs as we all work to end poverty in the East Bay and throughout the State of California.

Please note, Rubicon does not endorse any specific candidate or political party. If you would like to compare all of the candidates, propositions and measures, and review nonpartisan, unbiased summaries online, please visit


Don’t Forget to Vote on November 6!

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 6, 2018.

If you have not yet registered to vote, be sure to do so by the state’s voter registration deadline for the General Election, October 22, online here. If you are unsure of your status, or wish to find your polling place, visit either the Contra Costa County Elections Office or Alameda County Elections Office online.

And remember, many individuals with a criminal record are allowed vote. If you’re unsure of you rights, check here for further information.

You can also vote-by-mail. Learn how by visiting the Contra Costa County Clerk or Alameda County Clerk. Additionally, Contra Costa residents may also vote at Regional Early Voting Sites located across the county.

Thank you for participating!

Sources: Maplight’s Voter’s Edge, League of Women Voters of California Education Fund's Easy Voter Guide, and the California Secretary of State, Alameda County Clerk-Recorder and Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder.

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Rubicon’s commitment to racial justice

By Lisa Dyas October 18, 2018

In 2015, Rubicon conducted its first org-wide cultural assessment. We knew that achieving our vision of an East Bay without poverty would take not only outstanding services for our program participants, but also carefully building a Rubicon culture and infrastructure that would empower every single employee to bring all of their talents to the table. 

The survey results were promising - our staff felt highly engaged to their work and to each other. What an overwhelming percentage of respondents wanted to better understand, however, was Rubicon's commitment to dismantling racism and systemic inequity in our communities.

To define our stance, a diverse group of Rubiconians came together over a period of six months to examine the history and legacy of racism in our country and communities. They looked at the ways systemic injustice has, and continues to, impede our progress toward achieving our mission. The Antiracism Stance grew out of their learnings, hope for the future, and Rubicon's unequivocal commitment to doing the hard work of calling-out racism where we see it - starting first with our own practices and workplace culture. 

Rubicon’s Antiracism Stance

Rubicon unequivocally opposes racism. We are resolved to explicitly and publicly affirm our identity as an anti-racism organization. We will understand and eradicate racism’s impact within our organization. We will ensure that prejudices and stereotypes do not creep insidiously into the work we do and how we do it.

We recognize that when we are not actively dismantling systemic racism, we are passively upholding systemic racism. Rubicon refuses to uphold a racist system which opposes our values of Hope, Justice, and Humility, and devalues life. We know that dismantling racism, in our lives, our organization, our field and our community, is a prerequisite to achieving our mission and upholding our values. We will lead or join the work to breathe life into a new system of equity.

We exist in a culture of white supremacy. A culture that requires people of color to explain themselves, to prove systemic racism’s existence, to demonstrate the gravity of its effects, and to justify the necessity of dismantling it. A culture that wields these tools solely to retain power and to divide and destroy. However, we are too strong and determined to allow people to be belittled, questioned, and silenced. We will not wield these tools any longer. We are crafting our own tools. We commit to uprooting the damage done by the culture of white supremacy and systemic racism while cultivating a more just society.

  • To cross the Rubicon is to commit to an irrevocable act. To that end, we commit to:
  • Examine and recalibrate inequitable power relationships and resource allocations throughout the organization
  • Foster full participation by people of color in decisions that shape Rubicon
  • Value the contributions and interests of employees of color in shaping our culture, and determining our policies and practices
  • Acknowledge in our work with participants that poverty is a result of oppressive systems
  • Engage each other through a daily ritual of mutual respect
  • Truly value racial diversity as an asset instead of simply tolerating or managing it
  • Confront and dismantle racism within the organization and the broader community
  • Earn community legitimacy as an antiracist organization
  •  Partner with others in combating all forms of racism

The work for justice and equity is informed by the backs of those who withstood lashes and beatings, endured genocide, internment camps, exploitation, and police brutality. We follow in the footsteps of those who bravely spoke out and demanded justice despite great risk. We expect discomfort and pain; no transformative change happens without it. However, we will not use that as an excuse to avoid this work; we will sit with pain and discomfort until equity is realized. When challenged, we will respond with love, passion, curiosity, tenacity, and a desire for shared growth, until we crumble the very foundation of systemic racism.

We will not always get it right, but we will always strive for what is right. We ask every person who reads this statement to help transform Rubicon and the communities we serve into places where we connect with Humility, act with Hope, and live with Justice.

Racism is the systematic oppression of people of color; occurs at the individual/internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels; may be overt or covert, intentional or unintentional.

White supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

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Rubicon’s Associate Board

By Jonathan Bash September 6, 2018


The Associate Board raises awareness and resources to help meet the needs, address the challenges, and uncover the untapped potential of our neighbors living in poverty.

We're currently recruiting new members. Join us to meet other emerging leaders with a commitment to equity for our East Bay communities. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

More Information: Brochure

Additional Details: Job Description

Apply for the Associate Board: Application

Questions? Contact Alex Pfeifer-Rosenblum, Development Manager


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The Rubicon Rangers: The Final Report

By Sandy Chung August 27, 2018

The "Rubicon Rangers" series is a first-person account of Rubicon's intern experience, authored by the interns, Jessica, Sandy and Justin, themselves.

The Clothing Closet Update

Having spent the summer in Rubicon’ old file cabinet room, the interns were able to transform the disorganized room into a welcoming boutique-style closet for the organization’s participants, where they can to choose a fresh, professional outfit that puts them on the path to success.

Now, with four wall racks packed with professional suits, the closet finally looks complete. The middle of the room is loaded with dress shirts ranging from different colors and sizes.

Since the interns’ project began, the clothing closet have gone a long way. Each and every men’s dress shirt has been checked for damage, and steamed to ensure a wrinkle-free look. All of the clothing is sorted by size and hung neatly on racks. On the tie racks, a variety of ties are provided to accompany each of the dress shirts with different, but complementary, patterns and prints. Professional dress shows are also displayed on the shoe rack by size.

As for women’s wear, the team sized various pants, dresses and blouses and arranged them onto the rack. Women’s shoes include flats and heels in every size. Thanks to a large shoe donation that arrived.

Accompanying the closet is a private fitting room that includes a three-pronged mirror, so the participants can view their newly picked outfits from every angle. The room also features a Persian rug and bench to make it feel more like a store fitting room or their own home, helping participants to feel comfortable and confident before their job interviews.

Our entire team is incredibly grateful for this opportunity to help break down poverty here at Rubicon. Our team has learned so much at Wardrobe for Opportunity, taking the skills we learned there and applying them to our own closet.

Community at Rubicon

At Rubicon, you can truly sense the scale of love and support for each of the various communities across the East Bay. In this organization, discrimination does not exist, conversation and cultural exchange is encouraged to overcome the difficulties that people of color and other identities experience. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) like the Black Rubies and an LGBTQ group give employees a safe space to tackle thorny issues and improve their community.

Rubicon employees have a strong bond and frequently work with employees outside their department and in offices throughout the East Bay. Employees build strong regional bonds that last a lifetime.

As an intern, this welcoming community here was apparent on day one. With our final days at Rubicon coming to an end, we’re coming to terms with the bittersweet fact that we’re going to have to leave this supportive environment, where care is showered upon participants and coworkers alike.

This same love and understanding nature is shown to the participants throughout their time at Rubicon, from the workshops to the electives and one-on-one coaching sessions. Impact coaches and facilitators constantly encourage and inspire participants to land on their feet and make the best decisions that will help improve their wellness, assets, income and connections.

Goodbye, Rubicon!

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The Rubicon Rangers: Tongo Eisen-Martin Fights Oppression and Poverty with the Power of Words

By Ben Rowley August 20, 2018

Source: City Lights Publishers. Image used for editorial purposes only.

The "Rubicon Rangers" series is a first-person account of Rubicon's intern experience, authored by the interns, Jessica, Sandy and Justin, themselves.

A city is a prison, a cigarette is a symbol. Welcome to the unique work of master-poet Tongo Eisen-Martin: a world of imaginative metaphors mixed with cold, hard truth.

A Bay Area native, Tongo Eisen-Martin is an educator, movement worker, and of course, poet. His book, “Heaven is all Goodbyes,” won the 2018 California Book Award for Poetry, and is riddled with hidden stories and imaginative voices, that guide readers and submerge them into his world.

Not only does he write poetry, but he also educates prisoners and takes part in many public literary events. His work often reminds people that there are many issues that might not affect them, but a large proportion of the population have to deal with on a daily basis.

In his books, he doesn’t only describe the way he sees the hidden racial issues and poverty of America through his eyes, but also the way he feels them, experiences them, and the how they affect him and everyone around him. The issues that significantly influence his work the most include poverty, racism, and extrajudicial killings by police. He highlights the burden that comes with being black in America, as well as the struggles of those in poverty.

Often delivering his precise messages through many layers of metaphor, he takes the "ethos approach" of changing people’s minds about the issues that impact Black men. Eisen-Martin speaks from experience and the understanding of someone who has been directly affected by these problems in our communities.

Tongo’s distinct free verse and seemingly all-over-the-place style is easy to read on first glance, but when looked at longer, each poems reveal more and more of what is really being said. The poetry is often written in an original way, where some pages might take three seconds to read. Some sentences take three minutes.

Along with being fun to read, Eisen-Martin’s work also does an excellent job of serving to inform people about racial and poverty issues, inspiring people to fix them, which is what everyone at Rubicon Programs is all about.

As racism and poverty are slowly withered away, we here at Rubicon are happy to be allies with Tongo and his incredibly creative, and idiosyncratic, campaign against racism, hate and poverty. It is because of people like him and our devoted staff here at Rubicon that our country is, hopefully, going to move in the right direction.

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