UPDATE: Martinez News-Gazette publishing one print edition weekly

By Roger Straw, February 4, 2020
Announcement from p. 3 of the January 12, 2020 edition of the Martinez News-Gazette

The news is still a bit sketchy, but today I heard from Nick Sestanovich, former editor of the Benicia Herald, commenting on my story yesterday, “News of the death of Martinez News-Gazette was premature…”

Nick pointed out that the editor of the Martinez News-Gazette “was able to find another company to continue publishing the paper as a weekly.”

P. 1 of the January 12, 2020 edition of the Martinez News-Gazette

The print edition is a full color Sunday paper, and it looks great!  Here’s an online pictorial copy of the Sunday, January 12 edition.  The announcement on page 3 goes like this: “Martinez News-Gazette Continues!  PCM Publishing LLC, owner of  The Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle along with Rick Jones, editor of the Martinez News-Gazette for the past six years announce the continuation of the Martinez News-Gazette.  In the upcoming weeks look for a new, full-color edition of the Gazette to be published weekly.  We will continue to provide the best hyper-local news coverage in Martinez.”

P. 1 of the January 19, 2020 edition of the Martinez News-Gazette

It’s something of a sleuth job to discover other online versions of the print publication.  I was able to locate the January 19 edition at martinezgazette.com/martinez-news-gazette-jan-19-2020, but subsequent editions either didn’t get posted online, or they are following some other URL protocol.

The new owner (or co-owner along with Rick Jones?) is PCM Publishing.  I’m not sure, but pcm.com might be the company in question.

HERE IN BENICIA… we are hopeful that if and when Benicia Herald owner (and former owner of the Martinez News-Gazette) David Payne realizes that his 121-year-old Benicia treasure has – for several years now – hit rock bottom, he is able to find a backer and sell, so that Benicia continues to have a local newspaper, and a more vibrant one at that.

Benicia City Council to consider Climate Emergency Resolution Tues, Feb 4, 4pm

Quarterly Study Session to discuss five requests made by Council members

You may want to attend!  Benicia’s City Council will meet with staff and the public on Wednesday, to consider five action items requested previously, in context of overall Council priorities.  See complete list with links more below.

Of particular interest will be item 4, Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson on adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution.  Mayor Patterson submitted this request last summer, with a requested Initial Council Meeting date of July 16, 2019.  The “Emergency” request was not brought for Council’s First Step consideration until September 3, 2019.  At that meeting, after hearing support from residents Constance Beutel, Marilyn Bardet, Gretchen Burgess, Steve Goetz, Pat Toth-Smith and Kathy Kerridge, Council discussed the request and recommended that it be brought forward for further study “at a future workshop”.  (see item 14.B in the 9/3/19 minutes).  So that next step is this Tuesday.

(Editor’s note: I am not sure, but my review of the Staff Report and Rules of Procedure seem to suggest that Tuesday’s Study Workshop is NOT to be considered the Second Step in our Two-Step procedure.  A Council member’s request for DISCUSSION and action on a City “policy matter” requires two yes votes at Council.)

For more on Climate Emergency, including background on Benicia’s consideration, see Benicia Independent on climate emergency.   Also see Mayor Patterson’s highly informative E-Alert from September 4, 2019.

From the 1/4/2020 agenda on the City website:


The City Council has agreed to discuss various “Two-Step” requests made by individual members of the City Council at the Quarterly Policy Issues Study Session described in the City Council Rules of Procedure (Attachment 1).

To assist with Council deliberations, staff has included an updated copy of the Council’s priorities for the current fiscal year as summarized in the Work Plan 2019-20 (Attachment 2).

Five topics have been approved by the Council for further discussion and are presented in this report (Attachments 3-7); they follow:

    1. Penalties for Excessive Residential Water Use;
    2. Adoption of a Climate Emergency Resolution;
    3. Preparation of an Advisory Measure related to Cannabis Dispensaries for the November 2020 ballot;
    4. Installation of Rainbow Crosswalks; and
    5. A request to Repurpose and Update the Traffic, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee. 

Recommendation: Review the two-step process and the updated Work Plan 2019-20, and then discuss each of the five topics described (Attachments 3-7) and provide direction to staff. 

Staff Report – Quarterly Policy Issues Study Session 

  1. City Council Rules of Procedure 
  2. Updated Council Work Plan 2019-20 
  3. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell on Penalties for Excessive Residential Water Use 
  4. Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson on adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution 
  5. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell on drafting an advisory measure related to cannabis dispensaries for the November 2020 ballot 
  6. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell to install Rainbow Crosswalks 
  7. Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson to repurpose and update the Traffic, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee

News of the death of Martinez News-Gazette was premature…

Martinez not entirely a “news desert”

By Roger Straw, February 2, 2020
[See update: Martinez News-Gazette publishing one print edition weekly]

There’s no reporting on this out there, but I stumbled on a fresh reference to the Martinez News-Gazette while googling for something, can’t remember exactly what.

Hmmmm… wasn’t it the 161-year old Martinez News-Gazette that announced its last issue and published a final edition in December of 2019?  Yep – see my Dec 28 repost of the San Francisco Chronicle article, “The latest “news desert” – Martinez News-Gazette closes“.

But it lives!  At least the online edition, which seems vigorous and healthy at  martinezgazette.com.  Check it out.

I can’t find anything that confirms yes or no as to a print edition.  Guess I’ll have to venture over the Benicia-Martinez bridge to find out.

This is good news for those of us in Benicia, where our ancient local news outlet, the Benicia Herald, is owned by the same guy who owns the Martinez News-Gazette.  I hope our fears of becoming more of a “news desert” are somewhat diminished, if not banished.  (The Herald publishes a print edition only 3 times per week and occasionally online.)

Here’s weekly opinion writer Bill Sharkey’s delightfully rambling account of the surprise resuscitation of his old friend, the Martinez News-Gazette:

Column One: What Happened?

By Bill Sharkey III, Martinez News-Gazette, January 12, 2020 

WHAT HAPPENED? You tell me! Whatever it was, it was mighty fast. And, here we are again. No longer an unemployed volunteer columnist. Hardly a day off to consider my future. Perhaps, just as well! Reflecting on my past keeps me well occupied; it’s been such a long past. Maybe good for a cheap autobiography?

It seems there was an ‘obituary’ notice in the old Morning News-Gazette on Page One announcing in advance the pending demise of the 161-year-old newspaper which had its founding in September 1858, and continued under a variety of names until the planned death on December 29, 2019. Strange, stating a specific date of a death of something in advance? Oh, well!

So, after the Page One shocker announcement hit the streets (newspaper talk), people were definitely shocked. What would we do for local news? How would we keep apprised of upcoming events? How would Martinez P.D. tell us if there were bad guys lurking in our neighborhoods? What music groups would be playing at Armando’s next week? Where are the beavers? Who is planning to run for political office? What is the legal profession doing if we don’t have Barbara Cetko’s legal advertising to keep us current? When is the next crab feed fund-raiser which we certainly can’t afford to miss?

No wonder there was distress, concern, mourning in the community. It would be like losing a dear friend, or favorite aunt, or worse. Wow!!

Then, talk began to filter through the gloom. There might be something cooking to continue the Gazette or, as Harriette Burt has always fondly called it, “The Gazoo”. However, the publisher, known for a lack of communication technique, any conversation regarding speculations of things to come was not coming forth. So, plans moved ahead for the final day’s publication. Many news writers, civic leaders, readers, business folks gathered their forces and provided an historic final edition of the Morning News-Gazette, the 161-year-old purveyor of news and advertising (never fake news!!), maybe a rumor or tad of gossip along the way. As a famous newspaper has stated, “All the news fit to print”.

THEN, as the old story line which has been used in plays, etc., a strange thing happened on the way to the funeral for the beloved publication.

The grave diggers had completed their grave digging chores, and were standing by for the procession. Their grave site was prepared according to specifications. A large crowd of mourners had gathered to be part of the services. Anything reaching the venerable age of 161 years deserved proper mourning and respect. They were ready with hankies, tissues and dark glasses. It was a beautiful day in Martinez, a place be happy and safe. But, now a place without a newspaper. How could it be true?

As the gathering of friends, mourners and longtime subscribers waited for the procession to arrive, some began to be restless, began to fiigit. Has something happened, they wondered? What could possibly delay a funeral for such an important member of the community?

Than, ‘the word’ came down from out there some place…there would be no funeral today. What?? Why not?? Answer: The reported demise of The Gazette (for Harriett, the Gazoo) had been apparently premature (not fake news) but, certainly official sounding on Page One the day it appeared. Was it a ‘played closed to the vest’ move, or was it a case of saved by the bell? Hopefully, we will hear the story one day soon. All of us are most anxious to know what is ahead. Meanwhile, how about a cup of coffee and a print newspaper to read? I will buy!

WE ALL KNEW 2020 was going to be an exciting (?) year, right?!? What we did not know was that our unfit Oval Office Person was going to get us into another potential war in the Middle East. As of my deadline, we are still just (just!?!) in the back and forth threatening stage. “If you do this, we’ll do worse”. How did we get here? We got here by ‘hiring’ a know-it-all real estate tycoon from NYC who has no integrity, and no idea of how a president of the United States behaves, or how to lead a nation of good people with ethics and rules of law and order. He also does not know how a leader of this “best nation of all time” should behave when out on the international scene.

When we hear explanations of why we had to assassinate a very popular Iranian general from the Oval Officed Occupant, knowing that has lied or made mistaken facts over 15,000 times since January 20, 2017, how confident can we be that what he and Mike Pompeo are now saying is the truth? Scary? You bet, Mr. and Ms America!!

As we citizens at home are waiting for the BIG BOOM, or whatever the Iranians and their supporters around the world might do, we have our thoughts on the upcoming 2020 national election next November.

OH, YES, THAT!! How do you feel about candidates chasing around the landscape trying to be presidential wannabees? Anyone stand out for whom you would like to plunk down $$ to help? Anyone know the details of the proposals for health care? Have you heard that drug costs are going to increase about five-plus percent in 2020? Make a difference? Or, are you more concerned about the international situation? How about the immigration problems? How about crime in your neighborhood? Then, of course, there are the homeless.

So much of which to be concerned. Or, are you concerned?

CHEERS to those who stepped up to save our local newspaper. As of this columnist’s deadline, we are, fortunately, not in a new Middle East war, the SF 49ers made it to the NFL playoffs, and it looks like we are not headed for another California drought. And, so long to the former Oakland Raiders. If the Warriors can just get it all together!

Shell Refinery in Martinez sold to Delaware company

Refinery transaction complete, ‘Martinez Refinery Company’ born

Martinez News-Gazette, February 1, 2020

PBF Energy Inc. announced today that it completed the acquisition of the Martinez refinery, and related logistics assets, from Shell Oil Products US. The purchase price for the assets was $960.0 million plus the value of hydrocarbon inventory. The company will operate as ‘Martinez Refining Company’.

“We welcome Martinez’s professional workforce to the PBF family,” said PBF’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nimbley. “We are committed to maintaining the high operational standards of the refinery and, through continued safe, reliable and environmentally responsible operations, earning the privilege of being a respected member of the Martinez and Contra Costa County communities.” Mr. Nimbley continued, “The acquisition of Martinez is a significant strategic step for PBF as we expand our West Coast operations. Martinez is a top-tier asset, is a perfect complement to our existing assets and provides increased opportunities for PBF’s West Coast operations to deliver value.”

The 157,000 barrel-per-day, dual-coking Martinez refinery is located on an 860-acre site in the City of Martinez, 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, California. The refinery is a high-conversion facility with a Nelson Complexity Index of 16.1, making it one of the most complex refineries in the United States. The facility includes a number of high-quality onsite logistics assets including a deep-water marine facility, product distribution terminals and refinery crude and product storage facilities with approximately 8.8 million barrels of shell capacity.

Dear Friends,
We are pleased to announce the next chapter in our refinery’s storied, 105-year history. Effective February 1, we usher in a new era as “Martinez Refining Company,” featuring the new logo, below.

Martinez Refining Company LLC (Martinez Refinery) is a subsidiary of PBF Energy Inc. (PBF), a publicly-traded (NYSE-PBF) Fortune 250 company that concentrates on refining and logistics. Martinez is the sixth refinery in PBF’s portfolio; the others are in New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, and Southern California.

We are also introducing and welcoming our new Refinery Manager, Jerry Forstell. This is a homecoming for Jerry, who worked at Martinez from 1992-2003, then returned frequently as General Manager of Turnarounds and Projects. In total, Jerry has 35 years in the refining and chemicals industries, 31 of those with Shell.

After retiring from Shell in 2015, Jerry joined PBF Energy as Chalmette Refinery Manager in St. Bernard Parish, LA near New Orleans. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Jerry and his wife, Corinne, have three grown children spread throughout the country.

“I am truly thrilled to be back at Martinez with so many of my former colleagues, while looking forward to getting to know the rest of the workforce and our neighbors,” Jerry says. “I deeply respect our rich history and value our commitment to our community. I especially look forward to leading the refinery through the coming transition while maintaining the outstanding legacy and traditions that Shell established over the past 105 years.

PBF offered jobs to all eligible refinery employees, and encourages continuing development of our professional well-trained and qualified workforce. We remain dedicated to being a valued member of our community through open, honest, and timely communication, while supporting the local economy with jobs and purchases of services and supplies.

Our Martinez Refinery Family has seen a lot of change, but there are certain constants: our priorities remain “People, Planet, Performance,” and our safety mission, which we call “Goal Zero”, continues as our guiding force. Together, these programs keep us focused on working safely and operating reliably and in an environmentally responsible manner, which in turn helps us earn the right to operate in the communities that host us. This commitment to our community is another constant. We want to share with you some highlights from the past year…as we look forward to 2020.

We had a very successful “Run for Education” in 2019, which PBF also supported. Our team of volunteers are already preparing for our refinery’s signature event the, “MRC/MEF Run for Education” to be held September 27. Since 2003 our run has raised $916,000 for the Martinez Education Foundation, so we are excited to “Run to a Million” in this year’s event. We hope you’ll join us for our Family Fun Night on September 26. The Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs always host an enjoyable evening at the Clubhouse.

We congratulate 2019 Alhambra High School graduate, Jessica McCauley, who earned the Shell Martinez Refinery STEM Scholarship in May. We are also honored to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martinez in establishing a “Teen Center.” Our Martinez youth prove the future is brighter with their talents.

You may have seen our Refinery Fire Department personnel at various community events this year, including the “4th of July Hometown Parade,” “National Night Out,” and the “Holiday Frolic and Tree Lighting.” We also hope you saw the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s Holiday Food Drive donation barrels. In a span of three days, more than 30 refinery employees wrapped all the food barrels that were distributed throughout Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

And finally, “Save Mount Diablo” has published its list of free, public, guided hikes sponsored by the refinery, and all the information is on their website.

Our new owner has pledged to continue our strong commitment to you, our refinery, and our community. We invite you to contact us anytime you have a question or concern. Our weekday phone number is still (925) 313-3777. Our after-hours number remains (925) 313-3601.

Our employees live, work, and play in Martinez, and we treasure our relationship with our community neighbors. We are grateful for your support of the Martinez Refinery and as always, look forward to hearing from you.

Ann Notarangelo
External Relations Manager – Martinez Refinery

BenIndy Editor: see also SGGate, February 1, 2020