Oppose gunfire in the Carquinez Strait near our Benicia homes and recreation!

Is Duck hunting off the Benicia residential shoreline really a good idea?

By C Bennett, by email

For those of you who haven’t yet been woken at dawn by the sound of gunshots, for the second season in a row a group of local resident duck hunters have been hunting off the Benicia shoreline & State Park waters. Our beautiful straits that used to be filled with peaceful water recreation, have recently been overshadowed by duck hunters from late October to late January.  Our usual mixture of kayakers, paddleboarders, windsurfers & hang gliders have receded.  Who can blame them?  Sharing the waterways with men shooting guns is a kill joy, not to mention unsafe.

It turns out it is technically legal.  For the past 40+ years duck hunters have known that hunting was inappropriate so close to a residential community, so they hunted in nearby appropriate venues including Grizzly Island, Suisun Marsh, Mare Island & along the shores of San Pablo Bay & non-residential sections of the Napa River (all quite close by).  Hunters respected the residential shoreline of Benicia & the State Park waters as off-limits to hunting. But a new generation of local hunters think differently, despite the polite request of their neighbors to hunt elsewhere.  Their response is, “It’s legal. We can hunt here if we want to.”  So they persist- 2-3 days a week, starting usually at sunrise, sometimes staying out on the water til noon, (or all day) returning at sunset.

Dozens of calls to the Fish & Wildlife Dept have failed to impart any change. Benicia police say, “It’s out of our jurisdiction.”  Residents have consulted the mayor, the city attorney, the police chief, and the city manager.  Apparently, as long as it is technically legal, there is nothing the city of Benicia, or its residents can do to stop it.  Casual hikers along the SF Bay Trail, families & children playing or picnicking in the waterfront parks, bicyclists on the State Park pathways, & people whose houses look out upon the straits are unwittingly exposed to the jolting harshness of gunfire, & a visual of ducks being shot from the skies.  On the west side of town it wakes and alarms children, sends dogs into a panic, and triggers those with PTSD. It is an intolerable affront to the peaceful enjoyment of our lives.  Without some type of action to stop this, it may well grow to more & more hunters, eventually altering the personality & character of our town.  It will impact the type of tourists we attract, & the type of businesses that may or may not prosper.  It will quite likely change the very nature of our town. To most nature lovers, being viscerally exposed to duck hunting along the Benicia shoreline is not consistent with our motto

It’s a Great Day by the Bay”.

All this said, ‘duck hunting’ itself is not the problem. Duck hunting off of the Benicia shoreline & the State Park waters is the problem. I’m calling upon all of our conscientious duck hunters in this town to speak to these younger duck hunters.  Share with them your integrity, your knowledge of right from wrong, & help them understand the give & take of being part of a larger community.  So far diplomacy has failed.  We must therefore be prepared to designate the waters along the Benicia shoreline & the State Park off-limits to hunting.  We need to establish a legal basis to return to the common sense and courtesy that prevailed for much of the past four decades.  To accomplish this will require us to combine our individual voices, to unify for a common cause, & be prepared to take the necessary steps to restore & protect the peaceful enjoyment of this beautiful oasis we call Benicia.

Respectfully submitted,

C Bennett

New info on homelessness in Benicia

[Editor – Did you know that in Benicia “ten homeless individuals live on the streets and…between fifty and seventy women and men live in cars or hotels, couch surf on a friend’s sofa, camp in someone’s garage, or shelter in a storage unit.”  Read on….  – R.S.]

VOICE OF THE VILLAGE – Oh, what I learned last week!

The Benicia Herald, by Judie Donaldson, November 26, 2021

            Carquinez Village recently formed an “Over Ninety” group that Janice Magner leads in conversational exchanges. I heard that one question Janice posed to everyone recently was, “What is one thing you learned this week?” That sounded like fun, so I added it to my weekly routine. Thanks to Carquinez Village member Pat Plant, I sure didn’t have any trouble answering the question last week!

What did Pat have to do with my learning? She organized a program for the Heritage Presbyterian Church that was so interesting, compelling, and heartfelt that I went overboard taking notes. What was it that stimulated me? I bet you’ll be surprised. The program focused on Benicia’s homeless population and our police department’s relationship with it.

Were you also surprised that I used those three adjectives––interesting, compelling, and heartfelt–– to describe the program? I was surprised. I felt proud to be a citizen of Benicia as I listened, learned, and enriched my understanding of our police force’s response to our homeless population. I believe that we are all in this world together, and the better we understand one another, the better the world will be. So, I want to share a little of what I learned.

For starters, although I don’t have time to do justice to the topic of homelessness, I want to at least mention that it is typically a multi-faceted problem that stems from factors such as a lack of affordable housing, evictions, and foreclosures; unemployment and job loss; poverty and the high cost of living; and violence, drugs, and domestic abuse. Some believe homelessness is a failure of capitalism.

Last week’s program featured Police Officer Maricella Ticknor. What an impressive young woman (and young mother, by the way).  Maricella joined the Benicia police force four and one-half years ago and, along with serving as the police department’s School Resource Officer and assuming patrol duty as needed, Maricella is the Police Liaison Officer with Benicia’s homeless population.

Maricella spent the evening fielding questions that provided insight into the overall philosophy of our police force­­ as a team of officers responsible for keeping us safe, but also committed to assisting Benicians––including members of our homeless population––in whatever way they can. As Maricella described her work with our homeless, I reflected on our good fortune to have someone so empathetic and committed in this role. She spent the evening offering a kind of “Homelessness in Benicia 101” perspective.
When she joined the force, Maricella recalls that Benicia had a homeless population of three. She estimates that today it has skyrocketed to between sixty and seventy. COVID bears significant responsibility for this escalation. Many of our homeless grew up in Benicia. Approximately ninety percent suffer from some form of a mental health problem.

Maricella depicts Benicia’s homeless population as consisting of two categories. First, approximately ten homeless individuals live on the streets and reject any effort that entails going into a shelter. I am guessing they might be described as chronic homeless. It may be hard for us to understand, but shelters feel unsafe to them. (Stealing is a frequent problem.) Shelters also represent a situation in which their autonomy and agency are threatened. Maricella explained that there are dozens of revolving hidden encampments in and around Benicia where they reside. Out of respect to those living in encampments, she declined to identify their locations.

Second, between fifty and seventy women and men live in cars or hotels, couch surf on a friend’s sofa, camp in someone’s garage, or shelter in a storage unit. She considers them to be our biggest problem. Many are homeless because of a job loss, drug problem, poverty, housing eviction, or mental health condition. Most are in search of housing and seek to return to a stable life. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing is a significant barrier. Maricella pointed out that some of those in this situation have a car and shop in Safeway and other stores as an unrecognized part of our general population.

In her liaison role, Maricella builds relationships and trust with members of the homeless community. Her goal is to connect them to resources and place them in a housing situation. We have resources available through the county and the state.

A member of the Solano County Outreach office joins Maricella once each month, bringing with her the paperwork needed for individuals to apply for various benefits.  Maricella and the Outreach representative meet with as many of our homeless as possible and encourage and help those interested in completing applications.

Maricella works persistently to get our homeless individuals into shelters. There is a shelter in Fairfield that offers extensive resources once a homeless person is staying there. Benicia covers the cost of one bed in the shelter, but Maricella said she has never been turned down when she has requested space for several people on the same night.

I think of Maricella as the caretaker of Benicia’s most vulnerable population and, by supporting them, she serves all of us. So, what does all of this mean for you and me? Of course, I can only speak for myself. Every day I give thanks for my privilege. I never want to forget that there are those, including our homeless, who have been less fortunate. Let’s all hope their situations change and one day they, too, will be able to count themselves among the privileged. Wouldn’t that be great? After all, when each of us does better, we all benefit.

Gun Shows in Vallejo? ALERT! Board will decide (again) TOMORROW, Wed-nesday Dec. 1, 6pm

[Editor – please consider offering your comments at the Fair Board’s meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, December 1.  We don’t need more guns in our neighborhoods and cities!  More background, with a conservative “spin” below.  – R.S.]

ZOOM meeting info:
Wed, Dec 1, 2021 6 pm
Meeting ID: 899 1462 6790
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89914626790?pwd=bzRwTjk0Yi9LZkdRWFF2OENCT0E3dz09
Passcode: 639203 Dial In: 669 900 9128
In-person mtg: McCormack Hall, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo


Will ‘Silent majority’ of Fair Board influence gun show decision?

Fairfield Daily Republic, by Todd R. Hansen, November 28, 2020

FAIRFIELD — A true silent majority – nine unfilled seats on the Solano County Fair Association’s 15-seat governing board – could prove to influence greatly whether gun shows will be allowed at the fairgrounds.

The Solano County Fair Association directors on Wednesday take up the issue again after voting 4-1 Aug. 9 to stop gun shows at the fairgrounds starting in 2022.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at McCormack Hall, 900 Fairgrounds Drive in Vallejo. Access is also available online. Log-in information, including Meeting ID and password, can be found at www.scfair.com.

The August action was challenged as a violation of open meeting laws, and rather than push the matter into the courts, the Fair Board opted instead to take up the question a second time.

“Since that meeting, our board has received a fair amount of feedback from our community, as well as a concern about whether the SCFA was in full compliance with the Brown Act,” Lee Williams, the lone dissenter in August and current board president, said in a statement announcing the Wednesday meeting.

“The board has therefore decided to conduct another meeting where the gun show question can be revisited. We believe this will further ensure that anyone who wishes to have their opinion considered before the board takes its final action may do so,” he said.

The upcoming meeting is considered to be a “correction” of the Aug. 9 meeting, according to fair association Executive Director Mike Ioakimedes, after speaking with the association attorney Kim Alexander-Yarbor, a deputy county counsel assigned to provide legal advice to the association and its directors.

That means the Aug. 9 action is nullified, and currently, the official policy of the fair association is to allow gun shows at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds has traditionally hosted four or five gun shows each year, generating between $40,000 and $50,000 in revenue, Ioakimedes reported.

That is why the makeup of the board – and the unfilled positions – could be an important factor in the outcome.

The board currently has three members from the 1st District and three members from the 5th District.

The supervisors who appointed them to the Fair Board – Erin Hannigan, 1st District, and Mitch Mashburn, 5th District – land on opposite sides of the issue. Hannigan favors the ban; Mashburn does not.

One board member from each of those districts – Rhonda Smith, 1st District, and Jeff Moorhead, 5th District – were not on the board in August.

The other sitting members are: Norma Placido and Manuel Angel, 1st District, and Valerie Williams, 5th District. All favored the gun show ban in August.

Hannigan and Mashburn could not be reached to ask whether they have talked to their appointees about the gun show issue or the upcoming meeting.

It leaves a very real possibility that the board vote could end in a 3-3 tie, and by doing so, would leave in place the policy that allows gun shows at the fairgrounds.

For that to happen, however, Valerie Williams would have to change her vote to ban the gun shows.

At the time she noted she had “mixed feelings about whether we should be hosting gun shows . . . I don’t think a person’s gun rights trumps the right of a (student) to go to school and come home.”

Missing from this current board, but who represented the 2nd District at the August meeting, is Kari Birdseye. She resigned Oct. 26, but did not give a specific reason for leaving the panel in her email to Ioakimedes.

Birdseye voted in favor of ending the gun shows, citing Sen. Bill Dodd’s position that the state – and by extension the county – should not be in the gun and ammunition business.

Supervisor Monica Brown, who represents the 2nd District, said she favors the fairgrounds ban, so potentially there are missing votes there to support the prohibition.

She said in a phone interview Friday that it can be difficult to find people who want to serve on the Fair Board, and she did not have any time to replace Birdseye.

She fully expects gun shows to continue to be held at the fairgrounds.

“The fact the board is doing this over again indicates the pressure put on the board to bring (gun shows) back,” Brown said. “Sometimes that’s the price you pay when you don’t have votes on the board.”

That brings the issue back to those empty board seats, and how appointees might have influenced the decision.

Supervisor Jim Spering represents the 3rd District and has said he disagrees with banning gun shows at the fairgrounds, but called “fair” the criticism of him for failing to appoint anyone to the Fair Board.

Those are missing votes that may have opposed the gun show prohibition.

Supervisor John Vasquez, who represents the 4th District, could not be reached for comment about the upcoming meeting and did not return calls seeking comment after the first vote in August. He has not appointed anyone to the Fair Board for a number of years.

Three days after the Fair Board votes on the issue, a two-day gun show is scheduled to open at the fairgrounds.

The question is, will it be the last gun show at the fairgrounds?

Solano issues 5-day COVID update, showing 1 new death and 179 new infections

NOTE: The information below is not the latest.  CLICK HERE for today’s latest information.

By Roger Straw, Monday, November 29, 2021
[See also New York Times, Coronavirus: What we know about Omicron.]

Monday, November 29: Solano County reports
1 new death and 179 new infections. Solano remains in SUBSTANTIAL rate of transmission.  Benicia also remains in SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

Solano County COVID dashboard SUMMARY:
[Sources: see below.]

DEATHS: Solano reported 1 new death today.  The County reported 27 COVID deaths in September, 18 in October, and 11 so far in November.  A total of 326 Solano residents have died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

CASES: The County reported 179 new COVID cases over the past 5 days.  CASES BY AGE GROUP: 35 of these 179 cases (20%) were youth and children under 18.  93 were age 18-49, 35 were age 50-64, and 16 were 65+.  Below: color-coded analysis of cases reported by age group, expressed as a percentage of total cases.  Increases are in red and decreases are in green as reported by Solano County since April of 2020.  Note  the steady increase among children and youth of Solano County.  The population of those age 0-17 in Solano County is roughly 22%.COMPARE: U.S. cases among age 0-17 as percentage of total cases is at 15.5% as of today. (From the CDC covid-data-tracker.)

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION RATE: Over the last 7 days, Solano has seen SUBSTANTIAL community transmission, with 267 new cases (up from 251 on last Friday).  CDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 cases in 7 days would move Solano up into the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate, and we will need to drop below 225 cases in 7 days to rate as having only MODERATE community transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano’s 304 ACTIVE cases is down from last Friday’s 339, but still far above our summer rates.

CASES BY CITY on Monday, November 29:

  • Benicia added 12 new cases today, a total of 1,593 cases since the outbreak began, and 20 cases over the last 7 days.  This keeps Benicia in the SUBSTANTIAL transmission rate. a second Solano report showing Benicia’s over the MODERATE transmission see chart belowMODERATE is defined as less than 14 cases, based on Benicia population.  Benicia will need to maintain fewer than 14 new cases-per-7-days for 30 consecutive days before relaxing its mask mandateNote above that Solano County is also currently experiencing SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

  • Dixon added 5 new cases today, total of 2,585 cases.
  • Fairfield added 46 new cases today, total of 12,551 cases.
  • Rio Vista reported 3 new cases today, total of 633 cases.
  • Suisun City added 12 new cases today, total of 3,318 cases.
  • Vacaville added 43 new cases today, a total of 12,367 cases.
  • Vallejo added 58 new cases today, a total of 13,687 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 0 new cases today, a total of 145 cases.

POSITIVE TEST RATE:  Solano’s 7-day percent positivity rate was 6.5% today, up from last Friday’s 4.4%.  COMPARE: Today’s California rate is 1.4%.  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]  Today’s U.S. rate is 7.67%. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT hospitalizations were down today from 24 to 18 persons, but still above the range we saw during last summer.

TOTAL hospitalizations: Solano County’s TOTAL hospitalized over the course of the pandemic must be independently discovered in the County’s occasional update of hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity.  Solano Public Health updated its age and race hospitalizations charts today.  The age chart shows 24 previously unreported hospitalizations, one youth age 0-17,  7 age 18-49, 7 age 50-64, and 9 age 65+.  Solano hospitals reported a new total of 3,041 COVID patients since the beginning of the outbreak.  (Data on age is more reliable than that on race/ethnicity.)

ICU Bed Availability is 33% today, down from 37% on last Friday, in the County’s GREEN zone, but we remain in the worrisome range we saw during last winter’s surge.

Ventilator Availability today rose today from 73% to 82%.

MASK MANDATE
Benicia’s mask mandate will remain in effect, at least through December 7.  See
Vallejo also passed an indoors mask mandate on August 31.  In the Bay Area, Solano County REMAINS the only holdout against a mask mandate for public indoors spaces.

SOLANO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS failed to consider an agendized proposal for a countywide MASK MANDATE on Tuesday, September 14.  Bay Area news put Solano in a sad light: all other county health officers issued a joint statement offering details on when they would be able to lift mask mandates (not likely soon).  TV news anchors had to point out that Solano would not be considering such a move since our health officer had not been able to “justify” a mask mandate in the first place.  The Solano Board of Supervisors has joined with Dr. Bela Matyas in officially showing poor leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic.


HOW DOES TODAY’S REPORT COMPARE?  See recent reports and others going back to April 20, 2020 on my ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).


>>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 4 or 5pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for “Summary, Demographics” and “Vaccines.”  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.


Sources