Tag Archives: Benicia CA

It’s Better in Benicia – but, for whom?

By Amira Barger, May 25, 2022 (Brief bio below)

Benicia 1905 postcard. Wikipedia, Creative Commons Public Domain
Benicia CA, 1905

Even amongst the most progressive, when Black people make specific calls to action that will impact systemic oppression, we are met with symbolism over material change. We asked for equity. They gave us a flag for Juneteenth. That’s nice, and it doesn’t address the issues that impact Black people on a daily basis. Ask yourself – why might that be? Symbolic change checks the box, it doesn’t hurt to advance those things, and it perhaps even allows those who perpetuate inequity to feel some measure of comfort, as if they’ve done their good deed. But it’s performative. It’s appeasement. They hope that, if they give us some ceremonial gesture, we’ll feel better, and rest in the glow of their generosity. If they can pacify us, then they don’t have to address any real change. That’s much more difficult and requires a certain level of looking in the mirror that is uncomfortable. In fact, to avoid doing so, some places are simply making discomfort illegal. Understanding that, what then can be done? One direct route to addressing material change is local government. And the thing that moves the needle locally is civic engagement.

Benicia City Hall

In the not-too-distant past, the first thing folks did in the morning was open their local newspaper. In cities large and small, the citizens in a given place were far more informed on the comings and goings in the places they called home. The decline of local news outlets has had a direct impact on the levels of disinformation and disconnection within communities. Most of the focus politically is turned toward what happens on the national level, but the power of local politics is far more impactful in our day-to-day experience than it gets credit for. Local politics serve to do more than shape your property taxes and water bills. Consider the power held by the school board in your district. They hold the power to shape the minds of our children. The expansive power of locally elected officials – sheriff, district attorney, judge, city council – is too often wielded in relative anonymity. But a neglect of local politics will eventually result in neglect of the issues and people that matter most to you. Even, or perhaps especially, in communities filled with well-meaning, progressive citizens, that disconnect can provide a false sense of security. Too many times, this is where symbolic change can be most detrimental. For me, I am watching this struggle play out right in front of my eyes.

I am one of five Benicians appointed to serve on the city’s Commission United for Racial Equity (CURE). I said “yes” because advancing equity is not just what I do professionally, it is who I am. As a child of missionaries, I’ve learned to “live life in purpose”. In community, for community, by community – a principle by which I live and breathe. In June 2020, 19 days after the murder of George Floyd, my family and community marched together through Benicia from 9th Street park to our idyllic downtown. We joined others around the world, bringing attention to the movement for Black lives – and the often denied racism right here in Benicia.

First Street, Benicia CA

This bedroom community by the bay captured my heart 17 years ago when I met a boy from nearby Vallejo. I love the postcard-esque main street. I love the view from the pier as the sun sets over water and rolling hills, watching ships pass under the bridge, and pointing out sea lions to my daughter. For those unfamiliar with Benicia, it’s on purpose. Surrounded by the metropolis that is the Bay Area, Benicians pride themselves on maintaining a small town feel. I married that boy and we decided to raise our family here. For us, part of that commitment means working to make life better for residents that have been historically excluded. As we near the second remembrance of George Floyd’s Murder, and with Juneteenth, acknowledging the end of U.S. slavery, just around the corner, I’m struck by the lack of progress in the place I love to call home.

Waterfront and hills, Benicia CA

Benicia is a paradox. Located in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world, the city has maintained a white majority. Once the State Capital of California, the city will be celebrated this May during [1]Historic Preservation month, a time to recognize the distinct heritage of historic places in the region. But parts of our city’s sordid past have long been ignored. [2]Benicia has a long history with [3]chattel slavery – an abhorrent stain for which no reparation has been considered. As a descendant of people who were enslaved, whose grandparents keep tools from the cotton field in the living room as a reminder to practice hope, the gravity of this history is not lost on me. Interestingly, Benicia was also once a stop on California’s Underground Railroad, aiding people who were enslaved on their way to freedom. The intertwining of racism and justice that is woven into the city’s fabric is just as present today. At the same June protest, where hundreds had marched and gathered in solidarity, a white man shouted racial obscenities as he pulled a gun on Black children. [4]The confederate flag occupies a window in a hotel on 1st Street. Benicia students annually play a racist game – [5]“La Migra”. It is a city that has never elected a Black person, whose council approved [6]license plate readers that disproportionately harm racialized persons, and whose largest budget item is for police. Benicia is a nice place to live, but nice is not the measure. To advance equity in a city that has long omitted its complicity – past and present – we must face the issue. James Baldwin said, [7]“not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced”.

 

This paradox is aptly displayed in our city’s implementation of [8]CURE. Established in August 2020, CURE was charged to: act as accountability partner to City Council; support an equity assessment (modeled after [9]Oakland’s equity report); advance anti-bias training; and to serve as a community sounding board. We are the only commission of the sort across 9 counties of the Bay Area. While many cities have equity managers or task forces, none have a committee integrated into the procedural process and bound by the [10]Brown Act to public access. Benicia even received inquiries from neighboring cities to ask how we did it and how they might replicate it – a testament to the precedent this has set and the impact we might have. Though CURE was approved in 2020, we first convened March 2022 – attestation of the systemic barriers of a city that would rather be entrenched in the denial of its failures than look itself in the mirror and face progress.

CURE was authored and made possible by the labor of my neighbor [11]Brandon Greene, esq, Racial & Economic Justice Director at the ACLU of Northern California, and a Black man. Despite this, public records show Benicia City Council’s concerted efforts to erase Brandon’s architecture of CURE and water down – or perhaps block – impact. He was unceremoniously informed that no seat on CURE would be made available to him. CURE was approved and implemented. Yet CURE it is a diminished version of what was envisioned and set into motion by community, for community. Civically engaged Benicians can attest that community engagement is treated as window dressing and often fruitless. City meetings reveal a council listening performatively to public comment only to advance decisions counter to concerns raised – a posture in conflict with expectations of persons in a position of public trust. Inclusive leaders recognize their way is not the only way – but not in Benicia. There are blind spots that too many decision makers in Benicia are not facing. We need leaders that will disrupt their own thinking and acknowledge their privilege.

Looking back on the history of the U.S. and Benicia specifically, people that look like Brandon and me were owned. Even after the abolishment of slavery, we were still considered [12]“beings of an inferior order.” This year marks the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, but there is still something insidious to the ownership of our labor, thoughts, and ideas that harkens back to the abhorrent history this city participated in. In these instances of performative progress, historically marginalized people are expected to be grateful for any inch given but dare not ask for more. Thus, the paradox: a momentous step forward, to find ourselves fighting retreat. Erasure of Benicia voices, and abdication of accountability, either by omission or commission, for our complicated participation in racism will not serve any of us. Benicia can and must be more equitable. Walk down any street in our beautiful town and you are likely to find someone with a great big smile exclaiming “It’s Better in Benicia!” My question for fellow Benicians is: “Better for whom?”.


[1] http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27130#:~:text=May%20is%20Preservation%20Month%20in,heritage%20of%20your%20local%20region.

[2] https://www.beniciamagazine.com/snapshot-of-a-lost-era-post-civil-war-benicia/

[3] https://beniciaheraldonline.com/jim-lessenger-on-benicias-confederate-flag-and-the-citys-place-in-history/

[4] https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Confederate-flag-in-Benicia-hotel-s-stained-6354525.php#:~:text=Uncomfortable%20symbol,flown%20by%20the%20Union%20army.

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdHoEzvr5uU

[6] https://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/index.asp?SEC=FD73A951-078E-47F4-9A5B-5F9AFC0D003F&DE=A5F33963-D0DD-4554-AD23-5577643F10E9#:~:text=In%20May%202021%2C%20the%20Benicia,ALPRs)%20within%20the%20city%20limits.

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/1962/01/14/archives/as-much-truth-as-one-can-bear-to-speak-out-about-the-world-as-it-is.html

[8] https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/672826/1._Resolution_-_Recognition_of_Benicia_Black_Lives_Matter_and_Consideration_of_Actions_to_Address_Unconscious_Bias.pdf

[9] https://www.oaklandca.gov/documents/equity-indicators-community-briefing-documents

[10] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?division=2.&chapter=9.&part=1.&lawCode=GOV&title=5.

[11] https://www.aclunc.org/staff/brandon-greene

[12] https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/60/393/


Amira Barger, Benicia CA

Amira Barger is a Benicia resident & parent, an executive vice president of Communications at Edelman, and an adjunct professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Cal State East Bay. Views are the author’s own.

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COVID case numbers on the rise in Solano and Benicia

By Roger Straw, Monday, May 16, 2022

Solano County reports 675 new COVID infections, nearly 1,200 in 7 days.  Benicia and Solano continue in VERY HIGH transmission rate.

Solano Public Health COVID dashboard, Monday, May 16, 2022:

DEATHS:  Solano reported no new COVID-related deaths in today’s report.  Solano has reported 5 deaths so far in May.  COMPARE: COVID deaths reported in Solano County this year: 30 in January, 15 in February, 17 in March, 7 in April.  A total of 425 Solano residents have now died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

TRANSMISSION RATE: With today’s report, Solano continues to  experience an extremely HIGH rate of transmission, with 1,177 new cases in the last 7 days, up from 971 at last report and 2.6 times the CDC formula for HIGH transmissionCDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 or more cases in 7 days places Solano in the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate.  Below 225 cases in 7 days shows MODERATE community transmission.  Numbers between 225 and 450 are considered SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano reported 1,229 ACTIVE cases today, up from 1,164 at last report and over 5 times the 244 active cases reported about a month ago (April 11).

CASES BY CITY – Monday, May 16, 2022:

  • BENICIA added 39 (!) new cases today, a total of 3,363 cases since the outbreak began.  TRANSMISSION RATE: Benicia has reported 53 new cases in the last 7 days, (see below)For a city with Benicia’s population, anything over 27 cases in 7 days is considered HIGH TRANSMISSION.  14 to 27 cases is considered SUBSTANTIAL.  Below 14 is rated MODERATE.

  • Dixon added 37 new cases today, total of 4,477 cases.
  • Fairfield added 169 new cases today, total of 23,539 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 4 new cases today, total of 1,223 cases.
  • Suisun City added 48 new cases today, total of 6,188 cases.
  • Vacaville added 154 new cases today, a total of 22,456 cases.
  • Vallejo added 224 new cases today, a total of 26,605 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 0 new cases today, a total of 202 cases.

TEST RATE:  Solano Public Health no longer reports numbers of residents tested and the County’s 7-day positive test rate.  >>With so many home-tests, I agree that these numbers are no longer reliable, BUT they do give the public helpful information when compared to similar numbers for the state and nation.  NO WAY TO COMPARE: The CALIFORNIA 7-day % positive rate was 3.9% today.  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]. The U.S. 7-day % positive rate was 11.5%. today. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT: Solano reported the number of those currently hospitalized with COVID was 24 persons, double the 12 who were hospitalized at last report.   Current hospitalizations don’t tell the whole story, though.  Only from the increase in total hospitalizations by age and race (below) can we know how many new admissions have come into our hospitals as of this date.

TOTAL hospitalizations: Solano County did not update it’s hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity today.  TREND: Solano reported 284 hospitalizations in January, 184 in February, 644 in March, and 53 in April, and 44 so far in May(NOTE: The County occasionally updates age/race hospitalization data long after the fact, which probably accounts for the huge increase reported in March.)

ICU Bed Availability Solano County reported that the number of available hospital beds rose today, from 40% at last report to 43% today, within the County’s GREEN safe zone.

Ventilator Availability in Solano County remained rose today from 77% to 80% available, in the County’s GREEN safe zone. 


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

Click green text above or on the image.

>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and (as of 3/14/2022) is updated Monday and Thursday between 4 and 6pm.  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.

See also my BENINDY ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).  I have also archived the hundreds of full CORONAVIRUS REPORTS posted here almost daily on the Benicia Independent since April 2020.

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Solano County reports 502 new COVID infections, 195 of them in Vacaville

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

By Roger Straw, Thursday, May 12, 2022

Solano County reports 502 new COVID infections and 25 new hospitalizations. (Tap here for hospitalizations. Benicia and Solano 7-day transmission rates continue very HIGH.

Solano Public Health COVID dashboard, Thursday, May 12, 2022:

DEATHS:  Solano reported no new COVID-related deaths in today’s report.  Solano has reported 5 deaths so far in May. COMPARE: COVID deaths reported in Solano County this year: 30 in January, 15 in February, 17 in March, 7 in April.  A total of 425 Solano residents have now died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

The U.S. is nearing one million COVID deaths:

 

TRANSMISSION RATE: With today’s report, Solano continues to  experience an extremely HIGH rate of transmission, with 971 new cases in the last 7 days, up from 731 at last report and more than DOUBLE the CDC formula for HIGH transmissionCDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 or more cases in 7 days places Solano in the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate.  Below 225 cases in 7 days shows MODERATE community transmission.  Numbers between 225 and 450 are considered SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano reported 1,164 ACTIVE cases today, up from 829 at last report and nearly 5 times the 244 active cases reported a month ago (April 11).

CASES BY CITY – Thursday, May 12, 2022:

  • BENICIA added 14 new cases today, a total of 3,324 cases since the outbreak began.  TRANSMISSION RATE: Benicia has reported 47 new cases in the last 7 days, (see below)For a city with Benicia’s population, anything over 27 cases in 7 days is considered HIGH TRANSMISSION.  14 to 27 cases is considered SUBSTANTIAL.  Below 14 is rated MODERATE.
  • Dixon added 19 new cases today, total of 4,440 cases.
  • Fairfield added 110 new cases today, total of 23,370 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 7 new cases today, total of 1,219 cases.
  • Suisun City added 31 new cases today, total of 6,140 cases.
  • Vacaville added 195 new cases today, a total of 22,302 cases. Vacaville has 23% of Solano’s population, but reported 39% of today’s new cases.  Outbreak in Vacaville?
  • Vallejo added 125 new cases today, a total of 26,381 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 1 new case today, a total of 202 cases.

TEST RATE:  Solano County’s 7-Day Percent Positive TEST RATE was 17% today, up from 14% at last report.
>> Solano Public Health announced that beginning on May 16, it will no longer report numbers of residents tested and the County’s 7-day positive test rate.  >>With so many home-tests, I agree that these numbers are no longer reliable, BUT they do give the public helpful information when compared to similar numbers for the state and nation.  COMPARE: The CALIFORNIA 7-day % positive rate was 22.7% today, up dramatically from 8.9% at last report (May 6).  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]. The U.S. 7-day % positive rate was 9.7%. today, up from 9.6% at last report. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT: Solano reported the number of those currently hospitalized with COVID was 12 persons, down from 19 at last report.   Current hospitalizations don’t tell the whole story, though.  Only from the increase in total hospitalizations by age and race (below) can we know how many new admissions have come into our hospitals as of this date.

TOTAL hospitalizations: Solano County’s recent and total hospitalizations must be independently discovered in the County’s occasional update of hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity.  Solano updated its Age and Race charts today, adding 25 previously unreported hospitalizations, for a pandemic total of 4,444.  Note below that over half of these new hospitalizations are age 65+, a group that is only 17% of total Solano population.  TREND: Solano reported 284 hospitalizations in January, 184 in February, 644 in March, and 53 in April, and 44 so far in May(NOTE: The County occasionally updates age/race hospitalization data long after the fact, which probably accounts for the huge increase reported in March.)

ICU Bed Availability Solano County reported that the number of available hospital beds dropped today, from 45% at last report to only 40% today, still within the County’s GREEN safe zone.

Ventilator Availability in Solano County remained unchanged today at 77% available, in the County’s GREEN safe zone. 


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

Click green text above or on the image.

>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and (as of 3/14/2022) is updated Monday and Thursday between 4 and 6pm.  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.

See also my BENINDY ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).  I have also archived the hundreds of full CORONAVIRUS REPORTS posted here almost daily on the Benicia Independent since April 2020.

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And the beat goes on… Solano experiencing fifth COVID surge, reporting nearly 500 new cases, 2 deaths

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

By Roger Straw, Monday, May 9, 2022

Solano County reports 469 new COVID infections and 2 new deaths.  Benicia and Solano 7-day transmission rates SOARING.

Solano Public Health COVID dashboard, Monday, May 9, 2022:

DEATHS:  Solano reported 2 new COVID-related deaths in today’s report, both age 65+.  Solano has reported 5 deaths so far in May. COMPARE: COVID deaths reported in Solano County this year: 30 in January, 15 in February, 17 in March, 7 in April.  A total of 425 Solano residents have now died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

TRANSMISSION RATE: With today’s report, Solano continues to  experience a very HIGH rate of transmission, with 731 new cases in the last 7 days (up from 618 at last report).  CDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 or more cases in 7 days places Solano in the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate.  Below 225 cases in 7 days shows MODERATE community transmission.  Numbers between 225 and 450 are considered SUBSTANTIAL transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano reported 829 ACTIVE cases today, up from 798 at last report.

CASES BY CITY – Monday, May 9, 2022:

  • BENICIA added 33 new cases today, a total of 3,310 cases since the outbreak began.  TRANSMISSION RATE: Benicia has reported 50 new cases in the last 7 days, nearly DOUBLE the CDC’s HIGH rate of transmission (see below)For a city with Benicia’s population, anything over 27 cases in 7 days is considered HIGH TRANSMISSION.  14 to 27 cases is considered SUBSTANTIAL.  Below 14 is rated MODERATE.
  • Dixon added 21 new cases today, total of 4,421 cases.
  • Fairfield added 121 new cases today, total of 23,260 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 7 new cases today, total of 1,212 cases.
  • Suisun City added 28 new cases today, total of 6,109 cases.
  • Vacaville added 117 new cases today, a total of 22,107 cases.
  • Vallejo added 142 new cases today, a total of 26,256 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 0 new cases today, a total of 201 cases.

TEST RATE:  Solano County’s 7-Day Percent Positive TEST RATE was 14% today, up from 12% at last report.
>> Solano Public Health announced that beginning on May 16, it will no longer report numbers of residents tested and the County’s 7-day positive test rate.  >>With so many home-tests, I agree that these numbers are no longer reliable, BUT they do give the public helpful information when compared to similar numbers for the state and nation.  COMPARE: The CALIFORNIA 7-day % positive rate was 8.9% today, up dramatically from 3.8% at last report (May 6).  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]. The U.S. 7-day % positive rate was 9.6%. today, up from 8.7% at last report. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT: Solano reported the number of those currently hospitalized with COVID more than DOUBLED today from 9 persons at last report to 19.   Current hospitalizations don’t tell the whole story, though.  Only from the increase in total hospitalizations by age and race (below) can we know how many new admissions have come into our hospitals as of this date.

TOTAL hospitalizations: Solano County’s recent and total hospitalizations must be independently discovered in the County’s occasional update of hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity.  Solano did not update its Age and Race charts today, leaving unchanged the pandemic total of 4,420.   TREND: Solano reported 284 hospitalizations in January, 184 in February, 644 in March, and 53 in April, and 30 so far in May.  (NOTE: The County occasionally updates age/race hospitalization data long after the fact, which probably accounts for the huge increase reported in March.)

ICU Bed Availability Solano County reported that the number of available hospital beds dropped significantly today, from 56% at last report to only 45% today, still within the County’s GREEN safe zone.

Ventilator Availability in Solano County fell slightly today from 78% to 77% available, in the County’s GREEN safe zone. 


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

Click green text above or on the image.

>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and (as of 3/14/2022) is updated Monday and Thursday between 4 and 6pm.  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.

See also my BENINDY ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).  I have also archived the hundreds of full CORONAVIRUS REPORTS posted here almost daily on the Benicia Independent since April 2020.

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