Tag Archives: Benicia elections

How to report illegal political campaign ads, signs, and more

[REMINDER / ORIGINALLY POSTED IN JANUARY…  The AdWATCH story below tells you how to report improper or missing disclosure of who is sponsoring a political sign or advertisement.  The FPPC’s FILE A COMPLAINT page is broader.  It also accepts complaints regarding
• Financial conflicts of interest; • Campaign money laundering; • Over-the-limit gifts and contributions; • Improper use of campaign funds, including personal use; • Campaign mass mailings at public expense; • False, inadequate, or inaccurate reporting on statements of economic interests; • campaign statements and reports; • Non-filing or late filing of such statements and reports; and • Anonymous or cash contributions of $100 or more).  Let’s all be vigilant during the Nov 3 2020 elections!]

Fair Political Practices Commission resumes AdWATCH

Invites residents to participate

By Vallejo Times-Herald | January 6, 2020

SACRAMENTO — The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is reintroducing it’s successful AdWATCH program to provide the public a way to participate in making sure there is proper disclosure on political signs and other advertising, the agency announced Monday.

FPPC launched FPPC AdWATCH for the 2019 election cycle and is now resuming an updated FPPC AdWATCH for the 2020 primary election. FPPC AdWATCH on the FPPC website provides a place where anyone can upload a picture of a campaign sign or video they think may be questionable in terms of the legally required disclosure.

“FPPC AdWATCH is an easy way for the public to help determine who’s behind some of the political advertising around the State,” said FPPC Chair Richard C. Miadich in a statement released by the agency. “Not only does it help the public see who’s doing the advertising, but the public plays a vital role in helping our Enforcement Division do its job of making sure campaigns are following the rules and ensuring a level playing field.”

One of the portals allows you to upload a picture of a campaign billboard or sign, either from a desktop, laptop or from their mobile device. Another portal accepts links to videos of campaign ads, either internet or television.

The FPPC Enforcement Division is then able to quickly view the ads to determine if they contain proper disclosure and take appropriate action if they don’t. The portal allows the public the option to provide their name or remain anonymous and report the ad without filing a complaint with the FPPC.

“One of the key points of the law is the public deserves to know who’s paying for political advertising,” said FPPC Enforcement Chief Galena West in the same press release. “We rely on the public to help us make sure the correct information is out there and that campaigns follow the law.”

In its 2019 run, the public uploaded more than 150 ads to FPPC AdWATCH. In addition, FPPC Enforcement proactively reviewed 600 more ads and combined found more than 120 advertisements that were potentially non-compliant. When the FPPC Enforcement Division determines who is responsible for the ad, they are then contacted for correction or removal of the non-compliant advertisement, if feasible.

This system is now active. Visit the FPPC website www.fppc.ca.gov and you’ll find FPPC AdWATCH both on the home page and on the Enforcement tab www.fppc.ca.gov/enforcement/adwatch.html.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is California’s governmental ethics and campaign disclosure agency.

Valero shells out its first $20,000 – for phone calls and polling data

By Roger Straw, September 15, 2020
The Valero Benicia PAC reported on September 12 that it has paid $20,000 to WINNING CONNECTIONS of Washington, D.C. for election polling data and live phone calls.

Brace yourself – OIL INDUSTRY MONEY is about to phone you… LIVE from Washington, D.C.!

A friend asked me, “Do you know whether Valero has yet spent its $250,000 and in what way?”

So I took a look at the City of Benicia’s Campaign Finance Reports page, and the answer is YES:

  • The Valero PAC reported that it spent $8,468 as of June 30 on legal and accounting expenses (Semi_Annual_Form_460_2.pdf.)
    The Valero PAC reported last Saturday Sept 12 that they have laid out their first BIG campaign expense of $20,000, for “LIVE CALLS & DATA, WINNING CONNECTIONS, 317 Pennsylvania Ave, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC” (Form_496_1.pdf_Redacted.pdf)

NOTE that Valero and friends used this same company to provide data and make offensive and disparaging phone calls against Kari Birdseye in 2018.  The company had to defend itself against charges of orchestrating a PUSH POLLDocumentation: see p. 7 of this 2018 Valero PAC campaign report.

Winning Connections appeared in these five Benicia Independent posts during the 2018 election.

Game Over for the Oil Industry, What Will Benicia Do?

Emergency flaring at Valero Benicia Refinery, May 5, 2017. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
By Grant Cooke, Benicia resident and President, AgTech Blends, September 14, 2020
Grant Cooke

During the 2016 resistance to Valero’s horrendous attempt to bring crude oil by rail into Benicia, I urged the city council to rethink its dependence on Valero for the bulk of its tax support. I suggested then that we move away from being a “company town” to one that embraced a more knowledge-based economic model with a diversified tax base.

I pointed out that as the world’s industrial nations shift from carbon-driven economies that threatened severe climate disruption and environmental catastrophe to a clean energy driven model, those mega-trend shifts would have significant impact on our little town.

I noted that the era of the Bay Area’s refineries was drawing to a close and that most—including Valero—would be closed before mid-century.

It was not a popular observation, even though at the time there was a rumor that all five Bay Area refineries were for sale, but title couldn’t change hands because the environmental cleanup was prohibitive. Besides, the oil industry’s business model of ever-increasing demand was suspect.

Well, then the nation’s leadership banked a hard right, the Environmental Protection Agency was gutted, the heavy oil interests broke free, and the carbon boys rode tall as the U.S. became a net exporter and one of the world’s major oil producers.

2019 saw the highpoint. Production was up 11 percent to new historic U.S. highs of over 12 million barrels per day. In 2018 Brent Crude’s price was over $70 per barrel. It slipped to $65 per barrel in 2019, but production was at a fever pitch.

And then it all collapsed. The Saudis and the Russians did a circular firing squad, OPEC stumbled, supply burgeoned, the novel coronavirus hit, and the U.S. economy tanked. At this spring’s lows, Brent Crude dropped to about $34 per barrel.

Now that the Saudis and Russians have given up their battle, Brent has budged a bit to $44 per barrel.

With the economic collapse so too has the demand for gasoline. Storage is full, demand is way down, supply is way up.

Valero as a refiner makes money when oil prices slide. As long as supply increases and oil prices drop but demand for gas is constant, money is made, profits are up, bonuses and dividends are paid.

Back in June 2018, Valero was in its glory, and the stock price was a couple of cents under $127 per share. The fall was ugly. By April 2020, it broke down to around $31. It has since rebounded a bit—what the financial folks colorfully describe as a Dead Cat bounce—to the mid-$50s. Most likely, it will turn down again and the dividend will be reduced.

What’s equally as devastating to Valero and the oil industry, is that Covid-19 and the subsequent economic collapse has pushed clean energy forward into the nation’s recovery plans. A huge national infrastructure plan is on the horizon, much of it encompassing renewable energy.

This is the TESLA tsunami with its market cap of $144 billion, and the growing consumer recognition that e-vehicles are better, faster, and cleaner than gas-powered cars. E-vehicles and hybrids are the growing segment of the auto market.

About 13 percent of California’s vehicles are e-vehicles or hybrids, and the percentage is growing with the state’s goal of 5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030.

Pickups and commercial vehicles like trucks and forklifts are turning to electric motors for their increased power and torque. Even in the mining industry, electric, autonomous vehicles are being phased in to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Eventually, there won’t be any more diesel trucks idling in Oakland’s port, and the incidence of asthma will drop significantly in nearby neighborhoods.

The oil industry needs to look no further for discouraging news than the recent announcement by General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, that it is converting most of its fleet to electric power. Led by Cadillac, GM intends to have 20 electric nameplates by 2023, including an electric Hummer and a rumored Corvette that will hit 200 mph to compete with the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Further, Southern California’s Hyperion just introduced the XP-1, a mind-blowing mega car powered by hydrogen with a top speed over 220 mph and a range of 1,000 miles on a tank of hydrogen. Europe already has hydrogen-powered buses, and hydrogen fuel cell technology will only hasten the development of carbon-free vehicles.

Finally, and what really should worry Valero and Benicia, is that Phillips 66 just announced that they are converting the Rodeo facility from refining crude oil to a renewable fuels plant using cooking oil and food wastes to produce motor fuels. The conversion should be finished in 2024.

The oil industry is not known for its vision and if Phillips sees that the carbon era is over, most likely it is.

As the world transitions away from carbon energy, the remaining crude-based Bay Area refineries will suffer, and some will lock their gates. The money isn’t there for the environmental cleanup, so the cities—Benicia, Martinez, Pinole, Richmond—will be left without tax revenue and worse, holding the bag for the hazardous waste.

The November election is critical for our nation, and equally important for our town. Some city council candidates are being funded by the oil industry, in a last-ditch effort to cement political power and influence, preserve profits, and probably re-introduce a Crude-by-Rail agenda.

The oil industry and union Political Action Committee, or PAC, has in fact set aside $250,000 this year to steer the 2020 election to their chosen candidates. It would be tragic for Benicia’s if they succeed.

The future for Benicia is not in clinging to the century-long carbon industry that is in decline. Benicia’s future is, or at least should be, in the knowledge-based economy. Science, technology and innovation are the drivers that create wealth and municipal security in the Bay Area. That is where the future is, not in the gas pumps.

Benicia is facing a severe challenge. The carbon-based tax structure that supported its amiable lifestyle with a full range of municipal services is ending.

Allowing a last gasp effort by the oil industry to control the city’s future is a terrible idea. That game is, and should be, over.

I’m voting for and supporting Steve Young for mayor. (And no, Steve has not approved this message.)

Grant Cooke is a Benicia resident and co-author of two books:
By Woodrow Clark II and Grant Cooke, published by Elsevier and available at Amazon:
Grant Cooke
President, AgTech Blends

Here’s a fix for the one thing that could screw up your early mail-in ballot

Don’t let your outdated signature doom your vote!

It has become increasingly clear that everyone needs to VOTE EARLY as soon as mail-in ballots arrive in late September.

The one thing that has been worrying me is that the Solano County Registrar of Voters office plans to VERIFY MY SIGNATURE before counting my ballot.

What?  My signature has devolved into an indecipherable scrawl!  And it ain’t what it used to be!

Today I discovered that the Registrar has posted a form that allows us to UPDATE OUR SIGNATURE.  This could be important – and timely!

So check this out today.  Here’s the Registrar’s invitation and a link to the form you can fill out.  The form contains good instructions.

All vote by mail ballots are to be signed by the voter.  This signature must match your signature used when you registered to vote.  If you would like to update your signature, please fill out this form and return it to our office.  We will update your signature based on the information provided.
Drop the form off at Solano county Registrar of Voters Office, 675 Texas St., Suite 2600 (Map)OR… the form contains instructions for scanning and returning it by email attachment.  Or I suppose if you are really EARLY, you could mail it!
Let’s elect Joe and Kamala BY A LANDSLIDE!