‘BenIndy’ will return to more frequent focus on issues other than COVID-19
The Benicia Independent, by Roger Straw, May 25, 2022
Friends, family and neighbors near and far – it’s been a looong and sometimes lonely road here at the wheel, driving and maintaining the clean-energy vehicle known as the Benicia Independent.
Now, having passed through a challenging 25 month public health journey, the time has come to reconfigure the roadmap – again.
The BenIndy on COVID-19
In April of 2020, the BenIndy was overtaken by the urgency of reporting on the deadly pandemic sweeping into Benicia and Solano County.
At first, your BenIndy staff of one – that’s me – collected, analyzed and published Solano County COVID data five days a week M-F. More than a year later in June of 2021, the County cut back to 3 days a week, and although I complained that we ought not be slacking off, I followed suit and began posting my COVID report on MWF.
Just two months ago, on March 14, 2022, the Solano County Health Department cut back to informing the public about COVID only on Mondays and Thursdays. Again, I expressed disappointment, but switched to a twice a week posting.
As of today, over more than two years, I have published 416 Solano/Benicia COVID reports, keeping residents informed as the virus mutated and surged – and killed 425 of us. (425 Solano residents. The County does not disclose City data on deaths and hospitalizations.)
I have been tired of this for a long time, but I carried on due to the danger and severe threat to public health.
The world beyond COVID-19
Meanwhile, like everyone else, I have been alarmed by historic news from Ukraine. I’ve not posted nearly often enough about our U.S. Supreme Court poised to take over the private health decisions of women. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are threatening the very basis of our democracy. And my deep and abiding concern for sensible gun control and racial justice has spiked, again, with the devastating news from Buffalo NY and Uvalde TX.
Of course, that’s not all. There’s a world of nearby news: it’s electoral campaign season again here in Benicia, with our Big Oil political action committee amassing over $200,000 to once again pollute our polls and elect a puppet City Council. Vallejo news and Solano County and California news is compelling and important.
So it’s time for me to let go of the daily, weekly, interminably ongoing COVID report. I’ll archive for public access the spreadsheet I’ve kept that shows the spread of COVID here from April 2020 to May 2022. Check it out at BenIndy COVID SPREADSHEET
ARCHIVE. And the 416 individual updates are archived here: DAILY COVID POSTINGS ON BENINDY.
I will renew and strengthen my Benicia coverage, including:
- an expanded focus on Benicia Black Lives Matter
- coverage of Benicia’s 2022 electoral campaigns, including the run for City Council by my favorite candidate, Kari Birdseye and the powerful Valero PAC that will surely oppose her
- continuing stories on Benicia environmental concerns, with a close eye on the SF Bay, the Carquinez Strait, the air around us and our not-so-friendly neighbor, Valero Benicia Refinery
I will also return to peace and justice themes writ large, national and international issues that have motivated me for over 50 years in my professional and retirement life:
- Racial Justice and the resurgence of white supremacist ideology and expression
- Gun violence and sensible gun control
- Organized threats to our democracy in swing states and the federal government
- Gender justice and LBGTQ rights, with a serious focus on women’s health issues and the right to safe and legal abortion
- World order, peace, freedom and international justice, including opposition to authoritarian and fascist powers
Limits and personal needs
Of course I’ve set the bar higher than my 73-year old body and retirement needs can begin to attain. We all know that it’s important to accept some limits and attend to personal needs as well as the critical calls to vigilance, resistance and service.
So I’ll never do it all. But at least I’ve given myself clarity and permission to move in a good direction.
Help where help is needed?
If there’s anyone out there reading this far down in the story who would like to assist me, I’d welcome turning a one-person operation into a team approach. In particular, if you would like to pick up on COVID reporting, that would be nice. Or if you’d like to become a regular contributor on any of the themes I’ve highlighted, let’s talk. Write to me at rogrmail at gmail dot com.
Who knows? Maybe the BenIndy will see another 15 years?!