Tag Archives: Local electoral politics

Valero sitting on $232,000 in readiness to influence 2022 Benicia elections

Valero Political Action Committee files financial statement with City of Benicia on Jan 31, 2022

Source: City of Benicia website, 2022 Campaign Finance Reports
“Working Families…” CA Form 460, covering 7/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

FULL COMMITTEE NAME: Working Families for a Strong Benicia, a Coalition of Labor and Industrial Services Companies, Committee Major Funding by Top Contributors Valero and International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers Local 549 PAC

Total Contributions:

This period: $200,000
Year Total to Date: $200,000
Detail: Received $200,000 on 12/23/21 from Valero Services, Inc. and Affiliated Entities, 3400 East Second St., Benicia [See CA Secty of State listing for Valero Services Inc & Affiliated Entities.  See also Valero Services’ year-end report showing this contribution.]

Total Expenditures:

This period: $6,366.34
Year Total to Date: $13,373.39
Detail: 6 payments to Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni, all for Professional Services (legal, accounting)

Current Cash Statement: $232,386.88

Outstanding Debts: $1,651.63

Detail: 2 expenses accrued but unpaid to Nielsen Merksamer etc. for Professional Services (legal, accounting)

Solano Police Lieutenant will not challenge Sheriff Tom Ferrara in 2022

Fairfield police lieutenant pulls out of race for Solano County sheriff

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Kimberly K. Fu, 
Fairfield police Lt. Dan Marshall

Nearly a month after declaring his sophomore run for Solano County sheriff, Fairfield police Lt. Dan Marshall has announced he’s pulling his candidacy.

To put it simply, it’s all about family.

“I just started rethinking things,” he said by phone Wednesday. “My daughters are going to be home for another year and then they’re off to college, and I got to spend time with my son… You can’t get time back.”

When he announced his candidacy, Marshall was more than ready to hit the campaign trail. Both sons, who serve in the military, were away at different bases at the time. But recently, one son was home on leave and they spent ample time together before the young man left for Hawaii, where he will be stationed for the next three years

Their time together gave him pause.

With his adult sons on their own and his daughters about to embark on their own journeys, the timing for political aspirations no longer seemed appropriate, he advised. And so, after lengthy conversations with his family, he pulled the plug on his run.

Politics, he said, are not in his near future.

“I would never say no,” he emphasized, “(But) Right now I’m going to focus on my family and my career with the Fairfield Police Department and on community service.”

He offered thanks to all of his supporters and promised to continue to serve the community in other ways.

Marshall has been with the Fairfield Police Department for 22 years.

His stated goals for his sheriff’s bid included “solving serious crimes, finding solutions to intractable problems like homelessness and recidivism, and implementing reforms to promote transparency and ethics within the office.”

The lieutenant had aimed to be a “new sheriff for a new era, someone with the energy and passion to steer the office into a 21st century law enforcement model, focusing on public trust and transparency, employee wellness, and a strong Solano community focus.”

San Francisco Chronicle OPINION: Can local legislators speak freely to voters? It depends

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle, INSIGHT

Can local legislators speak freely to voters? It depends

By Peter Scheer, Friday, January 2, 2015

Local government, Republicans and Democrats agree, is the most democratic (with a small d) form of government. The closer government is to the people, the theory goes, the more accountable it is to voters and the more responsive to the public will. Congress is the most remote, hence least accountable; your local city council is the closest, therefore most attuned to your needs and interests.

Except in California and several other states where elected, local officials can find themselves in trouble for doing exactly what elected local officials are supposed to do. Things like communicating regularly with citizens; staking out clear positions on issues that constituents care about; listening to voters’ complaints about the status quo and promising, if elected (or re-elected), to make specific changes.

These communications are the lifeblood of democracy. They enable voters to make meaningful choices among candidates, while providing elected officials the information they need to represent the people’s interests. The resulting feedback loop between politicians and voters is political expression of the highest order, entitled to the fullest, most robust First Amendment protection.

And yet this paradigm of government accountability is under a cloud of uncertainty.

The cause: legal rulings that force legislative bodies to function like courts when they make decisions that are — to use the applicable legalese — “quasi-judicial” in nature. In such cases, the members of a city council, school board or county board of supervisors must be impartial and unbiased, more like judges than legislators.

What does this mean for a newly elected (or re-elected) city council member? Suppose the council will decide whether to approve expansion of a controversial housing development. If the member told voters during the election that she opposed expansion (because that is what she believed), then she may be forced — on grounds of bias — to abstain from the vote and all deliberations.

The upshot is that her constituents will be disenfranchised, which is no small penalty.

This collateral damage to free speech rights might be tolerable if local officials at least had a clear understanding of when it’s OK to act politically — that is, doing what voters want — and when, instead, they must act as disinterested judges, watching what they say and disregarding what voters say. But the fact is that the distinction between legislative acts and quasi-judicial acts is anything but clear.

Take, again, the real estate example. … If the proposed housing expansion comes before the city council as a zoning code amendment — ostensibly a legal change of general applicability but also necessary for the project to go forward — the council is probably free to proceed in legislative mode, taking politics into account and honoring members’ election promises. On the other hand, if the issue comes up as a vote on an application for a permit or license, the council members probably have to put on their judicial robes (figuratively speaking), ignore what voters say, and exclude from the process those council members who have spoken out on the issue.

The line separating legislative from quasi-judicial decisions is barely discernible to lawyers who practice in the government arena — much less to the amateur politicians who predominate on legislative bodies of cities, counties, school districts and the like.

Moreover, even in cases where the line is ultimately visible, elected officials may have no way of knowing, well in advance of the decision, whether the issue will be presented to the council as a legislative matter or a quasi-judicial matter.

Faced with this uncertainty, many council members do the only safe thing: They censor themselves.

Unsure whether they will have to act like judges on a particular issue, they will act more like judges than politicians on all issues. They will curb their interaction with voters. They will refrain from making political promises. When asked by reporters and voters to comment on a local controversy, they will resort to vague generalities, avoiding specifics at all costs.

The court rulings creating this uncertainty are not new. Some have been on the books for years. What is new is that lawyers representing local governments are relying on these rulings in their advice to local officials. Because their job is to keep their clients out of trouble, the lawyers are warning public officials to curb their comments, and their candor, about local issues.

The result is a cumulative weakening of democracy, and a diminishing of political discourse and debate on the local issues that citizens care most about.

Peter Scheer is the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition.