Category Archives: Benicia City Council

Time to update Benicia’s Climate Action Plan

By Roger Straw, January 23, 2019

It’s time to update the City of Benicia’s 10-year-old Climate Action plan.  This is especially important in 2019 in consideration of:

  • hugely consequential recent international and U.S. scientific findings on climate change (see links below), and
  • new California laws and target dates for meeting climate and pollution goals (links below).

Updating the Climate Action Plan could be initiated by City staff and the Community Sustainability Commission.  The Commission could consider this as part of its work plan for the next year (2019).

Barriers to this could be budget issues, possible lack of council support and staff capacity.  The way the Commission overcame the lack of staff 10 years ago was through the working groups that provided invaluable insight, work products and so forth.  From 2012-2014, we also had a staff Climate Action Coordinator, who, if restored, could provide invaluable service for this effort.

RESOURCES

Benicia’s CAP:

On the City of Benicia’s Sustainability page you can find the 10-year-old 2009 Climate Action Plan.  (Only sections are available there – no link to the whole document.)  Here is my link for viewing or downloading the entire Benicia Climate Action Plan document from the Institute for Local Government: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sFDmNNEJK-9bX3r0vdH3NvzxPHHP9W8Z  (The ILG link is here.)

Note in addition, Benicia has a 2016 Climate Change Adaptation Plan.  If I understand correctly, this is one strategy as a subset of our overall Climate Action Plan.

Links on recent scientific findings:

Links on California strategies and target dates:

    KQED: Big Oil, Small Town: Valero’s Election Influence in Benicia’s Politics

    Repost from KQED NEWS Public Radio
    [Editor: This  is a GREAT audio report.  Only 12 minutes – well worth the time!  – R.S.]

    Big Oil, Small Town: Valero’s Election Influence in Benicia’s Politics

    12 min – Ted Goldberg & Devin Katayama, Jan 14, 2019
    The Valero refinery in Benicia. (Craig Miller/KQED)

    Valero spent $200,000 in last year’s Benicia city council election to help elect two candidates who were less critical of the company than others. That’s created tension between the oil refiner and the city, leading people to question how much influence Valero should have in local politics. On Tuesday Benicia will discuss the possibility of new campaign finance laws that could limit corporate influence in its small town.

    For the audio interview, go to kqed.org/news/11717774/big-oil-small-town-valeros-election-influence-in-benicias-politics

    Guest: Ted Goldberg, KQED News Editor

      Mayor’s thoughts for Council consideration on public campaign financing, etc.

      From an E-Alert by Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson

      Council meeting:  …dark money

      By Elizabeth Patterson, January 12, 2019

      The city council meeting agenda and packet with staff reports and recommendations are available on-line here.   Items of interest include:

      [excerpt…]  The second item of interest for consideration is Council Member Campbell’s two-step process request to consider updates to the city’s campaign ordinances.

      Staff is recommending the council provide direction on whether the Santa Clara model and any other proposed updates should be considered and whether updates should be discussed and reviewed by an ad hoc group or by the Open Government Commission prior to consideration by the Council.

      Other ideas that can be considered are:

      1. “Public Campaign Financing Won Big on Tuesday”:That was one of the headlines after last year’s elections that nationally had the highest turnout for 50 years.  Voters overwhelmingly passed Fair Elections matching funds systems in Denver, Colorado with 69% of the vote, in Baltimore, Maryland with 76% of the vote, and in New York City with 72%.  Great news in the fight to get politicians out of the Big Money fundraising game!

        To what extent can cities utilize this strategy?  For instance, some cities have adopted ordinances for candidates who pledge voluntary campaign expenditures limits but the candidate is targeted by an outside committee known as PACs spending nearly ten times what a candidate can spend.  So the city provides public funds to supplement the targeted candidate not equal to what is being spent by the PAC but helpful.

        Common Cause discusses public financing in this booklet.

      2. When we set up the Open Government Commission, the first batch of applicants had many great ideas – many of which have been adopted – but not including having a city website similar to the City of Livermore for guidance on how to be a “smart voter”.  While the League of Women Voters does this and other organization, it may make sense to have the resources available on a city webpage.
      3. Another concept is “participatory-budgeting” government which engages the public in decision making.  Why this idea is included in a discussion about campaigning is that a more engaged public is a more informed public.  At the end of the day, that is the goal so that voter decisions are based on information and not fear or “bad for Benicia” speak.  Some ideas to blend the public financing and “participatory” government could be explored further upon council direction.