Category Archives: Benicia City Council

Benicia City Council to ratify emergency proclamation

UPDATE: An emergency “virtual” Benicia City Council meeting was held on March 19.  The procedings are available in audio only on the City’s website.
See also “Benicia City Council “virtual meeting” Thurs 3/19, public can watch but cannot attend

Benicia City Council to ratify emergency proclamation on Thursday

Vallejo Times-Herald, by John Glidden, March 18, 2020 at 3:28 p.m. 

BENICIA — The City Council has called an emergency meeting Thursday to ratify a proclamation of local emergency and conduct other essential city business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Hall canceled the council’s regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday over fears of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Councilors will be asked to ratify City Manager Lorie Tinfow’s March 15 proclamation declaring a local emergency in the city of Benicia. Council ratification is required within seven days after a proclamation is announced.

The proclamation allows Benicia to seek reimbursement funds, and further allow “the city to enact regulations and orders to assist in responding to COVID-19 pandemic,” a city staff report states.

The five-person council will also decide three other issues, including a $47,500 contract with Chabin Concepts for on-call economic development services to implement various action plans for the Benicia Industrial Park Vision 2020 Plan, the 2015 Benicia Industrial Park Marketing Plan, the 2012 Business Development Action Plan, and assist in organizing the 2020 Clean Tech Expo.

They will also decide on approving a task order with Coastland Civil Engineering, Inc. for construction inspection services of the Bayshore Road/ East J and K Streets Sewer Improvement Project at a not-to-exceed cost of $85,195, and adopt a resolution approving a task order with Cullen-Sherry & Associates, Inc. for professional engineering services to design the Bayshore Road sewer lateral crossovers at a not-to-exceed cost of $18,500.

City officials say the general public may still attend the meeting in person by they are urging individuals not to do so. Officials say the public can view the meeting online or via television.

“As always, the public may submit public comments in advance and may view the meeting from home,” officials said.

Comments submitted prior to 3 p.m. Thursday will be presented to the council and included in the public record for the meeting, city officials said. Comments can be submitted to Benicia City Clerk Lisa Wolfe, lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us.

The Benicia City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, inside the Benicia City Hall Council Chambers, Benicia City Hall, 250 East L St.


How to Watch the Meeting:
1) Cable T.V. Broadcast on Channel 27
2) Livestream online at www.ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas.

How to Submit Public Comments:
Comments submitted by 3:00 p.m. prior to the commencement of the meeting will be presented to the City Council and included in the public record for the meeting. Comments can be submitted by email to lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us.

…THE ITEMIZED AGENDA FOLLOWS, HERE…

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    Benicia City Council adds “virtual meeting” Thurs 3/19, public can watch but cannot attend

    UPDATE: An emergency “virtual” Benicia City Council meeting was held on March 19.  The procedings are available in audio only on the City’s website.

    See below for how you can participate

    The City of Benicia cancelled its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 17, and then called a special meeting for Thursday evening, March 19.  When the agenda was first made available to the public, it seemed that “virtual” attendance was optional, and that the Council chambers would be open for Council members and the public.  But a revised agenda makes clear that the meeting will not take place in any physical space:

    BENICIA CITY COUNCIL
    CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA
    REVISED AGENDA
    Benicia City Hall, 250 East L Street
    March 19, 2020 6:00 PM
    Coronavirus (Covid-19) Advisory Notice

    The Solano County Public Health Department has advised that non-essential gatherings should be canceled, postponed, or done remotely. Additional information is available at solanocounty.com/depts/ph/ncov.asp.

    This meeting is necessary so that the City can continue to conduct its business and is considered an essential gathering. Consistent with Executive Orders No. 25-20 and No. 29-20 from the Executive
    Department of the State of California, the meeting will not be physically open to the public. Members of the City Council and staff will participate in this meeting via teleconferencing as permitted under Executive Orders No. 25-20 and No. 29-20.

    As always, the public may submit public comments in advance and may view the meeting from home.

    Below is information on how to watch the meeting via cable and/or live stream and how to send in public comments that will be part of the public record.

    How to Watch the Meeting:
    1) Cable T.V. Broadcast on Channel 27
    2) Livestream online at www.ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas.

    How to Submit Public Comments:
    Comments submitted by 3:00 p.m. prior to the commencement of the meeting will be presented to the City Council and included in the public record for the meeting. Comments can be submitted by email to lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us.

    …THE ITEMIZED AGENDA FOLLOWS, HERE…

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      Benicia City Council to consider Climate Emergency Resolution Tues, Feb 4, 4pm

      Quarterly Study Session to discuss five requests made by Council members

      You may want to attend!  Benicia’s City Council will meet with staff and the public on Wednesday, to consider five action items requested previously, in context of overall Council priorities.  See complete list with links more below.

      Of particular interest will be item 4, Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson on adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution.  Mayor Patterson submitted this request last summer, with a requested Initial Council Meeting date of July 16, 2019.  The “Emergency” request was not brought for Council’s First Step consideration until September 3, 2019.  At that meeting, after hearing support from residents Constance Beutel, Marilyn Bardet, Gretchen Burgess, Steve Goetz, Pat Toth-Smith and Kathy Kerridge, Council discussed the request and recommended that it be brought forward for further study “at a future workshop”.  (see item 14.B in the 9/3/19 minutes).  So that next step is this Tuesday.

      (Editor’s note: I am not sure, but my review of the Staff Report and Rules of Procedure seem to suggest that Tuesday’s Study Workshop is NOT to be considered the Second Step in our Two-Step procedure.  A Council member’s request for DISCUSSION and action on a City “policy matter” requires two yes votes at Council.)

      For more on Climate Emergency, including background on Benicia’s consideration, see Benicia Independent on climate emergency.   Also see Mayor Patterson’s highly informative E-Alert from September 4, 2019.


      From the 1/4/2020 agenda on the City website:

      10.A – QUARTERLY POLICY ISSUES STUDY SESSION (City Manager) 

      The City Council has agreed to discuss various “Two-Step” requests made by individual members of the City Council at the Quarterly Policy Issues Study Session described in the City Council Rules of Procedure (Attachment 1).

      To assist with Council deliberations, staff has included an updated copy of the Council’s priorities for the current fiscal year as summarized in the Work Plan 2019-20 (Attachment 2).

      Five topics have been approved by the Council for further discussion and are presented in this report (Attachments 3-7); they follow:

        1. Penalties for Excessive Residential Water Use;
        2. Adoption of a Climate Emergency Resolution;
        3. Preparation of an Advisory Measure related to Cannabis Dispensaries for the November 2020 ballot;
        4. Installation of Rainbow Crosswalks; and
        5. A request to Repurpose and Update the Traffic, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee. 

      Recommendation: Review the two-step process and the updated Work Plan 2019-20, and then discuss each of the five topics described (Attachments 3-7) and provide direction to staff. 

      Staff Report – Quarterly Policy Issues Study Session 

      1. City Council Rules of Procedure 
      2. Updated Council Work Plan 2019-20 
      3. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell on Penalties for Excessive Residential Water Use 
      4. Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson on adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution 
      5. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell on drafting an advisory measure related to cannabis dispensaries for the November 2020 ballot 
      6. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell to install Rainbow Crosswalks 
      7. Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson to repurpose and update the Traffic, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee
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        My thoughts on possible District Voting in Benicia

        By Roger Straw, January 17, 2020
        Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent

        On Tuesday January 21, Benicia’s City Council will consider a proposal to change our electoral process from At-Large voting for Council candidates to four newly-defined small geographical districts.  Benicia citizens need to pay attention to this – it may sound ok, but consider…

        I think our ability to join forces against the massive and mean-spirited outside corporate influences we saw in our 2018 election would be immeasurably weakened by adoption of district voting.

        In 2018, a PAC funded by Valero Services and organized labor spent over $200,000 to smear and defeat Council candidate Kari Birdseye.  (See below for background.)  A similar campaign was waged against candidate Elizabeth Patterson in 2007.

        A Council campaign funded and run in a small Benicia district would not be capable of standing up to limitless corporate PAC money.  And Benicia is way too small to be divided into four districts capable of finding and supporting multiple competitive candidates across the political spectrum.

        In many cities, district voting makes sense as a measure to strengthen and empower concentrated minority groups.  Note that I am decidedly in FAVOR of empowering minority voting strength, especially when it comes to racial and ethnic minorities.  Most of us would agree.  But Benicia’s racial and ethnic mix is not concentrated in any linear district – so district voting would do absolutely nothing to advance minority voting strength.

        What about other sub-groups in geographically defined parts of Benicia?

        Our Southampton hills 1) is already represented by Mr. Largaespada, 2) could have elected Kari Birdseye as a Southampton neighbor if she hadn’t been targeted and smeared, and 3) had Mark Hughes as a resident Council member for years.  I’m guessing Southampton probably had a few more Council members going back before my time.

        A case CAN probably be made that Benicia’s East Side has been underrepresented over the years – but district voting would create more problems than it would fix for Eastsiders.  IMPORTANT: How could an underfunded campaign in a smaller population on the East side possibly put up a fight against Valero and organized labor?!

        CORRECTION: A kind reader has pointed out that current Council member Tom Campbell lives on Benicia’s East side.  Campbell and former Council member Jan Cox-Golovich live in a section of town north of Military and just EAST of an imaginary First Street dividing line.

        MY CONCLUSION: District voting would only give outside big money greater strength to stack our City Council.


        Your voice is important!


        BACKGROUND ON BENICIA’S 2018 CORPORATE SMEAR CAMPAIGN

          • My background article on Jan 6, 2020 with quote from SF Chronicle, stating over $200,000 was spent by the Valero PAC.  My comment: “Kari ran for City Council in 2018 in a field of 4, competing for 2 seats on Council.  Only she didn’t just run against her opponents.  She ran against a $200,000-plus smear campaign orchestrated by Benicia Valero Refinery and its friends in organized labor.  The three major candidates’ campaigns spent less than $30,000 each, while Valero saturated our phone lines, mailboxes, newspapers and social media with misinformation and ugly photos.”
          • My post-election call on Nov 12 2018 for Council action to reform campaign spending – including comparison of the $200,000 with candidate spending of under $30,000 each.
          • My Oct 28 2018 article just before the Nov election which reported a smear campaign total of $155,000 as of that time. My  comment in that article: “News broke in late September that a major worldwide corporate power had bullied its way into our local democratic process.  Valero Services Inc., based in Texas but with 115 subsidiaries in Delaware, Michigan, Canada and several wealthy Caribbean nations, decided it wanted to buy a seat on the Benicia City Council. Their first strategy was to spend an unknown amount of money to employ two national firms, EMC Research and Research America, to conduct a nasty telephone “push poll,” blatantly mischaracterizing and demeaning one candidate for Council and painting rosy pictures of two others.  When our City Attorney challenged the polling firms, Valero Refinery executive Don Wilson admitted that Valero paid for the poll, but neither he nor the polling firms would comply with our demands for more information.”
          • Weekly and daily reporting of details as the smear campaign unfolded: beniciaindependent.com/?s=birdseye
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