Category Archives: Benicia City Council

Benicia City Council interviewing candidates to replace City Attorney Heather McLaughlin

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

Benicia council to interview law firms on Wednesday

By JOHN GLIDDEN, November 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm
Heather Mc Laughlin, Benicia City Attorney

BENICIA » The City Council will meet in a special closed session on Wednesday to interview several law firms that have applied to provide city attorney services.

Benicia City Attorney Heather Mc Laughlin confirmed Tuesday that five firms responded to a request for proposals (RFP) the city released in September.

She declined to provide the names of the firms — citing applicant privacy.

The City Council voted 4-0 during its Sept. 4 meeting to release the RFP after Mc Laughlin announced she will be retiring as city attorney at the end of March 2019. Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson was absent from that meeting.

Mc Laughlin said Tuesday that the selected law firm will provide an individual to serve as city attorney but the person will not be a city employee. Mc Laughlin, who was hired in 1997, is a city employee.

The city attorney serves as chief legal counsel for the city, representing the City Council, city manager, and city staff.Responsibilities include attending all council meetings and advising the council regarding matters on the agenda. The person will also attend Open Government Commission, and Planning Commission meetings.

Additional services include keeping the council informed about all legislation or judicial opinions which could impact the city, recommending policies, interpreting the Benicia Municipal Code and prosecuting misdemeanor and ordinance infractions, among other duties.

It’s not known yet how much the new attorney services will cost the city, however, Mc Laughlin currently receives an annual base salary of $207,106.

Councilors are expected to award the new legal services agreement on Nov. 29 with a March 1, 2019 start date.

The general public will have a chance to address the council prior to the closed session portion of the meeting.

The special Benicia City Council meeting begins at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, and will be held inside the Benicia Community Center, Room 2, located at 370 L St.

    Latest Benicia Election Results – no changes, just new numbers

    By Roger Straw, November 10, 2018
    [This is the most recent UPDATE, Nov. 9, 4:54 pm results.  – R.S.]
    Ballots Cast  142,097
    Registered Voters  225,142
    City Council: Strawbridge and Largaespada
    School Board: Maselli, Zada and Ferrucci
    Measure E Cannabis: YES
    Provisional ballots yet to be counted: 193

    Solano County Registrar of Voters
    Election Results for Benicia

    Run Date:11/09/18 4:54 PM (Next update 11/13/18 at End Of Day)

    Same information as above, in text, can be copied/pasted:

    County of Solano
    Statewide General Election November 6, 2018
    Run Date:11/09/18 04:54 PM

    City of Benicia Member, City Council
    Vote for no more than  2    (WITH 8 OF 8 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
    Total Votes         %      
    CHRISTINA STRAWBRIDGE  .  .  .  .  7,274   33.2%
    LIONEL LARGAESPADA  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   6,556   29.9%
    KARI BIRDSEYE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .               5,758   26.3%
    WILLIAM EMES JR. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           2,254   10.3%

    Benicia Unified School District Member, Governing Board
    Vote for no more than  3    (WITH 10 OF 10 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
    Total Votes        %      
    MARK MASELLI  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .      8,316   28.6%
    SHERI ZADA .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .           7,721   26.5%
    DIANE FERRUCCI.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   6,018   20.7%
    ADREAN HAYASHI.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  3,591   12.3%
    GETHSEMANE MOSS  .  .  .  .  .  .   3,315   11.4%

    City of Benicia Measure E – Cannabis tax
    Vote for no more than  1    (WITH 8 OF 8 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
    Total Votes      %      
    YES  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     9,873   76.3%
    NO.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        3,068   23.7

      KQED: Texas refinery candidates win in Benicia City Council race

      Repost from KQED News

      Valero-Backed Candidates Win Benicia City Council Election

      By Ted Goldberg, November 7, 2018
      The Valero refinery in Benicia. (Craig Miller/KQED)

      Two candidates backed by Texas-based Valero Energy Corp. won seats on the Benicia City Council in Tuesday’s election, while another candidate attacked by the large oil company lost.

      Valero — which operates a refinery that’s one of Benicia’s largest employers — along with five state and local labor groups donated more than $165,000 to a political action committee that backed Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada and opposed Kari Birdseye, an environmentalist.

      That amount is more than three times as much as what the candidates raised combined.

      By Wednesday morning, Strawbridge got more than 33 percent of the vote, Largaespada garnered close to 30 percent and Birdseye received 26 percent, according to the Solano County Registrar of Voters. Those numbers don’t yet include all mail-in and provisional ballots.

      Birdseye has conceded the election, but she expressed displeasure with the PAC’s actions.

      “We ran a smart, clean campaign and played by the rules. These election results will only embolden special interests to throw in money to local races to buy candidates to do their dirty work,” Birdseye said in an emailed statement.

      The Valero PAC’s ads called Birdseye “a yes man” for Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, and “another job killer” that was “bad for Benicia.”

      Its work deepened a divide at City Hall and the rest of Benicia over the city’s relationship with its refinery neighbor, 18 months after the facility experienced a full power outage that led to a major release of pollution.

      The Valero PAC’s work led to a failed attempt by Benicia city officials to get the state’s political watchdog to investigate some of Valero’s communication with voters weeks before the vote.

      And it reminded critics of an effort by Chevron to sway voters in Richmond in 2014 when the company spent millions on an attempt to elect a slate of its allies to the City Council.

      Strawbridge, who was previously on the council, emphasized that she did not support what she called the committee’s “smear campaign,” and said it’s time for the city to come together and improve its dealings with Valero.

      “It’s been a tough election,” Strawbridge said in an interview Wednesday. “I ran on my own credentials, my own experience and I feel like that resonated with the residents.”

      A Valero spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

      Last month the company wrote a letter to the editor at the Vallejo Times-Herald, emphasizing the refinery’s strong safety record and criticizing Mayor Patterson.

      Union officials have said that Patterson’s criticism of Valero puts the city’s economic health at risk. And, since Birdseye was her ally and a spokeswoman for the National Resources Defense Council, she became the target of the PAC.

      “Last night the voters of Benicia made it clear the path they want our city to take,” said Don Zampa, president of the District Council of Ironworkers, in an emailed statement. Zampa’s group is one of the those that donated to the PAC.

      “Benicia is home to a blue-collar workforce. We’ve been here for generations and we are not going anywhere,” Zampa said.

      Patterson, for her part, has said Valero tried to bully and buy its way into politics in Benicia. [Editor: see Mayor Patterson’s email comment to KQED.]

      Largaespada did not respond to a request for comment.