Category Archives: Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Benicia FINALLY gets a seat on the Air District Board

By Roger Straw, March 22, 2022

Benicia Mayor Steve Young chosen to sit on Bay Area Air District Board of Directors

Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Benicia Mayor Steve Young has been appointed as a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) Board of Directors.

The appointment was made by the seven Mayors in Solano County. The seat was vacated when the current representative, Suisun City Mayor Lori Wilson, was elected to the State Assembly and resigned her position as Mayor.

Said Mayor Young “I want to thank my fellow Mayors for their support in making this appointment to the BAAQMD Board. As the only City in Solano County with an oil refinery, it is past time that the City was represented on this important regional board.”

Asked to confirm that Benicia has never had a mayoral seat on the BAAQMD Board, former Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson  recalled that some years ago, she was “appointed to the Air District Board but on a technical mistake, and had to turn badge and binder back.”  She explained that “the district had miscalculated the population numbers to qualify the county for a city representative.” Later when Solano County qualified, Patterson received “a commitment from Mayor Price of Fairfield, but Solano Supervisor Jim Spering helped Price renege on his commitment, and Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis was appointed.”  Patterson’s recollection is that Davis’ attendance on the Board was minimal. More recently, Patterson sought to be appointed again, but Mayor Lori Wilson of Suisun City was appointed.

Solano County currently has two of the 23 seats on the BAAQMD Board.  Solano’s mayoral representative is chosen by the seven mayors in the county.  The Solano County Board of Supervisors has its own representative, currently Supervisor Erin Hannigan of Vallejo District 1.

Young’s appointment will be official when sworn in by the Board at their next meeting on April 6.

Mayor Young will also be taking a seat on the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Association of Bay Area Governments (MTC/ABAG).

Benicia’s mayor calls out Valero’s big war chest ahead of election

The Vallejo Sun, By John Glidden, Feb 15, 2022

The Valero Benicia refinery

BENICIA – Mayor Steve Young says he’s displeased that Valero Benicia Refinery is poised once again to spend a large sum of money during the upcoming city council election.

The refinery dumped $200,000 into its Working Families for a Strong Benicia PAC last December, giving the PAC more than $232,000 ahead of the November 2022 election, according to campaign forms submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office.

Benicia Mayor Steve Young.
Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Typically, a Benicia council candidate can expect to receive more than $20,000 in contributions over the span of an election or about 10% of what Valero has available.

The move has revitalized conversation in town between environmentalists seeking more regulations, the company, and local unions that are concerned that city officials want to shut down the plant.

Valero couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Young — who said he issued his statement over the weekend only as a Benicia resident and not as mayor — admitted that what Valero was doing was legal but argued “it is wrong-and extremely harmful to our community.”

“There is only one purpose in making such a huge expenditure nine months before the election: to scare off any potential City Council candidate who would consider running without first getting Valero’s stamp of approval,” Young’s statement read. “What candidate is willing to go up against that kind of war chest?”

Valero opened its PAC ahead of the 2018 city council elections, ultimately backing Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge. Both were elected. The PAC publicly opposed Benicia Planning Commissioner Kari Birdseye. Two years later, the PAC once again backed Strawbridge, this time as she made a mayoral bid, while opposing Young. Despite the PAC spending $250,000 during that election, Young was elected.

Young and Birdseye served on the planning commission together when the body rejected the company’s crude-by-rail proposal in early 2016. The Benicia City Council went on to reject the project later that year.

Young wrote that Valero should have a say in the election but “they should also play by the same rules that apply to everyone else under our campaign finance regulations.”

Young said the city’s campaign laws allow a candidate to spend no more than $35,000 on a campaign. He argued Valero should be held to the same rule.

“But Valero’s size and wealth gives them the belief that they can pick and choose who should be our elected representatives,” Young added.

Young said that to stop Valero every council candidate should reject support it receives from the company.

“In addition, voters should demand that any candidate take a public and ongoing stand that Valero should not support their campaign in any way,” Young added. “I call on all prospective candidates in the November election to make this pledge. If no candidate is willing to be supported by this PAC, where will they spend all of their money?”

Young’s statement comes as the Valero refinery has been receiving some negative attention.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced in January that it was seeking a legally binding order against the refinery to correct “significant excess emissions violations.” The district alleges that Valero didn’t report that more than 8,000 tons of excess emissions came from the plant over a 16-year period.

Last November, a contractor was found dead hanging from a scaffolding ladder by his safety harness over a piece of refinery equipment.

Valero is the largest employer in Benicia, employing more than 400 people. The plant processed 165,000 barrels of oil each day, according to its website.

Campaign records show that from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, the PAC spent more than $5,000 with Sacramento-based Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leonli LLP for campaign services.

Young, who has opened a 2024 re-election campaign, reported raising no contributions and only spending $29 during the second half of 2021. The campaign reported having about $900.

Meanwhile, both Largaespada and Strawbridge, who are up for re-election this November, reported no activity during the same period.

Benicia City Council debates changing mask mandate, decides to keep in place, will review again on Dec. 7

The Council’s August 24 Mask Mandate remains in place for now

By Roger Straw, November 18, 2021
Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Benicia Mayor Young reported on last night’s City Council meeting that “Council decided not to change the mask requirements but to continue with the same metrics.”

The mandate, he continued, “will be reviewed again at the Dec 7 meeting.  If our 7-day case rates stay below high or substantial for another two weeks, the mandate will be dropped.”

The Mayor agreed with the Benicia Independent and many throughout the community that the City should be wary of dropping the mandate before the holidays and onset of winter.  “I was urging to wait through the holidays,” he wrote.

Dr. Richard Fleming agreed: “While the council agreed to continue the current mask mandate until their December 7 meeting, there appeared to be a desire by some to lift the mandate soon if the current case counts stay where they are for two more weeks.

“I feel strongly,” he continued, “that such a step would be premature and would risk opening the door to more viral spread.  I wrote the Council this morning (see text here), to explain why I think they should reassess the basis on which they decide whether to retain or remove the mask mandate, based on scientific evidence.”

Dr. Fleming added that “Many city residents called in to offer their opinions, and the vast majority were in favor of retaining the mandate until the pandemic has subsided significantly.  A number of callers spoke of the likelihood of a winter surge in cases due to colder weather and holiday gatherings.”

Council rejected a motion by Councilmember Lionel Largaespada to ease the metrics governing the mandate, which would have basically done away with the citywide mask mandate at this time.  Largaespada’s motion died for lack of a second.

Mayor Young was prepared to bring a motion to allow local businesses to voluntarily permit customers to enter maskless if 100% of employees and customers show proof of vaccination.  Young wrote, “The idea generated over 100 form letters of virulent opposition, and were evidently persuasive to council who did not support it.”  Sensing no support, Young chose not to offer the motion, and joined the majority in support of the City’s previously agreed upon mandate metrics – requiring 30 consecutive days below the CDC’s SUBSTANTIAL transmission level (7-day case rate).

For Benicia’s current and recent 7-day case rates, see http://beniciaindependent.com/coronavirus/#beniciacases.

No final vote was required on maintaining the status quo.  As Mayor Young wrote, “Since we weren’t changing existing policy it didn’t require a motion.”


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Richard Fleming, M.D.


>> For an important analysis of Council’s discussion, see “Open Letter to Benicia City Council: Dr. Richard Fleming on mask mandate“.

Benicia’s close calls during the historic October 24 flooding

Mayor Young: City Staff worked through the night to save Benicia from even more drastic flood impacts

Nextdoor and Facebook, by Benicia Mayor Steve Young, October 25, 2021
Benicia Mayor Steve Young

The historic storm yesterday saw the City staff make a number of critical decisions that saved the possible failure of an aging lift station in the Industrial Park. Had that station failed, significant amounts of raw sewage would have been released into the Strait and the City would likely have faced very large fines. Besides the quick and decisive action by the Public Works Utility staff, a huge thank you to Ponder Environmental for loaning the City some large tanks to help out when most needed.

In addition, the huge amount of water flowing into Lake Herman threatened to reach the spillway in an uncontrolled release, which could have caused flooding into the Industrial Park and elsewhere. The decision was made to fully open the release valve and divert the water into Sulphur Springs creek. By doing so, we were able to release water as fast as it was coming in.

We all owe our gratitude to the City workers, including Fire and Police, who worked through the night to protect our community.