Category Archives: Negative ads

Here it is – video of the Final Word Forum

By Roger Straw, Election Day, November 6, 2018
[Editor: For whatever reason, the City backed off its plan to post the video of the forum, but made DVD copies available to the public on request.  This is therefore an official record of the proceedings, uploaded from the DVD by Benicia videographer Constance Beutel.  Many thanks, Constance!  – R.S.]

Candidates disavow Valero/Labor PAC’s offensive negative phone calls and ads

Below is the recording of the City of Benicia Open Government Commission’s “Final Word” forum held on Saturday, November 3.  (Note that there is a lengthy intro with nothing happening.  The meeting is called to order at 8:45.)

The Final Word Forum is convened by the City of Benicia Open Government Commission on the Saturday before an election as a means for candidates to address “last minute hit pieces.”  (Municipal code ordinance 1.42.110.)

The event this year was attended by an overflow crowd, following the massive spending and offensive negative advertising of a Valero/Labor anti-Birdseye political action committee (PAC).  At the forum, all four candidates for City Council roundly rejected the false and misleading claims made by the PAC against Kari Birdseye.

The Benicia Independent has endorsed Kari Birdseye for City Council.  For more about Kari, see

NOTE SLOW START: The first part of this video shows nothing happening.  The meeting is convened at minute 8:45, but nothing much happens until Public Comment, which begins at minute 12:28.  Even then, the call for speakers doesn’t come until minute 13:33.  To move forward through the video, hover your mouse at bottom and click/drag the little red ball to the right until you reach the minute you want.


  • Public Comment speakers favoring the Valero/Labor anti-Birdseye PAC run from 13:33 to 33:36.  Mr. Versace, who is eventually ejected by police for misbehavior, is called to speak at minute 22:50.
  • At 33:50 Gigi Giblin leads off a series of speakers critical of the PAC’s hit pieces.
  • Rules, procedures and housekeeping begins at 51:07.

    City decides NOT to post Final Word forum video- last rebroadcast Monday night 7pm

    By Roger Straw, November 5, 2018
    [Editor: At around 6pm tonight, City Manager Lorie Tinfow responded to urgent citizen requests to air the video.  She wrote, “We are treating the video of the Candidates Forum on Saturday in the same way we have treated previous videos of this forum when held. We are showing it twice on the cable television station and are making it available on a DVD for those who don’t have cable. If you would like to pick up a DVD tomorrow morning, please contact my office at 707-746-4200 or send me a message. We will make them available for pick up as soon as possible.”  UPDATEOn election day, Nov. 6, the Benicia Independent obtained and posted a copy of the video.  – R.S.]

    This afternoon, the City of Benicia pulled back from its original plan to post a video recording of the November 3 meeting of Benicia’s Open Government Commission.  The meeting included a “Final Word” forum, in which candidates for City Council and the public responded to recent campaign “hit pieces.”

    All four candidates joined with many residents at the forum in severely criticizing the misleading and untruthful claims made against candidate Kari Birdseye by a Valero/Labor political action committee (PAC).  One anti-Birdseye speaker refused to be civil and had to be escorted out by a Benicia police officer.

    The City recorded the meeting, but for unknown reasons has decided NOT to publish the video on its website page of Agendas, Minutes and Videos.

    At the time of this writing, you can still catch the City’s final rebroadcast of the meeting at 7pm tonight, Monday, Nov. 5, via live streaming on your computer at Benicia TV, or on your tv at home on Comcast channel 27 or AT&T U-Verse channel 99.

    NOTE: On election day, Nov. 6, the Benicia Independent obtained and posted a copy of the video.



      By Roger Straw, October 30, 2018
      [For PAC income report, see ANTI-BIRDSEYE PAC SPENDS ANOTHER $58,000, TOTAL NOW OVER $135,000.]

      The latest campaign finance reports posted by the City of Benicia show that the Anti-Birdseye (Texas-Valero/Labor “Working Families”) PAC has spent additional funds totaling $57,997 on the following:

      • $3,283 on 11/1 for “Live Calls” scripted against Birdseye and in support of Birdseye’s opponents, and paid to Winning Connections of Washington, D.C.
      • $523 on 11/03 for Door Hangers opposing Birdseye and in support of her opponents.
      • $38,192 on  11/03 for “Canvassing” (media buys) paid to Digital Turf of Kennebunk, ME.  (Previous buys paid to Digital Turf were designated “media buys”. That is likely what this report is for.)
      • $8,000 on 10/27 and another $8,000 on 10/30 for Mailers paid to Digital Turf of Kennebunk, ME.

      The reports show cumulative PAC totals spent:

      • For Strawbridge, new spending of $28, 178, TOTAL of $52,652
      • For Largaespada, new spending of $29,819, TOTAL of $61,582
      • Strictly against Birdseye, $21,432.31
      • TOTAL PAC SPENDING TO DATE: $135,666

      Compare these totals to those spent by the individual campaigns:

      • Strawbridge campaign, $24,354
      • Largaespada campaign, $14,348
      • Birdseye campaign, $17,076

      And the PAC still has over $59,000 to spend in the last few days before the election!  (LATE BREAKING – Reports indicate that the PAC most likely spent considerable additional funds on an attorney, whose letter was sent today challenging Benicia Open Government Commission’s Final Word forum.  One estimate is that such a letter could cost around $20,000!  More on that later…)

      I’VE SAID IT BEFORE, BUT IT BEARS REPEATING: Corporations can throw their money around for and against candidates, but they don’t get to VOTE.  Living, breathing humans cast ballots and make all the difference.  Please vote for Kari Birdseye!

      Click here to go to Kari’s campaign website,

        Anti-Birdseye PAC receives a Halloween gift of another $15,000, total now $195,000 to buy a seat

        By Roger Straw, November 2, 2018
        [For PAC spending report, see ANTI-BIRDSEYE PAC SPENDS ANOTHER $58,000, TOTAL NOW OVER $135,000.]

        Valero/Labor PAC for Largaespada and Strawbridge, against Kari Birdseye gets a second contribution from the Boilermakers

        The Anti-Birdseye political action committee (PAC) filed a new contribution report yesterday.  This report shows another receipt of $15,000 on October 31.  This is the second contribution from the International Brotherhood of  Boilermakers (etc.).  The “Brotherhood” helped kickstart the fund with a $30,000 contribution on October 10.

        This raises the total Valero-inspired anti-Birdseye fund to $195,000.  The four candidates are limited by City ordinance to less than $30,000 each.  So the PAC now has over six times the financial power than any citizen who organizes friends and neighbors to support a campaign.

        For previous reports of contributions and expenditures of the candidates as well as the Anti-Birdseye PAC and others, check out the City of Benicia Campaign Finance Reports page.