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 Benicia Independent has endorsed Kari Birdseye for City Council. For more about Kari, see BirdseyeForBenicia.com.
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.
The CANDIDATE COMMENTS followed by PUBLIC QUESTIONS and CANDIDATE ANSWERS begins at 55:50.
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.” UPDATE: On 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, https://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/btvor on your tv at home on Comcast channel 27 or AT&T U-Verse channel 99.
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
TOTAL OF ALL THREE CAMPAIGNS, $55,778
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!
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.