Category Archives: Progressive Democrats of Benicia

Solano County urged to take action on regional park plan

Fairfield Daily Republic, by Todd R. Hansen, September 15, 2019
Rockville Trails Preserve is a 1,500-acre preserve and hiking area owned and operated by the Solano Land Trust. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Regional park supporters urge Solano supervisors to move forward

FAIRFIELD — The Solano County Board of Supervisors this week was pressed about when it will move forward on a proposed regional park and open space district.

Amy Hartman, Solano County representative for Greenbelt Alliance, wanted to know when the county expected to put the proposed countywide district on a ballot for voter consideration.

“We have a couple of asks. First, we want to know when the (administrative) and financial plan is going to be released to the public.” Hartman told the board on Tuesday. Supervisor Jim Spering was absent.

“We know the county has been working on it for quite a while and we would just love to see that document and be able to talk to folks around the county about what is going to be in the admin and finance plan,” Hartman said.

The concept is to integrate the county’s existing park system with other properties, such as those owned by the Solano Land Trust, to be able to increase public access to those areas.

In a letter to the board, Greenbelt Alliance and a number of other groups and individuals, including Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and Michael Alvarez, a member of the Solano County Parks Commission, suggested the measures go before the voters next year.

“We ask that two separate ballot measures are placed on countywide ballots – one for the creation of the district and another for a funding measure of the district,” the letter states.

The letter was signed by two members of the Solano Open Space Citizens Advisory Group, the Progressive Democrats of Benicia, Solano Sierra Club, Solano County Orderly Growth Committee and the Solano County Policy Action Team of the Bay Area Chapter of the Climate Reality Project.

“Our ask is that these ballot measures are put to the ballot in separate elections – ideally, the formation of the district would be on the March 2020 ballot, and the district’s funding measure would be on the November 2020 ballot or a subsequent election,” the letter states. “. . . As groups with large membership and extensive outreach capabilities, we are ready and willing to support the campaign effort that will be required to successfully pass measures to create and fund the district.”

There were not a lot of specifics in board Chairwoman Erin Hannigan’s reply, but she noted that the board’s subcommittee working on the issue, which also includes Supervisor John Vasquez, is scheduled to meet Sept. 30.

Bill Emlen, director of the Department of Resource Management, said his staff could have the plans in front of the board in October.

“Even if we can get the park established, even without a finance plan, there is a lot of money (out there),” Hartman told the board, referring specifically to Proposition 68 bond funds.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, carried the special legislation that allows the county to introduce the park district by resolution for voter approval. It won Senate and Assembly support in May 2017.

There has been little discussion at the board level since, and even less about how the district would be funded.

Two funding ideas have been floated publicly. The first is to ask voters to support an ongoing funding mechanism for the park district. The other is to use existing county park funds to support the district in the early stages.

The supervisors, in January 2016, appropriated $75,000 for a consultant to assist county staff with various initiatives related to forming the district, including public outreach.

A 2015 consultant’s report stated that while the public supports the idea of a regional parks system, it does not support additional funding measures to pay for it.

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    Benicia meeting on Climate Emergency Declaration, Student-led Climate Strike

    Repost from Progressive Democrats of Benicia, Sept 11, 2019
    [Editor: see links below for docs &  information about Climate Strike 2020 and Benicia’s proposed Climate Emergency Declaration.  Also see Benicia’s nearest Climate Strike next Saturday Sept 20: Walnut Creek.  (Note that Friday 9/13, was the final day of CA legislative session.)  – R.S.]
    Kathy Dervin, Co-Chair of 350 Bay Area Legislative Committee

    On September 10, members of Progressive Democrats of Benicia heard from a powerful and highly informative featured speaker, Kathy Dervin, Co-Chair of 350 Bay Area Legislative Committee and a consulting professional with a Master of Public Health (MPH) focused in Health Education/Environmental Health.

    Kathy presented a compelling overview of pending legislation relating to Climate Change (see bold text below).  She also covered

    We made plans to post here and send out by email an URGENT CALL TO ACTION!  > With only three days to the close of the California Legislature’s  session (until Sept 13th), everyone was asked to call Assembly member Grayson and Senator Dodd’s office ASAP to advocate on the following bills: (see details at URGENT! Call our representatives today!! or download the list)
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      Silent Spring in Benicia? City and school officials respond, activists call for ban

      “Silent Spring in Benicia” – Progressive Dems of Benicia Forum on local glyphosate use and disuse

      By Pat Toth-Smith, June 13, 2019

      (Repost from ProgressiveDemocratsOfBenicia.com)

      “As we move away from herbicides things are going to look shabby at first until we figure it out,” stated Alfredo Romero, Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) Maintenance Director.  He also added, we’ve stopped using Roundup and we’re moving towards more natural approaches.”  He cited goats as an example.

      Stopping herbicide use was a common theme voiced by many of the speakers at the Tuesday night “Silent Spring” forum in Benicia held at the library, and sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Benicia.

      Romero worked with Lee Johnson, the former BUSD employee who won a historic lawsuit against Monsanto, when a jury agreed that his exposure to Roundup on the job was the cause of his lethal, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Romero said, “I remember when Lee was starting to get ill and didn’t want to spray the weed killer.  We supported him in not doing it anymore….  I don’t ever want what happened to Lee to happen again,” He said at the end of his talk, “It will take a community effort to stop using chemicals, because using the herbicides are cheaper, and we need to have an increased tolerance for weeds.”

      Theron Jones, Benicia Parks Supervisor, reported that Roundup is not being used by the city Parks staff and that they are moving towards an integrated pest management approach.  He said, “We never apply herbicides to playgrounds. The only places we apply herbicides to control weeds are in tree wells, planter beds and along fence lines.”  Asked about what herbicides are used, he continued,” We use the emergent weed killers sparingly, and what is applied includes Gallery S.C., Dimension Ultra, Finale, and Vastlan.”

      One of the featured speakers at the forum was Kat Furey, a Client Advocate for the law firm which provided legal support for the Roundup non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma clients.  She spoke about the dangers of “glyphosate,“ the main ingredient in Roundup.  She cited the World Health Organizations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer’s declaration that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, and noted that at this time three California courts have agreed, and awarded billions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs.  She continued, “Besides the cancer connection, glyphosate is also an endocrine disrupter, a neurotoxin, and a genotoxin, and there is no safe level of glyphosate.”  She said that it should have a warning label.   She encouraged eating organic foods as the main way to avoid glyphosates.  GMO foods have the Roundup ready gene in it to prevent the GMO plant from dying when sprayed.  Roughly 85% of our food supply contains some level of glyphosates in them as a result.

      The final speaker was Makenzie Feldman, founder of Herbicide-Free UC.  She said she became an activist when groundskeepers at UC Berkeley beach volley ball courts were spraying herbicides to kill weeds in the vicinity of where her team practiced.  She and her teammates were worried about the dangers of Roundup, and so struck a deal to pull the weeds out by hand themselves. She educated herself about glyphosates and wrote an op-ed piece for the newspaper, which attracted like-minded students.  Eventually a temporary ban by the U.C. Regents on Roundup at UC Berkeley was achieved.  Ms. Feldman now is working to make the ban permanent, and has partnered with the group, “Beyond Pesticides,” to train the U.C. groundskeepers in organic methods of pest control.  These include methods to return microbial life to the soil, which naturally helps control weeds.  She also organized student volunteers to pull weeds and mulch soils to help control weeks, but added, “People need to learn to accept some weeds.”

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        Poisonous weed killer – Glyphosate, the underrated risk?

        Coming on June 11: Silent Spring in Benicia?  Bring your questions, learn a lot. One of my questions, as a former user of Roundup (purchased at Ace Hardware) – what is the best way to dispose of a half-used jug of it?  Great video below…  – R.S.

        Poisoned Fields – Glyphosate, the underrated risk?

        wocomoDOCS, Jan 25, 2016, on YouTube

        Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer. Some claim it is completely harmless, others say it is a serious health hazard for man and animals. A topical investigation into a controversial substance.

        Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer in farms and gardens. German soil was treated with six million kilograms in 2012 alone. Glyphosate is cheap and readily available at all wholesale garden stores. Some claim it is completely harmless, while others say it is a serious health hazard for man and animals.

        Large-scale studies of the herbicide have only been carried out by the industry itself. Such studies would be far too expensive for individual authorities.

        But glyphosate so far only has a limited licence in Europe, and this year, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Germany is responsible for extending it. Now, the WHO has suddenly announced it is calling for an all-out ban on glyphosate, right in the middle of the decision-making procedure. A WHO cancer research team considers the herbicide produced by Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF to be absolutely toxic and probably carcinogenic.

        More and more people and animals that are exposed to the substance become ill – and there are a large number of unexplained miscarriages and deformities in humans in South America, especially in areas where glyphosate is used on large monocultures.

        Critical scientists have been warning of the long-term damage for years. But their studies have not been recognised by the authorities.

        We ask how a substance without a tested licence in Germany has been extended for test operation since 1974, even though there has been evidence of its toxicity for the past 10 years. The film sets out in search of sick animals and humans and asks how the WHO has reached these new conclusions and what action the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is taking.


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        Click here for a shorter version of the film in German language: https://youtu.be/UCh_Qe79i-w

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