All posts by Roger Straw

Editor, owner, publisher of The Benicia Independent

URGENT – Benicia Black Lives Matter on City Council meetings this week!

[The following message was received from Benicia Black Lives Matter by email today. – BenIndy contributor Roger Straw]

Important Upcoming City Council Meetings-Supporters Needed!

There are two important City Council meetings coming up, tomorrow (12/18/23 at 9AM) and Tuesday (12/19/23 at 6PM). Despite the late notice, if anyone is able to call in, write in, or attend to give public comment, this would be a great time to participate.

We need to fight to keep the CURE Commission, the DEI Manager, and our membership in GARE (Government Alliance on Race & Equity.) Even a brief comment of a sentence or two to express support for these items will be helpful.

Below you can find meeting agendas, Staff reports, and details on how to submit comment:

Save DEI in Benicia: Agenda Item #20.A

The UPCOMING City Council meetings are:
MONDAY, December 18th at 9:00AM
TUESDAY, December 19th at 6:00PM

12/18/23: Item 11.A – RESILIENCY PLAN WORKSHOP – FINANCIAL SCENARIO REVIEW (Deputy City Manager) As part of the path forward for addressing the City’s structural deficit, the City is updating its Strategic Plan and developing a Resiliency Plan. Recommendation: Provide feedback and direction on the draft elements of the Resiliency Plan.


  • PUBLIC COMMENTS FOR AGENDA ITEMS WILL START AFTER THE ITEM IS INTRODUCED. Detailed information about how to submit comments via phone call or Zoom is below. While emails/letters submitted to City Council after the deadline of last week members may be read, they will not be entered into the public record nor will they appear in the agenda packets.
    Members of the public may provide public comments to the City Clerk by email at but the window of time to have those comments entered into the public record and added to the City Council agenda packet has closed. Any emails sent may or may not be read by City Council and Staff. Make your choices accordingly.

1) Attend in person at Council Chambers
2) Cable T.V. Broadcast – Check with your cable provider for your local government broadcast channel.
3) Livestream online at
4) Zoom Meeting (link below)


The public may view and provide public comment via Zoom (via computer or phone) link:

If prompted for a password, enter 449303.

    • Use participant option to “raise hand” during the public comment period for the item you wish to speak on. Please note, your electronic device must have microphone capability. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.

Dial in with phone:
Before the start of the item you wish to comment on, call any of the numbers below. If one is busy, try the next one.

    • 1 669 900 9128 
    • 1 346 248 7799 
    • 1 253 215 8782 
    • 1 646 558 8656 
    • 1 301 715 8592 
    • 1 312 626 6799
  • Enter the meeting ID number: 885 0804 7557 *please note this is an updated ID number*. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.

Any member of the public who needs accommodations should email City Clerk Lisa Wolfe at, who will use her best efforts to provide as much accessibility as possible while also maintaining public safety.


*YOUR OWN WORDS WILL BE THE MOST IMPACTFUL, BUT THESE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT YOU CAN SAY. Adjust the language to suit your voice as these were all mostly written by the same person and really sound like it. 

*The basic idea is to express support for continuing the DEI work the city has undertaken, by continuing the CURE Commission, the DEI Manager position, and membership in GARE (Government Alliance on Race & Equity). Even a one or two sentence comment expressing your support for these items is useful and crucial. 

Equity issues continue in all areas including government, education, business culture, housing, and continued work is essential. 

Importance of continuing the work that has been started, for the importance of the work, but also not to waste the investment that has already been made.

City Council—all white, all but one white men

What CURE has actually accomplished (see report)

What CURE was intended to be and how it was sabotaged

Value of being model city

More than lip service DEI considerations attracts and retains talent, young people

Ideas to get started

Doonesbury peeks inside Capitol Hill

[This Doonesbury cartoon puts a predictable and funny-sad twist on the COVID pandemic. I can’t vouch for Garry Trudeau’s 43%, but I found several studies (see below) that confirm his analysis. Enjoy (?) the cartoon… – BenIndy Contributor Roger Straw]

Doonesbury, by Garry Trudeau

Doonesbury, by Gary Trudeau, November 26, 2023

Two important scientific studies:

Journal of the American Medical Association: Excess Death Rates for Republican and Democratic Registered Voters in Florida and Ohio During the COVID-19 Pandemic, July 24, 2023.

“The differences in excess mortality by political party affiliation after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults suggest that differences in vaccination attitudes and reported uptake between Republican and Democratic voters may have been a factor in the severity and trajectory of the pandemic in the US.”

Science Direct: The politics of COVID-19: Differences between U.S. red and blue states in COVID-19 regulations and deaths, November 11, 2023.

“CONCLUSION: …this work’s key conclusion is that mass-behavioral changes prescribed through legislation do provide mass-scale dividends in areas that promote these strategies. In highlighting the political divide between COVID-19 legislative and mitigation efforts, researchers do not intend to proselytize one ideology to another but to expand on the notion that differences between dominant political affiliations are equally relevant to consider. Diseases have demonstrated no partisan allegiance, past or present. The individual role of citizens is not without consequence, but to ultimately lessen the aversive effects of COVID-19 and other viral threats in the United States, it is necessary to behave collectively. Given the compelling evidence of mass-behavioral mitigation efforts being successful in pandemic remediation, further legislation should focus on best communicating and implementing these strategies across political landscapes. Focusing on effectively implementing mitigation strategies across ideologies should be paramount if communities are to address disease-based threats with minimal loss and aversive outcomes.”

More COVID on the Benicia Independent…


‘The Conspiracy to End America’

[BenIndy contributor Roger Straw: I’m not an easy adopter of conspiracy theories. But Stuart Stevens describes an alarming historical pattern that is rearing its head here in the U.S. – both quietly behind the scenes, and increasingly and alarmingly more plainly in public. Yes, I am alarmed. Stevens outlines the historic factors that have led to absolute and catastrophic authoritarian rule, and outlines ways in which we can and must be alert to such factors today, and active in opposing them. This analysis has risen to the very top of my activist concerns for our times. This important PBS interview is only 6 minutes – take a listen!]

Former Republican strategist raises alarms about GOP in ‘The Conspiracy to End America’

AMNA NAWAZ: Stuart Stevens has spent the majority of his decades-long career getting Republicans elected to political office. But his latest book is a warning to the country about the current state of the GOP and its threat to America’s democracy.

Stuart Stevens, Ex-Republican strategist, raises alarms about the GOP in ‘The Conspiracy to End America’

Amna Nawas spoke with Stuart Stevens about the book titled, “The Conspiracy to End America: Five Ways My Old Party Is Driving Our Democracy to Autocracy.”

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More on the BenIndy: 

Stuart Stevens’ book at Bookshop Benicia:

Israel’s Revenge Would Be Better Served Cold

Hamas is going nowhere…

[Note from BenIndy contributor Roger Straw: After the heartbreaking and unforgiveable slaughter of Israeli innocents, now there is heartbreak and unimaginable devastation in Gaza.  This Washington Post analysis is spot on….]

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 13: Palestinians displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on October 13, 2023 in Gaza City, Gaza. Israel has sealed off Gaza and launched sustained retaliatory air strikes, which have killed at least 1,400 people with more than 300,000 displaced, after a large-scale attack by Hamas. On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air, killing over 1,300 people and wounding around 2,800. Israeli soldiers and civilians have also been taken hostage by Hamas and moved into Gaza. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images)

Analysis by Marc Champion | Bloomberg, October 13, 2023

Israel’s 24-hour notice for more than 1 million civilians to evacuate Gaza City by midnight, dubbed impossible by the United Nations, suggests a ground invasion is imminent. Why the rush?

Hamas is going nowhere. It is by now clear that the purpose of Saturday’s attack and its haul of at least 97 hostages was designed precisely to draw Israel into a massive response on Gaza’s densely populated urban battlefield. There’s time to prepare Hamas’s destruction, rather than dance to its tune. The terror group has had years to prepare its defenses, so let it wait a little longer; they won’t improve. The pressure to move in quickly is political.

The slaughter of Israeli civilians last weekend ensured that Hamas lost, as my colleague Bobby Ghosh has written, the war of images. The group has forever been consigned to the same murderous category as Islamic State. But as in all other aspects of warfare, such early losses and victories can be overturned and the risk for Israel is that its ground invasion succumbs to exactly that.

Supplies of water, power and food to the territory’s 2 million-plus inhabitants have been cut, a crime against humanity, according to Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As of Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said it had dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza. Human Rights Watch says it has confirmed the use of white phosphorous, an imprecise weapon that can cause horrific burn injuries. Already, more than 1,500 people have been killed and over 6,000 injured in Gaza since the air strikes began, according to the local health authority. The toll from a ground invasion with the city’s population still in place would be much, much higher.

This is what Hamas wants and planned for. The consequences of Israel losing the information war would be huge, perhaps as significant as anything it can achieve on the battlefield. It would enrage popular opinion in the so-called Arab Street, pressuring otherwise friendly governments to break ties with Israel and take sides against it. It would, equally, ignite Palestinian feeling on the West Bank, Jerusalem and even within Israel, potentially opening a second, internal front. It would increase pressure, too, on Hezbollah — which objectively can’t afford a war right now — to open a third front from Lebanon. That, in turn, would increase the risk of a regional war that includes Iran, something that its foreign minister threatened on Friday, while on a tour of allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

There are no winners in this scenario, other than the Iranian regime, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (he’d enjoy the distraction of Western attention from Ukraine) and Islamist terror organizations across the Middle East. Nor can it leave other parts of the world untouched. Already, France has announced a ban on protests involving Palestinian flags, for fear they lead to pitched battles with police. In the UK, a charity said anti-Semitic incidents quadrupled in the four days after Saturday’s attack, compared with the same period a year ago.

Israel has no good choices. The border crossing from Gaza to Egypt remains closed, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi saying Palestinians should “stay steadfast and remain on their land.” Hamas also has told Gaza City residents to stay put, fully aware that “victory’’ in this conflict depends on expanding it beyond Gaza, which in turn requires a blunt Israeli invasion to deliver large-scale civilian casualties and the images that go with them.

The cynicism of Hamas is breathtaking. These are fanatics. The Israeli government can’t afford to give its enemies what they need in order to portray it as equivalent. It will count for nothing to say an invasion’s civilian casualties are collateral damage — as opposed to the deliberate murder of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians by Hamas — if the time and preparations needed for a credible attempt to reduce them aren’t taken.