“BISHO, Revenue Measures and Cabaldon: Three Steps We Can Take on March 5 for a Safer, Healthier, Better Benicia”

[Note from BenIndy: What luck! A second installment from Benicia Herald columnist (and author, blogger, and Benicia resident) Stephen Golub, just in time for Election Day and the March 5 Benicia City Council Meeting.]

Photo by Phil Scroggs on Unsplash.
Benicia resident and author Stephen Golub.

By Stephen Golub, first appearing in the Benicia Herald on March 3, 2024

As demonstrated by the February 24 Valero spill, which put potentially dangerous levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide into our air, we can’t be complacent about protecting the safety and health of Benicia’s kids, older adults, people with medical problems and entire community. Here are three steps we can take on March 5 to keep Benicia beautiful and wonderful.


At the March 5 City Council meeting, a report will be presented on the status of a Council subcommittee’s work to prepare an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO). This potential legislation, which every other Bay Area locality which hosts a refinery has, could help prevent Valero violations and accidents that can spark dangerous emissions and explosions.

In the wake of the February 24 accident, and amidst increasing indications that Valero adamantly opposes an ISO (which, again, other Bay Area refineries manage to live with), it’s important to show support for the ordinance and for the diligent, dogged work of Vice Mayor Terry Scott and Councilwoman Kari Birdseye to bring it about.

The meeting starts at 6 pm. Attending and speaking up in person is important. But those who prefer to participate by video can go to https://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas and click the Agenda or Zoom links at the top of the page.

An additional, easy way to back an ISO is to go to the website BISHO.ORG and indicate support at the online form there. BISHO stands for Benicia Industrial Safety and Health Ordinance, a desired title of the City’s ISO because it includes the word “safety” to emphasize what’s at stake. The site has been put together by and for the many Benicians seeking to make our town safer and healthier through an ISO.


Along with our votes in the March 5 primary contests (more on that below), that day also represents our chance to cast our ballots to help ensure Benicia’s financial future.

If we vote YES on Measure A, the result will be a slight increase in the tax for hotel guests; residents are unaffected. It will produce up to a few hundred thousand dollars per year for the City.

If we vote YES on Measure B, it will yield millions of dollars in increasing sales tax revenue annually for the City, at the cost of just 75 cents per $100 spent. The proposal is backed by the City Council and by other leading Benicians across the political spectrum.

Coupled with other Council initiatives, including economic development plans that can yield increased revenues down the line and cutting Benicia government jobs and costs that are improving the budget situation right now, Measures A and B will help the City dig out of its current fiscal crisis. Since about half of the City budget goes to our fine police and fire departments, the two measures will go a long way toward protecting our public safety by protecting funding for those vital services – as well as protecting other city services from being gutted.


Democrat Christopher Cabaldon is running to be state senator for California District 3, which includes all of Solano County and many adjoining areas. Endorsed by Benicia Mayor Steve Young, Vice Mayor Terry Scott, former Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, former Council Member Dan Smith and dozens of other officials from across Solano and the region, Cabaldon is by far the best candidate seeking that position.

In a candidates forum I attended, which included fellow Democrats Jackie Elward and Rozanna Verder-Aliga, Cabaldon offered by far the broadest and deepest knowledge of issues affecting Benicia and the other areas he’d represent if elected. Those opponents do not bring nearly the same degree of expertise and experience to bear as Cabaldon does by virtue of his successful 22-year tenure as West Sacramento mayor and his numerous other types of local, state and national service.

One opponent, Verder-Aliga, prompts particular concerns. Most notably, as a member of the Vallejo City Council, in 2017 she led the way in extending consideration of an (ultimately unsuccessful) proposal to build a cement plant and deep-water port in Vallejo, despite widespread community opposition and a nearly unanimous vote against the project by the Vallejo Planning Commission. The development, which would have imported and processed an industrial byproduct with an apt and ugly name, “slag,” could have caused havoc for Vallejo, Benicia and surrounding areas in term of pollution, health risks, heavy industrial truck traffic and a lengthy, dust-spewing construction process.


Please back a safer, healthier, better Benicia by supporting an ISO at the City Council meeting  and at BISHO.ORGand by voting for Measures A and B and for Christopher Cabaldon for state senate.