Quick update on City Council meetings of April 18 and 19

By Roger Straw, April 19, 2016

Quick update on City Council meetings of Monday Apr 18 and Tuesday Apr 19

Council will meet tonightSeveral subscribers have asked what happened at last night’s City Council hearing on Valero Crude By Rail.

No vote was taken by Council. Members of the public were heard, followed by a 5-minute final comment by Valero attorney John Flynn and Valero Plant Manager Don Wilson.

Council followed this with questions for Valero and City staff. During this lengthy portion of the meeting, Council offered contract attorney Brad Hogin lengthy opportunities to defend against the recent letter of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and to take issue with City staff’s recommendation to deny Valero’s request for a delay. (Seems when City staff agrees with Valero, Mr. Hogin does as well; but when City staff disagrees with Valero, Mr. Hogin will take up Valero’s cause.)

Council concluded the evening with questions for and answers by the traffic consultants, and their after-11pm powerpoint presentation.

Before it all started, Valero packed the hall with employees. There was a deliberate effort to position sign-bearing employees and their families in all the front and aisle seats. Valero supporters claim to have arrived at 4pm to crowd the door, and massed to deliberately keep STOP Crude By Rail people out.  Council chambers and overflow rooms were full of folks from both sides.

When Council opened to public comment, 28 (!) of the 30 who spoke were OPPOSED to the oil train proposal. Speaker after speaker came to the mike and offered knowledgeable and carefully reasoned analyses and passionate personal testimonies asking Council to deny Valero’s request for a delay and to uphold our Benicia Planning Commission’s unanimous denial of the EIR and the project.

UPDATE: The City HAS NOW POSTED video of all the speakers on April 18 at http://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/index.asp?SEC=0CB04C5F-05FE-4492-9173-DE064A31707D&Type=B_BASIC.

If I can find time, I will excerpt some of the comments by video and/or in writing.

Tonight, Tues. Apr 19, Council will continue deliberations, asking questions and possibly arriving at formal votes on Valero’s request for delay, whether to certify the environmental report, and whether to approve or deny issuance of a land use permit.

Your presence is important.  This is surely one of City Council’s most important decisions of our times.