Category Archives: Benicia CA

Benicia resident Mark Christian: Benicia’s given us a lot. Give a bit back by voting ‘Yes!’ on A, B, & C

Image by DALL-E.

By Mark Christian, February 25, 2024

I’m writing in today to show my support for Measures A, B, and C, which are on the March 5 Primary ballot. All three of these measures are focused on laying the groundwork for Benicia’s continued growth and well-being:

  • Measure A will slightly increase the hotel tax, bringing in an extra $250,000 a year without costing us residents a dime. These proceeds can help improve city services that benefit everyone in town.


  • Measure B proposes a sales tax increase, but the impact on our wallets will be tiny: about $10 a month, or less than a Netflix subscription. In exchange, we’ll get better emergency services, get to keep all of our parks open, and improve library services.


  • Measure C is near and dear to my heart because it focuses on our schools: it will allow the school district to issue $122 million in municipal bonds so we can upgrade our educational facilities, making them safer and better equipped to get our kids ready for the future. That means better technology, safer buildings, and improved learning environments for every student in town. (I don’t know about you, but I would prefer my kids not to be sitting in a musty old classroom that was already old when their parents were sitting in it.) Whether you have kids in the district or not, investing in education today will pay dividends for generations to come.

Voting yes on these measures is voting yes for a better Benicia. It’s about protecting and improving our city’s infrastructure, safety services, and education. Together, these three measures will keep Benicia the great place to live, learn, and grow that always has been.

Benicia’s given us a lot; it’s time we gave it a bit back.


Mark Christian
Benicia resident

Benicia resident Larnie Fox: Supporting Benicia’s best future is as ‘easy as ABC’

Benicia resident and artist Larnie Fox.

By Larnie Fox, February 22, 2024

It’s generally understood that Benicians really like Benicia ~ maybe a bit more than residents of other towns like their towns.

Why is that? Answering for myself: I like that my wife feels safe walking home after dark. I like that we greet each other on the street. I like that the value of my house is steadily rising. I like that we have a strong arts community here, a gem of a local art center, a good local history museum, and wonderful local events. I like my neighbors, and am grateful that it’s easy to connect with them. I like knowing that the neighbor kids are getting a good education. I like our parks and our library. I like being able to walk to good restaurants, cafés, bars and galleries. I like our vibrant local democracy, where any of us can show up to a City Council meeting and tell them what we want ~ and they will listen! Benicia is an interesting, beautiful, historic place, and I feel safe here.

Why is that? It’s because of Benicia’s community and their government. Government is what we decide to do together. That’s why I’m asking you, neighbors and friends, to vote on or before March 5, and vote YES on Measures A, B and C. None of us will feel much financial pain from these votes, but all of us will benefit. We’ll benefit by maintaining our good schools. If you don’t have young kids, you might own a house that will keep its value, and you might be a bit safer if our kids are well nurtured. That’s Measure C. Measures A and B will directly affect your safety through supporting fire and police. It will keep our library afloat, help support our downtown, and hopefully maintain some support for our hard-working local nonprofits that do so much to take care of our less fortunate neighbors and make this a vibrant community. And, it would be nice to get the roads fixed.

For me this is a no-brainer. Please vote, and vote yes on Measures A, B and C.

Larnie Fox
Lower East Side, Benicia

Our Voices – Use Them Wisely

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

By Sheri Leigh, February 9, 2024

I talk with a lot of people – men, women, People of Color, white people, community leaders, young and older – and I want to point out something that deeply concerns me. 

Four of my friends, who happen to be Black and who live and/or work in Benicia, have shared some hurtful experiences directed at them by other Benicia residents.  I offered to write an article about their experiences, even anonymously, so Benicia can learn to recognize and challenge acts of racism, yet my friends prefer to keep quiet about it, rather than expose the situations.  Each of them is an educated and professional individual of a mature age.  What they experienced was clearly unjust and downright racist.  And yet, they don’t want to share their story because they are afraid the perpetrator of the comment or act may see themselves in my article and may be upset and/or because they are concerned about the ramification if they complain.    

Let me give you two very real examples: one of these friends eventually moved their business from First Street to Vallejo because of the ongoing hostility of the customers and neighboring businesses; another was directly asked how they feel about being promoted  because of the color of their skin rather than their experience. 

Clearly these incidents are not just well meaning but ignorant comments or even microaggressions.  This is blatant racism, and my friends have every right to express that.

In comparison, look at the comments on Next Door or Benicia Happenings.  I see people complaining about the littlest things all the time.  Someone is upset about a neighbor’s guest using the parking space in front of their house.  Another is angry because their trash was picked up late and the can was knocked over when it was finally emptied.  And my personal favorite – someone complained that it’s disrespectful for a dog walker to put a baggie of droppings into their trash can.  Would they rather the dog walker disrespectfully left the droppings on their lawn?  Really, people?! 

Yes, these things are annoying, but let’s keep it in perspective.  And when I look at the photos of the people complaining, they don’t appear to be of color. Why is it that white people feel they can gripe about relatively insignificant and not personally intended slights when People of Color don’t always feel safe exposing something very deeply and morally wrong?   

Ever since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the Black community on the whole has been admirably vocal and active about individual and collective experiences with racism.  Their response to the obvious inequities in this country helped make some very hard-earned and very slow progress towards equity.  But we’re not there yet, and it came at a very high cost.  Many people lost their freedom, their health, their sanctity, and even their lives. Here we are sixty years later, and there are still injustices and inequalities, and yet, not all people feel safe speaking up.  I get it.  Who wants to be hated, harassed and alienated, particularly from within a small community?   I wouldn’t like it, would you?  But just because my friends don’t complain doesn’t make their experiences acceptable.  

Here’s what I would love to see happen.  First of all,  for those of you who use public forums to air your frustrations, please think about your need to complain.  Is it really something important that needs to be addressed, or is it something that can be easily resolved or quietly let go?  

Secondly, everyone should feel safe and supported speaking up when they have been directly or even inadvertently targeted by an individual or community.  A caring and inclusive community supports all of its residents and should help to right injustices.  Finally, racism is ugly and unjust.  It’s a blight on humanity, and it needs to stop.  We are all humans. Let’s treat each other with respect. 

Read more stories by Sheri Leigh

New gas industry watchdog’s suggested anti-price-gouging reforms generate some hope, but also skepticism and impatience

[Note from BenIndy: Remember the article alleging exactly why Valero commanded higher profits in California compared to other regions, and how Senate Bill X1-2 sought to shield Californians from gasoline price spikes? Tai Milder, director of the new Division of Petroleum Market Oversight, issued a letter with a few potential reforms that could decrease the volatility of CA’s gas market. The letter is an important read but if you don’t have the time this SacBee article offers a great, quick analysis of the contents – and notes the immediate frustration voiced by the Consumer Watchdog that the development of a penalty structure for price gouging has been delayed. The images in this post were added by BenIndy and are not original to the SacBee post.]

Consumer watchdogs seek to shield Californians from insane gas-price spikes. | Uncredited image from 2022.

SacBee, by Ari Plachta, February 1, 2024

California’s new gasoline industry watchdog wants to see mysterious price spikes at the pump come to an end. After months of investigation, he shared options for how energy regulators could stop them — penalties not yet included.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointed director of the new Division of Petroleum Market Oversight said the California Energy Commission should impose additional transparency in the daily gasoline market and require oil refineries to store supplies in a Wednesday letter.

“In California we have unexplained price spikes,” said Tai Milder in a news briefing. “Our core goal is to protect consumers. That doesn’t mean the absolute level of prices but making sure prices are set in a fair manner.” Fuel prices have stabilized somewhat. A gallon of gasoline today costs $4.537 on average in California, 2 cents lower than last month and about the same as last year, according to the latest prices from AAA.

Image from the California Energy Commission’s November 28, 2023 “SBX1-2 Workshop on Maximum Gross Gasoline Refining Margin and Penalty” presentation. To learn more about this workshop, click this link. You will be redirected to the workshop page on the CEC’s website.

They are far lower than the summer of 2022 spike that sent lawmakers into a special legislative session to address oil price gouging. At that time, average fuel costs rose to a sky-high $5.52 a gallon.

The governor signed Senate Bill X1-2 last March, establishing the new watchdog division within the California Energy Commission. In September, the division highlighted a suspicious trade on the state’s real-time market for gasoline that quickly caused a 50-cent-per-gallon price spike.

At the time, Milder called the single transaction “unusual” and said it may be a result of the underlying structure of California’s gasoline market. He also criticized refiners for failing to maintain adequate inventories of refined gasoline.

In a new letter to the governor, Milder pointed to two reform options he said would reduce the risk of price spikes.

The first is to publish a daily report on trading information in the real-time spot market for gasoline, which he said would decrease volatility in that unregulated facet of the state’s gasoline economy with an outsized influence on prices.


“It appears that spot market volatility, illiquidity, and lack of transparency may all be contributing to and exacerbating price spikes during periods of under-supply and refinery maintenance,” Milder wrote in the letter.

He also recommended imposing minimum gasoline storage requirements for refiners. Milder said when refineries are undergoing maintenance, they often haven’t maintained adequate levels of inventory. This drives down supply during periods of high demand and contributes to price spikes.

Next up, the watchdog division will issue additional data transparency regulations this spring and determine whether to set a refining margin and penalty by the end of the year.

Advocates with the Consumer Watchdog group were quick to criticize a delay in the division’s timeline. Milder had initially set out to issue a penalty recommendation this summer, in time for peak travel season.

“Californians cannot wait an extra six months for the price gouging penalty promised them last year,” said the group’s president Jamie Court. “Governor Newsom needs to put his foot in the Energy Commission’s a– and get them moving quicker if he is going to deliver.”

But Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, considered the delay a wise decision. Setting up the market oversight division is time consuming, and implementing a gasoline storage requirement will be extremely complicated.

“This was never going to be a quick fix,” Borenstein said. “Creating the penalty structure is going to be extremely challenging, too. The downside of getting it wrong is it could really create disruptions in the market.”