Category Archives: Benicia City Manager

Deputy City Manager Mario Giuliani named interim Benicia city manager

Giuliani will replace City Manager Erik Upson who is leaving on March 1 to take a position with a global security firm.

The Vallejo Sun, by Ryan Geller, Feb 14, 2023

BENICIA – The Benicia City Council unanimously appointed Deputy City Manager Mario Giuliani as the city’s interim city manager at a special meeting on Monday night.

Giuliani will replace City Manager Erik Upson who is leaving on March 1 to take a position with a global security firm.

The city is still working on the details of Giuliani’s contract as Benicia’s interim city manager, a position which could lead to the more permanent city manager position after a trial period.

Giuliani has been Benicia’s deputy city manager for two years. Prior to that, he served as the city’s economic development manager for 13 years. Giuliani has lived in Benicia for 30 years, he has worked for Benicia, Walnut Creek and Vallejo parks departments and in the Benicia City attorney’s office.

“So much of a City Manager’s job is about communication, both the ability to convey a message but also to listen.” Giuliani told the Vallejo Sun.

According to Giuliani, a key experience that will inform his approach as city manager is his work on Benicia’s sales tax measures. Measure C, a 1 cent sales tax to provide funding for essential city services, passed in 2014 but Measure R, which would have increased Benicia’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent to fund roads, failed by a narrow margin in November.

“From that loss it’s important to take stock in the listening piece in communication,” Giuliani said in an email. “There was clearly a sentiment in the community that I missed or failed to properly address. How one accepts accountability in defeat is also a necessary experience and a trait needed for one to be successful.”

In the past, the City Council has filled the city manager position both by recruiting outside candidates as well as drawing from the city’s own ranks – as they did with Eric Upson, who was the city’s police chief prior to his appointment as city manager.

This time, considering the urgency of the city’s current projects and the qualifications of several city staff members, the Council chose to select from internal candidates.

“There are about five or six people who work for the City of Benicia that are very highly qualified, so that’s a blessing and on the other hand… how do you pick one,” Councilmember Tom Campbell told the Vallejo Sun.

The city manager is a difficult position, because the right candidate “has to have good interpersonal and communication skills, but they also have to be able to look at a set of numbers and policies and say this is how the city is going to run,” Campbell said. “Most city managers are really good at one or the other, it’s rare that you see them excel at doing both.”

Upson said that the biggest challenge that the new City Manager will face is balancing revenue with the cost of repairing and upgrading Benicia’s aging infrastructure, such as roads and the city’s water supply and wastewater system. “Unfortunately, it’s this generation that will have to deal with these issues,” Upson said in an email. “The wheels are simply going to come off otherwise.”

Despite the upcoming challenges, Upson said that he feels that he is leaving the city in a good position with a talented staff and a council that works together to address the difficult problems.

Last month, Upson announced that he would retire from his position as city manager just over two years after he was appointed. He accepted an offer from a security firm that recruited him for an international position. He said that the opportunity to travel and a salary that will go farther as his children enter college were the factors that tipped the scales toward the new position.

“You may still see me around as I intend to stay on as a Volunteer Reserve Police Officer, working occasionally to support the Police Department,” Upson said in a statement.

Tinfow receives $300,000 severance package from city of Benicia

Separation agreement reveals Tinfow was  “involuntarily terminated” – public not told why, nor who initiated it, By John Glidden, September 17, 2020
Lorie Tinfow, Benicia City Manager Apr 2017 – Sep 2020

BENICIA – Benicia has agreed to give more than $300,000 in severance pay to former city manager Lorie Tinfow, who announced her resignation earlier this month, according to a severance agreement obtained by

Although she officially resigned on Sept. 8, Tinfow actually signed the agreement on Sept. 4, suggesting Tinfow may have been pushed out.

The agreement stipulates Tinfow will receive $303,718 altogether – $259,385 for 13 months of pay, plus $26,287 in unused vacation time, $12,157 in compensation for one-half of her sick leave, and $5,887 for one-half of her unused administrative leave.

Tinfow will remain on the city’s medical, dental and vision plans until October 2021, according to the agreement.

Attempts to reach Tinfow about her departure have been unsuccessful.benicia

Tinfow’s contract with the city states that if she is “involuntarily terminated” she will receive “twelve (12) months of the base salary, plus accrued vacation leave, one-half (1/2) of accrued administrative leave, and one-half (1/2) of accrued sick leave, calculated at the base salary in effect on the effective date of termination.”

According to the contract, involuntary termination can occur through Tinfow’s resignation following a salary, compensation and/or benefit reduction without her consent; a reduction in the powers and authority of the city manager position, or the total elimination of the city manager’s position; or if Tinfow resigns following a formal demand by a majority of the Bencia City Council that she resign.

Tinfow’s contract states that if she voluntarily resigns she is only entitled to accrued vacation leave, one-half (1/2) of accrued administrative leave, one-half (1/2) of accrued sick leave, and not any of her base salary.

Despite indications she faced an involuntary termination, the city council praised Tinfow in a press release announcing her resignation.

“The City Council is grateful for Ms. Tinfow’s service to the City of Benicia and wishes her well in her future endeavors,” the Sept. 8 release said.

In her resignation letter, Tinfow said that she “worked hard over the past three-plus years to make the City of Benicia a stronger, healthier city.”

“I’m especially proud of the work that I have done to complete long-standing projects such as the drainage issues associated with St. Augustine Ct., the Bus Hub transit site, and the ERP which will be completed this fall,” she wrote. “l also introduced new communication tools such as the City of Benicia This Week newsletter, Benicia Town Hall online survey and Priority Based Budgeting and contributed to the Council’s goal of retaining and attracting quality staff by hiring talented individuals and recommending strategies to retain employees.”

Neither Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, nor the other members of the city council could be immediately reached when asked about Tinfow.

On Sept. 8, the council met in a special closed session to discuss Tinfow’s performance as city manager; a normally routine occurrence. However, following the closed session the council said it had unanimously accepted Tinfow’s resignation and also approved the severance agreement.

Benicia Police Chief Erik Upson was also named “acting” city manager.

A week later on Sept. 15, the council met in closed session, officially appointing Upson as interim city manager. During that meeting, Vice Mayor Christina Strawbridge became the only councilmember to make any reference to the situation when she thanked Upson for “stepping up” to serve as interim city manager.

Longtime resident Constance Beutel expressed concern about Tinfow’s sudden departure from the city.

“As a resident and voter, I am highly distressed that this resignation, without a given explanation, is yet another reason that this city needs to take serious stock of how its equity and diversity issues are handled,” she told the council during the public comment period. “Are there internal biases that drive women and minorities from the city? If so, they are costing us talent, money, and reputation.”

On Sept. 17, the city issued a press release announcing Upson had been appointed interim city manager.

“Mr. Upson will provide the steady hand at the helm as the council begins the recruitment process for a new city manager,” Patterson said in the same release.

As Upson serves as city manager, Benicia police Capt. Mike Greene will serve as interim police chief, officials added.

“I am honored that the Council and the Mayor have asked me to step into this critical role during such a challenging time,” Upson said. “Benicia is an amazing town. I am committed to this community and to our staff. We are in the midst of some very great challenges, but none that cannot be overcome if we come together as one community and lift each other up. We will get through this and, if we take this approach, we will come out stronger on the other side.”

Tinfow came to Benicia in 2017, replacing Brad Kilger who left the position to take a similar job in the city of Martinez.

Prior to Benicia, Tinfow served as city manager of Pacifica, and before that, she was an assistant city manager for Saratoga and Walnut Creek.

Why did Benicia’s City Manager Lorie Tinfow resign suddenly?

By Roger Straw, September 10. 2020
Lorie Tinfow, Benicia City Manager, 2017-2020

Why did City Manager Lorie Tinfow resign suddenly?  Everyone is asking, and I wish I had an answer to that question.

Most of my friends and acquaintances held her in high regard, had no warning of her quick departure, and were shocked and saddened when the news broke.  Her resignation was effective immediately, and gave the impression of a firing or at least an unhappy crashing of relations.

I am aware that not every Benicia City Council member favored her, but I am truly shocked that we lost her at this delicate time in our city’s many struggles, including dealing with the effects of the COVID pandemic.

I take this opportunity to refer you to an excellent new source of Benicia news.  John Glidden, formerly an excellent reporter for the Vallejo Times-Herald, has struck out on his own and is covering Vallejo and Benicia news at  Here’s a good example of his work – covering a closed-session Benicia City Council performance evaluation of Ms. Tinfow before the sudden resignation.

If you have any information about why Ms. Tinfow resigned, please contact John Glidden via or write to me at rogrmail at gmail dot com.


Benicia City Manager resigns, effective immediately

Sad news: Benicia’s City Manager, Lorie Tinfow, has resigned as of today, September 8, 2020.  Benicia Police Chief Erik Upson will serve as Acting City Manager.  Information is sparse – we have only the following press release:

Benicia City Hall
250 East L Street
Benicia, California 94510

Contact:  Erik Upson
Chief of Police/Acting City Manager
(707) 746-4200

City Manager Tenders Resignation

Benicia, CA (September 8, 2020) — The City of Benicia announced this morning that City Manager Lorie Tinfow has tendered her resignation to the City. The City Council is grateful for Ms. Tinfow’s service to the City of Benicia and wishes her well in her future endeavors.

Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, on behalf of the city council, expressed gratitude for Ms. Tinfow’s service, stating, “Lorie’s three plus years with the City has positioned Benicia well by attracting and developing quality staff, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our citizens both safe and primed for a strong recovery.”

Ms. Tinfow will be especially remembered by the community for starting the City of Benicia This Week weekly newsletter. The City’s Chief of Police, Erik Upson, will be serving as the Acting City Manager until the City Council takes further action.