Category Archives: Vice-Mayor Terry Scott

Vice Mayor Scott on Restructuring Benicia’s Boards and Commissions: ‘The Arts and Economic Development Can Thrive Together’

Benicia Vice Mayor Terry Scott

By Benicia Vice Mayor Terry Scott, received July 8, 2024

Note: A number of these points have been made on the record, noted during the 6/25 City Council discussion on this subject.

I am opposed to the proposed consolidation of the Arts and Culture Commission (ACC), Human Services Board (HSB), and the Parks, Recreation, and Cemetery Commissions into a single entity.

This plan, while well-intentioned in its aim to reduce monthly staff support, fails to recognize the unique and vital contributions each commission makes to our community.

The HSB’s mission as a granting organization is to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable among us. Its specialized focus on social services cannot be overstated, as it ensures that those in need and receive the targeted support they require.

The ACC, with its dual mission of creating and supporting public art initiatives and creating and supporting cultural events, enriches our community’s cultural landscape.

From Shakespeare in the Park to supporting local arts organizations like the Benicia Ballet and the Old Town Theatre, the ACC’s role is multifaceted and requires dedicated oversight.

The Voena choir rehearsing at First Baptist church in Benicia, Calif., in 2012.| Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle.

In addition, ACC also manages on-going grantor programs for Arts Benicia, VOENA,  Benicia Performing Arts Foundation, Makers Space and Benicia Literary Arts .

Combining these groups, along with Parks, Rec and Cemeteries  into one large committee dilutes their individual effectiveness and undermines their ability to serve the distinct needs of our community.

A newly comprised seven-member committee cannot possibly manage the diverse needs, budgets, and intricacies of the grantor process that these individual commissions oversee.

Furthermore, the suggestion does not directly address the needs of our aging population. As we have seen in the Parks Master plan and witnessed on our streets, Benicia is aging.

To meet the challenges this demographic shift presents, we need a dedicated City Commission on Aging, not a mere mention in a consolidated group’s mission.

If staff reduction is the goal, let us find ways to support and enhance the work of these commissions, which play an irreplaceable role in the fabric of our community. 

But if we cannot continue to maintain independent stand alone commissions due to the need to reduce staff involvement, we must look at new opportunities for staff time reduction.

 I offer the following thoughts on how to potentially accomplish the task by matching Benicia commissions to need based on similar visions.

“Terry Scott Supports the Arts.” | Uncredited image.

Combining the Arts and Culture Commission with Economic Development Board  can create a more cohesive strategy for driving both cultural and economic growth. This approach aligns with the concept of creative placemaking where arts and culture are integrated into community development to enhance the quality or and economic prosperity. 

For example, as ACC Chair Neema Hekmat has noted, the National Endowment for the Arts has highlighted how  arts can be a powerful tool for community transformation and economic development. 

Similarly, merging the Human Services Board with the Family Resource Center could streamline services and provide a more robust support system for disadvantaged groups.  Our Family Resource Center serves as a hub for various support services that is a  match with HSB’s mission of addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.

This integration can lead to more efficient use of resources and better outcomes for the community and possibly avoid redundant staffing needs. 

Combining HSB with FRC, and then ACC with EDB, could help  keep these functions separate but integrated into two existing commissions, which seems practical and focused on leveraging the strengths of each area. It ensures that arts and economic development can thrive together, while human services and family resources support can provide a comprehensive safety net.

How do you envision the implementation of these changes? Are there specific steps or strategies you think would be crucial for a smooth transition? 

Merging the Arts and Culture Commission with the Economic Development Board could potentially offer several benefits:

  1. Streamlined Processes: Combining the commissions could lead to more efficient operations by reducing redundancy and improving coordination between the financial impact of arts, culture, and city long term initiatives and economic development.
  2. Enhanced Grant Opportunities: A unified commission might have a stronger position when applying for grants, as it could present a more comprehensive approach to community development that includes both economic and cultural growth.
  3. Business Orientation: The merger could foster a closer relationship between the arts community and local businesses, potentially leading to more opportunities for economic partnerships and sponsorships. The ACC has shown its financial impact on Benicia.
  4. Integration: Combining of two economic focused commission engines could  support more effective marketing and calendar tools and all designed to create a destination for visitors

Similar to merging the ACC and EDB, there are many benefits to merging the Human Services Board with the Family Resource Center:

  1. Integrated Services: A merger could lead to a more holistic approach to service delivery ensuring that individuals and families receive coordinated support tailored to their comprehensive needs.
  2. Efficiency: By pooling resources and expertise, the combined entity could operate more efficiently, reducing duplication of efforts and streamlining administrative processes.
  3. Enhanced Support: The merger could strengthen the support network for marginalized groupps by providing a single point of access to a wider range of services.
  4. Community Outreach: A unified organization might have a greater capacity for outreach and advocacy, raising awareness of available services and potentially reaching a broader segment of the community need.
  5. Big Vision: Could CAC, HSB and FRC be combined into one unit? It’s important to note that the unique staffing, overall needs and contributions of creating a safety net for our most needy and disadvantaged residents might be possible by combining the Human Services Board, Family Resource Center, and Benicia Housing Authority.

There is still time to get involved:

Attend a special commission meeting tonight, on Monday, July 8, 2024, at 5:30pm, where the commission will be ideating concepts for a new structure. More information can be found here:

“Who’s Monitoring the Monitors?” Last Night’s City Council ISO Status Report In Review

Valero’s Benicia Refinery, January 25, 2024.. | Galen Kusic.

Who’s monitoring our air monitors? Not Valero, apparently

Opinion by BenIndy’s Editorial Board, March 6, 2024 

Most Benicia residents will agree that when it comes to our health and safety, timely, clear disclosure of dangers to our community’s health is paramount to helping us make good decisions. In the context of keeping our families safe when industrial accidents or violations occur, “good decisions” may include evacuation or sheltering in place at one end of the spectrum, with closing windows, keeping vulnerable seniors and kids indoors, and discussing as a community how we feel about our biggest industrial neighbor, Valero, on the other end.

But the latest on Benicia City Council’s efforts to adopting an Industrial Safety Ordinance serves as a stark reminder of the many challenges and complexities we must face as we seek meaningful community oversight for industrial activity in Benicia.

At last night’s Benicia City Council meeting, Fire Chief Josh Chadwick’s status report on the City’s march to drafting, adopting, and implementing a Benicia Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO or BISHO) was a highlight of the meeting, demonstrating a step in the right direction towards enhanced public safety measures. The Fire Department’s efforts to improve and quickly deliver clear notifications to the public also received well-deserved recognition, with many commending its recent efforts as a significant improvement from past practices.

However, the presentation took a disturbing turn with the revelation that, to the best of our present knowledge, it is unclear who or what is actively monitoring the town’s air monitors and exactly what the process to notify the community is, so we know when we are in danger.

File photo of Valero’s Benicia Refinery. This image does not show the recent accident.  | Pat Toth-Smith.

Complaints triggered investigation into hydrogen sulfide accident, not air monitor spikes

As many of you know, there was an accident at Valero’s Benicia Refinery last weekend that released hydrogen sulfide, a neurotoxin,  into our air. The spill prompted questions and caused residents to call the Air District, Benicia Fire Department, and even Valero with complaints of a rotten egg smell, ultimately resulting in residents receiving a text alert about the odor through Alert Solano.

Until Valero’s 30-day mandated Investigation Report with a root-cause analysis is released, Benicia leadership as well as residents are in the dark as to the exact cause and impact of the release. But even without this report available, several concerns emerged regarding both this recent accident at the Benicia Refinery and Valero’s response to it during Tuesday’s presentation.

According to Chief Chadwick, monitors detected spikes in hydrogen sulfide levels starting at 4 am on the day of the release, yet there was a delay of at least two hours in notifying the community. This delay suggests a lack of active monitoring.

Furthermore, Chief Chadwick revealed on Tuesday that it was the Fire Department that first made contact with Valero about the odor after staff noticed it on an unrelated call, not the other way around. This indicates that Valero did not proactively inform the Fire Department about either the accident or the community complaints the refinery had apparently received.

While there may be good reasons why refinery staff should investigate the source of an odor before alerting the community, this recent release and Valero’s subsequent response exposes serious flaws in the existing cooperation agreement between Valero and the City – the cooperation agreement that is supposed to serve as the framework for incident response and notification protocols (more on this below).

As we reflect on the discussions and outcomes of the City Council meeting, the question “Who monitors the monitors?” resonates most deeply. It highlights the imperative for a comprehensive system with clearly defined standards and expectations, to ensure that the systems we rely on for our health and safety are not just in place, but are also actively and effectively monitored so timely and clear notification in emergencies can occur.

The path forward must include rectifying this oversight to prevent any lapses that could compromise public safety and our environmental surrounds.

Valero Benicia Refinery’s Community Relations director’s response demonstrates failure to relate to our community

Another disturbing revelation that the Benicia Herald reported on last week emerged when Editor Galen Kusic asked Valero’s Benicia Refinery Director of Community Relations and Government Affairs why the community was finally notified at 7:40 am when H2S was detected as early as 4 or 4:30 am, depending on reports.

In order to answer the question, “I suggest that [Mr. Kusic] review the Public Information Bank website along with that policy which defines the requirements of notifications,” the director responded. The policy the director referred to is Valero’s existing cooperation agreement with Benicia. At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Steve Young questioned the delay as well.

Here, BenIndy’s Editorial Board offers two opinions and two speculations. The first opinion of this Board is that this was a wholly unacceptable response. Our first speculation is that this response  exposed that the director was either unprepared or refused to answer Mr. Kusic’s question.

The second opinion is that if this is what Valero considers to be appropriate “community relations,” it is clearer than ever that there is an immediate need for an Benicia ISO that can define, respond to, and deliver on expectations of a safe and healthy community.

Finally, we speculate that Valero will not be a willing partner, let alone a good-faith leader, in the effort to design and provide one.

It is up to our City to lead instead

Vice Mayor Terry Scott and City Council Member Kari Birdseye, who have been at the forefront of advocating for a robust ISO for Benicia despite attacks and opposition, joined Chief Chadwick in acknowledging the community’s interest in oversight. As the three members of Benicia City Council’s ISO Subcommittee, their determination in pushing for common sense safety measures to reduce accidents and improve notifications to our community is a breath of the freshest air.

But while progress is certainly being made in the right direction, the journey towards a more responsive and transparent notification system is ongoing, and may be uphill. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders in this process to remain vigilant, proactive, and collaborative in acknowledging and navigating the challenges that lie ahead, especially if Valero decides to dig in its heels.

This post was updated on March 7 to reflect that, at Tuesday’s meeting, Chief Josh Chadwick indicated that it was the Fire Department that made initial contact with Valero’s Benicia Refinery to report the smell, only to discover that the refinery had already received complaints but had not yet shared this fact with the City. The post was also updated to better clarify the nature of the City’s cooperation agreement with Valero’s Benicia Refinery.

The opinions above represent those of BenIndy’s editors and no other groups or individuals, but we will share that you can follow this conversation by becoming a Supporter of the BISHO Working Group at

The Benicia Fire Department has a public page regarding incidents at the Valero Benicia Refinery. These are the uploaded documents regarding the February 2024 Valero Refinery Odor Incident:

2024-02-24 Valero Odor Incident Update 3
2024-02-24 Valero Odor Incident Update 2
2024-02-24 Valero Odor Incident Update 1
2024-02-24 Valero Refinery Odor Incident
2024-02-24 City of Benicia 72 Hour Report


The Benicia Fire Department also has a public page with incident notifications, starting in 2019:

Level-1 Notifications

Level-2 Notifications

Level-3 Notifications

Benicia Vice Mayor Terry Scott Assumes Chairmanship of Solano County Transit Board of Directors

[Note from BenIndy: While it may not seem as glamorous, the development and maintenance of transportation and transit systems plays a crucial role in long-term infrastructure development, economic viability in cities like ours, and – arguably most important of all – equity and accessibility. They are of course also key components of environmental sustainability. Benicia is at a crossroads of sorts, and transit/transportation issues are important parts of the conversation for what Benicia (and Solano more broadly) will look like in the future. We at BenIndy have heard some casual complaints about Benicia’s transit options and are happy to know who to point those complainants to in the near future. Good luck, Vice Mayor!]

Benicia Vice m Mayor Terry Scott.


Solano County – Solano County Transit (SolTrans) is pleased to announce the appointment of Benicia Vice Mayor Terry Scott as the new Chair of the Board of Directors. In assuming this pivotal role, Vice Mayor Scott brings a wealth of experience, leadership, and dedication to advancing public transportation initiatives in the Solano County and beyond.

As Chair of the Board of Directors, Vice Mayor Scott will play a key role in guiding strategic decisions, fostering collaboration with stakeholders, and ensuring the continued success of SolTrans in providing reliable and sustainable transportation options for the community of Solano County.

“We are thrilled to welcome Vice Mayor Terry Scott as the new Chair of the Solano County Transit Board of Directors. His leadership skills, combined with his passion for public service, make him an ideal candidate to lead our organization into the future,” said SolTrans Executive Director Beth Kranda.

Vice Mayor Terry Scott expressed his enthusiasm for the new role, stating, “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Solano County Transit Board of Directors. Public transportation is a vital component of our community, and I look forward to working collaboratively with the board, staff, and community partners to enhance transit services and address the evolving needs of our communities.”

Solano County Transit remains committed to delivering safe, reliable, courteous, efficient, and accessible transportation services that effectively link people, jobs, and communities. With Vice Mayor Terry Scott at the helm, the organization is poised to achieve new milestones and continue its mission of connecting communities through reliable transit services.

Solano County Transit (SolTrans) has been the public transportation provider for south Solano County since July 2011. SolTrans provides local and SolanoExpress fixed routes and complementary paratransit. The agency is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) governed by a six-member Board of Directors, composed of two representatives from the cities of Benicia and Vallejo, Solano County’s representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and a representative from the Solano Transportation Authority.

Vice Mayor Terry Scott: Why we should all support the upcoming BUSD school bond Measure C

Mary Farmar Elementary students. | Mary Farmar Elementary Facebook Page.

By Vice Mayor Terry Scott, January 23, 2024

Benicia Vice-Mayor Terry Scott.

My fellow Benicians,

Investing in our schools is an investment in the future of our community. The proposed improvements, spanning infrastructure, classrooms, and technology, are crucial for fostering an environment where students can thrive.

A strong BUSD school system not only provides a high-quality education but also contributes significantly to the overall well-being of our residents.

Improved facilities and advanced technology ensure that students have access to modern resources, preparing them for the challenges of the future job market.

As Benicia residents, we play a pivotal role in shaping the foundation of our community. Supporting this bond measure is an investment in the growth and prosperity of our town.

Passage of the bond measure will not result in higher property taxes.  In fact, because the way the bond is structured, the average Benicia property owner should see a tax reduction of about $30.00.

Let’s come together to empower our schools and, in turn, empower our future generations.


Terry Scott
Vice Mayor
City of Benicia

Visit the Benicia Unified School District’s Fact Page for Measure C for more information.

There, you’ll find a letter to parents and guardians, an FAQ for the measure, and the BUSD Facilities Master Plan.

Visit to learn more about Benicia’s Resiliency Plan, sign up for updates from Benicia City Manager Mario Giuliani, and join the effort to help shape Benicia’s future. While some workshops have already occurred, there is still time to add your voice! Look for the red, bolded text below to see upcoming workshops, and please fill out the community survey (also linked below).


Community Survey
January 15-26 – Community Survey Link
In Person Workshops
January 18 • 6pm-8pm
City of Benicia Public Library
January 25 • 6pm-8pm
City of Benicia Community Center
Virtual Workshops via Zoom
January 17 • 6pm
January 24 • 6pm – Join the meeting