Category Archives: Meeting notices

Our Next Meeting – Tuesday, June 13

TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2023, 7:00 PM



Our next general membership meeting will be on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at 7pm, via Zoom (scroll down to find the link, which will be included in a reminder email as well).

First, we have one speaker that we could not fit in last month for our refinery discussion. Liam Kane is an undergraduate student at Drexel University, majoring in Global Sustainability Analytics and a member of the Fair Tech Collective research group. Working under the direction of Dr. Gwen Ottinger, Associate Professor in Drexel’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, Kane has been developing methods of analyzing continuous air monitoring data that speak directly to community concerns.

This month our meeting topic is “Racism in Schools.” 

The rest of our program will focus on racism in our schools.  Our guests will be Sheri Leigh, a concerned Benician who has raised the alarm about the “La Migra” game, and Sheri Zada, President of the Benicia Unified School District School Board.

Sheri Leigh (left) and Sheri Zada (right)

Sheri Leigh has a post graduate certification in Hazardous Materials Management and a Masters of Science in Educational Psychology.  She has been actively involved in the public school system since her son attended kindergarten in 1991.  Sheri worked as a high school and middle school counselor; prior to that, Sheri owned an environmental consulting business, specializing in waste management and pollution control.  She also teaches piano, which is her primary occupation at this time.

Sheri Leigh has been involved in matters of equity and restorative justice practice throughout most of her adult life. She has volunteered on Equity committees at nearly all of her workplaces; at three different high schools, she introduced and facilitated “Link Crew,” a program designed to welcome and include all high school newcomers. She has been a supporting member of Benicia Black Lives Matter since 2020. Sheri is the facilitator and author of the “Our Voices” articles on matters of current and historical racial injustices, and is currently working on exposing the complex, somewhat dangerous, and often damaging tradition of Benicia’s “La Migra” games.

Sheri Zada is President of the Benicia Unified School District School Board.  She has been on the board since 2018.  Sheri is a retired school librarian and union rep.  She also has worked with special needs children.  She is the mother of two sons.  Sheri has also been on the City of Benicia Tourism Committee.  She is a strong advocate to stand up against gun violence and was an organizer for the first  Benicia March for Our Lives.

Our Zoom meeting details are below.  Our Zoom link and sign-in details will be the same through October if you would like to save them to your calendar.

Join PDB Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 823 6210 9045
Passcode: 039610

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Don’t miss this important meeting!

See you on Zoom, Tuesday, June 13 at 7:00 PM! Please invite your friends and anyone who is interested in Benicia’s schools.  

Our Next Meeting – Tuesday, May 9

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2023, 7:00 PM



Our next general membership meeting will be on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 7pm, via Zoom (scroll down to find the link, which will be included in a reminder email as well).

This month our meeting topic is “Clear the Air on Our Local Refineries: Environmental Harm, Health Damage, and Potential Solutions.” 

Air pollution is a topic of vital importance to the health and safety of all of us, not least our children and those with particular medical conditions.

Many of you know that our city is home to Valero’s Benicia Refinery. The refinery supports Benicia’s economy through employment opportunities and taxes. But it also has committed repeated, serious and health-threatening violations.

These violations include spewing toxic pollutants, hundreds of times the legal limits, into our air for 15 years without disclosing so until last year.  Other violations spurred the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fine Valero over one million dollars recently.

All of this raises numerous questions, including:
    • What other Bay Area refineries impact us? For instance, the Martinez Refining Company recently blanketed Martinez in a “toxic powdery substance” that reached as far as Benicia.
    • How can we work together in Benicia, but also with other cities and civic groups, to protect communities located close to refineries?
    • What tools and resources are available for residents who want to protect themselves and their families?
  • What solutions, including the kind of Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) employed by Contra Costa County, might Benicia learn from, adopt and adapt to our own situation?

We have an excellent lineup of experts and advocates ready to address these questions for you:
  • Gregg Karras, a scientist and environmental consultant, will provide us with useful background and perspective on challenges posed by Bay Area refinery operations.
  • Constance Beutel, of the Good Neighbor Steering Committee, will give us information on an app that we can use to receive notifications when emissions exceed health limits.
  • Heidi Taylor, a Martinez resident who lives close to its refinery and is a founding member of Healthy Martinez: Refinery Accountability Group, will tell us what happened in Martinez with its release of a severe level of pollutants over Thanksgiving, and how Benicia could be affected by such incidents.
  • Kari Birdseye, Benicia City Council Member, will  draw in part on her extensive experience in the environmental field to discuss ways in which communities can seek to protect their health and safety.
  • Maureen Breenan, a member of the Hazardous Materials Committee for Contra Costa County, the Fenceline Working Group for Philipps 66 and the Sunflower Alliance, will speak about her experience with the Industrial Safety Ordinance in Contra Costa County.
  • Terry Mollica, a Benicia-based attorney and the Benicia Planning Commission Chair, will discuss features and benefits of a potential Industrial Safety Ordinance here, as well as how the need for an ISO may have increased in recent years.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you are PDB members or Benicia residents.

Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 823 6210 9045
Passcode: 039610

Don’t miss this important meeting!

See you on Zoom, Tuesday, May 9 at 7:00 PM! Please invite your friends and anyone who is interested in keeping Benicia safe and healthy.  They do not have to be a PDB member in order to attend.

Meeting Reflections – April 11, 2023

APRIL 11, 2023


Our April meeting was held on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 via Zoom.


  • Call to Order
  • Quorum
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Acknowledgements
  • Announcements
  • Program
    • Benicia’s Budget Crisis: The Problem and Potential Solutions
  • Wrap Up – Actions


  • Diversity Festival – April 22, 11 to 5,  at Benicia Marina.   It’s Free!
  • City council meeting on the budget –  April 25, 2023
  • Solano County Democratic Central Committee Barbeque in the Park – May 20, 2023, Allan Witt Park in Fairfield, flyer to follow


The focus of the meeting was “Benicia’s Budget Crisis: The Problem and Potential Solutions.”  Our city budget’s multi-million dollar shortfall stretches far beyond this year, into the indefinite future.  It forces all of us to confront some tough funding decisions:

  • What City services are at risk?
  • Is there a tax increase in the future?
  • How can we increase the City’s revenues?
  • What other solutions are available?

“Benicia’s Budget Crisis” Panel

Mayor Steve Young, County Supervisor Monica Brown and Assistant City Manager Bret Prebula, who was Benicia’s Finance Director up until December 2022, explained the nature and extent of this serious challenge and discussed potential approaches to generating revenue or cutting costs.  The panel answered questions during an extended Q&A period.

Here is the link to the video recording of this important meeting! If asked, enter the passcode:   =N5u4#Rm

Monthly Action

Email the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Staff to support refinery fenceline systems that work.

How to comment
  • IMPORTANT: the deadline for comments is Thursday, April 20 at 5pm. Don’t delay! Please act now.
  • Please send your comment to Joe Lapka at [email protected]
  • Please put in the subject line: “Comment on Revised Draft Refinery Fenceline Air Monitoring Plans for Valero, Phillips 66, Tesoro and Chevron.”

See the Action Alert at this link emailed to all members and friends on April 13, 2023 for more details.

Next Meeting: May 9, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Our next meeting will focus on Valero – Problems and Potential Local Solutions. You won’t want to miss this important meeting.

See you on Zoom, Tuesday, May 9 at 7:00 PM! Please invite your friends and anyone who is interested in keeping Benicia thriving.