Category Archives: Meeting reflections

Meeting Reflections – October 11, Lori Wilson & State Ballot Props

MEETING REFLECTIONS
OCTOBER 11, 2022, 7:00 PM

Read summary reflections below.
Watch the Zoom recording here

Candidate for Assembly Lori Wilson

Our program this month featured Lori Wilson, our District 11 California Assembly Member, who is running for re-election. Ms. Wilson talked about issues facing the District and State.  (See recorded video for intro at minute 2:50 and Assemblywoman Wilson at 4:00.)

State Ballot Propositions

We also heard speakers and discussed the following important State ballot propositions:

  • Proposition 1: The Proposition is a legislatively proposed amendment to the California Constitution to prohibit the State from denying or interfering with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives. Gina Fisher, Speakers Bureau Director of the Yes on Prop. 1, shared the campaign’s perspective on the proposition. (See recorded video at minute 32:00)
  • Proposition 28: The Proposition proposes to provide additional funding for arts and music education in all K-12 public schools by annually allocating from state General Fund an amount equaling 1% of required state and local funding for public schools and a greater allocation to schools serving economically disadvantaged areas. Danielle Bunch of Create CA spoke about why her group supports the proposition. (See recorded video at minute  49:21)
  • Proposition 30: Proposition 30 is the increasingly controversial proposition that proposes to fund programs to reduce greenhouse gasses by imposing taxes on Californian with personal incomes exceeding $2 million. Max Baumhefner, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Counsel, and a member of the coalition supporting the Yes on 30 campaign, will speak about the need for the proposition. (See recorded video at minute 1:08:08)

Local Candidates Birdseye and Scott

We heard from our two endorsed candidates for Benicia City Council, who shared recent campaign efforts and the need for volunteers in these final weeks before the Nov 8 election. See the recorded video – Terry Scott spoke at minute 1:24:54 and Kari Birdseye spoke at minute  1:27:04.

Valero/Labor PAC Update and discussion

Mayor Steve Young offered comments about the Valero/Labor PAC’s apparent lack of involvement this year (so far) in supporting or opposing candidates for Benicia City Council. The PAC is sitting on a war chest of over $220,000, and PDB members have not received any mailers from the PAC as yet.  The PAC has yet to file a campaign finance report with the City of Benicia, which would indicate that they have not exceeded $1,000 for or against any given candidate.

Announcements

  • Bart Sullivan promoted the October 12, 2022 local Candidate Forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters Solano and the American Association of University Women. [Later: recording of the Forum is now available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m49BYWS4bg ]
  • Bart also shared information about Benicia Voice Podcast, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts at https://anchor.fm/beniciavoice/.  Recent Benicia Voice topics have included Clean and Fair Elections in Benicia and interviews with all five candidates for Benicia City Council.
  • Maggie Kolk shared information about a SafeQuest Solano fundraiser, Art From the Heart, on October 24.  SafeQuest Solano organizes domestic violence and sexual assault response programs.
  • Maggie also encouraged members to consider serving on the PDB Steering Committee. PDB is also looking for someone to serve as our next club Secretary.  Maggie, who has served as Secretary since the 2017 planning stages of PDB, will be stepping down after 6 years of exemplary service.  THANKS, MAGGIE!!
  • Lisa Reinertson and Roger Straw announced a forthcoming members only survey, asking for input to our Steering Committee on our monthly meeting format: Zoom, In-Person, or both?
  • Lisa concluded with a reminder for all members to vote, and to remind all family members and friends to vote.
  • NEXT MEETING: November 15, 2022 at 7 PM.

Meeting Reflections – September 13, Local Ballot Measures

MEETING REFLECTIONS
PDB MEMBERSHIP MEETING
SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

Read summary reflections below.
Watch the Zoom recording here.  >Passcode: ^9#YCAHJ

Local Ballot Measure K

After inhouse business and announcements, our meeting focused once again on the upcoming fall election.  We heard first about Benicia ballot measure K.

Bob Berman, Benicia

Bob Berman with the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee spoke about the history of Measure K and why it is back on the ballot.

A yes vote on the ballot measure will extend the duration of our Urban Growth Boundary Measure:

    • Continues existing protection – preventing urban sprawl
    • Preserving agricultural land and open space
    • Extension until December 31, 2043

“The language of the renewal measure is exactly the same as the current measure except for the expiration date. But remember: two previous City Councils have determined that specific renewable energy projects not requiring public services (one a wind turbine project and one a solar project) were consistent with the language of Measure K.”

Check out Bob’s introduction, comments and our conversation with him on the meeting recording. You can fast forward to 00:17:19.

For further study: Ballot Measure K, an Impartial Analysis, and the argument in favor can be found on the Solano County Registrar of Voters website.

Local Ballot Measure R

Erik Upson, Benicia City Manager

Erik Upson, our Benicia City Manager, gave us some insight into the Benicia budget and why Measure R was put on the ballot.

Check out Erik’s introduction, comments and our conversation with him on the meeting recording – you can fast forward to 00:37:05.

Erik clarified first that his position is such that he is not speaking to advocate for or against the measure, but only to provide information, understanding and context.

He explained that our small city is a “full service” city – we have our own police, fire, water and wastewater services, library, parks and recreation department,  a marina and a federally recognized dam and reservoir, a refinery, a deep water port, two State parks, a historic district, etc.  “It’s monumentally challenging for a city our size with 211 employees.”

Our greatest challenges include retaining and attracting staff, and the issue of deferred maintenance.  Measure R is directed at resources that will assist in both. Once we have spent money to improve the roads it will be cheaper in the future to maintain them. More money spent now on improvements means less money spent in the future.

Measure R would adopt a transaction & use tax:

    • Adding 0.75% tax on retail sales price
    • Increases retail sales tax to 9.125%
    • Current retail sales tax is 8.375%
      • 7.25% – State
      • 0.125% – Solano County
      • 1% City of Benicia

For further study: The official Ballot Measure R, an Impartial Analysis, and arguments for and against can be found on the Solano County Registrar of Voters website.

Voting whether to endorse Measure K and Measure R – YES ON BOTH!

Following the presentations, members in good standing voted to endorse Measure K and Measure R.

Tonight’s Action Items

Kathy Kerridge highlighted tonight’s action items.  All are encouraged to make a quick phone call to our legislators about “Joe Manchin’s dirty side deal.”  For links, phone numbers and a script, scroll down to page 4, September action at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HQ2_r5aOZ255jl277ODmcr1vfZ2GPwoU/edit . https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HQ2_r5aOZ255jl277ODmcr1vfZ2GPwoU/edit

Announcements

  • Benicia Mayor Steve Young – At Council on September 20, we will hear a report on citizens’ water conservation. We were asked to conserve 20% a couple months ago.  We will also hear from Equity and Diversity Manager Dr. Maliika Chambers, to update us on her work and the work that the Committee United for Racial Equity (CURE) has been doing.  We will also consider three requests: one from Councilmember Strawbridge on soccer fields, another from Vice Mayor Campbell on a pride sidewalk, and another from Councilmember Largaespada on vacant First Street properties.
  • Maggie Kolk (for Bart Sullivan, not present) –
  • Lisa Reinertson – Kari Birdseye & Terry Scott Artist Sign Auction. Many artists from the Benicia community have painted campaign signs for our candidates Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott.  Deadline for bids is tomorrow night, 8PM sharp, August 14th. (NOTICE: AUCTION EXTENDED TO 8PM ON THURS. AUG 15.) All proceeds go to the campaigns. https://www.runmyauction.com/kariterry.php
  • Maggie Kolk – Solano Pride Fundraiser, Saturday Oct 1, 6-10PM, at the Dan Foley Cultural Center, 1499 North Camino Alto, Vallejo.  eventbrite.com/e/roaring-20s-casino-night-tickets-405424785447 or facebook.com/events/455389029827571/
  • Terry Scott– Election day is only 56 days away! My campaign for City Council is looking for volunteers.  Email me at  terryscottforbenicia2022@gmail.com or go to the website https://www.terryscottforbenicia2022.org/.
  • Terry Mollica (for Kari Birdseye) – Ballots will go out in the mail on October 10, so we have less than a month before voting will start! It’s crunch time now, lots of ways to contribute as volunteers for Kari in big ways and little ways. Kari’s website is https://karibirdseyeforbenicia.com/ Go to the How Can I Help page.
  • Kathy Kerridge – Please consider becoming a member of our Steering Committee.  We will be losing Maggie, our secretary at year’s end, and it would be great to have a few more people to participate.  If interested, and for any questions, email me kathykerridge@gmail.com.

Meeting Reflections – August 25, 2022, Local candidate interviews & endorsements

MEETING REFLECTIONS
PDB MEMBERSHIP MEETING
AUGUST 25, 2022, 7:00 PM

Read summary reflections below.
Watch the Zoom recording here.  >Passcode: Gv^1g6=Z

Endorsement Interviews & Vote

Our Interim Chair, Kathy Kerridge moderated a forum for the three Democratic City of Benicia Council Candidates, Kari Birdseye, Terry Scott, and Christina Strawbridge. Kathy asked each of the candidates to share with the group of approximately 55 attendees 1) why they chose to run for office, 2) why the PDB members should vote to endorse them and 3) what they individually plan to accomplish if elected to serve on the Benicia City  Council.

Kari Birdseye believes that this is the time for a change in leadership on the Council.  As a member of two City commissions, previously the Human Services Board and currently as Chair of the Planning Commission, Kari has great working relationships with City staff, and she understands the challenges that the City faces.  She believes that she can make decisions in a transparent and empathetic manner.  Kari has three main priorities that she will address if elected:  1)  diversification of Benicia’s economic tax base; 2) the housing crisis in our city with an emphasis on senior housing; 3) transparent, friendly leadership – having an open relationship with all of Benicia including the business and neighborhood communities.

Terry Scott believes that over the last five election cycles, the top issues negatively affecting the City have remained the same: roads, cost of water, poor infrastructure,  polluted air and water, and public safety.  If elected, Terry will focus on financial management, a commitment to change in core values among City Council members, to open discussions for change, understand how open space is managed, respect and preserve Benicia’s historic heritage, and promote the reimagining of how things get done on an economic basis.  Terry’s list of accomplishments in Benicia includes Chair of the Arts and Culture Commission (promoting the painted piano, Shakespeare in the Park, signal boxes, BUSD collaboration on student murals, and working with the mayor to add diversity to the Arts and Culture Commission).  Terry was co-organizer of the first Benicia Diversity Festival and co-organizer of the recent March for Our Lives and Women’s March.  Terry is a businessman, futurist, and philanthropist who will use sound business sense and judgment to assess how to fix our current issues with a focus on the future, and how those fixes will affect our community members and our environment.

Christina Strawbridge is running on strength and experience.   She has been a Benicia City Council member for 9 years.  She stated that she was initially hesitant to run again due to the fact that she felt our 2020 election was a “blackeye” on Benicia, mainly due to Valero’s running of attack ads against her opponent, Steve Young.  Christina also stated that she was the recipient of a lot of social media attacks, most of which she stated were untrue.  Christina was very supportive and complimentary of Erik Upson, the current City Manager.  She praised the city staff and Council for their management and support of the citizens and businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Christina’s list of accomplishments for the City of Benicia includes working to revitalize Benicia since 1985.  She also worked to keep both of our state parks off the closure list in 2010.

Kathy Kerridge asked a series of questions previously prepared by the PDB Steering Committee.  Each candidate was given 2 minutes to respond.  The question topics included:

  • Stance on Crude by Rail (should Valero attempt to push through this again)
  • An Industrial Safety Ordinance, and guaranteeing the safety of Benicia’s citizens from industrial accidents caused by Valero
  • Campaign finance restrictions
  • The Valero PAC
  • The Federal Inflation Reduction Act and the facilitation of mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change
  • Housing in general and housing for seniors and low-income citizens
  • Racial equity and environmental justice
  • Benicia financial position and retention of city staff
  • Position on Measure R (increase the sales tax to improve infrastructure)

During the presentations, attendees entered questions into Chat.  PDB Secretary, Maggie Kolk, chose questions that had not previously been addressed and each candidate was given an opportunity to respond.

Candidates provided a one-minute wrap-up to state their reasons for seeking  PDB’s endorsement.

Members in good standing participated in the endorsement voting process which included the three City Council Candidates and Jose Altamirano for State Board of Equalization, as well as voting whether to provide funding for the endorsed candidates.   The results were not announced but were delivered to members by email the following day.  (See here on PDB website.)

PDB Business

The Treasurer’s report was delivered by Kathy Kerridge.

Announcement and Action Items 

Cynthia Seguin – Asking for support of two congressional bills -repealing laws introduced in the Reagan Era – the Social Security Fairness Act (HR 82) and the Social Security 2100 Act (HR 572). Call congress to end the unfair tax on retired educators.  www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/action-center/take-action/repeal-gpo-wep?ms=daisychainconfirmation

Call Tim Grayson and Lori Wilson to support SB 1137 setbacks for oil wells. https://docs.google.com/document/d/18D_sFxXloOdxBbzda418MPqbo0Iw0bJRHS93-W1uELo/edit

Contact Kathy Kerridge to send out postcards and get yard signs for Benicians for Clean Elections.

Mayor Young – Addressed the City’s financial issues stating that the Council was not aware of these issues.  The Council was presented with what they believed were fair, accurate audits.  The Housing Element was passed by Council last week and will be submitted to the State by the end of the month.  A use permit was given to a cannabis distribution company:  Shryne Group is moving their No. Cal headquarters to Benicia and they will build a 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

Future Speakers for September – Erik Upson and Bob Berman.