Small Business Saturday is big for Benicia
Benicia is home to dozens of unique small businesses where natives and neighbors can find antiques & collectibles, furniture & home goods, art, music & books, high-fashion & vintage clothing, hand-crafted glass & ceramics, toys for kids and pets, family-owned bakeries & restaurants, and many providers of the services utilized in our daily lives. There’s even an operating (and legal) speakeasy, if you know the password.
Many of these local businesses also have unique characteristics that can’t be replicated in larger stores or online.
For our Benicia businesses, this Saturday, Nov. 25, is known as Small Business Saturday. This is their chance to gain new customers, grow sales and carry momentum into the busy holiday season.
If you can, shop local and shop often. Small Business Saturday is our opportunity to help local entrepreneurs and merchants while also giving a boost to Benicia’s economy.
When we shop local, these businesses are essentially giving money back to Benicia. An environment of thriving Benicia businesses will generate high levels of revenue, which is the money used for running the City of Benicia, including our police and fire departments.
In many cases, these Benicia businesses also support local nonprofits and support fundraisers for our schools and sports teams.
Enjoy Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but in between those days please take a visit to our commercial districts to explore and spend some of your holiday budget with local businesses in Benicia. You will help ensure that our merchants stay in town, remain vibrant, and offer unique shopping experiences for years to come.
Benicia Economic Development Board
Mayor blames Prop. 218
Mayor Patterson continues to blame others for water rate increases. In a recent E-alert, she states “Several years ago when we first began the studies on water rates and discovered that maintenance had ‘been kicked down the road’ by previous councils, I expressed my worry and frustrations with the ‘affordability’ of water”. That may well be true, but it was too little too late.
Mayor Patterson, that is another silly statement. You have been in office for 14 years. It will be 17 come 2020. It appears that for over 12 years, you paid no attention to maintenance and capitol projects to fix the problem. Several years is not 14 years.
You then go on about an LA Times article titled, “The next crisis for California will be the affordability of water.” There’s another blame someone else tactic. The article is about a “state public water fee.” In the first part of your E-alert, you complained about the 1996 Proposition 218. That proposition was for politicians like you. It prevented rate increases/taxes from being imposed without a vote. You also are no fan of Proposition 13. There’s another anti-homeowner/resident statement.
You go on to state, “In the end, we need to think like a community and care for one another. We can’t do this with Proposition 218, and Prop. 13 doesn’t help but we do have choices. Not with Proposition 218.” It appears the residents think like a community and care for one another. Do you, Mayor Patterson? It appears that is not the case. Just blame someone else. For sure, not yourself.
The article states all the concerns and gives bureaucratic reasons and answers for the fix. I suggest you read the article. It is very boring. A local writer for a county/area paper said to me “time to watch ‘Chinatown’ again.” I did like that. Keep a close watch on this. It will impact the 2018 City Council election. Any candidate backed by the mayor and vice mayor, be very cautious on your choice. Vote for those that are backed by those two, and you get the same problems. That we do not need.
Bob “The Owl” Livesay,
ISO not necessary
Recently, I have seen several articles and letters in th Benicia Herald and Vallejo Times-Herald regarding an Industrial Safety Ordinance (ISO) in Benicia aimed directly toward the Valero Refinery.
The ISO was requested as a City Council agenda discussion item by the mayor shortly after the May 5 total power failure at the refinery. The matter has not been on any council agenda that I have viewed.
However, there has been at least one informational meeting to go over the details of the Contra Costa County ISO. It was held recently at the Benicia Public Library. The meeting included representatives from CalOSHA, CalEPA, Contra Costa’s Health Services Department and a member of Contra Costa’s Board of Supervisors. The meeting was moderated by a member of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community.
The justifications I’ve seen for the ISO are:
1. Contra Costa has one.
2. The May 5 power failure.
3. Benicia can have someone outside the regulators perform audits and make recommendations to the refinery.
Let’s think about the justifications for a moment. The first thing that comes to my mind is that the audit will cost Benicia a good bit of money due to the size and complexity of performing a comprehensive audit of a facility like Valero. Even if the city could force the refinery to pay for the audit, there will be a significant amount of staff time going through the audit findings. Once the findings are delivered, there would be a back and forth between the refinery and the city, and that would consume a quantity of time.
Let’s remember that a recommendation is not a requirement. They can only find to the level of the existing regulation. Valero’s Benicia refinery has been a CalOSHA Star Site for a few years. The audits performed for Star Site Status are quite extensive. Therefore, I am skeptical that any independent audit would uncover significant findings.
The May 5 power failure was caused by PG&E. The refinery had two independent power supplies from PG&E, and both were disconnected on May 5. It was the loss of power that caused the flaring and all the other issues the flaring produced. The staff at the refinery worked to reduce the impacts the flaring had on the community. The staff is highly trained and highly skilled in refinery operations and emergency procedures. Another thing to consider is that the workers and their families come directly from the local and surrounding communities.
The Valero Refinery has been an exceptional neighbor to all of Benicia. They give their time freely to local charities, and they support them with funding. They recently distributed their share of the proceeds they received from the San Antonio golf tournament to local charities.
With a pending lawsuit with PG&E, there might be some information Valero could not share due to a pending litigation. However, the data from the regulators and monitors should be available to the city, including the two reports that said the Valero refinery was not the cause of the power outage but PG&E was.
I really don’t see the need for a Benicia ISO. As a former 33-year employee at the refinery, it has a very robust health and safety program. We were highly trained in safety procedures, refinery operations and emergency procedures. The refinery’s current regulators include, but are not limited to, CalOSHA, CalEPA, BAAQMD, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Board, the Coast Guard, Cal State Lands Comission and the state Fire Marshal. What does the city think it can add to the existing regulators? I think the money could be better spent on the needs of the citizens of the community.