Kari Birdseye – My response to big money negative ads

From the Vallejo Times-Herald – check out the City of Benicia Campaign Finance Reports

Birdseye responds to negative ads

By JOHN GLIDDEN October 16, 2018 at 6:34 pm
Kari Birdseye

“People and companies go negative when they are afraid.”

Benicia City Council candidate Kari Birdseye responded Tuesday to questions asked by this newspaper after a special committee was formed to oppose her campaign.

As of Tuesday afternoon, financial records submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office show that $124,000 has been pumped into the committee, which was also formed to support fellow council candidates Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge.

Records show that the Valero Benicia Refinery has contributed $14,200 to the committee named: Working Families for a Strong Benicia, a Coalition of Labor, Industrial Services Companies, Public Safety and Local Leaders Supporting Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada and Opposing Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council 2018.

The other funding sources are a number of union PACs.

“Valero and their friends are afraid of a candidate whose priorities include diversifying our tax base, promoting access to clean air and clean water and being a good neighbor at City Hall,” Birdseye wrote in an email to the Times-Herald.

The committee paid for a series of political phone calls to Benicians. A phone script was provided with the expenditure report given to the clerk’s office. It shows that if a respondent reported he/she may vote for Birdseye, the caller was to say that Birdseye is a “yes man for the mayor,” and not an independent thinker.

“I’m not sure if that phrase was meant to be a misogynistic slight but it is,” Birdseye wrote in her email. “I’m a woman, with a brain of my own. I’m nobody’s yes person. I will do my homework, listen to Benicians and make my own decisions based on what I think is best for our community.”

She also repudiated the claim that she isn’t an independent thinker.

“I’m a critical, strategic thinker with years of experience in management, finances and leadership,” she added. “I’m the last person who wants to give oxygen to the lie being spread about the Mayor and Vice Mayor building their shadow government, but if you look at the Vice Mayor’s voting record, he also is an independent thinker.”

The committee also bought digital advertisements to convince Benicia voters that Birdseye would be bad for the city.

Birdseye said Valero’s committee reminded her of when Chevron pumped millions of dollars in to the Richmond’s City Council race in 2014 — and lost.

“Outside influences are pouring more than $100,000 into our Benicia race, where all the candidate campaign money combined doesn’t equal that,” she said. “It is wrong, unfair and Benicia deserves better.”

Birdseye, Largaespada, Strawbridge, and Will Emes are all running for two open seats on the five-person Benicia City Council this fall. The two incumbents, Alan Schwartzman and Mark Hughes, have both declined to seek re-election to the council.

Times-Herald interview: Kari Birdseye

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

Birdseye says she has skills Benicia needs

By JOHN GLIDDEN, October 13, 2018 at 4:23 pm

BENICIA — Kari Birdseye says she has the skill set needed to make Benicia the best it can be; that’s why she decided to seek a seat on the Benicia City Council.

“Placing a priority of the long-term economic vitality of our community while maintaining the historic, small-town charm will take proactive thinking,” she explained.

Birdseye, 52, the strategic communications manager at Natural Resources Defense Council, also serves as chair of the city’s Planning Commission.

She says diversifying the tax base by attracting clean tech companies to the city’s industrial park, while also maintaining access to clean air and clean water for everyone are her campaign priorities.

“New businesses will provide economic diversity and stability to our full-service city,” she explained. “Polishing our industrial park into the jewel that it can be is key to the economic vitality of our city. We need to modernize the area’s infrastructure, by repairing roads and offering affordable, high-speed internet access, which will in turn attract new businesses that can help us diversify our tax base.”

Birdseye says she supports a thorough examination of Mayor Elizabeth Patterson’s proposed Industrial Safety Ordinance.

“At the heart of the ISO is better communications between the community and Valero and installation of community air monitoring stations with access to real-time data available to the public,” she said. “I believe the ISO could repair the relationship between Valero and Benicians by facilitating an honest dialog between the refinery and its neighbors. The proposed draft ISO is in no way redundant to Solano County’s Program 4, as other candidates have stated.

“The purpose of Program 4 is to prevent major incidents at petroleum refineries in order to protect the health and safety of communities and the environment. The local ISO picks up where Program 4 leaves off and involves the community in discussions related to the health and safety of us all,” she added.

Birdseye further said that Benicia is the only Bay Area refinery town without its own local ordinance.

“We need and deserve the same type of protections,” Birdseye added.

When asked about the city’s water rates, Birdseye said she supports the council’s decision to address the city’s crumbling water and sewer infrastructure in 2016.

“However, how that 2016 City Council addressed it needs to be re-examined,” she said. “Our economy today looks different from what they were facing two years ago. Installing smart meters with front-loaded rate increases was not the way to handle it.

“Smart meters should have been installed to capture the 25 percent leakage rate the city was facing, losing money on the lost water. Once the smart meters were in place, the city should have audited the updated water measurements, usage and increased fees that residents were facing,” she added. “Then and only then should have modest increases been considered and they should have been tiered over time.”

She said if elected she will lead examination and audit of the city’s water and sewer rate structure “and find avenues of relief for ratepayers.”

Birdseye says she fully supports Measure E, which would, if adopted by local voters, place a six percent tax on the gross receipts for the city’s cannabis businesses. City Hall through the measure could also impose a tax of up to $10 per square foot for commercial cannabis cultivation.

“Regulated cannabusiness in Benicia has the potential to generate millions of dollars annually between fees and Measure E taxes,” she said.

Birdseye further said her top priorities, if elected, are protecting the small town, historic charm of Benicia, and being a good neighbor at City Hall.

“I pledge to work hard to bring together the best thinking on this issue. It may take updating zoning ordinances, more resources at the city level for our economic development team,” Birdseye said. “I will bring my record of honesty, integrity, tenacity and caring about people.”

Benicia City Council incumbents Mark Hughes and Alan Schwartzman both declined to see re-election to the five person council. Four candidates are going for the two seats, including Birdseye, Lionel Largaespada, Christina Strawbridge, and Will Emes.

Election day is Nov. 6.

For more information about Birdseye’s campaign, visit www.BirdseyeForBenicia.com and/or email Birdseyeforbenicia@ gmail.com.

The Importance of Keeping Benicia’s Election Fair

…And sunlighting what’s not
Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council

As you may have heard, Valero’s Benicia Refinery admitted last Friday to sponsoring the unfair telephone “push poll” many Benicians have been responding to during the past month.

Benicia’s City Attorney shared this fact with the public in a letter to the polling companies’ attorney.  Valero General Manager Don Wilson did the right thing by disclosing Valero’s involvement.  However, City Attorney Heather McLaughlin stated in her letter “In order to avoid having to issue a subpoena, I would ask that you voluntarily provide a copy of the poll questions to me within the next 72 hours.”

Benicians who received the phone survey have reported biased lead-ins to questions, including “Kari Birdseye wants to shut down Valero, costing hundreds of jobs” and “She will bring radical left-wing politics to City Hall.”

Benicia City Council candidate Lionel Largaespada’s response suggested that the poll may not even have been biased: “I have heard many different opinions on how it was conducted – ranging from Steve’s claim that it is biased towards me, to residents who found it equally balanced, to others who thought it was negative-sounding towards me. As with most topics, people have differing reactions and take aways based on their own beliefs and opinions.” Mr. Largaespada’s statement aligns with attorneys of the polling companies by casting doubt on whether there was bias at all.  

In addition to asking for the actual questions used in the poll, the City Attorney has requested an itemized invoice showing the dates, times and number of calls made.  This request has been refused by the companies’ attorney.

Thanks to the efforts of Council member Tom Campbell for establishing Benicia’s Fair Campaign Ordinance back in 2008, Benicia has a regulation called Disclosure of Contributions and Expenditures in Candidate and Ballot Measure Elections.  This local law has helped keep our elections clean until now.  Unfortunately, attorneys with deep pockets are involved now and we may never know exactly what questions were asked in the poll.

More polls, paid for PACs against me, are continuing today and probably throughout the weeks leading up to the election.  Please learn more about my campaign through reputable sources like the website BirdseyeForBenicia.com or by watching candidate forums like this one:
League of Women Voters / AAUW forum here.

Remember to vote on November 6th or send in your ballot, which should be arriving in your mailbox this week.  And if you haven’t visited my website yet, please stop by at BirdseyeForBenicia.com