Sunday, March 23, 2008

Supervisor John Silva’s 2007-8 campaign war chest (as of March 17 filing)

Will Gregory, Benica, CA, March 2008

The District 2 Supervisor’s race of three term incumbent John Silva vs newcomer Linda Seifert is one that promises to give the citizenry of our district a choice of continuing with an entrenched politician, Mr. Silva, or the opportunity to break from the past and start in a new more progressive direction with attorney-public advocate Ms. Seifert ( See: to learn more about her campaign.)

A concern about Mr. Silva is: Does he really represent the interests of citizens? According to Campaign Disclosure Statements, Mr. Silva has no trouble accepting cash contributions from special interest groups or " out of county corporations". Very often politicians represent, primarily, those who give them money.

Here are some highlights of Mr. Silva’s more than 50 pages of campaign disclosure statements for 2007-8, for the filing period ending March 17, 2008.

** Mr. Silva has raised $116,290 ( Note: Only $5,029 of this money came from un itemized monetary contributions of less than $100.)

** Mr. Silva has had 161 contributors (individuals, organizations and corporations)- 65 of which came from "out of county." (Key fact: the out of county cash totals nearly $52,000.)

** Two out of state contributors were Valero Energy Corp. of San Antonio, Texas ($4,000) and AWIN Management (Allied Waste Industries) of Phoenix, Arizona ( $2000).

** Largest contributors-out of county-
1.) Olney Land & Cattle Co.: Four Bar Cattle Co....Concord...$3,000.
2.) Yolano Engineers, Inc. Napa...$5000. ( Land Survey Co..)
3.) De Silva Gates Construction Dublin. $3000.
4.) Lucas, Austin &Alexander, LLC- Newport Beach .$4500. ( Real Estate Development Co.)

** Largest-in county contributors:
1.) Falati & Associates, Fairfield. $2,500. ( Insurance Co.)
2.) Lindemann Enterprises. Fairfield. $1450 (Suisun Valley Grape Growers Assoc.)
3.) MV Transportation, Fairfield. ...... $2500.
4.) Jelly Belly, Fairfield. ................. $1500. (Candy Company)

** Trade Groups:
1.) IBEW-Local#180 PAC#1259083. Napa... $1650.
2.) Cement Masons Local 400. Pac#68-0444454. Sacramento... $500.
3.) United Assoc. Journeyman Plumbers&Steam Fitters Local 343. PAC # 862309. Vallejo..$3,000.

In addition, Mr. Silva has received money from the Seeno Company called West Coast Home Builders. ($250)

With one filing period to go before the June 3 election- scheduled for May 22nd,2008- Mr. Silva could possibly raise $150 thousand for his supervisor’s seat.

Let me close with a series of questions and comments for District 2 voters to consider:

We know that Mr. Silva is a Benicia Native son. He has served 22 years on the Benicia police force. Was Benicia City Manager from 1979-1987. Spent two terms on the city council. He now has served 12 years as County Supervisor for our district.

Mr. Silva is the most senior politician in our community-third most senior, in time of public service, in Solano County.

As far as I know, however, I’ve never seen a column from Mr. Silva about Solano county politics in any local newspaper. You would think, with his long background in public service, we would hear from Mr. Silva through public discourse. Curious?

I started to think, when was the last time Mr. Silva held a public meeting? For example at the Dona Benicia Room or Council chambers about the doings and happenings (important business that concerns our District) at the upper county level. As far as I know, no meetings have been scheduled.

I started to think when was the last time I received a mailer, flyer or letter from Supervisor Silva letting me know about his job as my representative. Can’t recall ever receiving any mailing from Mr. Silva. Odd?

I started to think, when was the last time I saw Mr. Silva in person (he lives in Benicia) yet he doesn’t seem to attend city functions or council or planning commission meetings. He is not a visible presence in our town.

I started to think what kind of representation is this, when we never hear, see or meet with our District 2 Supervisor at the local level?

I believe these are fair questions and concerns. I hope the community would agree.

As a concerned citizen, taxpayer and voter, I’ve presented key public documents that give the citizens hard facts and figures (discovered truths) about Mr. Silva’s contributors–and have asked some relevant questions about the incumbent’s nearly invisible representation in our city. It is up to us-the citizens- to pay attention to this mid summer election- and make a decision about important change at the District 2 level.

Seifert vs. Silva: Ladies and gentleman–start your engines.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Supervisor John Silva’s 1996-7 campaign war chest

Will Gregory, Benicia, CA
Feb. 2008.

" I’ll run as hard as I did the first time I ran for the board and do all of the things that need to be done to be elected to the board." -District 2 Supervisor John Silva
Source: " Touting change, Seifert goes up against Silva," Benicia Herald, 2/12/08.

I received a call on my way home from work on Friday from the Registrar of Voters, that, my request for Mr. John Silva’s 1996-7 Campaign Disclosure Statement Form #460 was ready for pick-up. Requested on Monday of the same week–I was told it wouldn’t be ready until after the Super Tuesday Feb. 5th election. Kudos to Denise Nussbaum, who was very helpful, despite the pressure of the up coming voting period.

This County election was the first for Mr. Silva. He ran against union activist Doris Lowe. I’ve asked a few local- veterans of the political wars who Ms. Lowe was (?) but, I’m still in the dark about this person. Here, I’ve learned, that the late Ms. Lowe ran a low budget campaign-$28 thousand- (checked her file , also) and lost the election by just 600 votes.

What we do know is that Mr. Silva is running for a fourth term as supervisor for District 2.

He has won three elections. Two of the three elections, Mr. Silva ran unopposed. This of course would explain why so little money was spent in the 2000 and 2004 election cycles. $28 thousand and $19 thousand respectively. (Note: spent time going over these files as well.)

I think it is important for the citizens of the community to have a fuller picture of Mr. Silva’s election history. These campaign disclosure statements are PUBLIC DOCUMENTS- that reveal a paper trail of money and influence.

In the 1996-7 election cycle Mr. Silva had 157 contributors, "49" of these came from "outside the county" limits. This is an important statistic. Just like in our local Benicia election, outside interests can play a significant role in determining who will win an elected seat, in county government.

Mr. Silva raised over $60 thousand for this election period.

Mr. Silva’s file of documents was 74 pages- covering the time frame of 1/1/‘96 to 4//16/‘97.

Here are some of the highlights for the community of District 2 to consider:

The most startling information in this packet was that the Seeno Co., and its subsidiaries were a major player in this election. (10 entries)
A. Seeno Enterprises (Pittsburgh) $100.
B. Seeno Financial and Construction (Concord) $298.
C. Albert Seeno (Concord ) $697.
D. West Coast Homebuilders P.O. Box # 4113.(Concord ) $498.
E. Seeway Family Homebuilders, Inc.. P.O. Box # 4113 ( Concord ) $598.

Note: We now know, that this relationship between Mr. Silva and the Seeno Co. goes back to 1996. –What I hope to do in the near future is to check Mr. Silva’s council Campaign Disclosure Statements, to see how this relationship between publicly elected official and private corporate entity has evolved.

Outside Solano County groups contributing to John Silva:

Browning Ferris Waste Management Co.....$1,000.
KSK Management-Property Management....$1,000.
James Baird, CEO Bay Area Development Co..$500.
Walnut Creek.
Olney Land and Cattle Co. $1,000.
CRE/PAC–BORPAC ( California Real Estate Political Action Committee and Board of Realtors)
Los Angeles $400.
Carpenters Historical Society of the Bay Area....$1500.

Out of State donation:
Pacific Generation Co. $100.
Portland, Oregon

Trade Groups:
Plumbers and Steam Fitters $2,000.
District Council of Ironworkers $200.
Operating Engineeers District #4. $200.
AT&T West PAC $500.

Police And Fire contributions.

Peace Officer Reserve Association, Sacramento (PAC) $250.
Vallejo Firefighters Local #1186 (PAC) $500.

Consultant fees paid.
J Burchill and Assoc., Inc. .........$7,483.

Miscellaneous person(s) and organizations of interest:
Tom Gavin... (Chamber of Commerce) $150.
Brian Tulloch (Builder/Developer) $249.
Bruce Adams (Owner of the Bottom of the Fifth–Bar Establishment) $1,023.
Charles Britt ( Powerhouse Realty) $200.
Norman Koerner (Benicia Realty Investments) $549.
Virginia Souza ( City Treasurer, Benicia) $198.
VALPAC ( Vallejo Chamber of Commerce) $650.
West Coast Beauty Supply (located in Benicia) $950.
Benicia Plumbing $1150.
Benicia Industries $250.

If as Supervisor Silva states from (the above Benicia Herald article)" I’ve been accessible to the public." These PUBLIC DOCUMENTS also show he has been accessible to PACS’; special interests groups; developers and real estate firms. This kind of pattern shows up again in the 2007 campaign disclosure statements. Stay tuned. I hope to share this information with the community in the near future.

County's draft general plan deserves scrutiny

To: The Reporter Editor:
submitted by Nicole Byrd, Fairfield.

After reading recent letters regarding the Solano County general plan update process, we felt that a few other points should be made about what occurred with the process during 2007.

First, let's not forget that the original Citizen's Advisory Committee, a well-balanced committee consisting of four people appointed by each supervisor, was disbanded shortly after Supervisor Jim Spering took office in 2007.

The supervisors claimed that the committee wasn't getting enough done; however, the original committee - as did the second committee - followed agendas designed by consultants, with some input from an agenda subcommittee.

Additionally, the original committee was developing a vision plan and attending a number of field trips to various county locations to be better informed when making decisions.

The criticism that the original committee was not doing enough was a "smoke screen" by those who wanted an excuse to remake the committee.

The board, chaired by Supervisor Mike Reagan, directed Supervisors Spering and John Silva as an "ad hoc subcommittee" to review the structure of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Supervisors Spering and Silva met in closed session, without public input or public viewing, and hand-picked the vast majority of the new members for the second committee. Each supervisor was allowed only one appointment in addition to those selected by the subcommittee. This was a move to change the original, well-balanced committee and replace it with a more development-oriented group.
The timeline is another point of contention.

The committee was forced to make important decisions, often with insufficient data, just to meet the timeline. In fact, the timeline was clearly more important than careful study of the issues. Only Supervisor Barbara Kondylis has shown the wisdom to question this overly hasty process.

As members of both the original and second citizens advisory committees, we wanted the public to hear more of the story.

A new Solano County general plan is a critically important blueprint for how and where Solano will develop during the next 20 to 30 years. The new plan is quite different than the original plan and it deserves a thorough public airing and discussion.

We urge the county, in addition to the circulation of the general plan's Draft Environmental Impact Report for review and comments, to thoroughly and publicly present the draft general plan to solicit input from throughout the county and consider the concerns and comments expressed.

Nicole Byrd, Fairfield.
This letter also was signed by Patrica Gatz of Vallejo, Eva Laevastu of Green Valley and Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, all of whom, like Ms. Byrd, served on both the original 20-member and the second 16-member Citizens Advisory Committee; as well as original committee members Marti Brown of Vallejo, Jeanne McCormack of Rio Vista and Ian Anderson of Birds Landing.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

What’s Wrong with the New General Plan?

By Gary Boudreaux
Green Valley Landowners Assn.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors is preparing a new general plan, setting forth principles to guide the evolution of the county in the coming 20 years. Unfortunately, there has been almost no direct citizen involvement in the creation of this plan, raising profound reasons for concern on the part of the average citizen.

So what's wrong with the county's new general plan?

• The proposed plan sets the stage for county-based development, even though our cities have provided effective jurisdiction over residential and commercial development since the county was established. (There is no obvious justification for this change, as the county shares in the fee revenues collected by the cities, and the county would not receive additional tax revenues after the costs of new services were paid.)

• The draft general plan is overly vague in its definitions or intent in utilizing lands within its newly created "municipal service areas," but it is clear that the county intends to encourage development in areas adjacent to existing cities, whether the cities want it or not. This will create poorly mitigated traffic, noise, diminished air quality, uncompensated use of city services, school crowding, and competition for utilities - all with no input from the affected cities.

• The proposed plan puts the county in competition with its cities for development, and interferes with cities' rights of self-determination and their established urban limit lines.

• The proposed general plan runs contrary to all well-known principles of smart or sustainable growth, in which development is planned in areas where there are existing services, not in scattered rural areas with no services or adjacent to municipalities where services must be duplicated.

• The notice of preparation for the plan's environmental impact report was issued before the draft plan was made available. It is obvious that the board is eager to get the plan completed and in front of the voters by Nov. 4 at any cost. The public comment period on the notice was to have expired Feb. 4.

• The proposed general plan clearly favors development interests and large landowners over long-term public interests. It fails to explain the justification for additional development in county areas. It especially fails to explain the general conversion of prime agricultural lands to residential development.

• The environmental impact report assessing the county's draft general plan is being prepared by the same company that was hired to write the general plan itself. How is it possible to objectively critique a work one has just written? Although permissible, the process smacks of conflict of interest and displays the single-minded urgency and profound lack of objectivity of the entire plan.

• County supervisors are establishing mutual sewer and water districts in rural areas to accommodate new developments, yet claim that these measures are not growth-inducing in and of themselves. These proposals, when written into our general plan, will radically and permanently alter rural Solano County.

• The proposed plan sets the stage for future rural land use designation changes by failing to establish concrete measures ensuring the protection of agriculture, habitat or open space. It addresses these critical concerns with vague platitudes.

• The rural character of Solano County is likely to be lost forever. Without public outcry, Solano County will go the way of Sacramento, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The coming Solano County general plan is a plain and simple land grab and opens the door to unprecedented development, inevitably turning Solano County into an overpopulated, densely developed, urban cityscape. Our Board of Supervisors has no business developing the county in ways that are unsustainable by our infrastructure and our natural resources.

What can the average person do?

They can voice their opinions in writing to the Board of Supervisors.

They can vote against the acceptance of the general plan. Vote for those who care about our county heritage and the future of our county as we enjoy it today.

They can attend the Board of Supervisor meetings and speak out against the wholesale unbalanced sellout of Solano County to development interests.

Our children, and their children, deserve no less.


Information about the general plan and the process for adopting it can be found online at