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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Heystek fights for Social Justice

In politics, even when you agree with someone on the issues, you never quite know what you are going to get. It was that way with Lamar Heystek. I supported now Councilmember Lamar Heystek in the June election along with Stan Forbes as they were the candidates of the progressive left here in Davis and opponents of the status quo candidates Asmundson and Levy. The question I wondered at the time, is “what kind of councilmember would Heystek be--would he try to please everyone, would he merely vote the right way, or would be a candidate who would go to the mat for his principles and be a fighter for Democratic / Progressive issues?” Well folks, I'm very pleased to say we have a fighter on our side now. We now have someone on the city council that will go to mat for our issues. And yet, at the same time, he's a gentleman. He doesn't have to roll in the mud with his adversaries.

Yesterday, Councilmember Heystek had a brilliant letter to the editor in the Davis Enterprise. Here's a key excerpt from the letter addressing the issue we've been talking about the last few days.
Less than two years ago, the Target Corp. spent at least $350,000 in its successful attempt to defeat Proposition 72, which would have ensured health care for millions of California's workers. Now, Target is spending nearly as much on Measure K in Davis to prevail once again against the interests of working people.

When the Target proposal weaved its way through the city's entitlement process, Target spokesman John Dewes had expressed no interest in pursuing any worker safeguards, including a labor peace agreement. Now, just hours before Tuesday's election, why do working people suddenly become his cause célèbre?

I am disappointed that the exclusive group working on behalf of Mr. Dewes is interested in pursuing labor issues only insofar as it will win the election for Target. Should Measure K pass, the days after Nov. 7 will surely test their mettle when it comes to fixing the long-term integrity of Target's labor practices. I invite them to express a full commitment to this issue by supporting legally tested safeguards such as a living-wage ordinance. It's the right thing to do.
There are a few key issues that Heystek brings up. First, Target does NOT support the values of progressive Davis. Not only did they spend money to defeat a health care proposal, but they spent money consistently to support very conservative politicians seeking elective office. Some have suggested that they don't want their tax money going out of city. Well, I don't want my hard earned money going to line the campaign coffers of conservative politicians. I don't want it used to defeat health care proposals for California workers.

Second, and most fundamentally, he points out the duplicity in the whole PLA agreement that Souza-Saylor are working on. Dewes and Target have no interest in unions. They've rejected all overtures for using unionized workers in their stores both in the future Davis store should K pass and nationally and globally. So why suddenly are they supporting a PLA with union construction workers?

Third, Heystek calls them to the task on their union support by inviting them to support a living wage proposal. That will be the true test of their support for the rights of workers. Heystek calls them to task for having an eleventh hour conversion on the eve of the election in an attempt to convince the public that they support the rights and values of Working Class America. The values of the progressive movement in terms of the rights of workers. This is as Saylor once described "malicious, cynical, and probably politically motivated."

Fortunately for the progressive, the City of Davis now has a progressive champion willing to stand up and fight for our values, even when those values may be controversial. That is all we can ask.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting