The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Monday, November 20, 2006

Souza's Flawed View of Davis

Yesterday’s Sacramento Bee describes the split in Davis between the older Davis and new Davis. Ironically, the split is much less pronounced in the Target issue than it was in the City Council election, where the Center Core voted for Heystek/ Forbes and the periphery voted exclusively for Asmundson/ Levy. Moreover, a lot of the precincts were very tightly split. So Davis was just closely divided on the issue, regardless of where they lived.

Souza tries his hand at being election analyst—which is really not his knack.
Souza, a 27-year Davis resident who lives on the city's perimeter, thinks the ruckus over Target is the latest incarnation of Davis' growing pains. "In Davis, there has always been resistance to change," the council member said.
This is a flat out misreading of the situation in Davis. This is not a resistance to change at all. But this is the type of argument used to attempt to marginalize the opposition—just as Dunning’s CAVE depiction attempts to do the same.

I have no problem with change. Neither do many in this community. For example, they are talking about bringing in Trader Joe’s. That constitutes change. If they put Trader Joe’s up for a vote, what would be the margin? 70-30? 80-20? Would there even be organized opposition to Trader Joe’s coming to Davis? Do they even need to think about putting Trader Joe’s on a ballot?

No Stephen, we are not against change for the sake of being against change. What we do not like is the specific changes that you have proposed. Not all of us. Not all of the time. In fact, 60% opposed your Covell Village change and only 47% of those who voted opposed your Target change. We are not against change, we are against specific changes for specific reasons.

At the end of the day, this about a conflicting vision of how Davis is to grow—do we want large big box retail stores? Or do we want smaller and more locally owned business? Do we want huge housing developments? Or do we want smaller projects that are more homie and that do not look like they came directly from Levittown itself?

What kinds of values are important? For me, the biggest issues about Target were not just size of the retailer but that we are giving it severe advantages over locally owned and established businesses. Moreover, I have concerns that my values—of living wage, of environmental protection on a global basis, of basic social justice—are not embedded within the Target model of business.

It is therefore a misconstruction of the situation to read conflict as opposition to change as such. We do not oppose change. We oppose these changes. We oppose changes that alter the character and flavor of the city. Changes that threaten the fabric of moral values. That’s what we oppose.

Souza does us a disservice with his mischaracterization of the Davis psyche. Souza instead wages dishonest efforts to construct conflict over visions as mere psychological resistance to change, to reduce his opponents to psychological impairment regarding change. In so doing, he basically belittles our concerns and attempts to marginalize his opponents.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting