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Monday, November 13, 2006

Will Target Election Re-shape Davis Politics?

In politics as in life there is a proverb, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. In the aftermath of Measure K, this seems to be at least potentially ringing true. While Don’t Big Box Loyalists hold onto to the hope that the conclusion of the ballot count may push the No on K side over the top, some real changes may have occurred due to the tactics used in the Yes on Measure K side.

As we reported earlier, a number of downtown merchants have left the DDBA and Chamber of Commerce, over a difference of opinion over Target and those organizations at least tacit support for Target. In fact, the Chamber was extremely duplicitous in their position on Measure K. They supported Target when it came before the City Council in June. The vast majority of their leaders and board of directors also publicly supported Target and Measure K. However, in almost of an afterthought to a letter from Don Stor, Sherry Puntillo informed the public that the Chamber had supporter Target in June but now had no position. No explanation was offered. Nor was an explanation provided in a brief letter co-authored by Puntillo and Adamsky. It was almost a CYA move while providing tacit support.

Apparently, a number of small merchants and downtown businesses grew tired of these political games. Don Shor last week informed us that in fact a number of businesses have formed an independent association and will be working hard to get a third vote on the Council in the elections in 2008. (Are we surprised that this gets no coverage in the local paper?)

The heavy-handed tactics by the political establishment coupled with the business associates may have won the election in terms of getting a Target approved, however, it may end up at the same time mobilizing opposition for future fights. They may have won the battle, but lost the war. The progressives in this community now have strong new allies in fighting against the current council majority, and hopefully in the future we will see everyone work together to defeat Souza and Saylor in 2008, should they decide to run for re-election.

In the meantime, I for one will continue to vote with my pocketbook by purchasing my goods downtown. I have long since decided never to shop at Target again. My hat is off to the brave downtown businesses who have stood up against the political establishment. And once again, my hat is off to the grassroots effort by Davis residents who nearly defeated Target despite being outspent by more than a 10-1 margin and despite the strong support from the political and business establishment and the mainstream Davis newspaper.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting