Saturday, November 04, 2006
Yesterday an article appeared on Target, again it is full of inaccuracies and unchecked quotes.
For instance, Saylor is quote as saying: "The Target is projected to generate between $750,000 and $1 million in annual sales tax."
In fact, the City projects between $500,000 and $600,000 in tax revenues, and some have criticized those projections as being overly optimistic. The writer should check quoted facts before reporting them as fact.
The writer further mentioned "nearly $300 million in one-time payments that the city will receive if the store is built." The actual number is $3 million. It has since been changed on the website, but the print edition went out with the inaccurate figure.
It is one thing for us to disagree with the editor of the Aggie politically, but efforts need to be made to report things accurately.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
The newspaper article in Thursday's Davis Enterprise, has prompted me to go back to see exactly what Souza said on that September meeting. I have clipped together about a minute of Heystek's discussion of his living wage ordinance with Souza's comments, so that the readers can see the context in which Souza made these comments.
From a listen to the video, the opening line of St. John's newspaper article is:
At a September Davis City Council meeting, Councilman Stephen Souza said he and Councilman Don Saylor were in negotiations with Target Corp. to use union labor in the construction of a Davis Target and surrounding stores.Watching the meeting on September 18, 2006, Souza never even mentioned construction of a Target, he only mentioned that he and Saylor were working on a PLA (project labor agreement). A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement between organized labor and contractors and/or owners that applies to a specific project site. However, Souza spun this into something a lot bigger than just a construction agreement--his statement that the discussions about a living wage ordinance gave the impression that such an ordinance would conflict with the PLA, when in fact, it appears that there is little to no crossover between the two.
There are two main things that Souza told us on September 18, 2006.
We were hoping that we'd be able to bring that to you as an announcement, but we have not got it completed but we are very close to having it completed.That was 45 days ago, and it is still not completed.
However Saylor assures us in the November 2, 2006 article:
“We expect a final agreement in a matter of weeks"Further the delay was explained:
Negotiations between Target and the construction union have been ongoing since late August, said Jay Ziegler, one of Target’s representatives in talks, but have stalled recently after Matt Kelly, a representative for the Sacramento-Sierra Building Trades Council, was called away for a family emergency.Family emergencies happen, so we don't want to belabor this point any further, just demonstrate that a deal was expected in mid-September and now it's early November and the election is on top of us, but there is still no agreement.
The larger point is the ongoing deception by Stephen Souza on what this agreement entailed and why it was relevent to bring up at all at the September 18, 2006 meeting.
"We have been working on that and we've almost completed it, we're hoping that these actions won't jeopardize it, because all parties have been in agreement so far to date..."By "these actions" he is speaking specifically to Heystek's living wage proposal. However, Heystek's proposal mainly affected Target workers who would be employed by a Target store that was open for business. The labor agreement that Souza and Saylor have been working on has nothing to do with employees of a Target store, it is only about the construction of the building. That Souza would use this as an excuse to attempt to kill any discussion of a living wage ordinance was dishonest.
And his dishonesty does not end at this point.
In Souza’s opinion, a project labor agreement is more effective than imposing a living wage ordinance on Target alone, he said.Let's be very clear once again--the PLA (project labor agreement) that Souza is speaking of deals only with the construction workers. The end of the article makes this point crystal clear.
Current negotiations do not focus on future Target employees, [Jay] Ziegler [one of Target’s representatives in talks] said.Souza at the September 18, 2006 meeting creates the impression that they are working on something that they are not working on. His suggestion that the discussion and reading of a living wage ordinance might have jeopardized the PLA is utterly irresponsible. There would have been absolutely no impact. His statement gave us the impression that there might be some sort of labor agreement in the works for future Target employees--which would have been news given Target's anti-union policies. But that is utterly untrue. Souza's continuing assertion that this is better than a living wage is also misleading because this is such a limited agreement. Finally, as we reported yesterday, Souza continues to repeat the deception that a living wage ordinance might be unconstitutional when in fact the city attorney made it clear to him that they had a similar case in Emeryville and expected the city to prevail.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
Friday, November 03, 2006
A few weeks ago I suggested that PG&E’s campaign against SMUD may actually be Target’s best friend. A few days before the November 7 election, I think that notion needs to be explored again, especially in the wake of the financial disclosures this week.
Recall back to a year ago—the Measure X campaign rubbed people the wrong way with the amount of money they spent but also the professional looking brochures that bombarded the public on a daily basis. Flash ahead a year later, and we see that the Measure K campaign has actually slightly outspent the Measure X campaign. However, they have toned down their assault on our mailboxes while assaulting us with a slew of cheaply produced TV commercials.
However, much of the scrutiny is off the Target campaign, because whatever excesses you can accuse the Target and the Yes on K campaign of, they pale in comparison to what PG&E is doing to us.
This Monday, and I know I’m not alone because I’ve read it elsewhere, I opened my mailbox to find not two but FIVE different mailers from PG&E in there. FIVE. And because they sent to my wife as well on some of them, there was a total 8 mailers in my mailbox on Monday. They were professionally produced, multicolor mailers. PG&E isn’t shy.
While Target has spent in excess of $200,000, PG&E has spent $10 million plus in fighting to keep its market-share in Yolo County. TEN MILLIION DOLLARS.
PG&E is obviously committed to staying in Yolo County. Target on the other hand, I guess just doesn’t want our business nearly as badly.
I’ve said this several times already, but it bears repeating. I have favored the SMUD annexation for quite some time, but the PG&E campaign has really raised the stakes on this election—but then again, I guess $10 million will do that for you. If they are willing to spend that on a campaign, you can wonder how much this County is worth to them—a fairly small county as California goes.
I think we all knew PG&E would fight to keep Yolo County, I’m not sure anyone expected it to this extent. You have to wonder if they aren’t trying to send a message for future reformers. I think we all need to send them a message on Tuesday—Yolo County cannot be bought.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
Claire St. John writes:
But since Saylor and Souza’s announcement — which came in response to a living wage ordinance proposed by Councilman Lamar Heystek — letters to the editor have asked if an 11th-hour announcement about Target’s new union-friendly business practices would be made.
Souza plays the political game to a tee with his non-announcement.
“We don’t want to make a big hoopla about this,” Souza said. “We don’t want to say anything about it, and then after the election we could say something.”
As is the usual with the Davis Enterprise, there is a lot that is not said here.
The article makes it seem at first like this was the announcement of some sort of labor agreement for the Target workers. Of course, this is no such thing. We are merely talking about using union construction work. I do not want to diminish that, but frankly those were the least of the concerns that those supportive of a both a living wage ordinance and supportive in general of unionize workers had about the Target project.
Second, it suggests that Souza and Saylor were in negotiations with the Target corporation. Well, under whose authority were they acting? The City Council has never authorized such negotiations. So are we to take it that Souza and Saylor are acting on their own? This seems very concerning.
Third, Claire St. John never contacted nor interviewed the minority on the Council--either the Mayor Sue Greenwald or Lamar Heystek who introduced the living wage ordinance. St. John is not a rookie, she knows you have to contact both sides of an issue. Why doesn't she?
Fourth, Souza is quoted as saying:
“We can always come back and discuss a living wage ordinance, but it’s about what is legal,” he said. “We can’t just focus on one employer.”
In fact, both Souza and Saylor both continue to repeat this deception. City Attorney Harriet Steiner at the September meeting told Souza that she had a similar issue in Emeryville and her law partner expected to prevail on it.
(Click here to see that video)
There are multiple serious ethical issues here with both the reporting of this issue and the practices of Souza and Saylor. We need to hold our elected official accountable for their conduct. Members of the city council should not be negotiating separate labor agreements without council authority and consent.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Tuesday marked a couple of firsts; Matt Rexroad mentioned The People's Vanguard of Davis in his blog after responding to a piece that I wrote in which he was mentioned, and Richard Harris referenced this blog in his column in Tuesday's Davis Enterprise.
In his column, Harris writes:
The Halloween View From South Davis is across the digital divide instead of the great Interstate 80 concrete divide.I don't blog. Read them but don't write them.Harris states that I have a serious print envy. I do have a serious gripe--it's not an envy--with the media monopoly in the city of Davis and the lack of reporting on a lot of key issues, the one-sided reporting on many more, etc. So when I go after the Davis Enterprise, it is not because I envy them, it is because I fear them. And I think they do not serve the majority in this community well in the service that they provide.
I put my picture, real name and e-mail address on anything I write for public consumption. Straight up and simple. Shake your hand, look you in the eye and tell you what I think.
Call me old school or label me a Luddite but if you're going to opine, criticize, whine or aggrandize, you should not hide behind the electronic curtain of anonymous pseudonyms in today's blog eat blog world.
But the times are a changin,' Bob, and today's Thomas Paine-lite pamphleteers use blogs as the new water cooler, phone call, rumor mill and leaflet. Frankly, I think many bloggers suffer from print envy.
One presumably local blogger takes "Davis" as his (or her) own nom de plume and recently used his Internet curtain cover to disagree with me about Target and SMUD. He made some interesting arguments but it's hard to take anonymous critiques seriously.
"Davis" usually uses Enterprise columns, editorials or news stories as the foundation for his screeds. Serious envy. One day Mr. Pseudonym picked on Rich Rifkin for "pseudo-satire." The next day he tore into the paper's editor (curiously also named Davis) because her husband took a public position on an issue. Stop the presses on that one. Quit your job because your spouse has an opinion? "Davis" needs to get married.
At least the former "Yolo Blogger," a UC Davis employee who was busted for using school computers to blog, was funny. I hope he buys a home computer and starts it again. As for "Davis," it's a small town. Face your neighbors at the grocery store. Write a letter to the editor. Come out, come out whoever you are. Olly Olly oxen free.
Now allow me to make a secondary point. Richard Harris gets a full column every other week to say basically whatever he wants. And that's fine, I don't begrudge him of that. However, in order for us to respond to Harris publicly, we'd have to write a letter to the editor, that Debbie Davis may or may not print several days later (and she's generally printed my letters, so I cannot complain there). They are limited to 350 words and they are a one-shot deal.
Harris points out my criticism of Rich Rifkin. I'll use this as an example to demonstrate why I prefer blogging to newspapers. Rifkin's column on Target, which I responded to on October 20, 2006, generated quite a bit of controversy within the No on K community, and people emailed me and asked me to respond. Now the policy of the Davis Enterprise is that you can only have one letter pertaining to a campaign. That is a very stringent policy and it means that you basically get 350 words, whereas Rich Rifkin or Richard Harris could get roughly 700 words or so every week--or twice the size--and again he can write on whatever he wants presumably.
Now let's compare the situation of the Davis Enterprise to this blog. When I wrote the blog on Rifkin's column, Mr. Rifkin was able to come over here and respond. And if he had chosen to, he could have repeatedly responded. I've never edited someone's comment, I've never deleted someone's comment, and as long as they aren't threatening people, breaking laws, or using profanity, I never will edit someone's comment. This is a space where there can be free discussion. You can choose to use your real name, put your home phone number as Matt Rexroad did, or post anonymously or psuedononymously in my case.
Blogs are the wave of the future, because the confines of communication are now open and not owned by a corporate and monopolistic entity. I make no profit on this forum. I charge no fee to access it. The public is free to come on here and respond. That's the way it should be.
So I don't envy print. I think it is limited and its exlusiveness is a thing of the past. In fact, if you look at most of the major newspapers, they have gone to blogging as well and you can log onto the Washington Post, read a column and post a comment. You can log onto the SacBee.com and post a comment to the news stories. Notice that the Davis Enterprise--large portions of their website is basically inaccesible because you have to pay to access a lot of the text and there is no blogging. Blogging is the wave of the future. Decentralized communication is on the rise. And print no longer exclusively meets the needs of the populace who no longer wants to sit by passively and accept what is written at face value.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
The latest in the race for California's Fourth Distrct comes from Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who heads the House Armed Services committee. At issue, an email sent by Brown in 2004. Hunter attacked a Brown e-mail calling the Iraq campaign a "war of occupation/aggression" an e-mail Brown wrote in April 2004 while a civilian employee of the Roseville Police Department.
Hunter: "It is not a war of aggression in Iraq. I think his statement is an affront to the troops."Is Iraq a war of aggression? You could certainly make the argument that it is, after all the U.S. attacked Iraq with little to no provocation on the premise that they possessed weapons of mass destruction--a notion that we now know is false. Iraq a nation that was not a threat and not involved in the September 11 attacks on the US.
Whether it is, or whether it is not, the striking feature of Hunter's statement was that Brown's statement somehow represented "an affront to the troops." The decision to attack Iraq was not made by the troops but rather by the civilian and political leaders in this country. Any criticism of the motives for the war does not reflect on the troops but rather on the civilian leadership. So the entire idea that whenever the civilian leadership is challenged, it somehow represents an affront to the troops is nothing more than a political red herring.
Hunter knows that the Fourth District is a heavily patriotic district and strongly supportive of our military. The question is whether the Fourth District like the rest of the country has had enough of the war on Iraq and sees it for what it is.
The rhetoric in the last week of attacking Brown's association with the anti-war movment is premised on the notion that the allies of Brown will make the constituents in the Fourth District uncomfortable and force them to come back home to the Republican party. We believe that the voters in the Fourth District see through this kind of cynical manipulation. And realize it for what it is--a desperate attempt to defend what is an indefensible policy in Iraq.
Meanwhile the fun continues with comments made yesterday by House Majority Leader John Boehner:
In an interview Wednesday on CNN, Boehner said, "Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld."Apparently John Kerry isn't the only one putting his foot in his mouth.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer replied, "But he's in charge of the military."
"The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
While we are certainly glad that people are starting to take notice about the campaign that PG&E has run against H&I, this issue only covers part of the story including the misuse of campaign and city logos for campaign purposes, the complaint filed by the No on Measure X campaign, the complaint filed by the City of Davis. The entire PG&E campaign has been misleading. The central issue in the campaign is over whether or not there will be savings for county ratepayers--the question I have to continually ask is whether you trust any claim that PG&E makes, because I sure don't. At this point, I would at least be inclined to investigate a claim that the sky was blue. That's how little credibility they have with me. I'll be honest, I was always going to vote for SMUD, but it wasn't an issue high on my radar until I watched the utterly contemptible campaign emerge.
The increasingly aggressive election battle over electricity service in eastern Yolo County landed on the steps of the Capitol on Tuesday, with several lawmakers calling for an investigation into Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s campaign tactics.
Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, denounced PG&E for using a customer service telephone line and billing inserts to oppose ballot measures that would enable part of Yolo County to drop PG&E and buy power instead from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.Ortiz and Jones -- along with Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who was not at the news event -- wrote a letter dated Tuesday to the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce requesting that PG&E be asked to demonstrate that none of its inserts, telephone recordings or other political activities was paid for with ratepayer funds.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
First, let's look at John Doolittle, the Republican from the Fourth Congressional District in
Richard Pombo, Republican from the 11th Congressional District is locked in a tight battle with Jerry McNerney. He voted with Target 8 out of 8 times. He had a 90 percent rating from the National Association of Manufacturers, 97 from the US Chamber of Commerce, 100% with BIPAC. And on the liberal side—0% with AFL-CIO and 5% with the League of Conservation Voters. Again, 100% with Target. Which side of the fence is Target on? It seems obvious.
For the sake of comparison, I also looked up the voting record of Mike Thompson, the Democrat who represents much of
It’s kind of scary how closely Target’s votes match up with the three other conservative ratings. And of course, they are the opposite of the AFL-CIO and League of Conservation Voters.
So again, it’s a clear choice. If you support labor and support the environment, you should not be supporting Target. Yes we know they have cheap socks and underwear (and deodorant Mr. Rifkin), but in terms of our values,
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
In particular it was the last paragraph that caught my eye:
We're disappointed in the partisan politics that have been injected into this race. Sure, Rexroad is a Republican but he enjoys broad support from both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. We respect him for his intellect, his abilities and his leadership.Let me tell, I'm just relieved I was not eating when I read that last line.
First of all, the Davis Enterprise is just continuing their endorsements of the pro-growth and more conservative candidates and issues. In particular on local issues. Sure they may endorse Democrats at the State or National level, but at the local level, it's a very consistent record. They endorsed "Yes on
Second of all, don't give me the line "we're disppointed in the partisan politics that have been injected into this race." I'm of the belief that there are NO non-partisan races. The Republicans have understood this for a long time. In the 1970s, they devised a way to groom and recruit candidates from the ground up--a farm system to use sports parlance. In order to run candidates for the State Legislature or Congress that will be successful, you need a good crop of quality candidates who are well known at the local level and seasoned at local "non-partisan" offices.
Howard Dean in developing his 50-state strategy finally acknowledged the huge advantage that this strategy has given the Republicans and enabled them to re-take the Congress in 1994 and hold until possibly this election. Dean's plan is to seed the local level with young and committed candidates, building them into state candidates in future races.
I understand full well that Debbie Davis is not a Democratic activist (in fact as far as I know she’s a Republican), but her position on this the issue of partisanship represents the fundamental flaw in the thinking of local office holders and activists who should know better. Last spring, a number of Democratic activists and office holders supported Jeff Reisig, a conservative Republican. Don Saylor, Davis City Councilmember and Ed Prieto, Yolo County Sheriff, went as far as to wear "Democrats for Reisig" buttons.
Folks, Jeff Reisig is 34 years old, Matt Rexroad is 38 years old. Do you really believe that they are going to be content to stay in these offices for long? These guys are going to be prime candidates for Assembly, State Senate, Congress, etc. Democrats in this county will have helped the future members of Congress for the Republican Party.
Remember Machado barely beat Podesta, a Mayor of Stockton for the State Senate Seat. Do you think the huge Republican power brokers are dumping money into the Supervisor's race for fun? No, they are expecting a return on their investment when Rexroad parlays his Supervisor's seat into higher office--partisan office. And it's exactly the same thing with Reisig--a young, Republican District Attorney who will be a prime candidate for partisan office. And Democratic leaders and activists in
Monday, October 30, 2006
There were a couple of disturbing things that occurred during this incident. When pressed for a reason as to why he pulled them over, Beasley (who immediately took control of the situation--recognizing the couple) said they had an obstructed rear license plate. The explanation makes no sense as it is clear that the police car was traveling the opposite direction, spotted their pick up truck and performed a u-turn behind them. There is no way that the officers could have seen an obstructed rear license plate from the front side. Moreover, of course, there is no obstructed rear license plate. When you see the vehicle it is clear as day. It was the most flimsy of excuses to pull over and continue to harass this couple.
The second and most disturbing feature of this incident is that the couple was able to capture it on film. (For a number of reasons unfortunately it cannot be shown on this blog). At one point, they informed the Officer that they were filming this and he responded that the police were filming it as well.
The City of Davis has installed expensive digital recording devices into all its patrol cars. This has been promoted as a means to not only protect the police officers but better serve the public. However, in most incidents of this sort, it seems that the recordings have not worked. Some have suggested that there are legitimate technical issues in getting such a system operational. Others have suggested that this is a little bit too convenient--especially since some of the most revealing footage is apparently not reporting.
When the attorney for this couple requested to view the police vehicle surveillance video, he was told that it didn't record it, despite the fact that Officer Beasley clearly informed the couple that it was being recorded. Moreover, there is a couple of minute period of time when the police officers go into the trunk of the police car and appear to be doing something back there. From the coverage we've seen it is unclear as to what they were doing, but it seemed to be a strange thing to do at that point in time.
All of this will be forwarded to the proper authorities, however, troubling aspects of this remain, particularly the unreliability of the recording equipment and the open question as to whether or not the officer has the ability to manipulate or alter recordings on the scene. These are questions for the new police ombudsman, Robert Aaronson, to address and we hope he is allowed to view and investigate this incident.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Someone has sent me a copy of the Op-ed from Thursday in California Aggie that attacks Charlie Brown and Jerry McNerney for failing to show up at a UC Davis campus event. The op-ed piece is filled with errors and inaccuracies.
First, the charge that the campaigns “they disrespected the campus population and demonstrated that the student vote is not a priority for their campaigns.” The UC Davis campus is nowhere near the districts for either campaign. The campaigns had been invited by a local political operative and the College Democrats of UC Davis to recruit volunteers to help with these campaigns. Unfortunately given the length of travel time--well over an hour-and-a-half round trip--it seemed better for the candidates to remain in their districts speaking to actual voters and to send surrogates in their place.
Second, “The two men are vying for the opportunity to represent the fourth district, which encompasses several counties in the Sierra Nevada area, including
Third, “While Stenhouse said his candidate believes young people play an important part in the election, Brown did not have the courtesy to give sufficient notice of his cancellation, thus potentially alienating student voters who showed up to hear him speak.” Potentially alienating the student voters who showed up? Only five students showed up and none of the students who showed up could have voted for them. Only 12 people in total attended the event including the students, the event organizers and the candidate's representatives. The campaigns were hoping to be able to mobilize young volunteers to help with their final effort. Unfortunately, due to the suspected low event turnout and the amount of time that the candidates would have to take out of their busy day, it was determined that it would not be productive use of their time to have the candidates themselves there. Facing many obligations each campaign must judge the value of using their candidate, their limited resoures and their time wisely. One of the lessons that people need to learn about politics is how much work a campaign involves. I’ve been to numerous events that have had to be altered or cancelled because of other commitments and priorities.
Fourth, “Students deserve to hear the political goals of congressional candidates as much as older voters. As such, any campaign official who visits the campus should be prepared and focus on the campaign issues.” The op-ed writer apparently was unaware of the purpose of this rally.
Finally, “With the election less than two weeks away, time is crucial. These candidates must now work to garner the support of student constituents before it's too late.” Again, the op-ed writer apparently has no idea where these districts lie or the fact that none of these students are constituents.
The bottom line is that while the California Aggie is a student paper, they need to do their homework and understand that this rally was not about garnering votes but tapping volunteers. Instead of throwing uneducated accusations towards the Brown and McNerney campaigns, had they done so they would have realized that these two candidates represent districts far from the UC Davis campus but were hoping to tap into the energies of young students to add grassroots workers in the final days of the campaign and had been invited to do just that. I find it illustrative that the op-ed never mentions the number of students (again, five) who actually attended this rally or explains to us what the purpose of the rally was. Unfortunately, the writers do not appear to understand it themselves.
On October 20, we reported that the No on H & I campaign was trying to fool voters by using the No on X logo implying support by the No on X campaign for PG&E. A few days later we received a letter from the No on X campaign, demanding that PG&E retract "the implication that the No on X Committee has anything to do with your campaign against Measures H and I."
Finally, nine days after we first ran the article, the Davis Enterprise has run a story on the controversy. The main focus of the story is the unauthorized use of the City of Davis logo (see top right of the image above). Harriet Steiner wrote a letter to the FPPC and the Yolo County District Attorney's office. The City Council complained that they were not asked permission for the use of the logo and would not have granted permission had they been asked. You may recall that all of the members of the Davis City Council have endorsed the SMUD Annexation, along with the member of Woodland, West Sacramento, and the County Supervisors.
This follows another snafu from the PG&E backed group, where a ballot designation of the Davis Chamber of Commerce was used by Bruce Gallaudet, husband of Davis Enterprise Editor, Debbie Davis. Surprisingly that story has not been published by Davis Enterprise. Nor has the Davis Enterprise printed the complaint by the No on Measure X people, despite the fact that they sent the same letter to the Davis Enterprise that they sent to us.
---Doug Paul Davis Reporting