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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Don Saylor: "I feel disrespected and treated without dignity"

Late Tuesday night, and actually more accurately early Wednesday morning, the Davis City Council had a long discussion about what to do with the Cannery Park development project.

Part of the reason that the staff recommended that consideration of Cannery Park should be put off has to do with expectations perhaps that there would be a renewed development project with the adjacent site which is right now just outside of the city limits and that had been the location for the Covell Village development project.

Toward the end of this discussion Don Saylor made a statement that was rather surprising in its tone:
"I want to make one small observation, in our council ground rules, under the first paragraph, it says that each councilmember should treat each other with respect and dignity even when disagreements arise. I feel disrespected and treated without dignity when my motivations are questioned and it is assumed that I am leading to something that I have not said."
You can watch the full statement on the youtube link below.

However, I have to say when I heard this, I was taken aback by the tone. Because first of all, not one of the comments made by Mayor Sue Greenwald or Councilmember Lamar Heystek were personally directed toward Mr. Saylor. There was general discussion about what the plans were for the Covell Village development site. This was legitimate since it was mentioned in the City Staff report.

Councilmember Heystek said:
“November 2005 is not in our distant memory. I think it would be disingenuous to assume something for the North Central area. I think as a body, we are kind of tone-deaf.”
And for people who opposed Measure X and the development at Covell Village, it made perfect sense to remind the council of the bitter and cantankerous vote that occurred less than 15 months ago. Moreover, that this measure was very soundly defeated by a large sector of the population.

There was a debate during the meeting as to what that vote actually meant, and that is fine. But none of that debate could be interpreted as a personal swipe at anyone. And in fact, I would interpret it as concern about the language in the staff report that strongly suggested that the issue that was just defeated would be revisited.

Councilmember Saylor speaks in a very monotonic and measured manner. That is simply how he speaks, whether you talk to him in person, listen to him at a council meeting, or listen to him give a speech. This style I think serves him well for meetings of this sort, but when he gives a public speech, it tends to translate rather poorly.

In this case, Saylor's measured speaking style probably saves him. Because if you listen to what he says, rather than his tone, he is essentially whining. He was not disrespected and he was certainly not treated without dignity by his colleagues on the council. There was simply concern given the staff recommendation language about what the intentions were for this controversial development site.

For Mr. Saylor to take these questions as a personal affront, is rather appalling.

I think this sort of behavior strikes at the very heart of many people's concerns about Saylor as an individual. It certainly did nothing to add to the discussion. And as we have seen in the past when he feigned indignation about using a parliamentary maneuver in order to reconsider a city Park's consultant proposal, and then a few weeks later admitted that he had done as much, I think it harms his credibility. He clearly counts on the fact that this is occurring after midnight and few will get to witness it.

Mr. Saylor's tenor does very little to improve the tone on the council. More frankly on an evening that began with a strong show of unity on the part of the Davis City Council dealing with the county and the perceived threat from there, for Saylor to complain about such a trivial matter, severely undermined any progress that had earlier been made toward unity and reconciliation. In short it Saylor's comments were undignified and uncalled for.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting