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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Davis City Council Delays Proclamation to PG&E While Woodland "Studies" Public Power Issue

PG&E had a representative waiting in the audience to receive their award for donating $10,000 to the Davis Street Smarts program. But they will have to wait at least until the next meeting to receive it because Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek made a motion that would result in a delay in the proclamation presentation until a future meeting when the council could concurrently offer up a resolution similar to Woodland City Councilmember Art Pimentel's to support future efforts to develop public power.

The move began at the start of the Council Meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Sue Greenwald asked for the approval of the agenda. Councilmember Heystek instead introduced a motion to approve the agenda with the exception of the proclamation to recognize PG&E's contribution. Mayor Greenwald seconded the motion. And Heystek explained that he thought the council since Measures H and I passed overwhelmingly in Davis should join Pimentel's efforts by affirming their commitment to public power at the same time they award PG&E, the city's present provider who spent millions to defeat the public power initiative last fall.

Councilmember Don Saylor looked visibly shaken by the turn of events but eventually caught himself. When Ruth Asmundson spoke in support of Heystek's motion, it was all over and the motion passed without dissent. Coucilmembers Heystek and Stephen Souza will be submitting resolutions that dovetail on Pimentel's Woodland resolution and staff will iron out any differences. When the vote comes back to council, we can expect it to pass unanimously.

Unfortunately things did not go as smoothly last night up in Woodland. Instead of passing a rather simple resolution, the council has directed the formation of a subcommittee composed of Art Pimentel and Skip Davies. The passage of it will be tenuous as best as it is clear that neither Jeff Monroe nor Bill Marble will support public power again. Mayor Dave Florey may hold the swing vote there.

This is a rather disappointing turn of events, as just a few months ago, the Woodland City Council had been unanimous in their support of Measures H & I. However, the City of Woodland overwhelmingly voted down the measures on the November ballot. I am very disappointed with Jeff Monroe. Monroe is supposedly a Democrat, who has future ambitions for higher office--some have suggested possibly sheriff. Too often he is not reliable in supporting core Democratic principles. Supporting public power over the massive corporate entity of PG&E should be a no-brainer. But that might require Jeff Monroe to take a risk now that the Woodland voters so overwhelmingly opposed H & I in the wake of the disinformation campaign put on by PG&E to confuse the voters. Instead of fighting to educate his community, Monroe is playing it safe.

It may seem like a small victory, but the actions by the Davis City Council loom large as PG&E who had been pounding on the Woodland City Council and using the full force of their power and influence to prevent the passage of the resolution, were denied an honor the same night down in Davis. They will get their turn, but only as the Davis City Council renews their professed commitment to public power.

The PG&E representative, obviously caught off-guard by the actions on Tuesday, was forced to give a brief statement during public comment expressing support and commitment to safety issues.

It was not a perfect day for advocates of public power, but the Davis City Council stepped up and did the right thing. Now it will be interesting to see if PG&E wants to expend the same efforts to pound on the Davis City Council that they did to the Woodland City Council. I will go out on a limb and say they will not because they see the writing on the wall.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting