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

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Midday Briefs

Davis Enterprise Headline on Anderson Bank Building Issue Causes a Stir

Under the headline of "City opts for history over commerce," the Davis Enterprise article caused some controversy of its own as I received a number of complaints via email.

The article itself also generated complaints of people claiming that the coverage was skewed toward building owner Jim Kidd and his comments and away from the 3-2 council majorities' viewpoints.

The headline alone though has to give one serious pause because it actually takes sides implicitly in the policy dispute.

On one side of the argument was Jim Kidd's initiative to lower the building windows citing the need for improved space for retail development.
"Over the last twenty years I have been attempting to rent and keep retailers at the corner of the location of the Anderson building. For the most part it has been a constant revolving door of these struggling to be successful."
This argument by Kidd and his supporters suggests that the issue is about commerce, and that in order for the downtown to be vital and to war off the big boxes which "are at the gates of Davis" you must allow him and others like him to create a more business friendly image.

However, the majority on the council on this issue rejected that Manichean view of commerce and history as a zero-sum game in which a choice in favor of history is automatically a choice against commerce (as the headline applies).

Councilmember Lamar Heystek spoke of the need to weigh the character of our downtown community in addition to the economic value such development may create. He did not view economic goals as the only important consideration, however, it is unfair to suggest as the headline would that he chose historical importance over commercial uses.
"If we place the goal of economic development above all other goals, I think the city would look a lot different."
Councilmember Stephen Souza was explicit and adamant that retail development is not the only realistic alternative for that space and preferred to look at other commercial uses.
This evening we've been fixated on retail, we've been fixated on this notion of retail, and trying to find a use that meets the building, rather than trying to find a use that fits the building." And I'll say that again in a different way, we want to find a use that fits the building rather than altering the building to fit a use. I'm not convinced, I'm just not convinced at this point in time that we have exhausted and been creative in trying to find a use that fits the building.
For some reason in recent debates commerce has been limited in those debates to retail. Retail is not even the majority commercial use of downtown. Thus the headline also denotes a very limited conception of commerce as only applying to retail rather than the much broader array of types of commerce that the term actually implies.

The problem with the headline is that it adopts the perspective of the applicant rather than a neutral perspective for framing the issue. The applicant's perspective was that this was a struggle between history and commerce and that commerce lost. Whereas those on the council majority saw it as a question of balancing the considerations of history with the possible alternative types of commercial enterprises that could more appropriately fill that space.

It is worth noting since the issue arose, that the boards of directors of the Davis Downtown Business Association and the Davis Chamber of Commerce both supported lowering the windows. It is also worth noting that the chief editor of the Davis Enterprise is a past member of that board and that her husband is a current member of that board. It's not clear that the decision was made by that individual, but it is worth noting.


Malcolm X Day Event

Malcolm X: Davis Library Blanchard Room 6 PM - Sat. May 19th

We will celebrate the life of Malcolm X this Saturday in the Library. Bring your friends and the whole family as we learn about the important events in the life of Malcolm X.

Refreshments will be served.

Awards will be presented.

Malcolm will be remembered and honored.

Davis High School Catalysts for Social Justice

This Monday, May 21st, the DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL CATALYSTS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE STUDENT RESEARCH SCHOLARS will host their 4th Annual Research Presentation, entitled:


These young people have worked and are working hard to present a body of data that will be of service to Davis families, teachers, and community members. They have undergone an abbreviated training in research and advocacy regarding race relations at Davis High, Davis, and the country. Please come and support them.

You can contact Jann Murray-Garcia (753-7443) if you have any questions.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting