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Monday, June 04, 2007

Saylor Announcement: The Rest of the Story

Don Saylor announces his bid for reelection, and the Davis Enterprise treats it as a headlining story, not only above the fold, but at the very top of the paper. We of course have known since January that Saylor would be running for reelection, and it is worth noting that his counterpart and colleague Stephen Souza did not get above the fold treatment when he announced his reelection bid a few months back.

However, this story is not about placement, it is not about what Saylor said on Friday night, and it is about what he did not say and what was not reported. You've heard the news; now you will hear... the rest of the story.

In the photo on the right from the Davis Enterprise, Saylor is shown talking to Bruce West and Jeff Pelz from West Yost Associates. What the Davis Enterprise does not tell you is who West Yost Associates is and what their connection to Davis City government entails. West Yost Associates are the water consulting engineers who have been receiving city money to design and construct the new water intake system. That's a project estimated to run the city between $150 and $300 million dollars and likely to increase residents' water rates by two to three fold over the next 10 years or so.

Don Saylor has been a strong champion of the new water project despite strong reservation from many progressive, environmental, and smart growth groups. The project has drawn strong questioning from a number of university faculty who are experts in water quality. These experts have great concerns about the costs of the project, wisdom of transporting Sacramento River Water, alternatives, environmental impacts, etc. However, the city led by Don Saylor has heard very few of these concerns at least in public, and one of the reasons is the insistence of Don Saylor to push this project through. So here you have associates with a company that has millions of dollars worth of business with the city at an event supporting Don Saylor's bid for reelection, meanwhile Saylor has refused to support an independent, outside second opinion regarding the feasibility of postponing this project until the $200 million wastewater and storm water upgrades are paid off.

But there is more. As the Vanguard has demonstrated in the past, Saylor continues to want to have it both ways--supporting development projects while talking about sustainability and a lighter environmental footprint.

According to the paper, Saylor said, "sustainability cannot be accomplished by 'saying no to every development opportunity.'"

Sounds like a fair enough statement, but then there is no mention of Saylor's track record on development. In fact, it is hard to think of a development opportunity that Saylor has not supported. Saylor hasn't "said no to every development opportunity," he's said no to almost no development opportunities.

On this score, no mention of the ardent support that Don Saylor had for Covell Village. He was outspoken as a supporter of Covell Village both in the planning phase and in the ballot initiative phase. In fact, he was much more than just a supporter--he and his council majority colleagues actively campaigned for the proposal--acting as advocates and cheerleaders for it. He acted as an advocate for developer interests on the Covell project as a member of the council. This is a proposal that was voted down by the Davis voters by nearly a 60-40 margin, and yet Don Saylor supported it, strongly. Now he wants to suggest that we cannot say no to every development opportunity.

Likewise, Don Saylor was a strong advocate for Target, an initiative that passed by the barest of margins last November despite a $300,000 campaign that outspent the opposition by over 10 to 1. As with the Covell Village project, he worked on the Target campaign and helped to get it passed. These are two of the biggest development projects ever proposed in Davis and Don Saylor was supporting both of them.

Don Saylor's statement about not turning down every development opportunity rings false, in fact, I wonder if there has ever been a major development opportunity that Saylor has opposed in Davis. Frankly, if he supported Covell, he's probably going to support them all. Those of you who are nervous about the 3rd and B Street Visioning Project might want to keep that in mind.

Those of you who voted against Covell Village should be wary that there are plans and have been discussions both in council and in the Housing Element Committee to look into Covell Village II. This is not just about punishing Saylor for his past votes, it is for ensuring that the residents of Davis, 60% of whom voted against Covell Village, have their choice respected by their elected representatives on the council.

Saylor also made veiled reference to "sustaining the fabric of community."

According to the Enterprise:
"By that, Saylor was referring to the tone of public discourse in Davis which has, at times, crept into the uncivil. He pointed guests to copies of an op-ed piece he wrote for The Davis Enterprise about community relations."
Well if Saylor wants to wage his campaign based on civility, I would suggest he is opening a giant hornet's nest. If Saylor wants to point people toward his op-ed piece, I will point Vanguard readers toward my response to his op-ed piece, entitled: Who is Saylor to Lecture US on Civility in Public Discourse? In that piece, specific incidents are mentioned where Saylor himself is uncivil--attacking both the Mayor and Councilmember Lamar Heystek--sometimes rather viciously.

Don Saylor wants to talk about civility does he? Where was Don Saylor when his colleague Ruth Asmundson attacked Mayor Greenwald on the dais?

Asmundson stated:
"It's just unfortunate that the mayor cannot run the meeting more efficiently... If we have a more efficient meeting then we can finish all these things."
As it turned out the problem was not so much that the mayor couldn't run a meeting more efficiently it was that certain council members, namely Asmundson and Saylor spoke for a disproportionately long time compared to their colleagues. Of course, Saylor never spoke against the uncivil tone that his ally used, and yet he wants to lecture us about bringing civility to this community? How about starting by putting your money where your mouth is.

Politicians get away with making misleading statements because no one calls them on the truth. When Saylor wants to run a campaign based on half-truths and tries to have it both ways to confuse the voters into believing he is environmentally conscious and that the debate is really over not turning down every development, he attempts to insult the intelligence of the voters of this town. The voters know that Saylor has a reputation as a strong supporter of even development projects that are voted down by massive margins and as a man who is quick to be just as uncivil to other individuals as he falsely accuses them of being to him.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting