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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Commentary: Deafening Silence on Covell Village by Dunning and Others

On November 17, 2006, Davis Enterprise Columnist Bob Dunning maliciously excoriated Councilmember Lamar Heystek when the Councilmember made the observation that Target was "by no means a mandate." Dunning responded surreptitiously that "target didn't need a 'mandate,' just one vote."

Imagine Dunning's outrage had the county decided to step in and prevent the building of the new Target. He would be arguing that the county was blatantly and willfully ignoring the will of the Davis voters and overstepping its bounds.

In 2005 the Voters of Davis voted down the Covell Village by a wide margin, a measure that Dunning if he did not outright oppose, certainly had strong leaning in that direction during the Measure X campaign. And now this past Tuesday the county both staff and supervisors were talking about resurrecting that project along with two others. What was Dunning's response? Was it outrage? Did he blast the County for usurping the will of the Davis voter? Did he hold Supervisor Helen Thomson, a Yes on Covell Village supporter, in contempt for ignoring the clear will of Davis voters?

I read his column from yesterday with great interest. But amazingly instead of going after the county for trying to thwart the will of Davis voters, Dunning is taking shots at the Davis City Council for trying to protect the right of the city to determine its own growth.
"YOLO CONTENDERS … boy, does our City Council like to think it's in control or what? … stunned that the county might actually try to have a say in the where and how of growth in this Yolo Wonderland, Councilman Steve Souza said "I want a strong and forceful letter sent to the county." … in other words, send the growth to Dunnigan …"
Hey it is not like the Davis voters didn't vote against one of the projects by a 60-40 margin. It is not like the City of Davis and the County of Yolo did not sign a pass-through agreement. It is not like the City of Davis is not due to pay the county $72 million over the next 18 years--more than the rest of the cities in Yolo County combined--not to develop on Davis' periphery. And it is certainly not like the Davis voters did not pass Measure J--a measure that Dunning claims he supported--that gives the Davis voters the right to determine what projects to approve and what projects they disapprove.

If Dunning wanted to be clever, perhaps he could have quipped that for the one time in our memories the entire Davis City Council agreed on something--that growth in Davis' sphere of influence, on its periphery, should be determined by the city of Davis and not Yolo County. Instead of signaling any agreement with the Council's apparent unanimity in this instance, he chose to mock the bedrock of our land use policies for the last 20 years, which is very telling. One can infer without much strain his ambivalence about the concept behind Measure J, which is up for renewal in 2010.

Hey it is easy to poke fun of Bill Kopper's efforts to stop this land deal. I too thought it was premature to talk recall before a vote was taken. But let me tell you something, Bob Dunning was dead wrong when he said on Friday that recall was "dead on arrival." At 3:45 pm yesterday, before the board of Supervisors took a very quick about face, the recall was alive and well and the General was coming down from the mountain to lead the charge.

And let me tell you something else, the amount of times that recall was raised by the public on Tuesday was once. But it was raised repeatedly, over and over again without prompting by members of the Board of Supervisors, specifically Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada. They complained about it. They whined about it. It got under their skin. But at the end of the day, the threat of recall was one factor among many that led to the halt. No sir, the recall was not dead on arrival, it was very much alive.

I read in today's Dick Dorf column, Dorf's continued support for development at Covell Village. Mr. Dorf was a strong and outspoken supporter of Measure X. Sir, your side lost. Your side lost by a very wide margin. Do you really believe it when then Mayor Asmundson said, the "voters didn't understand what the 1,864-unit development offered" or that "We needed to educate the community better on the project," as she did April 30, 2006? Sir, we did understand the project, the costs, the liabilities, the traffic, the air pollution, the unaffordability and ultimately in large numbers decided to vote no.

Bob Dunning attacked Councilmember Heystek when he issued a mild statement about the closeness of the Target vote precluding a large mandate but said nothing when the County Board of Supervisors tried to overturn the landslide no-on Measure X vote.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting