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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Panel May Favor School Closure, but does the School Board?

The Davis Enterprise reported last night that most of the school task force members are leaning toward closing a Davis elementary school due to declining enrollment. Valley Oak Elementary would be the prime target.

School Board members Sheila Allen, Jim Provenza, and Tim Taylor however all suggested that this would not happen for the 2007-08 school year.

Allen was quoted as saying: “the board needs to be honest with the community that a major change (like closing a school) in the 2007-08 school year is not realistic.”

Provenza added: "To close a school in the next (school) year would hurt the district.”

Tim Taylor said, “I don’t want the community to go into hysteria thinking that the board is going to jam something through on March 1.”

On Tuesday night before the Davis Democratic Club Sheila Allen was emphatic that she was against closing any school and that more over she did not believe that we should pit neighborhood against neighborhood. She strongly supported the ideal of keeping all elementary schools open.

Jim Provenza was also there the other night and while he was not as forceful on this as Sheila, I did not get the sense that he was in disagreement.

At the end of the day, I do not see three votes to close a school. It certainly will not happen in 2007-08. And I think by 2008-09, they will have figured out an alternative strategy.

On the other hand, the task force members were overwhelmingly of the opinion that enrollment had dropped and that it could not sustain the current nine school strategy.

The task force will meet again next week and the final report is expected to be available sometime before the March 1 meeting of the Davis School Board.

At the end of the day, the school district most likely will not take the route of closing a school. I think it is far more likely that they will try to find an alternative solution to prevent the closure of neighborhood schools.

One of those options would be to redraw some existing attendance boundaries for elementary schools while keeping all nine schools open. At this point, despite the task force leaning toward closing one school--probably Valley Oak--I think this alternative is more likely to be adopted by the school district.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Midday Briefs

UC Davis sexual offense statistics--when more is better?

That's what they are saying--that the huge discrepency between UC Davis and the rest of the University of California Schools actually is a good thing.

At one point, UC Davis was heavily criticized for the failure to report the true number of statistics--now it is leading the way.

According to the Sacramento Bee:
"No one is saying UC Davis has more crime. Experts say other schools probably have similar numbers but aren't doing as good a job with outreach programs and counseling services to make victims feel comfortable about reporting rape and other sexual assaults."
It goes on to cite Daniel Carter, vice president of the national watchdog organization Security on Campus, who told the Bee, that UC Davis deserves credit for addressing a problem that affects most college campuses equally.

Kudos to Josh Fernandez of the Woodland Daily Democrat

First of all, his story on the Freddie Oakley's protest of same-sex marriage prohibitions was outstanding.

Second, he has a great blog entry where he himself gets a certificate of inequality and ends up with his photographer.

No word yet on where gifts and donations can be sent...

Strange Happenings from Bob Dunning

First, Dunning's criticism on Tuesday of the membership of the General Plan Housing Element Steering Committee was right on:
While we can quibble about a name here or a name there, the council has obviously gone to great lengths to appoint a diverse, talented, dedicated group of individuals.

Or at least as diverse and talented and dedicated as 15 white people can be.

The complete lack of persons of color, not to mention the dramatic underrepresentation of renters and politically unconnected folks is stunning for a town and council that prides itself on diversity.
Dunning not only is dead-on in his criticism, but he then follows it up yesterday with praises, yes praises some of the progressive members of the committee:
ABOUT THAT COMMITTEE … while the racial makeup of the newly seated General Plan Housing Element Update Steering Committee has drawn some well-deserved criticism, blame the appointers, not the appointees … of the 15 who have agreed to serve, there are several who will bring an interesting perspective to the every-other-Thursday meetings …

Pam Nieberg has been involved in more causes than most people have fingers and toes, and her passion and love for Davis are beyond dispute … the same for Pam Gunnell, who nearly won a council seat several elections back and has a one-issue-at-a-time approach that defies labels …

… Mike Harrington served on the council and has a realistic understanding of what will fly and what won't …

Eileen Samitz is too smart to have ever run for council, but like Pam Nieberg, her commitment to making Davis a better place is without question …
Then perhaps most shockingly he strongly supports Measure J (CORRECTION: originally I wrote that Dunning opposed Measure J, he has since informed me that he in fact supported it at the time.)
While Measure J doesn't apply to either proposal, maybe it's time we consider putting all projects of a certain size on the ballot and let the people decide directly … despite predictions of gloom and doom by opponents, the Measure J concept has served Davis well … it doesn't prevent growth, it simply allows everyone to have a say …
Dunning's strong and sudden paddle to the left is enough to leave us all stunned, but we'll remain wary of the "wary one" for the foreseeable future.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Report on Police Oversight Coming at Tuesday’s City Council Meeting

A review of the police oversight bodies will occur this coming Tuesday. That will include a report from the Ombudsman Bob Aaronson. Mr. Aaronson was hired in September, so he has been on the job less than six months. There will also be a report from the Police Advisory Committee (PAC) and the Community Advisory Board (CAB).

As an aside, when I spoke to Bill Emlen on Tuesday, he indicated that a decision on the new police chief would be made by today. It will be interesting to see if that does indeed happen.

Today, I will once again briefly discuss the Community Advisory Board. Its mission reads:

“Using two way communications, improve relationships between the public and the police. To actively represent the community by articulating, advising and tracking community and police issues.”

Moreover the official purpose is:

“This board meets with the Police Chief on a monthly basis to provide input to the Chief regarding constituent concerns.”

And yet it is ironic that a body created to improve relationships between the public and the police has meetings that “are not open to the public.” How does a private body meeting with the police chief improve relations between the public and the police?

Moreover, the composition of this body also must be in question. On paper this appears to be a diverse group of individuals, but one striking facet jumps out at us, with the exception of one member, there are no critics of the police on this board.

So you have a body that meets in private and which is composed of individuals who have generally been supportive of the police and that is the body that is suppose to improve constituent-police relations.

In the coming week or so, I will be interviewing some of the members of this body. One question that I will ask is the same question I asked last year at this time. What is this group actually doing? A year ago, it was listening to the Chief of Police Jim Hyde tell them about crime patterns in the community and also listening discussions regarding new programs and technologies being used by the department in police cars.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to hear an update on the state of new technologies in the police cars. One problem that surfaced this year was the inoperation of the in-car recording system. There has been a suggestion that that is now fixed. Another problem has been with the in-car computer system and the inability for police cars to know exactly where another unit is and what they are doing.

My general belief though is that the oversight of the police needs to have at least one public component. There is a case to be made for some of the bodies to meet in private to discuss some of these matters. But look at the mission statement for the CAB again. How does the police receive input on constituent concerns unless they are hearing from ALL of the citizens? Not just the people on the committee. Not just the people who are supportive of the operations of the police. Not just the people who have supported the majority on council—but the people who have been the most vocal in their complaints about some of the police operations and some of the operations of the police.

To me this is a no-brainer. And yet, to the majority on the city council - and it appears the staff at city hall- believe there needs to be the ability to meet behind closed doors. I just wonder if the police chief is getting the kind of information he needs from this kind of body. I hope if the city hires Captain Landy Black, he too will re-examine the function and composition of this body and determine if a more open and transparent system would serve his needs and the needs of this community better. It would serve to further regain the trust of the community that has been lost.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Commentary: Civilian Police Review Under Fire


Last week, an Alameda County Judge ruled that the Berkeley Police Review Commission’s public hearings violate state confidentiality laws. The Judge wrote:
“Public disclosure of (the commission’s) records” violates a penal code establishing that “records pertaining to peace officer misconduct, complaints, investigations, hearings and personal records are confidential.” (Daily Californian, February 13, 2007).
The ruling allows the commission to privately review complaints and submit its findings confidentially to the Berkeley Police Department.

Last year the California Supreme Court ruled that all police personnel matters are confidential. Most other California cities halted public police disciplinary proceedings after the Supreme Court ruling.
However, Berkeley "continued to fight for the practice, arguing that officers' "awesome and intrusive powers" should keep the police force open to broad scrutiny" (Associated Press, February 13, 2007).
The Associated Press also reports that the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the ACLU are pushing for legislation in the State Legislature to overturn the Supreme Court decision from last year.


There is a clear balance of principles at stake in this discussion. On the one hand, there is a notion of confidentiality for personnel records not only of police officers but also all public employees. On the other hand, the police have the ability to wield immense and intrusive powers into the private lives of citizens. If misused, an error by a police officer can alter a citizen's life. That is an immense power and responsibility. So the question is how best do you ensure that police officers are operating within the scope of their duties.

The civilian oversight process argues that transparency of government actions is the best way to ensure that complaints do not merely get swept away. On the other hand, police advocates would argue that a politicized process serves neither the community nor the officer.

My own view on this says that we should err on the side of oversight and transparency and then build in processes to protect the rights and reputations of individual police officers as needed. I believe that not only serves the best interest of individuals but also of the police. The public can trust that the sworn officers of the law are themselves operating within the law's parameters. That trust will then immeasurably aid the police in the dangerous and vital work that they have to do.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Examination of EAP Program Reveals Surge in Spending and Hours

Based on a tip, we made a public records request of the recent city spending on their Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is supposed to cover short-term psychological services for employees who are experiencing programs of a temporary sort. The previous EAP system was limited to eight visits per issue per year. The city in changing its provider in January, the staff report indicated it wanted an even shorter number of visits:

“The proposed EAP contract allows employees up to six visits per incident per year; our current EAP contract allows employees eight visits per year, with no per issue cap. This has allowed employees to use the current EAP provider for long term psychological counseling. The City’s desire is to only offer short term counseling for employees to help them through a traumatic event that is causing problems at work, home or both. The City has no desire to pay for employees’ long term psychological counseling.”

In January, the City Council voted to authorize a change in the vendor from the locally based Psychological Resource Associates (PRA) to the nationally based Cigna. One of the key reasons was PRA’s bid was $38,000 while Cigna’s was $14,000. (Please see the full details of these plans and some of the concerns about these bids)

At the time, our concern was of the lowball nature of Cigna’s bid, which seems in many ways to be a “loss-leader," since it would appear that they would be losing money on the bid. Large insurance companies and HMO's have been widely known to use a "loss-leader" strategy when bidding on EAP's to get their foot in the door with a customer they are not currently doing business with. Then in future years when submitting bids for the major health benefits portion of a firm's or agency's business (which is extremely lucrative) they point to their ability to substantially reduce costs as evidence of why they should be selected as the new major health benefits vendor.

However, an examination of the recent records reveals something else may be going on. Looking at the three previous full fiscal years, we see a surge in both the amount of hours billed and spending.


Hours Billed


FY 2003-04



FY 2004-05



FY 2005-06



The numbers show that suddenly from 2005-06 a surge in both hours billed and cost. The increase from 230 hours to 311.5 represents an increase of 35 percent over the previous year. While the spending increase represents nearly a 41 percent increase over the previous year.

It is important to note that the new bids were based in part off of the FY 2005-06 spending. Since last year the amount billed was nearly $34,000, the bid was $38,000. Whereas previous years the amount was considerably less and thus the bid by PRA would have been considerably less.

The question has been raised as to whether that was intentional. An audit would be in order at this point, examining why exactly the usage of this program suddenly increased by 35 percent over the previous year while the year before the figures and hours billed were fairly comparable. (There is missing data from the previous year but it would have looked similar to 2003-04 and 2004-05).

There have been suggestions that one thing that occurred in the past year is that some of the patients received more than 8 visits per year. That is one thing an audit would reveal that a public records request cannot. This appears worth examining more to see what is going on, and why the demand for this program suddenly surged in 2005-06 just as the contract was coming up for renewal and just as the city made the determination for the first time in 23 years to put the bids up in the form of a request for proposals (RFP).

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day is a Happy one For Area Same-Sex Couples

Given some of the furor and lead up to the same-sex marriage certificates of inequality granted by Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley, I was expecting to see something more along the lines of a Valentine's Day Massacre by the Christian Right. Instead, what I saw was a vast expression of love by area same-sex Couples, heavily tilting toward those of the X-Chromosome.

Oakley in a written statement said:
For four years in a row, I have followed the law and denied marriage licenses to same-gender couples who apply annually on this date. I will continue to follow the law.

But this situation, where following the law requires me as a public official to treat people unequally based on gender, is a painful reminder to me that we have not learned the lessons of courtesy, decency and fairness that we seek to teach to our children.
She concluded by saying:
Today I am protesting this discrimination by giving a special Valentine's Day memento to people who request one. I do this at my own expense, in the exercise of my own civil right to call for a change in the law I must faithfully administer. I am the hand that must ultimately deny the application of some couples to contract a civil marriage, but I truly believe that the American values of courtesy, decency and fairness mean that if anybody gets a Valentine, everybody should get a Valentine.
The downstairs section by the County Clerk's Office was jammed with a long line of people waiting to get their certificates. Outside, was a modest group of people who had come to protest this action by Ms. Oakley. Perhaps 40-50 people carried signs saying "Everyone has an equal right to Marriage, Just follow the rules." Another more radical group carried more hate-filled messages, such as "God's Word Says: 'Remove the Evil Person (Freddie) From Among You.'" The ACLU had a counter-demonstration led by Natalie Wormeli and Paul Gerowitz carrying signs such as "Freddie Rocks" and "Who Would Jesus Discriminate Against."

Those fearful of harsh retributions against Oakley, it appears would be able to rest comfortably. The protest seemed rather small and mostly tame except for the out-of-area group holding the more abrasive and hate-filled message.

All in all, it should be a very happy day for area same-sex couples.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Yamada Steps Closer to Announcement

Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Mariko Yamada greeted Davis Democractic Club members last night at their annual Valentine's Day Dinner. Current county challenges include the General Plan Update and a Davis Area Library Services measure to be placed on the November 2007 ballot. Yamada also said she would be joining Yolo County Clerk Recorder Freddie Oakley at noon for the issuance of "Certificates of Inequality". At the conclusion of her remarks, Supervisor Yamada informally stated that she was preparing for a run at the 8th Assembly District seat currently held by Lois Wolk. A formal announcement is expected before the end of February.

Davis School Board Member Jim Provenza was one of several Davis and Yolo County elected official on hand last night. Provenza delivered a stellar speech about the need to be vigilant defending civil liberties. Provenza's words applied equally to the political landscape both locally and nationally.

A surprise guest appearance was made by former Congressional candidate Charlie Brown who valiantly ran against right wing Republican John Doolittle for the Fourth Congressional District of California. Brown a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, narrowly was defeated last November by a narrow 49-46 margin in the most heavily Republican District of California. Brown announced that his fight was not over as Doolittle continues his support for the Iraq war and the corruption charges against him continue to mount. Brown has kept his Congressional Committee alive as an exploratory committee and appears to be seriously weighing another challenge against John Doolittle. Brown was greeted with a warm and enthusiastic welcome from a strong contingent of Davis Democrats.

Other elected officials on hand were Assemblywoman and future State Senate Candidate Lois Wolk, Davis Mayor Sue Greenwald, Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek, County Assessor Joel Butler, Davis School Board Member Sheila Allen, and Yolo County Guardian Cass Sylvia. Allen stated strongly her opposition to the closing of Valley Oak and her opposition to the idea of pitting neighborhood against neighborhood. She strongly supported the ideal of keeping all elementary schools open.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Freddie Oakley's Courageous Stance Has Her Under Fire from Religious Extremists

Across Northern California County clerks will express their support for same-sex marriage Wednesday.

However it is Yolo County Clerk Freddie Oakley who is leading the way. She will give the couples a "Certificate of Inequality."
“Whereas: The state of California arrogates the right to limit your freedom to marry based on the gender of your chosen spouse, and

Whereas: Based on your choice of spouse I may NOT issue a license to marry to you, and
“Whereas: I am unable to divine any legitimate governmental purpose in the regulation of your marriage partner’s gender,

Now, therefore: I issue this Certificate of Inequality to you because your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important that principles of equality.

Issued to: (a name here) and signed, this day, February 14, 2007

Freddie Oakley, Yolo County Clerk-Recorder.”
The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday covered Yolo County Clerk Freddie Oakley.
"I issue this Certificate of Inequality to you," the document reads, in part, "Because your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important than principles of equality."

"This is my fifth year as county clerk and the fifth year in which I will be refusing marriage licenses to people of the same gender," Oakley said. "It gets harder every year."
Meanwhile Randy Thomasson of "Campaign for Children and Families" is trying to mobilize against Oakley.
Californians, protect marriage in the public square on Valentine's Day!

Homosexual activists are demanding marriage licenses again. This Valentine's Day in California, same-sex marriage advocates will barge into 20 county clerk's offices, asserting the right to be called husband and husband and wife and wife.

The situation is at its worst in Woodland, northeast of Sacramento, where County Clerk Freddie Oakley a self-proclaimed "evangelical Christian" who supports homosexual marriage will issue so-called "certificates of inequality" which support homosexual "marriages" to homosexual activists who come to her office on Valentine's Day.


This is like San Francisco all over again. Oakley's misuse of her public office has caught the attention of the media. We must protest this county clerk. We must stamp out the fire of corruption that she has started by violating her solemn oath to "well and faithfully discharge the duties" of a county clerk.
This group is intending to have large numbers in protest of Ms. Oakley's stance. The ceremony starts at noon outside of the County Administration building.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Profiling the Housing Element Steering Committee Members

It was originally my intention to do a profile on each of the members of the steering committee individually. What I've discovered is that there is too much going on and things are occurring too quickly to do that. So what I have done is two-articles that covers each of the members in varying amounts of detail. This first article will be on those members appointed by the council majority of Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson and Councilmembers Stephen Souza and Don Saylor. For those who have already been covered, I will link them back to the article.

One of the people previously profiled was Brenda Little Manager of the Tandem Properties, however she has since removed herself from the committee and was replaced by Lucas Frerichs. Jeff Adamsky also declined his spot and was replaced by Kevin Wolf.

One of the themes that I examine throughout this profile is who supported Covell Village. Covell Village is paramount in this discussion for two reasons. First the council majority proposed it and it was very soundly rejected at the polls by the voters by a margin of nearly 60-40. But second, and perhaps more importantly, discussion this past week focused on the development at Cannery Park and it seemed clear from the staff report and comments, that the intention is to bring back development at Covell Village despite the voters overwhelming defeat. Of the 9 members of the committee, 7 supported Measure X and two do not have known positions on it, but it seems likely that at least Former City Manager and current Realtor and Businessman Bob Traverso supported it as well.

Kristin Stoneking a campus minister and director of the Cal Aggie Christian Association was appointed by Don Saylor. Reverend Stoneking was involved a heated controversy over the infill development of the Christian Association Center with the neighbors in Elmwood. Please click here for the full profile.

Jay Gerber owns the Cable Car Wash in Davis. He was appointed by Don Saylor. Gerber was a strong proponent of both Target and Measure X while he was a strong opponent of Measure J. Please Click here for the full profile.

Ellen Shields was the third member appointed by Don Saylor. She is an elementary school counselor for the Davis school district, serving at Valley Oak Elementary School. She has been active with school activities including the PTA. She was a supporter of Sheila Allen in the 2005 School Board Elections.

Donna Lott was appointed by Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson. Lott is a former member of the Davis Planning Commission. Lott ran for the Davis City Council as one of the development candidates along with Souza and Saylor. She finished 6th in the large election field with around 13 percent of the vote. She ran as a strong proponent for additional growth and housing development in Davis, arguing that the city needed to re-examine the current general plan. Lott said calculations in the city's General Plan need to be updated to reflect current conditions, such as UC Davis growth, and that city leaders need to start now looking beyond 2010.” She was actively involved in the push for Measure X and the development at Covell Village. In a yes on X brochure she said: "I invite you to join me in voting YES on Measure X on November 8 to return the Covell Village acreage into the footprint of our community."

Maynard Skinner was appointed by Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson. Skinner served on the City Council from 1966 to 1974 and 1988 to 1996 (for a second eight year term of duty). Serving as Mayor from 1972 to 1973 and 1991 to 1992. While Skinner is often associated with the Progressive era of Davis politics, Professor John Lofland in his book, Davis, Radical Changes, describes him as a moderate: "Poulas, Motley, Evans, Taggart, Corbett and Skinner were ambiguously mild left or centrist and all often did quite well...[at the polls, relative to more clearly progressive candidates]. I conclude that while the political leadership of this famous progressive period could achieve majorities sufficient to make innovative policies, it dominance was precarious."

He was the mayor in the first two years of the Revolution of '72 Council. While he was not himself a major figure in that change and simply standing there when it happened, he rolled with it rather than stood against it. Skinner is one of the more iconic figures in Davis political history. He has often commented that he started out in Davis politics perceived as being a raving political radical, but over time he has been increasingly characterized as conservative or moderate.

He was the central member of the Council who brought bike lanes to Davis at a time other people in power of skeptical of the idea.

By 1990 Skinner was classified as a moderate. Lofland writes: "In the same 1990 election that brought moderates to power, voters rejected citizen initiative Measure C that would have limited Davis growth to 1.78 percent a year." The Davis Enterprise of December 31, 1990, quoted by Lofland, reported that "a late campaign, financed up front by Councilman Maynard Skinner, helped contribute to an overwhelming vote . . . [against it]. Skinner later paid off the campaign debt with a fund-raiser attended by builders, real estate interest and area developers."

Skinner has recently begun working strongly with developer interests and lobbying for development companies. He was a very strong supporter of Measure X--inundating Davis residents with multiple "robo-calls" urging residents to vote for the massive development. He has in general supported the council majority on development issues. And has endorsed the council majority in City Council elections.

Kevin Wolf has been a long time environmental activists owning a consulting company call Wolf and Associates and then starting up Wind Harvest International which specializes in the development of wind technology and energy development. He was the strong opponent of several developments including Wild Horse, however, he has in recent years moved in the direction supporting big development in Davis, most notably in his front line advocacy and activism on behalf of Measure X.

He was involved in a couple of controversies during this campaign, one involving the use of the Friends of the River organization in a yes on Covell Village Mailer in June of 2005 that drew this response:

“A mailing arrived at the homes of most, if not all, Davis residents this week that included a quote from Kevin Wolf in support of the Covell Village development project and identified him as representing Friends of the River — thus implying an organizational endorsement of the project. That is not the case. Friends of the River has not endorsed the Covell Village project. We have no organizational position on the issue, nor do we intend to. This was an unauthorized use of our name and at no point were we contacted by the authors of the mailing either before or since the mailing went out. Kevin Wolf is a former employee of Friends of the River and currently does occasional consulting work with the organization. According to Kevin, he was also not consulted about being identified as a representative of Friends of the River. The developers of Covell Village have a responsibility to make a formal retraction and clarify that Friends of the River has not endorsed the project. Peter T. Ferenbach”
This prompted a quick apology by Mike Corbett, the project’s designer.

“In a recent brochure, we accidentally identified Covell Village supporter Kevin Wolf with a title saying "Friends of the River." Unfortunately, he was read the final copy over the phone and had no idea that we made this mistake in his identity. He thought he was going to have a label "environmental activist and local business owner."

There are also enduring questions about Mr. Wolf's business relationships from both the Covell Village campaign and now. Does Mr. Wolf stand to gain financially from his activities as a member of this committee? That seems an open question and as some have suggested given the nature of financial disclosure forms, one that we will not know.

Luke Watkins, an associate of the development company Neighborhood Partners was appointed to the committee by Stephen Souza. Mr. Watkins served as a planning commissions from 1986-1991. He then ran for the City Council on the progressive slate along with Julie Partansky and Dave Rosenberg. It was a tough field but he finished credibly.

Beginning in 1996, he began developing Affordable Housing Projects with his business Partyner David Thompson forming Neighborhood Partners. Since that point with few exceptions, Watkins has not been actively involved in City Elections.

“David and I decided that we had to take this step in order to make sure that our nonprofit clients/partners did not end up being denied housing funds by council members who did not like our political faction. When you are asking for millions of $ in city resources, you can not afford to be at odds with the council majority (which ebbs and flows over the years)… I may have broken this rule a couple of times in the 1990s to endorse Steve Souza and Mike Harrington, because they have each been personal friends for more than 20 years.”

Neighborhood Partners has been the subject of a large amount of criticism. Critics have suggested that many of their projects have either been failures or needed large bailouts. Most recently Eleanor Roosevelt has come on line, however at a recent city meeting, City Staff Jerilyn Cochrane told the Senior Citizens Commission that there are still 40 vacancies among the 60 or so units. Watkins and Thompson believe that it will fill up when Section 8 funding becomes available. Davis Area Cooperative Housing Association (DACHA) was the subject of an audit last year and is now in the process of suing its low-income clientele for a variety of breeches of contract.

Watkins was also supporter of Measure X.

“I supported Covell Village. This was largely because I think that the design by Mike Corbett was quite innovative, and he is a good friend whose city council campaigns I managed twice. I do think that the project was too large and should have been presented as a project that only went to the edge of the Covell drain and thus had less traffic impacts.”

Watkins served on the previous General Plan update as well.

“In future developments I am very interested in getting more modest style housing (in the 10 to 15 unit per acre density range), instead of luxury custom homes. I would like to try to mandate photovoltaics on all new single family units. And growth that occurs needs to be planned in such a way that all of the amenities get financed and constructed as the housing is developed.

I also think that we need to aggressively try to craft our plan in the context of the county general plan. If we end up with the county approving growth on our border, like for example in the northwest quadrant (west of the hospital) then we could end up with more growth than we have planned high quality infrastructure for.”

Bob Traverso is a former Davis City Manager for a brief time in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was appointed to the committee by Stephen Souza.

Traverso has always been a controversial figure in Davis politics. In 1989 he was named City Manager. Immediately many complained of his "dictatorial style" that made "him a poor choice to be the city manager manager. " They said "that some high ranking officials will leave the city now that the council has selected Traverso." (Davis Enterprise, April 6, 1989). Sure enough on April 11, 1989, PLanning Director Tom Lumbrazo resigned citing "irreconcilable differences over management style and the future direction of the city." The Davis Enterprise reported on April 11, 1989, "The prospect that Traverso might win the job has been creating turmoil at City Hall for month." Also then Interim Assistant City Manager John Meyer "announced" that he was "leaving to take a job" with a private company. Several other high ranking city officials resigned as well.

John Meyer would return however just a year and a half later to be the new City Manager after Traverso was fired in September of 1990. The Davis Enterprise on September 20, 1990 reported that "Traverso was forced by a council seeking new direction and more amicable relationships with city employees..." The following day the Davis Enteprise reported that "his early retirement follows a tumultuous 1 1/2-year reign as city manager. Morale has been low among employees and several top officials have resigned, taking public swipes at his management style." Councilmember Dave Rosenberg was one of the few who remained a strong supporter of Traverso, saying "I stand by Bob Traverso." However other councilmembers had heard "concerns of citizens about city manager practices during their council campaigns" and promised to "assess the situation once they took office."

Traverso also would later have a serious problem with shoplifting. In the mid 1990s he was arrested for shoplifting $1500 worth of merchandise from Davis Lumber. Apparently, he simply loaded up a cart with merchandise and brazenly walked out of the store. The store employees were so stunned by this that they did not attempt to stop him. Rather they called the police and turned over the store surveillance tapes and he was finally arrested. He was defended by former Davis Councilmember Bob Black and given an extremely light sentence that outraged many in the community.

In recent years, Traverso and his wife, Carli, are high-powered realtors with Lyon Real Estate. In addition, he owns his own winery, producing Traverso Wines. He has also served on the California Gambling Control Commission. In recent years has endorsed various members of the council majority including Souza and Puntillo. And he as always remains a strong political ally of Dave Rosenberg throughout Rosenberg’s various political endeavors.

Lucas Frerichs
sits on the board of the Davis Food Co-op and also is a member of the Social Services Commission. Frerichs was a one-time supporter of Sue Greenwald and also Mike Harrington, however more recently has supported Measure X and the members of the council majority. Mr. Frerichs is a long time board member of the Davis Food Co-op, serving since 2000. He is also a former student at UC Davis in political science.

Frerichs allegedly used the Davis Food Co-Op attribution in an ad supporting Measure X:

“November 7, 2005 Davis Enterprise:

Joan Randall, president, Davis Food Co-op board of directors:

The Davis Food Co-op does not endorse Measure X ... nor does it oppose it. Some might think otherwise after seeing the full-page, picture-rich ad in Thursday's Davis Enterprise (Page A7).

First, the ad contains false information. David Thompson is not a member of the DFC board of directors. He has, along with scores of others over our long history, served on the board.

Lucas Frerichs is a current board member. Some reasonable people might think the position he takes in the ad is in some way reflective of an official opinion of the DFC board of directors. This is not so.

Although the DFC has no official position on Measure X, we welcome the opportunity for democratic decision-making in our community. The Co-op is democratically run by its member/owners so it makes sense that although we do not support one side over another, we support the process.”

Mr. Frerichs contacted me the other day, however, has not returned requests to meet for an interview at this point. He has been described by people who know him as an exceptionally nice person, however in recent years has increasingly associated himself both personally and professionally with development interests (such as David Thompson and Luke Watkins) in addition to his strong support for Measure X. Hopefully in the near future we can meet for an interview and expand this profile a bit.

In an upcoming blog entry, I will conclude the profile of this committee by profiling the six members appointed by the Council minority of Mayor Sue Greenwald and Councilmember Lamar Heystek.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, February 12, 2007

John Garamendi, Jr to Run for the State Senate

Inside sources are suggesting that John Garamendi Jr., Vice Chancellor at the University of California at Merced and son of Lt. Governor John Garamendi will join Assemblywoman Lois Wolk as candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Senate District of California.

Last week the Sacramento Bee reported:
On the Demo side, the names of Assemblywoman Lois Wolk of Davis and UC Merced Vice Chancellor John Garamendi Jr. have been thrown in the pot. On the GOP side, political watchers who know a thing or two about the district have offered up the names of Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian of Stockton and Dean Andal, a former legislator and Board of Equalization member, and a current board trustee of the Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton.

The 5th SD, currently represented by termed-out Dem Mike Machado, covers parts of Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo counties, with about half the voting populace in San Joaquin County. Registration is about 46 percent Dem, 33 percent Reep and 17 percent independent.

If the race holds true to early form, it could be to the 2008 Senate campaigns what the 34th SD was to the 2006 derby, when the race between eventual Dem winner Lou Correa and Reep Lynn Daucher wasn't decided until two weeks after the election, and the victory margin was less than 1 percent.
In 2004, Democrat Mike Machado won an extremely narrow victory over Stockton Mayor Gary Podesto. This time figures to be an extremely close race. Garamendi, Jr. has lived in Davis in the past and his wife is a faculty member at the UC Davis School of Medicine's Department of Public Health Sciences. This figures to be a tough fight for the nomination as Wolk is a longtime officeholder in Yolo County first as Davis City Councilmember and Mayor, then as County Supervisor, and since 2002 as Assemblywoman for the 8th Assembly District.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Interview with Police Chief Candidate Landy Black

At some point this week, the city of Davis will make its final determination as to whether or not to hire Captain Landy Black of the Seattle Police Department as the new police chief of Davis. I have been disappointed that the city of Davis has not had a more open hiring process to allow the public to get to know each of the candidates prior to decision. At this point, Captain Black is the only remaining candidate.

Last week on Friday, Captain Black was kind enough to sit down with me for a lengthy phone interview. I am extreme grateful for his time and hope the community of Davis appreciates this as well.

My honest assessment of Captain Black is that he says all of the right things when questioned on them. There were very few things that he said that I disagreed with. I am very hopeful therefore that he would be a good hire. I do have but one concern and that is that he seemed at times very polished and very rehearsed. I felt a bit of difficulty trying to get beneath that. I talked to a few others who interviewed him and they had a similar take. It is possible that is just his personality or style and that I read too much into this. However, that is my only hesitancy about him at all. As I say, based simply on what he says, he seems like an excellent prospect to be new chief and I look forward to working with him to improve the Davis police department.

What follows is an interview that I have mainly paraphrased.

What is your policy or thoughts on racial profiling? He said that he considered himself to be a very moral person and to have a very strong understanding of ethical considerations, and supports the need for integrity and responsibility in law enforcement. He believes that the Constitution is paramount and that laws will guide us to stay within the Constitution. Police officers have a responsibility to maintain order and preserve the quality of life. This extends to people who the police have to take law enforcement actions with. These actions need to be based on conduct rather than misperceptions based on who they are. And they Need to be based on conduct rather than the person.

Do you support gathering stop data which would include gender and race? It has been done in Seattle. The process tends to end up with statistics. Statistics are susceptible to interpretation and misinterpretation. They can be misused. The process would need to be extremely sophisticated and take into account the factors that put people into positions where they are approached by police. Sometimes statistics alone do not tell us a fair story. There is a need to ensure the type of leadership within the department that understands what is right. Law enforcement is the vanguard to the Constitution. Not that there are not going to be mistakes, however the goal of the use of statistics should be to help finely tune the police department as an organization.

What are your thoughts and proposals about diversity and cultural awareness training? They have a valid point. He has experienced quite an array of programs—some are very good and some are useless. Each program needs to be evaluated based on the message trying to get across. They need to be inclusive and convey to the officers the sense that there is some value in the training. He mentioned a particularly good one that they recently attended put on by a professor from Portland State. That would be the type of model he would support, but he feels the need to evaluate the organization and its needs first. He believes the program and training needs to be tailored to the organization as each individual organization has its own culture.

What is your experience and commitment to the community regarding hate crimes? He said that he feels very embarrassed as a member of our society when he hears about those sorts of things. He believes we are too advanced a society to have not gotten past this. He also believes that sometimes a police department can be saddled too much with the responsibility of changing social mores. Hate crimes are wrong and criminal. They need to be treated and investigated completely. But he also thinks society as a whole needs to take responsibility for changing things. Police departments are the reflection of the community in this regard and reflect the level of tolerance for this behavior by the community. He suggests that the police department is just one part of the process though—albeit an important one. As a police department one of the things he would like to be able to do is foster trust and allow people to participate in the process. He would like to be able to be at the table and have discussions with the prosecutor when they make the determination of how to prosecute such crimes.

How do you define "community policing?" How do you propose to accomplish that effort? He believes community policing is the soul and root of American law enforcement. He thinks that law enforcement has become perfunctory and procedurally orientated as society has grown. That law enforcement needs to be able to identify where the problems are in the community. That the community needs to help them identify where those problems are and that they can forge a strong partnership with the community to both identify where the problems are and create a partnership with the police to look for cooperative solutions. One thing he stressed was the need to eliminate actual problems rather than merely reducing a set of numbers.

What experience will you bring and what efforts will you make to outreach to the many diverse communities? He comes from an extremely diverse community in Seattle and he and his department have actively looked for ways to involve them. He wants to look for people disenfranchised with the process to bring them into the process. He wants outreach for people for whom English is a second language to bring them into the process to communicate their concerns. When people know the police beyond simply making 9/11 calls or writing letters of complaints, they communicate a greater level of trust and understanding. He wants to look at a variety of outreach methods and look for new modes of communication with all of the various communities.

What is your willingness to meet with groups and individuals in the community who have concerns or criticism of the police department and/ or yourself? He has no problem with that sort of thing. He believes that police departments are not doing service to the community if not communicating with critical people. But there is a dual responsibility. The community needs to inform them about where they can make improvements. Also wants to know when they are doing the right thing and not just the wrong thing.

What are your thoughts and experience about community oversight of law enforcement? Police are there to serve the community and should always mirror the community’s values. Professional accountability—i.e. civilian oversight works. There is strong evidence that shows that it works. He does not have a problem with it. He believes that it helps the police to see things in the broader perspective. The police should be the extension of the community and one way for the community to communicate concerns to the police is through oversight. He thinks the approach in Davis is a reasonable one. He looks at two factors: (1) What are the processes that the police department uses and will those processes get us to a solution? (2) Are the actions that they are taking—are they doing them correctly and in unbiased manner? He did have some concern that the separate bodies in Davis—the ombudsman and the Police Advisory Committee were doing some of the same work and suggested a need that each have specific goals and a specific set of expectations. There is a shared responsibility that is going on right now and he thinks that may be somewhat problematic.

Overall he conveyed the sense that he liked the department and he did not feel after meeting with the staff that there were problems within the department. While I do not get to see the department from the inside that is not the perception I have gotten from the conversations I have had in and around the city. He suggested strongly that he looked forward to working together with all aspects of the community to create the best possible police force and he felt that was paramount toward creating the best possibly community.

We should find out at some point this week if Davis indeed has a new police chief. My sense was that he felt his visit went very well and we will see if the city agrees.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Sunday, February 11, 2007

California Supreme Court Rules Advise of Attorney No Defense Against Conflict-of-Interest Charges

In a decision that is likely to have strong reverberations in Davis, the California Supreme Court ruled this week that public officials may be guilty of violations of conflict of interest laws even when a city attorney advises them that their actions are legal.

According to a February 9, 2007 Los Angeles Times article:
"A public official is not required to know that his conduct is unlawful" to be found to have broken the law, Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote for the court. "Therefore, reliance on advice of counsel as to the lawfulness of the conduct is irrelevant."
The defendant was charged with violating Government Code section 1090 by holding a financial interest in a contract made by the public agency of which she was a member.

The defendant then claimed "entrapment by estoppel defense." Entrapment-by-estoppel is an "affirmative defense" that "is available when a government official has actively misled a defendant into a reasonable belief that his or her charged conduct is legal."

The court rejected this claim. In part this rejection was based on the specific situation of the individual who was a council member and the attorney served at their pleasure.
The court observed that the city attorney in Bell Gardens was a subordinate of the City Council. An official cannot escape liability by "claiming to have been misinformed by an employee serving at her pleasure," the court said.
Otherwise, a public official could "insulate herself from prosecution by influencing an appointee to provide the advice she seeks."
However, they also ruled much more generally on this question so as to appear to apply to all cases where an individual used the advise of counsel as insulation against prosecution for conflicts of interest.
"Private attorneys interpret and advise their clients on the application of statutes under all kinds of circumstances. Yet the average citizen cannot rely on a private lawyer’s erroneous advice as a defense to a general intent crime."

“The defense of action taken in good faith, in reliance upon the advice of a reputable attorney that it was lawful, has long been rejected. The theory is that this would place the advice of counsel above the law and would place a premium on counsel’s ignorance or indifference to the law.” (People v. Chacon).
This ruling is particularly germane at this moment to the General Plan Housing Commission Steering Committee. The question arose on Thursday about the issue of conflict of interest.
Former Davis City Councilmember and Committee Member Mike Harrington said at the meeting, “Some people in this room stand to make tens of millions of dollars from our decisions.”
According to the Davis Enterprise:
"Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of 15, said Bob Wolcott, Davis’ principal planner. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote unless there was a good reason to put housing on a property he or she had a financial interest in."
At the time of yesterday's story, we found this an unconvincing argument.

An individual city councilmember is just one of five, and yet anytime a discussion comes within 500 feet of their property they must recuse themselves.

The City is in the process of updating its Conflict-of-Interest code:
"Pursuant to Government Code Section 87302, the code will designate employees and officials who must disclose certain investments, income, interests in real property and business positions, and who must disqualify themselves from making or participating in the making of governmental decisions affecting those interests."
This Supreme Court ruling then would appear to apply in this case. Just because Bob Wolcott says that Committee Members wouldn't need to recuse themselves, does not make it so. Member of the steering committee despite the advice of City Planner Bob Wolcott and City Attorney Harriet Steiner, could still potentially face conflict of interest charges.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting