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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Text of the Speech that Got DHS Student Suspended

The following is the text of the speech that got the student suspended for three days. Remember this was approved. Judge for yourself...
Most of the time when people talk about discrimination at school it usually involves students harassing another student, which I too have faced, but these incidents don’t just happen to students. When I was asked to tell a story about being pointed out for my religion, Islam, the first thing that came to me was what a teacher on our own campus had done.

Earlier this year one of my teachers agreed with our class that we could bring posters if they were appropriate. I decided to bring in a Malcolm X poster with the quote, “We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

I hung up the poster with her agreement and everything was fine. The next day I came into class and found the poster was gone. I went to my teacher and asked for the poster back. Instead she wanted me to sit down and said she was going to make an announcement to the class.

So class began and she told us that she had been thinking all night about the poster and the quote. She told us that that quote represents terrorism. That terrorists who kill, rape and shoot everyday stand by that quote and will do anything to see that come to existence.

I was in shock. I was angry. I was even hurt. I couldn’t believe the lack of judgment, poor choice of words and frankly the ignorance.

How could one of our own DHS teachers believe in this? It was not necessary for her to call me out in front of the whole class, and single me out. She was telling us that the poster I brought in represents terrorism.

I am not calling that teacher a bigot or anything, but what I’m saying is that we must watch what we say. We stand by our words. Our words express ourselves and show what we believe and think. So if you go up to an Arab and call him a terrorist, or a black man and call him the N-word, you’re expressing your beliefs even if it’s a joke.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting

City Continues Move toward Stripping Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of Key Power

When the Davis City Council in June of 2006 put the Human Relations Commission on hiatus, one of their stated reasons for doing so was that the commission had gotten off track from its mission of promoting tolerance and understanding. While this is a laudable goal in any community, it was not the full charge and duty of commission.

The council subcommittee of Stephen Souza and Ruth Asmundson then sat down and re-wrote many of the charters of the commissions. One of the bigger changes was to be to the HRC which was to be precluded from investigating police issues and to have a primary purpose as an educational rather than an investigational commission.

It was not until newly elected Councilmember Lamar Heystek brought forward the language from the city's seminal anti-discrimination ordinance, that the council realized there may be inconsistencies between the new authorizing resolution of the HRC and the city's anti-discrimination ordinance passed in 1986.

At issue is Section 7A-15(C):
"Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against in violation of the provisions of this ordinance may file a request to have the Human Relations Commission investigate and mediate his or her complaint. The Commission may adopt rules of procedure to accommodate the needs of such investigation mediation. A complaint to the Commission shall not be a prerequisite to filing a civil action under this section, and the findings and conclusions of the commission issued in response to such proceedings shall not be admissible in a civil action."
As Souza admitted as recently as last Tuesday, he had not read the ordinance when re-writing the rules and in fact, despite serving for many years himself on the HRC, was unaware of the ordinance at all.

This issue came up again on Tuesday, when Lamar Heystek pulled a routine item off the consent agenda that would have approved the minutes to a recent HRC. Councilmember Heystek then then put forward a motion that was seconded by Mayor Greenwald to assign city staff rather than the subcommittee to be in charge of reconciling the two documents. That was voted down by the council majority by a 3-2 when they passed a substitute motion allowing the subcommittee once again to do that work.

Councilmember Heystek respectfully but firmly pointed out to the subcommittee that they lacked legal training and moreover they had originally missed the provision. Councilmember Souza's defense was that they were not even aware of the provision, to which Heystek responded that proved his point.

The anti-discrimination ordinance was originally adopted into law by the City Council on Feberary 26, 1986 and approved by Nichols-Poulos, Rosenberg, Tomasi and Mayor Ann M. Evans and opposed by Jerry Adler. It was then affirmed with a vote by the people of Davis.

It is clear that the intent of the council majority here is to weaken the seminal anti-discrimination ordinance and remove from it the authority of the Human Relations Commission to investigate complaints.

Already we have seen numerous cases arise where the HRC's in the past would have played a vital role and this HRC has been silent. Moreover, we have also seen several events where the diversity of Davis is no longer showing up. Someone noted this to me on Cesar Chavez day and my terse response is what do you expect, many felt disenfranchised when the HRC was originally disbanded. Many do not feel that minorities are welcome in the city of Davis. Little that has occurred in the past now almost year has changed those feelings. This proposed alternation of the anti-discrimination ordinance would be yet another step in that direction. The day cannot come soon enough when there is a new council majority that puts an end once and for all to this nonsense.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, April 06, 2007

Disturbing Incident involving Davis High School

A few weeks ago, a Davis High School student, a 4.0 honors student heavily involved in student government and community causes, turned in a poster for one of his classes on Malcom X. On the poster appeared the phrase, "by any means necessary" along with other phrases from one of Malcom X's most famous speeches.

This is a phrase comes from this context:
"We declare our right on this be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary."
The next day, the student came back and found that the poster had been taken down and in front of the class was told that this was a "terrorist" message.

A few weeks later, this same student was asked to give a speech in front of the school during Human Relations Week about a civil rights incident that he had experienced. He was given a choice and decided to do it on this specific incident. He then gave them an advanced copy of the speech which they approved. He was told that he could not specifically mention the teacher and he agreed to this.

He then delivered the speech, he did not mention the teacher's name. Apparently the teacher however walked out during the speech, he and his parents were called in by the Vice-Principal.

There were several different meetings between the father and the school, but suddenly unbeknownst to the family, the student was informed that he was suspended for three days. The father went to complain and was told to leave the campus and he ended up calling his lawyer.

These are the preliminaries on this story, more is likely to emerge in the coming days. But this appears to be a big story in the making. To me on the surface this seems to have been handled very poorly. The Malcom X quote was clearly not intended to be a "terrorist" message. The teacher clearly overreacted there. I mention this since the terrorist issue arose, that this student is an American-born Muslim. Apparently the ACLU has been contacted, CAIR is involved, and many of the student's peers are outraged.

The three day suspension is a very harsh penalty given the facts involved. Now did he break his word? I do not know. But that seems an extreme punishment for a student involved in an academic exercise who is not dealing drugs or starting fights.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Commentary: Enterprise Article on Mayor Greenwald Slanted

I was quite surprised on Wednesday evening to read the Davis Enterprise Article that covered the city council discussion on the West Village. In my view it unfairly pilloried Mayor Sue Greenwald and it missed out on some of the key points that Mayor Greenwald was trying to make.

First of course is the headline that dispels any reasonable belief that this would be a somewhat impartial analysis of the proceedings:
"Annoyed City Council reaffirms position on West Village project"
Key word here is "annoyed." Annoyed is a word that requires subjective categorization of events. It implies that one has been annoyed by a specific situation without explaining of course whether that annoyance is justified.

Next Davis Enterprise Reporter Claire St. John writes:
"But the philosophy of how to present that message was at issue Tuesday night when most council members criticized Mayor Sue Greenwald for bringing the issue to the table without supporting documents and with an intention to change the message, if only slightly."
"Most" in this case is the council majority who generally opposes Mayor Greenwald's policies and frequently clashes with her. There is little context to this categorization and it implies that this is something unusual rather than business as usual (when in fact the council majority often criticize Greenwald and they are often wrong to do so). Moreover, just because the council majority of Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson and Councilmember Stephen Souza and Don Saylor criticized Mayor Greenwald, does not mean there is any validity to their criticism. They have at times criticized her and she has been the one who is right.
"Greenwald said the council's position should be that it wants to annex the development if at all possible, pointing out that the council does not require affordable or student housing within the city to break even."
The mayor's motion was actually:
"It shall be the position of the City of Davis that annexation of the University’s West Davis neighborhood is a goal that we strongly support in concept."
A key component of that motion was to provide a more accurate and detailed fiscal analysis. One huge point of contention is that the current fiscal analysis fails to consider a scenario where the university is the provider of fire and police services to West Village.

Another subjective invective statement:
"The council didn't get to the West Village item until just before midnight, and annoyance was apparent."
There is that word again--and again no discussion as to whether the council majority was justified in being annoyed. One could argue that Mayor Greenwald should be the one annoyed because the majority refused to allow this item to come forward as a regular agenda item.

The article quotes Don Saylor:
“We have no staff analysis in front of us, there are questions of the analysis that are not before us, there are questions of the assumptions that are not before us. This is incredible... And then there's a request to change council policy.”
And yet the article fails to mention that the reason that there is no staff analysis is that the council majority refused to allow this to be agendized as a normal agenda item and instead had to be brought before the council as an item submitted by a councilmember which allows for no staff work to be done on it.

The article also includes this quote from Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson:
Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson repeated that annexation should occur only if it pencils out, the same statement the council made four years ago.

“I wish the mayor would remember, once a policy or issue has been approved by a majority, it becomes city policy... That's government; that's democratic process.”
Of course there is no context for this quote. It is unclear what the Mayor Pro Tem is speaking about and it is unclear what statement means in reference to the article. It was as though the reporter had this great quote and could not find a place to put the quote. The reader is left to wonder if the Mayor Pro Tem is objecting to the Mayor bringing this item forward because the council majority has already ruled on the issue. Does that imply that the council can never rehear consideration? Well that cannot be the case based on practices by the this council. So then what? I have no idea what Asmundson was objecting to and the reporter never clarifies the quote, puts it in proper perspective. or even makes it clear what the speaker was saying.

My sense of this issue was that Mayor Greenwald was attempting to bring this item forward in order for there to be a fresh fiscal impact report that would examine the cost without the city provision of fire and police services.

Additionally the Mayor seemed to desire a public discussion rather than the discussion of annexation that has been relegated to a council subcommittee. Moreover she believes that the fiscal assumptions that the fiscal impact would be neutral or negative would destroy any hope for annexation.

It should surprise few that while the article was loaded with invectives and incomplete information, there was little coverage in this particular article as to why we ought to consider annexation. What benefits the community would have to bring in a housing development planned on the city border by the university rather than leaving it cut off from not only city services but also city government. We're talking about 475 single-family homes and townhouses along with apartments that would house an additional 3,000 students. We do not want faculty and students to reside in our community?

It is my general view on matters such as these that fiscal analysis is an excuse rather than a reason to not do the annexation. If the council majority believed that such an annexation would benefit them, they would have done it long ago--just as they have pushed for other peripheral housing developments which probably also have the same fiscal impact on the city as the West Village would. The major reason for opposing this is that it would not benefit them to add affordable housing as opposed to adding homes that cost $500,000 or more. Why is that? I guess we can do the math and figure out who is more likely to support them.

In the end this is a simple political analysis--affordable student and faculty housing just doesn't fit their goals. Hopefully students and faculty will remember this next time they claim to be university friendly.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Making Tough Choices on Global Warming at the Local Level

This year for the first time marks a real shift in the issue of the global warming. It seems that for years there was a destructive debate over the issue of whether global climate change was caused by human activities--a debate that fundamentally missed the point because while we had a political debate--often muted--on this question, we missed out on many opportunities to mitigate climate damage that would not have disrupted the economy and were things that we ought to do regardless of whether or not this issue exists.

However, this has all changed this year, you can see it in the focus from the scientific community, you can see it the production and publicity that Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" has received, and you can see in the response at the state, county, and local government levels.

Global warming is a well-documented problem that is far bigger than just the city of Davis. However, many of the changes needed on an international level begin with practices at the local level.

Tuesday night at the Davis City Council meeting, there was an agenda item on global warming and the things that the city needs to do to reduce emissions.

The real question I had after watching both the presentation and the council exchange following it is whether or not this is window dressing by the council majority to appear to be environmentally friendly and socially conscious or whether this marks the beginning of real changes--tough changes--that we have to make in order to affect the global climate and must be undertaken at a community-by-community level.

The city is putting together an action plan to reduce the carbon footprint which they claim is already low and already many of these items are in place. The big one of course is to drive less. Vehicle emissions represent a huge amount of the carbon problem.

An interesting thing that came up at the county level perhaps a month or month and a half ago was Duane Chamberlain, the County Supervisor who represents much of rural Yolo County talked about his conversations with local farmers about how much fuel they used per acre of their land. It was a fairly low number when he compared it to how much fuel was used in a medium density city neighborhood. You are talking about multiple dwellings on that land where people are using hundreds if not thousands of gallons of fuel individually, and you may have several dwellings on that acre. Whereas, Chamberlain was suggesting that many farmers perhaps used 40-60 gallons per acre.

And that is just driving fuel. What that suggests is in terms of carbon footprint, urban land use is much higher than rural land use.

The council majority of course suggests their support for these types of issues and yet their policies do not seem consistent.

At the previous meeting there was a long and sustained debate as to whether they should mandate solar panels for a new housing development. The council majority's position was that it should be optional. If you have a commitment to reduction of energy usage, how can solar panels which are clean and sustainable uses of energy be optional?

Moreover, one of the big problems of the Covell Village proposal, was the traffic impacts. Increasing traffic adds greatly to carbon emissions because the higher the intensity of the traffic, the more vehicles idle and less efficient they use their fuel. Covell Village would have produced vast traffic problems and that would have increased greatly the amount of carbon emissions in Davis. That does not mean that we can never develop or add subdivisions or communities, but it does mean that we need to start planning for traffic, alternative transportation and cleaner burner transportation at the very least in conjunction with new housing development.

Then there is the entire Target and big-box issue. This is a corporation with a huge and vast global carbon footprint. This is the type of non-sustainable use of resources that we need to start changing. The debate over this was glossed over last fall. The Target building in Davis was marketed to the Davis consumer and voter as being green--the color of the building is green, it is put in a LEED certified building. As one person put it last fall--you can put a Hummer car dealership in a LEED certified building, that is not going to make it environmentally friendly or address the top concerns of global warming at a local level.

So the council majority is going to have to decide if global warming and reducing our carbon footprint is an actual priority.

Are they willing to make actual tough choices that impact people's lives?

They talked about easy to implement plans that require "no vision" to implement--those are things that we can all agree on and we should do. But to really get into this problem we need to make tough choices on development and building construction and neighborhood planning.

There was also talk about not reinventing the wheel. I think Councilmember Lamar Heystek make the crucial point, "in terms of a vision, I think we need to look at what other communities do and then exceed them. I think competition is a good thing."

Mayor Sue Greenwald finally pointed out that there was no mention in the action plan about city planning, land use patterns, floor area ratios for houses, she asked if there was anything about making use of land use planning. Staff gave a vague answer on this but suggested it was an important component.

Councilmember Saylor suggested at one point--"it is not a question of who is greener than the other one"--and yet I think it is exactly a question of that. Are some of the land use policies that this city employs consistent with the goal of dealing with global warming? I think Sue Greenwald was exactly right that this component of the discussion was largely missing.

Councilmember Souza made the point that the burning of fossil fuels is what is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and that in this area that is the consumption of gasoline. And I agree with that, what I was disappointed in is the lack of recognition that fuel usage is not merely a site-based problem. That if we consume goods that need transportation or that were manufactured elsewhere, guess what, we are contributing to the greenhouse gas emissions in a real way, even though the emissions are occurring elsewhere and the rest of the world is also doing the same thing.

Finally concern was raised by both Mayor Greenwald and Councilmember Heystek about the 18 month visioning process. Both suggested we should do things quicker. Mayor Greenwald was concerned that we would lose momentum and also fall behind what other communities are doing. Heystek suggested earlier in the discussion that this ought to be a one-year process rather than an 18-month process.

My overall concerns echo these--there are things we can and should do now and we also have to discuss the tough issues of land use, city planning, commercial development, and transportation.

Davis indeed does many good things environmentally, however, we should not pretend that the current policies and recent developments have moved us in the right direction.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Briefs

Amusing Controversy at the Davis Democratic Club

It seemed like the Davis Democratic Club Newsletter would be a good place to advertise this blog, so I plopped down some money and paid for a full page ad last month, and heck I did it again in the issue that just came out last week.

But it appears this blog has drawn some controversy from former Davis Mayor Joan Poulos. She wrote a letter to the editor of the newsletter (to the bemusement of those who actually print the newsletter who did not realize they had an editor), I have scanned, copied and pasted it for all to see, along with the response.
As a long-time member/supporter of the Davis Democratic club, I have concerns about the tone of the newsletter (and certainly about the "blog."(the biggest ad in the newsletter.) I am delighted to see the support for Lois Wolk and Mariko, but there appears a great tendency to trash the faithful Democrats who have long carried the torch in Yolo County. I have no idea who doug paul davis is, other than he is 34 and a Saggitarius, (maybe) but I know that people like David Murphy and Steve Souza and Ruth Asmundsun have done much to make Davis what it is. We can support new ideas, like Freddie's headline grabbing demonstration about the inequalities of the marriage laws, and lament the lack of airing of Air America. Diverse viewpoints should be welcomed, but the snide comments about those who may disagree are not helpful.

This is election time. Political parties exist to elect candidates. As a club, we must be ever mindful of this and not be captured by a small, but vocal, critical minority.

-Joan Poulos

Editors response:

Please distinguish between paid advertising and the editorial content of the newsletter. The News has not mentioned David Murphy, Stephen Souza or Ruth Asmundsun since I became editor. All articles are edited by criteria found in the bylaws and below.
David Murphy is a Democrat? I was not aware he was involved in Democratic politics. I have never met Ms. Poulos, but perhaps she would like to sit down and discuss my astrological sign and perhaps some of my concerns about the policies of those she is quick to defend. She is of course entitled to her opinion and if she wants to defend Murphy, Asmundson, and Souza, she is welcome to come on here and do so--just like anyone else.

I had no idea that the purchase of my ad would be so controversial--it seems that was money well-spent. I'll be running another ad next month, too.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Council Spars Over Charter City and Choice Voting

In November of 2006, Davis voters passed Measure L by a 55.4 to 44.6 margin. Measure L was an advisory vote that asked citizens whether the city should choose choice voting.
Should the City of Davis consider adopting choice voting, also known as instant runoff or preference voting, as the system to elect City Council members?
The voters instead of voting for the same number of candidates as seats would rank order their preferences regardless of the number of candidates. The votes are then counted and transfered until a winner is declared.

In one method, the first place votes for all candidates would be be counted. The candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated, and those votes would be transferred to voters' second choices. The process would continue until the number of remaining candidates is equal to the number of open seats. There are some other more complicated methods as well.

Since it was an advisory vote, and therefore non-binding, there was no organized opposition against it. There was no ballot statement against nor did anyone run a campaign against it. I was a bit concerned given those facts, that Councilmember Lamar Heystek, a strong proponent of the measure and choice voting, would cite public support as a reason to go forward. I do not think the public has really had the kind of informed debate needed to make a decision. Nor do I think that the council has had that kind of discussion or research. Nevertheless, they appear to be moving forward with this proposal with the goal of implementing it.

While I am not necessarily opposed to it in concept, I have a lot of concerns about how it would run and whether the average voter would be able to know understand what it was they were doing while in the ballot and casting their vote and how their votes would be tallied.

Some have suggested that this would aid smaller candidates, I would like to see some of the research about how many of the "smaller" candidates or "underdogs" have won under a choice voting system versus a more traditional system.

Moreover, I would like to see based on existing systems, a full discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of choice voting.

In short, I think despite of the election, I do not feel very well informed on the issue of choice voting and whether its professed strengths actually exist when we examine them empirically. Moreover, I have a number of concerns about both the application of and the effect of implementing this system.

Finally, I have a question as to why we should prefer a new system of voting over this one? Are we looking for different outcomes? More competitive elections? To advantage one type of candidate over others? Lots of questions, and in my mind, very few answers given the dynamics of an advisory vote.

The issue of choice voting aside, in order to even get to choice voting, the city of Davis has to become a charter city--although there is a longshot measure in the Assembly that would enable cities to enact choice voting without becoming charter cities.

The process of just selecting the mechanism to become a charter city became very heated last night at the city council meeting. The Mayor first tried to remove the issue from a subcommittee and place it in the body as a whole. The proposed subcommittee for a charter city was going to be Councilmembers Stephen Souza and Lamar Heystek, both of whom were the strongest proponents for choice voting.

Mayor Greenwald however tried to switch Councilmember Heystek with herself on the committee with the logic being that while Heystek was an expert on choice voting, she was more familiar with how to draw up a city charter. Given the course of the debate, the council majority rejected this move.

The meeting as a whole was marred by a large amount of petty bickering between councilmembers over small procedural items. Mayor Greenwald also had very strong objection to a proposed meeting over the operations of the city council. She refused to participate without some sort of professional facilitator.

Overall the tone of the meeting was bitter and contentious--largely unnecessarily so. There are legitimate concerns over this council majority redrawing the city's charter. The fear being that the council would help institutionalize and further its own majority. One of the items that has drawn that fear would be having a direct election of the mayor every two years. One city of Davis' size that I am very familiar has just such a system, San Luis Obispo. It is not clear to me that this is an incredible disadvantage to slow growthers and progressives. In San Luis Obispo there seems to be a relatively even split between the more development friendly mayors and the more slow growth and environmentally friendly mayors.

Nevertheless this is a situation that progressives should be watching very carefully to see the progress of the charter. Mayor Greenwald has some legitimate concerns about this process, but I think any attempt to blatantly advantage the other side would be fairly transparent and if that is the case, could easily be noted and defeated one way or another. Becoming a charter city would also give some advantages to those of us who are interested in stronger police reform.

I remain skeptical on the issue of choice voting, though many people that I support are strong proponents of it. I would like to see an real open debate on the strengths and the weaknesses before we simply ratify what it is that we think the voters supported.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Interview with Former UC Davis Police Chief Calvin Handy

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Retired UC Davis Police Chief Calvin Handy. He currently sits on both the Community Advisory Board (CAB) and Police Advisory Committee (PAC). This interview primarily focused on the PAC which is one of the oversight bodies created by the City Council and the City Manager last year to help with overseeing the operations of the police.

(Due to my own limitations these answers are paraphrased for the most part rather than direct quotes).

Question: Describe for me what the PAC does

Answer: July of 2006 was the first meeting where the three members of the PAC, City Manager Bill Emlen, Interim Police Chief Steve Pierce, and Complaint Unit Officer Gina Anderson all met. The PAC conforms to a specific kind of professional review process. The city is undergoing a number of existing experiments involving a professional independent review process. They were looking at this as an experiment, but this may be the way for us to go. The PAC provides a review and evaluation of completely adjudicated complaints against any employee of the police department. We examine the complaint investigative process. We also have the ability to review and evaluate any department process. We can review training--in order to really look at process or actions--you need to understand process, guidelines, and training. The PAC makes very specific recommendations to the City Manager about a wide range of issue. However, we do not begin our own independent investigation. We can ask any question. It is beyond just a professional audit, review and evaluation. "Rather than auditing I call it an accountability process."

Question: How does the PAC's role compare with that of the CAB

Answer: It has less of a direct connection with the CAB. Ombudsman is going to be active, living, tangible point of access for people who have issues and concerns about the police department. It will be a point of interaction with the community. The PAC does not have an interactive role. It has not been decided how the two processes have come together. There is a mechanism that exists that the ombudsman has with complaints and complaint resolution, whereas we also look at and evaluate policy and training as it relates to complaints. This is an effective way to get the process off the ground. No real formal process existed to oversee aspects of the police department before. Seems like this starting process has the ombudsman and PAC working in tandem whereas the CAB was put together to serve as a feedback mechanism and a point of exchange of information about citizens and police department. The CAB and PAC are completely different and really have no overlap. The CAB works directly with the Police Chief or Interim Police Chief and the PAC is more independent.

Question: How closely have you’ve worked with the ombudsman

Answer: I met with him personally as part of his outreach. Meetings with the ombudsman are in the works. The first priority for ombudsman was meeting with the community while forming viewpoint about what his role would be. Communication role between the two at minimum see how this will work. All parties figuring out what the roles are.

Question: What do you think the strengths of the PAC are?

Answer: It is too early to say 100 percent what the strengths are. However, this process exists where it did not exist before. Many of these things ended up at the HRC prior to this. With the hiring of the ombudsman that may now shift. We provide critical and yet professional and intense evaluations of investigations. We communicate with the city manager. We look at process and any aspect of police operation. We have potentially a great deal of latitude to what can look at. We are independent and unbiased—not biased one way or the other. This process not very effective if predisposed to one group over another. Can this be improved on six months from now? Who knows.

Question: What do you think the weaknesses of the PAC are?

Answer: This is the initial establishment of that program and first public report on the PAC was February 20 at city council. There is not much out there in terms of the PAC and what it does. [Note: I told him that as much as I follow this process, I was largely unaware of what the PAC does]. Need to provide as much information as we can. We need to inform the public of the numbers of complaints and how often we meet, this can give people a better understanding about what the PAC is. There is a lot of confusion in the public about what this group is. We need to clarify the role and inform people as to who is a part of the PAC. One suggestion is that the protocols for PAC could be put online. The PAC is not meeting with community groups, rather the ombudsman is playing that role. I do not see the detriment with meeting people on the PAC and I think this will happen at some point

Question: What are your overall thoughts about the Davis police department and its operations

Answer: I am not an expert on the DPD at this point. I think that the DPD is in need of solid open community embracing leadership. If you look at the issues of the past 18 months and perhaps before, the DPD needs a good new police chief with good ideas and build ideas and build some trust, I’m not saying there is completely no trust, but there are areas where trust is lacking and this is where the new chief can made a bigger impact. The new chief needs to be open to community input. This is a good department but the number one need is a good leader who is open and accessible and approachable. Even when things are adversarial. The department could use more friends out there. Over last 13 years, my impression has been that they are trying to be more of a community department—community oriented policing. I think most officers do have a genuine intention of protecting all of the citizens of Davis. When you have communication breakdown, your motives and intentions won’t thrive. Everyone wants to feel safe—safe from crime, good safe environment. Hard to make progress without mending that particular bridge. I am very encouraged with discussions with the city manager that he wants to find a police chief who can run the department and heal the rifts in the community.

Question: Do you believe that there is racial profiling by the Davis Police Department?

Answer: My first act as [UC Davis] police chief here was to meet with large groups, students, staff, and faculty, and they had this consistent belief that racial profiling was happening in the city of Davis. It doesn’t matter what I believe. It matters what they believe. We worked hard to build bridges between students and uc Davis police department. Many think that it exists—regardless of what I think [he repeated himself for emphasis]. Problem is how it has been handled or not handled. We have allowed the issue of racial profiling to divide us and become adversarial. A huge percentage of folks in African American community think that this has happened to them. This requires a critical undertaking and inquiring into this problem. Perhaps police are thinking we are just doing our jobs—but there is a strong perception. When you have such a perception, it exists for them. It deserves more attention, more time, and I think it deserves more effort to get to the bottom of this. Really bringing forth some action. People think they are doing the right thing. I think that the police don’t think they are doing racial profiling, rather they think they are doing the right thing. This is why it is all the more important to interact, talk, and find out what happened. After 12 years it is kind of amazing given how much we engaged in the process that people are saying the same thing. This problem has just gone on for too long and too pervasive.

I thank Chief Calvin Handy for taking the time to sit down with an interview. I learned a tremendous amount by talking to him.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday Commentary

Caesar Chavez Day in Davis Draws Sparse Crowd

The New Human Relations Commission put on their first Caesar Chavez Day event in Davis. Much as the case was with the Martin Luther King day events, the minority community mostly stayed home. That point aside, the city needs to change the location of this event, the sun is not in a good location, there is very little shade, and most of us who are melanin challenged cannot sit in the seats for a prolonged period of time.

As usual there were a number of elected officials there--Supervisor Mariko Yamada, Mayor Sue Greenwald, Councilmember Lamar Heystek, and Assemblywoman Lois Wolk.

When Assemblymember Wolk closed her speech with "¡Sí, Se Puede!" it just did not sound right. It wasn't just because she sounded like an Anglo, but rather it is her record on helping the farm workers.

One of the most significant pieces of legislation passed by the legislature in the days since the death of Cesar Chavez was AB 923 in 2003. This bill authored by Assemblymembers Herb Wesson, the late Marco Firebaugh, and then board of equalization member Carole Migdon was a very innovative piece of legislation that would redirect state resources to bolster medical care for some of California poorest workers--most of whom have no health coverage--without raising taxes.

This was a revenue neutral bill that required the Board of Equalization, Employment Development Department and Franchise Tax Board to work together to convert the sales tax exemptions into farm worker health insurance tax credits.

So why did Assemblywoman Lois Wolk oppose it?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle (6/10/03):
Wolk voted against the bill and said she was opposed to it on a number of grounds, including the belief that it should not be permanent -- that it should contain a "sunset," in legislative parlance.
This would of course lead to memorable showdown between Richie Ross, the campaign consultant who also lobbies on behalf of the United Farm Workers and Craig Reynolds, the architect of developer Davis campaigns for issues such as Covell Village and many of the developer council, supervisor, and Assembly campaigns. Reynolds also worked as Lois Wolk's chief of staff after serving six years as Helen Thomson's chief of staff when Thomson was in the Assembly.

This leads to the question--why did Wolk want such pivotal legislation to be sunsetted? It also leads one to question her commitment to health care expressed on Saturday at the event. Wolk is going to run for the State Senate and may have Democratic opposition in the form of John Garamendi, Jr.

Should the county hold off on the library tax?

The school district will have most likely two parcel tax measures on the ballot this coming November. Is it wise for the county to have a third one, in the library tax?

This is not a question of supporting libraries--I support libraries and I support taxation to fund the public libraries more fully. This is a question of timing. Having three tax measures on the ballot is poor timing. The school district must renew their parcel tax.

According to the Enterprise the tax would go from $42 to $88--more than doubling the current tax. The tax is certainly needed, the question is when can it pass.

The Davis Enterprise reported yesterday that Katy Curl, Yolo County's new library director said that there may be no more time to delay:
“But now the fund the library has been using (to replace the amount from the state) is empty,” she said. And even though the county has delayed putting the measure on the ballot, there may be no more time to delay.
There may be no more time, but you also want to do all that you can to assure passage and since it is a tax, it requires a two-thirds vote. Realistically I do not see three tax measures getting two-thirds majorities on the same ballot. There is a February election and a June election, those would seem better times. We cannot risk the school parcel tax not passing and we cannot risk the library tax not spending. Someone has to do the wise thing and delay the election otherwise that may be a distinct possibility. Right now, it appears that the county has more flexibility than the school district.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Eleanor Roosevelt Project Draws Mostly Positive Reviews, but Concerns About Lack of Transportation Remain

While it was not the grand opening of Eleanor Roosevelt Circle, yesterday was a day when the public could tour the facility. In many ways, the Eleanor Roosevelt Circle project is a remarkable one--with 60 units of affordable Senior housing, a cooperative main facility that can provide for a number of uses, and state of the art construction. A number of projects constructed by the Neighborhood Partners have drawn heavy scrutiny from many in the community, but most people seem hopeful that Eleanor Roosevelt Circle will succeed despite a few hiccups along the way.

At the ceremony yesterday, County Supervisor Mariko Yamada spoke at length about her commitment to services for seniors. Then Davis City Councilman Don Saylor spoke about his mother-in-law and her bonding in the Davis community. Both Yamada and Saylor praised the project and the facility.

However, the project has also drawn some heavy criticism in the community.

One strong critic is Mayor Sue Greenwald who complained that this project was supposed to be primarily a moderate-income project.

The Davis Enterprise quoted Greenwald as saying:
"I am very disturbed by the whole MO," Greenwald said, pointing out that the project was approved to provide moderate-income housing to seniors. "It's bait-and-switch, where we end up with a project that's all supportive housing. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it was not planned."
David Thompson, one of the principal partners along with Luke Watkins, disputes that claim:
"Nowhere in any of the documents I have that were approved by the city is there either a mention of, description of or promise that: The project would be all “moderate income housing” or that it would be a “continuing care facility”."
Mr. Thompson sent me a number of documents used in 2002 when the City Council first approved this project and his claim appears to be accurate.

The original conception for this project however was a moderate income project as proposed by Margaret Milligan.

Mr. Thompson said that Ms. Milligan asked them for assistance beginning in 1998 however they "advised her it was not going to be economically possible to do anything without using city land in some way and if we did that we'd need to meet city standards for affordable housing." By 1999, they understood that they would have do at least half of the units as very low income.

Neighborhood Partners did make a mistake that they have acknowledged.
"We make mistakes, so I'm going to admit the mistake I think we have made," Mr. Thompson repeated to me as he told the council.
They are rectifying that mistake in part by taking Section 8 vouchers which was approved by City Council on March 21, 2007. Mr. Watkins also informed me yesterday during the tour that the 120% income housing would be lowered from $975 per month to $875. The cost of those units always seemed very high given that these are 600 square foot units.
"We definitely overlooked that someone at 120 percent income has many options in the market."
The issue of moderate income is not the only aspect of the project drawing controversy however.

As reported after my tour of the facility back in January, the issue of transportation is still of great concern.

Elaine Roberts Musser, who chairs the Senior Citizens commission, wrote a scathing letter to the Davis Enterprise yesterday.

She is not without praise of the project, remarking on the facility itself. She also said both in person and in writing that she thinks the Social Services Coordinator is an excellent position and that it is very important to have someone who can help the seniors, especially those who are frail or will become frail. The support of this individual can help many of the disabled seniors live more independently.

On the other hand, the transportation issue is of concern to both Ms. Musser and myself. Quite frankly, while the bus system does pick people up across the street on fifth and drop them off in front of the Police Station, the feasibility for seniors is less than desirable. That is a long walk for many of the seniors who are in poor health. Moreover, merely getting to places in Davis requires changing buses, never mind the difficulty of going to Sacramento or West Sacramento for some of the service needs.

The facility needs its own bus that the seniors can use. When I spoke to Mr. Thompson and Mr. Watkins back in January they cited the difficulty with getting a bus as a tremendous expense and certainly one can appreciate that. To be honest, this is not merely a complaint with Neighborhood Partners, I think the County and City need to step up and help subsidize such a transportation. Then again, I think the city is a bit wary at this point of paying more expenses for the Neighborhood Partners who are unfortunately involved in a rather ugly law suit on another of their projects, DACHA (Davis Area Community Housing), where they are actually suing their tenants.

However, it is clear that this is a concern that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Ms. Musser and I both observed Stephen Souza nearly getting hit by a car that was not paying sufficient attention in the roundabout, and as Ms. Musser noted, Mr. Souza moves a great deal faster than a lot of the seniors. Frankly this is too nice a project to have an issue of transportation bring it down, but this clearly needs to be resolved.

Dr. Michael K. McCloud was the key note speaker and at one-point he joked that it was time for Eleanor Roosevelt II, David Thompson turned to me horrified at the notion and made sure that I would mention this by telling me that I should not quote him. I think problems and concerns aside, and they are legitimate ones, that most hope that this facility will succeed because this community needs more senior housing and more affordable housing. Hopefully some of the past problems that have beset the Neighborhood Partners projects have been at least mitigated.

It is worth noting that one of the goals for this project stated by David Thompson yesterday was that it would be able to house the parents of Davis Residents. There is of course little way to ensure that. But Davis certainly is in need of middle income and lower income Senior Affordable Housing. And it is noteworthy that Luke Watkins has not only put his mother-in-law in the facility but his mother as well--and they live next door to each other.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Guest Commentary: Cesar Chavez Day--Remembering Doña Adela

On August 18 of 2000 state legislation was signed to establish Cesar Chavez Day in California. For many farm workers it was finally an opportunity to honor a man who organized them, led the largest grape industry boycott and formed the United Farm Workers requiring growers to bargain with farm workers who vote for unionization. For many it’s a day to show respect to a man who demanded respect for those, who like him, toiled in the fields day after day.

For me however, it is one out of 365 days, in which I remember a woman, who like Cesar, had motivation sufficient to act. She had “ganas.” A woman who thought of others. A woman who fought for the rights of others in the fields in injustice. A woman who led a strike with her co-workers, marched in on the boss and demanded that cold water, toilet paper and paper towels be provided at all times or they would walk. A woman who got what she wanted because Don Pedro knew that although he could get others to do the work they would not be as dedicated, hard-working, and honest as a woman named Adela Cardona Muñoz Escamilla, lovingly called Doña Adela by my four brothers and three sisters.

It’s another day to honor Adela, my father, and my seven siblings who laid the foundation for us to have a better life. It’s a day to honor those who worked hard in the ninety plus degree weather with the sun scorching down on them while donning long sleeved shirts and hats to protect themselves from being sunburned or worse yet getting skin cancer. It’s another day to honor my family for doing the back breaking work that would put food on the table, keep a humble one bedroom roof over our heads and help my family work towards having a better life.

I remember at the young age of four I would slowly wake up at 4:00 a.m. to the amazing smell of homemade flour tortillas being made. I could hear the rolling and light pounding of the “home made” rolling pin that had been cut by my father, Rafael, and given to my mother for making homemade tortillas for the family. The rolling pin was made from a piece of metal pipe that had been cut and filed so the edges would be smooth. A rolling pin those days might only cost a dollar or two, but that money could be used to buy beans, rice, or flour, so it was not something we could afford. Doña Adela could easily pound out a few dozen at 4:00 a.m. She loved to joke that if anyone ever broke into our home they would have not only the family to deal with, but they would have the “palote” to deal with too. I actually slept with “the palote” in my lap while sleeping at rest stops as I drove alone from St. Louis, MO to California back in 1998 upon finishing a post-baccalaureate Executive Fellowship with the Coro Foundation. I didn’t want to risk leaving my car full of one year’s worth of living in St. Louis, so I slept in my car. The “palote” protected me.

At 4:00 a.m. my mother wasn’t just making the tortillas for herself, she was making them for her co-workers who worked in the fields with her, for the neighbors, and others whom she knew were struggling to make ends meet. I would ask her, “why not get a little more sleep mom?” She would always say, “There’s no time to sleep. People are struggling to make ends meet and if we can help them it might make their day better. We must think of others Ceci not just ourselves.” It’s not as if we weren’t struggling ourselves. But, you would never know it. Well, she knew it, and I’m sure my brothers and sisters knew it, but as a young girl, with a loving family all around me I felt that I had everything I needed.

California established the Cesar Chavez holiday to honor Cesar and the work he’s done, but it’s not enough. When are the people going to rise again? When are elected officials going to pass legislation to protect farm workers from the same life threatening pesticides that took Doña’s life at the age of 63? We have warnings telling us to wash our fruits and vegetables. We have parents concerned about the pesticides that their children are exposed to sprayed on the fruit and vegetables that they eat. Why then why can we not be concerned about the men, women and children who are with them at times, who are exposed to the pesticides? When are we, like Doña Adela, and like Cesar Chavez going to have the “ganas” to demand for a change in the laws?

Cesar once said, “We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children.” We have accomplished many things in the last fifty years or so. We have progressed greatly, but every year on Cesear Chavez day, we are reminded not only of how much we have accomplished, but how far we have to go. There are still people who toil in very harsh conditions. There are people who work very hard without receiving an honest day’s pay. And, there are people who work very hard and do not have access to health care. It is for these people who we remember Cesar Chavez and continue to fight for a better tomorrow.

---Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald, aka "Mrs. Doug Paul Davis" reporting

Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald is a 17 year resident of Davis, California, she graduated from UC Davis in 1997, and is the former chair of the Human Relations Commission that was disbanded last year because she dared to speak the truth. She is the youngest of eight children.