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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Heystek Holds Staff Accountable for Completion of Projects

During budget discussions this past Tuesday, Councilmember Lamar Heystek pressed on the timeline for a number of projects.
"The reason why I am asking is because I noticed on attachment A that staff is deferring funding pending this report, but I believe that since we're making these budget recommendations it would behoove us to put money where our mouths are for the next year's budget, so when it comes time to make motions I will be motioning to appropriate an amount to cover design."
Heystek brought up the issue of the solar panels at community pool. He asked for the timeline of replacement or removal of that entity.

In 2004, twenty-four years after the project was built, Tim Townsend, a mechanical engineer specializing in solar power, went before the Davis City Council and informed them that in fact, the solar panels do not work and have never worked. Despite this fact, this is a signature project of the city with pictures of them have regularly featured on city literature touting Davis's "greenness" and commitment to the environment.

The following is from the minutes of the March 16, 2004 City Council meeting:
"Tim Townsend questioned the usefulness of the city’s largest solar panel at Community Park pool. He alleged that the solar panel does not work and has never worked. He reported that he has spoken to city staff and has not received a satisfactory response other than a statement that it would be too costly to remove. He stated solar panels should be a matter of civic pride and everyone that visits Community Park is lead to believe that the panels actually work. He asked that Council consider removing the panels"
It was only at this point that Bob Weir began to study the problem. At the November 29, 2004 City Council Meeting Weir and Donna Silva, Parks and Community Services Director came back with a Capital Improvement Program to replace the non-functioning solar hot-water heating system at Community Park. This was projected to cost $41,000 in addition to over $100,000 (in 1980 dollars) spent on the initial project.

This issue came up again on Tuesday when Heystek asked for a progress report for repairs and restoration. Bob Weir told the council this past Tuesday that plans were proceeding. He said:
"The next step is basically a cost estimate, that is what it would take to refurbish this facility essentially as is."
This represents a fundamental failure, not of this council, but rather of previous councils to hold vendors accountable for their work and projects. The city spent considerable money in 1980 for something that has never worked. The city now is going to have to consider spending more money because of their failure to ensure that the project worked to begin with.

Heystek would press the issue later with his motions that attempt to hold staff accountable for their projects.
"I want to signal the council's commitment to the city that we are putting our money where our mouths are regarding design of the facility [Walnut Park pool], whatever it is, whatever the project total is, whatever is being projecting by staff. And I just think that having participated in a joint meeting with the council as a member of the park commission and having the council given previous direction to get some facility built. [He reads from the minutes of that meeting...]. It's now over two years later and I would like to be able to locate at least 10 percent of the project total and some sort of funding mechanism, and I think that the park impact fees is the most appropriate source."
Heystek asked for the council to bring back some sort of recommendation to finish it.

Saylor's response was basically that we are working on it and that these things take time. Heystek did not get a second for his proposal.

There is a consistent pattern in this city that projects that are approved either do not get completed properly or get completed on time. This problem is due to lack of oversight and scrutiny. Another problem is the problem with the surface of the road on Covell between Sycamore and Anderson. The road is warped, it was never completed properly and it has been warped for over 10 years. No one held the construction people accountable for their work product.

Throughout this discussion Heystek pressed staff for timelines and assurances that projects approved by council would be completed in a timely fashion. The council majority was not interested in pressing these issues. And moreover, at times Saylor and Souza, both of whom sit on the subcommittee, acted as apologists for staff. Davis residents have paid real money into many of these uncompleted or poorly completed projects. They have also poured money into projects that have fallen into disrepair. It was refreshing to see Councilmember Heystek press for these projects.

What is interesting is that fiscally responsible Don Saylor, who earlier on Tuesday opposed annexation of West Village based on fiscal considerations, does not have the same fervor for fiscal responsibility in this regard. Indeed he continually apologized for staff and acted on their behalf. This does not seem an appropriate role of a councilmember who should be holding staff to the motions and regulations passed by council and if things do not follow the trajectory laid out by council, should ensure that they get back on track.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Briefs: Garamendi To Speak in Davis Sunday

Garamendi To Speak in Davis Sunday At Davis Democratic Champagne Brunch

Rick Gonzales, Jr. Wins Liberty Bell Law Award

Rick Gonzales Jr. received the prestigious Liberty Bell Award for 2007 at the Yolo County Bar Association Law Day Luncheon in Winters recently. This award is given by the Yolo County Bar Association each year to honor a non-lawyer who has promoted better understanding of the rule of law, encouraged greater respect for law and the courts, stimulated a sense of civic responsibility or contributed to good government in the community.

Gonzales is the head of the Yolo County Concilio which gives out scholarships to disadvantaged youth in order to enable them to go to high school. He has been a champion for civil rights and social justice in Davis and in Yolo County.

Vanguard Booth at Farmer's Market on Saturday Morning

We will be back once again at Farmer's Market. Last week we had hundreds of signatures for our anti-war petition. We will bring it back again. In addition, we will have several other potential petitions (or so I have been told).

Free Vanguard Bumperstickers!

We still have a few more free bumperstickers to give out--we have not gotten the shipment just yet in case you have already ordered them. They will eventually be selling for $2 a piece. However, email me a request including a name and address to receive a People's Vanguard of Davis bumpersticker for free! This is a limited time offer.

Facebook user? Vanguard on Facebook

The People's Vanguard of Davis now has a facebook group. If you are a registered facebook user please click here to join the facebook group. If you are not a facebook user, but want to be, please click here to join facebook.

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---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Commentary: What Changed in the West Village Discussion

Back in early April, the Council majority was not only against annexation of the West Village development on the outskirts of the UC Davis campus, they were nasty about it. (See: Enterprise Article on Mayor Slanted; Mayor Greenwald's Response)

At that time, Mayor Greenwald supported a very basic motion:
"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."
As Don Saylor said at the time:
“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.”
What Saylor and in fact the Davis Enterprise at the time failed to note was the reason that there is no staff analysis was 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.

After much debate, ranquor, and sheer tenacity, the issue was back on the agenda, this time with full staff report. Mayor Greenwald deserves much of the credit for keeping this issue alive and forcing the council majority to put it on the agenda. Without her tenacity on this issue, there is no doubt, that this issue would have gone away.

Staff of course, remained very skeptical on the cost impact on the city. The basic view of staff was summed up in this statement:
"Staff acknowledges that annexation of West Village poses a number of challenging issues related to governance and delivery of services that need to be further addressed and fully understood prior to final Council action on the annexation question. The fact that the City would not gain land use authority with annexation is already a significant factor that diminishes the value of annexation. If police and fire services were also retained and provided by UCD, it would be difficult for staff to justify bringing West Village under city jurisdiction given that we would not be directly in control of most urban services provided its future residents."
As Paul Navazio, the city's director of finance said on Tuesday,
"The current assessment of the fiscal analysis, on the operating revenues and the operating costs, is that overall the project does not generate sufficient revenue to cover costs, it generates more revenue under an annexation, then in a non-annexation, if the city with council direction sat down with the campus to explore revenue sharing or supplemental revenues, to help off-set the city costs, it's our sense it would be potentially cost effective from a fiscal standpoint and it would cost the tenants and the residents less and make-up the costs of the campus providing services."
The elements were aligned here once again that pointed to the same result as April: you had a council that previously expressed skepticism (and criticism of this issue) and a staff declaring the project does not generate enough revenue to cover the costs.

The key concern that Greenwald expressed is the infeasibility of having a huge development on the border of Davis, without connection to city governance. This notion was also affirmed by Councilmember Heystek.

Moreover, the staff report revealed that the cheapest alternative--the one that was most cost effective was for the city to annex West Village. That means that with a concerted effort on the part of the city and university, a deal can and should be arrived at that would benefit all sides and pave the way for annexation. The only reason that this was discovered was the vigilance of Mayor Greenwald, who would not allow the issue to die.

On the other hand, even as part of the city of Davis, the annexation would not grant the city any kind of land use authority, which gives UC Davis design control. There will be no access point to Russell Blvd., meaning that the neighborhood will be somewhat isolated from the rest of the city, even as part of the city.

What changed that made this annexation a possibility now, whereas just two months ago, it was dismissed almost out of hand?

One difference was the presence of ASUCD and numerous UC Davis students.

A key concern for students was having access to city government and municipal representation. In their resolution passed unanimously on May 24, 2007, ASUCD affirmed their support of the annexation of the West Village Development by the City of Davis. ASUCD Senator Andrew Peake read this resolution into the record. Several other UC Davis students also came forward in support.

While the students and also resident Ron Glick, made compelling cases for the enfranchisement of students, Saylor remained concerned about the costs to the current residents of the city and the current voters and taxpayers. Saylor's stated principle that "any new project would pay for itself." This is an interesting viewpoint in light of previous fiscal decisions by Saylor that have been less than fiscally sound.

Councilmember Heystek urged the discussion to continue. He countered Saylor's argument by suggesting:
"If that were a standard adopted by council, then we would cease to have affordable housing, because it is clear that affordable housing projects do not pay for themselves. But I think it is ludicrous to say that all of our affordable housing costs need to be mitigated by an overall revenue stream. I don't think that would ever be a philosophy that this council would adopt."
Heystek went on to point out how many different projects would not get done if this philosophy were adopted. His core point that gets back to the issue of enfranchisement was this:
"The thing that we cannot quantify in this whole discussion is the value of civic engagement as the result of inclusion of students, faculty, staff in this new neighborhood. We cannot put a price on that. "

"But we're not talking about what we really do embrace as a whole council. I think the whole council embraces the sentiments of ASUCD, embraces the sentiment of increased civic engagement, the sentiment that we cannot continue to divide our university community between voters and non-voters in the city. I do not think that is something that the council embraces."
One of the key differences in this discussion was the presence of the students and the issue of enfranchisement. Talking to a councilmember after the meeting, it seemed clear that their presence changed the course and trajectory of the debate, and injected energy and passion that were absent in April. The council simply could not look the students in the face and deny annexation. That does not mean that this will go forward, but at least there was consensus about reopening negotiations between city, county, and university.

My own take on this follows from many of the comments expressed on Tuesday. First, I agree wholly with the students, with Sue Greenwald, and with Lamar Heystek on the need for enfranchisement. That I think was the most compelling argument.

I think Ron Glick who spoke at public comments summed it up very well when he discussed the mistake made 50 years ago that denied students on campus voting rights in city elections:
"To deny our students the right to vote is a great tragedy, and I would like to aspire to higher things than property taxes."
Second, I think Sue Greenwald's point is very important:
"We can't have a massive development the size of Winters perched on our borders."
I have seen cities with massive developments on their border that are not annexed by the city, and in general it is a huge problem for the city. It often leads to commercial development that ends up sucking money out of the city without giving money to the city. Looking at this from a strict fiscal analysis now assumes that all things will remain constant into the future. Saylor's argument while compelling, I think was easily countered by Heystek, but moreover, is very short-sighted in terms of its fiscal view.

My biggest concern is really the lack of access point onto Russell. This is a problem because it isolates the community from the rest of the city. Frankly, this is a problem regardless of annexation. It is not a reason to not annex it, it is a reason to negotiate with neighbors and the university to fix that problem.

Overall, the difference between April and June, illustrates the need for transparency in government processes. Moreover, it illustrates a debate point that seems to recur at every council meeting and that is, we need to have our meetings end by 11 pm to ensure public involvement. I will comment more on this later, but I think one of the responsibilities of councilmembers should be that they should expect to meet every Tuesday night. And if they are to be out of town, the show must go on without them.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Commentary: An Inappropriate and Insulting Choice For "Teacher of the Year"

Talk about burying your lead, buried toward the end of the Davis Enterprise article highlighting the Senior Awards Night at Davis High School on Tuesday night, in the last four paragraphs is a seemingly innocuous reporting of the recipient of the Rotary Teacher Service Award, otherwise known as, Teacher of the Year.

This year it was awarded to Math teacher Jana Henry. The Davis Enterprise Reporter Maddy Ryen, likely had no idea what kind of story she was actually reporting. This is because Jana Henry was involved in a story that the Davis Enterprise has not once reported on. In fact, even Davis Vanguard readers likely would not have recognized the name, because the Vanguard has done Ms. Henry the courtesy of not reporting her name.

The passage reads:
Math teacher Jana Henry received the Rotary Teacher Service Award, more commonly known as the Teacher of the Year award. Henry, who came to DHS in 2002, received “glowing nominations” from her students, including one who said, “I go to (her) class in a bad mood and leave in merry spirits.”

Cawley noted Henry's “countless hours offering extra tutoring” and her use of technology in the classroom to assist students. He also praised her personal connection with students.

“I'm just really honored,” Henry said of receiving the award. “I just love my job and teaching the kids.”
However, Davis High School Principal Michael Cawley certainly knew the story, and that makes his words and the award all the more appalling. You see Jana Henry is the teacher who pulled the Malcolm X poster off the wall of her classroom that led to the suspension of the Davis High School student for three days for giving a speech in front of the student body that described what happened and how he felt about the teacher singling him out in front of the class and calling the poster "a terrorist message."

We have always done Ms. Henry the courtesy of not reporting her name. But this is too much. In fact, this lies in the realm of the absurd. Just as last year it was absurd that Officer Pheng Ly, accused of serious violations of the rights of a minor and facing a pending federal law suit, would be awarded with Officer of the Year.

In fact, this is worse than that because unlike the case of Officer Ly where you could make the argument at least that he may have had other achievements that could warrant an award, this incident severely impacted Ms. Henry's service record as a teacher.

The audacity of it all is that Mr. Cawley, who knew full well of Ms. Henry's situation and the way that she handled it, had the temerity to praise "her personal connection with students."

Shall we recount her connection with students. There is the incident itself which was handled quite badly. The student brought in the poster and put it up on the wall. Ms. Henry became uncomfortable with it, and frankly that is her right, however, instead of privately discussing with the student why she deemed it inappropriate, she berated him before the class, humiliating and embarrassing him.

We could chalk up that incident as poor judgment and move on, but it becomes a pattern, when she leaves the auditorium in tears.

She compounds it, when the school district makes the determination that the suspension was inappropriate and reinstates the student. She refuses to teach the student again. When the district deems that she is required to teach the student again, she refuses to teach. And for two months she is out of teaching and it is announced to the student body that she has left the teaching position.

After nearly two months of not teaching, suddenly she is back teaching on June 4 and less than a week later is awarded with the Teacher of the Year award.

The Vanguard has nothing against this teacher and wishes her well and hopes she can resume teaching. It is clear that things were not handled appropriately and that she was harmed by the lack of appropriate guidance by the administration on her own campus. However, to award her with teacher of the year is frankly an insult to the other teachers who did not shirk their responsibilities and leave their students high and dry as they prepared for crucial AP examinations. It is an insult to the parents and students who had to take additional tutoring to take the AP exams. For those who had to spend extra time because Ms. Henry did not follow on her commitments. And those students who suffered academically due to the disruption that this caused.

Frankly this is close to the most appalling thing that I have seen in this community, and that is saying something. The school board needs to investigate how this was allowed to happen. And frankly I have real questions about the Principal of the High School anyway, but this just adds fuel to the fire.

The school district and Principal Michael Cawley owe this community an explanation.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sodexho Workers Continue to Press for UC Jobs Amid Hardball Tactics by Vanderhoef

Yesterday I got a call from the campaigners for the Sodexho Workers that there was a meeting between Chanceller Vanderhoef, Vice Chanceller Dennis Shimek, an ASUCD Senator Andrew Peake, Patricia Zermeno a student career worker, and a Food Service Worker. The meeting was ostensibly to discuss possible solutions to the dispute and a means to arrive at a settlement whereby the Sodexho Food Service workers would get UC jobs.

A number of supporters gathered as well. This time without signs, without chants, they were just there to support the meeting. They tried to wait outside for the decision, but were locked out of the fifth floor of Mrak hall. They locked down the elevators, locked down the stairwell, and posted at a guard at the top of the stairwell preventing anyone from getting in.

The California Aggie was apparently called and refused to report on it, since according to them, this was not newsworthy.

According to one of the organizers, Katie Davalos, a UC Davis student:
"The chancellor wants the opportunity to explain the chancellor's side of this issue, and issue a statement, and Patty is going to issue our statement, and let them know what our opinions are and where we're coming from. We're also giving them a packet of information with facts, statistics, and a list of our supporters to let them know what we're talking about. Basically from there they're just going to discuss the issues and we're hoping to get a union organizer in there that can actually start negotiations, but right now they are not letting anyone from the union in. They are not talking to anyone."
The chancellor refused to allow any union organizers into the meeting. Some of them managed to get up to the fifth floor before it was shutdown, but they were denied any union representation in the meeting itself.

As I was outside taking pictures, it apparently was about to turn 5:00 pm. I walked toward Mrak Hall and reached for the door. Suddenly, the door was pulled shut just as I reached for it and locked. I looked up and there was Robin Souza, wife of City councilmember Stephen Souza, shutting the door and preventing anyone else from getting inside. She also pulled the door shut behind other students who were exiting the building. Ms. Souza works for the admissions office in Mrak Hall.

I spoke briefly with Stephen Souza last night before the Davis City Council meeting and he said that Robin Souza was very upset about the actions of the activists. That they had banged on the glass so hard at their May 23rd demonstration that it nearly broke the glass and this left the employees inside traumatized psychologically. They were under strict orders to lock and close the building Tuesday precisely at 5 pm.

It is unclear why the university is putting its employees in the position of being "security guards" at the door--as this is not a part of their job description. While I'm sure that the situation on May 23, 2007 was at times uncomfortable for the employees, it is also important to keep in mind, that it must be very tough to try to survive on such low wages and poor benefits. The organizers had attempted to rally in the streets on May 1, 2007, and were ignored by administration and thus had to take their action directly to Vanderhoef. It is unfortunate that other employees got caught up in this, however, Vanderhoef is pitting employees against employees as well as students against workers, in his bid to break the will of the organizers.

In contrast to the Souzas, Councilmember Lamar Heystek arrived at the protest to show his support for the students and the Sodexho workers on his way to the evening's city council meeting.

The negotiators came out of the building, visibly distraught at their treatment by Vanderhoef and especially Vice Chancellor Dennis Shimek. Apparently, Shimek during the talks got into the face of one of the students, which was a very intimidating situation.

According to Patricia Zarmeno,
"They are not really actively seeking a way for us to have UC jobs. They know that the issue exists, but they are looking for every other single way possible except for the actual solution. "
Zarmeno did not believe that the university was sincere in holding these talks. They did not appear to be seeking any kind of solution or resolution.
"I feel like we're in the exact same spot we were before we even had this meeting."
There were complaints by both Zarmeno and the Food Service worker who was at the meeting as well that they did not respect them. There was a strong implication that this had to do with the fact that they were both Latina females.

According to Zarmeno:
"They would interrupt us all the time, asking us questions, specifically when I stated that I wanted to finish my statement, I was not respected at all, when I was in the hallway, we were talking about this meeting, Shimek said something about us misunderstanding the purpose of the meeting, and I wanted to clarify, and he cut me off and said that I should let him and Andrew [Peake] finish, and I said fine, I let them have their conversation until the very end of the conversation, then I clarified my point, and clarified that we do understand what the purpose of the meeting was, it is important to have the university represented, and he completely cuts me off and tries to disregard me, and so I asked him to please let me finish, because I respected their request, and he should respect mine as well, and he still didn't let me finish my view, and I finished it anyway... "
The lack of respect was evident.
"I did not feel very respected in that meeting at all... They had this meeting to say that are listening to your views, but we are not going to actually listen to them. We are just going to keep going the way they wanted to originally."
There was frustration at the tactics and the process, but also very clear conviction on the part of the students. The administration had the clear intention of pitting the workers against the students in these talks and breaking the will of the protesters. They dismissed them as representing only a small minority of the students and a small minority of the food service workers.

However, the protesters made the point that the May 1, 2007 action shows that they are not in the minority. Moreover, there is a letter signed by 9 of the 12 ASUCD Senators that demonstrates the strong support that the students have for the Food Service Workers' movement to become UC employees.

Assemblyman Dave Jones and Assemblywoman Lois Wolk will also be meeting with the Chancellor to express their strong conviction that this process is wrong and to complain about the university tactics.

The activists vowed to press on through the summer and fall and to continue to make things as uncomfortable for the Chancellor as possible until there is a real resolution and conviction on the part of the university to change their tactics and their viewpoint.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

UCD Responds by Pitting Workers Against Fee Increase

In an article in Dateline UC Davis, the university said that it wanted to hear from the students "who pay the bills" regarding the demands of food workers efforts to become university employees.

On the one hand, according to the article,
"Sodexho already announced that it has established an independent third-party grievance system, introduced the UC Davis Principles of Community to employees and boosted wages consistent with UC's recent pay increases for its lowest-paid workers."
In a Sodexho letter dated May 18 and posted online with [Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janet] Gong's, the company's senior vice president, Bill Lacey, pointed out that the company in 2003 voluntarily elected to follow the Sacramento Living Wage policy, and that the company believes "our compensation is competitive within our industry."
On the other hand,
"The university estimates the cost of providing improved wages and more affordable benefits to Sodexho workers at $2.1 million annually."
Janet Gong, the interim head of Student Affairs suggests the following:
"This is a significant recurring cost that cannot readily be absorbed within the existing university budget."

She added that the burden of paying the extra cost would likely fall on students who rely on Sodexho service in the dining halls and elsewhere on campus. "Being mindful of the additional costs our students would face and consistent with the chancellor's commitment to address these issues, we are exploring a variety of strategies to improve wages and benefits."
The university then gives a third set of numbers.
"Gong also gave an estimate of the cost of converting Sodexho workers to the UC Davis payroll: a minimum of $3.2 million a year, including wages and benefits, administrative costs and capital expenses."

The effect of that increase would be a $600 per year increase in the cost of residence hall fees.
Of course the bottom line for the university is:
Gong noted that the university has a contract with Sodexho through 2010, and "we have chosen to honor this contract and seek ways within it to approach the compensation and employment practices that are at issue."
And that's fine, as we found out last week, the university can of course honor their contract while at the same time pay these people better wages and better benefits.

This entire debate makes me extremely uncomfortable--the idea that the university is now pitting students against low-wage employees.

So let us recap what the university is saying. First, they give us the line that Sodexho is going to raise their wages. But at the same time, they tell us that in order to make their pay commensurate with the entry-level university employees and give them benefits that commensurate with entry-level university employees it is going to cost $2.1 million to the university.

These are people who do not make enough money to live in Davis. These are people who then have to take $450 or so out of their earnings if they want health coverage. And the university is admitting that they are balancing their books right on the backs of these workers.

Moreover, now they are trying to pit students against workers, by threatening students with tuition or residence hall increases if these workers are to be fully compensated for the work that they do. So this issue is going to become a wedge between students and the workers--students who are already facing a sizable fee and tuition increase because of budget shortfalls statewide. And the university wants to use this to break the will of the strike. Of course, somehow other universities in the UC system have managed their budgets while paying food service workers university pay and benefits. I wonder how they have managed that?

Now this article in some ways sounds informative, but it leaves out crucial pieces of information.

First, what is the overall university budget? The $3.2 million sounds like a lot of money, but is it? What percentage of the overall budget is it?

Second, it seems to assume that the money would increase in a lump sum, what would happen if you could phase it in over a couple of years while at the same time finding room in the budget to mitigate some of the costs?

Third, how much money goes to upper administration? They want to balance the budget on the backs of those making $8 an hour rather than those making 200K plus per year. Perhaps the students should have a say in that, whether the food service workers should get that $2.1 or $3.2 million or the upper administration. I wonder who would win in that fight?

The bottom line is very simple, when the university wants something they find ways to get money for it. When the university does not want something, they find excuses not to fund it and they try to play political games. The amazing thing is that the university has basically admitted how much they are cheating these entry-level workers out of sizable salary and benefits.

Chancellor Vanderhoef and the university administration are clearly in violation of UC Davis' Principles of Community, which state that "...each of us has an obligation to the community of which we have chosen to be a part." By pinning workers against students, that undermines that obligation and sense of community.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, June 04, 2007

Saylor Announcement: The Rest of the Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Busy and Fun Saturday in Davis For the Vanguard

The Vanguard Booth once again took in Farmer's Market Saturday in Davis. It was a gorgeous day in early June, and once again a great opportunity to meet some of our loyal readers and get to know new people here in Davis. Once again the question on everyone's mind is just what is the "dark underbelly of Davis?" And once again we discover that no one seems to like the Davis Enterprise (I'm sure somebody must).

(I cheat just a little bit with pictures, the picture of Cecilia with the Rexroad family is actually from last week not yesterday. The other picture is Sharla Harrington talking to Pat Lenzi and Holly Bishop talking to Jim Leonard of the Flatlander).

The talk of Davis right now is now the 3rd and B Street project. There is a lot of concern in the community about that project and what it would do to the character of downtown. We also got a nice history lesson from some longtime Davis residents who told us about a proposal whereby the city was going to build a three-level shopping center with underground parking in some of the territory where the beautiful central park lies. I just cannot picture Davis without Central Park where it is now. Imagine how much the character of the city would be different. I cannot even imagine. And yet, the 3rd and B Street project may do the same.

Cecilia and I had to leave from Farmer's Market to go meet with new police chief Landy Black. It was a very nice meeting with the new Chief. Since the meeting wasn't on the record, I can only mention in generalities. But my initial impressions were confirmed. I feel that the Chief is a straight shooter. He does not fear oversight and scrutiny by the public. I also think he will serve his department well by being very loyal and caring of them, while at the same time he does not seem to have a huge ego, and does not appear from our conversation to be afraid to admit that he doesn't know everything and that he has some strengths and weaknesses. In short, I think this a person that we can work with to make positive changes that will make Davis a safer community without people believing that the police singling them out. Now as I warned him however, the key test will be how the next "crisis" gets handled. That will be how people will end up judging him.

The fun part of the day came after we broke down our Farmer's Market gear and headed to Sudwerks for the Beerfest. This was a wonderful event, you pay a flat fee, you get a bracelet and then you get as much food and beer as you want. Sudwerks had their beer on tap there. And then you could go around and there were (I'm guessing) about 20 different beers from various microbrewing companies across mainly Northern California. As I was mentioning to people yesterday, probably two-thirds of those brews, I had actually been to their brewing company in my trips across the region. But it was fun nonetheless.

Citizens who Care is a wonderful organization that provides a variety of support services to adults and their caregivers. They have an in-home respite visiting program that gives family caregivers of older adults a weekly break from caregiving, so they can do some other things or get rest themselves. They provide companionship and support to the older adult and the caregiver. They also have a visitation program to provide companionship to socially isolated elderly residents. And they have a time off for caregivers to cover a respite a five-hour break a couple of times a month. As many who have been a caregiver know, while fulfilling, it is also a stressful and tiring responsibility, and Citizens Who Care are able to provide much needed support for those loving individuals.

This Beerfest helped to support those activities.

The executive director is former Davis Mayor Ken Wagstaff. The highlight of our day was seeing Ken and Diane Wagstaff. Diane had suffered a debilitating stroke a few months ago. But she was there yesterday and has regained the use of her hand. So she is on her way to making what appears to be a full recovery, which is really a wonderful miracle and that was undoubtedly the highlight of the day for me, well other than the endless supply of beer.

(Pictured above is Bill Ritter, Ken Wagstaff, and Dick Livingston.) Here is a picture that will make the establishment in this community cringe. One of the reasons that Measure X was so handily defeated was the yeoman work of these three activists. If you want great entertainment put Wagstaff and Livingston together on a stage and give them a beer.

Let this be a lesson to all that an endless supply of beer is not always a good thing. Sometimes you can get manipulated into doing things that you ordinarily would not. (For those wondering, no I did not drive home).

---Doug Paul Davis reporting