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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vanguard Donates Proceeds from Birthday Event to Yolo Crisis Nursery

On Monday, July 30, 2007, the People's Vanguard of Davis celebrated its first birthday with an event that drew over 120 people and up to 150 people at the Davis Odd Fellow's Hall. The decision was made for this event to not be a fundraiser for the People's Vanguard of Davis. Instead, we decided to donate the excess proceeds to an organization called The Yolo Crisis Nursery.

According to director Sonja Tollefsen,
"The Yolo Crisis Nursery is a child abuse prevention program, we offer services to families in Yolo County that are in crisis, that need a place for their children to be kept in a safe happy environment while they tend to their crisis situation."
They can care for children up to 30 days for overnight care, and for families that are using our emergency day respite, they can use their services 30 days within a six month period.

I am thrilled to announce that the People's Vanguard of Davis, was able to cut a check to the Yolo Crisis Nursery for $500 that I delivered personally yesterday. In addition, Sonja Tollefsen, who has been director since early 2006, came to the event on Monday to make a pitch to the audience to donate to their cause. She reported to me, that they were able to raise an additional $500 at the event itself. She said she was so excited about that success that she was hardly able to sleep on Monday night.

In total, the Vanguard's event raised $1000 for this great organization.

Such funding is vital to organizations like this that do not receive direct money from the government.

According to Ms. Tollefsen,
"Currently we are receiving United Way Funds, and we have previously received First Five of Yolo County and Permanent Endowment funds. Those have been larger donors. Our fundraising efforts are ongoing because there are no direct government funding streams for programs like ours. So we are constantly doing fundraising events, grant writing, and accepting donations from the community, doing events, service groups, things like that to raise funds.

Pretty much everything you would see in our nursery from the toys to the furniture, diapers, food, clothing, all of those items, in-kind items are donated from community members, and we have a wish-list we can provide for people interested in providing items for us, so that they can see what kind of items we are in need of."
(To see their current wish-list, please click here)

I got a great chance to visit the facilities yesterday. Ms. Tollefsen came out with a two week old boy in her arms, snuggling away. He had been with them for about two weeks and they have located a good foster family for him. He was a tiny guy weighing around six pounds.

Ms. Tollefsen told me they 14 staff members and are fully staffed. 3 or 4 of these staff members are on-call staff who do not have actual shifts, but they do fill in when shifts become available. They have at least two people on duty around the clock, with a seven, and eight, and a nine hour shift.

A number of the children are only there during the day, in fact, at present there is only one child staying overnight --(a very adorable baby who is only a few weeks old).

Ms. Tollefsen told me that there is a variety of reasons for the use of day services.
"Families needs vary, for day services it could be legal appointments, medical appointments, job searching, could be a number of items, could be a mom who maybe works, got a job for one day and maybe doesn't have [child] care."
When I was there, the children were playing in the backyard before the heat of the day set in. During the course of the interview, I found myself inundated with the small children who seemed drawn to me.

They have a wide-variety of activities including a preschool.

"We have a preschool program for our two to five year olds with a preschool teacher that works with them on colors and numbers and learning how to interact in a preschool environment, interact with their peers. And there's always art and craft activities, reading, and general play."

I asked Sonja Tollefsen what she wanted the community to know about the Yolo Crisis Nursery.
"I want the community to know that we're here for starters. We are a program that requires the support of the community. We need donations as well as volunteers."
The Vanguard has done a number of amazing things in its first year that I never dreamed possible, however, being able to give to an organization like the Yolo Crisis Nursery is by far the most rewarding of all them.

To go to the Yolo Crisis Nursery's website, please click here.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, August 03, 2007

"Claire"-ifying the Davis Enterprise Story on Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald’s Candidacy for Davis City Council

Editor’s note: My wife Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald has been considering a run for the Davis City Council. In order to avoid appearance of a conflict of interest, Doug Paul Davis will not be covering the Davis City Council campaign and instead, will have at some point another permanent writer who will specifically cover the city council election if she launches a formal candidacy. I have posted an article submitted by Rebecca Wu on this topic.

The Davis Enterprise announced last night in an above-the-fold story on the front page, that “Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald has filed papers with the Davis city clerk’s office to run for City Council in 2008.”

In fact, Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald has filed the form 410 with the State’s Secretary of State’s Office several weeks ago. However, the Davis city clerk’s office just received it. The form 410 creates a committee for the purposes of raising money and does not in fact indicate that she has filed papers to run for the City Council. An official announcement of her plans will occur in the future.

Mayor Sue Greenwald has expressed concern that the similarity in names could cause confusion among Davis voters.
“In all honesty, having two candidates running in the same election with the same last name could cause confusion to many voters as to which candidate is which… Of course, anyone has the right to run, but I was hoping that Cecilia would either run under her maiden name of Escamilla, by which she was known for many years in Davis political circles, or wait two years until the next election.”
Escamilla-Greenwald responded that “she'd prefer that her last name not become a campaign issue.”
“Everyone knows me as Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald… I don't want to get into a discussion of my name. I got married five years ago, and I've had my husband's name ever since then. I go by, professionally and personally, Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald.”
In looking to the past history of voters we might find that two candidates with the same last name will not effect an election in Davis.

If we look at the 2000 Davis City Council elections, we notice that among the eight candidates on the ballot were Susie Boyd, a sitting Councilmember, and Joe Boyd. Did the same last name cause confusion among voters? It does not look to be an issue. Susie Boyd finished first to become Mayor Pro Tem with a record 9015 votes, while Joe Boyd finished a distant seventh out of eight candidate with 5590.

Source: John Lofland, Davis City Council Elections, 1917-2000. Yolo County Historical Society, 2001, page 9.

Moreover, the names on the ballot will be Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, labor relations representative and Sue Greenwald, Mayor. It seems from both common sense and historical evidence, that the Mayor’s fears are unfounded. Mayor Greenwald is a well-known and well-respected figure in Davis politics and she will likely have no negative consequences from such a run.

---Rebecca Wu, special to the Vanguard

Reisig Refiles for Gang Injunction, But Has Anything Changed?

This week, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that he was refiling for a gang injunction in West Sacramento.

Mr. Reisig told the Sacramento Bee earlier this week:
"They overturned it on technical issues... We'll accept that, and we'll fix it, but the need is still there. This is about public safety, and it's the right thing to do."
Those technical terms being the right to due process under the U.S. Constitution when the then Yolo County Deputy District Attorney noticed only one specific individual about the injunction. Moreover, the court struck down the use of "unincorporated association" as a means by which to target the entire Broderick Boys Gang.

It is not clear that Reisig has really fixed the problems involved in the first injunction being overturned. The original complaint only noticed 1 alleged gang member. This one notices 23 alleged gang members who were listed by name and another 400 unnamed individuals. It is not clear to me how they expect 400 unnamed individuals to know that they are being served and to come and defend themselves.

Moreover, as the Sacramento Bee reports,

The Sacramento-based state 3rd District Court of Appeal also ruled April 23 that prosecutors had failed to show the Broderick Boys were an "unincorporated association" for the purposes of the injunction.

To fix that problem, the new complaint argues the Broderick Boys are a group that not only shares symbols and colors and pursues lawful "social and recreational activities," but also commits robberies and assaults, intimidates witnesses and deals drugs.
To this non-lawyer that appears to be the same argument that was used in the original ruling and struck down. The definition requires that they join for "mutual lawful purposes"--it appeared in the ruling that the judge did not agree that they joined for lawful purposes:
"In California, “‘Unincorporated association’ means an unincorporated group of two or more persons joined by mutual consent for a common lawful purpose, whether organized for profit or not.” (Corp. Code, § 18035, subd. (a), italics added.) The record does not show that The Broderick Boys—a criminal gang under the Penal Code, a “terrorist” group with “no social benefits”—was formed, at least in part, for a common lawful purpose."
Based on that reading of the judges ruling, it is not clear how that argument will change his ultimate ruling.

Yesterday, four accused gang members challenged the injunction.
"As a group, they were not represented by an attorney but asked Fall if he might appoint one. The judge said that because it was a civil case -- not a criminal matter -- they were not entitled to court-appointed counsel."
This appears another attempt to circumvent the rights of the accused. By claiming that this is a civil case, the accused are not entitled to court-appointed counsel. It reduces the burden of proof. And it changes the nature of the rights of the accused.

In the end, this seems no more constitutional than the last one. Even accused gang members should been innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. The District Attorney should have the burden of proving that each of the members is a gang member who has committed criminal actions against the population. And if they cannot prove that, then in this country, an individual should not be deprived of constitutional rights. Moreover, the District Attorney should not be able to bypass the legal system by making this a civil action. If it deprives people of their constitutional rights for freedom of association, it must be a criminal proceeding, where the individual is entitled to an attorney and if they cannot afford an attorney they should have the court-appoint one for them.

I sympathize with the citizens of West Sacramento who have to live in areas afflicted with gang activity. I favor all legal means to reduce that gang activity and actual crime. However, this US Constitution is not negotiable. Freedom means little during times of safety and security and only means something when our emotions and our security are challenged. We ask individuals fighting abroad to sacrifice their lives for our freedoms that we all enjoy, we can ask our citizens at home to do no less. For the second one class of people can be punished without due process of law, it becomes only a matter of time before all people can be likewise punished without due process of law.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, August 02, 2007

City Manager Out of Compliance With City Residency Requirements

Does it matter what city the Davis City Manager resides? That is a question the residents of Davis and the Davis City Council may have to deal with in the near future.

Regardless of the answer to that question however, the fact remains is that the current City Manager of the City of Davis has been out of compliance with a City Ordinance for nearly fourteen months that requires him to reside in the City of Davis while being employed as City Manager.

The City of Davis Municipal Code requires the City Manager to live in Davis.
2.03.010 Office created; appointment and qualifications.

There is hereby created the office of city manager. The city manager shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the city council he/she shall be chosen solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications. At the time of appointment he/she need not be a resident of the city or state, but during his tenure of office shall reside within the city. (Ord. No. 379, § 1.)
Sources close to the situation vary in terms of City Manager Bill Emlen's intentions about moving to Davis. One source suggests that he never intended to move to Davis, the other that he was waiting until his son finished high school. Nevertheless he was hired with the provision that he move to Davis and he is still a resident of the City of Vacaville.

The Vanguard has received word that the City Council is aware of this ordinance and a majority of the members of the council remain largely unconcerned about the City Manager residing in another city perhaps for varying reasons.

I believe that there is a good reason to have such an ordinance on the books. The City Manager's policies go a long way toward shaping the City of Davis, and it only makes sense that the individual serving in that office be a resident of Davis, just as the elected members of the City Council have to reside in the City of Davis.

In fact, I think that all the city employees in management positions should reside within the city limits. I do not believe that "outsiders" should be making vital decisions about the quality of life in a given city.

Reasonable people perhaps could disagree on the utility of having the city manager and other key city employees living in the city, but the fact remains there is a law on the books and it is incumbent upon the city council to either follow that law or change that law.

One suggestion for the reluctance of at least one person on the council to enforce the law was that requiring the city manager to live within the city might be used as a reason for Mr. Emlen to receive a pay raise. Frankly if that is what it takes to get him to move to Davis, I think that is worth it. I think it is that important for the city manager to live in the city.

It is my view that the city council is extremely negligent for allowing this situation to go on as long as it has.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Quasi-Live Blogging from City Council Chambers on Shriner's Issue

It was my hope to blog the city council meeting live today, but the city has not quite resolved a couple of technical issues with their wireless in the chambers. So I am writing this live as the meeting goes on, but will only post it after the meeting when I can connect to the internet.

Rules require that the Council meets once a month. However, since the council takes the month off, they meet on August 1 early in the Morning so they can go off and go on vacation.

There is really one key item that I am covering and that is the item placed on the agenda by Councilmember Stephen Souza regarding the Shriner’s Property. However, if anything else comes up of interest, I will report on it as well.

Tankhouse EIR will be on October 2 rather than September 26.

Dan Berman during public comment speaks on two resolutions about continuing support of public power and one on a proclamation honoring PG&E for their donation to the street smarts program for the city. Suggests the council reconsider their proclamation until after the recess.

Two proclamations on consent agenda as Mr. Berman stated. One is the continuing support of public power and the other a proclamation honoring PG&E. Recall that originally PG&E was going to be honored a few months ago at the same time they were opposing the efforts of Art Pimentel in Woodland for a resolution similar to that of the Davis City Council today. Councilmember Heystek thought that was inappropriate and had it pulled until the council could come forward with the resolution that they are passing today. Note also that what was controversial in Woodland is passing in Davis without so much as a peep. Remember that PG&E had set up phone lines lobbying Woodland City Councilmembers, however, they seemingly do not care about the resolution in Davis. Very odd.

Heystek has pulled the item awarding PG&E to take up the issue of Dan Berman, Greenwald has seconded the motion for purposes of discussion. Ruth expresses some interest in a letter of inquiry. Now Greenwald offers a substitute motion, she wants to thank PG&E for contributing today. Emlen suggests an informal inquiry into the use of money. Ruth wants to thank for help and contribution but still look into it. Substitute motion would direct staff to informal inquiry. Substitute motion passes unanimously.

Now main item brought forward by Councilmember Souza.

Covell Gateway LLC member representative is here and needs to go somewhere at 9:30.

Souza begins talking about this item…

How this started: Souza was contacted by his neighbor about the sports park. Both felt location where thinking about sports park had problems—concerned with kids getting out on bicycles getting there in a safe fashion. Looked at golf course location. This location, the Hallett Ranch best location at this time. Was there another location that made more sense? The Shriner’s Property made most sense.

The decision to negotiate would have to go through staff if the council decided they wanted to do so. But he went to talk to the owner to see if they were willing to sell the property. Met with Steve Gidaro out at the Conaway Ranch. (This seems different from his version in the Enterprise does it not)? He asked Gidaro about selling it, and Gidaro said I’m interested in talking about it. Souza decided time to take it to his colleagues, to see if this would work. Never used Measure O to acquire open space adjacent to the city.

“When opportunity comes along and a willing seller comes forward, I think we have to take that opportunity.”

Souza talks about benefits of the sports park and the open space protection.

This item is about directing staff to enter into negotiations about the acquisition of this property… (I’m at a loss here, wasn’t it Souza telling us in the paper that he was a “shrew negotiator” and that he wanted to tell Gidaro to “go away”?)

Greenwald speaks about the sports subcommittee talks. The sports subcommittee picked the Hallett(sp?) as a location to look at. In exchange for 89 houses beneath the signature curve, property owner was willing to “give” city land. She shows parcel A which is owned by Gidaro. Parcel B is owned by signature folks and willing to donate the city parcel B for a sports park. The two properties are adjacent to each other. This is only in exchange for 89 houses and this proposal is before the housing element. This proposal is further from existing houses. Parcel A is adjacent to houses, the second parcel is further and therefore does not have some of the noise issues. This was considered as an alternative to Hallett since Hallett is too far away. Greenwald thought it was only fair to bring this to the housing subcommittee before they bring this forward.

Ruth asks whether the goal is open space or sports park? Wants to direct staff to look into Shriners and other properties. Seems like Sue has talked to Signature folks and Steve has talked to Shriners folks. Ask what we want and what our goals are.

George Phillips here on behalf of Shriners property. Saylor asks about past proposal. Phillips says Souza made clear this was only an alternative location for sports park and organic farming. Asks about residential development? Answer: no. Qui pro quo? Answer: no. Understood coming in this is not part of larger proposal. Asks about other parcels controlled by Gidaro? Wait and see. No other proposals at this time. Do anticipate that this negotiation will enable any additional benefits? No.

Would this require a measure J vote? Harriet says no but it would depend on the proposals. For uses of parkland and open space—exempt from Measure J vote. Souza reads from exemption language. “Land to be used for public parks” is specifically exempted. (The question is then, if this is converted from Park to housing, would it require a Measure J vote).

Saylor makes reference to this being on TV and youtube (hmmm…).

Heystek questions. This thinking came about in mid-February. See value of preserving this land with the adjacency from the city, then brings up proposed mitigations to agricultural land. Talks about adjacency requirement. Why did you propose we exempt Wild Horse Ranch project from adjacency requirement?

Souza starts talking about past and his commitments to land preservation. This is not something new to me. (Not answering the question). Completely dodges the issue of why he is favoring this while he made exceptions for the Horse Ranch. Claims that was too small, but misses the fact that that land that will not be mitigated is part of Gidaro’s land. Answer is vague and non-descript.

Heystek restructures question: why would we pay for this rather than the developer of the Horse Ranch doing it? No one is arguing with the intent, but rather the mechanism. Why would we rather pay for part of Shriner’s property rather than a developer?

Souza dodges again by saying this doesn’t preclude an agricultural easement. Totally fails to address Heystek’s question.

Heystek—I understand that, but purchasing that land requires money. Why would we want to use our open-space funds but did not require developers to bring that forward?

Saylor objects to the questioning. Greenwald rules that this was appropriate. Souza is acting as the staff member.

Heystek asks staff if we are subject to the “right to farm ordinance”

Emlen, says, “I believe we are.”

Fight breaks out. Saylor objects to questioning of Souza. Ruth sticks here nose in.

Greenwald pushes on with questioning him about his support for a permanent urban limit line.

Souza objects to the question and then pontificates. He stays calm, but Greenwald is losing her cool.

Greenwald says Souza is acting as staff member

Ruth objects to tone and lack of respect—objects to interrogation of Souza

Greenwald says Ruth you can only make a point of order

Greenwald says she overrules point of order

Harriet interjects. Souza brought this forward. Staff answers questions, relative to comments, sometimes staff does not have an answer to the growth. Harriet suggests council has option as to whether to pursue it.

Greenwald asks Harriet why she is interrupting.

Harriet cites brown act and keeping it within the scope.

Greenwald continues to raise her voice and she this is entirely appropriate.

Ruth moves for adjournment.

No second.

Greenwald asks question about urban limit line. Souza refuses to answer question.

Saylor seeks to make a motion. Moves direct staff that we investigate potential acquisition of Shriner property while at same time looking at other adjacent cites. Souza seconds.

Saylor finds there to be some “intriguing aspect” of proposal. Finds the proposal to be a resource to the city. Expresses skepticism with this particular property owner but we’ve been told there is nothing else in the wings. Reasonable move to enter into negotiation because it may be in the interest in the city—he doesn’t know yet. We should also look at other cites.

Heystek—reinforces appreciation for apparent intention of bringing this forward. Genuine difference of opinion about what priorities are. Areas like this adjacent to the city have not been in the past prioritized for open space from Measure O money. There is no question about the value of acquiring this land. There are questions about motivations of person owning this property. Steve Gidaro’s main interest is in making money and he would be unloading this land because of unsuccessful efforts to develop it. Also questions why we did not do this with the agricultural mitigation ordinance. Why aren’t we holding the developers to the same standard. Mindful of limited nature of Measure O funds. Look for other areas that may be useful for these purposes.

Ruth—speaks in support of the motion and also the importance of looking into other sites possibly for having this.

Emlen: First component is open space/ ag land preservation; second is the sports park; were prepared to do the EIR on Hallett in October, now is going to wait and see.

Greenwald perplexed about the process here. Mitch Sears explores open space acquisition, asks Emlen why he did not take this to Mitch Sears when he heard about it. Sports Park has to be looked at differently. Doesn’t think this should be discussed without a discussion of our entire growth policy. Greenwald complains about being interrupted at this point.

I raise the question during public comment as to whether this property which is exempt from a Measure J vote in current form, would then be exempt from a future Measure J vote if this property were at a future point in time converted to residential housing.

Souza answers my question, that Measure J suggests that any future switch to residential development would require a Measure J. So that alleviates one of my concerns about the proposal. Good to see that the drafters of Measure J thought about that contingency.

My own view at this point, concerns and skepticism about both process and procedure aside and questions about developer motivations is that some sort of land acquired for open space and a sports complex would be okay. The next question is whether the city could get for free from the Signature people what they would have to pay for, for the Shriner’s property.

Souza’s closing statement, buzzword for the day is “leveraging”—on the other hand, I think Heystek’s question about exemption needed to be better addressed. Souza asserts right to bring forward any proposal. Does not have the right to negotiate on behalf of the city. (But again, his quote… “I’m a shrewd negotiator.”)

Greenwald makes a substitute motion, to make the Signature property equal priority for exploration. Ruth seconds for purpose of discussion. Saylor had raised objections to the housing development of 89 and the potential of leap frog development at the Shriner’s property. Greenwald suggests not growth inducing, free, and why wouldn’t we investigate as an equal weight alternative? Emlen said that anticipated that would have discussions with Signature folks. Greenwald: are they looked at as equal weight?

Saylor: suggests its alright that have talks with owners of alternative sites.

Ruth: interest to move forward with EIR as soon as possible with a timeline. If you look at alternatives, it will slow it down.

Emlen: one possibility is that we end up doing both… and put the sports complex on the signature property.

Don moves the process as Emlen lays it out, Ruth seconds it.

Heystek: Hallett since we own it outight and have it today, we should consider that the superior option. Reminds council that some of Signature property would involve agricultural mitigation. Residential proposal on Signature Property would be subject to Measure J vote. Requiring agricultural easements are not bad either. Suggests Hallett project is the real location.

Greenwald: doesn’t think we should do Shriners without larger look at our vision. In favor of at least examining it.

Final vote: passes unanimously

Interesting stuff after the meeting with Mayor Greenwald getting in Emlen and Steiner's face and Asmundson appealing to me that she is being abusive to staff. Greenwald was angry about Steiner interjecting into the discussion when the council had not overruled her ruling. Staff intervened at a point where they should not have. The council needs to govern itself. How much did they pay for the counseling services? Wasted tax payer money if you ask me.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Questioning Changes in Yamada's Votes On Two Development Projects

On February 6, 2007 the Yolo County Board of Supervisors met for the entire day to discuss the Yolo County Planning Commission's recommendations and supplemental staff recommendations for the general plan update.

Included in there was a recommendation to produce massive developments in Dunnigan and a substantial development in Knights Landing.

The Dunnigan specific plan calls for 1995 acres of development for 7500 homes and 230 acres of commercial and industrial. That number was raised from the original proposal of 2500 new residential units.

The Knights landing specific plan calls for 145 acres and up to 800 homes with an additional 38 acres for commercial and industrial development. The staff recommendation at the time was to reduce the number to 650 lots but it was eventually passed for 800 homes.

At the February 6, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Yamada cast a no vote for both projects. The Knights Landing project passed by a 3-2 vote with Yamada and Chamberlain voting no.

However, at the July 17, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Yamada voted yes for both projects, even though the facts involved were essentially identical. Moreover, the yes vote on the Knights Landing project passed by a 3-2 margin, making her vote the decisive vote. Supervisor Matt Rexroad had switched his initial "yes" vote to a "no" vote out of concerns that the development was in an area prone to flooding.

These votes are highlighted because the financial disclosure for Supervisor Mariko Yamada's State Assembly Race has come out.

In that disclosure we see that the developers for both projects gave her substantial contributions. Miksal, is associated with the developer involved with the Dunnigan Hills agricultural project donated Yamada $1000 on June 30, 2007, just two and a half weeks prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Meanwhile Castle Development has donated another $1000 to Yamada on June 29, 2007. Castle Development is the developer working on the Knights Landing development.

Given the realities of campaign finance, it is often necessary to take development money in order to finance campaigns that are going to run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not higher. However, the rule of thumb has to be that you must be able to insulate yourself from charges that the money is influencing your votes.

Based on the facts alone we cannot make that determination, all we can do is ask the question—other than receiving a campaign contribution did anything else change between February’s vote and July’s vote and what caused Supervisor Yamada to switch from opposing both developments to supporting both developments?

The Vanguard will in the future be looking at the financial disclosure of West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon to see where his money is coming from. Likely we will see a slew of development interests there as well.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vanguard Packs Odd Fellows For Birthday Bash

The Vanguard's Birthday last night at the Odd Fellows was a rousing success with well over 120 people packed into the Davis Odd Fellows Hall for food, speeches, drinks, and just plain fun.

The duel Master of Ceremonies the "General" Dick Livingston and Former Davis Mayor Ken Wagstaff had the audience rolling with laughter at times as they poked fun of everything from a certain councilmember's "civility" kick, to the name of the blog author, to the last name of the blog author's wife.

The speakers were fabulous--most of them however strayed off the strict orders of no politics, but for the most part is was light fun. Speakers included Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek, former Yolo County District Attorney Candidate Pat Lenzi, Supervisor Matt Rexroad, School Board President Jim Provenza, my wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald, Sonja Tollefson from the Yolo Crisis Nursery, myself, and Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown. We have video footage that will be both Youtubed and also sent to DCTV shortly.

Supervisor Rexroad was a good sport throughout some intentional and unintentional butchering of his name. We also discovered that we were all "Pro Venza." And Cecilia was given a new last name.

Special guest speaker Charlie Brown, a Congressional Candidate who is running against John Doolittle for the Fourth District up in the foothills, spoke about how important blogs were for his campaign for Congress last time and the importance overall of the netroots movement in mobilizing new public support for progressive candidates. Charlie Brown will be going to Chicago for the "Yearly Kos" Convention, where thousands of activists from around the country will coalesce for the blog, the Daily Kos' annual event.

In addition to the speakers, the audience was packed with many dignitaries including Former Mayors Julie Partansky, Bill Kopper, and Maynard Skinner. Former Councilmembers Mike Harrington, Dick Holdstock, and Stan Forbes. The Police Chief Landy Black. Former Candidates for City Council Tansey Thomas and Rob Roy. Current School Board Candidate Bob Schelen. Among many others.

I am very thankful for such a great event just one year into this blog's existence. I want to thank everyone who helped with the set up, clean up, and manning the drink station--too many to mention and I do not want to leave anyone out accidentally.

As one UC Davis student observed, they could not believe that so many people came out for a party for a blog.

Below are photos from the evening and also the text of the speech I gave.

Text of speech:

Good evening, I’m glad to see all of you here tonight, July 30, 2007. As I look out into the crowd it is hard to believe what has happened over the last year. First, I’d like to thank everyone here for coming to this event and to the many thousands more who read this blog on a weekly basis.

The People’s Vanguard of Davis started as an idea launched as I was lying on my couch last July. It followed from the long hard campaign to elect a new city council and a new district attorney, that proved to be only partly successful. It followed from a long and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to maintain the Davis Human Relations Commission. But mostly it came out of my sense of powerlessness and hopelessness to effect change in this community and to bring about social justice.

I broached the topic with my wife Cecilia and she thought I was crazy and that a blog was a kind of an online diary where people talk about Lindsey Lohan and others. But I set about setting it up on blogger and within an hour I was online and blogging. The name the People’s Vanguard of Davis, a play on words with the common depiction of “The People’s Republic of Davis.” The catch-phrase, “A vivid description of the dark underbelly of the people’s republic of Davis” referred to the sense that many unpleasantries whether in government or civil life have been kept out of the bright light of day through lack of coverage, scrutiny and discussion. And even the pen-name, Doug Paul Davis was meant as a play on words—the initials standing for DPD or the Davis Police Department.

It is fitting tonight that the main speaker will be Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown, himself a success story of the internet blog and the massive netroots activism that sprung up last year. It is fitting for me, for it was at his event in early October that I first met John and Lyn Lofland in person and soon realized that this tiny blog was rapidly gaining a readership.

As I stand here tonight, the blog has succeeded in ways I never dreamed of and to a degree that I never imagined. More than 130,000 people have logged onto the blog in the last year. More than 20,000 people have logged onto the blog this month.

The punctuation of this first year came on July 16, 2007 at the Yolo County Board of Supervisors Meeting, where thanks to the efforts of County Supervisor Mariko Yamada who helped make arrangements with staffer Beth Gabor and County Supervisor Matt Rexroad who helped get wireless installed into the county government building, I was able to sit in the back of the chambers and blog live. I reported on the meeting as it happened. Throughout the room, I saw many individuals following along to my commentary. I know staffers also were reading the blog. After the meeting I was told by many who could not make it that they followed along with the blog at home and it was like they were in the chambers. It was a great moment for democracy and populism. And it was the punctuation mark of the first year of this blog.

Now I briefly want to talk to you about another part of my life and my wife, Cecilia’s life. Many in this community, know of our activism and work on a variety of issues, but may be unaware of our love of children and commitment to child welfare. As the youngest of eight, Cecilia has dozens of nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. Our dedication and love of children and their welfare is something very dear to us.

The excess proceeds from this celebration tonight will go to a group, the Yolo Crisis Nursery that aims to prevent child abuse by providing parents with a place to leave their children during times of severe stress. Children age 0-5 can be voluntarily placed at the Yolo Crisis Nursery by their parents for up to 30 days. They also provide support and resources to help the parents resolve the crisis and cope with stress.

I would like to introduce you to the director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, Sonja Tollefsen, who will tell you much more about their wonderful organization and the services they provide in our community. However, first I want to make a personal appeal to everyone in the audience to donate just a bit more into the sippy-cups in the center of your table. Your small donation will make a big difference to the lives of many local children.

Now I introduce you to the director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, Sonja Tollefsen.

For information on the Yolo Crisis Nursery, please click here.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting