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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Political Facelift For Don Saylor

I was not going to write about this, but I was just reading one of Bob Dunning's columns this morning as I was waking up. Someone named Liz may or may not have written to Bob Dunning and he was responding. For those wondering, this column is not about Bob Dunning, but rather about this statement:

"'Yet someone like Don Saylor, who appears to be sane, thoughtful, pragmatic, courteous and fair, rarely gets mentioned. Is that because he is boring or you don't like him?'"

That led me to wonder when Don Saylor's perception became "sane, thoughtful, pragmatic, courteous and fair?"

This is a man whose reputation in this town was the exact opposite. It was nearly a year ago to the date that I first wrote the column: "Who is Saylor to Lecture US on Civility in Public Discourse?"

I wonder has this man so thoroughly been able to re-write his image that in people's minds, he has become all of those above qualities? Gone now is the Don Saylor of old who was mean, nasty, and vindictive? Who would blow up at people on the street, berate people in that cool, measured voice? Do people really have no memories in political life or is it strictly a matter that no one is paying attention?

I am not going to regurgitate that whole column, but I do encourage people to read it, because it provides a lot of background into a variety of occurrences in Don Saylor's political life prior to him re-inventing himself as Mr. Civility in April of last year ahead of his reelection campaign.

Ask numerous people in this community including former elected officials and you will get a very different version of Don Saylor.

There are many examples I could go into, but most of them I have heard either off the record or second hand. However, there is one that stands out to me more than any other. It was May 23, 2006, the last city council campaign was wrapping up and Julie Saylor wrote a letter to the Davis Enterprise. Now, far be it from me to attack an office holder's spouse, but let us just say there is no reasonable way that this letter was written by anyone other than Don Saylor. And even if it was, there is no way that Julie sent this without at least Don's permission or Don's knowledge but I suspect that he had far more involvement than that.

Anyway many of you who were around back then will undoubtedly remember this letter. It was vicious, it was unfair, and it was taken out of context. Anyone who knows Lamar Heystek knows that this young man has no misogynist bone in his body. And anyone who questions his maturity on the Davis City Council has not been watching--if anything he has been too mature. I reprint it in its entirety so that people might have the full effect and not accuse me of distorting the position of the Saylors.
"Shared values? I don't think so

Is it a brand-new sexist day in Davis? Stop reading Lamar Heystek 's campaign literature and read his own words in his weekly column in the UC Davis Aggie newspaper, (search: Lamar Heystek ).

Two choice quotes are: "Women like to be treated like dirt. The worse you treat them, the more they want you" (Jan. 24, 2006). And, " I'd enjoy a strategically placed hickey. Hell, I'd even settle for a cigarette burn near my groin. I'll take anything that could be construed as evidence of having 'been' with a girl" (Jan. 31, 2006).

Read his columns completely. These quotes are not more palatable in context and the entire body of work is short on wit and long on references to virginity and feminine products.

Lamar is a lecturer in linguistics at UC Davis. He should have a good grasp of the meaning and power of language, so don't let him spin his writing as "just kidding." Would you want to be taught and evaluated by a teacher who thought it was acceptable to write this in the student newspaper? I certainly don't want my son and daughter to think this is the behavior for a role model.

More important now for Davis voters, would you like a City Councilman who displays such lack of judgment and maturity? I have been bringing home the Tuesday edition of The Aggie for months, marveling each week that a council candidate is so foolish as to write this unacceptable misogynistic drivel week after week. But he does. And he does it even as he asks voters to elect him because of his commitment to social justice. This man running for council says "Trust me. We have shared values." I don't think so.

I recommend that Lamar Heystek get a decade or two distant from his Aggie column before anyone consider him a viable candidate for council. This is not a comment about chronological age. We need to choose candidates with the emotional maturity, balance, perspective and experience to serve our whole community.

Julie Saylor"
And if people want to argue that this happened during the heat of the battle, that's fine. You can make up your own mind about it or the people behind it. I'm just suggesting it is difficult for me to think of this man as "courteous" and "fair." There are several other examples that I enumerate in the other blog post from April 11, 2007, but this is the most graphic and the most blatant example.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting