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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Meeting Tonight in Rural West Davis on Re-Entry Facility

Yesterday I received an email message from a resident from rural west Davis asking me to inform Vanguard readers of a meeting tonight, September 4, out at the county airport approximately five miles from town.

Here is the email that was sent:
While we do not live in Davis proper, the residents of rural west Davis are a part of Davis 'life'.

We just discovered that the County wants to build a prison on top of us!

Our community is having a town hall meeting on the 4th at 7 pm at Lillard Hall [Yolo County Airport].

Since so many Davisites share our community with bicycling and outdoor activities, we believe that having 800 prisoners and 300 support staff roaming in our rural area would negatively affect them.

Could/would you all be so kind as to "get the word out" (mass email) about our meeting? Perhaps some Davis folks would want to weigh in.

We also have a website at: that we just started.

Keep up the good work with your community site and thanks in advance.
The individual also told me that while they support the program, they are concerned about traffic issues with 300 employees. 800 prisoners would completely impact the main agricultural use.
"The county for years has had a policy of growth in cities to keep the rural area open. This proposal is quite out of step with that. There would be greener locations for this facility that would not need its own sewage plant or transportation system. Out here would be isolation for inmates, isolated from the very society that they are to be re-entered into? It's ironic."
I will try to attend the meeting tonight. I will be curious to see if it follows the same format from Tuesday up in Esparto, where two of the proposals now are located. The county has decided that Dunnigan and Zamora are not the best locations. I am very curious as to why they believe that is the case, but think Esparto or Plainfield will work.

At the meeting in Esparto, Yolo County Supervisors Matt Rexroad and Helen Thomson were on a panel along with Sheriff Ed Prieto and three members of the CDCR. Also while not on the panel, Supervisor Duane Chamberlain was in attendance.

Yolo Cowboy, who runs a pretty good blog called the Roughstock Journal covered this yesterday. He did not mince words about his dislike for the proposal.

According to the Yolo Cowboy, there were about 200 residents who went the Esparto high school auditorium.

From his perspective:
"The residents of this community were upset and it showed as comments and questions were shouted from those inside the auditorium. For those on the panel, they must have been waiting for the people to break out the torches and pitchforks.

I would like to apologize for the lack of decorum at the meeting, but I will not.

To understand the frustration felt by the citizens of the Capay Valley, you must understand what we have experienced in our dealings with Yolo County. It seems whenever someone comes to the County and says they have a huge amount of money to give them, if they give a green light to a certain project in a rural area, the green light is given. When the citizens of the affected area object, the County tells them, ‘we need the money, shut up and take it’. The first expansion of the Cache Creek casino? We need the money, shut up and take it. The second huge expansion of the casino? We need the money, shut up and take it. Now the proposed re entry prison, you guessed it, shut up and take it.

The County Board of Supervisors has a job to do, provide services to the citizens of our county with a 326 million dollar budget. I also understand the fact that free money is a rare and welcome luxury. However, this ‘free’ money does have a cost attached to it. A cost that is not easily seen from the cities of Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento. As rural residents of the county, we are told to shut up and take it as our small-town quality of life deteriorates for the common good of the urban citizenry of the county."
I still think this is a pretty good proposal and a worthwhile endeavor. But the county has a clear problem at this point. The cities have veto power and the rural areas both do not want it and in most cases do not have the infrastructure or services to support it well.

Like many others, the Yolo Cowboy thinks we need the facility, but not at that location:
"Yes, Yolo County needs this type of facility; anything that could lead to a decrease in the recidivism rates of parolees is a benefit for us all. However, putting this facility out in a rural area, far away from urban centers with few employers, few volunteer organizations and where a tiny percentage of the prisoners families live, is setting up the program for failure before it starts."
Okay than where? The cities do not want it either and they have actual veto power by the statute. Someone needs to compromise here or someone is going to get angry when the Board of Supervisors finally says, we have the authority to do whatever we want and you do not have enough people to stop us. And then what?

Stay tuned. This issue is just getting started, the board meets next Tuesday to discuss it.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting