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Saturday, June 14, 2008

A look at ahead at November

As much as Jim Provenza is breathing easier right now as County Supervisor Elect, his victory in June has taken away a potentially intriguing fall match up. On the other hand, it is also possible that John Ferrera did not turn out to be nearly as formidable a candidate as he seemed to be.

Naturally most of the world will be watching the Presidential Elections. At the Vanguard, we also keep our eye on the top, but the bulk of our coverage is on the local.

So what do we have in store for people at the local level? A few races still worth following.

Let us start with the most interesting race locally that will be for State Senate if for no other reason than there are very few open seats in the Senate in competitive districts and this is a competitive district, although I would suggest it leans Democratic.

Four years ago, Incumbent Mike Machado was challenged by Stockton Mayor Gary Podesto and the two combined for nearly $10 million in spending in a race that drew statewide attention.

Despite the competitive nature of the race, Machado ended up winning fairly comfortably at 52.2 to 47.8 percent. The margin was just under 13,000 votes. That's a close outcome, particularly in California, but not that close.

Some have suggested that the 5th District is now more Democratic than before. In addition, given the economy and concerns about the direction of the country, this figures to be a Democratic year. Democratic Primaries drew record numbers across the nation including in California back in February.

If we look at the results from the Senate District in the primary, you see that Democratic candidate Assemblywoman Lois Wolk despite having an opponent that drew 11,684 votes, still out polled her opponent, colleague, Greg Aghazarian by nearly 13,000. That's of course in the primary, but it is an indicator of base support. You have to figure that most of her Democratic opponents votes will go to her in the general.

Some can argue that the contested Democratic Assembly primary in the northern part of the district, impacted the turn out.

They may have a point. If you look at the Sacramento and San Joanquin county totals, you see that Aghazarian did in fact narrowly outpoll Wolk in each county. In Sacramento County he outpolled her by 19 votes, but Jennet Stebbins (Dem) had 650 votes. In San Joanquin Aghazarian outpolled Lois Wolk by 1100 votes with Jennet Stebbins receiving 7324.

In other words, in the Southern and more conservative part of the district, the portion where Wolk is not currently the Assemblywoman, Wolk is outpolled by 1100, but Democratic voters outnumbered Republican voters by nearly 7000.

What it all means when the two candidates are waging air wars, is anyone's guess, but if I had to handicap it, Wolk would have a greater advantage than Machado. Apparently they are going to try to run against Davis as part of the strategy to defeat here. So they are going to run against Toad Tunnels and other eccentricities of Davis. There is great irony there however, as Lois Wolk was not a supporter of those types of policies, in fact, she was on the opposite side on a lot of the issues they will try to pin to her (although she did vote for the Toad Tunnel).

We also have the 8th AD race. This is a heavily democratic district. Mariko Yamada is for most intents and purposes the next Assemblywoman, but she does have a general election challenger in Manuel Cosme. I do not know much about Cosme.

What I do know is that 2002 is the last time there was an open seat for the 8th AD. Lois Wolk ran against former Davis School Board Member John Munn. John Munn would appear on paper to be slightly stronger than Manuel Cosme. On the other hand, Mariko Yamada may be somewhat weaker than Wolk. Nevertheless Wolk won handily 58-42, a margin of 16,000 votes. The other two races she won by 41,000 in 2004 and 38,000 in 2006.

This is a district with a 48 to 31 advantage for Democrats. It may not be a safe district, but it is a strongly Democratic district. Unless the Republicans are bored, it is doubtful they will use their resources in the 8th Assembly District.

That leaves us with an interesting wild card locally and that is whether or not the school district will put another parcel tax on the ballot. As I said before, I just do not see how they cannot do it. But if they do, they will have to run a real and hard fought campaign. They are going to have a 75 to 80 percent turnout in November versus a sub-30 percent turnout last November. They are going to have a very wary and angry electorate to deal with. This will be no slam dunk. So this election will bear watching as well.

A final note on the passing of Tim Russert

You know a person has been influential when everyone has been impacted by them at some level. As a political junkie, he was a guy that I admired and I used to point out as an example to my students as someone to watch. He was the best and toughest interviewer I have ever seen.

Too many interviewers can be tough on people that they disagree with, but they are soft as anything when they agree with. Not Tim Russert. He was always prepared. He always asked the tough questions and if you were weak on your stuff, he would bury you. Republican and Democrat alike.

That is the way it ought to be. It does people no good whether you agree or disagree to ask the easy questions. You do not learn anything and it cannot neutralize your doubters.

Russert was tough, but he was also fair and polite. He is what many in journalism aspire to be. Interestingly he started out as political strategist working for Mario Cuomo and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He was an ardent Democrat and yet one of the fairest and most balanced reporters and analysts around--he criticized everyone and asked Democrat and Republican alike the tough questions.

One of the things that struck me most about people's accounts of his life, was invariably his love for the Buffalo Bills. Those who know me in my personal life, know of my love and passion for sports, particularly for the St. Louis Cardinals. The identification Russert had with the Bills was something I could relate to. Among all of the things that he accomplished, people also remember the smaller things that give us joy in life.

At 58, Tim Russert was far too young and this country and the Presidential election will sorely miss his presence and his graceful influence.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Musings

There are a bunch of interesting happenings that somehow do not seem to amount to one full story, so here they are.

Wedding Time

Every year County Clerk Freddie Oakley holds her protest hoping that some day same-sex partners can get married. Apparent that day will come next Monday and the County will have to open a second room to accommodate the roughly 19 or 20 same-sex couples that have scheduled weddings for next week.

The weddings, according to Davis Enterprise reporter Corey Golden will take place in the Roland and Betsy Marchand Room in the basement of the County Administration building.

I am a strong supporter of marriage for same-sex partners. My belief is that it is really only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is accepted throughout the nation. If you look at the demographic shift, you realize how inevitable this is.

I am 35, people around my age are in general supportive of gay marriage. We have friends who are gay, family members, etc. People younger than me are even more supportive of marriage equality. The gay marriage issue is really only controversial among people who are older than 45 or 50 and people who are very religious. Even those who are very religious and young do not have same animosity toward gay people are older people. It is a simple matter for us, we just grew up around gay people, it is no longer something unusual or scary.

That said, I do not know that we are there yet as a society or even a state. I am nervous having the gay marriage issue on the ballot this year both from the standpoint of not wishing to have a constitutional amendment on the books to deal with but also from the standpoint of not wanting to draw out the hardcore anti-gay voters who might not be enthusiastic about John McCain.

I also wonder what happens to people who got married in the narrow window between now and Election Day, should the voters vote to make marriage between same-sex partners unconstitutional. Obviously part of this is symbolic, going through the ceremony with your loved one in front of your families and friends. But the other part is legal and perhaps more important. There are legal rights that go along with marriage that are crucial and one of the reasons we will eventually have to do something in this society.

We cannot have a class of people who do not have rights to benefits, health care, power of attorney, and other marital legal rights. We may not need expressly marriage to get those legal rights, but we do need something and this is an issue not address enough.

In the meantime, a large number of same-sex partners will be having the time of their lives and that cannot be a bad thing.

Clinton Backs Out of Graduation

Former President Bill Clinton was scheduled to deliver a commencement speech at UCLA today. But earlier this week he canceled that speech due to the ongoing labor dispute.

Clinton's office said he would not appear because of the long-running rift between the university and AFSCME Employees.

The 20,000 workers involved in the wage dispute range from technicians at UC medical facilities to janitors and landscapers. Contract talks have sputtered for months.

Clinton's office issued a statement:
"Due to the ongoing labor dispute, he regrets that he will be unable to participate in commencement this year and he wishes the UCLA graduates the best of luck"
A couple of days ago on the Vanguard, a student wrote in to the previous story where Clinton and Former Speaker Fabian Nunez declared that they would not cross the picket line to speak at graduation.

The student said:
"As a student about to graduate from UCLA, I am terribly disappointed that our graduation ceremony, a special time for students' friends and families, is being turned into a political circus.

We were only awarded two tickets this year for graduation. That's right - while most campuses get to have as many guests as their hearts desire, we can only have mom and pop sitting in the audience because Bill has to have plenty of elbow room for his posse of media and special friends. Last year's paltry number of FOUR tickets was low - this is just ridiculous!

Graduation is supposed to be a time for us to celebrate our accomplishments. Sometimes I am terribly disappointed in just how politicized every event at this campus manages to be. I certainly wish I knew about this coming into college...

I can't believe he would pull out just a few short days before one of the biggest achievements of our lives so that he can make a political statement. This day has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the graduates. "
I post this here, because most probably did not see that post but also because the student makes some good points even if I ultimately disagree.

First, I think there is a problem that you can only get two tickets for graduation and that might suggest that Clinton is not the best speaker to begin with. How can any event with Clinton in a year where his wife was a Presidential candidate up until last week, manage to not be political? Somethings are simply beyond my comprehension, I suppose.

As the student points out, graduation is supposed to be a time for students and their families to celebrate a great accomplishment and if one cannot have their family there, it makes it more difficult.

On the other hand, I think people need to have an understanding of helping those less fortunate that they are. Growing up in a union household, one of the things you learned is that you do not cross a picket line. So for Clinton to do so, would likely go against his own principles. It is unfortunate that innocent people get caught up in the middle of it, but at the same time, I am struck at the complete lack of acknowledgment by the student about the situation with AFSCME and their employees.

So while I agree that the day has nothing to do with Clinton and everything to do with the graduates, ultimately, when Clinton made the arrangement to speak at the graduation, he was not aware of the labor the strife on campus.

Target Breaks Ground

As we all know by now in 2006, voters approved rezoning for a Target store near the intersection of Second Street and Mace Blvd. Now finally almost two years later they will break ground on the store despite concerns about it being near a superfund cite.

Apparently in addition to Target there will be several other stores right next to it, the largest will be about 25,000 square feet.

The site is supposed to open in October of 2009. Apparently Target only opens stores three months out of the year in April, July, and October.

According to the Davis Enterprise story:
"Although the city doesn't know which businesses eventually will fill the buildings adjacent to Target, it put some limitations in the development agreement.

One 25,000-square-foot pad will allow for a building about the size of the former Food Fair store in West Davis, Webb said. Two pads allow for 7,500-square-foot buildings and one will be 6,000 square feet.

The city was able to specify the type of businesses it would like to see in those spaces, allowing restaurants, and community retail like clothing, electronics, soft goods or office supplies. Fast-food restaurants and neighborhood services can take up no more than 10 percent of each pad building space, Webb said.

The city also specified that building permits for the pads must be issued within two years of Target's permit. "
Funny no mention of the LEED certification. I know some people are excited to have a Target in Davis. As one who does not shop in Target outside of Davis, I will likely not shop in Target in Davis or at any of the satellite stores as well. I think we need to continue to support our local downtown business.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Commentary: Going Negative Still Works... If you do it right

I was reading the Davis Enterprise post mortem on the Assembly campaign that they largely did not cover. I say that less as a means of boasting than true concern. It hit me on the Saturday before the election when the Yamada campaign was hosting a press conference in response to the "Latte Mailer" and the only press there was myself. Imagine being attacked, you do not have time to respond with your own mailer, and instead you have a press conference where the press does not show up. How do you get your message out?

As it turns out that slew of negative mailers did not help Ed Voice or Christopher Cabaldon. The public largely had either seen through it or tuned out by that point and Mariko Yamada won a narrow but surprising victory both in the pre-election absentee ballots and on election day itself.

Nevertheless, though we had no access to polls, it was easy to see that Cabaldon was comfortably ahead four weeks before the election. According to him that translated to a 14-point lead that felt to most of us like a 24-point lead.

And while Davis Enterprise Columnist Bob Dunning spends a good portion of his column yesterday complaining about the onslaught of ads in his mailbox--the ads by and large worked.

Did Cabaldon hit on too many mailers with help from the IEs? Probably. But as he pointed out to me, in Davis people were complaining about the quantity, in parts of Solano, they did not even know there was an election.

Most of the early Cabaldon pieces were positive ads, designed to sell the candidacy of Cabaldon. They were not primarily negative ads.

In the Enterprise article Cabaldon found the culprit by examining the polls.
"Cabaldon, on the other hand, said today he has reviewed polling that organizations did in the weeks leading up to the election and there is no doubt about what spoiled his lead: negative mailers."
It seems as soon as the negative ads came out, Cabaldon was thrown off-balance. Or at least his IEs were.

Bob Dunning makes a good point, the Farmer's Market ad was largely a good one, but there was one key mistake that people noted.

Dunning writes:
"Oh yeah, I forgot. Chris used the Farmers' Market as a backdrop for one of his TV ads where he tried to suggest to Davis voters that he was one of us with the closing words: 'But this is Davis and we're smarter than that.'

We? Does that suggest some sort of brotherhood between the citizens of Davis and candidate Cabaldon?"
Bob Dunning is correct here, anyone knows that Christopher Cabaldon is not from Davis and so when he says, "we're smarter than that," it rings hollow and sounds like pandering.

But the larger points that Bob Dunning makes are wrong. Was it nasty? Oh sure. But without the nasty Yamada IEs, she is not in the race. She does not win.

So here are the real lessons that you must learn from this race:

1. Too many positives mailers early by Cabaldon. It is nice that he was trumpeting himself, but you only need a handful, not multiple mailers each day.

2. Going negative works even when the issue is somewhat silly like the car boot. Or perhaps others were more offended by the car boot than I think.

3. Be the first one to go negative. Cabaldon was the second one in the fight and for some reason it always looks defensive when you respond.

4. Negative ads have to be simple. The Wal Mart ad was effective for the Yamada side because everyone understands the issue around Wal Mart. The Cabaldon response was too difficult to discuss. If you have to explain it, you lose. If someone says you take Wal Mart money and brought Wal Mart to West Sacramento, it is hard to response I actually was against it, but I voted for it due to legal issues, even though I have been bragging about redevelopment in West Sacramento and Wal Mart has come up as part of the redevelopment. Sorry, too long.

5. Negative ads can backfire. You cannot just make stuff up that sounds non-credible. Three of the attack ads by Ed Voice just made no sense--the pay raise, the Latte, and especially the Yolo County Housing Authority. As dumb as you think the electorate is, they seem to see through some of the ads.

Matt Rexroad was quoted in the article arguing that Mariko Yamada's personal precinct walking did not factor in. I tend to agree on that point. However, there is secondary point and that is that the unions had 250 people in the field on the weekend before and the day of the election. They did a better job of getting out their vote than Cabaldon who could only manage 100 people in the field during that time. And I think that does matter.

Bottom line folks, negative ads work but they are not a guarantee. They have to hit on vulnerabilities with the candidate. I just do not think that Yamada's vulnerabilities rested with her support of pay increases, spending on Latte program, or her handling of the Yolo County Housing Authority. Whereas Cabaldon did have apparent vulnerabilities with the perception that he seemed to think he was above the law and the perception that he was beholden to big developers and big box retail. Thus the Yamada IEs were more effective in the end, than Christopher Cabaldon's.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Commentary: Low Turnout Again Leads to Talk of Change

Another election, more low turnout, and more talk about changing the way we vote. County Clerk Freddie Oakley is talking once again about all-mail-ballot elections. With all due respect to the County Clerk, I could not disagree more.

One of things we noticed as we talked to voters over the last few months, some did not realize that there was an election, however, most were more focused on the Presidential Election than local politics. In a lot of ways that is a shame because local politics impacts people's lives more directly than national politics.

Of the big issues on the national front, only really gas prices impact people as much as the conditions of roadways, housing availability, schools, etc. And the president is not going to have as much of an immediate effect on gas prices as the city council does on development and growth or the school board does on the local schools. The war effects us on the margins. The economy impacts us more but again, how much does the President impact the economy directly? Moreover given local variations, you can argue that the city council, county board of supervisors, and even your state reps have a greater impact over your personal economy than the President.

Regardless, this is not a blog about the economy or local politics, but rather the interest of the public in local politics. The valid point made is that the amount of elections this year is taxing our system. Freddie Oakley's solution is the all-mail ballot.

I would look first at electoral consolidation. But before we get there, we need to understand that something happened this year that was somewhat unique. California had two primaries by specific design. We had the February Presidential Primary and then our normal June Primary.

This was not done by accident either. You see the legislature tried to put a term limits law on the ballot to extend their own terms in their president branch of the state legislature. If that proposition had passed in February, state lawmakers could have run for reelection in June. The result however was two separate primaries that watered down the vote and drove up the expenses. Did Fabian Nunez reimburse local counties and election officials for his self-serving and transparent plan that was handily rejected by the voters? Of course not.

Unique circumstances aside, where I grew in San Luis Obispo, almost 20 years ago they passed a local measure that consolidated the ballots. It put city elections, school board elections, and county elections on the same ballot as either the primary or general elections.

The result is that they have two elections except under special circumstances and the school board and city council elections occur with the general elections. From a fiscal standpoint it makes sense. You get a larger turnout. People tend to be less focused on the local elections, but then again, how much different is that from now?

It seems to work elsewhere, perhaps we ought to look into it here before we go to an a mail-in election where the people still are not paying much attention.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Council to Examine Reconfiguring Fifth Street

Perhaps one of the benefits of the city council campaign is that issues arise about safety concerns. Fifth Street has between B and L has been a problem for some time. The council originally tried to mitigate this problem with the light signals on F and G with dedicated left turn signals.

That solution has alleviated some of the problems. On the other hand, it has also according to neighbors forced some of the traffic onto Eighth Street which lacks the flow capacity of Fifth Street. Furthermore, because the lights are not triggered, during off-peak hours, one may be waiting for a minute with no other traffic for the light to change.

The larger problem is with the streets that do not have traffic signals.

First, the traffic moves too fast through the four lane road. Some have likened it to an urban highway. As a result, there are two significant hazards. One is that cars that want to make a left turn off of Fifth block traffic because there are no dedicated turn lanes. The other is that cars turning onto Fifth, particularly making left turns, take unnecessary risks.

A further problem is the lack of bike lanes between B and L, putting bicyclists directly on the street with vehicles.

Overall there was a one week time period where I saw no fewer than four major accidents on Fifth Street. To make matters worse, a vehicle one Saturday turned from Fifth onto C Street by Central Park during Farmer's Market. The vehicle was traveling at least 30 to 35 mph as it entered onto the much slower trafficked street. The driver then swerved to avoid a pedestrian, hit the gas instead of the break, and ended up crashing into four parked cars. Our car was the fourth, and the only vehicle involved in the accident not totaled. Luckily not a single person was injured, but it was close.

There is also another hazard in close proximity and that is the corner of D and Fourth Street. The problem there is that inexplicably it is a two-way rather than a four-way stop. First of all, that causes confusion for drivers, and you often see people on Fourth Street (who do not have a stop sign) stop and people on D Street (who do have a stop sign) assume that those on Fourth Street have to stop. Further complicating that is the lack of visibility onto Fourth Street due to cars parking diagonally to the curb. That means you have to creep out into traffic in order to see if traffic is coming. All of this could be alleviated with a four way stop, but for some reason the city has been slow to act on that. That intersection is an accident waiting to happen.

The easiest way to alleviate the problems on Fifth Street would be to turn it from a four lane street into a three lane street with dedicated bike lanes on both sides. You then produce a dedicated turn lane for both directions and a "suicide lane" that would allow cars to make a left turn onto Fifth Street and into a center lane before merging into traffic. That is probably the solution I would favor at this point, although it would likely lead to some sort of a log jam entering from L and from B Street.

There are other configurations that would likely be worth looking into, including more four way stops or traffic lights between B and F and G and L. But I think re-striping would be simplest and would still keep the flow going while making turns much safer.

I will not pretend to have all of the answers, so if others have good suggestions post them below.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, June 09, 2008

Commentary: Steady Enrollment for Next Year?

At least based on the number of students enrollment for the fall, the district will basically have the same number of students next year as they did this year, after suffering a somewhat large decline from 2006-07.

The Davis Enterprise quoted Clark Bryant who is the director of curriculum and instructions.
"'I wouldn't want to get to the place yet where I'd say it's good news,' Bryant said. 'But it does give some indication of stabilizing. However, the numbers do fluctuate over the summer. The time when it really counts is October, when we do the California Basic Education Data System assessment.' That figure establishes the level of funding the school district will receive from the state."
This coupled with the announcement earlier from Davis Demographics that enrollment would stabilize over the next ten years, suggests that perhaps the alarm folks were sounding in the early part of this year is not quite as alarming.

The question is really what is ideal in terms of enrollment. Obviously declining enrollment has serious drawbacks in terms of loss of revenue and ineligibility for certain matching funds for new buildings.

On the other hand, it is far from clear that increasing enrollment is ideal. Building new neighborhoods tends to lead to surge and decline cycles of increased enrollment but then a leveling off as the neighborhood ages. The pressure of the unequal building of schools and building too many new classrooms can lead to problems down the line as we have now discovered.

As we suggested a few months ago, it is not clear that rapidly growing cities have better schools than slower growing cities. In fact, you can look across the region and see various problems.

From that perspective, having a relatively stable number of students, if you can sustain it, might be ideal. The facilities would stay stable and need only upkeep and maintainence. Funding would be relatively stable and therefore not have serious fiscal impacts on the district.

There is another factor involved here and that is the declining enrollment statewide which has nothing to do with local land use policies.

The Davis Enterprise article mentions this:
"Currently, there is a demographic bulge of people in their late teens and early 20s - born in the late 1980s and early 1990s - who are finishing high school or attending college. UC Davis, for instance, is experiencing record enrollment, and the University of California and California State University systems are crowded.

As this demographic bulge graduates from college, and moves into their late 20s and early 30s - the peak child-bearing years - a gentle uptick in elementary school enrollment is expected in many California school districts, including Davis, starting in about eight years. "
These natural cycles of population are based on macro population characteristics. Davis may simply be a more extreme version of this exacerbated perhaps by its college town setting, higher home prices, and slower growth policies.

One thing that is more clear, is that building more neighborhoods has its own set of unintended consequences. For example, the building of Mace Ranch added students to the district temporarily and led to the pressure to open a new school. Promises made to the homeowners however, forced that new school to open to the detriment of other existing schools. And so Korematsu is indeed open now, but at the expense of the closing of Valley Oak.

In fact, if we look at the population growth from the late 1980s and 1990s, we see that it led to the opening of a new Junior High and two new elementary schools. These were just built five years ago. This year, until the board reversed course, we faced closing one Junior High and we already closed an Elementary School.

Some of this was based on the poor demographic work of the previous demographic consultant; however, some of it is due to the nature of relying on new housing to fund new schools. A lot of promises get made, but sometimes it causes more problems down the road.

Follow Up on Parcel Tax

I wanted to follow up on a few of the comments made in response to Saturday's column. There are certainly programs and positions that can be cut in the district. However, the district looked pretty hard for easy cuts to make to get to originally $4.5 million, now perhaps $3 million. There were just not a lot of cuts. Some suggested a cheaper Superintendent, but it's not clear how much cheaper the district could go and still be talking a reduction in the tens of thousands in spending, which is really a drop in the bucket. Likewise the climate coordinator position could be eliminated for some savings, but that would again be a small drop in the bucket. Regardless, you still need to make the tough cuts to get into the millions.

Second point is that the district does have an oversight committee. It is reasonable to ask whether it has the independence and the teeth to do the job. As someone mentioned in a post a lot of the school board members and some of the administrators read this blog, so if you have good suggestions on how to improve things, it would be helpful.

Third, some have suggested that no one is going to vote for another parcel tax. This is a district that stepped up in crisis to voluntarily raise $1.7 million. There will be just as much of a crisis next year as well if we do not pass a new parcel tax.

Fourth, I think Stan Forbes comments, which he had mentioned to me earlier in the year as well, are good ones that will facilitate passage. Tie the parcel tax to actual need and make it year-to-year on a need-by-need basis. I think that will inspire greater confidence.

The bottom line is I believe you can find $300,000 to $500,000 in things that are of questionable importance in the current budget, but the district looked very hard at finding $4.5 million and did not come close without painful cuts to facilities, staff, and programs. I just do not see another way around it. We must pass a parcel tax to help our schools.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Commentary: A look into the 4th Supervisorial Distrct Race

On Friday, it was announced that Jim Provenza had won the 4th Supervisorial district race outright garnering 54 votes over the needed 50 percent in order to avoid a November runoff election. Mr. Provenza received 4,065 votes or 50.7 percent, easily outdistancing John Ferrera's 2,739. Cathy Kennedy finished third with 15.2% or 1,217 votes. He will replace the likely Assemblywoman from this district, Mariko Yamada who won the Democratic Nomination on Tuesday in a district that is heavily Democratic.

The first time I really got to know Jim Provenza was in January of 2007. I met with him in his office in Sacramento to convey to him my concerns about the District's handling of the harassment of a junior high school student due to the fact that the student had two male parents.

Jim Provenza at that time acknowledged shortcoming in the district's response while at the same time not directly commenting on the matter due in part to it being a matter dealing with personnel and in part it being a mater that dealt with a juvenile. What he did do is lay out proposed changes in the discipline code.

In short, he told me everything I wanted to hear. But as many people also know, many politicians will tell you everything you want to hear and then fall flat when it comes to follow through.

But when the meeting in question came forward, not only did Jim Provenza do everything that he said he would do, he went above and beyond that.

There came a point when then-Superintendent David Murphy seemed to be hedging, dragging his feet, and attempting to water down the new language. In response, Jim Provenza pressed him, and forcefully got him to put the language into the new discipline code that would have actual teeth and be unequivocal.

It was watching Jim Provenza operate at that meeting that earned my respect.

Last summer, the county Board of Supervisors and the city of Davis nearly came to blows over proposed development on Davis' City edge. Over 100 Davis residents packed a mid-July meeting. Jim Provenza was there as well, criticizing the plans to build along the I-80 corridor, renaming the proposed "innovation corridor" the "congestion corridor."

While that meeting turned heated, Jim Provenza actually has a pretty good record of turning such relations around. The city of Davis and the School District had very tense relations for a number of years.

As we discussed earlier this year, the King High and Grande problems in part resulted from lack of trust and lack of cooperation. At King High, the city and district disputed over what to do with three large trees. Ultimately, the district accidentally (or so they claim) severed the root structure. Moreover, the district was surprised to learn of a storm drain in the middle of the King High site, something that Bill Emlen politely remarked at the time would have been evident had the district consulted with the city planners. Finally, the footprint of the school encroached on city property, something else that would have been noted had there been some sort of dialogue between the two bodies.

Grande was much the same situation. The district embarked upon a highly secretive sale of the site that involved a land swap and an under-valued sale price due to misplaced concerns about the city imposing the Naylor Act and taking the land for below market value. Jim Provenza and a new board led the way to stopping that sale and exploring other options. Since then the city and district have worked extensively to help subdivide the land and sell it as fully entitled property. They also worked with the neighbors to ensure that their concerns were dealt with. As a result, the district will make more money on the sale and they will do so knowing that they do not have to worry about the city imposing the Naylor Act on them.

What we have seen since 2006 is unprecedented cooperation between the city and the school district, to their mutual benefit. It is this type of relationship and background that the city and county need. In many ways, it will be very possible given the dynamics of the current board of supervisors.

When the Davis Enterprise surprisingly endorsed John Ferrera over Jim Provenza one of the thing they cited was that Ferrera
"pledged to help repair interagency relationships, believing Davis and the county can both be better neighbors, and he promises to lead all parties in working together toward well-understood, collective goals."
It is an interesting point because John Ferrera had no track record, but Jim Provenza had actually succeeded in doing that with the city and school district.

He also helped the school district get on firmer ground fiscally. He led the way in helping to get rid of Tahir Ahad whose risky strategies and poor management, not to mention his blatant conflicts of interest, put the district in grave jeopardy. Meanwhile Former Superintendent David Murphy allowed much of this to happen under his watch, not only failing to intercede in the district's better interest, but he continued to support both Tahir Ahad and his policies. To this day, he calls Ahad the finest CBO he has worked with.

With Ahad and Murphy gone, the district with the help of Jim Provenza and others was able to recoup the lost funding for Montgomery. They then embarked upon hiring a new superintendent, who they found in James Hammond--a young and energetic leader for the school district.

Provenza's legacy on the board did produce some notable enemies. Marty West, who now works for Ahad, has been a harsh critic of Provenza, writing a scathing letter that circulated in part of the community. The former Superintendent David Murphy was reportedly walking Precincts for John Ferrera.

This was unfortunate. John Ferrera had little to do with the school issues and yet his campaign was dragged into some of it. At least part of this has to fall on Mr. Ferrera's shoulders, he was made aware of this baggage some time ago, and yet continued to allow himself to be surrounded with people whose agenda was less to help Ferrera than to hurt Jim Provenza.

While I did not formally endorse Jim Provenza, nor do I live in his district, I think his policies are a better fit for the fourth district and I also think the board of supervisors as a whole will benefit from his expertise.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting