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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Apparently 5th Senate District Race Features A Couple of Relative Moderates

If you have listened to the rhetoric of both Democrat Lois Wolk and Republican Greg Aghazarian, you have heard horror stories about their Senate opponents. Lois Wolk is of course a Davis Liberal associated with the Toad Tunnel and other eccentricities. Greg Aghazarian is right wing Republican who wants to make abortions illegal.

The truth turns out to be something very different. This week the Capital Weekly came out with its legislative scorecard. Unlike the rhetoric, Greg Aghazarian and Lois Wolk turn out to be a bunch of moderates. Or do they?

In the Assembly there is just one Republican with a more liberal voting record than Greg Aghazarian. However in absolute terms, the Assemblyman from San Joaquin County only scores a 19 out of 100, well to the right of a true centrist. He may be more liberal than his colleagues, but clearly he's not centrist.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk is actually even more liberal than Aghazarian is conservative scoring 91 out of 100. That puts her as the 9th most conservative member of the Democratic caucus in the Assembly. Then again she is hardly Cathleen Galginni who scored a 51 or the now infamous Nicole Parra who scored a 52 and was removed from the Capitol for crossing party lines on the budget. There are four Democrats scores between 51 and 64, making the Democrats far more moderate than their counterparts.

Compared to those Democrats, Assemblywoman Wolk is a flaming liberal with her 91. Then again there are 16 Democrats with perfect 100 scores. Seven Republicans scored a perfect 0.

In actuality, it was not that Assemblywoman Wolk crossed party lines on her votes, she was simply marked down because she failed to vote on three of the 20 votes that Capitol Weekly did their scoring on. She did not vote on AB 2058--Plastic Bag Recyling, AB 2083--Tuition for Undocumented Residents, and AB 2716 Sick Leave. The Wolk campaign did not respond to the Vanguard email requests for comments.

Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian on the other hand did cross party lines on four votes. He voted yes on SB 606--School Accountability, Yes on SB 304--Media Access to Prisoners, Yes on AB 1781 the 2008-09, and Yes on AB 1945 Recission. Of those of course, the yes vote on the Budget will innoculate him on potentially the most explosive issue given the crisis in Sacramento. He also did not vote on AB 118--Low-Carbon fuels.

How good are these measures?

The Capitol Weekly discussed the weaknesses of their scorecard in the article that unveiled the rankings published on Thursday, August 21, 2008.
"Every political scorecard has its problems, and this one is no exception. The selection of bills is subjective, chosen after conversations with Capitol staff and experts, and our own observations of big debates over the last two years under the dome.

The bills we chose were not necessarily the most publicized, or even the most hotly contested in all cases. But we sought to pick a variety of bills dealing with diverse topics that lawmakers have been asked to tackle over the last legislative session.

Part of the problem with this particular scorecard is the fact that both legislative houses, and all legislative committees, are controlled by Democrats. As such, the controversial bills that do find their way to the floor are disproportionately Democrat-sponsored bills."
However they go on to say:
"Also, our scorecard reflects what most Capitol observers know to be true: That Democrats from the Central Valley tend to be more moderate than their caucus colleagues, while Republicans in contested districts like Abel Maldonado and Greg Aghazarian earn more centrist marks than those lawmakers in more solid, partisan districts."
It is also worth noting that as Ben van der Meer of does , that the 5th District as a whole tends to be centrist.
"State Sen. Mike Machado (D-Linden) had the second-lowest score of any Democrat, and he is termed out of the 5th Senate District seat, another target of both parties this fall.

The two candidates for that seat, Aghazarian and termed-out Assemblywoman Lois Wolk (D-Davis), are both ranked as relative moderates."
Senator Machado scored a 67, only Lou Correa scored lower in the Senate as a Democrat with a 47. That means that Assemblywoman Wolk is quite a bit more liberal representing Yolo and Solano Counties while Assemblyman Aghazarian is quite a bit more conservative.

Our previous analysis showed that Democrats in this district now have a much stronger advantage than they did in 2004 when Machado held off a strong challenge from former Stockton Mayor Gary Podesto.

However it also indicates that despite the relative moderation of both candidates, the strategy by both will be to paint each other as extremists. How well that works, time will tell.

One thing we know, this will be a heavily funded battle. By August 4, 2008, the Aghazarian campaign reported a 7-to-1 fundrasing advantage.

A press release at the time said:
"Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian continues to turn in strong fundraising numbers, including raising over $565,000 in the latest period ending June 30th. Aghazarian's fundraising topped that of his opponent, Lois Wolk, by a nearly seven-to-one margin. Wolk raised just over $76,000 for the period. Current cash-on-hand for Aghazarian is $1,040,000 - over fives time more than Wolk's $185,000."
Aghazarian Spokesman Tim Clark said:
"Greg Aghazarian has built a strong reputation in the Valley as a balanced ‘can-do' legislator who is willing to do what is right, even if it means going against the ‘party' line... Voters want to see him continue representing them in the State Senate, and that's one reason why the outpouring of support has been so strong. Greg's broad base of support is a sharp contrast to that of Lois Wolk, who continues to struggle in her fundraising."
However, with just two targeted Senate races, it is unlikely that money will be an issue for Assemblywoman Wolk either, Senate Democrats will likely open up their coffers as well.

The Vanguard will continue to cover this race and much more as election day approaches.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Vanguard Coverage of the DNC: Biden is the VP Pick for Obama and More

The Vanguard is primarily a blog that covers local politics and local government issues. However, there is no denying the fact that much of the world will be focused on the Democratic National Convention next week. So we have asked Don Gibson, a UC Davis Student who is President of College Democrats and an elected Hillary Clinton Delegate to the Democratic National Convention to write about his experiences at the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado. Here is his second report.


How did I get here?

As a college democrat, the DNC was not my first idea of helping getting democrats to take back the state. A few political friends of mine suggested that I run because they thought that I would be a passionate delegate. The general goal for getting elected to be a delegate is get the most registered democratic voters to come out to the caucus to vote for you. There are stories of all the crazy ways people got elected to be delegates. From rumors I have heard, one person running to be a delegate in San Francisco's district went all out. He filled a bus load of homeless, offering them coffee and donuts and registering them to vote then cast their ballots.

I did not have the resources or connections to do something that intense. A goal for me was to have the caucus site on the UC Davis campus where I could get all of my friends to vote for me. But the first CD is a geographically large district. It reaches from West Sacramento to Napa City to Eureka and the boarder of Oregon. What ended up happening was unique for this CD. This was the only CD in California had two sites for people to cast votes. I thought I was done for. How could I get dozens of my friends to Napa? And then deal with the fact that someone could bring their entire church to vote.

In the Democratic Party, the strict rules about gender equality work on the delegate level. The delegates work out to a 50% to 50% ratio through out the state. In the 1st CD, Obama beat Hillary by .3% points. So he got three delegates and one alternate while Hillary received two, one male and one female delegate.

I thought, I doubt I would win but why not try? I filled out all the paperwork already. I got a van with me and six other Davis College Democrats to come to the caucus. On a side note, they did not encourage my run. The entire hour car ride was them joking about me. They were saying everything from "Don Gibson supports the Iraq War" to "Vote for Don Gibson to make abortion illegal". It was not the most encouraging car ride I had experienced.

Once we all got to the high school in Napa, the whole mindset changed. The game was on. I met up with a fellow Hillary delegate candidate. She had not committed to support a male on her slate so I made a deal that my friends who came would vote for her and me. Due to the ability of people to cast two votes, I was able to help out fellow candidates who pledged to support my run.

I had to shake every hand that walked through the doors of the high school's theater. I knew I could not win only on the fact that six of my friends came but that I had to win uncommitted voters. The odd thing about this run was that a significant number of people came supporting a female candidate but not a male one. The voters had the ability to cast two votes. I had the pleasure of convincing them that I would go for Hillary all the way.

Two different conversations still stick out to me today. One woman asked me "What would cause you to change your vote to Obama?" At the time, the primary was still in full swing and no one was sure who would come out on top. My only response was that "If I was personally insulted by her". The other person who really asked where I stood on his issue was abortion. He asked me where I stood even telling me he was a catholic and strong pro lifer. I could only say that "different people have different ideals of morality and government should not regulate morals" I do not know if I ended up getting the pro-lifer's vote by it was a trying experience.

After producing literature and shaking over 100 hands, all the votes have been cast. The votes for the male ended up being around 89 total votes where I received 45 to my astonishment. Four other males received votes and the female that won was not even from this caucus but was from the one in Eureka. I vowed to ensure that ever American had health care and that we would get out of Iraq as my impromptu acceptance speech.

What happened today?

Governor Dean! Luckily I did not call the contents of his speech as in my last post. He talked about how our current leadership in college democrats is what needs to take the lead to win the swing states for Obama. He asserted that Obama was the candidate of the future and McCain was the one of the past. This is a great way to invigorate the activists at the convention. The big idea was his campaign plan for the country. In 2005 the DNC held experiments with voters about how to increase Democratic turnout in Virginia. Groups that received robocalls or direct mailers increased their turnout by 1% to 2%. While those who were in the neighborhood leaders program had a 12% increase in Democratic turnout. Those people had their door knocked on 4 times for 40 households with members of their own community. According to Dean's speech voters under 30s actually voted more than the 65 and older crowd in the Iowa caucus pushing Obama over the edge. Dean was only a 10 to 20 points away from winning the democratic caucus in Iowa. Even though he did not go down as the candidate, he is doing an amazing job as DNC chairman.

Nothing other than that really happened today. More college democrats flew into town and there was a community service project outside of the University of Denver. But I can not forget to mention this thing. Biden is the VP for Obama! I hope I did not ruin anything for you guys but it came out publicly as many of us were leaving for the evening reception for College Democrats of America. I got the text message at 1:08 am MST.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Davis Joint Unified School District Expenditures

The Vanguard has received data from the Davis Joint Unified School district that examines district general fund expenditures. We have charts showing the historical spending by specific activity area from 2003 through next year. Over this time period, the district consistently spends of 80% of the budget on direct student support. The next largest line item is operations which keep school sites clean, safe and operational. With operations added to direct student support, the district spends over 90% of the budget on operating schools and teaching students.

The district only spends roughly 7% of its general fund budget on administration. That percentage has actually gone down slightly over the seven year period of time we track. In raw numbers, spending on administration rose by only a slight amount from $4.5 million to $5.2 million.

During the entire period, total spending rose from $59 million to $73 million. Of that $14 million increase over a seven year period, $13 million of that spending was in the classroom and $10 million went to teachers, aides, and books. Compare that small increase in cost to the rapid increase in Davis City expenditures on salary over a similar period which was upwards of $26 million in total compensation.

The first chart shows the spending broken down by category both in dollars and percentages of the total budget.

Next a pie chart shows the percentage breakdown by category.

Next we see the trendline of spending broken down by category which shows both the magnitude of teacher spending compared to other categories and also the rate of increase for teacher spending compared to the other categories.

Next the same trendline except the categories are broken down into classroom spending and non-classroom spending compared with total spending.

Finally two charts which show the same categories except broken down by percentage of the budget--here again you see relative stability in the categories across time.


Why are we looking only at general fund expenditures? The budget crisis occurring is a general fund budget crisis rather than a facilities fund budget crisis. For all of the talk of fiscal mismanagement by critics of the school district, the expenditure figures look relatively healthy. The majority of funding goes directly into the classroom. The percentage that goes to administration is small at around 7%.

A second point that needs to be made is that while teachers got a healthy pay increase a couple of years ago, overall, their salaries have not gone up by that much. If you compare teacher salaries to city employee salaries, particular fire salaries, they not only have gone up by nearly two-thirds less in percentage terms, but in absolute terms they are well below those in city government.

In other words, one can really not argue that the budget crisis for the school district was created by runaway spending. On the contrary, the roughly 24% budget increase in spending roughly mirrors that of inflation and does not keep pace with rising costs of housing and living in Davis. Nor does it keep pace with the astronomical rise of salaries in other sectors.

If one is looking for reasons to vote against the parcel tax, irresponsible spending increases by the school district does not appear to be one of them. Cuts to the budget, even if dispersed equitably across categories would necessarily have to more heavily impact money going directly into the classroom, toward core curriculum programs.

The bottom line here is that the public will have a choice--they can continue the high level of education in the district by supporting the parcel tax at an additional $120 per year or they can face cutting teachers and programs in the district. To me, that choice is very clear.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Vanguard Coverage of the Democratic National Convention

The Vanguard is primarily a blog that covers local politics and local government issues. However, there is no denying the fact that much of the world will be focused on the Democratic National Convention next week. So we have asked Don Gibson, a UC Davis Student who is President of College Democrats and an elected Hillary Clinton Delegate to the Democratic National Convention to write about his experiences at the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado. He arrived in Denver last night and has submitted his first report.


Who is a delegate?

Delegates are the ultimate political junkies. Not only do almost all of us read multiple newspapers, blog, and never turn off CNN, we also poured hundreds of hours into campaigns. The delegates are party activist who were elected to support their respective candidate at convention. Registered Democrats in the Congressional District get to vote. I was elected to vote for Senator Clinton way back in April.

Today delegates are diverse. On age, race, and sex, the party has worked tirelessly that no group would be unrepresented. There are an equal number of men and women from each state while states like California set affirmative action goals to fairly represent the party's base. The newest demographic that is popping for this convention is young delegates. 11% of California's delegation is under 30 (49 of 441) compared to only 8% in 2004.

Why are so many of us not becoming involved? Is it Obama or Bush's presidency or something else? I don't think that there is any one thing that drove fellow young democrats to be delegates and myself to run. Many are excited about Obama (including Clinton delegates like myself). 8 Years under this disastrous presidency gets many young people afraid of what another Republican in the office will do. My thought is that we are the wired generation. Our generation is now plugged into the world 24-7. The level and ability for awareness in my generation is beyond anything just 20 years ago. Now millions of us will get a text message from Obama's campaign when he announces his VP choice in just a day or two now. It is almost hard to imagine for me what the world would be without the internet or cell phones.

Young voters are increasing going democratic. We do not care about same sex marriage, we care about college affordability and the Iraq War. In a head to head vote between Obama and McCain 18 to 29 year olds support Obama 60% to 33%. 47% of this electorate describes themselves at Democrats to 28% Republican. The old thought about young people not voting is no longer true. If they are targeted for outreach they will vote at 64.4% turn out. In the California 2008 Presidential primary young voters were 14% of the voters. With per-to-per outreach and campaign resources we not only vote more but can change the outcome of elections. If only 500 more people voted for Al Gore in 2000 in Florida then the course of the country would have forever been changed. 500 is less than the number of students in the Emerson dorm hall in the Cuarto part of UC Davis. Students can change elections. As Barbra Boxer put it "elections have consequences"

Today's first update:

I just got to Denver. I may have been the only person on that flight going to Denver and will be active at the convention. My activism may have been given away with my 5 buttons and sticker on my backpack. The airport and city are all decked out in "Welcome DNC to Denver" and volunteers all in orange sticking out in the crowd. They are waving signs with big question marks and lines like "Ask me questions Democrats". It almost feels like this is Beijing's Olympics where the city is pulling out all the stops to make people feel like there is focus. But they did not destroy half the poor areas in the process. Although there a lot of rumors about what the city is doing about the homeless, everything from giving them tickets to the zoo to sending them to Salt Lake City.

Before the big convention with Obama and the Clintons, I am going to College Democrats of America convention. The first cool thing is meeting people from all over the nation. Right now sitting next to me is 3 fellow bloggers, one from Princeton, one from UC Berkeley, and another from Tuffs. The only thing I wanted is nice hotel rooms. As you can see in the pictures I will not be staying the lap of luxury tonight. For the DNC convention the California and New York delegations get to say in the Sheraton, formerly the Adam's Mark.

Nothing too exciting has really been happening now. The only thing that is going on is random groups of people meeting up and partying in their respective dorm rooms. I am about to go walk all around the campus looking for some fast food for dinner.

Tomorrow should be fun, College Democrats are putting together a community service project in the city. Then for kick of Gov. Dean will be speaking to the hundreds of us. I hope it is not the speech that ever politician gives to us student activist. The: "You are the future of country… Hope… Destiny… Future… On the door step of a new millennium… Tomorrows leaders… and so on"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Please Donate to the Children of Fallen DPD Officer Paul Narr

Last week, Davis Police Officer Paul Narr tragically took his own life. He leaves behind two small children and a wife. The Davis Police Department has set up a trust fund for Peyton and Jack Narr. Peyton is five and Jack is about to turn three. College trust funds for Officer Narr's children have been established at First Northern Bank. Donors may make contributions at any branch of the bank, which has offices in downtown Davis, Woodland, Winters and Dixon.

Ballot Arguments in For Measure W--The Parcel Tax

The ballot arguments have been submitted both for and against the Parcel Tax. This marks the first time in awhile that there has been an argument submitted against a parcel tax ballot initiative. Read the arguments both for and against Measure W and decide for yourself.


Yes on W: Continuing a Quality Education for our Kids!

Davis public schools are among the best in the state because generations of residents have made investing in education a top commitment of our community.

Measure W is needed to make up for the shortfall in state funding immediately and over the next several years. Without Measure W our schools will face severe program cuts and teacher layoffs.

The Davis School Board cut educational programs and made significant cutbacks in school administration this past year. An unprecedented community-wide fundraising effort was necessary to preserve core educational programs, and prevent teacher layoffs for the 2008/2009 school year only. But we cannot rely on such extraordinary stop-gap efforts to fund our schools.

Measure W will provide a reliable funding source for critical educational programs for the next three school years. Homeowners can continue our community's tradition of preserving quality schools for $120 per year, or $10 per month.

Measure W will:
  • Protect science, math and English programs;
  • Keep class sizes small;
  • Fund classes and teachers for music, art, social studies and foreign language;
  • Preserve athletics and physical fitness programs; and
  • Support our school librarians.
Every dollar Measure W generates will go directly to classrooms and instructors for student learning. Not one dollar from Measure W can be spent on administration. An independent Citizen's Oversight Committee will track all funds.

Measure W is designed for Davis. Apartments are assessed a lower amount and there is a voluntary exemption for seniors.

We ask that you VOTE YES on W to continue our community's long-standing tradition of investing in education because this investment benefits not just our children, it benefits all of us.


Judy Davis (Retired Elementary School Principal)
Jay Gerber (Business Owner)
Eleanor Neagley (Davis Teacher)
Janet Berry (Parent and Community Volunteer)
Many Carbahal (Accountant and Local Business Owner)


Measure W is a continuous effort by the School Board to seek voter approval to place a third local tax into effect in addition to Measure K: The School Facilities Bond passed in a Special Election in 2000 and Measure Q which passed last year and now with Measure W as a nearly identically written proposal to Measure Q to provide additional funding for Instructional programs which if passed in addition to the two other existing measures will increase the amount of special taxes paid to the school district from $258. to $378. per single unit dwelling and increase of 32%. despite that there has been a projected slight decrease in enrollment in the district from 8,863 to 8,833 students between the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years with less enrollment in addition to two (2) additional tax measures passed by the voters in previous years for other government organizations for their other purposes are still in effect doesn't justify supporting this proposed new tax.

In Davis the cost of living is already excessively high due to such new taxes and increases in recent years such as Measure W imposed on many middle income property owners not exempted from low income exemption provisions thereby subjecting them to possible future hardship as well such as possibly being evicted from their or excluded from purchasing residences due to the unaffordability to pay these current and new taxes.

In the interests to preserve the affordable cost of living for Davis residents against this excessive and continuous "tax raising frenzy" being sought by our local elected officials to gouge the local residents with excessive taxation: Vote No on Measure W.

For more information for more reasons to Vote No on Measure W please log on to the following
website address:


Thomas Randall, Jr.


The Proponents for Measure W don't mention in their ballot argument:

-That Measure Q was passed by voters last year still remains in effect assessing an additional $200. per year per parcel if Measure W passes for the remaining three (3) year term in effect as both tax assessments would serve nearly duplicate purposes in funding instructional programs and therefore a significant amount of additional funding could still be provided if Measure W doesn't pass.

-Measure W's provisions set a flexible tax rate per year up to a maximum of $120. per single unit parcel subject to an annual review with public hearings to be held by the School Board which is not legally required to set the rate at the preferred limit advised through public testimony or the recommendations of the Oversight Committee. This situation places taxpayers in the unfair situation in which the rate assessed to them could fluctuate from year to year and is unpredictable to specifically fixing their rate of annual property tax assessment thereby precluding them from accurately contemplating in advance what their total tax rate assessed would be annually and especially problematic provided the current cost of living is being affected by higher rates of inflation.

-Measure W's provisions contain no eligibility limit for tax reductions or exemptions for low
income property owners in the district (including some university employees and students) to pay the additional taxes imposed if the measure passes.

Vote No on Measure Wrong, Vote No on Measure W.


Thomas Randall, Jr.


Please don't be fooled by false and misleading arguments against Measure W.

FACT: Measure W is designed to address immediate school funding shortfalls that forced the Davis School Board to authorize substantial cuts for the 2008-2009 school year. A community-wide fundraising drive then restored important educational programs for only one year. Measure W would fund these valued services for the next three years.
  • FACT: Programs funded by Measure W are NOT INCLUDED in any existing parcel tax measures.

  • FACT: Measure W will expire in three years.

  • FACT: Measure W includes a lower rate for apartments and an exemption for seniors so they are released from undue tax burden.

  • FACT: Measure W meets immediate funding needs - it does not create new programs.

  • FACT: If Measure W is rejected, the Davis Board of Education will be forced to eliminate teaching positions and instructional programs.
Davis residents know the quality of life in Davis is linked to the quality of our schools. Our children, our neighborhoods, even property values, are supported
by quality schools.

Though the economy is uncertain, we know that the way to a better future is to protect the quality of public education. it's time to demonstrate our values once again. We ask that you vote YES on Measure W to support our schools and our community.

To learn more visit Thank you.


Helen Spangler (Davis Teacher)
Glen Holderreed (Investment Adviser)
Prudencio Mendez (Small Business Owner)
James Beckwith (President and CEO Five Star Bank)
Lois Crowe (Retired UCD Science Researcher)

Vanguard Commentary

At this point in time, there is no organized group or committee opposing the Measure W parcel tax that will be on the ballot for the November election. However, Thomas Randall, Jr., submitted an argument against the parcel tax and a rebuttal to the argument in favor of Measure W.

Mr. Randall wrote these arguments as an individual. While he is a member of the Yolo County Republican Central Committee, his statements are those of an individual and do not represent the Central Committee on this matter.

In fact, supporters of Measure W noted that Glen Holderreed, who signed the "Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure W" is also a member of the Republican Central Committee, and his views also do not represent the Republican Central Committee on this matter. At this time, that organization has not taken a position on the ballot measure.

The Yolo County Taxpayers Association, led by among others former Davis School Board Member John Munn, has not taken a position on the parcel tax and is not expected to do so.

From my standpoint, Mr. Randall's argument against Measure W is several long run-on sentences. More importantly however, several of the arguments are not accurate. For instance, Measure W and Measure Q do not fund any of the same programs, it does not create any new programs, and it only goes to fund educational programs--not administrators. In other words, the money goes directly into the classroom and if the measure is not passed, the money comes directly from the classroom.

The bottom line is this point by Measure W supporters:
"If Measure W is rejected, the Davis Board of Education will be forced to eliminate teaching positions and instructional programs."
That is what the public needs to weigh. There are few people in this community that are more cautious about raising new taxes than I am. I have been very outspoken on the issue of fiscal responsibility both by this school district and the city of Davis. I am very leery about potential rate hikes for water services, which by the way, dwarf this tax. The water rate hikes will likely be larger per month, than Measure W is per year.

Unfortunately, I see no alternative at this time to passing Measure W. The choice is clear, pay $120 additional in tax dollars or see teachers and programs cut. In the coming days, the Vanguard will talk about exactly what that means. Tomorrow, the Vanguard examines some very interesting data from the school district on spending over the past few school years.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vanguard Radio Tonight on KDRT 6 PM to 7 PM

Join us tonight on KDRT 101.5 FM from 6 PM to 7 PM.

Tonight's guest is Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia a local activist, we'll be talking about some of her youth projects, hate crime, and Barack Obama.

Callers are welcome to call in at: 530.792.1648

The big news from KDRT is the frequency change that will save Davis' local radio station. Beginning on September 23, KDRT will move to 95.7 FM, it will be a frequency that will enable all of Davis and even surrounding areas to listen to the broadcasts. In addition, the new website which will be launched will have streaming and archiving capabilities.

Up until now, we have podcasted Vanguard archives for listening from this blog. A hearty thank you to Don Shor for making that happen for us.

Press release from Davis Media Access

KDRT-LP remains on air

Frequency change, streaming loom as big changes for small station Davis Media Access (DMA) announced today that its 18-month battle to keep low-power radio station KDRT on the air had come to a "mostly satisfactory” conclusion.

“The Federal Communications Commission found a way to squeeze us in, instead of squeezing us out,” said Jeff Shaw, station director for KDRT and a DMA staff member. "The bad news is: we have to move. The good news is: we're still on the air, which means we will be able to continue serving the community.”

DMA holds the license and provides a home for the volunteer-driven radio station, which has operated at 101.5 FM in Davis since its launch on Sept. 24, 2004. Beginning Sept. 23, KDRT will broadcast at 95.7 FM.

In January 2007, Results Radio, the parent corporation of KMJE, a commercial station in Gridley, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move to Yolo County, where its signal would displace KDRT at 101.5 FM.

The FCC authorized the LPFM service in 2000 to encourage localism in radio, which had been severely diminished during several decades worth of media consolidation in the commercial sector. However, the FCC gave LPFM stations secondary status under commercial stations, which makes such encroachments possible.

Once KDRT found out about the petition, its organizers filed a complaint with the FCC. Shaw said the past 18 months have been spent dealing with lawyers, broadcast engineers, FCC staffers and Results Radio representatives, as well as waiting for the FCC to move through its decision-making process. KDRT was guided through the process by broadcast attorney Michael Couzens of San Francisco, who successfully fought a similar encroachment in Spokane, WA.

“From the moment we found out that KDRT’s frequency was being threatened by encroachment, a coalition of KDRT programmers, other community volunteers, and DMA’s staff and board began organizing a concerted campaign to try to fight this,” Shaw said. “The ‘Save Our Station’ or SOS campaign focused on public education, cultivating support from elected officials and public policy makers, and raising money to pay for the legal and engineering fees associated with the fight.

‘We knew it was a long shot, and we also knew we had to try,” he said.

The 95.7 frequency was not available a year ago, and was only freed up through the process of the FCC changing some of its rule making on the Low-Power service. "The unfortunate turmoil that KDRT-LP was subjected to when its frequency was undermined by a full-power station had a silver lining," said Pete Tridish, founder of the Prometheus Radio Project, an LPFM support and advocacy group based in Philadelphia. "While some smaller low-power stations were quickly intimidated by corporate lawyers who told them their channel was no longer theirs, KDRT's strong organization helped bring public attention to the plight of low-power groups having their stations taken.

“The impact of KDRT’s story was felt in Washington DC, and the FCC has at least provisionally changed course on supporting the rights of community media as the result of KDRT-LP and stations in similar predicaments standing up for their rights,” Tridish said.

Autumn Labbé-Renault, DMA’s executive director and one of the original conveners of KDRT, said the station stood out because of its strong volunteer base, large number of public affairs shows, assistance to other LPFM’s (KDRT volunteers organized the Low-Power Radio Roundup in October 2005, a conference for more than 100 LPFM practitioners from three states), and broad-based community support, including letters from the Davis City Council, Yolo County Board of Supervisors, Assemblywoman Lois Wolk and Congressman Mike Thompson. Individual donations to the SOS campaign totaled nearly $14k.

“For the FCC to look at KDRT and say ‘this is what we charged them to do, and they have been successful’ and then pull the plug just didn't make sense,” Labbé-Renault said. “It would have been a serious breach of public interest, as well.”

Big changes looming

Much of the day-to-day operations of KDRT are coordinated through the 12-member volunteer KDRT Steering Committee, which comprises programmers and at-large volunteers. Chairperson George Moore also serves on DMA’s board. Moore said that rather than depleting KDRT, the encroachment battle energized both KDRT’s volunteers and the larger community.

Moore added that the frequency change brings with it some good opportunities for the station. As part of the transfer, KDRT will increase from 83 watts to 100 watts, which is the maximum allowable strength for LPFMs. The increase will strengthen KDRT’s signal in parts of Davis.

The station will be off the air intermittently between Sept. 6 and Sept. 16 as it re-engineers, and plans to fully re-launch at 95.7 on Sept. 23, 2008. Additional changes include web streaming beginning Sept. 23 at, and a revamped KDRT website and programming schedule.

“This is great proof that the Davis community cares deeply about freedom. As long as people's voices can be heard on their airwaves, we have a powerful tool for questioning the work of our government while also listening to great music,” said Nancy Bodily, who hosts “Earth Momma’s Mountain Music” on KDRT Thursdays at 10 a.m. “This community dug into its pockets and hearts to come up against the FCC, and our small voice was heard all the way to the office of the chairman.” Bodily also serves on the KDRT Steering Committee and the
DMA board.

Labbé-Renault said help came from many sources, including KDRT/DMA volunteers, elected officials, community members, local musicians and businesses—especially the Davis Food Co-op, which mounted several fund raisers, other LPFMs, as well as Prometheus Radio Project.

“At the end of the day, I can’t say I’m exactly glad this happened,” Labbé-Renault concludes. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this. I said publicly in April 2007 that KDRT would not go off the air on my watch. I meant it as a call to action, and I can say that we are all gratified by the response and support.”

A celebration of KDRT’s success is planned as part of “On the Backlot,” DMA’s 20th anniversary celebration and free community concert, Saturday, Oct. 18 from 3-9 p.m. at DMA, 1623 Fifth Street in Davis. More details are available at

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Closing the Circle: Examining City Employee Contributions in 2008 City Council Elections

In my field of study, Political Science, researchers often work with intricate and complex mathematical models to determine the link between campaign contributions and public policy. The search for influence was often muddled by preexisting partisan and philosophical ties between interest groups and public policy makers. Part of the complexity also arises from the large number of contrary interests pressing policy makers in seemingly opposite directions. In some ways, the pattern in local politics seems much more simple.

As Rich Rifkin pointed out in several columns leading up to the 2008 city council election, there is really only one group of public employees that was active in the council elections--the firefighters. Indeed in our examination of the Form 460 (Campaign Statements from the City Council Candidates), we find only a few very small contributions from city employees who are not firefighters. A Davis Police Officer and head of the Davis Police Officer Association made small contributions to incumbents Stephen Souza and Don Saylor, and the union itself made only a $100 contribution to candidate Sydney Vergis.

Compare that to the enormity of the contributions from the Davis Professional Firefighters Local 3494 and you see any influence is quickly dwarfed.

In the chart below you will see contributions by Local 3494 members cross-referenced with their 100K Club ranking. In the image below you only see top 20 members of the 100K Club. If you click on the link below you can see the entire list along with their city of residence. Thanks to Rich Rifkin for help with some of the data, along with yet another public records request from the city of Davis.

The direct contributions total $12,000 to exactly three candidates--Incumbents Stephen Souza and Don Saylor and challenger Sydney Vergis. They are contributed in increments of $100 per Davis campaign finance regulations that limit individual contributions to $100 per person, per campaign cycle. The members of the Local 3494 union have found a way to bundle the money in an effort to increase their influence. This is part of the complaint against them in the Yolo County Grand Jury report.

As we know however from the campaign, direct contributions are not the end of the story. Independent Expenditure Committees in Davis must report their activity in the California Form 496 and their committee is required to fill out Form 450. Unlike direct contributions, there is no limitation in terms of their spending activities. Thus as we know, the Davis Firefighters launched two different IEs in favor of their preferred candidates. According to their filing from May 12, 2008, the Davis Firefighters spent $6070.46 on the Print and Design of the brochure featured in the link above. For the entire six month period ending on June 30, 2008, they report $8245.63 which includes expenditures on a door hanger they report as $373.03 per candidate.

The combination of direct contributions and independent expenditures totals over $20,000 for the period. A reported spending that actually seems a bit on the low side.

Nevertheless, this expenditure is in fact unique for city employees in Davis. No other group of employees have organized in this manner to attempt to influence the city council election outcome. And from past elections, we know that this is not unique.

The question now comes to what exactly this influence buys the Davis Professional Firefighters. Here we revisit our findings from the 100K Club of Davis article.

As we see from these charts, the Davis Firefighters emerge as the "top dawgs" in terms of both base salary and salary plus overtime...

The first chart shows that the Davis Fire Department makes the highest average base salary of any Davis city department outpacing the City Manager's Office by a good $15,000 and outpacing their fellow public safety department, the police, by over $20,000.

However, that advantage increases tremendously when overtime salaries are factored in. Even, given the fact that roughly 17% of the overtime salaries are reimbursed by the state of California, these statistics show that by far, the Davis Firefighters are the best paid workers in the city. And again, it is not even close.

Here you can see their overall slice of the pie, just looking at base salaries.

And what we discovered yesterday is that even with respect to other locales in the county, the city of Davis' employee scales are skewed.

Where does that leave us? Unfortunately it leaves us right where we started--an unsustainable situation for the city of Davis where the rising cost of employee salaries are threatening to throw the city's budget out of whack.

So we end this circle where we began--the Davis tax revenue has not kept up with the rising cost of employee salaries. We spent a good deal of time this spring talking about pensions--the cost of pensions for the city of Davis was just $900,000 in 2000-01, this year it's almost $6 million. And the bubble of retirements with the current 3% at 50 arrangement have not hit yet.

What is the cost of these rising expenditures, one needs to look no further than the front page of yesterday's Davis Enterprise for the answer. In there was an article about the inability to repair some of the Davis bikeways because the city lacks the funding. This by itself is a safety hazard. People talk about the fact that the fire department is responsible for protecting lives--there is no doubt that is true, even if the actual number of fires is fairly low compared to other service calls. However, as I have stated before it is unclear to me that we are less safe paying folks a strong wage of say $70,000 compared to a wage of $109K. It is less clear to me that we are more safe now, unable to pay for crucial road and other infrastructure repairs than we would be paying the firefighters a bit less, and keeping the overtime under control.

What the city calls unmet needs is really a budget deficit. It is a deficit between what the city needs to spend and what it can spend. And unmet needs are insidious. Failure to make repairs now, means more expensive repairs later. Failure to make repairs now means possible safety concerns down the line. The pattern here is quite clear. The residents of Davis who are concerned about taxation, need to watch this much more closely. The residents here concerned about quality of services need to watch this more closely as well. At some point, the city will need to figure out a way to finance this and it means taxation, development, and possibly cutback on services.

Stay tuned to future Vanguard articles as we explore other aspects of the city council finance records.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

100K Club of Yolo County

Two weeks ago, we had our listing of the 100K Club of Davis. In it were the 61 employees of the city of Davis who earned $100,000 or more in 2007. Of those 61, 48 were in public safety and 38 of those were firefighters. Now we have compiled through another public records act request the 100K Club of Yolo County. There were 64 Yolo County employees who earned $100,000 or more in 2007.

The top employee of Yolo County in terms of salary not surprisingly is Sharon Jensen, who is the County Administrator (CAO), a position comparable to a city manager. She is followed by Sheriff Prieto. County Council Robyn Drivon is fourth. District Attorney Jeff Reisig is perhaps somewhat surprisingly only 9th. There are also three members of the Psychiatrist-Board in the top 10.

We have also broken down the elected officials who made the 100K list.

For the sake of comparison, we threw Public Defender Barry Melton on this list even though he is appointed rather than elected. Notably not on the list is the County Superintendent of Schools. Also as people are aware, Yolo County Supervisors make considerably less than $100,000. Also, the Public Guardian does not make the list either.

Breakdown by Department: District Attorney's Office Dominates

There is no department in the county, that is comparable to the firefighters in the city of Davis which had 38 of the top 61 salaries for 2007. However, the District Attorney's office did have 15 of the top 64 salaries, three times that of the next highest departments--County Administrator and Planning and Public Works. Child Support Services, Mental Health, the Public Defender's Office, and the Sheriff's Office all had four employees each in the 100K club of Yolo County.

City of Davis Compared to County and Woodland

One of our Woodland Counterparts, the Woodland Journal just ran their 100K Club of Woodland this past Sunday. They found 18 employees who will make $100,000 or more this year and just 10 employees last year.

To put these numbers into perspective, the city of Davis had 61 employees reach the 100K Club in 2007 out of a total of 422 total employees. That's roughly 14.4% of the employees in Davis. Yolo County by contrast has between 1300 and 1500 total employees of which 64 make 100K or more. That translates at the high end to just under 5% of the employees of Yolo County making 100K or more. We do not have the exact numbers in Woodland, but we imagine the total number of employees is comparable to Davis. That would put them in the range of Yolo County for percentages this year even lower than that last year.

Why is the salary structure in Davis so different from that of Woodland and Yolo County? One really has to look no further than the influence of the public employees unions in local politics and really we are talking about one public employees union--the firefighters. As we noted, 38 of the top 61 salaries in Davis are firefighters.

The Woodland Journal notes:
"Common to both cities is the relative earnings by those who accrue overtime. An examination of the public records provided by the city reveal that 30 Woodland employees made over $10,000 in overtime pay during 07-08. Of those 30, only one employee did not work in the police or fire departments.


86 employees made over $5,000 in overtime. Three of those did not work in the police or fire departments."
This shows that the same phenomena is at work in Woodland, but not nearly as severe as it is in the city of Davis. The County of course does not have a Fire Department. It has a large contingent of workers who provide crucial county services to residents, but most of them are not making the huge salaries with the huge overtimes that the city public safety workers earn.

Tomorrow we will attempt to complete the circle by presenting data on campaign contributions by public safety employees in the city of Davis.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, August 18, 2008

Vanguard Reports: Form 700 Filings by Davis City Councilmembers

In the latest installment of our series of examinations of local public records disclosures, we examine California Form 700 filings by the Davis City Council. These are the Statements of Economic Interests.

By law, the state:
Requires every state and local government agency to adopt a unique conflict-of-interest code. The code lists each position within the agency filled by individuals who make or participate in making governmental decisions that could affect their personal economic interests. The code also requires individuals holding those positions to periodically file Form 700 disclosing certain personal economic interests as determined by the code’s “disclosure categories.” These individuals are called “designated employees” or “code filers.”
For the city of Davis every elected councilmember, every candidate for city council, city management that is in the position of making governmental decisions that could affect their personal economic interests (mostly upper management of the various divisions), and city commissioners are required to fill out a California Form 700.

These disclosures are vital to protect government against officials engaging in conflicts of interest.

According to Gov. Code section 81002(c):
"Assets and income of public officials which may be materially affected by their official actions should be disclosed and in appropriate circumstances the officials should be disqualified from acting in order that conflicts of interest may be avoided."
Gov. Code Section 87100:
"No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest."
In order to determine which personal interests may be affected while carrying out official duties, the state and local governments require officials to disclose their financial assets including stocks and bonds, investments, real property holdings, income, loans, and business positions, gifts, and travel payments.

The FPPC provides detail on conflict of interest codes and disclosure requirements.
"For most other officials, including employees of state and local government agencies, it is up to the agencies that employ them to decide what their disclosure requirements are. Each state and local agency must adopt a conflict of interest code tailoring the disclosure requirements for each position within the agency to the types of governmental decisions a person holding that position would make. For example, an employee who approves contracts for goods or services purchased by her agency should not be required to disclose real estate interests, but should be required to disclose investments in and income from individuals and entities that supply equipment, materials, or services to the agency. (Gov. Code Sections 87301 and 87302.)"
For those who watch city council meetings on a regular basis, the most obvious examine of disqualification occurs when a project is within a given distance of a councilmember's home or property. Under those conditions, the councilmember simply disqualifies themselves from the participation in the discussion and the vote. One good example was on the 3rd and B visioning project, then Mayor Sue Greenwald was disqualified from voting on it, as a resident of the community immediately impacted by the project. However, she does retain the rights of a citizen and actually spoke during public comment as a member of the public on the issue.

Most of the time, these decisions are made voluntarily to avoid the appearance impropriety and the city attorney will assist members of the council in making the determination as to when they are conflicted out of the process.

However, for something so important, the public really knows very little about the form 700 or what is contained within the disclosures. Like most documents, these are public records, they can be requested by any member of the public for perusal or to be copied.

Davis City Council Form 700s

The Vanguard made a public records act request and received a copy of every filed Form 700 in the City of Davis. For the purposes of this article however, we have decided to only post those forms filed by the five members of the Davis City Council.

Again these are public records, available to anyone, the Vanguard is simply making them more accessible to the public.
What have we learned from these documents? One thing it is important to note, that when disclosing real property, the individual's main private residence is not a disclosable interest. For that reason neither Don Saylor who owns his home nor Lamar Heystek who rents an apartment have any real property. Neither do they have any reportable investments.

The most interesting disclosures are from Stephen Souza, Sue Greenwald and Ruth Asmundson.

Councilmember Stephen Souza's disclosure is in fact the longest at 27 pages. He has one investment in a stock, but the majority of his disclosures are the properties and apartment complexes--roughly 48 different properties are disclosed as doing business within during the course of his duties as a pool service vendor. That puts him in a very interesting position with regard to a variety of policies.

Mayor Ruth Asmundson has a very interesting investment of over $100,000 in the First Northern Bank of Dixon which is one of the main banks that finances development in Davis. She has held that asset from 1976. She also owns less than 10 percent partnership in about four properties, two of which are in Davis including the Parque Plaza on Alvarado and Sycamore West Apts on Sycamore Lane.

Finally Councilmember Sue Greenwald owns two properties in Davis plus stock in SBC Communications, SW Air, Chiron, and Exxon.

As mentioned earlier, the Vanguard at this point is not posting the Form 700s from other Davis Officials or the Commissioners. However, a perusal of the Form 700s provides us invaluable information about our public servants as they carry out their official duties for the city of Davis. Stay tuned this week, as the Vanguard releases more public documents from both the city of Davis as well as Yolo County.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Special to Vanguard: Supervisor Rexroad Responds to Comments on Re-Entry Facility

On Friday, the Vanguard covered a proposed Re-entry facility that was approved by the County Board of Supervisors and funded by state money from Assembly Bill 900. Part of the discussion that emerged on Friday had to do with the location. Some of the comments suggested that Woodland would be a good location for the facility and suggested that if people such as Supervisor Matt Rexroad support such a facility, they ought to put it in Woodland. Supervisor Rexroad actually went to the Woodland City Council to ask them to put the facility in Woodland, but there was no interest in doing so. Then again, Supervisors Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada also support the bill, but to the best of anyone's understand have not requested that the city of Davis house the facility.

Here is Supervisor Rexroad's response where he calls out Davis residents for supporting social programs but not being willing to house them in Davis.
I just took some time to read over these comments [on the re-entry facility] and am struck by one thing.

Most of you folks that read this are from Davis. Some of you are questioning why this project should not be located in Woodland. That is a fair question.

Another fair question is when the people of Davis are going to step up to the plate to provide land use that facilitates social services?

Woodland actually has a mission that provides food and housing for hundreds. Does Davis have a similar permanent facility? No. It moves around from place to place so as not to upset any one neighborhood.

Woodland is the location of a large facility for the Yolo County Housing Authority. Davis has a few locations that are a fraction of the size of the one in Woodland or West Sacramento.

The Housing Authority just purchased a home in Woodland and will likely purchase one in West Sacramento next. This was Prop 63 money for the mentally ill. Davis?

I don't want to hear about a bunsh of new senior housing either. Woodland has plenty of that and places it almost without objection from the community.

I hear many of you claiming that you desire social services to be provided -- just not in Davis. That part is left out. Somewhere else in Yolo County would be fine.

The largest piece of industrial zoned property in the unincorporated part of Yolo County is Covell Village. How about that location?

The re-entry facility is something that we are going to work through over the coming weeks and even years.

My question for you is -- what land is Davis going to set aside for some of these things?

When some of you question my desire to do these things I simply point to the leadership Woodland took to place the Wayfarer Center over the objections of a few neighbors. My vote was the deciding one and my involvement was great. Woodland did that. Davis?

It seems funny to me that for all the social programs that the people that read this blog are likely to advocate for -- the use of land in your precious city never seems to be part of the message.

Matt Rexroad

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Water Project: Responding to Councilmember Saylor's Letter to the Editor

In response to the emerging debate over water as the result of the council dispute that emerged as much over process on July 29 as over policy, Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor wrote a letter to the editor of the Davis Enterprise. It was a letter than was long on conciliatory rhetoric, but unfortunately short on detailed substance.

This story will attempt not necessarily to fill in that detail, as we have presented greater detail in a number of other locations. The main goal here is to raise questions that will need to be more definitively answered by the city.
"Council members are acutely aware of the costs of this project. We are also acutely aware of the importance of securing a reliable water supply as our wells are depleted, and meeting state requirements to reduce environmental impacts from our wastewater discharges."
This is the crux of the matter that needs more definitive answers. I have watched these meetings on water since January 2007 and my overriding sense is that with the exception of Councilmember Sue Greenwald and at times Councilmember Lamar Heystek, there are few tough and probing questions from council on these points.

The central argument that proponents have put forth is as follows:

The problem that Davis faces is that the water discharged by the city does not meet current standards for water quality. This is primarily a water supply issue because although the water meets drinking standards as it enters into one's tap, it does not meet outflow standards.

The tough question that Councilmember like Don Saylor never seem to press for is whether the only solution is to go forth with a water supply plan immediately.

But the statement does something else--it rhetorically acknowledges that there will be costs to this project without actually discussing what those costs will be and the fact that the costs will be currently accrued with a wastewater treatment facility--a project that everyone agrees needs to happen now.

Estimates for this cost to the ratepayer begin with a doubling of the cost of water on a monthly basis to an increase of $100 to $200 depending largely on estimates for the cost of the project. These costs have gone up considerably over the course of this water discussion.

[For a good overview of the history please see my article from January 2007 where I trace the debate over water projects back to the beginning of this process. ]

There has been little discussion or acknowledgment about who in the public can afford it. And while the cost of delaying the water supply project may increase the overall cost of the project, it may also decrease the hit on the individual ratepayer in terms of their monthly bill. People on fixed incomes will be hurt most by these rate hikes.

Some have suggested that the taste of water alone necessitates this change. In fact, one can get better tasting water for much cheaper. For instance, one can get a gallon of water at a grocery story for less than forty cents a gallon. Even if one gets close to three gallons a day that way, a large amount of drinking water, the cost per month would be less than the cost of this project. Other filtration systems are even less in cost. For instance, I use a Brita filter which runs me less than $10 per month, much less than a rate hike in water.

Mayor Pro Tem Saylor continues:
"The NWRI panel recommended that Davis pursue a balanced water portfolio combining surface water, ground water, conservation and reuse strategies. The unanimous findings of the panel are that no other alternative exists that would support these objectives as effectively, economically or environmentally as the proposed surface water project."
This runs along with the findings that the city has had for quite some time. Unfortunately it appears that Councilmember Sue Greenwald has some information that contradicts these findings. It would be helpful if the city council were willing to bring in those purported experts to give them a different view and a different consideration. However, instead of listening to what Councilmember Greenwald had to say and allowing her to continue to ask questions, she was inappropriately cut off. One is forced to ask what the council majority is afraid of by indulging the questions of Councilmember Greenwald or even more responsibly by allowing her experts to come forward. They would then have fuller information and could make an even better decision.
"All five council members have stated that surface water will be needed at some time. The panel report and presentation on July 29 concluded that delay in pursuing this project would result in significant cost increases, loss of winter water, loss of water rights and other serious negative consequences."
The first sentence is of course true. And it may be that the rest follows from it. But again, that is in dispute.

The staff report from the July 29, 2008 meeting read:
"The Panel concluded that the most serious consequence from postponing the project is the probability of losing the pending appropriative right to withdraw up to 46,100 acre-feet of water per year from the Sacramento River."
They further argued:
"The Panel concluded that postponement of the project to a later date would likely result in the loss of upstream water currently available for purchase to supplement the amount of water needed during the summer months."
This is true to some degree but it also somewhat misleading. At previous water workshops it became clear that winter water would almost always be available in some degree. However, during the summer months it becomes more problematic. The city would be allowed to extract water depending on the current water flow of the Sacramento River. As summer goes on, the amount of water to be extracted from the river will invariably go down. During dry years, the Sacramento River may not have enough water for extract at all. That would force the city to once again rely almost completely on ground water for its summer water supply--when water needs will be invariably higher.

In other words, when we need water the most, the water supply will be most problematic. And if that happens, will we even after these huge capital project expenditures, still remain out of compliance with discharge standards. These are serious questions that need to be asked and answered somehow.

If global warming reduces the amount of rainfall or even snowpack in the Sierras, the amount of runoff may be reduced into the Sacramento River. At the very least the water supply may fluctuate more widely meaning some years we have plenty of water and other years we do not.

That does not take into account the idea of holding our place in line. In theory, at present, the experts are correct about the line. But supposing reduced water in the future, where will that leave us and this line? Will communities such as Davis get nosed out by increasing needs by say Los Angeles in a future where there is less water? Climate change makes this a much more uncertain situation.

Have these tough questions been asked by the council sufficiently? Or are we potentially throwing a large amount of money down the drain for a solution that may not be here in the future?

Of course, the letter to the editor is not just about water, but about the council discussion as well. Councilmember Saylor refers the public to the streaming video and comments on council ground rules.
"The July 29 council discussion can be viewed on streaming video at the city of Davis Web site under 'City Council' video archives section (about three hours and 39 minutes into the meeting).

During that meeting, the mayor called a recess, acting under the provisions of the council ground rules. These ground rules govern your council's proceedings and conduct. They can be found [here]."
I invite the public to once again view the Youtube video which contains the final three minutes of Councilmember Greenwald's question-answer session with the water consultants, and then shows what transpired after the Mayor attempted to cut her off.

Unfortunately Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor delivers for the public very little detail on the water project that will severely increase the monthly cost of water to ratepayers. There are a number of questions that I would like to see addressed.

I have no problem with holding one's place in line at this point. I would however like to see each of the councilmembers aggressively but respectfully grill the consultants much as Councilmember Greenwald has. If the answer is at the end of the day, that we must go forward, I want it to be because we have no other choice rather than because we did not look into all the alternatives because the experts told us this was the only choice.

One point that needs to be explored is whether these consultants have industry ties. That was one of my problems with the original group of consultants--they seemed to have a financial stake in the city going forward with the process. Too often, the ties between consultant and industry are blurry at best. I think the city council, if they wish to be thorough and responsible, should encourage Sue Greenwald to put her consultants and experts forward and see if their advise is different, and if it is different, try to determine why and whether that advise might not be a better alternative. What does the council have to lose?

---Doug Paul Davis reporting