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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ralph Nader Used to Be My Hero

I do not remember how old I as, but I remember as a child my mother mentioning to me with excitement that Raplh Nader was going to come to town. She described him as a consumer advocate who stood up to big business and who was incorruptible. They tried to discredit Nader, hiring all sorts of independent investigators and tried to corrupt him with prostitutes to trap him into uncompromising positions, but they could not.

Ralph Nader's expose on automobile safety, "Unsafe At Any Speed" is still a classic work of investigative journalism. His advocacy lead to many of the safety features that have made modern automobiles a good deal safer.

And Ralph Nader did not stop there. He undertook a long list of activities on behalf of consumers and the public.

Had his work stopped there he might be canonized by many on the left. But he has proven over the years difficult to work with, prone to turn on would-be allies, and then there is his forrays into Presidential Politics, where he has run for the Presidency each time since 1996.

Some blame him for the loss of Al Gore in 2000. Others suggest that any spoiler role he played was unintentional. There are many on the left however who will never forgive him for 2000. Truth is Florida was so close and there were so many different kinds of problems, it is probably unfair to blame him for Florida. Moreover it is unclear that anyone voting for him was doing so at the expense of Al Gore and if Nader had not been on the ticket they would have voted for Al Gore.

I am thus willing to overlook 2000 despite the fact that I believe the ultimate outcome of the 2000 disproves any reasonable notion that there are no differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. An Al Gore administration would have taken us on a very different trajectory following 9/11 than George Bush ultimately did.

Be that as it may, the low point for Ralph Nader comes this week. In an interview on Fox, Nader said that Obama will have to decide who he will serve as President--the people or corporate America.

Then he went off the reservation in an interview with Fox News:
"To put it very simply, he is our first African American president; or he will be. And we wish him well... But his choice, basically, is whether he's going to be Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporation."
Nader's defenders quickly argued that he did not call Obama an Uncle Tom.

Nader defended himself later in the interview:
"Look I don't like bullies like you. You can pull the plug on me if you want. I said that's the question he (Obama) has to answer. He can become a great president, or he can become a toadie for the corporate powers that have brought both parties to their knees."
But he also refused to back off the use of the phrase, Uncle Tom.

Backtracking for a second here, for me it was interesting to see Matt Gonzalez named as Nader's running mate. I know and very much respect Matt Gonzalez who was at one point a very strong figure in San Francisco politics who as a sitting County Supervisor came within an eyelash of defeating Gavin Newsom for Mayor of San Francisco.

Matt Gonzalez also has a law firm in San Francisco that has represented a number of high profile cases in Yolo County most notably Halema Buzayan, but also David Serena and Khalid Berney, among others. The Buzayan case will heat up in the coming weeks as the Federal Civil Rights trial will likely begin in early 2009.

I know Matt Gonzalez and respect him a good deal and I wish he had not chosen to run as Nader's running mate.

I find the comments posted by his law partner Whitney Leigh very instructive. Mr. Leigh also represents the Buzayans and is an African American.

He posted his thoughts on Obama's election on the Huffington Post on November 6, 2008.

He wrote:
"I've spent the better part of today the way I imagine many progressives did: basking in a feeling that lies somewhere between bewilderment and elation. I'm used to spending the days after presidential elections avoiding the news like the plague. The sensation of the Obama election felt something like what I imagine getting a bionic body would be like: great, wonderful even -- but it would take some getting used to. By ten pm last night I'd already run out of superlatives to describe what the Obama election means to me, my parents, my towns (Chicago, where I was raised, and San Francisco, where I live), the country, the world. Yesterday was a day that only Terkel, Royco, Algren or Ivins could have really captured. Wish they were here."
He went on to talk about his disappointment in the passing of Proposition 8, but then went on to talk about Ralph Nader's response.
"Then this afternoon I saw Ralph Nader's response, an ingratious and condescending admonishment to Obama not to be an "Uncle Tom," and different superlatives began reeling through my head. Like "indefensible," "galactically arrogant," and "transparently bitter." Oh yes, and "racist." Here was Ralph Nader, hero to so many, spewing hateful nonsense in what can only be viewed as a calculated effort to grab headlines. Nader fully knows that the ways in which his viewpoints differ from Obama's - ways in which I generally side with Nader - are not fundamentally about race. But he used the term "Uncle Tom", because he believes that Obama too often "acts white" (another reprehensible quote from his 2008 campaign); that is, that (1) a black man must adopt Nader's viewpoint to be really black, and (2) to "act white", is to support corporate oppression, the surrender of civil rights, etc. The flimsy, noxious and missiological nature of Nader's argument is obvious to many I'm sure. My personal anger at his statements is remarkable, if at all, only because he has been a welcomed visitor in my law office on several occasions and I have sat and discussed politics with him over dinner. And on a more personal note, one of my law partners was Nader's running mate. I for one cannot give Nader a pass this time. Regardless of his many contributions to our society, it is high time that he be judged with the same ethical rigor he would apply to others. Ralph: some soul searching would do you some good."
Those comments pretty much sum up my view on Ralph Nader's comments.

Nader has become a good object lesson for the need to compromise at times out of practical purposes. The same qualities that as a consumer advocate that made him impervious to smear tactics, are the same qualities that have crippled him in the realm of politics. In this system, you cannot simply assert your will. You have to compromise. You have to at times accept the lesser of two evils as a means to prevent the great of the evils from coming to power.

Think about everything that Ralph Nader stands for. Now let us look at what the Bush administration did for eight years--engaged in war in Iraq, failed to address global warming, abrogated critical civil liberties, enabled the US to spy on its own citizens, authorized waterboarding and other torture tactics, emboldened oil interests, allowed corrupt companies to prosper, allowed corrupt mortgage lenders to squander people out of their life savings. None of this would have come to pass under a Gore administration. Would Gore have measured up to Nader's perfection? No. Does Obama? No.

Nader fails to understand that there has to be a such thing as compromise to get things done or to win an election that means that we get some things better. Despite the fact that Obama has given some on things like FISA, Obama's administration will enable us to move on on critical reforms such as sustainable energy policy, global warming, health care, and other things that we all support.

Nader's dismissive comments to Obama mean that even the few people that were still listening to him this year--and it was hardly anyone--are forced to come to grips with the fact that Ralph Nader as we knew him 30 or 40 years ago, is a largely marginalized and tragic figure. That is the worst part of it all. America has lost a great advocate on behalf of the consumers and gained a tragic caricature who somehow believes people are still listening.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Friday, November 07, 2008

Governor Appoints Right-Wing Judge to Yolo Superior Court

Some may have seen the nice little blurb by Lauren Keene of the Davis Enterprise yesterday on the Davis resident who was appointed to the Yolo County Superior Court Judge vacancy. Unfortunately, it appears he will fit right into the Yolo County Judicial system all too well.

Ms. Keene describes Samuel T. McAdam, 43, as a Davis man who is "experienced in labor and employment law." He has worked as a partner at the Sacramento office of Seyfarth Shaw since 2004 and was an associate there since 1998.
"As an employment attorney since 1996, McAdam has done most of his work in federal court, advising large private-sector employers on how to manage their workforces. His clients, which hail from all over the country, have included WinCo Foods, R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, Ruth's Chris Steak House and the San Francisco Symphony."
What neither Lauren Keene nor the Davis Enterprise tell you is that Samuel McAdam while working at Seyfarth was the hired gun for RH Phillips, a local winery accused of among other things sexually harassing female laborers and then firing them when they complained about this and poor working conditions.

On September 23, 2004, the Sacramento News and Review reported on the string of abuse that a number of local Mexican immigrant residents suffered at the hands of this winery in Dunnigan.

The News and Review reported:
"Two of the women, Antonia Chavez and Amelia Alcauter, have filed lawsuits in Yolo County Superior Court alleging that they were routinely subjected to verbal abuse and sexual harassment by one of their supervisors at R.H. Phillips, a man named Jose Miramontes. According to their court claims, the women frequently complained to Miramontes’ higher-ups about his behavior, but nothing was done to stop the abuse.

Worse, the women say, complaining earned them reputations as troublemakers and ultimately cost them their jobs. Their court cases charge that they were “blacklisted” by R.H. Phillips and a local labor contractor for being mujeres problematicas (problematic women) and that, as a result, they no longer can find farm work in the area, even now, a year later."
The story continues:
"Two other former R.H. Phillips employees, Elena Perez and her adult daughter Angela Aparicio, also have joined Chavez and Alcauter in filing complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging sexual discrimination and retaliation for complaining about working conditions at the company


Outside of the claims in the original lawsuits and EEOC complaint, the women state that working conditions at the winery were unsanitary and unsafe--that the company often failed to provide clean restrooms or clean drinking water to workers. The women have gathered support from local activists, labor organizers and student groups to help put together a boycott and media campaign against the company.

Chavez explained that she wants to bring attention to her own experience at R.H. Phillips, but she also wants to improve working conditions for other farmworkers in Yolo County. “We don’t want this to happen to another woman at R.H. Phillips. We expect that when somebody else goes to work there, that they will treat them better,” she said."
It is a lengthy article, but you can read the full article here.

A year later, the News and Review would have a follow up. The winery had decided to settle.
"At a press conference in front of the Yolo County Courthouse in Woodland on Thursday, the women said that although they can no longer work at R.H. Phillips, working conditions have since improved for the remaining workers. The bathrooms are clean, break schedules are adhered to, and clean water is always available. There is even the occasional carne asada, or supper, hosted by the company to boost worker morale.

But company officials say that none of this is new.

“We didn’t change anything. We’ve had good policies in place all along,” said Sam McAdam, an attorney for Seyfarth Shaw, the law firm representing R.H. Phillips. McAdam said the one change that the company has made is to print its employee handbook in Spanish as well as English."
As for Samuel McAdam, well the article only gives a snippet of his involvement in this pretty horrific case. Those involved in the case suggest that McAdam once he took over the case began a campaign of intimidation and threats. Lawyers and activists involved in that case were threatened with lawsuits for defamation. The women were threatened with arrest and criminal prosecution for their demonstrations. Threats were made about large counter SLAPP suits.

According to the Sacramento Bee on August 19, 2005:
"On the other side of them stood Mike Jaeger, the president of R.H. Phillips Inc.; Sam McAdam, the winery's lawyer, and two other representatives.

R.H. Phillips officials denied all of the women's allegations and said they settled because it was cheaper than going to trial.

"We believe the allegations made by these four women are without merit, and we deny they were discriminated against in any way," Jaeger said, reading from a prepared statement.

"We want our management and employees to focus on making great wines, rather than worrying about depositions and a trial," he said.

McAdam said he did not know what motive the women might have for claiming such abuses, but that it was a good question to ask of them.

"The claim of gender discrimination," he said, "is false and outrageous."
As the News and Review wrote in 2005:
"Last year, when Davis attorney Natalie Wormeli complained about working conditions at the estate during an interview on the Berkeley radio station KPFA, she received a letter from the company’s law firm, threatening to sue her and “each and every person” who made “slanderous” statements to the media. Now, as part of the settlement, none of the women involved in the suit, or their lawyers, is allowed to speak to the media about the case again."
This is the legacy of McAdam, the front man for a winery that allowed the sexual harassment of at least four women age 39 and over. That allowed horrible working conditions to persist. And when these women dared to speak out, they were subject to being fired and blacklisted. All of which the company of course denied and all of which was done by Samuel McAdam, who will now thanks to the Governor be a Yolo County Superior Court Judge. It looks like he will fit right in.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Analysis: A look back at Measure N at Why It Was Defeated

The results for Measure N can be looked at in two ways. On the one hand, the measure failed by just 2000 votes despite large amounts of public confusion about what the measure would do and why it was needed.

On the other hand, opponents of Measure N point out that Davis rarely opposes such measures, that there was only late organized opposition, no ballot argument against the measure, and yet it lost.

Both in a way are probably correct.

The Davis Enterprise in a rare moment of editorializing by city beat writer Claire St. John suggests:
"The death knell probably rang when Mayor Ruth Asmundson, who voted in favor of putting Measure N on the ballot, encouraged voters to turn it down."
I would tend to agree with that analysis. But this article will look further and argue that this was a much broader and deeper defeat than the surface numbers might suggest.

Councilmember Lamar Heystek along with his colleague Stephen Souza was the strongest supporter of the measure. The Vanguard is awaiting his exclusive statement, in the meantime, we post his statement as printed in the Davis Enterprise.
"I have learned much from those who were most vocal in their opposition to Measure N... I hope the community at large, especially those who campaigned actively against Measure N, will continue to provide guidance to the City Council on the issues that are related to the charter.

And I think that people who did not support Measure N would like to have greater engagement with the community, and I think that is something we've learned from the process.

Anything the city would want to pursue as a result of a charter will require much more discussion and a much better understanding on everyone's part."
Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor has at times called the measure "a solution in search of a problem."
"I think this vote indicates that any future consideration of change to our city's governance structure must be clear and specific and based on deep community engagement."
In my own view, I think Councilmember Heystek has indeed learned from this setback for his cause of home rule and eventually choice voting.


There were two critical errors along the way. One was the separate the issue of choice voting from the issue of the charter city in order to gain the support of Mayor Ruth Asmundson, a gesture that was already futile even before she changed her vote.

The other error was to bring about this process without more community involvement and buy-in. The result of both of these was a confusing and sterile measure that many did not understand more still failed to appreciate any sense of its necessity.

In the final analysis then, Don Saylor's view is right, there must be clear and specific changes to the city and it must be based on deep community engagement. The irony is that they had the latter back in 2006, but it got lost along the way.

Vanguard Analysis

The Vanguard analysis paints a far grimmer view of the measure that goes well beyond the narrow 2000 point defeat which marked a 54-45 verdict.

Looking at the city precincts only, we see that there was a considerable undervote when compared to its companion Measure W.

In the city of Davis, 28,105 people cast their ballots for the Presidential Election--of which 22,653 voted for President Elect Obama (80% if you are scoring at home).

Measure W in the city of Davis received around 26,263 votes of which The fall of which just under 20,000 were Yes votes. From the Presidential election at the top of the ballot to Measure W was a decline of just 2000 votes. That means there was only 6.6% drop off from the Presidential Election at the top to Measure W--a remarkable feat given the length of the ballot and the fact that Measure W was on the second side of the ballot and past all of the propositions.

However, Measure N received just 22,760 or 3503 less than W and 5,659 less than the Presidential election. That is a drop of nearly 20%. One in five people did not cast their ballots for Measure N.

Even the Los Rios Bond which was on the ballot in Davis and never even discussed among most people either in the papers or on the Vanguard only had 12% who did not vote for it.

The comparison is probably most striking with Los Rios because there was a measure that was never discussed and yet it was very clear what it was about and what it would do.

We can go back to the Davis Enterprise editorial a month ago, the people of Davis simply do not know what the measure was about and therefore a large number either voted against it or did not for it at all. Only 10,395 of 28,105 (about 37%) of those who cast their ballots on November 4, 2008 voted yes on Measure N.

The bottom line here is that we see the perils of putting a measure on the ballot during this type of election that is complicated. Measure W and Measure M were both straightforward. Voters knew a yes vote generally meant money for education and that a N vote would deny that money. People did not have that easy frame for Measure N and as a result uncertainty about what the measure did caused some people to vote No and others to simply not vote at all.

The future of a charter city, choice voting, and home rule will depend on this community. The perils of a council driven initiative were well-demonstrated this week. Now we will see what the people of Davis want and if this effort dies here or continues on.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Proposition 8 Leads but the fight for Gay Marriage Has Not Died and Will Not Die

Probably the most grueling fight on the ballot in California was for Proposition 8. Proponents and Opponents spent over $65 million on it.

Right now the measure is ahead and it will probably pass. Opponents of Proposition 8 have not conceded defeat. Many people poured onto the streets of Sacramento yesterday evening and elsewhere to protest the passage of the law that overturns the Supreme Court decision that had allowed same-sex couples to wed.

Now opponents have filed a petition with the California Supreme Court to invalidate the proposed constitutional amendment. They charge that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the state constitution's core commitment to equality for everyone.

While opponents point to several million ballots that are uncounted statewide, the likelihood is that this measure will pass given its 400,000-vote advantage and the broad coalition that ended up supporting it.

Obama won California by over 24 percent, thus large groups of Obama supporters also backed Proposition 8.

For instance 59 percent of California Catholics supported Obama and 64% supported Proposition 8.

According to Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll, their exit polling showed that religion trumped party affiliation on these type of social issues. 84% of those who attend church weekly voted yes and 83% of those who never attend religious observances voted no.

Why did this measure pass when it was well behind a few months ago.

I think in part, that the No on 8 campaign was too slow to counter very deadly campaign ads from the yes side. One of the biggest was the one of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. A few weeks ago I suggested that Newsom would cost this election as he cost John Kerry the election in 2004. I stand by that comment. Key states in 2004 utilized the gay marriage issue to get out conservative voters. That proved decisive in Ohio where the margin was narrow and the victory decisive for Bush. It was Newsom in part who put the issue to the forefront and helped galvanize conservative voters across the country. And yes Massachusetts Supreme Court played a role, but then as is true now, Newsom was the face that they used.

Phil Bronstein, a San Francisco Chronicle Columnist agrees.
"Gavin Newsom screwed it up. Voters are the ones who make the decision but no one person handed the Yes on 8 campaign a more persuasive and compelling sound bite than our own mayor. Even if there were other flaws in the anti-8 operation, he was unquestionably the poster child for the pro-8 push, whether you like it or not. And unlike Willie Brown, whose 70s high afro and muttonchop sideburn photo got used as a thinly disguised racial scare tactic in the 80s by some Republican candidates for the State legislature (nothing he could do about it), Mr. Newsom willingly and imperiously handed over the ammunition in yesterday's election."
But it was not Newsom alone. In the last month when the No on 8 side closed the gap again, it was due to a slew of very effective ads including one from Dianne Feinstein and one from Samuel L. Jackson.

The problem was they were too slow to react to very damaging but misleading campaign ads charging that students would be forced to learn about gay marriage.

There is an irrational fear on the part of many regarding this issue.

I was listening to the people interviewed in Roseville and the one thing that was said that settled it for me was the guy with the Yes sign saying that he was afraid his kids would learn about same sex marriage in school and would think it was alright for them to marry someone of their own sex. You know there is a word for that view point and it is "homophobia." They are afraid that their kids are going to be gay.

The truth is it is difficult for kids today not to find out about sexual orientations other than straight relationships. It is impossible to keep kids from learning about homosexuality. Learning about such things does not make someone gay. That fear is very real but it is very irrational.

However, despite the brutality of this fight, I still believe time is on the side of those who support gay rights and the right to marry. I am 35 years old. I believe that for most people my generation, the issue of same sex marriage is not a big deal. We know gay people, we have gay friends, gay family remembers, gay colleagues, acquaintances, etc. We are not threatened by their existence. In twenty years, the majority of the population will have grown up with gay people in the open. And while the very religious may still object, the majority of the population will not.

It is inevitable. Just as we once viewed the issue of civil rights as a paramount issue and some felt threatened by granting blacks the right to vote or sit at their table or in the front of their bus, people now are threatened by the prospect of same sex couples having marriage rights. But just as we now look back at the previous prejudices as antiquated and wrong, we will one day do the same for same sex marriage fears and hatred.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Charlie Brown locked in a close race facing a recount

While election day brought great news to many at both the national and the local level, it was not the perfect storm that some had hoped for on the Democratic side. There are in fact still a number of very close races that still need to be resolved.

One of the races that is so close and so important if you are on the left is the Fourth Congressional District. Ret. Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown is locked in a very tight battle with State Senator Tom McClintock, a right wing icon in California. The only problem with Senator McClintock is that he is running for a district that is over 400 miles from his home. There is no law that saw you must live in the Congressional District that you run for, only the same state. However, McClintock could not even vote for himself.

It is a district that has a 15 percent Republican convention, and yet Charlie Brown came within a nose in 2006 of defeating longtime incumbent John Doolittle who has since be indicted. And now he is even closer to McClintock.

But this will go to the courts and the recount committee.

Here's the current numbers:
Charlie Brown (Dem) 155,735 49.8%
Tom McClintock (Rep) 156,379 50.2%
A scant 554 separates the two.

Charlie Brown issued a statement yesterday afternoon to his supporters:
“I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to every single voter who participated in yesterday’s historic election. It appears we are headed for a record turnout. We understand that there are still more than 40,000 ballots remaining to be processed, and we will not know the outcome of this election until all of those votes are counted.

Our priority today is to support a fair and accurate count of every ballot. I want to thank the election department staffs and directors of all of the counties who are working so hard and so well to assure an accurate count.

I want to thank my wife Jan, my entire family and my entire campaign team for all of their tremendous work during these past many months. I am proud of the campaign we ran—one focused on putting patriotism before partisanship and solving problems. While I remain very confident that we will prevail once all the ballots are counted, I know that this team has already won important battles for veterans, for families facing tough economic times and for so many other important priorities.”
There are roughly 40,000 provisional ballot still to be counted. Those could swing towards Charlie Brown. McClintock has not claimed victory. And even once those votes are counted, there will likely be a recount.

Charlie Brown said on Wednesday morning:
"It appears we are headed for a record turnout. We understand that there are still more than 40,000 ballots remaining to be processed, and we will not know the outcome of this election until all of those votes are counted. Our priority today is to support a fair and accurate count of every ballot."
It could therefore be weeks before we know the outcome of this election.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Special Commentary: President Obama and What It Means to Me and This Nation

The headline in the New York Times this morning, says it all really. I use the imagery intentionally because it highlights the divide in this country between the educated left and the Sara Palins in this world, the last vestiges of what Richard Hofstadter over half a century ago called, "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life." If anything, the results of this election show that those vestiges are on the wane, and that Obama was right all along, "we are not as divided as our politics would indicate."

For yesterday, white and black, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, Red State and Blue State, and even parts of the south, would vote to elect Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States.

This election was about change and the future. It was most assuredly about the economy. It was also about our place and standing in this world, though that notion was somewhat forgotten by the media and some of the voters. If Iraq is indeed on its way to victory, its debacles for the first four years of the operation are no less real and made no less of an impact of the last two elections.

However, this election was also very much about race. We did not dare say it during the election. It only came out in symbolism and in bigotry in any kind of direct manner from a marginalized few. But this election was indeed about race. Most living African-Americans never believed that this day would come. Less than fifty years ago, people had to march through beatings to earn the right to vote and the right to sit at the same table as white people and to use the same toilet. Think about that for a second.

I am only 35, I do not remember days like that. Yet I remember as a child a display of Martin Luther King Jr. being burned in my elementary school in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. I just read a book on Watergate. Patrick J. Buchanan, then a Nixon aid, advised Nixon not to attend Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral in 1968 because he was too radical and it would alienate the south during a time when they were employing the Southern Strategy.

It is a Southern Strategy that is now dead. The Republican majority coalition that has controlled the White House for all but 12 of the last 40 years is gone. Today ushers in possibly a new era. That will depend on the leadership of Barack Obama. But if he runs this country like he ran his nearly two year campaign, I have no doubt that we are headed to greatness.

So many black journalists came forward and spoke about what this moment meant to them last night. They took off their impartial journalist hats and spoke from the heart. For me, the moment of Jesse Jackson in literal and very real tears was striking. As polarizing a figure as he might be, as much as Barack Obama moved away from him and that type of politics, he was still the vanguard of the civil rights movement from 1968 until the perhaps the present. The torch in that respect has been passed and our country and the African-American people will be far better for it, but let us not diminish the contributions of men like Jesse Jackson.

I want to speak of different heroes though.

And let there be no mistake, John McCain is an American hero for many reasons. He ran what I consider to be a repulsive campaign. He demeaned himself and his memory the way he ran it. But he has given much to this country and yesterday he gave far more in his speech. He spoke from the heart about race and what this election means:
"This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now ... Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth."

There was a moment in this campaign where he seemed not to get it. In fact it was just this weekend. Obama had addressed Iowa and talked about how his Iowa Primary victory really gave him hope and it validated his faith in his country. McCain tried to seize on that statement to suggest that he had never had doubt in his country and did not need anyone to validate his belief in his country.

My thought at that time was that McCain does not get it. That for a white man who comes from a respectable background, there is never a reason to doubt the country. He did not have to come from slavery, he did not have to deal with Jim Crow, he did not have to deal with de facto segregation and prejudice. So perhaps it was a little easier for a white man of some priviledge to never doubt America, than the son of an immigrant, a man raised in a single-parent home of mixed racial heritage who clearly had to struggle and fight his way to prosperity. Perhaps McCain needed to step back and look at history before he tries to cast the patriotism pall over Obama.

But I think I was wrong. I think McCain did get it, he just lost his way in the battle. I hope he meant every word he said last night because it was a singularly great moment and McCain, if he is truly the maverick he claims, has much to still offer this country.

John Lewis unfortunately became the center of controversy for part of the campaign when he compared the type of vitrolioc attacks from crowds and surrogates of McCain to those of George Wallace. Lewis has always been a soft-spoken man who has avoid that sort of controversy. But I think he was right. When you had people talking about Barack Hussein Obama, people accusing Obama of being a terrorist, Sarah Palin talking about "paling around with terrorists," and some of the other comments, it was alarming for a man who has lived through as much as John Lewis.

John Lewis is one of my heroes. He was beaten badly on the bridge from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. In the mid-1960s this was a battle for desegregation. And Lewis was among those badly beaten by the police under order from George Wallace. One of my favorite books is David Halberstam's "The Children." One of the most powerful moments in the book was toward the end when one of the chief protagonists who had ordered some of the police beatings visited John Lewis in his congressional office and asked for forgiveness. The book speaks about the strength of John Lewis' faith and his belief in Christian love. And how much he actually lived by that creed of literally loving your enemy. It has a power that is simply unavoidable.

That is the world that the United States lived in, even in 1965. And while that was seven years before I was born, it was not so distant from the world that I was born into. I never really believed I would live to see a black president. I also believed if I did it would be a Republican, either someone like Colin Powell or worse yet, someone like Clarence Thomas. Someone that would not rally and inspire the African-American base in this country and give them hope and restore their faith.

Some spoke in grand terms last night that the racial divide will end and that we can get beyond racial reconciliation. I do not believe that. Not yet. There is still much inequality. The devastation wrought by years of persecution has put the black community in a very dire position today even as more blacks go to college than ever before and more live middle class status than ever before.

This election will not end those problems. What this election does give us is hope. My children will grow up in a world that has always had a black president. Think about that. Barack Obama's children will grow up in a world, where they have seen their father, a black man of mixed racial heritage ascend to the most powerful position in the world. It gives people everywhere a reason to hope. It gives people everywhere a reason to believe in America. Not just black people, but all people in all countries.

People have suggested that liberals hate America. That is not true. I believe that conservatives love America like they love their God--acting as though America is perfect and incapable of imperfection and with blind devotion. My country right or wrong. Liberals have a very different love for America. They love their country like they love their children--they are critical because they want the best for this country, scornful when it goes awry, but also hopeful that they will reach for greatness. It is the promise of greatness that drives the criticism.

It is that promise of greatness for which I adhore Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. It is that promise of greatness why I condemn waterboarding and US efforts at torture. It is that promise of greatness why I adhore wiretapping and evesdropping of not just terrorists but American citizens. It is that promise of greatness that is why I cannot sit back and allow America to unite her enemies and divide her friends anymore.

We speak of the economy and many personally feel it, but this election was about so much more than that.

For the first time in a long time, I believe in America again. Not George Bush's America which is divided along racial and party lines. Not the America that is arrogant in the face of the world. But the America that our founding fathers saw through all of the turmoil and imperfections. "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal..." Forty-five years after Martin Luther King implored America to "live out the true meaning of its creed," American has done just that and elected an African-American to the Presidency of the United States. And the world watched and believes in America again.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Measure W Wins with an Overwhelming 75% of the Vote; Measure N Goes Down

Measure W needed two-thirds majority to pass, instead it got three-quarters majority. All along, I thought it was headed to a very narrow win, instead it won by an overwhelming majority. With 100% of the precincts reporting, Measure W received just under 22,000 votes on the yes side compared to just 7000 votes on the No side. It is an overwhelming mandate for continued high quality education in Davis.

In the coming days, I will speak to what this means and what it does not mean. Right now, let us just say that the people of Davis have spoken in a way that the few on the blog who have been dissenters all along cannot speak. Just as the people stepped up last spring to prevent disaster, the voters have stepped up to do the same. There will not be teacher layoffs, not this year, not in this school district.

Meanwhile, I would be loathe to mention that the Charter City concept rightly went down to defeat and back to the drawing board. The solace that backers of a better charter might take is that it was a narrow defeat, at least in comparison to the victory of W. Just 2000 votes separated yay from nay. And so, if Councilmember Lamar Heystek and Stephen Souza are so inclined, we can have a real public process this time and put a good measure on the ballot, that all of us can get behind. Measure N was not that measure.

But this morning belongs to Measure W and its backers. The Vanguard spoke by phone last night when it was not certain that W had passed, but it looked like it would.

Janet Berry has twice saved this schools district. First as the head of the Davis Schools Foundation and then as the Co-Chair of the Yes on Measure W committee.
"I am encouraged by the early returns and the fact that the community is really coming together and showing that it values education."
School board member Gina Daleiden who called me around 5 pm to tell me that they had won this election, but she did not want that said at the time with three hours to go before the ballots even closed. She told me at midnight last night:

"I'm thankful that we live in a community that truly values education. When times are difficult our community steps up and supports our children and our schools. "

She then added:
"This one of the broadest coalitions I've ever seen behind a campaign. I think that that's quite a testament to the school support that our community gives to education and our schools. "
She pointed out the support of the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business, Yolo Taxpayers Association, all of the PTAs, the Realitors, the Aggie, the Sacramento Bee, the Enterprise, the Vanguard, you name it.

Finally after 1 pm last night, the Vanguard spoke with District Superintendent James Hammond.

First, the Vanguard asked the Superintendent how he felt at this time:
"With the preliminary numbers, I'm obviously encouraged. I am definitely feeling good about our ability to weather the financial instability of the state and try to at least protect certain programs and protect any significant cuts that would affect the district in the future. Obviously there are no guarantees, because we now have to wait to see what the January budget from the governor states. But we're definitely in the position to take local control of the programs that our community is accustomed to having. "
The Vanguard then asked him what the future held with the prospects for the state budget looking very bleak in the foreseeable future:
"We obviously are going to have to keep a very close eye on how the state's budget is going to create a local impact for us here in the district. We definitely want to make sure that we have a good understanding of the revenues that the state is following short on in its projections if any midyear cuts are forced upon us. Also at the same time, try to build a reserve to try to be able to spread it over a multiyear budget we are required to submit."
Finally, the Vanguard asked him if there was a possibility with a bad budget forecast of future parcel taxes, a possibility he immediately and clear discounted.
"You know, I don't see that being a realistic meaneuver any time in the very near future. We've already gone to our community two years in a row , but obviously that's ultimately a board decision. In the near foreseeable future, I don't see that being a consideration."
The people of the district have shown overwhelming support once again for the district and for education. However, it should not be viewed as any kind of blank check. More than a year ago, many people eventually voted for this measure because they believe in education and have always voted to support education. But there seemed from so many I talked to, mixed feelings about a number of topics.

We will talk about this later in the week. In the meantime, the district deserves not so much to celebrate but to take a collective breath. It has indeed been a very long year for the district and the district with this vote survives though it will not prosper, not with the governor already threatening additional cuts and the people of Davis about tapped out.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Coverage and Chat

So tonight the Vanguard will be live blogging various election results from both around the country, the state, and locally. We hope to talk to local officials as results start coming in tonight. We will have a full wrap up in the morning. In the meantime, use the comment section here for any discussion and debate in advance of election returns.

3:30 UPDATE:

First results trickling in. Kentucky and Indiana. Neither state called. Kentucky should be a safe state for McCain and McCain leads. Indiana a toss up, Obama with a very very small lead there.

News coming up at the top of the hour with a slew of poll closings.

Gap has closed in Kentucky. Lead holding in Indiana. Although it looks like a big Democratic stronghold has come in from Louisville. Huge African-American turnout in North Carolina.

4:00 UPDATE:

Kentucky called for McCain. Vermont called for Obama. No surprises there. Indiana is too close to call. Georgia too early to call. Virginia too early to call. South Carolina too early to call.

Mark Warner wins Virginia Senate, a Democratic pick up, but no surprise.

Lunsford the Democrat in Kentucky Senate is slightly ahead now and polling ahead of Obama. That one bears watching.

The Kentucky Senate race is going back and forth. That will be a key as to whether the Dems can get to 60. Indiana Presidential race going back and forth as well.


North Carolina Too CLOSE to call, Ohio is Too EARLY to call, West Virginia is Too EARLY, Georgia is Too Early, Virginia and South Carolina Too Early.

South Carolina goes for McCain, no surprise there.


Huge amount of closures now...

Pennsylvania goes to Obama

In other news: Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire (that is a somewhat big one), Maine, Delaware, DC (shocking... not) all for Obama
Tennessee, Oklahoma for McCain

I don't see anyway that McCain can win this election if Penn holds.

Apparently MSNBC has called Penn for Obama but not CNN. They are being more cautious. We'll see.

Florida too close and Missouri too close
Alabama too early, Mississippi too early

Jeanne Shaheen wins NH Senate--pick up for the Dems
Mississippi senate too close to call, Dems need this one to win 60


NC Senate for Hagan over Liddy Dole, another pick up
Virginia now too close to call, with McCain with a lead
Arkansas too early to call

Virginia is interesting, I remember watching two years ago and Webb was behind all night until the Northern Virginia precincts came in and he pulled out a late win for the Dems; we'll see. This one bears watching. The other thing to note is that Obama is well under performing Warner in this race.

Georgia called by MSNBC for McCain, big win for him although it was mainly considered a lean for him. What that means is that the landslide factor for Obama is off, but we still have not seen a state turn from 2004.

Now CNN Projects Pennsylvania for Obama

Lunsford hanging in there in Kentucky, still think that is an outside chance, but you never know. Key places in Virginia have not come in yet, so no cause for concern other than it will be closer than maybe hoped.

Really intriguing numbers in North Carolina so far for Obama, we'll have to watch that one. If he wins NC, this is probably a 350 electoral win.

Alabama called for McCain (again not a surprise)

Fifteen states closing at 6:00 pm

Tennessee called for McCain (as expected)


Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin for Obama
Wyoming and North Dakota for McCain

North Dakota the only one that is somewhat surprising that it went this early. It was thought to be in play but it went early.

Arizona Too CLOSE to call.

Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, South Dakota all too early to call.

Tom Udall wins the Senate Seat in New Mexico, that's a Dem pick up. Fourth of the night.

McConnell holds on to win in KY

West Virginia called for McCain, that was a McCain lean. Still no flips from 2004.

MSNBC has called Ohio for OBAMA. That is game if it holds.

CNN is being more conservative than MSNBC but has followed them. That's the first flip.

Louisiana for McCain, no surprise.

Fox News also calling Ohio for Obama... CNN more conservative in their calling than Fox. Interesting. Now CNN calls it for Obama as well.

Obama wins New Mexico, his second flip.

He has 200 electoral, I can easily count 70. So at 6:30 Pacific Time it looks like barring a major error or a major shock, there will be a President Obama.

Obama has now taken a small lead in Virginia, the pattern from 2006 Senate Race is holding.

McCain wins Texas according to MSNBC (again no surprise)


Chris Shayes (R) loses his seat in CT, he was the last elected Republican in the House in New England.

Obama wins Iowa--another flip for Obama, not a surprise (remember Saturday the McCain campaign was saying they were tied in Iowa).

Utah and Kansas for McCain (no surprises)

Montana is too close to call
Nevada is too EARLY to call (Obama leading in the Exit Polls)

Florida remains too close to call despite a healthy Obama lead
North Carolina tightening to a 44K lead with 70% in for Obama
Virginia Obama with a 12K lead with 83% reporting
McCain with a lead in Missouri by 30K
McCain with a 5000 vote in Indina
Arizona too close to call

Obama up to 207 electoral votes and you still have the West Coast and Hawaii which are sure things. The question is now whether Obama can get to 350 and he may still do so if all breaks his way.

Mississippi goes for McCain
South Dakota abortion ban fails

Obama has a lead still in Virginia and Fairfax county is only half in.

North Carolina another key county around Charlotte is only partially in. Obama a small lead.

MSNBC is saying they will not call these states until they are all in.

The four western states have 77 electoral votes. It seems conceivable that shortly after 8, that this will officially be over, but that depends on how quickly they are willing to call the west after 8.

South Dakota goes for McCain that was a McCain lead. thinks Virginia looks good for Obama and Indiana a little less so but the areas outstanding would favor Obama.

McCain ahead in North Carolina now, that's too tough to figure.

Nebraska except for the second cong. district goes for McCain, but Obama has a chance in the second cong. district, if he wins that, he could get an electoral vote...

If you are watching CNN, Star Trek is real with a Hologram of Will.I.Am. Woah...

McCain will concede at 8 pm apparently

Virginia goes for Obama--big win


Oregon, Washington, California, and Hawaii all go to Obama

AP Calls Florida for Obama as well

Obama with 333 so far according to MSNBC. John Lewis speaking on MSNBC, is anyone has earned this, it is him. Jesse Jackson with tears in his eyes. I'm sure that will piss off the right wingers, but he too has earned it.

Yolo County Elections will have first returns about 8:15 pm

Colorado to Obama, another turn

Arizona stays with McCain


Great speech by McCain, very gracious and understanding of the historic importance

Still undecided: North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Nevada, Montana, and Alaska. Obama is ahead in four of the first five, all but Missouri and he's in range there with a good showing in St. Louis.

John Lewis: "I never thought I would live to see an African American President during my lifetime." For those who do not know, Lewis almost lost his life to a mob on the bridge to Selma fighting for simple rights. What an amazing country this is.

Now Nevada goes for Obama, 338 electoral votes.

In the Senate:
Minnesota, Oregon, Mississippi and Georgia have not been called, if the Dems win three, they get to 60. I can count to two, it will take a lot to get to three.

And a great speech by Obama

Who knew Missouri might be more red than North Carolina and Indiana.

Demos will gain at least 20 seats in the House, even a 54 seat swing in 2010 would not wrest control of the house from the Dems.


W has 72% with the absentees
N is trailing with 48%

My experience has been that generally absentee results hold although N is too close to call. W may pass, we'll have to see.

Prop 8 is ahead
Prop 4 is tied

UPDATE at 9:45 PM

Man Yolo County is slow. Still waiting to go beyond the early votes.

In district 4: Charlie Brown is tied at 50 with McClintock

Kevin Johnson up by 8 early in the Sac Mayor's Race


Abortion trailing by 4 and Same Sex leading by 6 with one third reporting. Neither one are over.

Measure W is still leading, 72.9 yes
N is still trailing by about 300 votes

Right now, I'd say W passes and N is too close to call

Indiana called for Obama now 349 electoral votes

Bob Shrum on MSNBC... Still remember the joke one of my Pol Sci Profs said back in 2004, Bob Shrum is the guy who ran every Democratic losing race in the last quarter centruary (back to Carter in 1976 I believe). The three he didn't run: Clinton 1992, 96, and Obama 2008. Coincidence???

Obama up by over 5 million votes and nearly 5% of the vote, the polls turned out to be pretty accurate

One thing I will be really happy about--if I never hear about Joe the Plummer again

Yes on 8's advantage down to 52-48

Kevin Johnson is the new mayor of Sac, up 57-42...

Wow, Obama up 20 in California.

Here's one:

Obama wins Nebraska's 2nd Congressional district:

Obama: 114,212
McCain: 113,853

McCain wins Montana (darn) narrowly

Al Franken takes a very slim, late lead in the Minnesota Senate Race.

Rahm Emmanuel Chief of Staff? That's the rumor.

Still waiting on W, calling Sup. Hammond and going to bed. Also Charlie Brown locked in a very close one.

Alright two weird things... Georgia isn't over yet, 245K lead but Atlanta has like 600K early votes not counted yet. AP has not called it but CNN and MSNBC did.

And Nebraska's second wasn't final yet, and it's very close.

Obama now has a 6 million vote lead and a five point spread in the popular vote


33% reporting, lead holds for W, in fact it has increased 73.7%
Measure N now trails by 5%, 558 votes

Looks like Stevens may win in Alaska, that would be a stunner. Looks like the only effect was a Stevens-effect since he had tanked in the polls after his conviction.

Have some finals to report on the initiatives:

Prop 2 passes by a wide margin, apparently the scare tactics did not work
Props 5, 6, 7, 10 go down by large margins. I wanted 5 to pass, but I'll trade it for the other three going down. We are still going to have to deal with the problems of prison costs and room for non-violent drug offenders.
And prop 12 passes easily

More local returns, W up to 36% reporting and over 74% passing
N trails by just under 600 votes with 23% reporting

Wolk ends up winning 63-37; Yamada with 65 percent. So the 8th AD only slightly less competitive than the seemingly competitive 5th Senate District ended up.

no more updates for now on the other locals

Going to bed. Look for today's stories a bit later than usual.

Got some good quote from the Measure W race.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

City of Davis Responds to Yolo County General Plan's Inclusion of City Edge

The Vanguard is fully aware that most of the population is following the election today, and the bulk of our coverage today will be on the election. However, this is issue is too important to let slide. Tomorrow evening the Davis City Council will be taking up a response to Yolo County on the General Plan.

Here's the key sections of the General Plan that impact Davis' planning area:
Policy LU-6.2 reads: Coordinate with the University of California at Davis regarding the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), campus facilities, off-campus agricultural and open space property and joint venture development with the private sector to achieve the best possible outcomes consistent with the General Plan.

Policy LU-6.11 reads:

Coordinate with the City of Davis to explore mutual opportunities regarding the following projects:

a) Special needs housing, including housing for seniors in the area north of Covell Boulevard and west of State Route 113.
b) Land uses that complement UC Davis, the University Retirement Community, Sutter-Davis Hospital and other nearby social services in the area north of Covell Boulevard and west of State Route 113.
c) Alternatives for the Binning Estates project, including the clustering of residential units and increased densities.
d) Extension of water and sewer infrastructure to the Binning Farms community.
e) Life science, biotechnology and related research uses along the Interstate 80 corridor.
f) Commercial and mixed uses at Covell Boulevard/Pole Line Road and coordinated planning with the Hunt Wesson site.
The city of Davis' staff report responds to these two items.

First they restate the mantra that the city has operated under for the last two years of discussion with the county and the prior to that, the spirit of the pass-through agreement.
"The City assumes that any development on the edge of Davis will occur through the City’s planning process"
Second and more pointedly in response to Policy LU-6.11:
"The City supports the Board’s desire to explore opportunities for mutual benefit. However, the City strongly opposes the inclusion of this policy that identifies specific uses and locations for urban development on the edge of Davis. So far, we have not had any discussions that would indicate that these are appropriate uses or locations. Including this policy in the General Plan is premature and implies that this is a “done deal” without any meaningful participation from Davis or its residents. In addition, listing the specific uses to be considered requires these uses to be analyzed in the “cumulative impacts” section of the EIR for the General Plan."
Third, in response to residential development:
"The City supports the Board’s previous decision to not include housing units in the Northwest Quadrant on the base map for the General Plan Preferred Land Use Alternative. The City recognizes the desire to comprehensively review the area, rather than consider individual development proposals. Our General Plan Housing Element Steering Committee and Planning Commission have recommend this area be “tabled indefinitely,” as there is no need to consider residential development through 2013. Whether and where the community will grow after 2013 will be considered through the City’s General Plan Update anticipated to begin next year."
Fourth, on Research park development:
"The City supports creating additional opportunities for life science and biotechnology research, but the identified location south of I-80 is not the appropriate location. The necessary housing development is counter to City and County planning principles, and these uses should be nearer the City of Davis and closer to improved roads and the Mace/I-80 interchange. Alternative sites should be jointly explored, including the North Central “Covell” site. This site has convenient access to I-5 and employee housing in Davis and in Woodland’s Spring Lake neighborhood."
Yes, you read that right, the city of Davis now surreptitiously is inserting the Covell site as an alternative research park development site.

Fifth on commercial development along I-80:
"The City supports the County’s removal of 43 acres of commercial development at I-80 and Mace and I-80 and Chiles. Such development would violate the principles of the Pass-Through Agreement between the City, its Redevelopment Agency, and the County. Our existing agreement, and our two decades of practice in its implementation, show that the City and County can work cooperatively in evaluating specific development proposals."
The staff report recommends future discussion through the City-County 2x2 process. They also suggest as an alternative to the letter, they could hold discussions at the 2x2 which is scheduled for November 14, 2008.

I have two thoughts. While this is not as alarming as the previous proposals by the county, clearly the city is taking this seriously. However, it is equally alarming to see city staff place Covell into discussion. That seems inappropriate given the public vote that took place now just three years ago.

---David M. Greenwald

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Wrap Up and Prediction

Tomorrow we actually have some important local news that we have to cover, so today is going to be our wrap up of the election coverage from the past few days.

So here's what we want to know today, predictions, post them in the comments section and then debate them out.

Electoral college: Does anyone think that McCain will win tomorrow? How many electoral votes do you think that Obama will get? Does he get over 350 electoral votes?

Senate: Do the Democrats get to 60?

Measure W: Does it get to the 66.7% it needs to pass?

Measure N: Does it get 40% of the vote?


Really just going to focus on two...

Proposition 8, Same Sex Marriage: Does it pass?

Proposition 4, Abortion, Parental Consent: Does it pass?

That should keep people busy.

In case you missed it, here is our wrap up coverage.
Measure W

There is really no issue that the Vanguard has covered more than Measure W, here is the latest coverage that we have had on that issue.

Last we argued that if Measure W fails, Emerson closes. We also argued that if Measure W passes, Emerson likely but not certainly stays open. The basic reason for this is logistics. The logistics for closing Emerson are just too tricky.
On Friday, we covered a story on the Measure Q oversight committee, interviewing Bob Schelen, who argued pretty convincingly that the district has been very transparent in their process to the oversight committee. Moreover individuals can come in and ask questions of the district as well.

We also found out from Bruce Colby that the district does pay for cooking lessons to their staff. The only cost to the district is the employees who take the lessons. He calls it a low cost employee professional development program. And of course the main goal is to provide more healthy food choices for the students that they will eat.

He suggested that he would sit down with anyone who is interested and go over the budget.

Finally, he suggested that after the election there could be a Vanguard sponsored Q and A with him and the Superintendent.

The big news for the week came from Dweezil. Dweezil came out and endorsed Measure W yesterday.

And if you missed it, the Vanguard posted a late update with the full letter she submitted to the Enterprise.
Measure N

As many know, the Vanguard has come out against Measure N. Our view is simple. I would be supportive of a city charter that is properly written and narrow, but I think this charter is too broad. It would allow too much power to future city councils. I would like to see this charter get voted down and a committee formed to draft a new one that is much more specific.

We have also provided somewhat balanced coverage on the issue alloting space to both sides.

I accidentally omitted Rick Entrikin's name yesterday when I was mentioning this piece, so my apologies...

The big news on this yesterday was Mayor Asmundson's short letter to the editor changing her position:
"On further consideration, I now believe that Measure N is not in the best interest of Davis voters. Please vote no."
In addition, we posted from Nancy Price's letter to the editor, also in opposition.
"My objection to Measure N is that there has been virtually no communitywide presentation and discussion of what is allowed under a general law city or a charter city. Yet, we are asked to vote on a fundamental change in governance that will have far-reaching consequences."
Proposition 8

I was not originally going to talk about this Proposition today. The Field Poll released last week showed it failing by a very small plurality 49-44. This is getting particularly nasty with ads going back and forth, including some pretty nasty ones on both sides. We were watching the TV coverage in Roseville where street protestors have lined the streets with signs--because that is going to matter for a statewide iniative. I have no idea which side is going to win, but I suspect it will depend on who turns out to vote.

Polling in 2008

In fact, all of the polling in general is going to depend on this. This is an interesting year if you like to watch polling as I do. This year more than any, the model for voting matters.

There has been a systematic difference in the polling for the Presidential race based on assumptions. Those polls that have shown the narrowest leads are the ones that have most closely adhered to a traditional voting model resembling 2000 and 2004. But will the electorate look like that where Democrats and Republicans were even in 2004?

I doubt it. Gallup has tried to bridge the gap by having two likely voting models, one based merely on past behavior, the other based on voting intentions.

But there is something else going on and the polling site has captured some of it. How many African-Americans who have been apathetic in recent years will come out to vote for the first African-American President? And how many young people.

Looking at youth dominated sites, one example is Facebook where Obama has like a 70%-24% lead among those who have mobilized to get out the vote. If you do not use Facebook, you may not understand what this means, but there is an application that allows people to set their "status" to get out the vote, and by a huge margin most have mobilized for Obama rather than McCain. That is a snap shot, but a telling one.

Here is what has shown, there is a gap between those polls that poll cellphone-only voters, who are most likely to be younger voters and those who do not. Those in bright contact cellphone-only voters and there is a noticeable gap there.

What does this mean? Depending on youth turn out, the Obama lead could be understated even in the more generous models.

We just do not know. And that's why they vote.

So we'll find out tomorrow. In the meantime, tell us what you think.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Measure W Gains Most Powerful Endorsement to Date: Dweezel the Dragon (Update)

I hope my friend Julie Cuetara forgives me for relaying this story. There are just moments in your life you do not forget. And one of the most vivid moments I remember in my over two years of coverage of Davis events was the night that they closed Valley Oak. Hundreds of students under the direction of Dweezel the Dragon marched from Valley Oak to the Community Chambers. Late into the night the meeting went and it became very clear that the verdict on Valley Oak was in and it would be closing. There in the back of the room was the image of Dweezel in tears. I will never forget that.

Dweezel is not one to give up easily however and she continued to fight for Valley Oak, through the charter process, through school board elections, until the very day they had to stop fighting when it became clear that it just was not going to happen.

I pass this on because there is no one more committed to Valley Oak than Julie Cuetara. She not only was Dweezel the Dragon, she was a member of Davis OPEN, a group organized to keep Valley Oak open.

This morning in the a letter to the Davis Enterprise, Dweezel (and Julie Cuetara) have endorsed Measure W.

She begins:
"Measure W is not about Valley Oak Elementary and Davis Joint Unified School District - It's about California's budget, California's state of affairs, and securing, through hard times, our children's future."
She continues:
"Some people are saying $120 is a lot of money on top of what we currently spend in our classrooms. I'm saying $120 per year is not much to secure what we have - a good district, good programs, (more) stable home value, a wonderful place to raise children and to grow old.

Think about our schools losing nearly $3 million for even one year and how it would trickle down through our community. We could never get back what we would lose! And I can guarantee you, with the loss of teachers, programs and the trickle-down effects that would occur, this measure would come up again next year and we would pass it."
And then finally, the message she closes with:
"I have been proud to be Dweezel, proud of supporting children and the Davis community for over 15 years. Through my endeavors, I've learned a lot about our district, its finances, policies, programs, schools and the people behind them. I have lost a lot due to decisions made and through all my sadness and upset with our district, I am proud to say, we do have a good district that deserves our support."
Frankly, I cannot think of a more powerful spokesperson or a more powerful statement than that. Anyone who is still on the fence because of Valley Oak just remember, no one lived and breathed Valley Oak more than this individual. She sees the big picture here and knows what needs to be done.


Julie Cuetara has sent the Vanguard the full version of the letter, the Davis Enterprise could not print the whole thing today. I think it is important that everyone here reads the entire letter because it addresses a key concern about Measure W and Valley Oak.

Click to enlarge.

---David M. Greenwald reporting

Mayor Flips on Measure N--Comes Out Against

In what may end up being the deathblow for the already beleaguered proposal to create a Charter City in Davis, Mayor Ruth Asmundson who was part of the 4-1 vote to place Measure N on the ballot and one of three Councilmembers to sign the statement in favor of Measure N on the sample ballot, has written a brief but pointed letter coming out against the initiative.

She simply writes without explanation:
"On further consideration, I now believe that Measure N is not in the best interest of Davis voters. Please vote no."
This is the coup de grace for a perilous strategy employed by chief Sponsors Stephen Souza and Lamar Heystek, who made what looked even last week to be a fateful decision to separate the issue of the charter from the issue of choice voting in order to gain Mayor Ruth Asmundson's support in both the 4-1 vote to place the measure on the ballot and her signature on the statement supporting Measure N.

That decision seems questionable when much of the energy behind choice voting from two years ago seemed dissipated by placing a cosmetic and technical measure on the ballot that no one quite seems to understand the implications of nor do they seem enthusiastic about some abstract notion that this measure needs to get approved in order for choice voting to be enacted.

As I felt a few weeks ago, this measure would be much stronger if it had remained attached to the choice voting initiative. However, in order to gain the Mayor's vote they chose to separate the charter from choice voting. This was a mistake two weeks ago. It is a disaster for the measure now.

There has been no stronger proponent of local control than Nancy Price. She is a strong proponent of a charter city, just not this one. Hence she has co-authored editorials against the measure on the Vanguard and also in the California Aggie.

This week in a letter to the Davis Enterprise, she laid out her objections.
"My objection to Measure N is that there has been virtually no communitywide presentation and discussion of what is allowed under a general law city or a charter city. Yet, we are asked to vote on a fundamental change in governance that will have far-reaching consequences."
She continues:
"The point is that now in many communities across the country, people are amending their charters, taking into account fundamental principles of good govern- ance and community.

Those who favor Measure N say they 'anticipate that the charter will evolve to continue reflecting the community's specific interests.' This puts the cart before the horse. I urge a no vote on Measure N to allow a thorough examination of the differences between the two types of city governance that is communicated to the entire community. And, if a charter is thought beneficial, then to create an inclusive, democratic, communitywide process to write a charter that reflects principles of good government we all would endorse. We should expect nothing less in Davis."
There has been an interesting range of people who have come out against this measure ranging from people like Don Saylor to Don Shor to Nancy Price and Pam Nieberg.

Let's face it, when was the last time, the Davis Enterprise, California Aggie, the Vanguard, Bob Dunning, and Don Saylor have agreed on anything? (If you answered Measure W, you get bonus points). In this case, they have all come out against Measure N.

Mayor Asmundson's letter that reverses her previous decision just adds to the growing chorus.

But I think it is more than just that. Her switch symbolizes the problem with the initial strategy of the proponents of the charter. They limited the charter to get broader support and what it actually did was eliminate the support of people who would have supported a choice voting initiative.

It is possible that the measure could still pass, but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

As I said on Monday, In theory, I would be supportive of a city charter that is properly written and narrow, but I think this charter is too broad. It would allow too much power to future city councils. I would like to see this charter get voted down and a committee formed to draft a new one that is much more specific.

---David M. Greenwald reporting