Dunning Misunderstands the Need for Local Agencies to Maintain Reserves

The Vanguard has all but stopped responding to Bob Dunning columns from the Enterprise, but his column from Friday is so outrageous, irresponsible, and most importantly just plain ignorant it would be irresponsible not to respond.

The title of the column is “It’s Time We Let Go of Our Reservations.” He writes:

“SURPLUS SPENDING – as the economy – locally, nationally, globally (take your pick) – continues to fall off the cliff, it was encouraging to me to intercept an e-mail from Councilman Steve Souza to a local resident bragging about how fat and sassy we are in the City of All Things Right and Relevant – noted Souza: ‘Almost all of the cities around us would love to have our financial woes instead of their own. We have a 15.2 percent or $5.35 million reserve.’ – wow, 5 million here and 5 million there and pretty soon you have a billion –

But, as nice as a reserve is – and I don’t care if we’re talking about the city of Davis or the local school district – when you start talking about laying people off instead of dipping into the reserve, your priorities are backward – if we’re saving our reserve for a rainy day, I’d like to point out that today is that rainy day – it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one – laying anyone off for fiscal reasons when we have a healthy reserve is contrary to what this town should stand for…”

The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?

Here’s the best explanation of the city’s reserve:

“The City maintains a “reserve” much like an individual or household would keep a savings account accessible for an emergency. The City Council has adopted a policy to have a General Fund reserve equal to 15% of the City’s General Fund revenues. This is a contingency reserve for general operations to help mitigate the effects of unanticipated situations such as recession, man-made or natural disasters, variances in financial forecasting, or costs imposed by other governmental agencies. The City does not use the reserve to fund ongoing services…”

Basically the way you maintain a reserve is you pretend like the money does not exist unless such an emergency situation arises. One reason for that is that city’s in general cannot take on debt like the federal government can. So if an actual emergency came up, and the city spend its reserve on say employee salaries, then the city would be in deep trouble.

The city developed this reserve policy back in 2006. According to policy, the reserve acts as a “risk management” tool, it provides a buffer against revenue fluctuations inherent in economic cycles, and most importantly the policy prohibits the use of reserve funds for ongoing operating expenditures.

The key to remember is that the reserve is one-time money. Once you use it, the money is gone.

Dunning’s column mentions the school district as well. School districts are required by Ed Code to maintain a fund balance reserve every year. That money cannot be touched at all without severe consequences. The district generally maintains its own reserve above and beyond that much the same way as the City does as a risk management tool and a protection against fluctuations and emergency situations.

In the late 1980s, an increasing number of school districts were facing fiscal insolvency. Laws were enacted that created budget standards and increased fiscal oversight for all local education agencies. One of these standards was that local school districts set aside a certain percentage of their budget as a reserve for economic uncertainties. This reserve provides a cushion against unanticipated fiscal needs that may arise and thus reduces the risk of fiscal insolvency and the associated need to borrow and increase district debt.

Failing to meet the reserve requirement does not have a mandated consequence, however, as we know from other discussions, the County Office of Education oversees the finances of all local school districts. If DJUSD were to eat into its required reserve it would increase the likelihood the county superintendent of education intervening into local school district affairs.

DJUSD carried the state-required 3 percent financial reserve, which is just over $2.1 million. However, they cannot touch that reserve. The district also carries its own one percent contingency reserve which comes to about $650,000.

Interestingly enough, the district discussed this very issue on Thursday and the Davis Enterprise covered it in this morning’s paper.

Given the fiscal situation in the state, districts are being given greater flexibility with some of these reserves.

But a key point with these reserves is that they are one-time monies. They will get depleted rather quickly given the nature of the economic crisis. As Bruce Colby put it, last year was a crisis, this year is a crisis, 2010-11 will be a crisis, 2011-12 could be a crisis.

Moreover, in general one has to balance the three-year budget using ongoing revenues, not one-time monies.

As Tim Taylor put it:

“From my perspective, you would spend it in a situation where you have an emergency need, something that would not commit you to ongoing year-after-year obligations.”

Bottom line here is that using reserves is not going to solve our fiscal problems, and it could make them worse as time goes on. Bob Dunning needs a better understanding of the fiscal policies, rules, regulations, and economic crisis before he makes such irresponsible statements.

Getting back to his column, there is another key point that needs to be addressed.

Here he quotes Councilmember Stephen Souza:

“Almost all of the cities around us would love to have our financial woes instead of their own. We have a 15.2 percent or $5.35 million reserve.”

Davis is in better condition that a lot of other cities but it has very little to do with the reserve. I would and have argued that our fiscal policies are just as bad as many other cities–if not worse. And we are going to have to deal with that. Having that reserve just means we can weather an immediate crisis better than other cities. We still have an ongoing structural deficit. We still have an ongoing problem of unmet needs. We still need to fix our unfunded mandates. We still have to fix the pension system. We still have to reign in employee salaries at the top end of the scale.

However, the bottom line is the city of Davis has been hit less hard than other cities with the foreclosure crisis. It has been hit less hard than other cities because its property values have not plummeted as others have. We rely less on sales tax revenues than other cities as well, so while the declining economy is producing a tax revenue fall off, it is not to the point where cities like Roseville who are facing eight figure budget deficits.

The bottom line is that while we have a deficit for the next few years of at least 3 million and as much as five million (and notice if we used the reserves to fix that, they’d be gone after next year), we can probably survive short term by adjusting our spending and tightening our belts.

That is not to suggest that we do not have bigger issues. It is just to suggest at this point the economic crisis is not devastating us like it is many other cities or even Yolo County.

So yes, Councilmember Souza has good reason to express optimism, but it is not because of our reserves. Our reserves would be depleted very quickly in this crisis, if that was their intent.

Dunning has a large amount of influence in this community and his column is undoubtedly the most widely read feature in the Davis Enterprise. With that influence requires a degree of responsibility to research and understand the issues on which he has opined. In this regard, he has failed in his duties by suggesting the city or the school district are being irresponsible by maintaining fund reserves. In both cases, maintaining reserves is either required by law, required by city policy, and necessary and prudent for these entities to whether the uncertainty of such a downturn. It would be the height of irresponsibility for them to use these reserves in an effort to avoid making tough decisions in the coming year.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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58 thoughts on “Dunning Misunderstands the Need for Local Agencies to Maintain Reserves”

  1. Anonymous

    Dunning writes clearly and with humor, Mr. Greenwald does not. He is in desperate need of an editor. His writing is fat with empty calorie words that get in the way of understanding his message.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    It's hard to mischaracterize someone's argument when you quote it verbatim. Nowhere did you spell out what Dunning's point was and where it differed from my interpretation of it.He's arguing that the city needs to use reserves to pay salaries, that's not why we have reserves. That's not the kind of rainy day we have them for. The implication of his piece is that we are sitting on a pot of money and somehow being irresponsible by not using it to pay for salaries. That is inaccurate and presents misleading view of the situation to this community. Dunning has a powerful podium with which to communicate to the public, but when he uses it in this way, he does not help shed light on the situation.Anonymous, I'd be very interested in finding out what you find humorous of Mr. Dunning's excerpt.

  3. mike harrington

    Not sure of the most recent votes of the CC, but I think most of us since 2000 have always supported the 15% reserve figure. It should be maintained, while costs are better controlled.

  4. Louie 16

    Saying we are better off than the other cities misses a key point that Rifking and Greenwald both miss, Davis has much higher taxes for both city services and education. The real question is how long the additional cost of living in Davis with its parks, open space, school and library taxes will be sustained by the voters. Dunnings musings are about making not laying people off a priority. Saying he would rather spend down than lay off while the economy is in the tank is a perfectly rational but risky approach. It does seem more humane than you guys who always bash public employes and want to take away their salaries or benefits. it seems like the difference between the Vanguard and Dunning is that Dunning would penalize workers last while you would go after them first.

  5. Anonymous

    Example of fat writing full of empty calories, courtesy of DP Davis:…The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?…Same paragraph, with the empty calories wrung out:…Did Mr. Dunning do research before writing this column? Did he interview finance directors of either school district or city government about reserves? Did he interview Souza about his email?…Same meaning, fewer words: easier on readers.Also, note: a sentence with …like… in it reads as though it were written by a teenage girl.

  6. Not laughing

    Dunnings writes with humor? Who's laughing at the excerpt? Anyone? Bueller? Dunning writes with ignorance and laziness. DPD's right. Did Bob bother to get off his duff and research this at all, does he even watch meetings? Does he understand the concept of reserves? I think DPD nailed it.

  7. Anonymous

    Although I tend to disagree with Mr. Greenwald and a number of others in regard to public employee compensation being …runaway…, he is dead right about reserves. If we had projections that there is a $1 million deficit this year, but projections that in the following years (conservatively) we would be seeing $3 million 'surpluses' each year for the indefinite future, it might be a good reason to use the $1 million to tide us over. This is not the case. We are facing quicksand and we have no idea of the depth — knee deep to all-consuming. The emergency reserves need to be for 'things'. The discovery that a building is in immediate need of repair/reinforcement to avert a loss of the structure. Repair of a 'sink-hole' in an arterial street. Given this economy, we need to protect our reserves as much as we can, as there is no opportunity in sight to re-build them once they're spent.

  8. David M. Greenwald

    …Then you slam Bob Dunning for being humanistic ….It'd be more interesting if you actually were able to make a logical argument in defense of Dunning's column instead of simply slamming me.

  9. Lexicon Artist

    B&W: …Using reserves to address that part of a deficits that is structural and unsustainable even in the absence of recession is foolish (which I think is your point, but not what Dunning wrote)….The real problem here is scale. The scale of our structural problems is such that by employing the reserves now …to preserve jobs,… the reserve will be all gone in two years and then you won't have any reserve and you won't have any of the jobs you saved, and by avoiding dealing with the problem sooner, you will have made it that much tougher in two years. Also, there is a scale problem with this recession. It is worse than recent economic downturns in Davis, because it combines both a strong decline in property values and a big decline in sales tax revenues. (It's also going to last much longer.)Because of the bad decisions by the city council — going back to when all the pension and benefits plans were made terribly generous more than a decade ago, and adding to the woes the huge salary increases of the last 8 years — we were going to be in fiscal hell without this recession. But with it, and because it is severe and will last so long, we are in much worse shape.For those reasons, it is pointless to blow the general fund reserve. We might need it for a one time emergency expense — a natural disaster or an unexpected unnatural disaster. And when times return to normal, it helps smooth out cash flow (if expenses are steady but revenues move up and down during the year).

  10. Who cares?

    Honestly anonymous, who cares? You won't identify yourself. You offer nothing of substance. So why should we care what an anonymous poster who offers nothing of substance thinks?

  11. Lexicon Artist

    …Lets start with Rich Rifkin who can't get a fact correct about pensions, benefits, and salaries .This guy can't even get a base salary correct for a city worker….I don't claim to be infallible. But how can I defend myself — or even admit my error — if you are incapable of showing where I made a mistake? I welcome you to show me where I got something wrong of import.Some person on here charged me with getting this wrong, when I wrote in my column: …The Davis City Council should change our formulas to 2.5 percent at 55 for new cops and firefighters; and 2 percent at 65 for all others….He screamed at me, …CalPERS does not offer a 2% at 65 for non-safety personnel! However, 2% at 65 can be put in place for new hires, outside of CalPERS. For what it's worth, these are the CalPERS options for non-safety:2% @ 552% @ 602.5% @ 552.7% @ 553% @ 60From the perspective of taxpayers in Davis, there is no difference (in agency payments) between 2% @ 55, 2% @ 60, and 2% @ 65. It makes a difference for the employee, only if he chooses to retire young. What the City of Davis must do, is adopt one of the 2% formulas for all new non-safety hires, and make all non-safety employees (new and old) pay the full employee share. That will save the city millions of dollars a year right away, and down the road it will help put us on a sustainable path.These are the CalPERS formulas for safety personnel:2% @ 502% @ 552.5% @ 553% @ 503% @ 55If Davis is to avoid bankruptcy, we have to change the formula for all new cops and firefighters from 3% @ 50 to 2.5% @ 55 or 2% @ 55. Before the 2011 timebomb starts to explode, even more of a change is going to have to occur in order that we can afford fire and police services.

  12. Anonymous

    …name-calling… is very …stupid…….and very infantile… get over yourselves… does anyone who hasn't been in Davis 25+ years want to know the history of city employee benefits/salaries came to be?BTW… Mr. Greenwald may be mis-informed/wrong on some issues [my opinion] but he should NOT be be characterized as …****-boy… that characterization is infantile… I have little respect for Mr. Greenwald's opinions, but great respect for his motives…

  13. Lexicon Artist

    …Rich Rifkin, the part you can't get right is the base salary, with no overtime what is put on their W-2's?…What? Maybe you can explain yourself to a native English speaker and have him or her post what you mean on this thread. I have no idea what you are trying to say, though I get the idea that you believe I did something wrong.

  14. Lexicon Artist

    …Saying he would rather spend down than lay off while the economy is in the tank is a perfectly rational but risky approach….If the only problem were that the economy is temporarily in the tank and we could bide our time with the reserve until things improve, that would be rational. That ignores reality. The problem is not just that the economy is in the tank, but that our structural deficit (spending more money than we have revenues to cover in good times) is going to sink us unless the city acts fast by reducing its built-in expenditures. The structural problem is severely compounded by the severe recession and is going to be compounded even more when the CalPERS bomb goes off in 2011 (and keeps exploding for a number of years after that)….does seem more humane than you guys who always bash public employes and want to take away their salaries or benefits….I have never bashed city workers*. You and I simply disagree as to what it is to be humane.I think it is much more humane to preserve the jobs of almost everyone who works for the city (by addressing the problem now) than to lay off 25% or more of city workers down the road when we have no other options. * Even with regard to the firefighters' union's political activities, I have stressed that the core problem is with the members of the council who took their money and then rewarded the firefighters with unsustainably large salaries and benefits. I don't blame unions for trying to get all they can for their members. That's what unions are designed to do.

  15. FastFwed

    …it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one…*********************DPD: You're getting confused NOT all city and schools employees are essential. They are all desireable but not all essential. I did my time with this city and believe me, I could terminate 50 folks tomorrow and no one but their families would even notice. No reduction in work quality or quantity except maybe less internet shopping while on our dime.

  16. thank you David

    anonymous 7:43 – then why don't you create your own blog. don't be a !@#%*!!!David has been covering information that we do not read on the Emptyprise. Thank you David. I imagine you are tired these days.

  17. Bush

    …SURPLUS SPENDING – as the economy – locally, nationally, globally (take your pick) – continues to fall off the cliff, it was encouraging to me to intercept an e-mail from Councilman Steve Souza to a local resident bragging about how fat and sassy we are in the City of All Things Right and Relevant – noted Souza: 'Almost all of the cities around us would love to have our financial woes instead of their own. We have a 15.2 percent or $5.35 million reserve.' – wow, 5 million here and 5 million there and pretty soon you have a billion -But, as nice as a reserve is – and I don't care if we're talking about the city of Davis or the local school district – when you start talking about laying people off instead of dipping into the reserve, your priorities are backward – if we're saving our reserve for a rainy day, I'd like to point out that today is that rainy day – it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one – laying anyone off for fiscal reasons when we have a healthy reserve is contrary to what this town should stand for……The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?Here's the best explanation of the city's reserve:…The City maintains a

  18. Anonymous

    First you slam Lance Armstrong for Doping .Then you slam Bob Dunning for being humanistic .Next your probably going to slam the Backbone of America , teachers , cops , grocery store people , state workers , librarians , county , firefighters .Oh I'm sorry , you already do that every single day .Only blog people can do good in your tunnel vision eyesight .Your blog is so negative , thank God for the Enterprise .

  19. Anonymous

    Rich Rifkin , maybe the third time will be the charm , what you can't quote correctly is a city workers base pay ,for whatever job title you pick .Not there retirement , health plans , or anything above and beyond there BASE PAY .Hopefully this is simple enough for you to understand………….What? Maybe you can explain yourself to a native English speaker and have him or her post what you mean on this thread. I have no idea what you are trying to say, though I get the idea that you believe I did something wrong…………….

  20. Grain of Salt

    I'm rather surprised that anyone would take Bob Dunning seriously. Anything he writes is done tongue in cheek, as Jay Leno or David Letterman would. It is not meant to be serious commentary. By the way, I stopped reading Bob Dunning long ago. When I found out he switched sides on an issue (can't even remember what it was about now) because he stood to gain financially, he lost all credibility for me.I have heard many others say they don't care for Bob Dunning's acid tongue, which has become somewhat cruel of late. The man has a lot of detractors in this town, but I honestly don't think most people take anything he says seriously.

  21. Anonymous

    WOW, this was great! To get an initial handle on expenditures the City would be better off by firing rose conroy. Then set up a response situation with the FD that does not require rolling 2, or more, Fire responders to every hangnail that occurs. The next thing to do is either get rid of the union leeches or ignore them and let whoever is unhappy find another job. To David Greenwald: I appreciate your blog. Thanks David for your willingness to try and bring light to the very small number of readers of your blog. Admittedly I think Bob Dunning does a much better job, (by light years), than you will ever do.

  22. Not laughing

    Dunnings writes with humor? Who’s laughing at the excerpt? Anyone? Bueller? Dunning writes with ignorance and laziness. DPD’s right. Did Bob bother to get off his duff and research this at all, does he even watch meetings? Does he understand the concept of reserves? I think DPD nailed it.

  23. Anonymous

    Although I tend to disagree with Mr. Greenwald and a number of others in regard to public employee compensation being …runaway…, he is dead right about reserves. If we had projections that there is a $1 million deficit this year, but projections that in the following years (conservatively) we would be seeing $3 million ‘surpluses’ each year for the indefinite future, it might be a good reason to use the $1 million to tide us over. This is not the case. We are facing quicksand and we have no idea of the depth — knee deep to all-consuming. The emergency reserves need to be for ‘things’. The discovery that a building is in immediate need of repair/reinforcement to avert a loss of the structure. Repair of a ‘sink-hole’ in an arterial street. Given this economy, we need to protect our reserves as much as we can, as there is no opportunity in sight to re-build them once they’re spent.

  24. Lexicon Artist

    B&W: …Using reserves to address that part of a deficits that is structural and unsustainable even in the absence of recession is foolish (which I think is your point, but not what Dunning wrote)….The real problem here is scale. The scale of our structural problems is such that by employing the reserves now …to preserve jobs,… the reserve will be all gone in two years and then you won’t have any reserve and you won’t have any of the jobs you saved, and by avoiding dealing with the problem sooner, you will have made it that much tougher in two years. Also, there is a scale problem with this recession. It is worse than recent economic downturns in Davis, because it combines both a strong decline in property values and a big decline in sales tax revenues. (It’s also going to last much longer.)Because of the bad decisions by the city council — going back to when all the pension and benefits plans were made terribly generous more than a decade ago, and adding to the woes the huge salary increases of the last 8 years — we were going to be in fiscal hell without this recession. But with it, and because it is severe and will last so long, we are in much worse shape.For those reasons, it is pointless to blow the general fund reserve. We might need it for a one time emergency expense — a natural disaster or an unexpected unnatural disaster. And when times return to normal, it helps smooth out cash flow (if expenses are steady but revenues move up and down during the year).

  25. Anonymous

    Lets start with Rich Rifkin who can’t get a fact correct about pensions , benefits , and salaries .This guy can’t even get a base salary correct for a city worker .David Greenwald , not much to say here , other than he is a BLOG BOY .Bob Dunning , Now were talking about a real NEWSPAPER MAN .Shame on blog boy for bashing Bob Dunning !!

  26. Lexicon Artist

    …Lets start with Rich Rifkin who can’t get a fact correct about pensions, benefits, and salaries .This guy can’t even get a base salary correct for a city worker….I don’t claim to be infallible. But how can I defend myself — or even admit my error — if you are incapable of showing where I made a mistake? I welcome you to show me where I got something wrong of import.Some person on here charged me with getting this wrong, when I wrote in my column: …The Davis City Council should change our formulas to 2.5 percent at 55 for new cops and firefighters; and 2 percent at 65 for all others….He screamed at me, …CalPERS does not offer a 2% at 65 for non-safety personnel! However, 2% at 65 can be put in place for new hires, outside of CalPERS. For what it’s worth, these are the CalPERS options for non-safety:2% @ 552% @ 602.5% @ 552.7% @ 553% @ 60From the perspective of taxpayers in Davis, there is no difference (in agency payments) between 2% @ 55, 2% @ 60, and 2% @ 65. It makes a difference for the employee, only if he chooses to retire young. What the City of Davis must do, is adopt one of the 2% formulas for all new non-safety hires, and make all non-safety employees (new and old) pay the full employee share. That will save the city millions of dollars a year right away, and down the road it will help put us on a sustainable path.These are the CalPERS formulas for safety personnel:2% @ 502% @ 552.5% @ 553% @ 503% @ 55If Davis is to avoid bankruptcy, we have to change the formula for all new cops and firefighters from 3% @ 50 to 2.5% @ 55 or 2% @ 55. Before the 2011 timebomb starts to explode, even more of a change is going to have to occur in order that we can afford fire and police services.

  27. Lexicon Artist

    …Rich Rifkin, the part you can’t get right is the base salary, with no overtime what is put on their W-2’s?…What? Maybe you can explain yourself to a native English speaker and have him or her post what you mean on this thread. I have no idea what you are trying to say, though I get the idea that you believe I did something wrong.

  28. Lexicon Artist

    …Saying he would rather spend down than lay off while the economy is in the tank is a perfectly rational but risky approach….If the only problem were that the economy is temporarily in the tank and we could bide our time with the reserve until things improve, that would be rational. That ignores reality. The problem is not just that the economy is in the tank, but that our structural deficit (spending more money than we have revenues to cover in good times) is going to sink us unless the city acts fast by reducing its built-in expenditures. The structural problem is severely compounded by the severe recession and is going to be compounded even more when the CalPERS bomb goes off in 2011 (and keeps exploding for a number of years after that)….does seem more humane than you guys who always bash public employes and want to take away their salaries or benefits….I have never bashed city workers*. You and I simply disagree as to what it is to be humane.I think it is much more humane to preserve the jobs of almost everyone who works for the city (by addressing the problem now) than to lay off 25% or more of city workers down the road when we have no other options. * Even with regard to the firefighters’ union’s political activities, I have stressed that the core problem is with the members of the council who took their money and then rewarded the firefighters with unsustainably large salaries and benefits. I don’t blame unions for trying to get all they can for their members. That’s what unions are designed to do.

  29. FastFwed

    …it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one…*********************DPD: You’re getting confused NOT all city and schools employees are essential. They are all desireable but not all essential. I did my time with this city and believe me, I could terminate 50 folks tomorrow and no one but their families would even notice. No reduction in work quality or quantity except maybe less internet shopping while on our dime.

  30. thank you David

    anonymous 7:43 – then why don’t you create your own blog. don’t be a !@#%*!!!David has been covering information that we do not read on the Emptyprise. Thank you David. I imagine you are tired these days.

  31. Bush

    …SURPLUS SPENDING – as the economy – locally, nationally, globally (take your pick) – continues to fall off the cliff, it was encouraging to me to intercept an e-mail from Councilman Steve Souza to a local resident bragging about how fat and sassy we are in the City of All Things Right and Relevant – noted Souza: ‘Almost all of the cities around us would love to have our financial woes instead of their own. We have a 15.2 percent or $5.35 million reserve.’ – wow, 5 million here and 5 million there and pretty soon you have a billion -But, as nice as a reserve is – and I don’t care if we’re talking about the city of Davis or the local school district – when you start talking about laying people off instead of dipping into the reserve, your priorities are backward – if we’re saving our reserve for a rainy day, I’d like to point out that today is that rainy day – it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one – laying anyone off for fiscal reasons when we have a healthy reserve is contrary to what this town should stand for……The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?Here’s the best explanation of the city’s reserve:…The City maintains a

  32. Anonymous

    Dunning writes clearly and with humor, Mr. Greenwald does not. He is in desperate need of an editor. His writing is fat with empty calorie words that get in the way of understanding his message.

  33. Bushs Fist

    …SURPLUS SPENDING – as the economy – locally, nationally, globally (take your pick) – continues to fall off the cliff, it was encouraging to me to intercept an e-mail from Councilman Steve Souza to a local resident bragging about how fat and sassy we are in the City of All Things Right and Relevant – noted Souza: ‘Almost all of the cities around us would love to have our financial woes instead of their own. We have a 15.2 percent or $5.35 million reserve.’ – wow, 5 million here and 5 million there and pretty soon you have a billion -But, as nice as a reserve is – and I don’t care if we’re talking about the city of Davis or the local school district – when you start talking about laying people off instead of dipping into the reserve, your priorities are backward – if we’re saving our reserve for a rainy day, I’d like to point out that today is that rainy day – it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one – laying anyone off for fiscal reasons when we have a healthy reserve is contrary to what this town should stand for……The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?Here’s the best explanation of the city’s reserve:…The City maintains a

  34. David M. Greenwald

    It’s hard to mischaracterize someone’s argument when you quote it verbatim. Nowhere did you spell out what Dunning’s point was and where it differed from my interpretation of it.He’s arguing that the city needs to use reserves to pay salaries, that’s not why we have reserves. That’s not the kind of rainy day we have them for. The implication of his piece is that we are sitting on a pot of money and somehow being irresponsible by not using it to pay for salaries. That is inaccurate and presents misleading view of the situation to this community. Dunning has a powerful podium with which to communicate to the public, but when he uses it in this way, he does not help shed light on the situation.Anonymous, I’d be very interested in finding out what you find humorous of Mr. Dunning’s excerpt.

  35. Anonymous

    First you slam Lance Armstrong for Doping .Then you slam Bob Dunning for being humanistic .Next your probably going to slam the Backbone of America , teachers , cops , grocery store people , state workers , librarians , county , firefighters .Oh I’m sorry , you already do that every single day .Only blog people can do good in your tunnel vision eyesight .Your blog is so negative , thank God for the Enterprise .

  36. Anonymous

    Rich Rifkin , maybe the third time will be the charm , what you can’t quote correctly is a city workers base pay ,for whatever job title you pick .Not there retirement , health plans , or anything above and beyond there BASE PAY .Hopefully this is simple enough for you to understand………….What? Maybe you can explain yourself to a native English speaker and have him or her post what you mean on this thread. I have no idea what you are trying to say, though I get the idea that you believe I did something wrong…………….

  37. Lexicon Artist

    …Rich Rifkin , maybe the third time will be the charm , what you can’t quote correctly is a city workers base pay ,for whatever job title you pick….Where did I quote (or misquote) anyone’s base pay?It’s a rather spurious attack your making, slamming me for not being able to do something which I have not attempted. Also, because you’ve given no context for why you’re leveling this charge, it’s terribly unclear why it is important in the least.

  38. Anonymous

    Lets start with Rich Rifkin who can’t get a fact correct about pensions , benefits , and salaries .This guy can’t even get a base salary correct for a city worker .David Greenwald , not much to say here , other than he is a BLOG BOY .Bob Dunning , Now were talking about a real NEWSPAPER MAN .Shame on blog boy for bashing Bob Dunning !!

  39. mike harrington

    Not sure of the most recent votes of the CC, but I think most of us since 2000 have always supported the 15% reserve figure. It should be maintained, while costs are better controlled.

  40. Louie 16

    Saying we are better off than the other cities misses a key point that Rifking and Greenwald both miss, Davis has much higher taxes for both city services and education. The real question is how long the additional cost of living in Davis with its parks, open space, school and library taxes will be sustained by the voters. Dunnings musings are about making not laying people off a priority. Saying he would rather spend down than lay off while the economy is in the tank is a perfectly rational but risky approach. It does seem more humane than you guys who always bash public employes and want to take away their salaries or benefits. it seems like the difference between the Vanguard and Dunning is that Dunning would penalize workers last while you would go after them first.

  41. Anonymous

    Example of fat writing full of empty calories, courtesy of DP Davis:…The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?…Same paragraph, with the empty calories wrung out:…Did Mr. Dunning do research before writing this column? Did he interview finance directors of either school district or city government about reserves? Did he interview Souza about his email?…Same meaning, fewer words: easier on readers.Also, note: a sentence with …like… in it reads as though it were written by a teenage girl.

  42. Bushs Fist

    …SURPLUS SPENDING – as the economy – locally, nationally, globally (take your pick) – continues to fall off the cliff, it was encouraging to me to intercept an e-mail from Councilman Steve Souza to a local resident bragging about how fat and sassy we are in the City of All Things Right and Relevant – noted Souza: ‘Almost all of the cities around us would love to have our financial woes instead of their own. We have a 15.2 percent or $5.35 million reserve.’ – wow, 5 million here and 5 million there and pretty soon you have a billion -But, as nice as a reserve is – and I don’t care if we’re talking about the city of Davis or the local school district – when you start talking about laying people off instead of dipping into the reserve, your priorities are backward – if we’re saving our reserve for a rainy day, I’d like to point out that today is that rainy day – it has arrived – anything we can do to preserve the jobs of city and district employees should be priority one – laying anyone off for fiscal reasons when we have a healthy reserve is contrary to what this town should stand for……The first question that comes to mind is whether Mr. Dunning ever does research on his columns, would he like talk to the finance directors from either the school district or the city and ask them about their reserves? Would he talk to Souza himself to ask him about his email?Here’s the best explanation of the city’s reserve:…The City maintains a

  43. David M. Greenwald

    …Then you slam Bob Dunning for being humanistic ….It’d be more interesting if you actually were able to make a logical argument in defense of Dunning’s column instead of simply slamming me.

  44. Lexicon Artist

    …Rich Rifkin , maybe the third time will be the charm , what you can’t quote correctly is a city workers base pay ,for whatever job title you pick….Where did I quote (or misquote) anyone’s base pay?It’s a rather spurious attack your making, slamming me for not being able to do something which I have not attempted. Also, because you’ve given no context for why you’re leveling this charge, it’s terribly unclear why it is important in the least.

  45. Who cares?

    Honestly anonymous, who cares? You won’t identify yourself. You offer nothing of substance. So why should we care what an anonymous poster who offers nothing of substance thinks?

  46. Anonymous

    …name-calling… is very …stupid…….and very infantile… get over yourselves… does anyone who hasn’t been in Davis 25+ years want to know the history of city employee benefits/salaries came to be?BTW… Mr. Greenwald may be mis-informed/wrong on some issues [my opinion] but he should NOT be be characterized as …****-boy… that characterization is infantile… I have little respect for Mr. Greenwald’s opinions, but great respect for his motives…

  47. Grain of Salt

    I’m rather surprised that anyone would take Bob Dunning seriously. Anything he writes is done tongue in cheek, as Jay Leno or David Letterman would. It is not meant to be serious commentary. By the way, I stopped reading Bob Dunning long ago. When I found out he switched sides on an issue (can’t even remember what it was about now) because he stood to gain financially, he lost all credibility for me.I have heard many others say they don’t care for Bob Dunning’s acid tongue, which has become somewhat cruel of late. The man has a lot of detractors in this town, but I honestly don’t think most people take anything he says seriously.

  48. Sue Greenwald

    Rich Rifkin is right. Actually, we will completely blow through our reserve in one and a half years if our finance director’s very optimistic assumptions about revenue and expenses stand up. If not, we will blow through them sooner.So, as others have pointed out, the reserve is at this point the least important of our issues. If we don’t get expenditures in line with revenues, we will be facing bankruptcy. I am afraid that this talk about being better off than other cities is a diversion.

  49. My View

    …I am afraid that this talk about being better off than other cities is a diversion….Aint that the truth! The idea that somehow we are better off than most is being floated out there by the Davis City Council majority – who have a very elitist attitude, with their collective heads in the sand. Same is true of DJUSD and its Board. This city is in deep fiscal trouble, and pointing the finger at cities supposedly much worse off is merely deflecting attention from the real problems we are facing.Furthermore, Paul Navazio is a shill for the Council majority – putting unmet needs in a separate category off to the side, then waving his magic wand for the re-election of Saylor and Souza, and pronouncing a …balanced budget…. Soon after he is whining about our fiscal woes, wringing his hands, complaining about no funding for …unmet needs…. What a sheister (spelling?)! Talk about engaging in creative bookkeeping!

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