League of Women Voters — Part Two — Volunteers and Dialogue

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by Matt Williams

Yesterday Bob Fung applauded the many years of valuable service by the Davis Chapter of the League of Women Voters (DC-LWV), noting that:

 

 

  • the voting public became educated about local, state, and national issues as a result of the DC-LWV’s non-partisan candidate forums in many Davis elections , and that,
  • the DC-LWV did not have younger members in the chapter that would take over the leadership positions and the leaders finally could not continue after many years of faithful service

 

Bob closed his article with a challenge to us all as individuals

 

Davis has a vibrant, growing civil society. Lets make sure it stays healthy. There are lots of things for you to do. Whatever interest you have there is an organization that you can join to further that interest.

  • Interested in music? Volunteer at the Mondavi Center.
  • Interested in gardening, books, youth soccer? There is an organization in town for you.
  • Check out volunteer opportunities at this  page at the daviswiki.
  • The Davis Enterprise has regular announcements from local groups or a checkout  meetup.com for groups meeting in Davis.

 

In seconding Bob’s words above, I would like to suggest a regular feature for the Vanguard called Volunteer Corner where organizations that serve Davis talk about what their organization does in Davis with details of how volunteers from the community can help their organization continue to add value to and serve the community.

 

Vanguard readers can give Volunteer Corner a jump start by commenting here about what organizations they would like to know more about, or feel that the Davis community at large should know more about.

 

With the above said, the challenge that the DC-LWV faced prior to its decision to close the chapter is one that all organizations in Davis face, “Where will our new volunteers come from?” although some of those Davis organizations are businesses, and their question is slightly different … “Where will our new customers come from?”

 

Those of you who have read my articles and comments in the past know that I believe numbers can often tell us a lot , so it will come as no surprise that I’m going to lay out some numbers that give us perspective into the problem of the two community questions just posed.

 

The 2000 and 2010 US Census numbers show the following population distributions by age group:

Age Group 2000 Population 2010 Population Change in Proportion 2020 Projected?
Total 60,341 65,622
Birth to 19 years 16,044 (26.6%) 15,317 (23.3%) Down 12%
20 to 24 years 13,922 (23.1%) 17,200 (26.2%) Up 13 %
25 to 54 years 23,304 (38.6%) 21,630 (33.0%) Down 15%
Over 55 years 7,071 (11.7%) 11,475 (17.5%) Up 49%
55 to 64 years 3,175 (5.3%) 5,878 (9.0%) Up 70%
Over 65 years 3,896 (6.5%) 5,597 (8.5%) Up 32%

There is good news and bad news in those numbers. Good news in that the 70% increase in the 55 to 64 year-old cohort, many of whom are experiencing more free time due to “emptying their nests,” may mean more possible volunteers for Davis organizations. Bad news in the 12% decline in DJUSD age children and 15% decline in the 24 to 54 year-old group where most of the parents of school age children are, as well as where the economic engine of the local retail businesses comes from.

Those numbers also give us a glimpse of where Davis might be in 2020.  If those trends continue, the Over 55 population will increase by another 4,000 to 5,000 residents.  Further, if Chancellor Katehi’s 2020 Initiative achieves its goal of 5,000 additional UCD students, the 13% increase of the proportion of the population between 20 and 24 years of age will continue to grow, reaching as much as 30% of the Davis population in that age group.  Both those trends are going to put further downward pressure on the 25 to 54 year cohort and the Birth to 19 year cohort, with potential negative consequences for both the DJUSD and the local retail Davis economy.

Which brings us around full circle to the subject of Bob Fung’s article yeaterday.  With organizations like the Davis Chapter of the League of Women’s Voters no longer helping the citizens and voters of Davis keep informed, how will we as a community keep informed?

About The Author

Matt Williams has been a resident of Davis since 2015 and prior to that, El Macero since 1998. Matt is a member of the Finance and Budget Commission of the City of Davis, a Board member of the Senior Citizens of Davis, and a member of the Finance Committee of the Davis Art Center. He is a past member of the Editorial Board of the Davis Vanguard, Yolo County's South Davis General Plan Citizens Advisory Committee, the Davis School District's 7-11 Committee for Nugget Fields, the Yolo County Health Council and the City of Davis Water Advisory Committee and Natural Resources Commission. His undergraduate degree is from Cornell University and his MBA is from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He spent over 30 years planning, developing, delivering and leading bottom-line focused strategies in the management of healthcare practice, healthcare finance, and healthcare technology, as well municipal finance.

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23 thoughts on “League of Women Voters — Part Two — Volunteers and Dialogue”

  1. Frankly

    Good idea.

    Maybe I can start by explaining how the alternative to volunteering – working many hours to start and grow a business and paying gobs of taxes – is also worthy of praise for helping people and helping the community.

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly,

      Maybe I can start by explaining how the alternative to volunteering – working many hours to start and grow a business and paying gobs of taxes – is also worthy of praise for helping people and helping the community.

      For the most part, I agree with your sentiment. However, I would modify this to cover the fact that I do not believe that all businesses are equal in their beneficence to the community. For instance, you might not mind the addition of another tobacco store ( or marijuana store) to the city. I would disagree since I believe that these products are related to more harm than good for most consumers. Just as I do not think that all volunteer activities are beneficial to the same degree, I think that the same can be said for businesses. More does not always equal better.

    2. hpierce

      Frankly…  there is no dichotomy to working/growing business and volunteerism.  A ‘balance’ is what community truly needs, unless “it’s all about me”, justified by some sort of “trickle down” hope.  Does your company promote volunteerism by the employees in their ‘off time’?  Or do you just promote that it’s all about them? Know which one I suspect.

      1. hpierce

        BTW, I see volunteerism, and ‘charity’ [one of the forms of caring/love not by government, but by individuals] (financial, if someone can’t directly participate), mostly on ‘social issues’, to be an alternative to taxes or neglect.  Bet, Frankly, you’d love to see more volunteerism, in deed or financially, if it would reduce your taxes., and keep more of your ‘production’ to yourself, based only on this post of yours.

      2. Frankly

        I see much volunteerism as being “just about me”… it is not much different than working for a living for most people.

        Bottom line is that few if anyone does anything that they don’t want to do.   They do the things that provide them a sense of accomplishment.  That makes them feel better about themselves in one way or the other.   A person working hard to pay his/her own way in life contributes greatly to society even if he/she has no time or interest to volunteer.

        And although I can and do thank people for the value they provide to others by volunteering their time, retirees that are young and psychically able and not doing anything else might be looked at as being expected to volunteer.

        Now… there are people working a good 8+ hour day and then giving of themselves above and beyond that for a cause or two or three.  I have a lot of admiration for those people just because they are giving away on of their most precious resources… time.

        The main point of my post was to note we should be careful assigning greater moral value to volunteering.  What really matters is the results from the effort to improve the human condition.  I understand that Steve Jobs didn’t do much charity work early in his successful career even though he was worth billions.  I found that criticism shallow given what Jobs was doing to improve the human condition just running Apple.

        1. hpierce

          “The main point of my post was to note we should be careful assigning greater moral value to volunteering.”  So, if you were in a crash of your car, you and your family hurt, and two bystanders asked if they could help, but one wanted $1,000 for their time and effort, if they had the same result, you would see them as morally equivalent?  Wow!

        2. darelldd

          So the admiration is only for the people who first work 8+ hours and THEN volunteer? Those who are retired are simply *expected* to volunteer?

          I like hpierce’s question about moral equivalency. You seem to only respect those who charge money for their work. And for the life of me, I can’t understand that. I could charge money for 100% of what I do. But I don’t. And I don’t, because it would limit access to what I offer. By your standards, I am expected to give away my time simply because I can? I am not retired, but I can choose who to charge for my time.

          You aren’t the first person to be confused about somebody giving up income to benefit others. And you won’t be the last. I just wish you could appreciate that there are some people out here who could choose to do only those things that benefitted themselves… but instead choose to take a financial loss to help our society.

          It sounds like you don’t believe it can happen. I’m here to tell you that it can and it does.

    3. wdf1

      Frankly: Maybe I can start by explaining how the alternative to volunteering – working many hours to start and grow a business and paying gobs of taxes – is also worthy of praise for helping people and helping the community.

      What do you see yourself doing in retirement?

      1. hpierce

        I’ll guess… complaining about retired government workers getting pensions, medical benefits, even if they are contributing their time, talents, and treasures to the community.

        1. hpierce

          I understand part of your sentiment.  As long as I am contributing, working in my profession, doing the things I love, even part-time for lower pay or as a volunteer, I’ll not be fully ‘retired’.  And, the opportunity to do other volunteer work that serves the community, either local or larger influence.

        1. hpierce

          You’d know if you are technically superbly proficient, but not proficient in dealing with being supervisor/management.  The latter is the only way the most proficient technical folk in government get compensated for their worth, due to the civil service system as it exists in most places.  That’s one of the reasons I abhor  “Organized Unions”, and the limited pay ranges for many government workers who greatly exceed their peers, but due to ‘patronage’, etc., everyone in a given ‘class’ is compensated basically the same.  In the private sector, there are ways of compensating the high achievers without forcing them to achieve out of their ‘strengths’.  Not so in the public sector.

          I say this, frankly, knowing, Frankly (because you are), would like to see all public employees compensated as cheap as possible, and really don’t care about relative contributions by individual government employees who exceed the norms.  Based on your previous observations.

        2. Frankly

          Frankly (because you are), would like to see all public employees compensated as cheap as possible, and really don’t care about relative contributions by individual government employees who exceed the norms.  Based on your previous observations.

          Not at all.

          I want necessary government service to be delivered for the highest possible value.  The highest possible value is otherwise defined as the balance of service quality and cost.

          I want government employees to be paid commensurate with their worker peers in the overall labor market.  And this is the total compensation calculation.  ALL benefits and ALL pay.

          But the standard in government is low, and even crappy, service and workers with gross compensation significantly higher than their peers in the overall labor market.

          And I am in favor of pay for performance.

          My performance bonus model for employees is based on:

          – Individual performance relative to goals and principles.

          – Team performance relative to goals.

          – Company performance relative to goals.

          Merit increases are given only when employees develop to a greater DEMONSTRATED level of capability and responsibility… not when they acquire a credential or log years sitting in their seats.

          And people that do not like their work can generally never work at peak performance.  And if you like your work, why retire early?  If you don’t like your work you should be helped to find other work that is a better fit… and maybe it is working for a charity.  But then you need to make enough money to survive.  So there is that problem that not everyone can do exactly what they want to do if what they want to do does not pay enough for them to survive.  And so there is a value to having retirees around to do some of that work because retirees have an income stream that allows them the time to volunteer.

          But then they will only volunteer if it something they enjoy doing… generally.

    4. Bob Fung

      Frankly,

      I agree with you that starting, running and growing a business in a community is worthy of praise and is way to help the community.

      Bob Fung

  2. Don Shor

    I think the LWV of Davis has experienced the same problem that many volunteer organizations are facing. Social media has replaced direct contact and personal networking, removing the incentive many had to get involved in service organizations. Information is available at your fingertips; you don’t have to go to meetings or attend panels or debates to learn about candidates and issues. Unfortunately, the quality of the information may suffer. Groups like LWV can continue to serve a useful purpose if they migrate to the internet to help gather and present balanced voter info.

    1. hpierce

      Instead of “migrate”, I’d suggest “expand to”.  Limiting ‘forums’ to social media is not that ‘social’ in my view.  We need BOTH, in my opinion.  Some learn by vocal input, others by reading.  Think that applies to voters, too.  Where I think at least the local LWV lost it was not stressing the value of neutral/opposing information, balanced, and perhaps ‘resting on their laurels’. Not much to attract new folk if you’re not focussing on the “purpose” and mission.

    2. Bob Fung

      Don,

      I think it would be possible for the LWV and organizations like that to migrate to the internet and have a balance of in-person and social media.  I have been working on the Voterprep.org website which basically provides online candidate forums like the in-person forums LWV provided.  Voterprep can either make use of existing candidate forum videos or candidates can provide their viewpoints by logging in and writing out their viewpoints on issues or by uploading video.   I did work with the LWV to use several of their candidate forums on Voterprep.

      Bob Fung

       

  3. DavisBurns

    I was pleased by the demographics presented here.  We have a bulge in the over 55 age groups and a healthy decrease in the child bearing age group,  this is good news for our planet.  We currently do not produce enough food to feed the people alive today and in spite of the claims of the green revolution, crop production is declining.  The earth can’t support an ever increasing population and that holds true for more than just feeding them.  As we expand our numbers, we increase our enviromental impact resulting in ever increasing species extinction. Uncontrolled growth is a cancer upon the earth.  Let us encourage our young people to have zero, one or at most two children for sake of humanity and also for the oceans, the air, the wild places and all living things.

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