Groups That Helped to Take Down Councilmember Greenwald, Back in the Fray

union-sg-1

In May of 2012, an independent expenditure group backed by Sacramento-based unions the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447, IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 340, and Operating Engineers Union Local 3, claiming to support Stephen Souza and oppose Sue Greenwald, sent out an attack mailer to Davis residents reminding them of then-Councilmember Sue Greenwald (no relation to this writer) and her publicized incident with former Mayor Ruth Asmundson in January 2010.

The mailer entitled “Don’t Reward Bad Behavior” referenced a 2010 Vanguard article and YouTube video.  In the end, the mailer may well have helped to take down both Councilmembers Souza (then a two-term councilmember) and Sue Greenwald (a three-term councilmember), who would finish 4th and 5th in a five-person race where the top three were elected to office.

Now it appears that the group is back.  “Residents for Responsible Development, Sponsored by Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Organizations” has donated about $31,000 to the Yes on Measure A campaign.

According to their filings, the group has received $25,000 each from Sheet Metal Workers, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447, and IBEW Local 340 – two of those groups having been behind the Sue Greenwald mailer.  All of the monetary contributions went to Yes on Measure A.

To make matters more intriguing, on November 12, 2015, attorneys from Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo sent a letter to Heidi Tschudin, then the Mace Ranch Innovation Center Contract Planner.

The letter stated, “On behalf of Davis Residents for Responsible Development, we submit these comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (‘DEIR’) for the Mace Ranch Innovation Center Project (‘Project’).”

They argued that “the DEIR does not comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (‘CEQA’). The City may not approve the Project until an adequate DEIR is prepared and circulated for public review and comment.”

According to the letter, “Davis Residents for Responsible Development (‘Davis Residents’) is an unincorporated association of individuals and labor organizations that may be adversely affected by the potential public and worker health and safety hazards and environmental and public service impacts of the Project. The association includes Patrick O’Brien, Jorge Gomez, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 340, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, and their members and their families who live and/or work in the City of Davis and Yolo County.”

They add, “Individual members of Davis Residents and its affiliated organizations live, work, recreate, and raise their families in Yolo County, including the City of Davis. They would be directly affected by the Project’s environmental and health and safety impacts. Individual members may also work on the Project itself. They will be first in line to be exposed to any health and safety hazards that exist onsite. Davis Residents has an interest in enforcing environmental laws that encourage sustainable development and ensure a safe working environment for its members. Environmentally detrimental projects can jeopardize future jobs by making it more difficult and more expensive for business and industry to expand in the region, and by making it less desirable for businesses to locate and people to live there.”

The letter went on to detail deficiencies in the DEIR for the MRIC.

According to Tim Ruff, the project manager for Nishi, this was simply an effort by the unions to play hardball.  Basically they demanded a contract with the developer or threatened to challenge the CEQA analysis in court, thereby slowing down the project.

Mr. Ruff told the Vanguard, “We have a deal with a small union on the commercial component to use them during construction.”  But he added, “We welcome their expertise on our commercial product and support good local jobs.”

He believed that “Mace Ranch decided not to use any Union so they try to make a hassle out of the EIR.”

Mr. Ruff believes the two actions are completely independent. He believes they would have filed complaints against the Nishi EIR had they not agreed to use union labor on construction of the commercial component.

While Mr. Ruff believes that Mace had not agreed to play ball with the unions, sources familiar with the MRIC project said that any thought of using union labor on construction was premature because, at the point where the project was halted, there was no formal project. It was believed that, once a project was submitted, talks would have opened up on a potential project labor agreement.

In the meantime, however, the unions attempted to force MRIC’s hands with the letter to the city.

—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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52 thoughts on “Groups That Helped to Take Down Councilmember Greenwald, Back in the Fray”

  1. ryankelly

    Sue took herself down (remember the TV news appearances over the removal of a campaign sign?), though it makes sense that the union would oppose someone who opposed every development. This was easily understood.

    That the union would oppose a development that wasn’t using union labor also made sense.  Interesting that the tactic of challenging the CEQA findings is now being used to oppose  Nishi.

  2. Marina Kalugin

    as a friend and fan of Ruth first  (due to GATE and children etc)… and later a friend and fan of Sue,  one of the few who stood up to developers over the decades,

    and one who personally understands many of these issues better than most……

    all I have to say is   Ruth, one ends up in emergency only because of the inability to deal with those who are perhaps a little brighter and a bit more forceful – just relax and don’t take things so damn personal…

    and, Sue, perhaps you could tone it down a bit for the mediocre masses…..I hope you are running the next time….Davis NEEDS you…

     

     

     

     

     

     

  3. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   there is this maxim related to Power…..and there are tons of examples in history…

    if you are in a position of power, then the only ones that can take themselves down are oneself and one’s closest and dearest friends……as they are the only ones who really know what the issues are and where the skeletons are buried and so forth.

    and, there are always skeletons….

    kinda like Katehi, The Napo, and Mr. Lawlor at UCD/UC>>>>>… now truly get out the popcorn as now the real city dirt is gonna fly…

  4. Sam

    “Basically they demanded a contract with the developer or threatened to challenge the CEQA analysis in court, thereby slowing down the project.”

    ex·tor·tion

    ikˈstôrSH(ə)n/

    noun
    noun: extortion; plural noun: extortions

    the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

    synonyms:
    blackmail, shakedown;

    formalexaction

    1. South of Davis

      Sam wrote:

      > the practice of obtaining something, especially

      > money, through force or threats.

      You have to hand it to the Unions since every time they  get “money, through force or threats” they also threaten to take down any judge or elected official who does anything to try and stop them…

       

  5. Misanthrop

    Can’t we leave Sue and Ruth alone already, please.

    There have been many players looking for a piece of the action or trying to block others out. Nishi is the last project standing but there are few finger prints on who is responsible for the other two big projects never getting off the ground.

    What I find interesting are the petty landlords opposing Nishi either with donations or posting signs on all their properties. We have an absurd imbalance in our rental market and these little tyrants fear any competition. Sickening.

    1. CalAg

      Tandem (John Whitcombe and partners) owns over 1,900 apartment units in Davis. That’s over 15% of the Davis market. If you are worried about people posting signs on their properties, I’d be more worried about the 800 lb gorilla and all their friends that also own real estate.

  6. The Pugilist

    Obviously the article isn’t about Sue and Ruth (although Marina takes us off track again).

    The bigger issue is that a special interest with a very specific agenda can come in and make demands and then just dump $3200 in.  We need to have the same rules for Measure R campaign finance as we do for council races.  That would fix the problem of much of the last few days although not prevent developers from spending $300K.

    1. Matt Williams

      Pugilist, how would having the same rules for Measure R campaign finance as we do for Council races have “fixed the problem of much of the last few days”?

      1. The Pugilist

        You wouldn’t have the unions contributing to the Measure A campaign.  You wouldn’t have Harrington pumping in $7500 of his own money and 7 people funding 90 percent of Measure A’s opposition.  Nishi wouldn’t be able to fund the entirety of the yes side.  Both sides would be having the seek $100 contributions from a broad swath of the community.

        1. Matt Williams

          I’m not sure how you get to that conclusion Pugilist.  Harrington and the 7 people and the Nishi developers could all still “loan” their campaigns money.  That would be particularly true of the Nishi developers, since they are nominally “the candidate” in the Measure A vote.

    2. CalAg

      just dump $3200 in …

      “Residents for Responsible Development, Sponsored by Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Organizations” has donated about $31,000 to the Yes on Measure A campaign.

      According to their filings, the group has received $25,000 each from Sheet Metal Workers, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447, and IBEW Local 340 – two of those groups having been behind the Sue Greenwald mailer.  All of the monetary contributions went to Yes on Measure A.

      I think you mean just dump $31,000 (or $75,000 if you take the second paragraph at face value) directly into the Yes on Measure A campaign.

  7. Ron

    Wow – this whole thing is disgraceful.

    Thanks to CalAg who brought this up yesterday, and to David Greenwald for following up on it.

    If I understand it correctly, some of the same groups that sabotaged Sue Greenwald were (also) recently involved in an effort to derail MRIC, and are now supporting Nishi with significant financial contributions toward that campaign.  And, their actions appear to be based on self-interest.

    Of the two proposed developments, a commercial-only MRIC had far more potential to make a positive financial contribution, for the city. And yet, that’s the development that this group attempted to derail.

    Also – regarding the prior targeting of Sue Greenwald, perhaps it’s not a surprise that we don’t have any true “slow-growth” candidates running for council.

    Whenever I receive any type of campaign mailer, the first thing I look at (and wonder about) is who paid for it, and the possible motivations behind it.

      1. Ron

        ryankelly:  “The unions have a responsibility to lobby on behalf of their members.  There is no disgrace in that.”

        Sure – if you believe that large campaign contributions, unsavory efforts to sway and threaten the city and developer regarding the EIR, and targeting of particular candidates have no effect on the outcome of an election, and that the results reflect what’s best for the city.

        Nope – nothing wrong there! 🙂

         

         

      2. CalAg

        I’m generally pro-union.  I think that – along with the Davis Firelighters Union – P&P Local 447 and IBEW Local 340 have crossed the line.

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron said . . . “Whenever I receive any type of campaign mailer, the first thing I look at (and wonder about) is who paid for it, and the possible motivations behind it.”

      That is one of the principal reasons that I chose not to send out a campaign mailer.  It is almost “guilt by association.”  The other principal reason is that a majority of the mailers never get looked at in their journey from the mailbox to the recycle bin.

      Ron said . . . “Also – regarding the prior targeting of Sue Greenwald, perhaps it’s not a surprise that we don’t have any true “slow-growth” candidates running for council.”

      Interesting statement Ron.  I consider Brett Lee a slow-growth candidate.  His active participation in No on X, and his vote against the Cannery would seem to confirm that.  Where is it that you feel Brett has strayed from the slow-growth path?

      Further, I would say that I am fundamentally a slow-growth candidate as well.  Where do you see me straying from the slow-growth path?

       

      1. Ron

        Matt:

        Regarding the “lack of” slow-growth candidates, I was mostly referring to previous articles from David Greenwald, regarding that issue.

        Matt:  “Further, I would say that I am fundamentally a slow-growth candidate as well.”

        I agree overall, regarding Brett Lee.  Not sure about you, since you’ve previously stated that you’re not a “slow-growth” candidate.  However, I realize that the definition of “slow-growth” varies, among individuals.  (Also, please note that I’m not trying to say that other views lack legitimacy.)

        1. The Pugilist

          I don’t know why Nishi has become the litmus test – Matt Williams, Brett, Greenwald, and many others opposed Cannery, opposed Covell Village.

        2. Matt Williams

          Pugilist, for the purposes of accuracy, the focus of my public service in 2005 (when the Measure X battle was being fought) was outside the boundaries of the City Limits.  I was not eligible to vote on Measure X, and as a result it was off my radar.

          My interest in Davis land use issues did not start until late in 2006 when the Yolo County General Plan Update began, the Ramos-Pomeroy development of 176 homes on the south side of Davis was proposed, and the City of Davis Housing Element Steering Committee was convened.

          Just wanted to set the record straight.

        3. Matt Williams

          Ron, I think you and I are very much on the same page.  You used the word “true” before “slow growth candidates” and based on your past conversations with Tia, my suspicion was/is that your definition of “true” is probably too stringent for my “do our homework first” commitment to improving the City’s processes in all of its decisions, not just land use decisions.

          Based on private e-mail conversations I have had over the recent weeks, my suspicion also is that my commitment to dispassionate discourse (call it the Joe Friday approach) disqualifies me for “true” status in the eyes of many “true slow growthers.”

          And out of respect for Tia, I will try and stay away from any labeling.

           

    2. Marina Kalugin

      I felt the same way when this nice looking clean cut UCD student showed up to talk to me about YES on A……..you know the type……the poli sci gonna be an attorney look alike of Dan Wolk perhaps…

      I started asking him who is paying him…he said he is a volunteer….I said but who are you volunteering for ….of course it was the NISHI Gateway folks

      I asked if he didn’t see the pile of torn up Yes on A fliers in the walkway…  – he was really quick to respond….yes, but he decided to give us the benefit of the doubt…    LOL…..

      truly a sign of a HS debate guy and perhaps a UCD debater…

      by then he was walking backwards down our walkway…..LOL you know like an Aggie Host…..

      I said what are you afraid of  – he said that earlier you told me to go away and I am going away..

      But, really, he was not liking the questions I was asking HIM>>>

       

  8. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MONEY>>>>and vote for the underdog who works and speaks out….

    Vote NO on A…NO on NISHI…get rid of the “nice white guys” who give away the store..

    Vote Yamada

    Vote Sanders…

    ( or if not Sanders, then vote TRump,….certainly not the Killary – and do I CARE if SHE is a woman….she is evil, imho….)

    Vote Garamendi….a true farmer and a true friend…

    Vote Matt Willlaims…

    read your history books and watch old Council debates……LEARN who people are…

    now back to meetings….jeez….

     

    1. Ron

      Marina:  “get rid of the “nice white guys” who give away the store..”

      “Vote Sanders…”

      I enjoy your posts, and I hope the concerns in the article above are noticed.  However, isn’t Sanders (and some of the others you mentioned) a “nice white guy”?

      Your other statement, “follow the money” is more pertinent.

       

      1. Marina Kalugin

        Ps.   just because some are white doesn’t mean they are not nice….both of my husbands and my two sons are “nice white guys”…     and they got a little bit of discrimination on occasion on some of the things they went out for….  so was my dad et al…..  even my chair is a truly nice white guy….

  9. Ron

    “Shout-out” to “Frankly” (and other proclaimed “conservatives”):

    Where are you?  Union involvement in an effort to derail MRIC (while simultaneously supporting Nishi), and you are silent?  Really?

      1. Ron

        Matt:  “Ron, was this an attempt to derail MRIC?  Or was it an attempt to be sure that MRIC was constructed with union labor?”

        According to the article above, here’s some text from the letter:

        “Environmentally detrimental projects can jeopardize future jobs by making it more difficult and more expensive for business and industry to expand in the region, and by making it less desirable for businesses to locate and people to live there.”

        If you believe that this group was “sincere” regarding their concerns, then you’d have to conclude that they had “environmental concerns” regarding the development.

        If you believe that these concerns were “not sincere”, then you might conclude that they were just self-interested, regardless of what’s best for the city.  If that’s the case, they were essentially holding the developer “hostage”, which can certainly have an effect regarding whether or not to proceed with the development.

        A commercial-only MRIC was the development that had a greater potential to make a positive financial contribution for the city (compared to Nishi). And yet, this group initiated roadblocks against MRIC, while making a significant financial contribution towards Nishi, instead.

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron, in a private e-mail conversation recently I made the following observation.

          When looking at the outcomes of legal proceedings there are two possibilities . . . the case is decided by a judge/jury or the case is settled.  Settlements do not happen because of facts and law.  They happen because of leverage.  Settlements don’t happen because of objective realities.  They happen because of subjective feelings.

          The reason that applies in this MRIC situation is that the language of the lawsuit should be viewed for its leverage potential just as much as it is viewed for its factual and legal underpinnings.  Within that context, I believe this group was “sincere” regarding their concerns.

           

           

           

           

           

        2. Ron

          The Pugilist:  Not sure why it was (suddenly) not financially viable.  But, pending challenges (and the resulting cost to defend such challenges), along with the potential increased cost of hiring Union-only workers, might have been a factor.

        3. Matt Williams

          The answer to Ron’s question “Not sure why it was (suddenly) not financially viable” is actually quite straightforward.  In EPS consultant David Zehnder’s testimony to the Finance and Budget Commission, he reported that the MRIC project pencils out very nicely at $20 per square foot, but poorly at $9-$13 per square foot.
           
           At $9-$13 per square foot the Mace Ranch Innovation Center is just another business park.  Bottom-line, we as a community failed to do our homework.
           
          We have always known that there is no comparable project near Davis that can validate whether the market supports a $20 per square foot rental rate.  Putting EPS in the position where the comparable projects they are using in their analysis are generic business parks is fiscal forecasting suicide. 
          The comparable examples that should be in the analysis should be coming from communities where the intellectual capital and research core competencies of the community are successfully being transferred to the private sector, where the value of the innovation they create justifies paying $20 per square foot rather than $9-$13 . . . and if the proximity to the adjacent university’s intellectual capital and research is removed, the high level of value creation evaporates.
           

        4. Ron

           Matt:  “At $9-$13 per square foot the Mace Ranch Innovation Center is just another business park.  Bottom-line, we as a community failed to do our homework.”

          Isn’t it up to the developers to “do their homework”, as you put it?  Are you suggesting that we, as a community, research the potential profitability of a proposed private development?  Why did the developers behind MRIC submit and participate in the proposal, right up until the last minute?

          Perhaps the letter challenging the EIR was one more factor, regarding their decision to withdraw.

  10. Yes on A Fan

    I would venture the union EIR comments are but a fly on the butt for MRIC- like the Harrington one on Nishi.   I would imagine its the constant moving target, the lengthy processes, lack of certainty, increasing costs, elimination of housing, potential lawsuits, campaigns, timing, other interests and opportunity costs, county demands, changing markets, and extrodinary risk that may have given them pause, but that is much more boring than digging up some garbage from the past . Maybe someone could call them but that may ruin the story.

    1. Ron

      Yes on A Fan:  ” . . .but that is much more boring than digging up some garbage from the past.”

      If you truly feel that way, I’d suggest that the “Yes on A” campaign return the “current garbage” (money) that it recently received from these same groups.

  11. Yes on A Fan

    Ron,

    Mr. Ruff told the Vanguard, “We have a deal with a small union on the commercial component to use them during construction.”  But he added, “We welcome their expertise on our commercial product and support good local jobs.”

    Can’t it be that simple?  I don’t see any link with other union actions past or present – its the accusation, a 4 year old unrelated episode, and the manufactured intrigue vis a vis MRIC that is garbage
     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      If I understand what is being said correctly, it sounds like the $31,000 was an investment that the union saw as increasing the chances of the jobs on the commercial component becoming a reality rather than just talk.

  12. Biddlin

    Unions lobby on behalf of their members. Like the Tea Partiers, who cannot let an opportunity to blame Obama pass, David must take his obligatory shot at unions. (yeah, yeah, David, we know all about your “pro-union” creds.) There is no story here and certainly not the one the disingenuous headline evoked.

  13. Marina Kalugin

    so Bernie is not your typical white guy…for example, he is a Jew….not that there is anything wrong with that….my current husband is Jewish

    But from a Russian background of immigrants of the other kind, the Jews were blamed for many ills….in fact communism was blamed on the jews…of course, the fact that lenin, trotsky et al were Jews kinds had some truth there…

    My family were not bigots – we were refugees in an asian country where we fled the communists….but the elders also were not fans of the Jews…see above..

    We flee that no-longer existing country for South America….had everything taken from us yet again…and we loved S.A……..but finally made it to the promised land….the USA of the fifties after waiting in line for  5  years…on a relative visa……..  since my parents, uncle and I were born in an Asian country, we stood in the ASIAN lines of the not truly welcome now anymore….

    On our slow cheap freight ship around the world to SA, we stopped in Africa…OMG    a BLACK man….OMG>>>>I couldn’t contain myself….I was pointing and giggling since I had never ever seen a black person…he was working hauling stuff onto the freighter…..when he was done, he left and returned with a giant thing of bananas taller than me…..   (I am still short)….

    I share some of these stories as then peop;le may understand better who I am and what I have lived through.

    When I married my current husband my mother advised not to tell my uncle my new husband was Jewish..  I said I didn’t know that when we met…. how would I?     and  she said, how could I not tell that?       we met online through mutual friends and interests and I didn’t even see what he looked like until….(to be continued…..  LOL

    am late for a meeting…

    as I say it is NEVER black and white and most whites have some black blood and white is a compilation of MANy colors…  have a good day…

     

     

    [moderator] This is off topic. Please stick to the topic of the thread. Thanks.

  14. Marina Kalugin

    PS>  I have a TRULY groundbreaking scoop for the DV “moderators”….I see them posting on the Nishi and other nonsense…but the REAL news is hidden..

    Siggh……watch for it….if they get their heads out of the sand…….

  15. tj

    So now we know why, after just 2 weeks, city council passed Nishi on to the voters to decide.

    The potato is too hot!  Council members can speak up and go the way of Sue Greenwald and others, or they can approve bad projects, or, leave it up to voters to take the blame for bad projects.

    I wonder why we’re just hearing about this now, after people have sent in their absentee ballots?

  16. Frankly

    According to Tim Ruff, the project manager for Nishi, this was simply an effort by the unions to play hardball.  Basically they demanded a contract with the developer or threatened to challenge the CEQA analysis in court, thereby slowing down the project.

    Unions are labor cartels sanctioned by idiotic laws and thinking that predates a time when unions actually deserved to exist.  They no longer do.

    1. Misanthrop

      Those days of yesteryear when people had defined benefit pensions, health care, profit sharing, employee stock plans and many other benefits. Now we have corporations that have gotten rid of all these perks and kept all the money for the shareholders and company directors. With the demise of private sector unions we have also seen the middle class shrink. No wonder we are seeing this push to a 15 dollar minimum wage. Personally I would rather see a healthy union movement and less reliance on minimum wage laws.

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