Dunning’s Ridiculous Lampoon of Souza and Yamada

As far as letters to the editor go, it was pretty uneventful and unnewsworthy. Yet somehow it becomes fodder for the sardonic humor of Dunning.

On November 15, 2006 County Supervisor Mariko Yamada and Davis City Councilmember Stephen Souza wrote a rather ordinary and standard letter of thanks to the contributors and supporters of Measures H & I. Completely unremarkable unless you are Bob Dunning.

Public power quest is still alive

Davis voters sent an unmistakable Election Day message about public power — we want it! The twin SMUD annexation Measures H and I passed here by a nearly 62 percent margin despite PG&E’s unprecedented $11 million disinformation campaign to defeat us. Unfortunately, their efforts to frighten and confuse Sacramento SMUD ratepayers and West Sacramento and Woodland residents were too great to overcome — this time.

On behalf of Yolo4SMUD, we wish to thank all of our contributors and supporters — including The Davis Enterprise — for advancing the dialogue on the clear benefits of municipal over investor-owned utilities. The quest for local power, which began nine years ago in Davis, is still alive, strong and well. Stay tuned, and thank you.

Mariko Yamada, chair

Stephen Souza, treasurer

Dunning writes:

let’s correct that statement about a “62 percent margin” … there was no such thing … SMUD got 62 percent of the Davis vote … a 62 percent margin would be 81 percent “yes” and 19 percent “no.” …

Okay, they misspoke or mistyped, they got 62 percent of the vote not a 62 percent margin. Let’s haul off and write a column on it… oh yeah, he did. Must have been a slow news day.

You might want to read that last sentence again … Davis folks, you see, were too smart to be frightened or confused … but the lowlifes in those other cities we’re forced to share a county with just couldn’t put two and two together and were thus at the mercy of the merciless power company …

Yes this letter to the editor is a clear example of “our elitism shining through.” I won’t defend Souza on this score, but anyone who knows Mariko, knows she is anything but an elitist. If anything she’s humble to a fault.

Moreover I just don’t see any evidence of elitism in this letter. What I see is frustration and anger that PG&E spent $11 million plus on a campaign to distort the issues and their record on the environment. The only difference between Davis and Woodland and Sacramento is that Davis is a bit more liberal and it took more to convince them that PG&E was an environmentally friendly company than a fradulent “No on Measure X” flyer purporting that a vote for PG&E was a vote against Measure X (or something like that).

If Dunning wants to be outraged, how about being outraged at PG&E for dumping $11 million into a campaign to keep their services in Yolo County and using every trick in the book to try to confuse the issue.

And if we are to be outraged, perhaps we shoud be upset that Dunning is filling our newspaper space with such banalities. Oh yeah I forgot, he’s funny. Can anyone explain to me the humor in this column, because the only one I’m laughing at is Dunning himself for writing about this.

—Doug Paul Davis 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.

Related posts

24 Comments

  1. Don Shor

    The quest for local power in Davis via SMUD is dead as a doornail, and unlikely ever to rise from the ashes.
    I don’t know, it sounds really odd for Stephen Souza to complain about PG&E when he was actively working on Target’s behalf. If one giant corporation spends money and wins, it’s because they ‘frightened and confused’ the voters. But what is it when another giant corporation spends money and wins? Has anyone asked Stephen how he feels about a $300,000, 674-vote victory?

    I went on local TV right after Stephen on election night, so I was sitting in the break room watching him take calls. He went on and on about PG&E’s corporate dollars; then someone called to point out the inconsistency of that logic given his support of Target. He sputtered like a plugged sprinkler head.

  2. Don Shor

    The quest for local power in Davis via SMUD is dead as a doornail, and unlikely ever to rise from the ashes.
    I don’t know, it sounds really odd for Stephen Souza to complain about PG&E when he was actively working on Target’s behalf. If one giant corporation spends money and wins, it’s because they ‘frightened and confused’ the voters. But what is it when another giant corporation spends money and wins? Has anyone asked Stephen how he feels about a $300,000, 674-vote victory?

    I went on local TV right after Stephen on election night, so I was sitting in the break room watching him take calls. He went on and on about PG&E’s corporate dollars; then someone called to point out the inconsistency of that logic given his support of Target. He sputtered like a plugged sprinkler head.

  3. Don Shor

    The quest for local power in Davis via SMUD is dead as a doornail, and unlikely ever to rise from the ashes.
    I don’t know, it sounds really odd for Stephen Souza to complain about PG&E when he was actively working on Target’s behalf. If one giant corporation spends money and wins, it’s because they ‘frightened and confused’ the voters. But what is it when another giant corporation spends money and wins? Has anyone asked Stephen how he feels about a $300,000, 674-vote victory?

    I went on local TV right after Stephen on election night, so I was sitting in the break room watching him take calls. He went on and on about PG&E’s corporate dollars; then someone called to point out the inconsistency of that logic given his support of Target. He sputtered like a plugged sprinkler head.

  4. Don Shor

    The quest for local power in Davis via SMUD is dead as a doornail, and unlikely ever to rise from the ashes.
    I don’t know, it sounds really odd for Stephen Souza to complain about PG&E when he was actively working on Target’s behalf. If one giant corporation spends money and wins, it’s because they ‘frightened and confused’ the voters. But what is it when another giant corporation spends money and wins? Has anyone asked Stephen how he feels about a $300,000, 674-vote victory?

    I went on local TV right after Stephen on election night, so I was sitting in the break room watching him take calls. He went on and on about PG&E’s corporate dollars; then someone called to point out the inconsistency of that logic given his support of Target. He sputtered like a plugged sprinkler head.

  5. Rich Rifkin

    Doug,

    I think Dunning was right on with his comments. The attitude that says, “the people are not smart enough to understand this issue,” is an elitist attitude. If you believe that you were smart enough to decide a question like SMUD, when you were exposed to all of the propaganda put forth by PG&E, while others were fooled by PG&E, then you are an elitist, at least as regards this question.

    I don’t mind saying it: I think the people were fooled. It seemed to me that it was obvious that we would be better off with SMUD. I wasn’t fooled, because on this question, I think that I was smarter. But make no mistake, mine is an elitist attitude, same as Mariko’s and Stephen’s.

    But just because one has an elitist attitude on one question doesn’t mean one is always an elitist or has an elitist attitude on all questions.

    One can believe in democracy, where all adult citizens have an equal vote in elections, yet be skeptical as to whether most people are sophisticated or informed well enough to make complex decisions on matters of public policy. I wrote a piece on Prop 87 saying as much. It was a very complicated proposition — unlike say Target, where the question boiled down to, do you want it here or not? — of which I think most people would not take the time or have the inclination to really study. So instead of deciding a proposition like 87 on its merits, most voters likely cast a poorly informed vote. And my saying as much clearly casts me as an elitist, if I think I was smart enough to make an informed vote.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    Doug,

    I think Dunning was right on with his comments. The attitude that says, “the people are not smart enough to understand this issue,” is an elitist attitude. If you believe that you were smart enough to decide a question like SMUD, when you were exposed to all of the propaganda put forth by PG&E, while others were fooled by PG&E, then you are an elitist, at least as regards this question.

    I don’t mind saying it: I think the people were fooled. It seemed to me that it was obvious that we would be better off with SMUD. I wasn’t fooled, because on this question, I think that I was smarter. But make no mistake, mine is an elitist attitude, same as Mariko’s and Stephen’s.

    But just because one has an elitist attitude on one question doesn’t mean one is always an elitist or has an elitist attitude on all questions.

    One can believe in democracy, where all adult citizens have an equal vote in elections, yet be skeptical as to whether most people are sophisticated or informed well enough to make complex decisions on matters of public policy. I wrote a piece on Prop 87 saying as much. It was a very complicated proposition — unlike say Target, where the question boiled down to, do you want it here or not? — of which I think most people would not take the time or have the inclination to really study. So instead of deciding a proposition like 87 on its merits, most voters likely cast a poorly informed vote. And my saying as much clearly casts me as an elitist, if I think I was smart enough to make an informed vote.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    Doug,

    I think Dunning was right on with his comments. The attitude that says, “the people are not smart enough to understand this issue,” is an elitist attitude. If you believe that you were smart enough to decide a question like SMUD, when you were exposed to all of the propaganda put forth by PG&E, while others were fooled by PG&E, then you are an elitist, at least as regards this question.

    I don’t mind saying it: I think the people were fooled. It seemed to me that it was obvious that we would be better off with SMUD. I wasn’t fooled, because on this question, I think that I was smarter. But make no mistake, mine is an elitist attitude, same as Mariko’s and Stephen’s.

    But just because one has an elitist attitude on one question doesn’t mean one is always an elitist or has an elitist attitude on all questions.

    One can believe in democracy, where all adult citizens have an equal vote in elections, yet be skeptical as to whether most people are sophisticated or informed well enough to make complex decisions on matters of public policy. I wrote a piece on Prop 87 saying as much. It was a very complicated proposition — unlike say Target, where the question boiled down to, do you want it here or not? — of which I think most people would not take the time or have the inclination to really study. So instead of deciding a proposition like 87 on its merits, most voters likely cast a poorly informed vote. And my saying as much clearly casts me as an elitist, if I think I was smart enough to make an informed vote.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    Doug,

    I think Dunning was right on with his comments. The attitude that says, “the people are not smart enough to understand this issue,” is an elitist attitude. If you believe that you were smart enough to decide a question like SMUD, when you were exposed to all of the propaganda put forth by PG&E, while others were fooled by PG&E, then you are an elitist, at least as regards this question.

    I don’t mind saying it: I think the people were fooled. It seemed to me that it was obvious that we would be better off with SMUD. I wasn’t fooled, because on this question, I think that I was smarter. But make no mistake, mine is an elitist attitude, same as Mariko’s and Stephen’s.

    But just because one has an elitist attitude on one question doesn’t mean one is always an elitist or has an elitist attitude on all questions.

    One can believe in democracy, where all adult citizens have an equal vote in elections, yet be skeptical as to whether most people are sophisticated or informed well enough to make complex decisions on matters of public policy. I wrote a piece on Prop 87 saying as much. It was a very complicated proposition — unlike say Target, where the question boiled down to, do you want it here or not? — of which I think most people would not take the time or have the inclination to really study. So instead of deciding a proposition like 87 on its merits, most voters likely cast a poorly informed vote. And my saying as much clearly casts me as an elitist, if I think I was smart enough to make an informed vote.

  9. davisite

    Webster defines elite(elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group. Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism..is “book burning” next on Dunning’s things-to-do list in the war against these “elites”? When Dunning’s “wit” hits a dry spell, he takes on the mantle of the champion of the Davis average Joe who is unappreciated by his neighbors with their postgraduate degrees. Inflaming negative,polarizing feelings about ones fellow Davisites is the basic fodder for this provocateur “satirist”.

  10. davisite

    Webster defines elite(elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group. Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism..is “book burning” next on Dunning’s things-to-do list in the war against these “elites”? When Dunning’s “wit” hits a dry spell, he takes on the mantle of the champion of the Davis average Joe who is unappreciated by his neighbors with their postgraduate degrees. Inflaming negative,polarizing feelings about ones fellow Davisites is the basic fodder for this provocateur “satirist”.

  11. davisite

    Webster defines elite(elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group. Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism..is “book burning” next on Dunning’s things-to-do list in the war against these “elites”? When Dunning’s “wit” hits a dry spell, he takes on the mantle of the champion of the Davis average Joe who is unappreciated by his neighbors with their postgraduate degrees. Inflaming negative,polarizing feelings about ones fellow Davisites is the basic fodder for this provocateur “satirist”.

  12. davisite

    Webster defines elite(elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group. Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism..is “book burning” next on Dunning’s things-to-do list in the war against these “elites”? When Dunning’s “wit” hits a dry spell, he takes on the mantle of the champion of the Davis average Joe who is unappreciated by his neighbors with their postgraduate degrees. Inflaming negative,polarizing feelings about ones fellow Davisites is the basic fodder for this provocateur “satirist”.

  13. Rich Rifkin

    “Webster defines elite (elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group.”

    I guess I’m an elitist in this respect, too — I know how to use a dictionary. I am, after all, the Lexicon Artist.

    The relevant definition of elitism, also from Webster’s, is this: “Consciousness of belonging to a select group.”

    If you believe you and others in that select group of have the wattage to decide questions like SMUD, while most people do not, then you are, by definition, an elitist.

    “Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism.”

    Whether it is banal or trite or hackneyed or any other perjorative Davisite can conjure up, he is right that elitism is always a form of relativism. It is a feeling that you and your group are relatively superior.

    It’s not “intellectual relativism,” however. It’s intelligential relativism. One very well could be an intellectual without being particularly or relatively intelligent.

  14. Rich Rifkin

    “Webster defines elite (elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group.”

    I guess I’m an elitist in this respect, too — I know how to use a dictionary. I am, after all, the Lexicon Artist.

    The relevant definition of elitism, also from Webster’s, is this: “Consciousness of belonging to a select group.”

    If you believe you and others in that select group of have the wattage to decide questions like SMUD, while most people do not, then you are, by definition, an elitist.

    “Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism.”

    Whether it is banal or trite or hackneyed or any other perjorative Davisite can conjure up, he is right that elitism is always a form of relativism. It is a feeling that you and your group are relatively superior.

    It’s not “intellectual relativism,” however. It’s intelligential relativism. One very well could be an intellectual without being particularly or relatively intelligent.

  15. Rich Rifkin

    “Webster defines elite (elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group.”

    I guess I’m an elitist in this respect, too — I know how to use a dictionary. I am, after all, the Lexicon Artist.

    The relevant definition of elitism, also from Webster’s, is this: “Consciousness of belonging to a select group.”

    If you believe you and others in that select group of have the wattage to decide questions like SMUD, while most people do not, then you are, by definition, an elitist.

    “Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism.”

    Whether it is banal or trite or hackneyed or any other perjorative Davisite can conjure up, he is right that elitism is always a form of relativism. It is a feeling that you and your group are relatively superior.

    It’s not “intellectual relativism,” however. It’s intelligential relativism. One very well could be an intellectual without being particularly or relatively intelligent.

  16. Rich Rifkin

    “Webster defines elite (elitism) as referring to a sense of social superiority or a minority power group.”

    I guess I’m an elitist in this respect, too — I know how to use a dictionary. I am, after all, the Lexicon Artist.

    The relevant definition of elitism, also from Webster’s, is this: “Consciousness of belonging to a select group.”

    If you believe you and others in that select group of have the wattage to decide questions like SMUD, while most people do not, then you are, by definition, an elitist.

    “Extending this concept to critical thinking leads to a banal form of intellectual relativism.”

    Whether it is banal or trite or hackneyed or any other perjorative Davisite can conjure up, he is right that elitism is always a form of relativism. It is a feeling that you and your group are relatively superior.

    It’s not “intellectual relativism,” however. It’s intelligential relativism. One very well could be an intellectual without being particularly or relatively intelligent.

  17. 無名 - wu ming

    one need mot reach for elitism to explain the SMUD vote. davis has been discussing public power for a while now, not just at the politician level but also in the electorate. additionally, as a very democratic town, the idea of public power is gong to be an easier sell. finally, i would expect that the no campaign’s endorsements and quotes from the yolo farm bureau and the cranky old reactionaries in the yolo taxpayers’ association would have been unsuccessful at best, and counterproductive at worse, in a liberal democratic town like davis.

    the result is that, since more davis voters already had opinions on the idea of public power, PG&E’s onslaught of mailings weren’t as successful, because they weren’t approaching the issue for the first time. woodland and west sac, OTOH, were, and the two campaigns were pretty starkly outmatched, so people thinking about public power for the first time were getting a strongly skewed picture. in a fair fight money-wise, my guess is that yolo county would have gone stronger for H & I.

  18. 無名 - wu ming

    one need mot reach for elitism to explain the SMUD vote. davis has been discussing public power for a while now, not just at the politician level but also in the electorate. additionally, as a very democratic town, the idea of public power is gong to be an easier sell. finally, i would expect that the no campaign’s endorsements and quotes from the yolo farm bureau and the cranky old reactionaries in the yolo taxpayers’ association would have been unsuccessful at best, and counterproductive at worse, in a liberal democratic town like davis.

    the result is that, since more davis voters already had opinions on the idea of public power, PG&E’s onslaught of mailings weren’t as successful, because they weren’t approaching the issue for the first time. woodland and west sac, OTOH, were, and the two campaigns were pretty starkly outmatched, so people thinking about public power for the first time were getting a strongly skewed picture. in a fair fight money-wise, my guess is that yolo county would have gone stronger for H & I.

  19. 無名 - wu ming

    one need mot reach for elitism to explain the SMUD vote. davis has been discussing public power for a while now, not just at the politician level but also in the electorate. additionally, as a very democratic town, the idea of public power is gong to be an easier sell. finally, i would expect that the no campaign’s endorsements and quotes from the yolo farm bureau and the cranky old reactionaries in the yolo taxpayers’ association would have been unsuccessful at best, and counterproductive at worse, in a liberal democratic town like davis.

    the result is that, since more davis voters already had opinions on the idea of public power, PG&E’s onslaught of mailings weren’t as successful, because they weren’t approaching the issue for the first time. woodland and west sac, OTOH, were, and the two campaigns were pretty starkly outmatched, so people thinking about public power for the first time were getting a strongly skewed picture. in a fair fight money-wise, my guess is that yolo county would have gone stronger for H & I.

  20. 無名 - wu ming

    one need mot reach for elitism to explain the SMUD vote. davis has been discussing public power for a while now, not just at the politician level but also in the electorate. additionally, as a very democratic town, the idea of public power is gong to be an easier sell. finally, i would expect that the no campaign’s endorsements and quotes from the yolo farm bureau and the cranky old reactionaries in the yolo taxpayers’ association would have been unsuccessful at best, and counterproductive at worse, in a liberal democratic town like davis.

    the result is that, since more davis voters already had opinions on the idea of public power, PG&E’s onslaught of mailings weren’t as successful, because they weren’t approaching the issue for the first time. woodland and west sac, OTOH, were, and the two campaigns were pretty starkly outmatched, so people thinking about public power for the first time were getting a strongly skewed picture. in a fair fight money-wise, my guess is that yolo county would have gone stronger for H & I.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for