Commentary: Where is the local coverage by the Davis Enterprise?

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As I closed down shop late last night, I remarked to friends about just how extraordinary this past week’s Davis City Council Meeting had been. There were no less than five major stories during that meeting: proposed merger of the Senior and Social Services Commission; the city’s general plan update process; the failed police car camera system; the city’s EAP service contract; the city’s parks consulting contract; the duplicity & disingenuousness of both Don Saylor and Stephen Souza as well as Ruth Asmundson’s Surrogate moment. We covered them all; it took until late yesterday for the People’s Vanguard of Davis to finish covering that City Council meeting.

The remarkable thing about it, is that the Davis Enterprise and their city reporter, Claire St. John, covered one single story from it–the discussion on the general plan update with a brief mention of the Senior Citizens Commission merger at the end. I looked at the paper this morning and one of the front-page stories is that John Edwards is going to run for President but not Even Bayh. It is two years before the Presidential election, one year before the first primary, and frankly neither of those guys are going to win. If I want to read about national politics, I’ll go to the New York Times, the Washington Post or read the National Journal. But I read the Enterprise to get local coverage and they have failed to provide that with regards to this past meeting.

For example, not a lot of people will pay attention to that Employee Assistance Program (EAP) issue, but that is a major scam being perpetrated upon City Employees by Cigna and the “pennies wise, pound foolish” cost-cutting city staff. Read the article several times if you have to, there was a lot of work put into that article, but my reading of this situation is that the only way that Cigna will make money off that bid is if they cut service from 9% of employees down to 2 or 3 percent. And it’s being sold as a way to save money while maintaining or even increasing service level.

I am left with but one conclusion–if you read the Davis Enterprise, you will get a very small and a very skewed picture of what is happening in Davis City government.

Of the five most crucial issues that came before the council, only two were covered. The Davis Enterprise did have substantial coverage of the Senior Citizens issue in the weeks leading up to the final vote on Tuesday. But even in this case, the reader would have missed a lot of important context.

Claire St. John of the Davis Enterprise writes:

A subcommittee of Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson and Councilman Stephen Souza recommended the merger and asked the two commissions to explore the idea, but the Senior Citizens Commission rejected the proposal immediately, collecting signatures and making strong statements against it. “It was an idea,” Souza said. “I’m sorry if it was misunderstood.”

What the article on Wednesday does not mention is that it was more than “an idea.” On September 12, 2006 the merger appeared as a resolution in the agenda backed by a full recommendation for passage. And yet, the reader having no context for this issue would conclude that Souza and Asmundson had come up with an idea and then changed their mind.

The striking thing about this meeting is how blatantly duplicitous the major faction of the City Council was during this meeting. The very last item that they discussed sums it up–Councilmember Don Saylor misrepresented his motivations for voting to take no action on an RFP (request for proposal) item that would authorize the taking of bids for a park’s consultant. Saylor voted with Heystek and Greenwald two weeks ago so that he could preserve his parliamentary option to bring up the item for reconsideration once Asmundson returned from her oversees trip. Souza then claimed this wasn’t an acceptance of the consultant–which is true to an extent, but also misleading about the way this process works. And finally, the need for reconsideration came because Asmundson was absent during her travels. Greenwald had very generously put any item that Asmundson wanted to consider, off until Asmundson returned. Yet, this generosity and courtesy was not rewarded by the council majority on an item that Asmundson had not requested be postponed until her return.

Then there is the issue of the police cars. Here is a case where the city knew that there was a problem with the in-car digital recording equipment that cost the city over $140,000 to purchase and install. The city does not come forward with this information to inform the members of the city council, let alone the public. And to date, the Davis Enterprise has not covered it.

The biggest ally of the council majority is an uninformed electorate. Unfortunately, a lot of people who believe they are informed are not getting the full story or any story at all. That is one of the reasons why in late July I started this blog. And one of the reasons why I continue to put time and energy into researching the stories that I write about.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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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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20 thoughts on “Commentary: Where is the local coverage by the Davis Enterprise?”

  1. Truman

    Dear Doug,

    Well said, and thank you for doing what you are doing. Your blog is extremely informative and without it much of what is happening in this town would go unreported and undiscussed.

    The lack of unbiased reporting or any reporting by the Davis Enterprise newspaper regarding serious issues of public policy and political conduct leaves a community vulnerable to government malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance. Incompetence and lack of accountability by some of our city’s appointed managers and some of our elected leaders is a real problem. Thank you for highlighting concerns and problems our town is facing and helping to educate the public to the issues.

    The fourth estate in Davis (which is essentially the Davis Enterprise) is from my observation a propaganda machine for the entrenched business, political and social establishment interests in town. Led by Assistant Publisher/Editor Debbie Davis the Davis Enterprise reports what is helpful for their establishment friends and omits reporting that which is not.

  2. Truman

    Dear Doug,

    Well said, and thank you for doing what you are doing. Your blog is extremely informative and without it much of what is happening in this town would go unreported and undiscussed.

    The lack of unbiased reporting or any reporting by the Davis Enterprise newspaper regarding serious issues of public policy and political conduct leaves a community vulnerable to government malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance. Incompetence and lack of accountability by some of our city’s appointed managers and some of our elected leaders is a real problem. Thank you for highlighting concerns and problems our town is facing and helping to educate the public to the issues.

    The fourth estate in Davis (which is essentially the Davis Enterprise) is from my observation a propaganda machine for the entrenched business, political and social establishment interests in town. Led by Assistant Publisher/Editor Debbie Davis the Davis Enterprise reports what is helpful for their establishment friends and omits reporting that which is not.

  3. Truman

    Dear Doug,

    Well said, and thank you for doing what you are doing. Your blog is extremely informative and without it much of what is happening in this town would go unreported and undiscussed.

    The lack of unbiased reporting or any reporting by the Davis Enterprise newspaper regarding serious issues of public policy and political conduct leaves a community vulnerable to government malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance. Incompetence and lack of accountability by some of our city’s appointed managers and some of our elected leaders is a real problem. Thank you for highlighting concerns and problems our town is facing and helping to educate the public to the issues.

    The fourth estate in Davis (which is essentially the Davis Enterprise) is from my observation a propaganda machine for the entrenched business, political and social establishment interests in town. Led by Assistant Publisher/Editor Debbie Davis the Davis Enterprise reports what is helpful for their establishment friends and omits reporting that which is not.

  4. Truman

    Dear Doug,

    Well said, and thank you for doing what you are doing. Your blog is extremely informative and without it much of what is happening in this town would go unreported and undiscussed.

    The lack of unbiased reporting or any reporting by the Davis Enterprise newspaper regarding serious issues of public policy and political conduct leaves a community vulnerable to government malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance. Incompetence and lack of accountability by some of our city’s appointed managers and some of our elected leaders is a real problem. Thank you for highlighting concerns and problems our town is facing and helping to educate the public to the issues.

    The fourth estate in Davis (which is essentially the Davis Enterprise) is from my observation a propaganda machine for the entrenched business, political and social establishment interests in town. Led by Assistant Publisher/Editor Debbie Davis the Davis Enterprise reports what is helpful for their establishment friends and omits reporting that which is not.

  5. davisite

    Debbie Davis makes the judgement as to what is to be covered. We all know where her political sympathies lie so it is no surprise not to see articles that puts The Enterprise’s council favorites in a bad light. In contrast,in September, Debbie Davis went out of her way to personally insert the subheadline to a St.John article that Councilman Heystek was “shaken” by the verbal attacks of Souza and Saylor…editorial comment in a front page news article with a calculated subtext that Heystek is exhibiting a failure of nerve and immaturity. There are no surprises here. One point in this piece does make me uncomfortable. While I expect that Debbie Davis and not Claire makes the decision on stories to be covered, I hope that Claire is working to report the full facts and not insert editorial intepretations as to their meaning. The Enterprise editor does this often enough to our dismay and anger but this should not tempt us to demand reciprocity , no matter how tempting.. People’s Vanguard of Davis is the place for truthful alternative reporting to the Enterprise’s selective presentation of local events PLUS additional interpretation. It’s up to those who click on this website to decide whether we are “seeing” it clearly or not.

  6. davisite

    Debbie Davis makes the judgement as to what is to be covered. We all know where her political sympathies lie so it is no surprise not to see articles that puts The Enterprise’s council favorites in a bad light. In contrast,in September, Debbie Davis went out of her way to personally insert the subheadline to a St.John article that Councilman Heystek was “shaken” by the verbal attacks of Souza and Saylor…editorial comment in a front page news article with a calculated subtext that Heystek is exhibiting a failure of nerve and immaturity. There are no surprises here. One point in this piece does make me uncomfortable. While I expect that Debbie Davis and not Claire makes the decision on stories to be covered, I hope that Claire is working to report the full facts and not insert editorial intepretations as to their meaning. The Enterprise editor does this often enough to our dismay and anger but this should not tempt us to demand reciprocity , no matter how tempting.. People’s Vanguard of Davis is the place for truthful alternative reporting to the Enterprise’s selective presentation of local events PLUS additional interpretation. It’s up to those who click on this website to decide whether we are “seeing” it clearly or not.

  7. davisite

    Debbie Davis makes the judgement as to what is to be covered. We all know where her political sympathies lie so it is no surprise not to see articles that puts The Enterprise’s council favorites in a bad light. In contrast,in September, Debbie Davis went out of her way to personally insert the subheadline to a St.John article that Councilman Heystek was “shaken” by the verbal attacks of Souza and Saylor…editorial comment in a front page news article with a calculated subtext that Heystek is exhibiting a failure of nerve and immaturity. There are no surprises here. One point in this piece does make me uncomfortable. While I expect that Debbie Davis and not Claire makes the decision on stories to be covered, I hope that Claire is working to report the full facts and not insert editorial intepretations as to their meaning. The Enterprise editor does this often enough to our dismay and anger but this should not tempt us to demand reciprocity , no matter how tempting.. People’s Vanguard of Davis is the place for truthful alternative reporting to the Enterprise’s selective presentation of local events PLUS additional interpretation. It’s up to those who click on this website to decide whether we are “seeing” it clearly or not.

  8. davisite

    Debbie Davis makes the judgement as to what is to be covered. We all know where her political sympathies lie so it is no surprise not to see articles that puts The Enterprise’s council favorites in a bad light. In contrast,in September, Debbie Davis went out of her way to personally insert the subheadline to a St.John article that Councilman Heystek was “shaken” by the verbal attacks of Souza and Saylor…editorial comment in a front page news article with a calculated subtext that Heystek is exhibiting a failure of nerve and immaturity. There are no surprises here. One point in this piece does make me uncomfortable. While I expect that Debbie Davis and not Claire makes the decision on stories to be covered, I hope that Claire is working to report the full facts and not insert editorial intepretations as to their meaning. The Enterprise editor does this often enough to our dismay and anger but this should not tempt us to demand reciprocity , no matter how tempting.. People’s Vanguard of Davis is the place for truthful alternative reporting to the Enterprise’s selective presentation of local events PLUS additional interpretation. It’s up to those who click on this website to decide whether we are “seeing” it clearly or not.

  9. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    I assume you are referring to this line:

    “What the article on Wednesday does not mention is that it was more than “an idea.””

    What I meant was not her interpretation there, but rather provide us context by reminding us of the orientation of the policy. It did not start out as “an idea” it started out as a resolution which a strong recommendation for passage.

  10. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    I assume you are referring to this line:

    “What the article on Wednesday does not mention is that it was more than “an idea.””

    What I meant was not her interpretation there, but rather provide us context by reminding us of the orientation of the policy. It did not start out as “an idea” it started out as a resolution which a strong recommendation for passage.

  11. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    I assume you are referring to this line:

    “What the article on Wednesday does not mention is that it was more than “an idea.””

    What I meant was not her interpretation there, but rather provide us context by reminding us of the orientation of the policy. It did not start out as “an idea” it started out as a resolution which a strong recommendation for passage.

  12. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    I assume you are referring to this line:

    “What the article on Wednesday does not mention is that it was more than “an idea.””

    What I meant was not her interpretation there, but rather provide us context by reminding us of the orientation of the policy. It did not start out as “an idea” it started out as a resolution which a strong recommendation for passage.

  13. davisite

    No, not quite Doug.. perhaps I chose the wrong word, reciprocity when what I was meaning was equal opportunity to have editorial comment in our “favor”. The meaning and motivation of Saylor’s actions, the level of “generosity” that was appropriate would not be something that Claire should be writing about. Perhaps I am misreading what you were saying in this paragraph.

  14. davisite

    No, not quite Doug.. perhaps I chose the wrong word, reciprocity when what I was meaning was equal opportunity to have editorial comment in our “favor”. The meaning and motivation of Saylor’s actions, the level of “generosity” that was appropriate would not be something that Claire should be writing about. Perhaps I am misreading what you were saying in this paragraph.

  15. davisite

    No, not quite Doug.. perhaps I chose the wrong word, reciprocity when what I was meaning was equal opportunity to have editorial comment in our “favor”. The meaning and motivation of Saylor’s actions, the level of “generosity” that was appropriate would not be something that Claire should be writing about. Perhaps I am misreading what you were saying in this paragraph.

  16. davisite

    No, not quite Doug.. perhaps I chose the wrong word, reciprocity when what I was meaning was equal opportunity to have editorial comment in our “favor”. The meaning and motivation of Saylor’s actions, the level of “generosity” that was appropriate would not be something that Claire should be writing about. Perhaps I am misreading what you were saying in this paragraph.

  17. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    No I follow. Is it commentary to point out that Saylor was doing a parliamentary manuever in order to bring it back up for a vote when Ruth returned? I don’t think that’s commentary. In fact, at the time even St. John asked about it, so I’m told. When Trent Lott did it a few years ago the networks were reporting it.

    I guess there is a level of commentary, but that’s just news analysis. I don’t think what he did was inappropriate–I would have done it if I were in his place. My problem was that he was not honest about what he was doing. Now that would fall under editorializing and I agree with you.

    That’s my thought on that. But I see your point.

  18. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    No I follow. Is it commentary to point out that Saylor was doing a parliamentary manuever in order to bring it back up for a vote when Ruth returned? I don’t think that’s commentary. In fact, at the time even St. John asked about it, so I’m told. When Trent Lott did it a few years ago the networks were reporting it.

    I guess there is a level of commentary, but that’s just news analysis. I don’t think what he did was inappropriate–I would have done it if I were in his place. My problem was that he was not honest about what he was doing. Now that would fall under editorializing and I agree with you.

    That’s my thought on that. But I see your point.

  19. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    No I follow. Is it commentary to point out that Saylor was doing a parliamentary manuever in order to bring it back up for a vote when Ruth returned? I don’t think that’s commentary. In fact, at the time even St. John asked about it, so I’m told. When Trent Lott did it a few years ago the networks were reporting it.

    I guess there is a level of commentary, but that’s just news analysis. I don’t think what he did was inappropriate–I would have done it if I were in his place. My problem was that he was not honest about what he was doing. Now that would fall under editorializing and I agree with you.

    That’s my thought on that. But I see your point.

  20. Doug Paul Davis

    Hello Davisite:

    No I follow. Is it commentary to point out that Saylor was doing a parliamentary manuever in order to bring it back up for a vote when Ruth returned? I don’t think that’s commentary. In fact, at the time even St. John asked about it, so I’m told. When Trent Lott did it a few years ago the networks were reporting it.

    I guess there is a level of commentary, but that’s just news analysis. I don’t think what he did was inappropriate–I would have done it if I were in his place. My problem was that he was not honest about what he was doing. Now that would fall under editorializing and I agree with you.

    That’s my thought on that. But I see your point.

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