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