There is some interesting legislation that finally looks at tackling runaway state salaries. Assemblymember Anthony Portantino has introduced legislation that looks to freeze salaries, benefits, overtime, and compensation for those who make over $150,000. One group not directly addressed in this are UC Employees. The numbers are staggering at the top end. Well publicized is President Mark Yudof getting an annual salary last year of over $800,000.
“A 20% pay cut to UC’s 400 top executives would save $24.4 million, and would help the university do two critical things.”
Do the math there and you realize that 400 top executives are getting over $120 million, that is nearly three times what the same number of city employees are getting.
The Davis Enterprise has a nice article on the city budget where they again look at issues like employee salaries, comparative wages to other cities, and contract negotiations. All things we have covered this week already. They also have an Op-ed today that talks about the school funding situation, a call for salary cuts, and the fact that the district is not going to use one-time money this time to prevent layoffs. Again fairly similar to the op-ed we had yesterday.
While all of these seem interesting in some way, there is one topic we have touched on but not really gotten into in great detail. It has to do with city ordinances.
It seems we have dealt with two specific ordinances quite a bit recently. One is the noise ordinance which comes into play with the failure of the city to enforce it with regards to a day care center. Now it seems that the Mayor Pro Tem is trying to carry the water for the owner of said day care center to get such noise exempted.
The other is the variety of zoning codes and blight ordinances that apply to what is going on at Westlake. We had a pictorial display of the center on Wednesday. The city feels helpless, but they really need to step up and enforce what is on their books here. It seems this article may have an impact in that regard. We hear reports that the city is actually doing a bit more now to see what they can do with regards to the owners. Whether that will have an impact or not remains to be seen.
A few weeks ago, the Davis City Council considered a new tobacco ordinance, to limit tobacco oriented businesses. The issue pushed by the Mayor Pro Tem was looking into whether the council wished to pursue an ordinance related to tobacco paraphernalia or sex-oriented businesses. The council wisely decided not to forge into such territory.
Watching the failure of the city to enforce many of our current ordinances leads to me openly wonder if we should not have a moratorium on all new ordinances until the city can enforce the ordinances currently on the books.
What good does it do to have new laws if you cannot enforce the current ones? Everyone seemed to be either bewildered or bemused by revelations of the massage parlor sex going on, but that is already illegal–why do we need a new ordinance to deal with something already illegal? Drugs are already illegal, why are we going to crack down on a business that sells legal things in hopes that it will prevent people from using their products illegally? Does anyone really believe if we banned the sale of Hooka pipes, that people would stop using drugs? People are pretty innovative when it comes to breaking the law, it seems doubtful that would have much impact.
In the meantime, we have serious quality of life issues with regards to the noise coming from that day care center. It is distrubing to read through the stack of correspondence between those neighbors and the city from 1994 to the present and to see no action by the city. Don Saylor who is pushing the current exemption, could not even make the time to meet with the neighbors. He did not even bother to respond to their repeated letters. Why does the city need an exemption when they haven’t bothered to enforce the law to begin with? Meanwhile the neighbors have spent thousands just make their houses livable. This is not what Davis is supposed to be about.
In West Davis, we see the owners of the Westlake Plaza have run their establishment into the ground–quite literally. At one point there was a notice of violation posted over the issue of filling the cargo bay. It was never acted upon by the city. That cargo bay indicates a clear intent to violate the current city ordinance that requires a grocery store in that shopping center. The city could enforce that law but has chosen for whatever reason not to.
In the meantime, there are broken windows, collapsing ceilings, and a completely ripped up infrastructure. Many have suggested that the owners perhaps do not have money to make this project work with suitors such as the Delanos. What they perhaps fail to recognize is that most of the cost at this point is of their own doing. They ripped and gutted apart the inside of that store which is going to cost at least $1.5 million of their money to replace.
The city has allowed this property to sit vacant for nearly three years (May of 2006 is when Food Fair left). That is appalling. The other businesses are now sitting on the edge of the precipice. They will fall in. And that entire property may eventually sit vacant. The owners will lose money, but so will the city. And yet, to this point, the city has done virtually nothing.
So I think that the city is best off not passing anymore ordinances as it appears that enforcing the current ones is more than it can handle.
—David M. Greenwald reporting