The Vanguard Fights To Protect Anonymity of Commenters

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On July 27, 2009 The Vanguard received a notice from the legal department at Google.  The notice read:

“Google has received a civil subpoena for information related to your blog and anonymous comments posted on your blog. The case is entitled Calvin Chang v. Regents of University of California, Superior Court, County of Sacramento, State of California.”

The case involves a story posted on the Vanguard’s old Blogger site run through Google.  The article, “Former UC Davis Officer Claims Violation of Settlement Agreement” highlights the lawsuit that UC Davis Police Officer Calvin Chang brought against his former department and University in part for harassment and in part for a violation of a previous settlement agreement.  There were seven postings that were either anonymous or pseudonymous that according to Officer Chang might have originated from a former supervisor and therefore go to the heart of the case.

 

It continued:

“To comply with the law, unless you or an anonymous commenter provide us with a copy of a motion to quash the subpoena (or other formal objection filed in court) via email at legal-support@google.com by 5pm Pacific Time on August 16, 2009, Google will assume you do not have an objection to production of the requested information and may provide responsive documents on this date.”

It is interesting that Google’s de facto policy is to accede to the subpoena and provide the information.  However, from our standpoint, the Vanguard believes that the right to post anonymous is something that needs to be  protected and fought for.  It is for that reason that the Vanguard and its attorney, Don Mooney, have filed a motion to quash this subpoena.

It should also be noted that the Vanguard and myself are not unsympathetic to the case of Calvin Chang, however from the standpoint of the Vanguard, it is imperative to protect the identity of our posters.  Many have criticized the Vanguard’s willingness to allow anonymous individuals to write comments on the blog, but it has been a hallmark of the Vanguard since its inception to be a place where there can be a free flow of ideas that people would be free to publish without fear of retribution.  The ability of a court to release information about posters would strike at the very cord and threaten the integrity of this site.

After reviewing the comments themselves, it not even clear that these comments were made by any party to this case and we believe the risk to the integrity of this site, outweighs the benefit that the release of this information might provide.

As Attorney Don Mooney writes in the motion:

By this Subpoena it appears that Plaintiff is using his complaint against the UC Regents to go on a fishing expedition for information that is both irrelevant and constitutionally protected.  Plaintiff seeks the personal, identifying information of third parties that do not have any connection to Plaintiff’s suit against the Regents other than to have commented on a blog entry reporting information about the case.  Plaintiff’s subpoena seems to be nothing more than an attempt to intimidate those who have expressed a negative opinion about himself or his suit against the Regents.  As such, the Subpoena constitutes an abuse of the discovery process.

The motion also admonishes the Plaintiff for failure to properly notify the Vanguard as the owner of the site.

“There is no indication that Plaintiff even attempted to satisfy the notice requirements set forth in section 1985.3.  Plaintiff did not file any papers with the clerk of the court, did not post any information on the Vanguard, nor did he ever contact Mr. Greenwald to request his aid in notifying the commentators.  Furthermore, the Plaintiff failed to serve Mr. Greenwald with a copy of the Subpoena, despite the fact that the Subpoena seeks records pertaining to the Vanguard, Mr. Greenwald’s business, and his contact information is readily available.  While the commentators may have posted anonymously on the Vanguard, and thus may be difficult to contact, there were several possible avenues through which the Plaintiff could have at least attempted to comply with the notice requirements of section 1985.3, however it appears that he made no effort whatsoever to do so.”

Finally, Mr. Mooney rests his motion on the constitutional right to anonymous speech.

The United States Supreme Court has clearly stated that “an author is free to decide whether or not to disclose his or her true identity”.  (McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm. (1995) 514 U.S. 334, 341.)  Regardless of his or her reasons for wishing to remain nameless, the “interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry”.  (Id. at 342.)  “Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”  (Id.)  In the eyes of the Supreme Court, anonymity “exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation-and their ideas from suppression-at the hand of an intolerant society”.  (Id. at 357.)  Despite the possibility that a right to anonymous speech may be abused in some cases, “in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse”.  (Id.)

His statement captures the Vanguard’s view of the right anonymous and free speech.

Internet sites, including things like chat rooms and blogs, are merely an electronic alternative to traditional town meetings and public gatherings.  Those who wish to present their views and opinions in the historic types of public forum have always enjoyed the protections of the First Amendment – including protecting their identities if they choose to speak anonymously.  There is no compelling reason to support the notion that speakers in electronic versions of those same public forums should be denied equal protections under the First Amendment.  A rule that revokes the security afforded by a cloak of anonymity for those who choose to voice their opinions online would have a substantial and permanent chilling effect on open, candid speech in electronic public forums.  Such a result flies in the face of everything the Bill of Rights, and particularly the First Amendment, seeks to protect and promote.

He continues:

Protecting the identity of anonymous commentators is particularly important in instances similar to the situation at hand.  The Vanguard frequently provides reports on topics which are controversial and may potentially impact significant local interests in the City of Davis and Yolo County.  (Greenwald Decl., ¶ 6.)  The most likely commentators on these stories are members of those communities – residents, business owners, local politicians, etc…  (Id., ¶ 7.)  Many of those community members may feel compelled to express their opinions on subjects which either impact their lives or businesses, or about which they feel especially passionate; but would be reluctant to offer their views if they could not do so anonymously.  Their desire to remain nameless may stem from fear of retaliation by the community or harm to their economic interests, or it may simply be a wish to protect their personal privacy.  Regardless of their motivations, these citizens will be much more hesitant to contribute their thoughts and views to public discussions if there are only fleeting protections over their personal, identifying information.

Commentary

In July 2006 I created The People’s Vanguard of Davis.  I had two motivations.  First, in the aftermath of everything I had observed in the first part of 2006 that I shall not recount at this time, I believed Davis needed a new and independent voice that could report on things that were either not covered in the local paper, undercovered by the local paper, or clarify issues that were distorted during the course of the local paper’s coverage.  The second motivating factor was an observation that people were afraid to speak out and be heard for fear of retribution.  I wanted to create a place where anonymity could be valued and protected and where people could speak out without fear of social consequence or stigma.

During the course of the last three years there have been times when that policy has been inconvenient.  People have used the veil of anonymity to engage in uncivil discourse and character assassinations.  There have been many times where I have found myself questioning whether I should continue this policy.

However, whenever I examined my rationale I am reminded again of the original purpose for this site and the reasons why that policy was established to begin with.

Don Mooney writes that given these first amendment protections, “plaintiff has not made the prima facie showing of libel required to overcome first amendment protections for the anonymous comments on the Vanguard.”  Along those lines I am reminded of a comment when we first discussed in the summer of 2007 whether to end anonymous comments.  The person suggested that while we have many comments and often heated discussions, rarely do these discussions rise to the level of vitriol that would necessity the need to change policy.

Indeed in many ways this has been as challenging a week as any that we have encountered between the columns of a certain columnist, comments in that column by a certain elected officials, and comments on the blog questioning my position on a certain heated issue, and yet again I am reminded of the original mission of the Vanguard and remain steadfast in my belief that people ought to have a place and a public space to air their views without fear of personal retribution and there we remain as committed as ever to protecting the rights of people to post anonymously.

In this case, I fight for the principle even in a case where I support the overall goals of the plaintiff.  As I told Officer Chang personally, I wish him well in his case, I believe there is a good chance he was wronged in his employment and that his settlement agreement was unlawfully violated, but I must protect the integrity of everything I have built in the last three years.

—David M. Greenwald 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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77 thoughts on “The Vanguard Fights To Protect Anonymity of Commenters”

  1. Vanguardian

    Three cheers for the Vanguard! Sometimes I agree with you and sometimes I don’t, but I respect the fact that you are willing to fight for the right to free speech and right to remain anonymous. Thank you for the work you do.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    I expect to win this, so I don’t think that will be necessary. That said, I think it is advisable not to put potentially slanderous or libelous remarks on a public site especially pertaining to a pending or ongoing lawsuit.

  3. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]The second motivating factor was an observation that people were afraid to speak out and be heard for fear of retribution. I wanted to create a place where anonymity could be valued and protected and where people could speak out without fear of social consequence or stigma.[/i]

    If that was the intention, then you have miscalculated. If you had only allowed anonymous postings within reason, that would have been fine; in fact it would have been a good idea. Instead, most of the comments are anonymous, usually for no reason at all and sometimes clearly for bad reasons. As a result, you have fostered exactly the fear of retribution that you wanted to dispel.

    I don’t really want to post comments anonymously. If I honestly speak my mind often enough, my personality would show through anyway. It could create a guessing game and that distraction would take up way too much of my time.

    But if I post with my real name, then I have to worry about anonymous people casting about insults and otherwise trying to embarrass me. I don’t want that either. It does make me more reluctant to comment. For me personally it’s not that big of a deal on this site. If I worked for the city or if I were seriously involved in city politics, it would be a big deal.

    You have been reasonably attuned to violations of the Terms of Usage — when people heckle you. It’s a different story when the comments heckle Linda Katehi or Steven Souza or someone else who frustrates you. Although in your defense, it’s extremely difficult to be even-handed about this and you probably just don’t have the time to police so many anonymous comments.

    It’s interesting that you now have a sizable legal obligation to protect the identity of possibly hundreds of anonymous commenters. I certainly think that you and your lawyer are on the right side in the specific case of Calvin Chang. But that case is just one land mine in a huge field. In the end, I think that you have gone overboard with what could have been a principled stand.

  4. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Any posts that use profanity or engage in name-calling or other potentially slanderous attacks will be subject to deletion. Please keep your posts on topic to the extent possible.”[/i]

    I tend to agree with Greg’s comments above. Almost none of the posters who do so without providing their names are ever giving an opinion which would put their professional lives at stake. Rather, the tendency to post under a false name simply is an invitation to make mean-spirited comments about other members of our community, usually someone they don’t agree with politically.

    My opinion is that if a poster makes reference to someone else who lives or works in Davis in his post, and casts negative aspersions against that person, even if the aspersion does not rise to the level of slander, the post should be a violation of the Terms of Usage of this blog. If you don’t have the guts to use your own name, then you should not have the right to condemn other members of our community by name or by inference.

    Greg K. perhaps does not go far enough back on this blog to recall the worst of this abuse, but the very worst of it was directed at Sue Greenwald, where cowards hiding behind fake names were endlessly and meanly questioning her sanity. (I should say that I speak with Sue fairly often, and she is perfectly sane, very smart, well informed, and cares deeply about doing what is in the best interests of Davis.) I have no idea why, but David Greenwald (no relation to Sue) never removed those posts.

  5. Skip Harrison

    Perhaps the tone was set when the very originator of the blog masqueraded as DPD and later began to post under his real name. Even to this day many people refer to him on this blog as DPD.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    From the recent column, “The Puzzle of Souza’s Wildhorse Vote,” I picked out the following attacks made by cowards who post anonymously. Not one of them posted anonymously out of a rational fear of retribution. They post anonymously so their friends and neighbors remain unaware how mean-spirited they are:

    [b]Just lil ol’ me:[/b] “Could it be mid-life crisis power-tripping?”

    [b]SODA’ite:[/b] “I am beginning to believe you are biased from your friendships.”

    [b]Sue supporter:[/b] “Sue and Steve played to the cameras on the ‘poor us, it’s kinda late and we need to go to bed.’ Eileen was sitting in the back, passing them notes and urging them to delay (meaning give her more time to kill the project).”

    [b]Faux WOW Man:[/b] “Steve, you have no idea how much you damaged yourself on this project. It makes you look like basically a mean, spiteful, and disorganized member of the CC. … Should have known that your bitterness from the Covell Village knock-down would stay in your heart, waiting for the moment when you could try to get your revenge. As I saw the progressive support for this project grow, it was plain to me that it could likely result in you flipping, out of spite. … you sit up there with your nasty little grudge held close to your heart, and vote for project after project that have little redeming value to environmental issues, then you meet this one and try to kill it? … Yet here you are, self-proclaimed Mr. WOW Man, former Mr. Peace Activist, the Darling Boy of the Parks and Rec Commission, doing everything you can, including political extortion the day before the CC vote, to deprive the voters of taking a look at it? What a sad situation you placed yourself into, Mr. Faux WOW Man.”

    [b]Neoprogressive Watcher:[/b] “David Greenwald is clearly a card carrying member of the Parlin Development political and marketing team. What is being passed off here as “investigative reporting,” is just David laundering Parlin talking points. The pattern is becoming tedious.”

    [b]Ad Hominem attacks prove weakness:[/b] “Faux WOW Man – your vindictive and petty name calling is shameful. You sound like a jealous teenager and any reasonable statements in your rant collapse under the weight of your ridiculous behavior. Go sit in the corner until you can form a logically sound argument.”

    [b]Winning a J Vote:[/b] “The County Sup race is going to be interesting. Sue wants to run? her opposition to this project feels like a direct attack on all of the environmental programs that so many of us have fought for. She will have a committee all right, a committe of one, because the rest of her supporters are going to be taking a pass, or endorsing Don Saylor, or at least quietly voting for him. He is going to run on the greenest project that Davis has seen in over 30 years, since Village Homes, and Sue is sitting on the dais in the forums, having to explain away her horrible vote on a mere technicality (“poor me, I could not get my homework done, it’s too late, I have to go to bed now” !!) ?????”

    [b]Another Way of Looking At It:[/b] “Perhaps Souza is in the pocket of Whitcomb, who does not want to see WHR succeed, bc it will be that much harder to push through Covell Village Redux?”

    [b]To DG:[/b] “I don’t think the concern is that you are a “pawn” of the developers. Given the interactions between Ritter & Associates, The Vanguard, and Parlin Development, the concern is that you are partnered with the developers.”

    [b]Disgusted but alone?:[/b] “You (DG) are again being intellectually dishonest with your arguments; you decry the fact that the Council hastily improved the project, but make no objections to Lamar Heystek’s “12th hour” motion to move the project to a Measure J vote even after Ruth had concerns; then you say that the “applicant” had no control in the process, yet clearly Ruth asks the developer (John Tallman) his “choice” as to whether thet preferred a Nov or later election (April or June), and he tells her to proceed with Lamar’s motion (Nov election, with less of a turnout, and greater chance for them for approval); stop your one-sided criticism of Sue Greenwald, Souza, Dunning; and just for once all and declare your unabashed support for this project, due to you and your wife’s affiliation with Bill Ritter…you are a truly dishonest “investigative reporter.”

    [b]Joe developer:[/b] “Matt, where have you been!! We developers love your fiscal logic. Keep it up so we can use it in our next big project!”

  7. Sharla cheney

    Rich – I attempted to remove the worst of the posts about Sue but was severly chastised for censoring people’s comments on the blog and in person. I resigned from monitoring responsibilities after that. This was early on when there seemed to be people trolling the Internet to see how offensive they could be and David asked a few people to monitor the blog and remove the posts. Sort of like cleaning up graffiti. The posts addressing Sue’s mental status had crossed the line, in my opinion, but I took some heat for removing them. After that, I believe David brought on an advisory board to address this and other issues. I would prefer that people use their names when posting. If people want to be allowed to post annonymously, then a certain amount of censureship is neccessary to limit abuse. I always laugh when someone complains about their annonymous offensive post being removed. They just don’t get that they need to convey their idea in a different way.

  8. nym

    the EFF is your friend,
    having brought about for all to freely use:
    [url]www.torproject.org[/url]

    Readers wishing to understand techical aspects of anonymity may also wish to consume things from [url]www.2600.com[/url] … pore thru the free archive of Off The Hook radio shows to find discussions of [u]tor[/u].

    And if youre as yet unaware, [url]www.slashdot.org[/url] is indispensable.

  9. Frankly

    [quote]I tend to agree with Greg’s comments above. Almost none of the posters who do so without providing their names are ever giving an opinion which would put their professional lives at stake. Rather, the tendency to post under a false name simply is an invitation to make mean-spirited comments about other members of our community, usually someone they don’t agree with politically.[/quote]
    I completely disagree. Although certainly a higher percentage of anonymous bloggers lack tack, nuance and civility, I don’t think they are cowards; they are more likely passionate realists sensing personal and professional risk from the tyranny of political correctness police (in Davis, that would be the majority), or they are just pissed off. The fallout from the passing of prop-8 should be a lesson to everyone that some special interest groups will gleefully and tirelessly work to destroy the lives and careers of those they suspect disagree.

    It seems the political and social debate in this country is growing more acrimonious as the sakes increase. I think we all need to learn the art of respectful and non-personal debate, while we also grow thicker skin which enables us to extract the real meaning from the less artistic and more rancorous whom wishes to remain anonymous.

    However, until that happens, I see the value of a community blog as a place to capture the overall opinion flavor of the community. And so I value all posts… even crude rants from anonymous sources. David can certainly decide to disallow anonymous postings, but then it would be a different blog.

  10. rick entrikin

    David: Nothing more effective than potential litigation to incite us to scurry to our burrows. You’ve done a great job (and only three years?).

    You & Vanguard are such a large part of our community fabric that it seems you have been with us for decades(i.,e., you should have been; we needed you as part of our community), and now you are.

    Keep up the good fight & the good work.

    Thanks for everything you do.

  11. To Rich Rifkin

    Rick Rifkin wrote:[quote]cowards who post anonymously[/quote]So, Rich, ad hominem attacks are OK as long as you use your own name?

    Somehow I prefer the raw dialog (coming largely) from anonymous posters to this kind of sanctimonious pap.

    David Greenwald wrote:[quote]yet again I am reminded of the original mission of the Vanguard and remain steadfast in my belief that people ought to have a place and a public space to air their views without fear of personal retribution and there we remain as committed as ever to protecting the rights of people to post anonymously[/quote]I sincerely applaud David for sticking to this ideal, and providing a place to safely discuss politically charged issues (particularly those involving potential corruption and duplicity within the progressive community) … even though he has to endure the discomfort of routinely being hoisted on his own petard.

  12. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]So, Rich, ad hominem attacks are OK as long as you use your own name? [/quote]Let me fill you in on the English language. An “ad hominem” attack is made against a man (or a woman). An attack [i]cannot[/i] be ad hominem if it is made against a pseudonym. Therefore, my calling people who attack others while hiding behind a fake name cowards is not in itself ad hominem. Yet even if you don’t understand common English and insist an attack against a pseudonym is [i]ad hominem,[/i] then I would say, “Yes, it is okay, as long as it is made in response to an attack which was launched against a real, live member of our community.”

  13. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]I don’t think they are cowards; they are more likely passionate realists sensing personal and professional risk from the tyranny of political correctness police [/quote]This is unsupported by the facts, Jeff. Is it in the name of political incorrectness when someone anonymously attacks someone else (admittedly, attacking another pseudonym in this case), by saying, “You sound like a jealous teenager and any reasonable statements in your rant collapse under the weight of your ridiculous behavior. Go sit in the corner until you can form a logically sound argument”?

    The only anonymous poster I can think of who was, for Davis, strictly bucking the politically correct line in a thread (or in this person’s case, numerous threads) was the person who adamantly attacked the California Supreme Court’s original ruling on gay marriage and later supported the proposition which overturned it. Perhaps there are others, but that is the one which comes to mind.

    Most anonymous posters and pseudonymous posters write nothing offensive. I tend to think they fear ridicule more than retribution, because they don’t know how to coherently articulate their views.

    However, the minority of people who hide behind a false name attack members of our community — calling Sue crazy or questioning David’s motives for his opinions or attacking some member of the city staff whom they deem malevolent — are cowards in my view. I think they don’t have the guts to put their name behind these vicious opinions.

  14. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]I forgot to mention pedantic pap. [/quote]More evidence of the cowardice of the anonymous posters. He’s a gutless coward. He’s afraid of being exposed for who he is. Jeff Boone perhaps considers this poltroon someone who is a “realist sensing personal and professional risk from the tyranny of political correctness police.” Really? How in hell does he face personal and political risk calling me names?

  15. To Rich Rifkin

    I did [u]not[/u] call you names. I said your attacks of anonymous posting were sanctimonious and pedantic pap.

    You, however, have called me a:
    1) gutless coward
    2) poltroon

  16. Anonymous

    Drawing the line between destructive and uncivil remarks and unpleasant but valid truths is indeed very difficult, but it is important. When a discussion degenerates into absurd personal attacks, people stop reading the blog. But if all reference to personal behavior and motivation are censored, important issues involving elected officials or candidates or other citizens who influence policy decisions would remain unexplored or unexplained.

    For example, saying that Sue Greenwald is crazy or Don Saylor is a sociopath is personal slander. However, even that is a gray area. If Adolph Hitler were our leader, shouldn’t we be able to point out that he is crazy and a sociopath? For example, if Ruth Asmundson is petty, rude, not following council procedure and is treating the public and various members of the city council unfairly during meetings, then the public, who by and large don’t watch the meetings, would have no way of knowing that she has been a bad mayor. But, if we allow this, there is no way to keep people from making the false statement that Lamar Heystek is petty, rude and insulting during meetings.

    If an elected leader or political activist is committed to furthering the agenda of special interests or one or many developers, this is important for people to know. But discussing it will certainly involve some remarks which will sound personally insulting to those who like the elected leader or political activist.

    These are very tough issues to grapple with.

    In the end, a blog will gain a reputation based on the accuracy, honesty and insightfulness with which issues are covered, and the judgment employed when discerning which remarks are useless and crude, and which are negative but important to the discussion at hand. Finally, blogs are usually more interesting when the blogger has an up front, clear and consistent political position.

  17. Technically

    “You, however, have called me a …”

    How can he call you anything when he doesn’t know who you are? He called your moniker and persona names, but not you.

  18. The Cowardly Lion

    To Jeff Boone:[quote]I don’t think they are cowards; they are more likely passionate realists sensing personal and professional risk from the tyranny of political correctness police[/quote]Jeff: I completely agree, and think your position [u]is[/u] supported by the facts.

    As previous posters have pointed out, I would explain why I agree with you, except that I can’t coherently articulate my views. Also, being a coward, I’m very afraid of ridicule from the people that post under their own names.

    On a more serious note, I would also highlight another part of your comment (don’t you just love it when people validate your contribution to the dialog instead of dismissing your entire post out of hand with a little lecture)[quote]some special interest groups will gleefully and tirelessly work to destroy the lives and careers of those they suspect disagree[/quote]This sums up the play book of some elements in the Davis progressive community pretty well (just read the articles and comments on Don Saylor). It’s a very real problem. I chose to post anonymously rather than be driven from the public square. While I admit that the veil of anonymity does tend to somewhat relax the normal rhetorical constraints, that goes with the territory and (at least in the opinion of some) makes the blog more interesting and informative.

    I realize that these views are highly offensive to the political correctness police, so … let the bloviating begin!

  19. The Cowardly Lion

    To Anonymous,[quote]If an elected leader or political activist is committed to furthering the agenda of special interests or one or many developers, this is important for people to know. But discussing it will certainly involve some remarks which will sound personally insulting to those who like the elected leader or political activist.[/quote]IMO this is the root source of the vitriol being directed at anonymous posting. Unless you are Bob Dunning, most of us aren’t in a position to withstand the personal and professional consequences of daring to discuss this under our real names. It’s like a Republican questioning the war in Iraq during the Bush administration.

  20. To Rich

    Rich, you listed some “attacks” that you thought were not appropriate. I agree with you on a couple of them, but some of them are right-on-the-money political analysis. Hey, Steve chose to call Parlin the day before the election, after refusing to meet or talk with them for two weeks, and make a list of project-killing demands. (Flat out political extrotion.)

    Both of them had made up their minds long before to vote against the project. Everyone knew it …. and then they sit up there and complain about the hour as an excuse?? Rich, dont give them a pass about this.

    Sue chose not to vote for the greenest project in 30 years. Don is walking right into that Sups job. Everyone knows it. It’s almost like … Sue is flopping back and forth to run or not, so psychologically she is using her vote-down-the-next-Village-Homes tactic to destroy her chances of running and winning. She knew it before going into that 7/28 CC meeting. Everyone knew it.

    Steve chose to call himself Mr. Wow, and then he gets to vote on real wow, and turns to dishonest political mush.

    Rich, those people want to sit up there and vote, then they have better vote with valid points. Hey, if you are Suzie Boyd, and you vote 100% for every project “because we need more housing,” then at least that is a valid and straightforward point of view. You voted for Suzie, you knew what you were getting.

    In contrast to Suzie’s “what you see is what you get,” in my view, Steve and Sue’s trashing the developer for the late hour of the project is simply political cynicism and gamesmanship at its worst. Parlin had nothing to do with that time slot.

    Did anonymous posters on this Blog force Mr. Wow into his crazy vote, full of open and obvious hyprocracy? No! He did it to himself.

    So give us a break. Most of the comments are true, and politically right on the money.

  21. Anonymous

    Shortly before the vote on the Wildhorse Horse Ranch, Mike Harrington called me over to his table at the Farmers’ Market and said that if I supported the Parlin project, I would have the support of himself and the rest of his “progressive” crowd for a campaign the county supervisor position.

    I told him that I was offended by this quid pro quo offer, and its’ implication that they would not support me if I did not vote for the project.

    Make note: The Board of Supervisors controls growth the county land surrounding surrounding Davis. The last I heard, Parlin owns land in the Northwest quadrant, which is county land to the northwest Davis. Assuming that Parlin still owns that land, the next supervisor will also be in a position to help Parlin develop that land.

    Why does it not surprise to read posts such as the one above, and others recently, stating and/or implying that I would not have support to run for the board of supervisors because I opposed this project.

  22. Anonymous

    The above post by Anonymous 7:30 p.m. exemplifies the reason that anonymity has its uses. What if, hypothetically, Sue Greenwald had written that post? Although the issues above are substantive, if Sue Greenwald had written and signed post, she would have become the issue, and the ideas would have fallen by the wayside. The discussion of the difficulty of drawing the line between destructive and uncivil remarks and unpleasant but valid truths would have ceased.

    I have not decided how I feel about the issue of anonymity. It is a very interesting question.

  23. David M. Greenwald

    I intentionally and also unintentionally held back from discussing until now. Unintentionally because I had other engagements during the day, but intentionally because I wanted to see where the discussion would go.

    Sharla describes well a problem that emerged early on in the blog. One thing to remember and bear in mind is that this has always been kind of a work in progress, where I am feeling my way along. I would like to think we have all learned from that early experience and for the most part have avoided those pitfalls.

    There are really difficult decisions in terms of what to delete and what to not delete. I have always tried to err on the side of leaving stuff up. Public figures, particularly elected officials such as Sue, Lamar, Don, etc. are always more tricky because there is not the expectation of privacy and there is an expectation of greater scrutiny and ability to criticize.

    I have also tried to leave all posts up attacking and criticizing me, much to the consternation of my mother who gets very offended at times when people say some of the things they do. I have found I am rarely offended by things people say unless I both know and respect the individual’s opinion. But the bottom line is that I certainly dish out a lot of criticism here and I expect to take it in return and generally it is not a problem.

    I understand Rich’s point that most anonymous posts really do not need to be. I agree. I think most people can and should post under their own name. I think people who do get more credibility certainly in terms of information provided and definitely in terms of an opinion. I suppose that if one established a single moniker and used it over time consistently and developed a reputation, one could bypass that issue. That’s something for people to consider.

    On Doug Paul Davis, I used the moniker for a lot of reasons early, the chief one is that I was teaching at the time and did not want my students to stumble on stuff. But there was also a element that I did not fully trust the Davis public after I saw what my wife went through in early 2006 and some of the horrible things people said about her in public, in the newspapers, and in private. I was not ready to become a face yet and it was only over time that I became more comfortable in that role. I have always in a way been a shy and private person and really not sought the spotlight, but as time went on it became more and more onerous to continue to use the moniker and I found myself having to explain to new people the use of the pen name. By that time, it was a well known fact and I simply found it easier to drop the pen though.

    Finally, I think there are occasions that do require anonymity and at the end of the day, to protect those situations, it enables people to use it for less necessary persons and even abuse it.

    I think most posters here are extremely intelligent and discerning and for the most part cheap shots are treated as they should be or ignored altogether.

    I guess in the end, I am proud of what I have created without giving much forethought on July 30, 2006, and in a way this is a good summation for the beginning of the fourth year of the Vanguard.

  24. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I think most people can and should post under their own name. … Finally, I think there are occasions that do require anonymity and at the end of the day[/i]

    Great. That’s all that any of us are asking for. All that you have to do to bring things closer to this ideal is to require commenters to register. And when they register, you can have a message such as “We prefer that you use your real name in most cases. You can register under a pseudonym if it is important.”

    The interface that you have now doesn’t do this. Despite the “Terms of Usage”, what the interface says is, “Look how easy it is to post anonymously. You could also use your real name if you prefer that. Or you could register, although it’s a bit of a hassle.”

    [i]But there was also a element that I did not fully trust the Davis public after I saw what my wife went through in early 2006 and some of the horrible things people said about her in public, in the newspapers, and in private.[/i]

    The anonymous potshots in the Davis Vanguard against city councilmembers and city staff have gone a long way towards evening the score.

    Jeff Boone describes the people who write these things as “passionate realists”. I don’t see what kind of realism would lead someone to say that a city councilmember is having a midlife crisis. It’s passionate all right, but is this “passion” sincere? Some of these hecklers probably think of Davis politics as a big joke. They aren’t necessarily part of “the community” either; some of them might only have lived in Davis a while back.

    [i]I suppose that if one established a single moniker and used it over time consistently and developed a reputation, one could bypass that issue. That’s something for people to consider.[/i]

    Absolutely! Even if it weren’t the real name, it would help. But it’s impossible to do if you don’t require registration, because anyone else can borrow and distort a carefully constructed reputation simply by using the same moniker.

  25. Matt Williams

    I second Greg’s thoughts, especially with respect to consistent use of the same pseudonym. Right now things are a bit like the Tower of Babel. In the old Blog davisite was a regular poster. I miss his/her dulcet tones. It may well be that s/he is still posting, but with many voices.

    I may frequently disagree with the substance and/or tone of Neoprogressive Watcher’s posts, but I do admire the way that s/he gives all of us the benefit of seeing the continuity in those posts.

    David, would it be hard to implement Greg’s suggestion? People who are really concerned about being “outed” would probably desire the option of changing their registered pseudonym periodically, but hopefully your website technical team could accomodate that.

  26. The truth is $$$$$$$

    David makes his money every time somebody logs on , so if you had to post your real name ,this blog would have only 10 – 15 posters . That’s why real names don’t matter .

  27. David M. Greenwald

    It would be possible to do. Matt Rexroad told me that once he required registration that comments dwindled to a handful. Based on his experience, I am reluctant to institute a registration policy. Also it wouldn’t preclude people from multiple log in accounts.

  28. David M. Greenwald

    “David makes his money every time somebody logs on , so if you had to post your real name ,this blog would have only 10 – 15 posters . That’s why real names don’t matter .”

    That’s certainly not true, I have no made a single cent off this site, ever.

  29. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]It would be possible to do. Matt Rexroad told me that once he required registration that comments dwindled to a handful. Based on his experience, I am reluctant to institute a registration policy. Also it wouldn’t preclude people from multiple log in accounts.[/i]

    Then let’s consider smaller steps in this direction. First, obviously the “Terms of Usage” link isn’t serving its intended purpose. People just click the box without even reading it — we all have to sign zillions of Terms of Usage agreements and they have become just so much fine print.

    So instead, why don’t you have a short statement under the comment box that (1) you would prefer real names unless there is a reason to be anonymous, and (2) people should stay civil. If you keep it short and put it right there on the page, people might notice it more than a hyperlink followed by a lot of blah blah.

    Second, if you don’t want to require registration — and Matt Rexroad’s experience is a valid concern — you could at least label the registered and unregistered names differently in the comments. It could be as simple as changing the font color of the name, or putting “(unregistered)” under an unregistered name.

    It’s true that people can register multiple times. But (1) this is not about what is possible for users to do, but about what is the most convenient. (2) If you label the registered comments differently then people will have the chance to create a reputation for a pseudonym, as you suggest that they should.

  30. All For Anonymity

    This town has a reputation for character assassination of opponents on any particular issue. Speak out against the wrong person, and you’re cannon fodder for target practice. A commissioner can be removed who speaks their mind too ardently. A businessman can be ruined. His/her reputation destroyed. The cloak of anonymity allows commissioners, business people, politicians to voice their true feelings, w/o fear of retaliation.

    How much is identified public comment revered in this town? Do CC members listen to public comment, or look extremely bored and ready to move on at the earliest possible convenience? To some on the CC, public comment is more of a nuisance factor than anything. Yet how much more effective has the Davis Vanguard anonymous public comment been? It has actually caused the local newspaper – the Davis Enterprise – to report on controversial stories it otherwise might not have covered. CC members have deigned to defend themselves and their decisions on this blog. So the blog must be serving its purpose – to improve the community dialogue, TO GIVE THE OPPRESSED A VOICE.

    “Instead, most of the comments are anonymous, usually for no reason at all and sometimes clearly for bad reasons.”

    Who decides whether the reason for posting anonymously is good enough to suit the self-appointed name police (Rich and Greg)? Suffice it to say, the number of comments would dwindle to almost nothing if posters are not allowed anonymity. As I stated above, there are many good reasons for not putting one’s name to a post.

    I have been on the receiving end of being vilified in this town, and it can get quite ugly. Until the Davis Vanguard came along, it was almost impossible to fight back. DPD and his wife know what that is like, as do too many others in this town.

    “I picked out the following attacks made by cowards who post anonymously. Not one of them posted anonymously out of a rational fear of retribution.”

    Says who, you? So who died and appointed you the arbiter of all things right and relevant? I think much of what you cited are pithy statements that bring into focus some of the real issues in this town – the interconnections between the media, politicians and developers. These groups need to be called on those interconnections. If a commissioner, businessman, or politician were to take a principaled stand against a developer, all sorts of pressure would be brought to bear to have that person vilified and removed. Developers don’t play by any rules.

  31. Matt Williams

    [quote]David Greenwald said . . .

    It would be possible to do. Matt Rexroad told me that once he required registration that comments dwindled to a handful. Based on his experience, I am reluctant to institute a registration policy. Also it wouldn’t preclude people from multiple log in accounts.[/quote]
    I’m not sure whether Matt allowed pseudonyms when he instituted his policy. I can easily see that kind of drop with a “real names only” policy, but wouldn’t expect a drop off with pseudonyms allowed.

  32. Matt Williams

    A Question for those who use a variety of different pseudonyms . . . why don’t you use the same pseudonym every time?

    A Question for those who type “anonymous” in the name box . . . why do you use such an uncreative pseudonym?

    Seeing a pseudonym like Neoprogressive Watcher” or Fed-Up or tenements or Tallulah or davisite causes me to read that post a bit more closely, and take the post a bit more seriously.

  33. earoberts

    “A Question for those who use a variety of different pseudonyms . . . why don’t you use the same pseudonym every time?”

    If I am too consistent, you might eventually be able to figure out who I am. Also, if I want to make it appear there are more posters for my viewpoint, I will “game the system”. There are tactics involved in blogging. If I use the same label, if you are against that viewpoint, you WON’T TAKE MY COMMENT AS SERIOUSLY. For example, if I use the pseudonym “Conservative”, many will dismiss my comments out of hand. Better to change it up, and use a pseudonym that fits the particular issue, for instance “Against densification” on WHR.

    “A Question for those who type “anonymous” in the name box . . . why do you use such an uncreative pseudonym?”

    I’ll tend to use the pseudonym “Anon” when I want to appear absolutely neutral and unbiased. Also, if I don’t want to take any chance of my comment being identified. As I said, there is a lot of strategy involved in blogging, that is quite subtle, but can be very effective to frame the argument. The same sort of nuanced selling that goes on in political ads.

  34. wdf

    “David makes his money every time somebody logs on , so if you had to post your real name ,this blog would have only 10 – 15 posters . That’s why real names don’t matter.”

    That’s a more cynical view that David answered above.

    The amount of trolling that goes on here is typically minimal compared to many other open blogs.

    As long as it stays that way, then allowing anonymous/pseudonymous postings promotes more different viewpoints and constructive discussion. It’s more helpful for developing the best possible community consensus to have a forum for optimal viewpoints.

    Rexroad’s blog is interesting to read for his postings if you’re open to them. But his is not a place for community discussion. Comments are minimal and more often agree w/ his viewpoints.

    The Vanguard usually has interesting articles and lively discussion. David’s rules permitting anonymous and moniker comments definitely allow for that.

  35. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]If I use the same label, if you are against that viewpoint, you WON’T TAKE MY COMMENT AS SERIOUSLY.[/i]

    That’s beautiful: Multiply what you have to say by 20 different pseudonyms, so that you’ll be taken more seriously. You wouldn’t want anyone to dismiss your wisdom as just one person’s opinion.

    While we’re at it, “Concerned Davis resident” would be a fabulous pseudonym for a developer based in Stockton. It’s a great way to be taken more seriously. Especially if you think of 20 variations so that it sounds like 20 concerned Davis residents.

    This is exactly what’s wrong with having 80% anonymous comments.

  36. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]then allowing anonymous/pseudonymous postings promotes more different viewpoints and constructive discussion.[/i]

    Again, wdf, no one is against allowing it. The question is, allowed in what style. Allowing pseudonyms is fine. Unintentionally encouraging them, to the point of chasing away real names, is a problem.

  37. Matt Williams

    [quote]ANON said . . .

    1) If I am too consistent, you might eventually be able to figure out who I am.

    2) Also, if I want to make it appear there are more posters for my viewpoint, I will “game the system”. There are tactics involved in blogging.

    3) If I use the same label, if you are against that viewpoint, you WON’T TAKE MY COMMENT AS SERIOUSLY. For example, if I use the pseudonym “Conservative”, many will dismiss my comments out of hand. Better to change it up, and use a pseudonym that fits the particular issue, for instance “Against densification” on WHR.

    4) I’ll tend to use the pseudonym “Anon” when I want to appear absolutely neutral and unbiased.

    5) Also, if I don’t want to take any chance of my comment being identified.

    6) As I said, there is a lot of strategy involved in blogging, that is quite subtle, but can be very effective to frame the argument. The same sort of nuanced selling that goes on in political ads.[/quote]
    1) I seriously hope your health insurance coverage covers treatments for runaway paranoia.

    2) Sounds like stuffing the ballot box to me. Do you do that as well?

    3) That would only be true if a person reads your post from the perspective of a mind that is already made up. Is that how you read the posts made here and in other blogs?

    4) If there ever was a time for posting with your real name, that would be it. How can anyone hold an absolutely neutral and unbiased point of view against you?

    5) See 1) above.

    6) You see this blog as a political campaign. I see it as an educational forum for discussion. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

  38. Cowaldly Lion

    I agree with “ANON”, “All for Anonymity”, “E Roberts Musser”, “Anonymous(@7:30pm)”, and Jeff Boone. I would also point out that, although his statements are heavily qualified, David Greenwald basically supports the same position.

    The elephant in the room that is not being discussed …

    Is it OK that Ritter & Associates posts anonymously under multiple psuedonyms in support of WHR, posing as a group of “progressives” without disclosing the conflict of interest? Let’s assume for the sake of discussion, it’s being done “nicely” so as not to offend the PCP (political correctness police).

  39. Matt Williams

    CL, you’ve chosen to use a consistent pseudonym. does that mean you also partially agree with greg and me that there is value to discourse with continuity?

    Regarding the elephant, do you think a different standard should apply to R&A than applies to ANON?

    My personal perspective is that elephants shouldn’t be treated any differently than anyone else. I would even go further to say that R&A would actually increase the credibility of any arguments they post if they made those posts under a consistent identifiable registered name.

    FWIW, I’ve always thought that decisions get made based on a blend of facts issues and feelings issues, and that there is in general no clearly discernable difference in the merits of facts issues vs. feelings issues. With that said, to the casual observer the arguments against WHR appear to be much more feelings-based, while the arguments for WHR appear to be much more facts-based. Does anyone else see it that way?

  40. jeff shaw

    Hey David- not sure if you are still using Blogger or Blogspot which is owned by Google since you have the new site. Anyway, if you are, you and everybody that posts here does indeed fall with the “terms of service” laid out by Google:
    http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS

    and summarized a bit by Blogger:
    http://www.blogger.com/terms.g

    Anytime people use these “free” things on the internet, you are usually signing away quite a few rights you might assume you have otherwise.

    Anyway, for instance here is point #3 in the above link:

    “You agree that Google may access or disclose your personal information, including the content of your communications, if Google is required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process or governmental request (such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order), or as otherwise provided in these Terms of Service and the general Google Privacy Policy.”

    So, if you are using their service, you have agreed to their terms, which I’m about to do when I check the box below this comment.

    Jeff

  41. The Cowardly Lion

    [quote]CL, you’ve chosen to use a consistent pseudonym. does that mean you also partially agree with greg and me that there is value to discourse with continuity?[/quote]Yes. I believe there is definite value to discourse with continuity, particularly within a given thread. Do I take it the next step and agree that persistent pseudonyms should be required for anonymous posting? No. First, it can’t be enforced. Second, it often becomes obvious to many of the cognoscenti who the poster behind a particular pseudonym is (case in point, the self-described “reformed” coward Yolo Watcher).

    [quote]Regarding the elephant, do you think a different standard should apply to R&A than applies to ANON?[/quote]Nope. But that’s not the question.

    I’m specifically asking how people feel about R&A hiding behind anonymity to “manipulate” the dialog and promote a development project. In this case, multiple transient pseudonyms are being used to create an illusion of popular support.

    [quote]I would even go further to say that R&A would actually increase the credibility of any arguments they post if they made those posts under a consistent identifiable registered name.[/quote]They already do – the posts are under the name David Greenwald. The Vanguard’s WHR advocacy has depth, polish, thoughtfulness, coordination of message, and access to insider information so far outside the norm of reporting and commentary that it is hard to reach any other conclusion, particularly given the known connections and shared agendas between the parties.

    [quote]the arguments against WHR appear to be much more feelings-based, while the arguments for WHR appear to be much more facts-based.[/quote]With respect to my opposition, I couldn’t disagree more.

  42. David M. Greenwald

    Thanks Jeff. That will be an interesting point to decide. I interpret that to mean that Google is saying they won’t fight such orders, makes sense.

    Just for the record, this site is owned and operated now by the Vanguard and Hathway Tech, so that’s not an issue anymore.

  43. intolerance

    Unfortunately a good number of Davis residents are very intolerant of divergent opinions.

    I learned long ago not to talk about my political opinions when they vary from the Davis norm.

    One third of Davis residents voted for McCain, but how many do you know? They are keeping quiet.

    They know that if they put a bumper sticker on their car then it would get vandalized.

    They know that many Davis residents wouldn’t want to socialize with them.

    We live in a small minded mean spirited town, unfortunately.

    That’s why anonymous comments are useful.

  44. luv rexroad

    Rexroad did the right thing when he required registration and to give him all your personal info before being allowed to post. He used to be consistently challenged on his rightwing stances, but once he required registration, all his comments dwindled to bootlickers. Go Matt!

  45. Actually

    McCain did not get a third of the vote in Davis. In fact, he did not even get a third of the vote in Yolo County. In Davis, he got less than 20% of the vote.

    LINK ([url]http://www.yoloelections.org/sites/elections/archives/20081104/273.html[/url])

  46. Matt Williams

    [quote]The Cowardly Lion said . . .

    Nope. But that’s not the question.

    I’m specifically asking how people feel about R&A hiding behind anonymity to “manipulate” the dialog and promote a development project. In this case, multiple transient pseudonyms are being used to create an illusion of popular support.[/quote]
    CL, two points. First, you are using a broader definition of R&A than I am. By your definition R&A includes dozens of people . . . essentially every client Bill has ever had, and then some. You also appear to be saying that they are driven by how Bill connects to them rather than by how the project and its components connects with them. Is that right?

    Second, I think I’m a relatively discerning person, and not particularly a pollyanna. David and I have had numerous conversations about this project, its components and what it could mean for the future of Davis. Our first conversation centered around the different ways this project appealed to our individual principles. For me the #1 attraction was the potential that this project would truly provide attainable ownership housing for the Davis workforce. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times more, the past 10 years of housing added to Davis have consistently treated the Davis workforce as step-children . . . or worse. David was equally clear to me that he saw this project as a real and tangible connection to the environmentally-responsible legacy of Village Homes . . . a legacy that has been dormant for well over 10 years. David was very clear that he saw this as a real opportunity to both recapture that “green line” and set 90% GHG reduction as the standard for all Davis housing going forward.

    I had no problem with that. I support it as well. It isn’t my #1 criteria, but it isn’t far behind my #1. Nowhere in anything that David said or felt did I see a blinking sign “R&A, R&A, R&A” I simply saw someone who believed that there was an opportunity to achieve a Greater Good for Davis, both now and in the future.

    Ironically enough, when I talked to Pam Neiberg about the project I saw that same excitement and fire in her.

    [quot]They already do – the posts are under the name David Greenwald. The Vanguard’s WHR advocacy has depth, polish, thoughtfulness, coordination of message, and access to insider information so far outside the norm of reporting and commentary that it is hard to reach any other conclusion, particularly given the known connections and shared agendas between the parties.[/quote]
    Isn’t that an assumption on your part? If we work backward in time, which of the following articles do you believe R&A wrote?

    * Dev Sentenced To 378 Years in Prison
    * The Vanguard Fights To Protect Anonymity of Commenters
    * Report Said To Exonerate Katehi
    * The Puzzle of Souza’s Wildhorse Vote
    * Legislative Counsel Opinion Suggests Governor Overstepped Authority on Line Item Vetoes
    * What Became of the Davis Teen Center
    * Is Davis Doing Enough to Help the Downtown?
    * Guest Commentary: Welcome to Davis! – A Free-Burning, Toxic Wood Smoke Laboratory! Part II
    * Fifth Street Project Could Get SACOG Money
    * On a Strange Night, a Strange Coalition of Three Supports Wildhorse Ranch
    * Odd Staff Report Recommends Go-Head with Wildhorse Ranch Project
    * Late Meeting on Tuesday Was Entirely Avoidable
    * Saylor Running for Supervisor
    * Vanguard Response to Dunning
    * Whose Side is the Council On?
    * It Takes a Village
    * Is Davis Doing Enough to Help the Downtown?
    * The Puzzle of Souza’s Wildhorse Vote

  47. Matt Williams

    [quote]
    Matt said . . .

    the arguments against WHR appear to be much more feelings-based, while the arguments for WHR appear to be much more facts-based.

    The Cowardly Lion replied . . .

    With respect to my opposition, I couldn’t disagree more.[/quote]
    Help me understand CL. What part of your opposition is facts-based?

  48. The Cowardly Lion

    [quote]Help me understand CL. What part of your opposition is facts-based?[/quote]Matt:

    I’m not going to engage you in a dialog if you treat my posts as a collection of straw men for you to parse through and “knock down” with sophomoric logic. I have no time for that.

    I will post my response to your previous “replies” since the text is already composed:

    [quote]CL, two points. First, you are using a broader definition of R&A than I am. By your definition R&A includes dozens of people . . . essentially every client Bill has ever had, and then some.[/quote]That’s just dumb. When I mention R&A, I obviously mean the principals. In this case, it’s probably just Bill Ritter – but I have no knowledge of how the consulting firm is organized internally, so I default to the term R&A.

    [quote]I think I’m a relatively discerning person, and not particularly a pollyanna. David and I have had numerous conversations ……[/quote]Sorry Matt, but your personal testimonials don’t carry much weight with me. One problem is that, as far as I’m concerned, you destroyed any credibility you might have had by grand-standing on the budget analysis. This is an example of an argument that would have been stronger if posted anonymously.

    [quote]If we work backward in time, which of the following articles do you believe R&A wrote?[/quote]I was using hyperbole (next time I’ll flag it first). R&A obviously doesn’t write the copy and hand it to David Greenwald to post; that’s David’s role. What is obvious is the inappropriately close relationship between development interests and our “progressive media outlet.” David Greenwald is deeply integrated into the effort to politically market the project to the community.

  49. To Sue Greenwald

    Sue Greenwald wrote:[quote]Shortly before the vote on the Wildhorse Horse Ranch, Mike Harrington called me over to his table at the Farmers’ Market and said that if I supported the Parlin project, I would have the support of himself and the rest of his “progressive” crowd for a campaign the county supervisor position.

    I told him that I was offended by this quid pro quo offer, and its’ implication that they would not support me if I did not vote for the project.[/quote]Sue,

    Could you please clarify the nature of Mike Harrington’s table at the Farmer’s Market? Was it a table supporting WHR or something else? Thanks.

  50. Mike Harrington

    OK OK. I confess: Guilty as charged for being at the Market. I was at the Market with my family. Kids playing. My little 7-year old girl was petting the kittens at the SPCA table next to the City Table. Mickey the overly-energetic toddler hanging around my feet. Balancing a cup of getting-cold coffee in one hand. Got the picture?

    Then here comes Sue, and I am always glad to see her and chat. Wants to talk politics, which I sometimes get drawn into on occasion. I mentioned I liked the 90% GHG reduction that Parlin committed to, and asked for her opinion. She said she thought there have been too many houses approved and not yet built. She asked me for my support if she ran for County Supervisor. I told her that I thought she would have a very large progressive backing if she voted for the greenest project since Village Homes, in spite of the “too many homes approved” logic. I did not tell her anything that dozens of others were probably also telling her. Hey, I look for CC members to get the big votes right. Don, Ruth and Lamar did. Too bad Sue did not, in my humble opinion, on this one.

    Please tell me where I can report for jail, since I am guilty of such a heinous crime as talking politics at the Saturday Market.

  51. Mike Harrington

    ps, Sue, I respect your being consistent on why you voted no. I disagree with your using the political cover of the late night as another reason to vote no. Steve had not a single reason stated from the dais to vote no on the project, or at least not one that made any sense to the many who were listening to his comments. If you boil it down to the essence, all he had at the end of the night was “oh, poor me, it is late, I haven’t read all this stuff, and I simply cannot support it.”

    Also Sue, you could have voted to put it on the ballot, but made sure to make it clear in the motion that you were not personally advocating for it under the circumstances of prior housing approvals.

    Finally Sue, you could have negotiated a “don’t build them before _____ date,” which would have cured your main concern, put the greenest proejct since Village Homes on the ballot, and satisfied the requests of a number of your long time supporters whom you need if you are going to run for County Supervisor.

    Just my two cents worth.

  52. Matt Williams

    [quote]
    The Cowardly Lion said . . .

    I’m not going to engage you in a dialog if you treat my posts as a collection of straw men for you to parse through and “knock down” with sophomoric logic. I have no time for that.[/quote]
    I’m not sure what you mean by sophomoric logic, but my question still stands, “Help me understand CL. What part of your opposition is facts-based?

    [quote]That’s just dumb. When I mention R&A, I obviously mean the principals. In this case, it’s probably just Bill Ritter – but I have no knowledge of how the consulting firm is organized internally, so I default to the term R&A.[/quote]
    We agree on this point.

    [quote]Sorry Matt, but your personal testimonials don’t carry much weight with me. One problem is that, as far as I’m concerned, you destroyed any credibility you might have had by grand-standing on the budget analysis. This is an example of an argument that would have been stronger if posted anonymously.[/quote]
    Please explain to me what you mean by grandstanding. That comment truly was a straw man.

    [quote]I was using hyperbole (next time I’ll flag it first). R&A obviously doesn’t write the copy and hand it to David Greenwald to post; that’s David’s role. What is obvious is the inappropriately close relationship between development interests and our “progressive media outlet.” David Greenwald is deeply integrated into the effort to politically market the project to the community.[/quote]
    Help me understand. Why was hyperbole appropriate? Is the WHR project not news? Is the Vanguard not a news media outlet? In a perfect world how would you have reported on the WHR story if you were suddenly the publisher of the Vanguard?

  53. Sue Greenwald

    Mike,

    I think we agree on the basic sequence of events, except for the minor fact that I did not come over to your table to talk; I was with my Scrabble group and you called me over to join you and subsequently gave me the impression that you had a political message that you wanted to deliver.

    You were amiable, and clearly delivered the message that if I supported the Parlin development, I would have support from you and your friends to run for the County Supes, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t.

    I told you that I was offended by the quid pro quo. I am supposed to vote for or against a project based on my assessment of its merits, and one would think that you would support me for supervisor if you felt that, taking the larger picture into account, that I would make the best decisions at the county level.

  54. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]Also Sue, you could have voted to put it on the ballot, but made sure to make it clear in the motion that you were not personally advocating for it under the circumstances of prior housing approvals.[/quote]Mike, could have? In your time on the CC, could you have imagined yourself in the position of making a decision on an issue, deciding you were against something, but then voting yes as a way of punting the issue to others to decide it? Regardless of whether a member of the council is for or against any one question to be decided by the City of Davis, it doesn’t seem reasonable to think the member should vote contrary to his beliefs so that others can decide the issue instead. The idea of Measure J is not to punt. The idea is that after the council has weighed in on a development, given its endorsement, the people have the chance to veto that decision.

  55. Jim Watson

    There are many well written, informative postings in here. I’m not sure why some of the authors are unwilling to identify themselves. There are also the postings where the name chosen identifies what seems to be a reasonable need to remain anonymous. “DIsgusted City Staffer” is one example. There are the anonymous posters that make the cheap, useless, mean spirited attacks. Perhaps posting all of these as “Anon” (rather than allowing people to use semi anonymous self chosen labels) is an appropriate solution. It’s also easy to ID some of the posters by recurring point of view, choice of words, etc.

    David, the Vanguard is an invaluable alternative source of information. Thanks to your hard work, we also have the luxury of public discourse. I know we don’t agree but I do think people should be required to identify themselves in a public forum. I have to state my name to speak to the City Council. I vote using my name. I introduce myself when speaking to someone in person. For that matter, I have to provide my name to get discounts at the local hardware store. If requiring names eliminates the “junk mail” in here, isn’t that good? I don’t waste time reading the attacks unless they’re so bad that it’s entertaining.

  56. Anon

    “I know we don’t agree but I do think people should be required to identify themselves in a public forum. I have to state my name to speak to the City Council. I vote using my name. I introduce myself when speaking to someone in person. For that matter, I have to provide my name to get discounts at the local hardware store. If requiring names eliminates the “junk mail” in here, isn’t that good? I don’t waste time reading the attacks unless they’re so bad that it’s entertaining.”

    And if you are a commissioner, businessman, or politician, do you really believe the commissioner, businessman, or politician is free to say what he/she truly believes, w/o repercussion in this town? You get lively, informative dialogue in this blog precisely bc anonymity is allowed. Matt Rexroad didn’t want lively dialogue – just sycophants who agree w him. DPD’s purpose was to give the oppressed a voice, which he has succeeded in doing. Without anonymity, I know I would not participate in this blog – my stint as a commissioner and business person would be over.

  57. To Matt Williams

    “You see this blog as a political campaign. I see it as an educational forum for discussion. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.”

    I find your statement somewhat ironic. DPD has very much come out in support of WHR, so is that not to some extent a “political campaign” in support of WHR? Lamar Heystek, Sue Greenwald, and Steve Souza have all given their viewpoints to bolster their political positions – is that not to some extent “political campaigning”? Do you have a problem w any of this? I don’t – I find it “educational”.

    I see this blog as an opportunity to educate others; learn about things I don’t know enough about, including political viewpoints; and to get my political viewpoints across in whatever way I can (including multiple postings under different pseudonyms). I also find it ironic how cynical you are about trusting the judgment of readers and commenters alike to make their own decisions as to whether they feel it necessary to post anonymously and to sift out the wheat from the chaff in the postings. I trust the readers/commenters, and don’t feel the need for DPD to institute a “real name police policy” on this blog. Seems like we’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.

  58. Greg Kuperberg

    In case David or others missed it, someone else here did suggest another good compromise short of requiring registration. Namely, if you register you can pick whatever name you want, while if you don’t register you’re just plain anonymous. It seems hard to dispute a compromise like that. Totally anonymous should mean vanilla anonymous; it should not mean cycling through dozens of cutesy pseudonyms.

    And even if you do register, your real name should be at the most encouraged, not required. Matt Rexroad indeed does require not just your name, but also your home address. That together with mandatory registration is just going overboard. It’s no surprise that he killed off his comments that way.

    As often happens, some of the anonymous commenters are oblivious to the concept of compromise. They talk as if either you have disposable pseudonyms that drown out people’s real names, or you’re on the road to a fascist police approach where you require a home phone and address and maybe even a Social Security number. I hope that David at least understands that compromise is possible.

    It’s also interesting to see so many people express fear of catcalls, when the very first comment on a previous post from someone nicknamed “Just lil ol’ me” was “Could it be mid-life crisis power-tripping?” David himself said that he was distressed by what was said about Cecilia when she chaired the Human Relations Commission. I totally sympathize with that, but again, look at how the comment policy brings on the problem that it was intended to solve. If you’re chair of the HRC, that is a public appointment that makes you a target even though you’re a volunteer trying to do good.

    The word “coward” means more than one thing. It can mean someone who has no courage; in that sense I wouldn’t accuse anyone here of cowardice. It can also mean someone who expects more courage from others than from himself. If someone is anonymous because he’s afraid of a verbal attack, but if he then accuses someone else of “power-tripping” in a “mid-life crisis”, then yeah, he’s scared of what he’s dishing out.

  59. Mike Harrington

    It’s very simple: I want the 90% GHG reduction. All of you can gripe and moan and complain all day long about all of your petty little issues, and struggle in your little kindergarten power plays over political turf, but I am supporting the greenest residential development project since Village Homes. Look at the big picture. This will set the new standard in Davis, and will ripple out from there, like the 1976 Davis Model Energy Code that became Title 24.

    I dont know if it’s too late to save this planet for my kids, but I will try.

  60. An obvious question ...

    I posted this on the previous WHR thread but didn’t get any responses. Since Mike has brought up the green issue, I will cross post here to see if I get a response. Sorry for the double post.

    One of the main selling points for the WHR project is that it will set a new standard for green development in Davis. The developers, Vanguard, project proponents, etc. have gone so far as to claim that the project is so green that it will get state and national attention — and will “put Davis back on the map.”

    If all this is true, why don’t we hear any discussion of LEED certification? I searched “The Puzzle of Souza’s Wildhorse Vote,” “On a Strange Night, a Strange Coalition of Three Supports Wildhorse Ranch,” “Odd Staff Report Recommends Go-Head with Wildhorse Ranch Project,” “Late Meeting on Tuesday Was Entirely Avoidable,” “Vanguard Response to Dunning,” “Wildhorse EIR Shows Need To Update City Fire Policies,” “Planning Commission Hears Wildhorse Ranch Application and Moves it To City Council,” “Vanguard Examines EIR on Wildhorse Ranch Project,” and “Wow Factor: Wildhorse Ranch Achieves (sic) Unprecedented 90% Greenhouse Reduction” and could find only one short ugly reply that appeared to be about settling old scores rather than discussing the question. I’m very surprised that this isn’t a big topic on this blog given the circumstances.

    For those that aren’t sure what LEED is, here are quotes (emphasis mine) from the Natural Resources Defense Council
    [quote]What is LEED certification?

    In the United States and in a number of other countries around the world, LEED certification is [u]the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability.[/u] Achieving LEED certification is the best way for you to demonstrate that your building project [u]is truly “green.[/u]”[/quote]
    and Wikipedia[quote]The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Since its inception in 1998, LEED has grown to encompass [u]more than 14,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries covering 1.062 billion square feet (99 km²)[/u] of development area. The hallmark of LEED is that [u]it is an open and transparent process where the technical criteria proposed by the LEED committees are publicly reviewed for approval by the more than 10,000 membership organizations[/u] that currently constitute the USGBC.[/quote]Since one of the core disagreements seems to be the credibility of the developer’s 90% on-site GHG reduction claims, why doesn’t the City require LEED certification?

    As far as I can tell, the only certification that is currently required is HESS certification (as in Community Development Director, Katherine Hess). While Katherine may be a very capable person, she is surely not a substitute for the U.S. Green Building Council and their certification process. With more than 14,000 LEED certified projects in over 30 counties, it begs the question … Why is this project (that is being marketed to the voters as a “game changer”) not being vetted by an independent LEED certification body?

    There may be a perfectly reasonable answer. If so, I’d like to hear it.

  61. Mike Harrington

    If you look at LEED and this project, it completely blows past and exceeds the LEED stds. I would never vote for a project that just met LEED.

    The sustainability program of Parlin is subject to review by the NRC and approval of the Planning Commission. (These changes, from just HESS certification, were inserted the night of the CC meeting.)

  62. An obvious question ...

    What is the NRC? Are they an independent green certification body? Do they have the same stature as the USGBC with respect to this type of certification?

    In my opinion, PC certification is no better than HESS certification (and possibly worse, since they can be politicized).

    It’s easy to say that LEED standards are inadequate, but where are the specs? If that’s the position of the developers, they need to post a side-by-side comparison.

    Based on the track record, LEED seems to be becoming the de facto standard. What I want to know is why LEED certification is this being disregarded for the WHR project?

    If what you say is true, then the project would pass with flying colors.

    If I, as a businessperson, were trying to generate buzz on how green my project was, I would be seeking LEED certification if for no other reason than atmospherics.

    This is still making no sense to me.

  63. An obvious question ...

    For others out there in the blogosphere that are interested in studying this further, here are some general links to get started:

    U.S. Green Building Council (the group that oversees the creation of LEED standards and the certification process)
    http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CategoryID=19

    Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership_in_Energy_and_Environmental_Design

    If you would like to study the recognized leading green community in the U.S. to see what is really possible with respect to sustainable development, here are links to the Sonoma Mountain Village Project (1892 homes with 83% on-site GHG reduction):

    [url]http://www.oneplanetcommunities.org/Sonoma[/url]
    [url]http://www.sonomamountainvillage.com[/url]

    From what I’m learning, there is [u]much[/u] more to sustainability than simple GHG reduction.

    Definitely worth a look, particularly at all the factors that LEED takes into consideration before they certify a project.

    Also, there seem to be several zero GHG communities world-wide already at the starting gate or underway. I’m really starting to question the claim that WHR is unique outside Davis.

  64. earoberts

    “The word “coward” means more than one thing. It can mean someone who has no courage; in that sense I wouldn’t accuse anyone here of cowardice. It can also mean someone who expects more courage from others than from himself. If someone is anonymous because he’s afraid of a verbal attack, but if he then accuses someone else of “power-tripping” in a “mid-life crisis”, then yeah, he’s scared of what he’s dishing out.”

    You are missing the point. If someone is a commissioner, say, and speaks out against the CC majority, they may be removed for political reasons from the commission for doing so. It happened in the case of the Human Relations Commission. Now, at least, there is an opportunity for the oppressed to speak freely on the Davis Vanguard blog, w/o repurcussions. It makes for more honest dialogue, freedom to ask stupid questions if you know very little about an issue, the opportunity to freely speak your mind. Why are you so afraid of arguing the issues, without knowing the identity of the person who is “speaking”? Occasionally the dialogue can become uncivil, but most of the time other bloggers step in and “trash the trasher”.

    Justapose the Davis Vanguard discussions with CC Public Comment, where there is no free EXCHANGE of ideas. The CC listens politely, but there is no discussion of differing views at all. Yet there is in the Davis Vanguard blog. And I believe a lot of that has to do with the freedom to be anonymous. If Souza is criticized on a particular issue, for instance, what does he do? Villifies the speaker. We have all seen hinm do it. On the blog he can’t get away with that tactic, when the criticizer is anonymous. Souza must argue the issues. It keeps him more “honest”.

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