Picnic Day Alcohol Incidents Focus Scrutiny on Council Candidate

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rochelle-swansonComplaints arose this weekend after Picnic Day saw a rash of street brawls, assaulted women, drunken students, and general destruction.  According to a report in the Sacramento Bee there were 516 calls for service and 33 arrests this past weekend, a number that is more than twice that of previous years.

The Vanguard unusually received a high volume of emails and phone calls from various community members concerned not only with what occurred last weekend, but also that numerous bars opened at 6 a.m. and began serving alcohol.  As one person said via a phone conversation, all this does is contribute to an atmosphere where young people are walking around drunk and intoxicated from the early morning hours on.  What do they expect to occur when alcohol consumption is encouraged at such an early time?

Coming under fire in particular was Council Candidate Rochelle Swanson, whose husband Charlie, owns the Davis Graduate.  The Graduate opened at 6 a.m. and began serving $1 dollar beers to the first thousand customers. 

Part of the scrutiny undoubtedly came from erroneous reports that placed the Graduate Restaurant at the heart of some of the problems, as a Davis Police Officer was assault responding to a fight.  However, on Tuesday, the Davis Police Department put out a correction to that report.

“The Davis Police Officer who was injured was responding to a fight in front of the Starbucks Coffee Shop in the parking lot of the University mall.  Although mentioned in the original press release, the fight DID NOT originate at the Graduate Restaurant.  The Graduate Restaurant is also located in the University Mall and a check of Davis PD records for the Picnic Day weekend indicates that there was no alcohol related disturbances at that establishment.”

It continued, “The Davis Police Department would like to apologize for the inaccurate portrayal of the Graduate Restaurant this event.”

While the police release certainly addresses that particular incident, several people felt that the very fact that the Graduate (along with other downtown bars) opened at 6 am was inviting trouble.  As one person wrote on Facebook, “What made [Ms. Swanson] think serving beer starting at 6 AM on Picnic Day was a good idea?”

The Vanguard had a candidate meet and greet event last night at Lamppost Pizza in Davis and several people wanted to ask Ms. Swanson about the weekend’s events.  As a result, the Vanguard decided to interview Ms. Swanson and let her explain her own thoughts on the matter.

Ms. Swanson explained that this was a longstanding tradition to open at 6 a.m.  She explained that the beer is not free, but rather costs $1.  “It’s the first thousand [people who get the beer], she explained, “I went back and asked Charlie [Swanson the owner of the Graduate], he said that on average they wouldn’t give you more than two because of the lines.  Typically people come in… it’s very busy in the morning and people leave about 10.”  They then get a steady stream during the day with families and others.

When asked if there’s a good reason to start serving alcohol at that hour she responded, “It’s a tradition.”  She continued, “About five or six years ago, it was brought in on Picnic Day, as a tradition.”

The Vanguard asked if this was the last time this practice would be taking place.  “That is a business decision that we will have to think about.  That is not solely my decision.”  She added, “It’s legal to be able to do it.”

In an email to the Vanguard sent early this morning, Ms. Swanson clarified, “This does not mean it is a strictly $ decision, it means I cannot make unilateral decisions in the business primarily run day to day by my husband, nor would it be prudent to simply quip an answer that has not thoroughly and thoughtfully been analyzed.”  She continued, “We are one piece in a very large puzzle. It would be very unfortunate if one small change resulted in nothing else being examined or changed in the Picnic Day structure or events, resulting in a repeat of this year’s problems.”
She added, “It is far too simplistic to attribute the 15 to 20 hours of craziness involving tens of thousands of people to the consuming of beer by a few hundred adults over the age of 21 between the hours of six and ten a.m. I truly wish it were that easy of a fix. The event just happened and we are a year out from the next. We have discussed little else than Picnic Day since Sunday and will likely be active in problem solving for next year. “

What went wrong on Saturday, the Vanguard inquired.  Rochelle Swanson responded, “We had far too many people with not enough infrastructure to handle it.  That’s what I think went wrong.”

She said that she was all over town during that day, “The parts that seemed to be the most rowdy was in the street, especially in some of the house parties.  If you notice the police calls, you see a lot of them in like the University Avenue area and along Russell.”  She continued, “It was people walking through the streets, large groups of people clearly clearly heavily intoxicated.”

“I would encourage that [in the future if she’s on the council] we sit down before it gets to next year and address what are the problems.  And say, what do we need to put in place to prevent the problems.  One thing, drunk in public.  We need to make a decision, do we want to get more aggressive about arresting people who are drunk in public?  What about our open container policy?”

But do the police have the resources to do as Ms. Rochelle advocated?  “Currently no, I don’t think that they do.”  She said, “Certainly we can see if this is something that we want to crack down on early on in the day and have more of a deterrent.  I don’t think it’s going to be one simple solution.  I think Picnic Day has been building for awhile and we have to look at what are other things we can put in place so that it’s not just Picnic Day, come to Davis and drink all day.”

Part of the problem speaking to Police Chief Landy Black and also looking at the various arrest and media reports, is that the problem is coming largely from people who are coming into town to get drunk and cause trouble.  This puts the business community in somewhat of a bind as one the one hand, they want the out-of-town business, on the other hand, attracting some of the people that this type of event attracts, causes problems like the ones that occurred on Saturday.

Rochelle Swanson suggested, “I think we look for activities that we can have.  One of the things that happens downtown is that once the parade is over, the only draw for being downtown for the most part, I’m not overgeneralizing, is people are down there and they’re drinking and they’re walking around.”  She suggested that downtown may want to extend activities beyond the parade to encourage people to be there who are not drinking or causing trouble.  “Positive activities that would have people there having a good time, and not just focusing on drinking.”

The other problem was with some of the men who were groping women.  The Chief described that at some point, downtown became a guy’s only zone, as no women wanted to subject themselves to that behavior.  Lt. Tom Waltz told the Bee that he was most surprised by reports of the groping when women ventured into crowds.  “Although people say, ‘Whatever, girls got groped,’ I’ve never seen that happening at a Picnic Day before,”

Rochelle Swanson said, “You need to have the capacity to handle the number of people that we had.  For the Grad on Picnic Day, it’s a mandatory work day.  Everybody works.  They’re not contractors, they’re existing employees.  They’re trained, that’s what they do.”

She continued, “You had a lot of craziness going on right in front of other establishments.  The other way to look at that is that if people want to be able to be open, then they need to handle the population that’s going to be coming into their bar.”

Like the bars, the police upped their numbers from the usual number of officers on duty which may vary from five to ten at any one time, to 60, calling in additional help from surrounding communities and the CHP.  However, that simply was not enough.

Is that it for Picnic Day?  Gary Sandy, UC Davis director of local government relations told the Bee on Tuesday, “All options are on the table.  The campus community is appalled that these sorts of activities are taking place.”

The Bee cited that excessive partying that turned violent ended similar celebrations at Chico State and Cal Poly.  I was in San Luis Obispo at the time of the riots at Poly Royal.  Part of the problem was local liquor stores had run out of alcohol and students began looting and chanting “free beer.”  The other problem was that the police completely mishandled the situation and allowed it to get out of control and then once they tried to crack down it was too late and they overreacted.

The result was a shutdown of activities for several years and finally they came back with a much smaller operation.  That may have to be the route that UC Davis goes.  Even a short hiatus may prevent things from escalating in future years.

Also, I think selling beer at 6 am, which was in fairness a practice done not just by the Davis Graduate, but many downtown bars as well, simply feeds into a cycle where people start drinking early and continue for the entire day until the point at which they are very drunk. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the two beers that an individual would receive at the Davis Graduate between 6 am and 10 am are going to cause huge problems.

The larger problem has nothing to do with this practice and it has to do with people who are looking for an excuse to cause touble and there are people who come into town strictly for the purpose of causing problems.  That has nothing to do with the bars and other establishments, but rather with the culture.  And is what needs to change the most.

—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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30 thoughts on “Picnic Day Alcohol Incidents Focus Scrutiny on Council Candidate”

  1. Phil

    I was considering voting for Ms. Swanson as the lesser of two evils (compared to Vergis) but her comments here are disturbing. We should support local business but serving beer at 6am makes no sense. If there is a problem with public drunkenness bar owners bear some responsibility but I only see a defense of her husband’s business.

    I admire Ms. Swanson’s loyalty to her husband’s business, but a City Council member’s job is to consider what is best for the City. THe police should help ensure public safety but they need help. It might be useful to consider not allowing sales of liquor so early on Picnic Day. Having $1 beer may be good business but its not good for Davis and I hope the Graduate stops this practice. The fact that the Graduate may be able to handle drinking issues on its own premises does not mean there is no issue. One can have a couple of beers and then go out (and maybe drink some more) and be rowdy somewhere else.

    Having other positive events is a good idea–so is limiting alcohol. I like to drink, quite a bit actually, but the public interest is not served by ignoring this issue If Ms Swanson is elected I hope she will recuse herself if and when these issues come up and I hope she comes up with a less defensive answer in the future. If she is elected her job is to represent Davis, not the Graduate and other bars.

    Unfortunately, the only viable candidate I have been impressed with so far is Krovoza.

  2. wdf1

    This weekend’s events have tainted Picnic Day as a family friendly event. There was one letter to the editor in Tuesday’s Enterprise, and an online comment or two in response to the Enterprise’s story of the incidents expressing dismay at the excessive profanity and drunkenness on display in front of kids.

    Part of the problem that I think I see from advance press on the event is a trend of Picnic Day trying to beat its own attendance record each year — tens of thousand expected. Eventually the attendance outstrips the resources. I suppose it will be a few years before this PR stain fades.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    Phil: I don’t think she necessarily needs to recuse herself from these discussions, if anything she could be an important part of a solution. However, I would suggest that they figure out what their solution is going to be sooner rather than later.

    I think starting drinking at 6 am is a bad idea not only because people are drinking earlier and longer but it also sets a tone. That’s gotta be the first portion of a solution.

  4. Gunrock

    I was at the Grad that morning, the place was calm, the lines orderly and the beer was refreshing. I was downtown that night, the crowds were ugly, tattooed and very ethnic. Guess what folks, the black and hispanic population of Davis went up 20,000% If you ask any Davis PD member what to do they would tell you that a healthy dose of ethic profiling would solve the problem. Don’t hide under your beds on picnic day and read the paper before blogging away folks- the problem is ENTIRELY made up by easy to generalize non-residents who don’t know a soul in Davis when the arrive. They are very easy to identify.

    Solution: have the downtown merchants create a Picnic Day “Street Fair” with barricades blocking off the area and you have to have either a Davis ID or a Student ID from UCD and each person with such an ID could bring two guests- with wrist bands. No ID, go back to Vacaville. Oh wait, that could be considered discrimination against losers… sigh.

    The Davis Grad was absolutely an island of calm in a sea of chaos… anyone criticizing Rochelle for having the ONLY place in town that was over-staffed, masssively organized and responsibly run is simply looking for an excuse to whine.

  5. itsme

    Swaqnson already talks like a politician in trouble: defensive, didn’t break any laws, invoking “tradition” for a commercial decision made 5-6 years ago,(I have sweaters older than that!)and stretching the truth that restaurant/bar employees job is policing a crowd of patrons (that takes police training and her employees are there to serve and sell).

    She didn’t see the problem from a Davisite’s perspective and that’s what we want in an elected official and mostly don’t get.

  6. roger bockrath

    TRADITION should never be the reason to continue something that doesn’t work. Several times, Mrs Swanson cites tradition as the reason to continue serving beer starting at 6:A.M. on Picnic Day. If public drunkenness is becoming a problem on Picnic Day, then serving alcohol starting at 6:A.M is a :tradition that must stop, not just at the Grad, but at all the drinking establishments in town! Anybody who starts drinking beer at 6:A.M. has an agenda that has very little to do with Picnic Day activities. If Mrs Swanson is not willing to meet with other bar owners and curtail this “tradition” the voters of Davis should follow the tradition of not electing people who do not have the voter’s best interest in mind !

  7. Gunrock

    Itsme- I don’t get it. What problem are you lamenting that Rochelle doesn’t get?

    Her husband runs a great bar that had NOTHING to do with the problem. You appear to have your sense of direction skewed- the Grad is a mile away from the problem and had ZERO to do with it. Drinking beer at 6am on Picnic Day is a fine tradition for returning alumni. Having out-of-towners with no affiliation to Davis flood the place at night downtown is an issue, but again, this has nothing to do with the Grad, or Picnic Day for that matter.

  8. E Roberts Musser

    DGM: “The Graduate opened at 6 a.m. and began serving $1 dollar beers to the first thousand customers.”

    Rochelle Swanson: “Ms. Swanson explained that this was a longstanding tradition to open at 6 a.m. She explained that the beer is not free, but rather costs $1. “It’s the first thousand [people who get the beer], she explained, “I went back and asked Charlie [Swanson the owner of the Graduate], he said that on average they wouldn’t give you more than two because of the lines. Typically people come in… it’s very busy in the morning and people leave about 10.” They then get a steady stream during the day with families and others.
    When asked if there’s a good reason to start serving alcohol at that hour she responded, “It’s a tradition.” She continued, “About five or six years ago, it was brought in on Picnic Day, as a tradition.””

    Encouraging drinking beginning at 6 am is asking for trouble. Five or six years does not make a tradition – what it makes is money for The Graduate. I find Rochelle Swanson’s attitude extremely self-serving.

    Rochelle Swanson: “But do the police have the resources to do as Ms. Rochelle advocated? “Currently no, I don’t think that they do.” She said, “Certainly we can see if this is something that we want to crack down on early on in the day and have more of a deterrent. I don’t think it’s going to be one simple solution. I think Picnic Day has been building for awhile and we have to look at what are other things we can put in place so that it’s not just Picnic Day, come to Davis and drink all day.””

    Yes, people come to drink all day, bc your establishment begins serving $1 beers beginning at 6 am in the morning. Clearly The Granduate is part of the problem and NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION.

    It is high time for UC to shut this “tradition” down, as something that has morphed into a disaster for our town. Is UC going to pay for all the police and cleanup that was necessary in Davis? Are the bars like The Graduate going to pay for the police and cleanup? Not likely – it will be the taxpayers…

  9. Rochelle Swanson

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments on this issue. I am glad such a forum exists for people to express their concerns and engage in open dialogue.

    It is my practice to take measured, thoughtful steps in my decision making. This is true regardless of whether or not The Graduate or any other interest is involved. While I can understand the perception that my unwillingness to make a unilateral decision to change the hours of operation of Picnic Day is attributable to “loyalty to [my] husband’s business,” it would be inappropriate for me to be making unilateral decisions on concerns that are being discussed within the business, city and university communities. It is my understanding that there is going to be meetings in May regarding strategies for next year. If invited, I will attend. It would be unfair that my status of a candidate would commit other business’ to change their practice and to potentially change the course of the conversation. I was sincere when I said that I have deep concerns that a quick response to one facet could downplay the need to focus on the general atmosphere. I firmly believe it is best for Davis to have an open conversation about how we change the atmosphere of Picnic Day to get away from the chaos. The morning portion is a small part of our overall day. At no time did I say the hours could not or would not change, I simply stated that I could not just make that decision alone. That would be improper, if not a violation of the business relationship, if we were business partners alone and not married.

    Also, while Picnic Day and is a very important issue, it is my hope that this does not overshadow the issues of our long-term fiscal health, responsible land use policies, and preservation of our quality of life here in Davis.

  10. biddlin

    Unfortunately for Ms Swanson,candidacy makes every aspect of your life fair game for the press and the opposition. It seems silly to assume that she endorsed any bad behavior simply because her husband runs a legal business that happens to serve alcohol, but one needn’t read far in this and other local media to find silly reasons to vote for or against a candidate. While I was not there Picnic day, I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Grad on other occasions and found it to be a well run, pleasant establishment. As for drinking at 6:00 am, I worked a graveyard shift for several years and was known to stop for a beer at the local with my co-workers in the morning. I don’t know of any evidence, and there is certainly none presented here, that the opening time of bars has an effect on the net sobriety of event participants half-a-day later. As someone who had to deal with Sacramento Jazz Jubilee revelers for many years, I agree that Out Of Towners do seem to party a little hardier than locals, and that may be part of the problem. I suspect that police may have let the downtown situation get out of hand by waiting too long to start moving out some of the “hot heads.” The Street Fair idea, with ticket/ids on lanyards and a marked and barricaded area might be worth trying. It would be a shame to end this long standing event because of the incidents that occurred this year.

  11. JustSaying

    David, I’m astounded (but no longer surprised) that you would turn this kind of information into a political hit piece against a candidate you may already have written off.

    It starts with the headline–justifying the story by claiming that the Picnic Day alcohol incidents[u] focused scrutiny[/u] on Ms. Swanson, when you’re the only one doing the scrutinizing.

    Coming under fire in particular was Council Candidate Rochelle Swanson….

    Under fire from where, other than your write-up? From the vague, but “high volume of emails and phone calls” to the Vanguard based on “erroneous reports”? From one Facebook comment?

    As one person wrote on Facebook, “What made [Ms. Swanson] think serving beer starting at 6 AM on Picnic Day was a good idea?”

    Please share the FB page where we can find this comment re. Ms. Swanson? I found a page (“Save Picnic Day! – UC Davis Alumni”) at which a Vallejo resident reacts to a SJ Mercury News article–neither mentions Ms. Swanson. If you’re just agreeing with one anonymous person, you might as well take sole credit for the opinion.

    Why would you decide to pursue Ms. Swanson, alone among the candidates, to react to what you acknowledge is a larger problem that “has nothing to do with this (6 a.m. opening) practice….”? Why wouldn’t you seek out the present council members, on whose watch this drunken rowdiness occurred? Or the other candidates–who would have the same responsibilities as Ms. Swanson if they were elected—as well?

    Plus, you buried the lede. How about: [u]The Graduate was open all day along with the other Davis bars yet not single one of the 516 calls for police service and 33 arrests came from there. According to the Davis Police Department, “there (were) no alcohol related disturbances at that establishment. “The Davis Grad was absolutely an island of calm in a sea of chaos,” said legendary Picnic Day reveler Gunrock.[/u]

    Maybe the Vanguard should join the Police Department in wanting “to apologize for the inaccurate portrayal of the Graduate Restaurant this event.” It sounds as though their management of Picnic Day customers was exemplary and a model for the downtown businesses that ended up with police visits that day.

    Not that this short-lived Davis tradition isn’t worthy of change (agreements to serve breakfast, not alcohol, until parade is over?). You could push for the city council, business community and UCD getting together to modify the early drinking encouragement. But, it just isn’t right to single out one candidate and “focus” on trying to stick this problem on her simply because she’s married to someone who owns a related business. It’s GBA and Gotcha! at its best.

    This “Rochelle Connection” issue should have been included as part of your coverage of last night’s “meet and greet” coverage since you suggest it came up there, somehow generating your interest. That’s about what it’s worth as news, not this breathless, separate post obviously aimed at her. And how did the other candidates react to the questions? I’m looking forward to your story on the event.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    I’m astounded that you took it as a hit piece. It was intended to address people’s concerns that were raised to me yesterday. I don’t believe Rochelle views it as a hit piece. I also find it interesting that you have jumped to conclusions, “against a candidate you may already have written off. ” How do you know?

  13. Violalass

    I think that Picnic Day should either be a bacchanal just for the students or a G rated event for families and sober attendees (I’m hoping for the latter).

  14. Justin Kudo

    Not to get purely political on this but in regards to JustSaying’s comments:

    There’s three major candidates (name recognition, money, signs, etc) and two open seats. David pretty openly opposes Sydney. He’s not exactly looking to run a hit piece on Rochelle. If you think this is a Rochelle hit piece, you seriously don’t know the first thing about politics in this town or this blog.

    This is like when Sue and a couple others got upset over David’s coverage of her incident on the dais; you can’t possibly be serious with your claim.

    Like it or not, blogs are half-news, half-drama, with a dash of spin. Any politician’s connections to current Davis-drama is blog material.

  15. Steve Hayes

    This problem has been building for decades. The City of Davis was dry until the mid to late 1970’s, and one had to drive beyond the City limits (usually eastward along the frontage road south of I-80 past where Motel 6 sits now) to buy alcohol. The downtown was a relatively quiet, family oriented place throughout the day and evening. Many restaurants (and other businesses) opened in or near downtown Davis during the relatively prosperous 1980’s and 1990’s. Some of these restaurants served alcohol, but most restaurants closed when the other downtown businesses closed (by 1000 PM or earlier). As a result, downtown Davis was more lively, but it was still relatively family friendly and late night disturbances were rare.

    Unfortunately, this business model changed during the 2000’s. Now, many businesses operate as a restaurant during the day and evening, and convert to a bar and club at night. Because these businesses remain open long after other businesses have closed within the City, they become an appealing draw for students and out-of-town guests. When the bars and clubs finally close (at mid-night or later), droves of these students and strangers wander throughout the City looking to party further if possible. This business model has permanently changed the character of the City, and appears to be a recipe for disaster, based on the results of this past Picnic Day

  16. JustSaying

    I’m astounded that you took it as a hit piece. It was intended to address people’s concerns that were raised to me yesterday.

    My astonishment is compounded by your astonishment that I could have come to these conclusions based on reading your post. You justify the story by vague references to peoples’ concerns as expressed to you. [u] Where on Facebook did you read the one direct (but anonymous) quote expressing concern[/u]: “What made [Ms. Swanson] think serving beer starting at 6 AM on Picnic Day was a good idea?” What was the context? Did Ms. Swanson [u]really[/u] say it “was a good idea”? There must be lots of concerns that are raised to you each day; I’m just questioning the rationale for deciding this one deserved the treatment you gave it.

    I don’t believe Rochelle views it as a hit piece.

    I can’t guess what she believes. Like most candidates these days, she probably just brushes such stuff off with, “Well, it’s just politics, what you have to put up with when one runs for public office now.” I’m just saying it’s the way I reacted upon reading “Picnic Day Alcohol Incidents Focus Scrutiny on Council Candidate.”

    I also find it interesting that you have jumped to conclusions, “against a candidate you may already have written off. ” How do you know?

    I didn’t jump. I walked. I tried to show you step-by-step why your tone and content (and topic selection itself) makes the post seem to me unfairly targeted at one candidate for no justifiable reason.

  17. Don Shor

    While Picnic Day may be good for certain types of businesses, for a lot of us it is pretty much a disaster. i can count on my business being down 40% or more on Picnic Day, and on a sunny Saturday in April that isn’t great for a garden supply business. So we’ve all put up with it for years, but if it continues to turn into a Chico-style drunken brawl the adverse effects on local businesses will just get worse and pressure is likely to grow for substantial changes.

    Rochelle can be part of the solution, whether she is elected or not. Obviously a task force needs to be set up to include the police chiefs of both local constabularies, business owners, restaurant and bar owners, and the Picnic Day organizers on campus. Perhaps alcohol needs to be banned until later in the day. Nobody needs beer at 6 a.m., in my opinion. Family-oriented downtown events could be planned (at the Vanguard event last night someone mentioned an art-and-wine walk).

  18. Justin Kudo

    Ok, take the unpopular stance.

    I have to question the statistics here. Yes, there were twice as many incidents this year. It was also a bright sunny and amazing day following iffy weather – of course residents, neighbors, and students would be out in force. I’d wager that if any of the last few Picnic Days had this year’s weather, they’d have been the “zoo” that this year was. There is nothing else, policy or culture-wise, that has really changed since I first started coming to these seven years ago.

    As for effects on business, it’s a holiday, of course there are impacts on businesses, just like any other holiday or downtown event.

    The drinking is another issue; the fact is that college students will take any excuse to go drink. Flag Day, Good Friday, April Fool’s… pick a day. They’re all excuses to drink when you’re in your 20s and in college, and it’ll always be that way. I’m personally in favor of personal freedoms and allowing people to celebrate however they want as long as it doesn’t harm others.

    But if the city wants to address this, they can do any (or all) of the following:
    a) Create an ordinance which prohibits businesses from selling liquor before certain hours. My lunchtime Giants games at The Grad will weep.
    b) Liberally test individuals next Picnic Day, arrest half the student population for public drunkenness, and scare people away from getting plastered on Picnic Day 2012 and beyond.
    c) Close off downtown streets to all motor traffic, thereby making for significantly more room for the crowd to disperse in and generally reducing incidents.
    d) End a hundred-year old holiday that celebrates the uniqueness and community of Davis because we’re scared of drunk college kids.

  19. JustSaying

    Thank you, Justin Kudo, for your no-doubt-accurate-while-somewhat-cynical view about Davis politics and blogs.

    I’ve read the Vanguard for a long time and recognize that David already has made up his mind on several things and people when he posts articles. But, I like to hold him to a higher journalistic standard than your average blog because of his background, partly because I think he does as well. It doesn’t hurt to question his objectivity even if he’s just a little out of line.

    My Davis naivety has been carefully developed over four decades here. I keep figuring we can do better in our public discourse.

    P.S.–Don Shor’s observations seem to offer an excellent approach, in my naive opinion, to getting Picnic Day where it needs to be.

  20. Justin Kudo

    Just: I apologize for my tone before, and frankly… I agree with you about most of what you just said. I’m certainly on the record more than a few times for getting mad at David for a comment or stance (for example, the “investigative journalism” of boyfriendgate over Vergis was rather absurd).

    That said, snark aside, I don’t know how someone who knows politics and has read David’s articles can seriously think this is an anti-Swanson hit-piece.

  21. David M. Greenwald

    This was not intended to be some type of hit piece at all, it was intended as a chance to allow Swanson to address a point that had arisen in the past few days. I have a follow up response from Charlie that I will post in an article most likely tomorrow. I attempt to treat everyone the same, that does not always happen, but that is my intent.

    “David already has made up his mind on several things and people when he posts articles”

    That is at times true. The fact is this was an issue, and as I told Rochelle herself when we spoke, this would be a non-story other than the fact that she is running for council, so why not let her respond if people have questions. She did that in the six minute interview I did with her and in her own comment. If it’s a non-issue for people, then read the story on Sheriff’s department’s cover-up of their deputy putting a gun to a nine-year-old’s head, if you ask me, that’s a far more important story.

  22. Phil

    David has written positive things about Rochelle and some of his friends/associates have endorsed her, so I don’t know that this was a hit piece. I don’t want to relive the past but I’ve seen far harsher criticism coming from this blog (and bloggers including me). This was more like patty-cake.

    But Ms. Swanson’s reaction and behavior doesn’t impress me. Being able to think on your feet is an important political trait that she does not appear to have–but maybe she can learn. Being sensitive to constituents concerns is another important trait. It is one thing to have canned political points, another to respond in real time to an issue. The issue here is certainly not as important as the fiscal health of our city, but I would have liked to see a less defensive reaction.

    I think stopping 6am drinking is an easy solution–I’d prefer to see Davis bars cooperate rather than having it imposed. I am also am sure that other folks comments about the fact that drunkenness was far worse elsewhere are accurate. But Davis bar owners along with others can help set a tone. That is leadership. What Ms. Swanson has shown here is something else.

  23. Gunrock

    Dear Phil- I’m sorry but I have no idea what problem you are trying to solve with your threats of “imposing” your will on the bars of Davis. I am pretty sure that Rochelle, and everyone else for that matter, can do without having to “impress” you…

    Sorry but you come across like some sort of petty commisar. “Cooperate or we will impose our will on you…”

    Go find a real problem and do something useful.

  24. Rochelle Swanson

    This is an important conversation we are having about the future of Picnic Day. I have already reached out to Gary Sandy from UCD, a few past Mayors of Davis, as well as other business owners in town, regarding what steps we can take to make Picnic Day a more enjoyable and safe event. In fact, these conversations started Sunday morning between me and my husband and were even going on during last night’s Meet the Candidates event. I guess a more seasoned politician would have had a snappy sound bite for David last night, but I really did think it was too premature to throw out possible solutions I was still formulating myself.

    Whether or not I am elected to City Council, I will be taking an active role in the community discussions on the future of Picnic Day. I certainly support us taking comprehensive steps to limit to the availability of alcohol. In fact, we might need to consider the access and stocking up of alcohol immediately preceding. I believe one solution may indeed be to restrict early morning consumption of alcohol, not only in bars & restaurants, but the sale of alcohol in stores as well. Restaurants and bars could open after the parade, but this will require a community consensus. Something this important should not be decided in a hasty manner just days from the incident in question. The decisions made in regards to Picnic Day, alcohol availability and general tenor of that day’s events are going to be far reaching.

    As an Aggie and a long time Davisite, I strongly feel that doing away with Picnic Day would be a tragedy. I don’t think we are there yet and have a good opportunity to have a positive impact on next year’s festivities.

  25. JustSaying

    You say you’re planning to run The Graduate owner’s response. Of course, the same thing is true about him–this would be a non=story except for the fact that his wife is running for office. Which is my point. You should treatl candidates the same as each other. You should treatl restaurant owners the same as each other.

  26. Don Shor

    I would like to hear what the other candidates have to say about all this. I applaud Rochelle for posting here and for being thoughtful. So, Daniel, Jon, Sydney, and Joe — what are your views about the events of Picnic Day?

  27. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]This was not intended to be some type of hit piece at all[/i]

    I believe you, David. I also have no particular stand on the alcohol issue on Picnic Day or any other day.

    The problem is that this blog has taken sides so hard and so often that almost any piece can come across as a hit piece. Or otherwise, it often comes across as a shill.

    I was just thinking the other day that in politics, “scrutiny” can come to mean attack and “transparency” can come to mean paralysis. So a headline like “UC Budget Under Scrutiny, Senator Yee Calls for Transparency”, can actually mean, “UC Budget Under Attack, Senator Yee Calls for Paralysis”.

    Or this headline can come across as, “Picnic Day Alcohol Incidents Focus Attack on Council Candidate”.

    Again, I believe you that it’s not what you meant. But I think that you may have typecast yourself to some extent.

  28. civil discourse

    From the Davis Enterprise:

    “Over at the G Street Pub, manager Devin Caswell said he had received letters about a month ago from the university and the Davis Police Department asking businesses to refrain from offering early drink specials.

    ‘So we didn’t; we generally don’t on Picnic Day anyway,’ Caswell said. ‘We had a pretty relaxed weekend. We did a fair amount of business, but we didn’t have anybody puking on the floor.’

    For that, Caswell gave credit to police for maintaining a presence in the downtown throughout the night. ‘The Police Department did a pretty good job,’ he said. “

  29. rusty49

    I say hooray for for Rochelle and her husband for being Davis business owners. I love the Grad, Rochelle gets alot of my money. Now let’s get to the important issues, she can have my vote too if she promises fiscal responsibility and is against peripheral growth. How about it Rochelle?

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