Water Referendum Signature Process Heats Up

sig-gathering-water

By the time Michael Harrington posted his allegations on the Vanguard comment section yesterday morning, the Vanguard had already been investigating allegations that the opposition to the referendum campaign, led by Councilmember Stephen Souza, had been attempting to interfere with the signature gathering process – serious charges that would have constituted an election law violation and possibly more.

Wrote Mr. Harrington, “Yesterday, Steve Souza was overheard yelling about surface water and acting as a ‘blocker’ to keep the public from talking with petition tablers at the Farmers Market, Nirth [North] Davis Safeway, and the Davis Food Coop.”

Given the serious nature of the charges, the Vanguard investigated, but found little evidence to corroborate the most serious charges.

“I or no one that was tabling at the Farmer’s Market yesterday were blocking or stopping any person from signing the referendum that was being circulated by the 3 paid Sacramento signature gatherers at one table or the 2 Davis volunteers at the other table,” Councilmember Stephen Souza wrote on the Vanguard.

Likewise, Kari Fry, another person who was said to have been blocking access, dismissed charges of interference.

“I was indeed at the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning,” she wrote, “I stayed at my table respectfully asking people to get some information and think about it before deciding whether or not to sign a referendum petition. I NEVER once told anyone not to sign, nor did any of the other citizens you mentioned in your inquiry below.”

She added that she had a friendly conversation with two of the signature gathering volunteers.

“I also told them that I philosophically agree with the idea of community buy-in and that a vote is one way to do that, however in this case doing that actually shoots us in the foot because it will end up leading to higher costs,” she said.

“I would also like to note that I did not block their table during this dialogue and watched at least one or two people chat with Pam and then sign the petition while I was standing to the side speaking with Jim,” she added.  “I’m not sure how productive any of our conversation was, but I do believe that people on both sides of an issue can behave in a civilized and respectful manner which I believe the three of us accomplished yesterday.”

These accounts were corroborated by several independent individuals that the Vanguard spoke to, who observed Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

Even one of the signature gatherers said that the behavior at the Farmer’s Market was within reason.  There were other incidents, perhaps at the north Davis Safeway, that were more serious, but the Vanguard was unable to get any details or confirmation as to what happened.

The Vanguard got no response from Mr. Harrington when we asked to speak with the individual who told him that Mr. Souza was bullying people.

What the Vanguard did learn is that Councilmember Stephen Souza, among others, are heading up an effort to counter the signature gathering process.  So long as they do not interfere with someone attempting to sign a petition, there is nothing wrong with that.

Councilmember Souza told the Vanguard on Sunday, “We were handing out a flyer that said on top to ‘think before you sign.’ We were exercising our right of free speech in a respectful manner.”

He provided the Vanguard with a copy of that flier, in an image taken with a cell phone camera.

It read at the top: “Think before you sign!  Forcing a vote on the clean water project is a delay which will cost rate payers more money.”

At the bottom it read: “Failing to act now could result in a loss of our water rights.”  It continued: “The state water right is conditioned on the active use of the water.  Delaying could jeopardize that state right.”

While it is not clear, based on Ken Landau’s testimony before the Clean Water Agency, that this view is completely accurate, it is certainly within their rights to put out this information.

It concluded, “Don’t kick the can down the road, our children can’t afford it!  No one wants to pay more for water, but delaying the rate increase will only drive our costs higher.”

At the same time, Mr. Souza informed the Vanguard that there were outside signature gatherers working the supermarkets, as well as part of the Farmer’s Market.

Councilmember Souza described these individuals as “older adults” who “do this part or full time.”

He told the Vanguard, “When it comes to the environment, health and safety of the residents of Davis being threatened by outside signature gatherers I will not be silenced.”

“These paid people have said things that are not true. They do not know the issue nor do they have a stake in our town. They are here only to make a buck and leave,” he continued.

The Vanguard drove around town midday on Sunday, and found only one signature gatherer at work during that time, at the North Davis Safeway.

The individual was polite and professional but asked not to be identified, saying that the process was not about him.  He acknowledged he was being paid to gather signatures.  He said he had done this in 18 states for a number of years.

He was very frank and upfront about the fact that he does not care about the issue, he is simply doing this to make a living.

He did say he tried to make an effort to get educated on the issue, reading as many news accounts as possible.

This was his second day on the job.  On Saturday he had been there ten hours and collected 80 signatures.  On this day, in his fourth hour, he had collected about 30.  He felt that was not a huge number.

Mostly he said he was collecting signatures from seniors. The students, he found, were either not registered to vote in Davis or lived on campus and were thus not city residents.

Supporters of the referendum have insisted that they are on track to get the number of signatures required.

Opponents to the referendum have bristled at the notion of paid signature gatherers, while supporters complain about attempts by the opposition to convince people not to sign petitions.

Must be election time in Davis.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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135 Comments

  1. rusty49

    What does it matter if the referendum is using paid signature gatherers in addition to the volunteers? Davis has reported that the CWA has hired a “PAID” promotional company to the tune of $300,000

    “What the Vanguard did learn is that Councilmember Stephen Souza among others are heading up an effort to counter the signature gathering process.”

    David, did you ask Souza if they’re paying people to work for this effort? If so, where is that money coming from?

    I walked by both booths on Saturday at Farmers Market and didn’t notice any problems.

  2. Sue Greenwald

    [quote] “Failing to act now could result in a loss of our water rights.” — [b]Vanguard quoting Stephen Souza’s flyer[/b][/quote]I have no problem with Stephen handing out flyers, but the discussion about water should remain fact-based. We have a forty year permit. If we work with the WRCB to postpone the project with clear plans to finish it, the permit will not be revoked. Even Mr. Landau, who was speaking a bit as an advocate rather than administrator (it is the board that makes the decision, not the administrator), acknowledged that permits are rarely (I think like never) pulled within the time frame for which they are issued.

    Citizens deserve accurate information, and this statement is very misleading.

  3. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]We have a forty year permit. If we work with the WRCB to postpone the project with clear plans to finish it, the permit will not be revoked. [/quote]

    What the SWRCB will or won’t do in the future is never a sure thing. To make a PREDICTION that a permit “WILL NOT BE REVOKED” AS IF IT WERE FACT based on some condition pulled out of thin air that the city will “WORK WITH THE SWRCB TO POSTPONE THE PROJECT WITH CLEAR PLANS TO FINISH IT” (IN 25 TO 30 YEARS) which is another PREDICTION/ASSUMPTION that may never come to pass – IS EXTREMELY MISLEADING IMO…

    CITIZENS DESERVE BETTER THAN DISINFORMATION/GUESSWORK DRESSED UP AS A “FACT”…

  4. David M. Greenwald

    “David, did you ask Souza if they’re paying people to work for this effort? If so, where is that money coming from? “

    I don’t believe they are, but I did not ask.

    “What does it matter if the referendum is using paid signature gatherers in addition to the volunteers? Davis has reported that the CWA has hired a “PAID” promotional company to the tune of $300,000 “

    Good point.

  5. E Roberts Musser

    To dmg: Thanks for this article, which debunks much of the accusations/hysteria floating around out there, drummed up to cast aspersions on those who support/oppose the surface water project. Let’s keep this a clean campaign, without fear mongering meant to discredit one side or the other to support any particular agenda. People can agree to disagree in a civilized manner…

  6. rusty49

    “What the SWRCB will or won’t do in the future is never a sure thing. To make a PREDICTION that a permit “WILL NOT BE REVOKED” AS IF IT WERE FACT based on some condition pulled out of thin air that the city will “WORK WITH THE SWRCB TO POSTPONE THE PROJECT WITH CLEAR PLANS TO FINISH IT” (IN 25 TO 30 YEARS) which is another PREDICTION/ASSUMPTION that may never come to pass – IS EXTREMELY MISLEADING IMO…

    CITIZENS DESERVE BETTER THAN DISINFORMATION/GUESSWORK DRESSED UP AS A “FACT”…”

    ERM, aren’t the last minute new and improved water rates based on PREDICTIN/ASSUMPTION of better interest rates and lower construction costs that may never come to pass?

  7. Dr. Wu

    It is not illegal to pay people to gather signatures but it certainly raises interesting questions about the campaign. I am reminded of the Wildhorse Ranch project that paid people to work for them–that did not go well for supporters.

    Right now I have doubts about the water rate hikes and would be inclined to support a ballot initiative. However, when I sign a petition I like to know whether the person gathering signatures are paid or not (most are paid, especially for State initiatives).

    I cannot speak for anyone else, I’d be much less likely to sign a petition knowing the signature gatherer was paid and had little or no stake in the issue.

    I’d also like to know who is paying for this and what their interest is–that is a legal disclosure requirement.

  8. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]ERM, aren’t the last minute new and improved water rates based on PREDICTIN/ASSUMPTION of better interest rates and lower construction costs that may never come to pass?[/quote]

    Actually your characterization is not in the least accurate. First of all, it is a FACT that the surface water rate increases were reduced from 3.3 times the current rate to 2 times the current rate. In order to increase water rates beyond year 5, another Prop 218 process must be instituted, and citizens may also institute the referendum process as well. So citizens can refuse to allow the water rate increases to go any higher if they so choose via two different routes. THAT IS FACT. The water rate increases themselves are based on various assumptions/predictions, and NEVER HAVE I SAID OTHERWISE AND I DO NOT BELIEVE ANYONE ELSE WHO IS A PROPONENT OF THIS PROJECT HAS EITHER.

    Whether you are for or against the surface water project, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, the issue is one of cost/benefit/risk analysis on what may/may not happen in the future. What is FACT is that the federal gov’t has new water quality standards that will kick in as of 2017 (some water constituent standards may kick in earlier – this is not my area of expertise); IT IS A FACT we will be subject to those new water quality standards; IT IS A FACT THAT THE FINES IMPOSED ARE MANDATORY NOT DISCRETIONARY. Whether the state will relax or make more stringent those standards is anybody’s guess; as is how sufficient our underground deep level aquifers will be in the future, whether construction/finance costs will increase/decrease, among other issues. However there are guesses, educated guesses, statements of experts vs statements of unnamed sources, pure speculation, disinformation.

    IMO, if someone wants to say they THINK standards will become less stringent in the future, and this is why S/HE THINKS THAT, I’m okay with such a statement (I am also free to vigorously disagree with it and state my reasons why). If on the other hand someone says they have talked to unnamed experts who have told them standards WILL become less stringent in the future, I do have a problem with that as PURE SPECULATION DRESSED UP AS “FACT”/DISINFORMATION.

    No one can possibly know what the SWRCB will do in the future. Nor can we know exactly how long our deep level aquifers will last. Nor can we know whether construction/finance costs will go up our down. All we can do is make educated guesses on what MIGHT HAPPEN. And so far, according to experts willing to go on record in public, the educated guesses of the experts are that we should do the surface water project first and foremost, to save money on the wastewater treatment side.

  9. Voter2012

    @Dr. Wu:[quote]It is not illegal to pay people to gather signatures but it certainly raises interesting questions about the campaign. I am reminded of the Wildhorse Ranch project that paid people to work for them–that did not go well for supporters.

    I cannot speak for anyone else, I’d be much less likely to sign a petition knowing the signature gatherer was paid and had little or no stake in the issue.

    I’d also like to know who is paying for this and what their interest is–that is a legal disclosure requirement.[/quote]

  10. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Rusty Great point to Elaine. That whole scenario of last minute rates continues to rankle.[/quote]

    I am a citizen of Davis. I have no pecuniary interest whatever in this project. I was invited to be part of a citizen advisory group working with the Davis Dept of Public Works to see if we could somehow reduce the water rate increases. The citizen advisory group was able to pull off a compromise solution that not only lowers the rates considerably, but puts into place a mechanism to make sure in year 5 citizens have a say in any further rate increases. We did exactly what citizens have been calling for – reducing rates and delaying part of the surface water project. Yet the integrity of the process and the committee are now called into question by folks opposed to the surface water project? Frankly, I find such questions disingenuous at best, disguising the desire to kill this project at all costs, including smearing anyone who would dare to support this project. Or the other implication is that the advisory committee was a dupe of the Dept of Public Works. And I find those conclusions very troubling and frustrating… It is one thing to disagree, it is another to throw mud at those who disagree…

  11. Matt Williams

    SODA said . . . (combined from yesterday’s and today’s comments)

    “[i]Rusty
    Great point to Elaine. That whole scenario of last minute rates continues to rankle.

    “The following question continues to nag at me: why at the 11th hour did the ‘citizen committee’ (who appointed, how did it come to pass?) somehow halve the rates? Or by however much they did? If they hadn’t come forward we would have had higher rates. So makes me think the JPA and our staff may have miscalculated other things. The vote will allow for more robust look at the financials if nothing else.[/i]”

    Good question SODA. I answered it just a moment ago in yesterday’s thread, and am double posting the answer here.

    I attended the last of the citizens committee meetings and was given the answer to your question in that meeting. The answer lies in the rules of the Prop 218 process as laid down by the state. In the Prop 218 notice, the juristiction is required to publish the worst case scenario rates. It was designed that way so that there can’t ever be a bit and switch situation. So all along the rates you all received in the 218 notice (I didn’t receive one even though I am affected by the rates) were known by City Staff to be higher than what was actually going to be presented to Council.

  12. davisite2

    “These accounts were corroborated by several independent individuals that the Vanguard spoke to, who observed Farmer’s Market on Saturday.”

    This may very well be true, but it does not in any way negate the report that “blockers” were out to disrupt the signature-gathering at the Coop previously. The Vanguard report as well as the negative publicity “blowback” most likely cut short that orgqnized activitiy. Pam Neiberg, who has been involved in just about every grassroots-citizen campaign for as long as I can remember and whose record of honesty and integrity is unblemished, described the “blocking” activity that occurred. This kind of activity also sprung from the developer-funded pro-Covell Village “war room” during the last citizen referendum Measure J(now R). As for Councilperson Souza’s activities, we have all witnessed him “losing it” (example… “We are the deciders!!!”, he bellowed from the dais with regard to the citizen-referendum on the 400+acre Covell Village development which was overwhelming rejected by the Davis voters.)

  13. SODA

    Thanks Matt. Have not heard this before. And Elaine, I have not decided whether to support the ballot initiative or to vote no if it is on the ballot. I am just trying to find out more info. And the way this was down at last minute STILL rankles me! Now Matt’s point is still yet another piece of info that at least I hadn’t heard. Had you shared it before from your mtgs?

  14. Matt Williams

    I am not a citizen of Davis. I am a citizen of Yolo County and am subject to the rates charged for Davis Water.

    I have no pecuniary interest whatever in this project. I was invited to be part of a citizen advisory group working with the Davis Dept of Public Works to see if we could somehow reduce the water rate increases. The citizen advisory group was able to pull off a compromise solution that not only lowers the rates considerably, but puts into place a mechanism to make sure in year 5 citizens have a say in any further rate increases. We did exactly what citizens have been calling for – reducing rates and delaying part of the surface water project.

    There is still more planning to do. In the past few days I sent the following e-mail to each City Council member individually . . .

    [i]Council Member, please accept this e-mail as follow-up to the public discussions about the Surface Water project.

    As you continue to consider the best way to approach the planning for this project and the Wastewater Treatment project, I believe the biggest planning flaw with this pair of projects is that the Wastewater Treatment project isn’t being sequenced to follow the Surface Water project. If we wait for the surface water to come live, most of the “bad” constituents (selenium, salinity, etc.) will be removed from our water source, and therefore from the inputs to the wastewater treatment plant. I believe that will mean that the only remaining wastewater treatment plant upgrade needed will be the tertiary filtration, which isn’t required until October 2017.

    As I have argued this point, I’ve been asked, [u]”Does this mean that if the surface water project is approved, we can scale way back on the water treatment plant upgrades? Could that cost be cut by about half if we get the low saline and selenium surface water?”[/u] My answer to that question is that I believe a lot of the cost reductions that have been achieved to date have been because of the assumed inputs under the surface water scenario, so while there may be further achievable cost reductions, they may not be huge.

    However, even if that is the case the financial impact of such sequencing is quite probably very significant in the following ways:

    1) if the surface water project is delayed as Sue Greenwald wants, or killed completely as others in the community want, then the mandated changes in the wastewater treatment project will have to deal with the high selenium content and high salinity content of the input streams (due to the well water sources and continued use of water softeners by Davis residents). That certainly is going to put multiple tens of millions of dollars back into the wastewater treatment project. It isn’t beyond the imagination to think the added requirements will add back as much as $100 million. I will be asking Jacques DeBra if he can come up with an estimate of what these “add backs” will be.

    2) as has been noted in many of the public discussions of the Surface Water project, continuing to use well water may add upwards of $50 million in well infrastructure costs over the 20-30 years Sue Greenwald has argued that the surface water project should be delayed.

    3) if the Wastewater Project can be delayed, then the current stream of “capital set-aside” dollars from the existing Sewer fees can be used to defray the capital costs of the surface water project in the early years. I’m currently trying to nail down with Paul Navasio what that annual contribution is, but it is my hearsay understanding that it is in the $8 million to $10 million per year range, and that there is already something like $20 million already accrued. If the cash requirements of the Wastewater project can be delayed until at least 2017, then the first $76 – $90 million ($20 million plus 7 years of $8 – $10 million) of the Surface Water project costs could be paid off from the existing Sewer fees. That would substantially reduce the amount of the “capital set-aside” that would have to come from any increased Water fees. It is even possible that the whole $150 million for the Surface Water project could be paid off from the two combined “capital set-aside” stream before the capital costs for the Wastewater project need to begin in 2017. I will continue to work with Paul to create a spreadsheet that clearly delineates the impact of this scenario.

    I hope that the above planning alternative is indeed being considered, and would be very glad to meet with you to discuss it further. I copy Jacques and Paul on this e-mail in the spirit of “no surprises” since I have referenced both of them in the e-mail content.

    Thank you for your service to Davis.

    Matt Williams[/i]

  15. Michael Harrington

    I stand by my comments. I’ll see if the people who reported to me want to write letters to the Editor, or not.

    I want people to understand something: Souza’s blockers are not merely setting up a table to one side, and asking people to come over. They intercept people a few feet in front of a signature gathered and attempt to interfere with that person’s discussion with a potential signer.

    Souza is outraged that some concerned citizens are paying a few signature gatheres due to the 30 day window to turn in over 3700 valid signatures? Is Souza the same person who repeatedly took huge amounts of Davis city employee contributions then paid them back with the huge raises and pension benefits?

    And is Souza the same person who refused to second Sue’s motion to put this “fiscal mess” of a project on the ballot?

    So he back-handed local voters by taking tax money and giving it away to those who gave him huge campaign contributions; supporting the surface project spending over $300,000 on one PR firm to sell this “fiscal mess” to the public; refusing to let the Davis voters decide if this was the right project at an acceptable price; and now he is organizing blockers, and doing it himself, to intercept and distract Davis voters just before they reach a petition gatherer?

    Thank goodness we live in a Democracy, with a state-law right to a referendum to challenge a CC vote, and will have the right to vote in June 2012 on a CC candidate like Souza who bascially, in effect, robbed the taxpayers for political gain, has nearly bankrupted the City fisc, and will be running on yet more higher taxes to finance his cronies at Wes Yost and the other consultants who are making millions off of this white elephant. (David, where is that photo you ran last year with Yost at the podium with Don Saylor when he announced for County Supervisor?)

  16. Don Shor

    What is unfortunate is that the Vanguard had to do the kind of investigation that Mike Harrington should have done before posting his accusations against Stephen Souza and Kari Fry on Sunday. I’m sure Mike will now retract his accusations and apologize to Stephen and Kari.

  17. Voter2012

    [quote]The answer lies in the rules of the Prop 218 process as laid down by the state. In the Prop 218 notice, the juristiction is required to publish the worst case scenario rates. It was designed that way so that there can’t ever be a bit and switch situation.[/quote]Great point Matt.

    Also, on the issue of bait and switch protection, my recollection from the public hearing is that the contract will structured to put the risk of cost overruns on the builder. I assume this would be in the form of some sort of insurance policy and/or money held in a reserve account. Do you have any information on this?

  18. Michael Harrington

    Don: not hardly. I never said anything about Kari, BTW. She and I had a nice chat at the market; we disagree on the issues, but very civil discussion. I had never met her before, but had read her materials when she applied for the CC position.

  19. Voter2012

    Michael Harrington:

    (1) Who specifically is paying the referendum signature gatherers?

    (2) If it is a political group, what was the source of funds?

    (2) What is the current name of the committee FKA the Committee for the Protection of Tax Payer Rights?

    (3) Who were/are the members of this committee?

  20. David Suder

    [quote]In the Prop 218 notice, the juristiction [sic] is required to publish the worst case scenario rates. – Matt Williams[/quote]
    The rates published the Prop 218 notice are “worst case” in that higher rates cannot be levied without another Prop 218 notice. But such notices are relatively easy to issue.

    Once construction of the surface water project is under way, another Prop 218 notice could easily be published with higher rates. Sure, it could be stopped by protest or by initiative, but by that time tens or hundreds of millions of dollars would have been spent – and wasted – if the project was not continued. At that point, the ratepayers would be over a barrel. Given that projects like this often go over budget, this scenario seems quite likely.

    The revised water rate increases put forth recently are still below the rates in the Prop 218 notice. Thus, the rates can easily be adjusted up to the previously-noticed rates without another Prop 218 notice.

  21. Herman

    I cannot speak to what happened this weekend in much detail except to say that several signature gatherers reported that they had had to deal with “blockers.” At the start of the sigature gathering campaign, Pam Nieberg, a person not given to falsehoods or exaggerations, told me and others that she had encounterd quite aggressive blockers. Present at the time was Jim Burchill who runs a political consultancy company in Davis. According to Pam, Burchill and his associates have attempted to obstruct signature gatheres in Davis for well over a decade. About ten day ago, after the first reports of blocking, I “outed” Burchill in a post on the Vanguard.

    I expected vigorous denials and outrage from Burchill and Associates (such as Jon Li) but there were none. If the allegations were untrue one would have thought that Burchill would have denied them as his morally and legally dubious actions do not reflect well on the reputation of his company. I said at the time, and I still stand by this, that probably the city and the council (a council member or members) were not involved in hiring Burchill. However, somebody was. I’d suggest David that you might at least call Burchill and see if he denies the above charges.

  22. David Suder

    From the Vanguard 10/6 article on the water project:[quote]Woodland Councilwoman Martie Dotie [sic] assured the Davis attendees in no uncertain terms that Woodland is 100% committed to the project..
    She said they had already had their Prop 219 [sic] notice providing for a good amount of the revenues they need to support the project. She then indicated they would have another Prop 219 [sic] notice next year to fulfill their revenue generation responsibilities to entirely uphold their financial end of the project.[/quote]
    It would appear that the Woodland City Council is already planning another Prop 218 notice to increase rates over what they’ve already noticed.

    Since that rate increase has not yet been approved, Ms. Dote’s representation of “100% commitment” would appear to be a bit premature.

  23. Michael Harrington

    David Suder: correct. On a single motion, the City COuncil can vote 3/2 to raise the water rates up to the legal maximum that was in the June 2011 Prop 218 Notice. The CC can do this anytime ….

  24. Rifkin

    [i]”Likewise, Kari Fry, another person who was said to have been [b]blogging[/b], dismissed charges of interference.”[/i]

    Blogging? Or blocking? Or logging? Yes, it must be logging.

    Or locking? Or flocking? Or flogging? Or slogging? Or slugging?

  25. JayTee

    I don’t think that I’d let the fact that a signature gatherer was being paid stop me from signing a petition. It does nothing to change what the petition is about. Obviously, if there are enough volunteers to do this, nobody would have to be paid.

  26. Voter2012

    What Michael Harrington, David Suder, and Herman are saying is code for “Joe Krovoza, Rochelle Swanson, and Dan Wolk are incompetent, corrupt, and/or lying” (we already know what the consensus is about Stephen Souza).

  27. Don Shor

    As anyone who has judged debate knows, there are only two valid [b]debate[/b] tactics:
    errors or omissions of [i]fact[/i], and errors or omissions of [i]logic[/i].
    Anything else is a [b]political [/b]tactic.
    What we are seeing here is political tactics, not debate.

  28. Michael Harrington

    I am growing weary of Steve Souza and his desparate antics to avoid having the referendum on the same ballot as his higher taxes plank for his re-election.

    However, one more thing about blockers: with the advent of camera phones, many candidates and their helpers usually have a camera phone with them. When a blocker attempts to deflect voter traffic in front of a store, the victims can, and now do, routinely take photos of the offenders. If there is a further altercation, that photo is used to ID the stalker/blocker to the police, who generally prosecute if the blocker is following the signature gatherer around the store fronts.

    A blocker who follows the victim then becomes a criminal stalker.

    Sometimes the blocking rises to the level of stalking, where the victim changes doors at the store, and the blockers follow. The police will arrest and prosecute when this happens. (There is an elections code that specifically makes election stalking a criminal offense.)

    With the camera phone pictures of the stalkers, the police have a solid complaining witness, and photos. The stalkers are convicted.

    (I spoke with someone who handles state-wide initiatives, and he said that the professional signature gathers will photo-ID and have the stalkers arrested. It’s a common problem in larger campaigns.)

    I am not saying, or suggesting, that the antics of Souza and his tax-and-spend political cronies rise to the level of stalking. I hope I never hear that they have taken such desparate measures.

    One more thing on legal issues: I think that if there is a persistent campaign to block petitioners, I think it might rise to the level of inentional interference with protected political activites. I am NOT talking about Souza setting up a table at the market and talking with people; I am talking about surrounding a petitioner, and steering voters away from them; or standing directly in front of the tabler, and intercepting potentional signers and warning them not to sign. I would think that it would not be too difficult getting a temporary restraining order to ensure that the blockers had to stop harrassing potential signers, and separate themselves from tablers by so many feet. I seriously doubt that it will come to such a drastic measure, but as a litigator, I find the possibilities to be interesting. Pam Nieberg v. Steve Souza, et al.?

    What Kari did on Saturday was perfect: she had a table; she had flyers; and she reached out to voters and discussed the merits of the project as she understood them. She at no time harrassed people near the pro-referendum table. I was there for awhile, and I never saw her act out of line. Definitely a class act.

    Anyway, I think Souza just needs to mellow out a bit, and do his own thing and leave the pro-referendum petitioners alone.

  29. Rifkin

    It is not clear to me that if we delay the water project, we will have any appropriative water rights.

    Source ([url]http://www.krisweb.com/policy/water_rights.htm[/url]): “Appropriative (water) rights may be lost if not used for a period of five years.”

    Source ([url]http://www.gallerybartonlaw.com/basics.html[/url]): “Nonuse: Nonuse is different from abandonment. Nonuse simply means the failure to put the water to beneficial use for a period of five years. It is also called a ‘forfeiture.'”

    Source ([url]http://law.onecle.com/california/water/1241.html[/url]): “If the person entitled to the use of water fails to use beneficially all or any part of the water claimed by him or her, for which a right of use has vested, for the purpose for which it was appropriated or adjudicated, for a period of five years, that unused water may revert to the public and shall, if reverted, be regarded as unappropriated public water.”

    Source ([url]http://law.onecle.com/california/water/1240.html[/url]): “The appropriation must be for some useful or beneficial purpose, and when the appropriator or his successor in interest ceases to use it for such a purpose the right ceases.”

  30. Matt Williams

    David Suder said . . .

    [i]”The rates published the Prop 218 notice are “worst case” in that higher rates cannot be levied without another Prop 218 notice. But such notices are relatively easy to issue.

    Once construction of the surface water project is under way, another Prop 218 notice could easily be published with higher rates. Sure, it could be stopped by protest or by initiative, but by that time tens or hundreds of millions of dollars would have been spent – and wasted – if the project was not continued. At that point, the ratepayers would be over a barrel. Given that projects like this often go over budget, this scenario seems quite likely.”[/i]

    This is a very important point David. It highlights the importance of the risk of cost overruns being borne by the contractor . . . as has been discussed in the various threads here in the Vanguard (thank you David). [b]If cost overrun risk is contractually negotiated away, then your fear can not become reality[/b].

    David Suder said . . .

    [i]”The revised water rate increases put forth recently are still below the rates in the Prop 218 notice. Thus, the rates can easily be adjusted up to the previously-noticed rates without another Prop 218 notice.”[/i]

    In the citizens committee meeting I attended, it was explicitly stated by Jacques DeBra that whatever rates the Council adopted would supersede the rates in the Prop 218 notice as the “upper threshold” of any rates that can be charged to the public. DeBra was very clear that the Council adopted rates [u]can not in any way be adjusted up to the previously-noticed rates[/u] without another Prop 218 notice.

  31. Mr.Toad

    Censorship on this blog is so arbitrary. Why is Harrington allowed to make these character attacks on Souza? My posts have been censored for much less.

    Yes Matt Rexroad. I’m so glad that you see it the same way I do that the Davis Progressives are Tea Party types who don’t want to pay taxes to get water that is not polluted. Maybe the Republicans should do a registration drive in Davis. Your astute observations are right on the money , no pun intended.

  32. Rifkin

    [i]” DeBra was very clear that the Council adopted rates can not in any way be adjusted up to the previously-noticed rates without another Prop 218 notice.”[/i]

    So what happens, Matt, come five years from now, if the City Council is told we MUST raise rates again or lose the project after having spent tens of millions of dollars at that point? You don’t think the Council will raise the rates? You don’t think the ratepayers will find themselves in a bind, where, having paid tens of millions of dollars, they would be fools to file a 218 protest or another referendum?

    The fact is that we don’t have in place a binding contract for the costs of this project. The law signed by Jerry Brown a couple of weeks ago which will require Project Labor Agreements on all new public works projects like this one will alone add another 20% to the labor costs. We don’t know what our bond interest rate is going to be. If the project costs $180 million, but the approved rate-schedule hikes which double our rates are insufficient, then in five years we will have no choice but to keep increasing the rates.

    It seems to me highly incautious to presume a best case scenario for water rates. Yet that is pretty much what has been done in the case of “just doubling” the rates rather than tripling them.

  33. Don Shor

    Mike: [i]”Is Souza the same person who repeatedly took huge amounts of Davis city employee contributions then paid them back with the huge raises and pension benefits?”[/i]

    Wait, [i]who[/i] voted for the 3% @ 50 MOU’s? Stephen Souza? How did you vote on that, Michael? Or was it before your time on the council?

  34. Rifkin

    [i]”Who is paying the petition gatherers. Will we know or will they invoke Citizens United?”[/i]

    I don’t much care. But if you do, go down to City Hall and ask Zoe Mirabile, the City Clerk. She should be able to tell you who has contributed what funds to the referendum campaign.

  35. Michael Harrington

    Rich: I think your posts are the best ever. I dont always agree with you, but your posts are great. (ie, the logger truck above)

    We are not going to get into the details of the campaign right now, but I will say that no one is talking about allowing the City to lose any water rights it has. I’m a lawyer, and lawyers are taught to protect options. We will be sure to do that with the water rights, in the event they are needed someday.

    Brett Lee is strongly supporting the direct democracy of the referendum, and he is also focused on protecting our rights to water, even if not used for awhile. His outlook on this seems fairly reasonable to me.

  36. Matt Williams

    Rifkin said . . .

    [i]”So what happens, Matt, come five years from now, if the City Council is told we MUST raise rates again or lose the project after having spent tens of millions of dollars at that point? You don’t think the Council will raise the rates? You don’t think the ratepayers will find themselves in a bind, where, having paid tens of millions of dollars, they would be fools to file a 218 protest or another referendum?”[/i]

    Rich, I would certainly hope that the project would be completed by 36 months from now . . . ideally 24 months. But of course that only changes the timing of your question. The answer simply needs to be that the contract language will be crucial.

    Rifkin said . . .

    [i]”The fact is that we don’t have in place a binding contract for the costs of this project.”[/i]

    I see that as a classic chicken-egg situation. Without a known revenue stream, would a contractor negotiate their bid differently to cover their risk if the City couldn’t come up with the needed revenues? I know I would if I were bidding. I would cover my higher risk with a higher bid.

    Rifkin said . . .

    [i]”The law signed by Jerry Brown a couple of weeks ago which will require Project Labor Agreements on all new public works projects like this one will alone add another 20% to the labor costs. We don’t know what our bond interest rate is going to be. If the project costs $180 million, but the approved rate-schedule hikes which double our rates are insufficient, then in five years we will have no choice but to keep increasing the rates.”[/i]

    I agree, but how will an election ballot change that?

    Rifkin said . . .

    [i]”It seems to me highly incautious to presume a best case scenario for water rates. Yet that is pretty much what has been done in the case of “just doubling” the rates rather than tripling them.”[/i]

    I agree 100%. It also seems to me highly incautious to be going forward with the Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade at the same time as the Surface Water project. The Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade should be scheduled to follow the Surface Water project so that the improved inputs to the wastewater treatment plant are able to come online and the Selenium and Salinity issues are thereby eliminated.

  37. Michael Harrington

    Mr. Toad said: “Censorship on this blog is so arbitrary. Why is Harrington allowed to make these character attacks on Souza? My posts have been censored for much less.”

    What character attacks? I am commenting on his public votes, his public disclosures of who contributed money to his election efforts, and his public conduct last Saturday, with his sidekick: a tall, slender, dark haired man who was at the Saturday market and N Davis Safeway. (I wont name his name, yet, because I want a photo ID first.)

    Character attacks are things like calling someone stupid, lazy, an idiot, a crook, etc. I have not, and would not, blog those things here.

  38. Michael Harrington

    Voter2012 said: “What Michael Harrington, David Suder, and Herman are saying is code for “Joe Krovoza, Rochelle Swanson, and Dan Wolk are incompetent, corrupt, and/or lying” (we already know what the consensus is about Stephen Souza).”

    Nope, no one said that. I do believe that the CC majority has been sold a fiscal pig, at least, by the water consultants. But I have no doubt that a full campaign with an airing of the facts might actually get them to repeal the rate hikes, take a deep breath, and re-study the issues and try to get it right.

    For example, the CC was stampeded by the fiscal consultants into rushing into upping our water rates on a timeline so that the first big water bills are going to be arriving in mailboxes just before the school parcel tax election ballots are due. Did the CC do this intentionally? No. Did it happen due to the pushing from the consultants who are going to make huge profits from this project? Absolutely. Those consultants mostly dont live here, and have no clue what we worry about in this town.

    The fact that the CC let the consultants push them into this disasterous political decision to rush and probably effectively take down the school parcel tax renewal only weeks after the water bills are mailed out tells me that there is a heck of a lot about the water project that the CC simply does not understand. If they had had a clue, they would have rolled this rate hike for a year; instead, Dan’s motion died.

    (Susan L, we are not pitting water versus students, as your recent letter to the DE editor stated. The CC, and the DJUSD Board by its inaction, did that. Why did you and your colleagues on the Board sit there and let the CC ram these big rate increases through so the bills would show up on the eve of the school parcel tax renewal? All of you should have been quietly beating on the CC members to go with Dan’s motion and roll the rate hikes for at least a year.)

    Anyway, enough of blogging today. There are signatures to gather so we can protect the rights of voters in our little city to vote on this huge project.

  39. Stephen Souza

    On Saturday I helped set up the table at Farmers’ Market. I handed out literature and talked to people for a short while at our table. I observed the activity at the paid and volunteers tables from our table and several other locations. I in no way “blocked”, stood in front of or prevented those who wanted to sign the referendum from doing so. 

    At the two Safeways and the Coop I asked the folks who were gathering signatures questions about their activity, what were their names, where they were from, what they were saying and who was paying them and how they were paid.  I asked these questions in a respectful way, and I identified myself to them.  During those brief 3 to 5 minutes conversations I did stand in front of their tables to look at them instead of a disrespectful manner from the side.  Again I never stopped anyone some signing the referendum if they wanted to during that brief 3 to 5 minutes I was respectfully having our conversation.

  40. Mr.Toad

    Mike wrote:”I am growing weary of Steve Souza and his desparate antics to avoid having the referendum on the same ballot as his higher taxes plank for his re-election.”

    Speculation on his motive sounds like a personal attack to me.

    Although it is harsh rhetoric my problem is not with you Mike. My problem is with the censor who took down my post about Sue saying wants to wait 20-30 years and then take 20-30 years to pay off the project is essentially saying not in her lifetime. It seems arbitrary to take one down while leaving the other one up especially because we are talking about public people. Wouldn’t you agree Mike?

  41. David Suder

    [quote]If cost overrun risk is contractually negotiated away, then your fear can not become reality. – Matt W[/quote]If all cost overrun risks (design, construction and operation) can be contractually negotiated away without raising the project cost above what we’ve already been told, that fear would certainly be mitigated. But it’s a HUGE if, and I would not feel confident of it until the ink is dry and we have an independent legal opinion that we are completely protected.
    [quote]DeBra was very clear that the Council adopted rates can not in any way be adjusted up to the previously-noticed rates without another Prop 218 notice. – Matt W[/quote]I will be surprised, but pleased, if that turns out to be correct.
    [quote]What Michael Harrington, David Suder, and Herman are saying is code for “Joe Krovoza, Rochelle Swanson, and Dan Wolk are incompetent, corrupt, and/or lying” – Voter2012[/quote]That comment is inaccurate and completely out of line. I am surprised that the moderator did not delete it. I have not and would not say any of that – either “in code” or directly. I can disagree with someone’s opinion or interpretation of the facts without personally disparaging them. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from characterizing my comments and questions as being personally critical of anyone’s integrity, competence or motives. They are not, and are not intended to be.

  42. Don Shor

    Ok, tell you what, Mr. Toad: I’ll leave it this time. My apologies to Sue, but in order to explain the policy, it’s simpler to leave Mr. Toad’s comment.
    The main criterion is whether the post is personal in nature. Mike’s comments about Stephen were policy-related. Yours was more personal. MIke has it exactly right: vigorous discussion about the public actions or statements of a public official are fair game.
    BTW, Mr. Toad, I’d be a lot happier if you were posting under your own name, rather than a pseudonym.

  43. Voter2012

    “… there is a heck of a lot about the water project that the CC simply does not understand. If they had had a clue, they would have …”

    Hmmm. So, Michael, you’re not saying they are incompetent, corrupt, and/or lying?” You’re just saying they are clueless!!

    Technically speaking, I would include “clueless” under the heading of “incompetent,” but we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this point.

    This of course begs the question of what makes you believe you are so exceptionally insightful? I have seen no evidence that you really know what you are talking about. Add this to your willingness to demagogue this issue at the expense of the school tax, and I am more concerned about your motives than Stephen Souza’s.

  44. Herman

    Following on from what Matt Williams says above: What is to stop the Davis CC from asking for additional water fee increases to cover “unforeseen” costs via a Prop. 218 vote (that they would almost certainly win) WITHIN the next five years, let alone afterwards. Once the project is started we’re trapped and there is no going back short of abandoning the project and who will vote to support that?

  45. Sue Greenwald

    [b]Elaine and Rich — Regarding Water Rights:[/b]

    No one has ever lost a 40 year water rights permit for not completing a surface water project within 20 years. If you want to assert that they have, please find me a case.

    In addition, we have made huge progress already. Added to that, we would be working with the SWRCB.

    One can’t prove anything related to water with 100% certainty. The snow pack could melt and the river water become unavailable. They could find out that river water is contaminated by prions and that we can never use it again.

    The closest to certainty that we can come is that the SWRCB will not revoke our permit if we work with them through the processes they have set up to complete the project in 15 to 25 years.

  46. Rifkin

    [b]DONSHOR[/b]WHO[b]REMOVEDMYLOGGINGPICTURE[/b]FORNOGOODREASON: [i]”Wait, who voted for the 3% @ 50 MOU’s? Stephen Souza? How did you vote on that, Michael? Or was it before your time on the council?”[/i]

    The City of Davis adopted 3% at 50 for public safety employees in 2000 when the fire contract came up and then in 2001 when the police contracts were put in place.

    The five members of the Council who voted for both of those labor contracts were: Susie Boyd; Sheryl Freeman; Ken Wagstaff; Sue Greenwald; and Michael Harrington.

    Every council since has kept 3% at 50 in place. By state law, they could not reverse it for existing employees. But they could have gone back to 2% at 55 for new hires. As far as I know, no members of the City Council have voted against a labor contract until Lamar Heystek and Sue Greenwald did so during the last round.

    It should be pointed out that representatives of CalPERS were telling members of city councils up and down the state in 1999 and 2000 that “this won’t cost you anything.”

    It should also be pointed out that under the horrible leadership of Gov. Gray Davis, the CalPERS board itself was then corrupted, to the extent that the California Assoc. of Highway Patrolmen, the California Professional Firefighters, the California Correctional Police Officers Association and other unions tied to non-public safety employees had overtaken the policymaking arm of CalPERS and was spinning these lies in order to benefit the unions.

    So to that extent, the members of the Davis City Council who f*#ked up and approved 3% at 50 were fooled by a very effective lie being promulgated by the unions. I have even heard Helen Thomson, who voted for the underlying legislation in the Assembly (SB 400 of 1999) that she was fooled by the CalPERS pitch.

  47. Sue Greenwald

    Concerning the rate issue, David Suder is correct. I have always pointed out that tweaking the rates is irrelevant; the only thing that will count in the end is the cost of the surface water and wastewater projects and the interest rates that we get, (which we won’t really know until we wake up the morning after the bonds are issued).

    We will have to pay whatever it costs. Sure, we can hold a referendum or protest the rates because we they are higher than we thought.

    But will the majority of citizens of Davis really vote to default on hundreds of million or so of bonds? Of course not, because that would mean that we could never complete the surface water project, even if our wells ran dry.

    No, we have to plan these projects correctly in the first place. Once we distribute those bonds, the rates will be what they will be, and there is no way around it.

  48. Rifkin

    [i]”No one has ever lost a 40 year water rights permit for not completing a surface water project within 20 years.”[/i]

    Has there ever been a case in which a party had water rights in California but chose not to use them for 20 years and despite not using them the party’s water rights were not forfeited?

    To my mind, that is the appropriate question.

    [i]”Added to that, we would be working with the SWRCB.”[/i]

    Again, is there a precedent where the SWRCB did not revoke a party’s water rights when that party decided to purposefully put off its water works project for 20 years or more?

  49. Don Shor

    Re: water rights, from
    NATIONAL WATER RESEARCH INSTITUTE
    Final Report
    Independent Advisory Panel
    Review of the
    Davis-Woodland Water Supply Project

    “Loss of Water Rights.
    The Panel concluded that the most serious consequence of postponing the project is the probability of losing the pending appropriative right to withdraw up to 46,100 acre-feet of water per year from the Sacramento River.
    The application to secure these rights was submitted to the SWRCB by Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District in 1994 in response to a county-wide water supply study. That application has been reassigned to the Project Partners. The SWRCB, however, requires due diligence on the part of the applicant to pursue and implement water rights. Therefore, if the Project Partners are not able to show timely progress, the SWRCB is likely to cancel the application.
    The net result of this action would be that the Project Partners would have to start the process anew, thereby losing their “place in line.” The money expended thus far in pursuing this application has exceeded $3 million. If the effort to secure these water rights is postponed to a later date, much of the work would have to be redone.
    Furthermore, whereas only 11 protests were filed when the original application was filed in 1994, nine of which have been resolved, it is probable that a new application would trigger far more protests and concomitantly reduce the chances of obtaining the rights to appropriate the surface water needed for the project. The Panel found the Technical Memorandum dated October 17, 2007, from Jim Yost et al. to Gary Wegener on this subject persuasive.”

    The fact that something has never happened before certainly isn’t meaningful with regard to water law. When the courts protected Mono Lake, that had never happened before in the abrogation of MWD’s water rights. When the federal judge ruled that Tracy could continue polluting the delta because of the cost issue — which I note is a significant part of why you are optimistic about an appeal — that had never happened before. When EBMUD did a water grab up the American River, it took many by surprise.

  50. Sue Greenwald

    You know, Rich, it was that 3% at 50 vote when I was new to the council that taught me not to believe everything that staff and the experts said, if they were in the food chain or in vulnerable positions.

    Staff insisted that 3% at 50 was sustainable. CALPERS insisted that these rates were sustainable.

    I was skeptical, and attended a CALPERS three day seminar that was held mainly for finance directors and city managers. Again, all the experts said that it was sustainable.

    But on close questioning in private, they acknowledged that it was not.

    Ever since, I have gone beyond the public statements and reports of staff and experts with vulnerable jobs in order to get advice.

    This approach paid off in a big way when I was able to save $100 on the wastewater treatment plant. At the time, I was treated about the way I am today on these blogs for doing so.

  51. Mr.Toad

    But the Federal Reserve has said they will keep short term rates low until at least 2013 and are now buying long term bonds to keep long term rates low in order to stimulate the economy. So it is doubtful that even with the interest rate spread between Municipal bonds and Treasuries that interest rates will be lower during the time frames you suggest.

  52. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]Has there ever been a case in which a party had water rights in California but chose not to use them for 20 years and despite not using them the party’s water rights were not forfeited? –[b]Rich Rifkin[/b][/quote]I have been told that there have been. I have also been told that we were given a 40 year permit and not a 10 year permit for a reason.

    And I also know that we would be working with the SWRCB, so there would be absolutely no reason for them to pull the rights. I am proposing applying for a salinity variance and working with the board.

    I maintain that it is very misleading to tell the public that we are in danger of losing the water rights if we work within the system.

    If the anti-referendum people want to be accurate, they could say: If we defy the SWRCB and postpone the project without working with them, we could be subject to a myriad of risks including, but not limited to, losing our water rights.

  53. Michael Harrington

    Rifkin wrote: “So to that extent, the members of the Davis City Council who f*#ked up and approved 3% at 50 were fooled by a very effective lie being promulgated by the unions. I have even heard Helen Thomson, who voted for the underlying legislation in the Assembly (SB 400 of 1999) that she was fooled by the CalPERS pitch. “

    Yes, the CC “f*#ked up” in 2000. I was part of that CC. It would be facinating to get the binders and reports that were shown to us in closed session (always in closed season …) about the up and downsides to the 3% at 50. It’s been awhile, but I dont remember any specific warning.

    I do remember that staff were hammering us to approve these packages “because Davis does not want to fall behind our comparable basket of cities who will recruit away our best people.” That was a mantra, a drumbeat. We were told that surrounding jurisdictions were going to get our police and firepersons whom Davis had spent a lot of money training. No specific examples were provided. We went with the flow, unfortunately. The city was not budgeting long term, and the pension costs were kept off the books so we didnt have to include them to balance the budget, from memory, plus what I know now. I have no memory of staff warning us of incurring a large unfunded liability from the 3% at 50 pension plan.

    I wish we had had the Davis Vanguard Blog and Rich Rifkin back in the old days. You would probably now see a city with much better finances.

    Grey Davis started the pension nuclear arms race by giving the 3% at 50 to some statewide public safety, and local jurisdictions went along like sheep so we didnt lose our best police to the CHP and our best firefighters to statewide agencies.

    So yes, the 2000 CC screwed up, and it was not until Sue and Lamar were paired up, and with information from the DV Blog, that things started to change.

    BTW, of the 5 CC members in the 2000 and 2002 CCs, Susie was the most strict with budgeting, and then Ruth was for her CC. (They both blew it with the fiscal analysis for Covell Village, but that’s another story.) Both Susie and Ruth had direct personnel experience from the DJUSD; none of the rest of us had that background.

  54. Sue Greenwald

    Don Shor, Regarding the National Water Research Institute Report:

    I know this report well. This report was a classic consultant’s report that the city commissions to support their claims. Remember those consultant reports the city paid for to justify the Target that you so opposed? Did you rely on those reports? No. This is the same thing.

    The city can always hire a consultant group to give the results that they want to see. They have done so many times in the past. It is standard procedure.

    I will address the main points in this very cursory report shortly.

  55. Michael Harrington

    Don: I have left several messages for you; please call when you have a few minutes.

    About the argument that we lose our water rights if we dont move NOW and get this surface water plant done right away. That actually is completely bogus. If you look at the permit itself, it allows for use of the water in ag land. It’s very possible to immediately start using some of the river water on ag land and other uses; it does not have to be drunk by Davis residents. And as Sue pointed out, it’s a 40 year permit, and there simply is no rush.

    I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if the referendum qualfies, you are going to see a very simple, and solid, debunking of the PR pablum that the + $300,000 PR consultant machine has been emmiting to justify the need for this surface water project, and their own fees.

    We need more signatures soon!! Look for the petition gatherers and sign! Tell the CC that you want these enormous rate hikes repealed, or put on the June 2012 ballot for an up or down vote by the people.

  56. Don Shor

    Sue: [i]I also know that we would be working with the SWRCB[/i]
    You keep saying that, but the SWRCB has no discretion in changing the water quality limits that are set in federal law. They can, as far as I can determine, only approve the pace of implementation for Davis and Woodland to come into compliance. Those water quality standards have been tightening for years, and will continue to tighten.
    Your whole Plan A boils down to Davis trying to get approval for a 25 year delay in complying with federal standards, five years at a time, on the basis that it will cost the city too much money. Meanwhile, Woodland will be paying for what Davis will be telling the SWRCB it can’t pay for. And then, eventually, Davis will pay for it anyway.
    Your proposal costs Davis residents more money in the long run, in order to save a little money in the short run. I still don’t know what your Plan B is. File a lawsuit and tie it up in court while the fines mount?

  57. Rifkin

    [i]”This approach paid off in a big way when I was able to save $100 [b]million[/b] on the wastewater treatment plant.”[/i]

    Fixed. Saving $100 is not such a big deal as saving (using the voice of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers) one hundred meeeelion dollars.

  58. Don Shor

    Here is the report I have referenced which Sue just commented on:
    [url]http://davismerchants.org/independentwaterprojectreview.pdf[/url]

    Here are the authors that produced it and signed their names to it:
    HARVEY F. COLLINS, PH.D., P.E. (Chair)
    Environmental Engineer Consultant (Sacramento, California)
    Harvey Collins has over 30 years of experience in California state government, working in all fields of sanitary/environmental engineering and environmental health.

    ROBERT C. CHENG, PH.D., P.E. Deputy General Manager, Operations (Long Beach, California) Robert Cheng is the Deputy General Manager of Operations for the Long Beach Water Department.

    GRAHAM E. FOGG, PH.D.
    Professor of Hydrogeology and Hydrogeologist
    University of California, Davis (Davis, California)
    Graham Fogg has had over 30 years experience characterizing and analyzing groundwater under a variety of conditions in the southwest and western United States. He is currently a professor of Hydrogeology in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources (LAWR) at the University of California, Davis

    BRENT M. HADDAD, PH.D.
    Director, Center for Integrated Water Research
    Professor of Environmental Studies Department
    University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California)
    Brent Haddad has taught courses in Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) for the past 10 years…

    RICHARD H. SAKAJI, PH.D., P.E.
    Manager of Planning and Analysis for Water Quality
    East Bay Municipal Utility District
    Dr. Richard Sakaji is the Manager of Planning and Analysis for Water Quality with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).

    R. RHODES TRUSSELL, PH.D., P.E., DEE
    President
    Trussell Technologies, Inc. (Pasadena, California)
    R. Rhodes Trussell, Ph.D., P.E., DEE, is recognized worldwide as an authority in methods and criteria for water quality and in the development of advanced processes for treating water or wastewater to achieve the highest standards.

    GUS YATES, PG, CHg
    Independent Consulting Hydrologist (Berkeley, California)
    Gus Yates is an independent consulting hydrologist with 24 years experience in technical analysis, water resources planning, and project management for investigations involving surface water, groundwater, water quality and habitat restoration.

    VALERIE J. YOUNG, AICP
    Senior Environmental Planner
    Winzler & Kelly (San Francisco, California)
    Valerie Young is a senior environmental planner and water reuse specialist with over 28 years of professional planning experience.

    Please tell me you’re not going to disparage these folks as lacking professional credentials.
    And I repeat:
    [b]Now I would appreciate it if anybody would post a link or quote from any expert in the field: 

who believes
    that the deep aquifer is a sustainable or preferable alternative,
    

who endorses delaying or canceling the surface water project, 


    who believes we are likely to be able to succeed in arguing for a higher salinity discharge limit.[/b]

  59. Observer

    I talked to a signature gatherer at Nugget, and asked him if he had been subjected to “blocking.” He said “No,” and that he had no objection to other people with different views vying for the attention of the prospective signer. I find it odd that with cell phones being ubiquitous, no one has videotaped and uploaded the type of aggressive behavior described here. Not saying is hasn’t happened, just find it odd that none of the accusations of rough stuff have been substantiated with easily obtainable video.

  60. Michael Harrington

    I really hope this issue of blockers goes away, and we don’t have to resort to using the products that our phones so easily capture. I dont get one more signature carping about blockers or Steve and his sidekick who went around to the markets on Saturday. I dont have any issue whatsoever if Steve wants to hand out literature; I do have an issue when he tries to intercept shoppers as they are approaching our tablers, or hangs around our tablers and tries to chat up our potential signers and get them not to sign. That is interference with direct democracy.

    If our tabler gets up and moves to the other side of the doors, or to another door, or to another supermarket, and a blocker follows him, I understand that is a crime called stalking. If anyone wants the legal citations, I will get them for you. Michael, 759-8440, or michael@mikeharringtonlaw.com

  61. Voter2012

    [quote]I talked to a signature gatherer at Nugget, and asked him if he had been subjected to “blocking.” He said “No,” and that he had no objection to other people with different views vying for the attention of the prospective signer. I find it odd that with cell phones being ubiquitous, no one has videotaped and uploaded the type of aggressive behavior described here. Not saying is hasn’t happened, just find it odd that none of the accusations of rough stuff have been substantiated with easily obtainable video.[/quote]I have also had a chance to observe the petitioning from time to time as I’m out and about shopping – and have seen nothing (as in nada, zip, zilch) confrontational or out of the ordinary.

    The only thing strange that I have seen was Brett Lee tabling with Pam Nieberg (… bad move Brett; you should dump your political advisers while you still have a chance).

    I’m also not saying it couldn’t happen (on either side) but, personally, until I read a sworn statement from Pam Nieberg, and/or see a video, I’m going to file this under the category of “made-up BS” (like the half billion dollar budget and our dead-beat partner to the north).

  62. Rifkin

    [i]”I would appreciate it if anybody would post a link or quote from any expert in the field: 
who believes that the deep aquifer is a sustainable.” [/i]

    Don, if you go to this link ([url]http://lexicondaily.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-water-experts-say.html[/url]), you will find the views on this question of six UC Davis water experts I recently interviewed.

    Note also that my Davis Enterprise column, which will be available online tomorrow and published in the print edition on Wednesday, focuses on the water works question.

  63. Voter2012

    @ Sue Greenwald (10/10/11 – 01:00 PM)[quote]Ever since, I have gone beyond the public statements and reports of staff and experts with vulnerable jobs in order to get advice.

    This approach paid off in a big way when [b]I was able to save $100 on the wastewater treatment plant[/b]. At the time, I was treated about the way I am today on these blogs for doing so.[/quote]@ alanpryor (10/06/11 – 09:31 AM)[quote]Sue Greenwald has repeatedly stated that she “personally” saved the City this money which is no more true than if I claimed my it was my dog, Spot, that saved the City the money.

    To her credit, at the time Sue was pushing very hard for a 3rd review of preliminary wastewater treatment plant upgrades. But others also said it was a good idea to get a 3rd opinion of these preliminary plans. And so the City went out and got a 3rd opinion…that’s business as usual for preliminary capital improvement projects of that magnitude

    Drs. Schroeder and Tchobanoglous then did their study and recommended an advanced bioreactor be included in the upgrade wastewater treatment design plan ALONG WITH BRINGING IN SURFACE WATER. The point is it was a package deal that they proposed that resulted in the savings Sue claims as her own. It included both a new equipment design plan AND bringing in surface water.

    The irony is that Sue is now trying to gut the Schroeder and Tchobanoglous recommendations by eliminating bringing in the surface water which seems to be a cornerstone of their recommendations, But doing so completely scuttles their plans and eliminates the savings Sue claims as her own. As I pointed out in the article above, IF we have to resort to additional treatment of our already tertiary treated water to come into NPDES wastewater discharge compliance, it may very well cost us $100,000,000 to $200,000,000 OR MUCH MORE!

    I doubt very much that Sue will be claiming that she personally COST the City $100,000,000 in future wastewater treatment costs if she is successful in scuttling the surface water project.[/quote]Note the construction of the argument — Sue relies on “experts with vulnerable jobs.” This precludes any possibility of any independent due diligence or collaborative efforts with CC colleagues or other members of the team. This is no way to make public policy.

  64. Voter2012

    Sorry. I misread Sue’s post. She clearly meant that “experts with vulnerable jobs” are not a reliable source of input because of the presumption that they have a pro-project bias. In other words, their jobs are vulnerable if they say or recommend the wrong thing.

    What confused me on my initial quick read was that Sue often argues that she can’t reveal her sources because they also have vulnerable jobs. Mea culpa.

    My conclusion is the same — but is not supported by the particular text in this post.

  65. Don Shor

    Rich: [i]Don, if you go to this link*, you will find the views on this question of six UC Davis water experts I recently interviewed. [/i]

    Thank you. I rest my case.

    * [url]http://lexicondaily.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-water-experts-say.html[/url]

  66. Adam Smith

    [i]Don, if you go to this link, you will find the views on this question of six UC Davis water experts I recently interviewed. [/i]

    Fortunately, these experts, apparently unknown to Mike and Sue, will actually comment for the record. Wow, Mike, I think you are wasting a lot of somebody’s money and time on this referendum. It sure looks like the facts (as opposed to the outlandish) will prove out the CC’s case. I wonder who is backing the referendum efforts financially…maybe it is the well drilling companies hoping to drill many more multi-million dollar wells.

  67. Ryan Kelly

    I observed the person tabling at Safeway on Sunday. I did not recognize him and wondered where he came from. He was polite and non-aggressive. No one was “blocking” his table. This was on a Sunday afternoon. I wondered why local people were not gathering the signatures. After all, it was not a weekday. Why didn’t Mike Harrington gather signatures on that day, if this was an issue that is so important to him? It seems that he has time enough on his hands to write lengthy postings (that are difficult to follow, I might add). I wonder, if I had stopped at the table to ask some questions would that be “blocking?”

    As in soccer, every player has a right to every position on the field. Obviously, Mike Harrington feels that if the resident talks to a water project supporter first, they won’t sign the petition. That is a really interesting supposition. It sounds desperate.

    As for causing a ruckus at the Farmer’s market – this isn’t the first time that this has happened (and not the first time where Mike Harrington is in the mix). Personally, I will avoid that end of the market until after the election.

  68. Rifkin

    [i]”Fortunately, these experts, apparently unknown to Mike and Sue, will actually comment for the record.”[/i]

    I should note that I contacted about 15 more water experts from UC Davis who I did not bother to quote. They were willing to help me, but they told me that they could not answer my questions in this area because it was outside their area of expertise. Many told me to speak with Jay Lund ([url]http://watershed.ucdavis.edu/people/faculty.html#lund[/url]). But I failed to get ahold of him when I was doing my questioning last week. So if anyone thinks there may be an expert on this question who holds a different view, perhaps you can talk with Professor Lund.

    … Tangentially, it amazes me how many professors and researchers at UC Davis–where I never was a student–study hydrology and water-related geology and water questions in agriculture and various fields of agricultural economics having to do with water and sustainability and so on. There are also a good number of environmental scientists at UCD who examine the larger use questions of water in urban environments. No wonder Davis is #38!

  69. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]Sue Greenwald has repeatedly stated that she “personally” saved the City this money which is no more true than if I claimed my it was my dog, Spot, that saved the City the money.

    To her credit, at the time Sue was pushing very hard for a 3rd review of preliminary wastewater treatment plant upgrades. But others also said it was a good idea to get a 3rd opinion of these preliminary plans. And so the City went out and got a 3rd opinion…that’s business as usual for preliminary capital improvement projects of that magnitude –[b] Voter 2012[/b][/quote][b]Voter 2012[/b]: You clearly don’t know the history of the Tchobanoglous and Schroeder review.

    I can definitely take personal credit for saving the city $100,000 on the project in the sense that if I were not on the council at the time, council would have signed a contract for the $200,000 million project.

    I had been begging council for over a year to hire Dr. Tchobanoglous to review the project. I had recognized that the ratepayers could not afford $400 million worth of capital improvements and water purchases simultaneously, and made enough of a fuss about the cumulative costs that local, worried, UNNAMED professionals in the field quietly told me that the project design was crazy, and that I should talk with Dr. Tchabonoglous.

    For over a year, I begged the council the hire Dr. Tchobanoglous to review the project. Frankly, I my pleas were met with derisive comments by staff and council. I persisted. The $200 million design contract was about to be signed. This was no “preliminary” anything.

    Just before the $200 million contract was about to be signed, I made such a fuss about the cumulative cost that I finally got a very reluctant council to hire Dr. Tchobanoglous.

    The city manager at time thanked me and told me that the contract for the $200 million project was on his desk ready to sign but was being held up until the results of the study upon which I had insisted arrived.

    No one else had wanted a third party review at that time. It was resisted every step of the way.

    I have all the old videos somewhere and will eventually dig them up. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people who can testify to the validity of my comments.

    Question: Maybe, just for once, you can take off your political hat and simply give credit and thanks for a job well done.

  70. Mark West

    Sue Greenwald:
    [i]
    Question: Maybe, just for once, you can take off your political hat and simply give credit and thanks for a job well done. [/i]

    @ alanpryor
    Drs. Schroeder and Tchobanoglous then did their study and recommended an advanced bioreactor be included in the upgrade wastewater treatment design plan ALONG WITH BRINGING IN SURFACE WATER.

    Sue: The savings you are so happy to claim credit for are completely dependent upon our completing the surface water project. They are meaningless without a cleaner source of water. Your attempt to stop or delay the surface water project therefore negates these savings. In short, what you are doing today undoes what you claim you did yesterday.

  71. Frankly

    [i]”+ $300,000 PR consultant machine[/i]

    Mike, from this and other posting with pejoratives it is clear that you have a problem with the paid consultants. I have experienced something similar before when you were on the CC preventing Verizon from putting in a cell tower. At that time I noted your comments were disparaging of “big companies like Verizon”. Is this a fundamental issue with you, or is it just certain paid consultants and certain big companies?

    The reason I ask this question is that I am still unclear as to your significant motivation to kill this surface water project, and what plan you do support. Sue has made it clear she supports the project concept, but just wants to delay the expense to soften the economic impact on rate payers. I think this is just kicking a rate-paying can down the road, but I do understand and empathize with her position.

    You mention the timing of new water rate bills coinciding with education parcel tax vote… is this what is driving you to pay for signature gathering? I assume you have the city’s best interest in mind. Please explain what you hope to accomplish forcing a referendum vote.

  72. Frankly

    Matt Williams: [i]”The Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade should be scheduled to follow the Surface Water project so that the improved inputs to the wastewater treatment plant are able to come online and the Selenium and Salinity issues are thereby eliminated.”[/i]

    Sue, this seems a reasonable approach. Why not support the early completing of the surface water project to improve the waste water. Is it possible that we would not need a new waste water treatment plant with these improved inputs? Aside from selenium and nitrates, how many residents use water softeners that dump salts into our wastewater?

    Also consider that better tap water has a direct benefit to the rate payer, while waste water treatment improvements will be mostly invisible to the rate payer. For example, I probably spend $70 month on drinking water and water softener salt for my modest-sized house and family of four. My rates will likely go up more than $70 per month unless I reduce the amount of grass in my yard. However, there are other potential benefits replacing our shallow well water system… like fewer water spots and reduced mineral scale build-up. These are direct benefits to offset the higher rates.

  73. Mr.Toad

    Don said:”Here is the report I have referenced which Sue just commented on:
    http://davismerchants.org/inde…review.pdf”

    I was at the City Council meeting where this was presented and it was at that meeting where I decided that Sue’s behavior was too over the top for me to believe she was fit to serve. It wasn’t just because I disagree with her on most issues. At that meeting she was gaveled down after asking numerous questions in a confrontational manner. Her questions were unprepared and lacked relevance or clarity of thought. She was so worked up she missed the most obvious critique that would have shown the bias of the writers, that they didn’t account for inflation in their estimates of future costs. When Ruth wanted to give other members a chance Sue would not yield and had a tantrum. Instead of asking for another chance, collecting her thoughts, formulating her questions and letting others have a chance, she got into an embarrassing confrontation with Ruth. I was stunned by what I observed that night.

    Interesting that Dr. Fogg was named on that study so you wonder why Sue is invoking his name now. Also the inquiry of the UC Davis faculty is illuminating since they seem in agreement that Davis should develop its Sacramento River water rights. In California, Davis might be the only municipality to repeatedly turn down water development. Could we be too smart for our own good?

  74. DT Businessman

    Davis is not crazy. This is just a bad dream. Davis is not crazy. This is just a bad dream. Davis is not crazy. This is just a bad dream. How many times do I have to repeat the mantra for this to work?

  75. Michael Harrington

    Rich: I read your summary of the list of experts you found and interviewed. Most acknowledge that they have no idea what the aquifer system will produce over the long run.

    Most, or all, of the experts talk about conservation programs. Davis has done almost nothing about reducing demand, other than upping the price to pay, mostly, for the surface water planning.

    My take, from a five minute read, is any of those experts could back a long term well system if there was data for it.

    As a senior City staff member acknowledged to me, the City has never done a full study of the aquifer system as a way of providing city potable water for the longer term. The Rifkin group of experts basically confirms this, as they dont have comprehensive data to discuss, and they acknowledge that.

    Jeff Boone: About Verizon: was that the cell tower that was placed near the North Pond so it beamed directly into the windows of the nearby bedroom of a teenage girl? Or was it the one directly over the bleachers at Davis High School so it would irradiate the kids below? I forget; please remind me. Thank goodness for Sue and Ruth in stopping these towers. Also, Ruth, as the scientist on the CC, greatly assisted with the City’s cell tower control ordinance that was very progressive at the time. I do remember Verizon sending literally a room full of black suited lawyers and consultants to CC chambers, with the court reporter pecking away, and they threatened us if we approved the control ordinance. Jeff, are you referring to those hired guns?

    Jeff, if you sat up on the dais and had to vote on these things, you understand the high level of fiduciary duty where we HAD to get it right, to protect the health and safeyt of our residents, especially the children who were hear due to parential decisions to live here. So to have Verizon come into town, attempt to push potentially dangerous technolgy into our schools and neighborhoods, and threat us with a room full of dark suits? I am sorry, but if you remember that I commented about Verison, I certainly did, and would do it again.

    That is why I find it so shocking that even if the CC majority was hell-bent on ramming this project through, at least they could have set it up so the humongous new water bills were not coming due days before the vote on the school parcel tax renewals. The CC has a fiduciary duty, and they really blew it for all of us, especially the kids who need that $6.5 million in tax renewals next March.

    (Susan L, there is nothing complicated about this bad timing. You should bang on the CC members for setting this bad situation up.)

  76. Rifkin

    [b]+ $300,000 PR consultant machine[/b]

    [i]Mike, from this and other posting with pejoratives it is clear that you have a problem with the paid consultants.[/i]

    Speaking for myself, I have a big problem with hiring a PR consultant, because they are using the public’s money to convince the public that the public needs to buy into the water works, which will cost the public more money.

    It reminds me of the school district using taxpayer funds to pass the last Measure A, which would cost the taxpayers more of their funds. An analogy–maybe an imperfect one, but it comes to mind–is with religion mixing with government. I have no problem with a minister of some church I don’t belong to accepting money from his congregants to spread The Word. But I have a serious problem with that minister taking public money to preach His Gospel. Although I am not necessarily against the water works, I can sympathize with a Mike Harrington-type who opposes paying taxes (or forcible fees) which are then employed to sell him on a project he strong disagrees with.

    I think the right way to go is to sell the water works issue to the public with unpaid, but highly informed members of the WDCWA (such as Stephen Souza and Joe Krovoza) making the pitch, explaining why it is in the public’s interest to buy the proposal. I also think that the unpaid pitchmen should quote the opinions of those experts who initially convinced the councilmen that this was the correct avenue. Further, if informed members of the public support the project, then ask those members of the public to speak out in favor of the project or set up booths at the Farmer’s Market in the manner Kari Frye did.

    They also could hold small coffee klatches to raise money for a PR effort. That way the folks who are paying for the PR are already supporters of their proposal (though I would caution against taking money from people who likely have a financial gain to be made if the project is approved).

  77. Michael Harrington

    The CC just doesn’t have a clue: they voted to pay yet another consultant $30,000, this time to look at how teenagers can use the VM facility. I would suggest that the CC could get that opinion for FREE, from experts on the Parks and Rec Commission, with some supplements from local developers and architects, to present a great plan. Again, they just gave away more money without justification. They want to renew the parks parcel tax, right? Get a clue, or the voters will show you how it’s done.

  78. Frankly

    Rich: Assuming no lack of disclosure of conflicts of interests, I’m not as concerned about paid consultants as you seem to be. Most people have biases, and some are better at others maintaining objectivity. The level of demonstrated objectivity should be a key credential regardless of being paid or not.

    I sometimes worry more about unpaid “experts” given the lack of motivational transparency. At least a paid consultant has a contract and a professional reputation at stake.

    For example, even if I worked for free to provide analysis of our public education system, I doubt there would be many takers given my advocacy for privatization. That would be a wise decision because with no economic skin in the game, I would probably try to use the gig as a platform for my ideas. However, if my professional career was as an education consultant, my ability to mediate and negotiate the middle ground would be a key performance requirement for my ongoing ability to secure work.

    Davis might be lucky in that we have a lot of well-educated experts with available free time to contribute to these complex policy questions. However, it might be even more difficult for a resident of the community to stay completely unbiased. Outside paid experts can be a remedy for too much internal bias.

  79. DT Businessman

    “Davis might be lucky in that we have a lot of well-educated experts with available free time to contribute to these complex policy questions.”

    Perfect opening, Jeff. It is fairly evident that, at best, we have “a lot of well-educated experts” in certain fields spouting off on subjects where they have little expertise. And then when Don Shor points out the rampant errors in reasoning, it is met with deafening silence.

    I’m beginning to wonder whether Logic 101 is part of the UCD curriculum.

    DT Businessman reporting (aka Michael Bisch)

  80. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Voter 2012:Sue Greenwald: You clearly don’t know the history of the Tchobanoglous and Schroeder review. I can definitely take personal credit for saving the city $100,000 on the project in the sense that if I were not on the council at the time, council would have signed a contract for the $200,000 million project. [/quote]

    Tchobanoglous and Schroeder recommended instituting the surface water project first and foremost in order to save money on the wastewater treatment side, as the most cost effective approach. You apparently are not willing to take the advice of the very experts you insisted be consulted…

  81. Voter2012

    @ Sue Greenwald (5:21 PM): “Question: Maybe, just for once, you can take off your political hat and simply give credit and thanks for a job well done.”

    Sue: The quote you attribute to me was written by Alan Pryor. Alan knows 100 times more than me about the water issue, although I try to educate myself as time permits.

    Regarding credit … While you played an important role in forcing a re-evaluation of the project, to say that you personally “saved” the city $100M is, from my professional perspective, just grandstanding.

    You argued for another project review based on input from unnamed sources. Why don’t they get some credit?

    You had support from three other CC members to move forward with the consulting agreement. Why don’t they get some credit?

    The two consultants did the redesign. Why don’t they get some credit?

    And all this begs the question, how did we actually save $100M on a project that hasn’t been built yet? Maybe we should wait until the project design has been finalized and a bid has been accepted before you run a victory lap.

    Also, you have not adequately address the arguments from Mark West, ERM, Matt Williams and others about the linkage between the surface water project and the [u]projected[/u] savings on the wastewater project.

    @ Mark West: “The savings you are so happy to claim credit for are completely dependent upon our completing the surface water project. They are meaningless without a cleaner source of water. Your attempt to stop or delay the surface water project therefore negates these savings. In short, what you are doing today undoes what you claim you did yesterday.”

  82. J.R.

    “As anyone who has judged debate knows, there are only two valid debate tactics:
    errors or omissions of fact, and errors or omissions of logic.
    Anything else is a political tactic.
    What we are seeing here is political tactics, not debate.”

    Wow. Those are the only valid debate tactics? Who knew?

    I thought that making persuasive and well formulated arguments was a valid debate tactic.

    You learn something every day on this blog.

  83. Don Shor

    [i]I thought that making persuasive and well formulated arguments was a valid debate tactic. [/i]

    That is what you use to reveal the facts and logic which are on your side, or the errors in those which are on the other side. Whether or not they are persuasive and well-formulated is what the debate judge assesses.

  84. Rifkin

    [i]”DT Businessman reporting (aka Michael Bisch)”[/i]

    Next time I run into you, I hope you will be carrying a wireless microphone–or better yet, a Mr. Microphone–and upon the conclusion of our conversation, you turn to the (pretend) camera and speak in a serious tone: “DT Businessman reporting (aka Michael Bisch).”

    [img]http://www.instructables.com/image/F7R3VUNFHEJ03AO/What-you-need.jpg[/img]

  85. Rifkin

    [i]”And all this begs the question, how did we actually save $100M on a project that hasn’t been built yet? Maybe we should wait until the project design has been finalized and a bid has been accepted before you [u]run a victory lap[/u].”

    Like this?

    [img]http://chzupnextinsports.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/funny-sports-pictures-victory-lap.jpg[/img]

  86. Sue Greenwald

    [quote][b]Mark West[/b]: “The savings you are so happy to claim credit for are completely dependent upon our completing the surface water project. They are meaningless without a cleaner source of water. Your attempt to stop or delay the surface water project therefore negates these savings. In short, what you are doing today undoes what you claim you did yesterday.”
    [/quote][b]Mark West et.[/b]: You don’t understand the wastewater treatment plant issue at all. River water addresses salinity effluent. Neither the plant that Dr. Tchobanoglous/Schroeder designed nor the $200 million plant addressed the salinity issue.

    So river water irrelevant to the issue of the $200 million vs. the $100 million plant.

    The only wastewater treatment plant that can address salinity is reverse osmosis, and the SWRCB has never made a city in the valley build a reverse osmosis plant because they are too expensive and don’t really solve the problem.

    I will try explaining this once again: Things have changed regarding salinity. After Drs. Tchobanglous and Schroeder wrote their report, the state decided the revisit the salinity requirements and establish a salinity variance program.

    It is this process that I recommended participating in order to give us flexibility in case we need to postpone the plant.

  87. Sue Greenwald

    In other words: [b]Mark West, Elaine Musser, Matt Williams, Voter2012, et. al.[/b]Apprently you don’t understand the issue between salinity and the wastewater treatment plant design yet.

    Neither the Tchobanoglous/Schoeder design nor the $200 million design addressed salinity. The river water was needed to address salinity. It might be possible to postpone the surface water project because the state is reviewing the salinity limit policy and is setting up a salinity variance program.

    This would be true whether we built the Tchobanoglous Shroeder design or the $200 million design.

    I’ll keep trying this until you understand.

  88. Frankly

    Mike Harrington: [i]”Or was it the one directly over the bleachers at Davis High School so it would irradiate the kids below?”[/i]

    I was that one, although I don’t remember the science that concluded that kids below would be irradiated. I do remember that I was still unable to get working cell reception in West Davis for a couple more years.

    I am just trying to understand your opposition to the surface water project. I think I read that you think it is too expensive and the rate increases will be poorly timed to coincide with the vote to renew the parcel tax. Is this it? I haven’t read any expert opinion for a less expensive solution (non-experts have opined). I’m interested in your view since you are leading the charge for gathering signatures.

  89. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]You keep saying that, but the SWRCB has no discretion in changing the water quality limits that are set in federal law. They can, as far as I can determine, only approve the pace of implementation for Davis and Woodland to come into compliance. –[b] Don Shor[/b][/quote]Don, municipal effluent is not the only mechanism at the state’s disposal for abating salinity. They can also flush out the river with reservoir releases.

    This is one reason why the state is reviewing the salinity management. If the state didn’t have discretion in this department, they would not be establishing a salinity variance procedure.

  90. Don Shor

    The basic problem I have with Sue’s recommendation to pursue a variance is that the variance policy being developed is for cases where “effluent limitations cannot be met” — i.e., cases like Tracy where the judge ruled that, since reverse osmosis was the only option, and that was very expensive, the state had to take that into consideration in enforcing the federal guidelines.
    In Davis, the effluent limitations can be met. I am assuming Sue believes that the precedent set in Tracy means that the cost to a city can be a consideration, and that Davis should claim that the cost of the surface water project is too onerous to undertake at this time. The problem I have with that is that
    –Woodland is undertaking that cost to meet the same effluent objective;
    –it is not as expensive as reverse osmosis;
    –Davis would be arguing that we can’t do something which we are going to eventually do anyway.
    The state policy draft is here: [url]http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb5//water_issues/basin_plans/variances/variance_scoping_info.pdf[/url]
    Others may certainly read this differently than I do. I would like to hear an expert, on record, state that they think that a variance has some probability of succeeding, based on this policy or some other of which they are aware.
    Here is information about the Tracy case: [url]http://baydelta.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/judge-frawleys-decision-on-south-delta-salinity-and-tracy-discharge/[/url]
    Here is the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act that guides all this: [url]http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/laws_regulations/docs/portercologne.pdf[/url]

  91. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]Matt Williams: “The Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade should be scheduled to follow the Surface Water project so that the improved inputs to the wastewater treatment plant are able to come online and the Selenium and Salinity issues are thereby eliminated.”

    Sue, this seems a reasonable approach. Why not support the early completing of the surface water project to improve the waste water. Is it possible that we would not need a new waste water treatment plant with these improved inputs? [b]Jeff Boone[/b][/quote]Jeff, it is a little bit difficult for me to understand Matt’s theory.

    I would much prefer to have the surface water and delay the wastewater treatment plant, for many reasons. Unfortunately, we don’t have that option.

    The river water addresses salinity, and salinity is the effluent constituent that might be relaxed. No wastewater treatment plant under consideration can deal with salinity at all, so I don’t understand Matt’s theory.

    Also, the wastewater treatment plant is due to be finished only one year before the surface water project is expected to be completed.

    So again, I don’t understand this concept.

  92. Sue Greenwald

    Don, I have been at (non-water related) city meetings all day, so I haven’t had a chance to address the report you quoted as promised.

    I will post a brief point by point discussion about the report here tomorrow.

  93. Don Shor

    [i]Don, municipal effluent is not the only mechanism at the state’s disposal for abating salinity. They can also flush out the river with reservoir releases. [/i]
    I have seen nothing in the proposed policy that indicates that they will be reducing the EC or TDS objectives, nor that any of those numbers will change the acceptable levels of those pollutants in municipal effluent. What is in the outflow from a city is a pollutant regulated by the EPA and enforced by the State Water Board. As I read it, they can make a compliance schedule. They can’t change the numbers unilaterally or on a case by case basis. A lot of it will come down to what is a “reasonable” management action. I doubt that a city can say “the state or federal government can release water from an upstream reservoir, so we don’t have to change our water.”

  94. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]I should note that I contacted about 15 more water experts from UC Davis who I did not bother to quote. They were willing to help me, but they told me that they could not answer my questions in this area because it was outside their area of expertise. — [b]Rich Rifkin[/b][/quote]This is exactly the problem. The experts in one area don’t spend a lot of time talking to the experts in another. The engineers don’t continually talk with the regulators, so they are not always abreast of the changes in the regulatory field. Same with the surface water experts, ground water experts, etc. Few of the experts understand the finer points of the ratepayer costs, the fiscal situation of the city or the competing needs. If one piece of critical information changes, a whole host of different possibilities arise.

  95. Sue Greenwald

    Don Shor,
    I read the UC hydrologists comments that Rich Rifkin collected. I don’t see how they particularly say anything one way or the other about phasing in the project over 20 years or so for compelling economic reasons.

    On timing of aquifer supplies, Dr. Fogg writes:

    [b]Rich Rifkin[/b]: Will we have advanced warning before the aquifer dries up?

    [b]Dr. Fogg[/b]: The changes in groundwater quality will not be sudden, but will likely continue on a decades to centuries time scale.

  96. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]The basic problem I have with Sue’s recommendation to pursue a variance is that the variance policy being developed is for cases where “effluent limitations cannot be met” — [b]Don Shor[/b][/quote]Again Don, economic considerations can be taken into account when determining feasibility (see Porter-Cologne). Cities were and are invited to participate in creating the variance process.

    Davis should certainly get in and advocate for criteria that would include Davis. It is the prudent thing to do even if you want to proceed immediately with the project, since we have no idea what the project will really cost yet, or what unknowns lie between us and the completion of the project.

    As to your other points, I am just telling you what I have been told both by the SWRCB and by a non-related engineer in the field.

  97. Matt Williams

    Sue, setting aside the salinity issue for the moment, since the variance situation you describe is in play, the other major constituent that surface water addresses is Selenium.

  98. jimt

    Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to putting this huge project decision up to a vote by the public is that if forces transparency and clarity in definition of the project. It holds the council’s feet to the fire by a public that demands transparency and clarity (as opposed to obfuscation) in presentation of the project; and accountability is clearer. Particularly for such a complex project like this, the demand for clarity can help to clarify the council members own thinking and definition of the project and alternatives.

    It seems to me inappropriate for such a huge project to be entirely decided behind closed doors (or even open doors, to a limited capacity room!) by council members and experts on the project, both disinterested third party experts and consultants who might be involved with the project if approved.
    Just because never before in the history of man has big business ever influenced public policy to their own benefit and to the detriment of the public, is not to say that it could not happen for the very first time in our own little burg.

  99. jimt

    Sue,

    I for one am grateful for your past investigation, in which you played a key role as councilmember in helping to save a huge amount of money on the wastewater treatment. I don’t understand why more people on this forum don’t thank you for your part in that; even if they disagree with your current opinion on the SWP.

    Sue is bringing in a lot of information to this forum that I have not seen from other contributors; I am glad that she is bringing this info. into the discussion, even though I may wind up supporting some version of a SWP (I don’t know yet).

    Sue, I hope you hang in there as a burr in the saddle of those who want to gallop headlong with the SWP! I hope you don’t get discouraged by the disparagement thrown your way; you have your supporters, counting me as one. Although unlike other past councilmembers, you may have blown your chance at political superstardom by not aligning with the big business powers that be…

  100. Mr.Toad

    This is just unbelievable you Censor my stated opinion of a public officials fitness to serve complete with my witnessed observations of what I observed that made me call into question that person’s fitness. The relevance being that you brought up the study that was at the center of the confrontation I witnessed.

  101. Matt Williams

    For those who have not read the Schroeder-Tchobanoglous Study, go to [url]http://www.wdcwa.com/documents[/url] and scroll down to the Independent Studies section and it is the second link. The whole report is well worth reading, but here are some highlights.

    [b]Pages 7 and 8 -[/b]

    A RECOMMENDED PATH FORWARD

    Based on an analysis of alternatives developed by the City and its consultants and by applying the guiding principles cited above, the recommended path forward is as follows:

    1. The City, together with the University and the City of Woodland, should move forward as rapidly as possible to develop a supply of surface water from the Sacramento River and other sources.

    6. Once construction begins on the new water supply from the Sacramento River, reconsider the need for a new wastewater treatment plant.

    [b]Page 11 -[/b]

    CONTINUED USE OF CURRENT WELL SYSTEM WIT ADDITION OF NEW DEEP WELLS

    Increased withdrawals from the deep acquifer may result in significant contamination with constituents from the intermediate acquifer or subsidence due to collapse of the empty pores.

    [b]Page 12 -[/b]

    [i]Read the Table 3-3 in its entirety. It contains a list of Advantages and Disadvantages and a Risk Assessment[/i]

    [b]Page 14 -[/b]

    WASTEWATER TREATMENT ALTERNATIVES

    Problem constituents include salinity, amonia, selenium, and several metals, notably aluminum and copper. Salinity and selenium discharge requirements can be met by change s to the water supply as described above and hence wastewater management alternatives are subject to decisions made about the City’s water supply.

    CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT TO MEET TITLE 22 REQUIREMENTS

    In the proposed treatment system, it is important to note that the problem of meeting the selenium discharge requirements will be resolved by eliminating or controlling the presence of selenium in the water supply source

    [b]Pages 17 and 18 and 19 -[/b]

    MEMBRANE BIOREACTOR ACTIVATED SLUDGE TO MEET TITLE 22 REQUIREMENTS FOR SATELITE WATER RECLAMATION AND REUSE

    Requires upstream control of selenium and salinity (under Disadvantages in Table 4-4 on page 19)

  102. Michael Harrington

    jmt wrote: “Sue, I hope you hang in there as a burr in the saddle of those who want to gallop headlong with the SWP! I hope you don’t get discouraged by the disparagement thrown your way; you have your supporters, counting me as one. Although unlike other past councilmembers, you may have blown your chance at political superstardom by not aligning with the big business powers that be…”

    I agree! Sue, you have sat up there for 11 years and taken the arrows, daggers, and verbal abuse from your detractors, when in fact most of the time you get your votes right and represent all of us.

    ps Wow, up to 4 pages, and 110 comments? Must have been a rainy holiday long weekend?

  103. Michael Harrington

    Matt: the consultants you keep qouting where all hired with the expectation that this project was going to be built, now go find a reason to justify it …

    This whole thing needs a do-over, including a Davis water supply system that is owned and controlled and managed lock, stock and barrel by Davis and its voters. Who had the brilliant idea to let our basic water supply be controlled by Woodland and the JPA, and a for-profit international corporation? Ridiculous! Even if you think surface water is necessary, you have to admit that a local project is better.

  104. Michael Harrington

    In the seven years I have been off the CC, I came back to this issue in the summer and I was shocked how it had morphed into this huge, expensive and facially mis-designed project that was lumbering along from the energy of self-interested vendors and staff and politicians. Picture Yost standing up with Don Saylor when he announced his run for County Supervisor. (Yost has made many, many millions from from this project to date.)

    Picture the water consultants and others heavily contributing to political war chests for those who support this Jurassic Age project.

  105. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I will try explaining this once again: Things have changed regarding salinity. After Drs. Tchobanglous and Schroeder wrote their report, the state decided the revisit the salinity requirements and establish a salinity variance program. [/quote]

    Dr. Schroeder just wrote an op-ed piece in the Davis Enterprise, and has not changed his position that the surface water project should be done first and foremost. So he was well aware of any changes that may have occurred regarding salinity. To say otherwise IMO is disingenuous…

  106. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The river water was needed to address salinity. It might be possible to postpone the surface water project because the state is reviewing the salinity limit policy and is setting up a salinity variance program. [/quote]

    It “might be possible”; the state is “reviewing the salinity limit policy” does NOT EQUATE TO: WE CAN postpone the surface water project because the state is reviewing the salinity limit policy and is setting up a salinity variance program THAT WILL FAVOR DAVIS’ APPLICATION FOR A VARIANCE BASED ON ECONOMIC INFEASIBILITY. You are assuming the state will look favorably on Davis as if it were the center of the Universe, and the decision was being made in a vacuum. If Woodland can go it alone, it will be extremely difficult/if not impossible for Davis to argue “economic infeasibility”.

  107. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Davis should certainly get in and advocate for criteria that would include Davis. It is the prudent thing to do even if you want to proceed immediately with the project, since we have no idea what the project will really cost yet, or what unknowns lie between us and the completion of the project. [/quote]

    How do you know city staff is not looking at the issue of variances at all times? According to staffers I have spoken with, this is general operating procedure. It is more a question of whether staffers think it would be best to delay the project or move ahead. In light of all the experts’ advice, city staff is recommending moving forward with the surface water project, rather than gamble WE CAN get a variance on the very tenuous basis of “economic infeasibility”.

  108. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]This is exactly the problem. The experts in one area don’t spend a lot of time talking to the experts in another. The engineers don’t continually talk with the regulators, so they are not always abreast of the changes in the regulatory field. Same with the surface water experts, ground water experts, etc. Few of the experts understand the finer points of the ratepayer costs, the fiscal situation of the city or the competing needs. If one piece of critical information changes, a whole host of different possibilities arise.[/quote]

    In other words, shop around for the expert that will agree with your decision to delay, delay, delay? Not a single expert has been willing to come forward and support your position – not one.

  109. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I would much prefer to have the surface water and delay the wastewater treatment plant, for many reasons. Unfortunately, we don’t have that option. [/quote]

    I’m not following your reasoning here. If salinity standards are going to be relaxed to the extent you claim, then why couldn’t the wastewater treatment plant be delayed to 2017 by obtaining a brief “variance” for “economic infeasibility”? Or are you arguing the “economic infeasibility” won’t work on the wastewater treatment side? If yes, why not? You can’t have it both ways – we cannot get a 5 year variance for “economic infeasibility”, but we can get a 25 to 30 year variance for “economic infeasibility”…

  110. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to putting this huge project decision up to a vote by the public is that if forces transparency and clarity in definition of the project. It holds the council’s feet to the fire by a public that demands transparency and clarity (as opposed to obfuscation) in presentation of the project; and accountability is clearer. Particularly for such a complex project like this, the demand for clarity can help to clarify the council members own thinking and definition of the project and alternatives.[/quote]

    How will it “force transparency and clarity in definition of project”? How will “accountability [be] clearer”? What “alternatives”?

  111. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]This whole thing needs a do-over, including a Davis water supply system that is owned and controlled and managed lock, stock and barrel by Davis and its voters. [/quote]

    And what “do-over” does it need? How do you know that a publicly owned water supply system will result in a positive for the city, as opposed to a fiscal negative (e.g. high salaries for public employees running it), controlled by the very City Council you are continually critical of?

  112. Frankly

    Mike Harrington:

    [i][b]”huge, expensive and facially mis-designed project”[/b][/i]

    [i][b]”self-interested vendors and staff and politicians.”[/i][/b]

    So, I think I get that you think all the experts that have worked on this are corrupt and greedy and have designed a solution only to satisfy their selfish interestss… a solution that you think is too expensive.

    [i][b]”Jurassic Age project.”[/b][/i]

    [i][b]”a Davis water supply system that is owned and controlled and managed lock, stock and barrel by Davis and its voters.[/b]”[/i]

    In addition, you think the current proposed surface water project is not modern enough and you envision a solution that is more modern, less expensive and controlled completely by Davis.

    Assuming I have this right, it all sounds wonderful. Can you point me to any uncorrupt, altruistic experts that can explain your vision and how it will work? Seriously, if you are sitting on evidence of a viable alternative, I think it is your civic duty to share it with the rest of us.

  113. Voter2012

    [quote] I think it is your civic duty to share it with the rest of us.[/quote]Jeff: This isn’t about civic duty. It’s about staging a political comeback. That’s why it is impossible to debate the issue on its merits with Michael.

    This particular “populist movement” is built on manipulative hyperbole and outright demagoguery … hidden half billion dollar budgets, a clueless CC majority, corrupt staff and consultants, etc.

  114. Matt Williams

    Michael Harrington said . . .

    [i]”Matt: the consultants you keep qouting where all hired with the expectation that this project was going to be built, now go find a reason to justify it …” [/i]

    Mike, unless I’m having a neuron skip, I believe that Schroeder and Tchobanoglous were Sue Greenwald’s hand picked choice. To her credit, she brought them to the Council and basically forced the Council to engage them and listen to them. In addition, they did the whole study/report for a sweetheart deal of $20,000 . . . essentially as a public service gift to their fellow Davis residents. Sue, please correct me if what I have said is wrong.

  115. Frankly

    Voter2012: Thanks for helping explain this to me. I am naive and inexperienced in the dysfunction of local politics. I thought this was the type of game only played at the state and national level and in the Deep South.

    It does appear that voters are pretty much fed up with divisive, win-at-all-costs, behavior of politicians. If you are correct, let’s hope that this approach backfires on Mike and his chosen candidate(s).

  116. Matt Williams

    Michael Harrington said . . .

    “This whole thing needs a do-over, [u]including a Davis water supply system that is owned and controlled and managed lock, stock and barrel by Davis and its voters.[/u] [b]Who had the brilliant idea to let our basic water supply be controlled by Woodland and the JPA, and a for-profit international corporation?[/b] Ridiculous! Even if you think surface water is necessary, you have to admit that a local project is better.”

    The answer to your question is simple, 1) economies of scale . . . running three pipes from the Sacramento River, one for Woodland, one for Davis and one for UCD would be ridiculously expensive (and redundant), 2) expertise . . . the City of Davis simply does not have the expertise to successfully complete such a project, and even if we were able to retain such expertise, we would constantly be under threat of losing the expertise when the career paths of the engineers caused another larger water jurisdiction to offer them more money. 3) our failing water infrastructure . . . read the Schroeder-Tchobanoglous Study. It is right there in black and white.

  117. Matt Williams

    E Roberts Musser said in response to Mike Harrington . . .

    [i]”And what “do-over” does it need? How do you know that a publicly owned water supply system will result in a positive for the city, as opposed to a fiscal negative (e.g. high salaries for public employees running it), controlled by the very City Council you are continually critical of?”[/i]

    Very good question Elaine.

    Mike, 1) what exactly do you see as the benefits of having the water system under Davis auspices rather than under the JPA auspices? 2) are you willing to pay more for water if you have that local control?

  118. Michael Harrington

    A comeback political career? Are you mad? I have young kids at home, and I would much rather be hanging around home at night than being lashed by the public at 3 am. The surface water fiscal and technical plan is facially so bad that I had to do something, and I am, for the next few weeks. Then maybe I will retire again. Cheers! However, there is still room for at least 2 more candidates for CC, so we shall see who is going to feel it’s their duty to run because this current CC is not handling things like the candidate would like.

  119. hpierce

    Matt… your 8:50 post misses the big cost factor(s)… intake pipe is bad enough, but 3 SEPARATE TREATMENT PLANTS!!!! From not only a design and construction cost, but from an operational maintenance cost (personnel heavy), that scenario would be sheer madness.

  120. Voter2012

    “This isn’t about civic duty. It’s about staging a political comeback. That’s why it is impossible to debate the issue on its merits with Michael.”

    Jeff: The political comeback I was referring to is the faction of progressives that “includes” Michael Harrington. While early on I mistakenly thought that the stage was being set for Michael, I’m persuaded that he is no longer (re)electable.

    Just connect the dots. Look at the people involved in supporting the Parlin Development proposal, some of the political activists/consultants around David Greenwald, the Brett Lee campaign. The overlap is pretty substantial. And it is probably no mystery why Harrington’s “committee” is not yet part of the record.

    To Sue’s credit, there is no evidence that she is part of any of this.

  121. Ryan Kelly

    Michael Harrington had his chance to address 1) water/waste water issues, 2) employee contracts / city finances, 3) public process. He did nothing to improve any of these issues while he had a chance. He has no right to lambast the current Council to which he punted ALL of these issues. I read here accusations of unethical conduct (that are groundless), speculation on the evil intentions of others (also groundless), and criticism about things of a technical nature outside his area of expertise. Then he paints himself as the hero who has reluctantly come out of retirement to save the City. This started with Harrington’s accusations of thugs “blocking” the signature gatherers. I have decided that this is a ploy, a campaign strategy, to garner media coverage – for Michael Harrington.

  122. Mark West

    Sue G. [i]Mark West et.: You don’t understand the wastewater treatment plant issue at all. [/i]

    Sue: With all due respect, I fully understand the difference between an expert saying that the surface water project is necessary for the waste water project to work as designed, and a politician saying in effect ‘trust me.’ I will be happy to listen to your point of view as soon as you present one, JUST ONE, expert willing to support you. You have been asked several times here, yet you have completely failed even attempt to do so.

    Trust you?. I, for one, see no reason to do so.

  123. toolatetochangeit

    This is for Rusty49. Your credibility concerning this matter is questionable. That goes for the others also who are resorting to name calling and innuendo of facts and people’s personal views. Your comment about throwing in some Fox news shows your inability to come up with a good arguement either for or against any subject. That also goes for some others here. Why can’t you just stick to the facts without all the personal attacks and name calling.

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