Stunning Decision: Enterprise Endorses Wolk, Greenwald, and Lee

Council-Race-2012

Vanguard Commentary: It Is Still All About the Budget

In a strong message for fiscal responsibility, the Davis Enterprise delivered what can only be viewed by most observers a stunning decision as to whom to endorse, eschewing Chamber favorites Stephen Souza and Lucas Frerich, and ultimately endorsing Dan Wolk, Sue Greenwald and Brett Lee.

The Vanguard learned on Friday afternoon that the primary reason the Enterprise did not endorse Lucas Frerichs was concern over his ability to stand up to city employee groups and take other unpopular and difficult positions during critical junctures.

The Vanguard does not know the exact reason for the lack of endorsement for Mr. Souza, who was endorsed in 2008, but we imagine, given his record on city budget issues, it probably came down to similar considerations.

On the other hand, the Enterprise applauds Dan Wolk as having “a keen mind and a cool head, and he’s already demonstrated that he’s willing to face problems head-on.”

“An attorney for the county of Solano, he understands government from the inside,” they wrote.  “That knowledge will help him build a sustainable city budget that can pay for necessary services, fairly compensate employees and keep Davis out of bankruptcy court.”

Perhaps a key consideration for Dan Wolk’s endorsement lies here: “Wolk showed his mettle last fall, when he put the brakes on the controversial surface water project when it became apparent the rate structure was fishy.”

They add: “He is concerned about the housing supply for senior citizens and young families and will make both groups a priority in city planning. And he is working hard to support a vibrant local business community.”

That Dan Wolk got the endorsement probably surprises no one.

However, four years ago, the Davis Enterprise passed up Sue Greenwald as she ran for her third term, in favor of Sidney Vergis.  In the days prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the bursting of the real estate bubble, development considerations seemed to drive the Enterprise’s picks.

The selection of Sue Greenwald and Brett Lee has to be seen through the rubric of fiscal responsibility.

Indeed, the Enterprise gives Sue Greenwald high praise.

They write: “Greenwald has been a tireless advocate for a better Davis since her arrival in town in the late 1980s. While we have not always agreed with her on the issues, we have the utmost respect for her intellect, her work ethic and her passionate advocacy for the best interests of this community.”

“Greenwald does her homework, seeks expert advice, then votes her conscience. She has devoted countless hours to understanding the city’s budget problems and working effectively toward solutions,” they write.

They add: “Her research and advocacy on the water issue helped save this community tens of millions of dollars, and she remains committed to the development of a water project we all can afford.”

And she’s not afraid to stand alone. As she puts it, “I don’t feel the need to be loved by everyone. I’m willing to stand up for what I believe in.”

The Enterprise writes, “We respect that courage, and we honor that integrity with our endorsement.”

Given the past leanings of the Enterprise, we would qualify the endorsement of Sue Greenwald as a mild surprise. The endorsement of Brett Lee is an outright stunner, if only because he is relatively unknown.

They say they are intrigued by Mr. Lee who, while a newcomer to Davis politics, has deep roots in the community.

They are clearly impressed with his work experience, writing: “Lee brings more than 20 years of experience of private-sector work, including specialties in industrial efficiencies and financial planning, to the council dais. His understanding of budgets will be invaluable as Davis tackles the difficult road ahead. He is candid and shows a willingness to do the right thing, even when it’s unpopular.”

They add: “Lee impressed us as intelligent, articulate and genuine. He has a calm demeanor and a respectful, collaborative approach to the issues. We have confidence that he would make a fine City Council member.”

COMMENTARY: It Is Still All About the Budget

When the Davis Chamber of Commerce announced their three endorsed candidates last week, we focused on the record of Stephen Souza with regard to fiscal issues.

We were concerned with the disconnect between the Chamber’s stated goals of fiscal sustainability and the voting record of Stephen Souza over the last nearly eight years.

At that time, we overlooked what can now only be described as growing concerns about Lucas Frerichs on the issue of the budget, his understanding of the problems that face this community, and his willingness to drive hard deals with the labor unions.

Everyone says they are in favor of fiscal stability, it has become the buzzword of the council race, but reading closely we can see the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.

We are concerned in particular with answers that were given by both Mr. Souza and Mr. Frerichs on Thursday night.

Mr. Frerich’s responses, in particular, have not shown sufficient growth or increased understanding on the budget issues of unfunded liabilities.

His response to the problem of unfunded liabilities was: “In terms of this community we need a comprehensive line-by-line look at the city’s budget and we have to get our fiscal house in order before we can do anything else in this town.”

He wants to have a community conversation about the prioritization of current services and programs.  He said, “There are a lot of ways where we can be much more efficient and effective with the use of our dollars.”

He focused once again on a $20,000 per year paid internship to demonstrate inefficiency in city government.

It is not that we necessarily believe that the city is efficient.  However, we are not going to solve this budget problem going line-by-line.  We are looking at somewhere on the order of $7 million in cuts over the next two to three budgets.  That’s 20% of the current general fund budget.

We have a blueprint now in place, that the city put in place in April with regard to the vacant fire management employee positions and the MOUs passed.  Focusing on the state mandate pension plan changes is not where we need to go.

Likewise, we continue to be concerned with the answers of Stephen Souza.

He responded to the problems of unfunded liabilities, arguing that we have to have a collaborate process, but of course he never laid specifics on the table.

Instead, he offered us: it is incumbent on all of us to “do it in that collaborative way.  To do it with an understanding that we’re going to ask for something that may not be achievable or acceptable.  And also recognize that we may have to step back just a small step and not get it all in one bite.”

“It took us many years to get us where we’re at,” he said, “and it’s going to take us many years to get down, back to a more sustainable level.”

“But to think that cutting the budget in whatever fashion it may be through negotiations and labor contracts, through restructuring, through outsourcing services, through reducing programs, is going to solve the problem in its entirety, it’s not true,” he said.  “We can’t do it.  It’s a large lift.  We can and we should demand that those who work in our community, step up as we have in the last round and take care of some of that liability.”

And then, of course, he made the point that restructuring government is tantamount to cutting someone’s job.

We had a chance before to take things in a smaller increment.  There was a budget on the table proposed by Lamar Heystek that would have done some of that, but Stephen Souza opposed it.  We had rounds of MOUs in 2009 that would have given us a chance to bite some of this problem off, but then again Stephen Souza supported contracts that did not get us far in addressing the fundamental structural issues.

We had a chance to cut into this $7 million last year with a $2.5 million personnel cut, and Stephen Souza opposed that as well.

So now we are rapidly approaching 2015.  PERS has already cut their projected rate by a quarter.  And the city has done nothing substantive despite having the last four years to fix its long-term structural problems, and at the heart of every effort to thwart major change was, you guessed it, Stephen Souza, often as the swing vote.

The Enterprise got it part right, they praised Dan Wolk’s efforts to stop the water supply project when the rate structure made no sense.  They failed to praise him for casting the deciding 3-2 vote for fiscal stability in June of last year, in a hot room, late at night, in front of 150 city employees.  That took courage and conviction.

More importantly Dan Wolk is not running from that now.

On Thursday, he said, “I was part of a 3-2 majority, I was the swing vote on that one,  that made a very difficult decision that not only were we going to see it balanced… but that we were going to look to getting $2.5 million more in order to try to address these larger unfunded liabilities.”

And even with that $2.5 million cut, we still had to “essentially put Community Pool on a path to closure,” he said noting that this was a very painful decision on his part.

While the Vanguard disagreed with Sue Greenwald’s vote on that budget, her track record speaks for itself.  She has been warning this community for nearly eight years that the budgets and the assumptions were unsustainable.  Anyone who does not believe that we are in better shape fiscally than we would have been is either ignorant of history or blinded by other issues involving Sue Greenwald.

We do not agree with everything she has done but we believe in credit where credit is due.

Finally, Brett Lee is a wild card.  He had good points and bad points to his budget responses on Thursday.

“I believe looking at the numbers, that there is no need to lay off any city employees.”  He continued that he wanted to maintain our present level of employment, “because the city employees are part of our family.”

That said, times are difficult for the City of Davis and therefore, “it’s only fair that we ask the city employees to pay more towards their pension costs and more towards their retiree benefit costs.”

He argued that the biggest challenge for the city is not today’s budget but future unfunded liabilities.  “So if we start in earnest today by addressing that, we won’t have that problem.”

However, if left unchecked the proportion of employee costs will continue to grow in size, “so eventually we have no money for sidewalk repairs, street repairs, maintaining our parks, things like that.”

He said he wants to do this in ways that are not “conflictual,” which he says is important, “because we don’t want to divide the community.  But at the end of the day, we must be firm on the city council because we can’t agree to something which is not sustainable.  I believe in the past we’ve perhaps been a little over-optimistic in what our revenue projections should be.”

His answer is strong and he understands the key points.  The Vanguard has repeatedly stated that we believe the biggest impact should be on those making over $100,000 in total compensation.

However, we believe it is naïve to think we can fix this without laying people off.  In particular, there is little way to get from four to three on fire engines without some people unfortunately losing their job.

Nevertheless, while the absolutism of the statement that there is no need to lay off ANY city employees is too optimistic, the tone set by stating that as a goal is the right tone to set.

The bottom line is that a number of issues have emerged that have distracted some focus on this matter.  Everyone claims to support balanced budgets, and they do.  But I think the Chamber and some in this community do not yet recognize just how serious the budget problem is and that it is going to take much more than just a line-by-line focus to fix it.

We want a stronger commitment from the council candidates and we want them to show a stronger understanding of the peril we face and the real possibility of bankruptcy.

—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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94 Comments

  1. DT Businessman

    It looks like today is dueling endorsements day (Enterprise, SacBee, Vanguard).

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez, Chamber PAC member)

  2. DT Businessman

    How about also critiquing them on their Vanguard economic development responses or the related LWV rental market responses?

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez, Chamber PAC member)

  3. Dr. Wu

    [quote] “If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, you should vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, you should see a psychiatrist.” 
 former New York City Mayor Ed Koch[/quote]

    Dan Wolk would appear to have a lock on a City Council seat and will likely be our next Mayor—I think he will do a good job and have a distinguished political career.

    The rest of the field seems open to me. I am happy the Enterprise has recognized Sue’s tireless service and commitment to fiscal responsibility.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    That may happen, but the Vanguard’s top issue remains the budget. We believe that the city is headed toward bankruptcy if strong measures are not taken and that the economic development prospects that you espoused will be severely damaged if that occurs.

    I am particularly concerned that the business community seems to be slow on the trigger as to just how massive this problem is.

  5. wdf1

    Sac Bee, 5/5/12: [url=http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/05/4467411/endorsements-frerichs-souza-wolk.html]Endorsements: Frerichs, Souza, Wolk for Davis City Council[url]

  6. Kemble Pope

    The Davis ChamberPAC is committed to complete financial transparency. In addition to the required state and local financial disclosure reporting periods, it will release financial reporting information every Friday until the election on June 5th, 2012. If media outlets do not publish the information, then the ChamberPAC will post the information in the comments section of relevant articles online in order to reach the public.

    The Davis ChamberPAC has endorsed Lucas Frerichs, Stephen Souza, Dan Wolk and Yes on Measure D for the June 5th, 2012 Statewide Primary Election in Davis, California.

    Contributions are limited to $1,000. Please send contributions to 604 Third Street, Davis, CA 95616. More information and donation options will soon be available online at http://www.davischamberpac.com

    Financial Disclosure as of Friday, May 4th, 2012

    Business Amount
    Aguilar Janitorial Service $ 100.00
    Alyce LLC $ 1,000.00
    Brooks Painting $ 300.00
    Business Credit Card Systems $ 250.00
    California Statewide Certified Development Corporation
    $ 600.00
    Davis Commcercial Properties $ 100.00
    Doug Tolson Construction $ 100.00
    El Mariachi Taqueria $ 20.00
    Fleet Feet Sports $ 300.00
    G.T. Construction Co. $ 200.00
    Haute Again $ 25.00
    Jason Taormino Real Estate $ 200.00
    John Natsoulas Gallery $ 100.00
    KetMoRee Thai Restaurant & Bar $ 200.00
    Langstaff & Wan, Inc. $ 250.00
    M.C.’s & Sons $ 100.00
    Mother & Baby Source $ 100.00
    nestware $ 20.00
    Newman Associates $ 100.00
    Newsbeat $ 50.00
    Purves and Associates $ 250.00
    Red 88 Noodle Bar $ 200.00
    Robert Family LLC $ 150.00
    Star-Crossed Group $ 500.00
    The Avid Reader $ 100.00
    University Hospitality Group $ 500.00
    Varsity Theatre $ 100.00
    Village Pizza & Grill $ 100.00
    West Yost Associate $ 1,000.00

    Individuals Amount
    Ashley Prince & David Moore $ 100.00
    Bob Bockwinkel $ 25.00
    Charles Cunningham $ 200.00
    Charles Roe $ 200.00
    Daniel Tomasello $ 25.00
    G. William & Karmen Streng $ 100.00
    George Barden $ 20.00
    Greg McNece $ 500.00
    Janice Foley $ 40.00
    Jon & Diane Parro $ 50.00
    Lynne Ferda & Scott Daugherty $ 100.00
    Sinisa Novakovic $ 100.00
    Steve Cohan $ 100.00
    Theresa & Steven Greenfield $ 100.00
    William and Amy Habicht $ 50.00

    Committee Donations Amount
    Saylor for Supervisor 2010 $ 50.00

    Expenditures Detail
    $876.00 City of Davis: Community Chambers Rental Fee
    $326.25 The Secretariat
    $ 75.00 Davis Chamber of Commerce: e-Blast
    $1,277.25 Total Expenditures 2012

    TOTAL DONATIONS 2012 $ 8,775.00
    STARTING BALANCE $ 2,394.00
    (less) TOTAL EXPENDITURES $ 1,277.25
    CASH ON HAND $ 9,891.75

  7. DT Businessman

    “I am particularly concerned that the business community seems to be slow on the trigger as to just how massive this problem is.”

    David, you are mistaken about the business community on this issue. Where we might differ is our assessment of the best strategy to address this and other community challenges and what’s the best council make-up over the next 2 years to move us forward toward a sustainable community including a sustainable budget. It wouldn’t be the first time we have differed on the best strategy and personal to achieve shared objectives.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez, Chamber PAC member)

  8. David M. Greenwald

    Michael: Just as you are critical about people who pay lip service to economic development, I’m just as critical to people who say they are dealing with the budget but when you unpack their proposals and responses, you don’t see much there. You’re entitled of course to disagree on strategy and personnel, but I need to see a plan that can work.

    Frankly, we are starting to have blueprints in place so that members do not have to reinvent the wheel. But there is a level of urgency here that I just do not see reflected in the words of several of the candidates and the actions of many in this discussion.

    And btw, you suggest this reflects some sort of an endorsement, the Vanguard has criticized harshly just about everyone at least once and most of them repeatedly.

  9. DT Businessman

    You’re right, there hasn’t been a sufficient level of urgency. I’ve been calling for all hands on deck for several years and to desist from the “business as usual”. I’m hardly the only business leader to have been doing so. Meanwhile, many in the community have stridently demanded that we maintain the status quo. Really? Maintain a state of decline?

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez, Chamber PAC member)

  10. David M. Greenwald

    I don’t believe I’ve seen that with respect to the budget. What is your formula to fixing the problem and forestalling bankruptcy?

  11. DT Businessman

    I have stated repeatedly in opinion pieces, blog postings, council and commission meetings, and 2x2s that we are 4 years into a recession and we as a community should be focusing on the budget, core services, and economic development until the city and the schools are back on a sustainable path. I even posted on the Vanguard a very pointed comparison about the Davis cruise ship having run aground.

    I personally don’t have a formula for fixing the city or school budgets. I haven’t even looked at them. No one person can be an expert on all things. I am focusing on the economic development piece where I can bring value to the community. Others are focusing on the infrasstructure and budget pieces. Much of what you and the Rifkin have written on the budget makes sense to me.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez, Chamber PAC member)

  12. medwoman

    DT Businessman

    “Really? Maintain a state of decline”.

    I think that this is a straw man argument. No one is intentionally promoting “a state of decline”. But there are certainly those amongst us who feel that growth for the sake of growth is probably not the best approach during a time of recession. Likewise, some of us have a very different vision for Davis than some property owners looking to maximize profit or business folks seeking ever more people to boost their profitability.
    I do not believe that anyone should be vilified for promoting actions that they perceive to be in their best interest. But this tolerance should also be extended to those who live here, are not local business owners, and have already seen Davis grow to a larger size than we would have preferred both in terms of population and in some cases business ( as in the 49% who voted against Target). What we have here
    is not the forces of goodness and progress against the forces of greed and stagnation. It is rather a difference of vision between a more is always better philosophy, and a philosophy that holds that sometimes enough is truly optimal.

  13. DT Businessman

    Medwoman, talk about a straw man argument. Where have I advocated growth for the sake of growth? And when you use the term “growth”, are you referring to housing grown, jobs growth, sales growth, tax revenuw growth, how are you using this term? It’s difficult to engage with you substantively without knowing what you are referring to.

    As for promoting “a state of decline”, there are plenty of voices that are engaged in promoting “a state of decline”. First off, there are plenty who refuse to acknowledge that we are in a state of decline (city budget, infrastructure, schools, etc.) despite David’s numerous reports on this subject. If one refuses to advocate for and work at implementing policies and projects to arrest the state of decline, then what exactly is one doing? If one opposes policies and projects to address the state of decline without proposing viable alternatives, what exactly is one doing? I may be many things, but an impediment to addressing community challenges is not one of them.

    “…property owners looking to maximize profit or business folks seeking ever more people to boost their profitability.” This would be funny if the situation weren’t tragic. Hello! We’ve been in recession for the last 4 years. Who is talking about boosting profitability? We’re fighting to dig ourselves out of a hole. We’re fighting to get back out of the red. We’re fighting to create jobs so that we can hire those we’ve had to layoff. We’re fighting to restore profitability so that we can provide benefits to our employees again. We’re fighting to stave off going out of business. There is a serious disconnect going on here.

    “…enough is truly optimal”. Fortunately, at least 4 current council members and 4 of the candidats do not agree with this position. They recognize that we don’t have nearly enough to meet our community’s needs. Maintaining the status quo is not an option. Where there is often disagreement is over the best strategies and personnel to change the status quo and to address our community needs. If I have mischaracterized the position on this subject of any council candidate, let’s hear from you now.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez, Chamber PAC member)

  14. psdavis

    I’m curious how the Enterprise decides on endorsements. Is it really just Foy McNaughton and Debbie Davis making the decision?

    The DCOC PAC seems to have involved a reasonably large number of people in a formal deliberative process. As I understand it, they took written statements, conducted individual interviews before a committee, hosted a public debate, and vetted both the process and decision through both the Government Relations Committee and the Board of Directors. And the outcome of this process has been publicly endorsed by numerous individuals and businesses. Kemble – is this accurate?

    It would also be interesting to understand the Sac Bee process as well.

  15. psdavis

    While were on the topic of the Davis Enterprise and how they conduct business, I might also add that the budget crisis has been years in the making. During this time the Davis Enterprise has been an abject failure in discharging their “fourth estate” responsibility to keep the community informed.

    If fact, it was this failure of the Davis Enterprise that created the “unmet need” that allowed the Davis Vanguard take root and prosper.

  16. Rifkin

    [i]”Sounds like this is going to be a close race, with good candidates running… a refreshing change ;-)”[/i]

    My guess is that Dan Wolk is going to finish in first and will have far more votes than the person who finishes second. It seems like we have two factions in this race and Dan Wolk is the leader of both of them. There is the Wolk, Souza and Frerichs faction (as supported by the Chamber PAC); and there is the Wolk, Greenwald and Lee faction (as endorsed by The Enterprise).

    I think from 2nd to 5th the vote totals will be very, very close. I agree with Elaine that we have five strong candidates.

    I am not sure how much quantity of lawn signs means, but I am surprised by how many Brett Lee signs are all around Davis. Before I met Brett in person and before the campaign got going, I pegged him for 5th place in this field. I think he has been much stronger than I expected, and I have been impressed with his speed at learning the important issues, some of which he did not appear to have a lot of first-hand experience with a year ago or more.

  17. Rifkin

    [i]”During this time the Davis Enterprise has been an abject failure in discharging their “fourth estate” responsibility to keep the community informed.”[/i]

    Before there was a Davis Vanguard, I was writing about the City’s long-term budget troubles created by our labor contracts and other practices … and all of my words were published in The Davis Enterprise. I also know–having written some of the Enterprise’s editorials–that the bigwigs at that paper have more-less the same views I have on fiscal responsibility. … That said, I don’t disagree that the Vanguard has on a daily basis filled in this niche and David Greenwald has done a great job reporting the facts about the budget. A problem for The Enterprise is they cannot afford to hire someone like me to write on a full-time basis; and the young reporters who cover City Hall have to move on to greener pastures in order to make a living. So the turnover itself means that in the news pages, the coverage is less sophisticated than what David Greenwald brings to the table.

  18. David M. Greenwald

    “It would also be interesting to understand the Sac Bee process as well.”

    Based on what has been explained to me: while the Enterprise had a group interview, the Bee did not interview candidates. They have rarely sent a reporter to cover city hall. And it is quite possible that the extent of their examination consisted of a visit to the candidate’s forum on Thursday by Stuart Leavenworth and Dan Morain. I have been roundly criticized in the past for suggesting that the Bee perhaps ought to not endorse what they do not regularly cover. At least the Enterprise covers city council meetings.

  19. Mr.Toad

    It should be no surprise that Foy McNaughton the owner of a right wing anti-union chain of newspapers would endorse the most conservative candidate running for City Council, Sue Greenwald.

  20. Mr.Toad

    Rich Rifkin said: “A problem for The Enterprise is they cannot afford to hire someone like me to write on a full-time basis; and the young reporters who cover City Hall have to move on to greener pastures in order to make a living.”

    Really, have you seen the books?

    David Greenwald said “I have been roundly criticized in the past for suggesting that the Bee perhaps ought to not endorse what they do not regularly cover.”

    And I thought Sue’s remark yesterday about forcing Conagra was the funniest thing I’d read in a long time related to local politics. So now the Sac Bee has to live up to your standard to cover Davis politics. Are you trying to raise or lower the bar on objectivity? Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Does it only apply to those that agree with you and anonymous blowhards like myself?

  21. JustSaying

    Actually, the [i]Bee[/i] covers the most newsworthy events in Davis. I sometimes read stories in the [i]Bee[/i] before they show up in the [i]Enterprise[/i]. The [i]Daily Democrat[/i] frequently covers certain Davis-related events the [i]Enterprise[/i] misses or doesn’t cover as well.

    A paper that covers Davis news certainly should care enough to write editorials about Davis. I can’t see a problem, unless their editorial reflects a different opinion than mine. Then, I’d think they’re out of their territory.

    It makes sense that they give more weight to Davis’ regional impact issues (water) than our more parochial matters (going bankrupt). But, they must be watching our city council in action ’cause they’ve got it nailed, and they do a good job of analyzing the wannabe challengers as well.

    The [i]Bee[/i] is less courteous than the [i]Enterprise[/i] about Sue’s double-edge interactions with her colleagues and her wandering “into reckless territory with her rhetoric.” The editorial cited ‘her claim that water from (the) Sacramento River would be unfit for Davis,” calling that “an exercise in fear mongering that helped set back the water project.”

    Stephen gets high marks for emerging as “the driving force for the completion of the water project,” an accomplishment that doesn’t gain him much from the [i]Vanguard[/i] or the [i]Enterprise[/i].

  22. Frankly

    [i]”But there are certainly those amongst us who feel that growth for the sake of growth is probably not the best approach during a time of recession.”[/i]

    Medwoman: I don’t know what “growth of the sake of growth” is, but investing in growth during a recession is actually a good strategy. Or, at least investing in business infrastructure so that we can take advantage of the economic recovery after Obama is defeated.

    [i]”Likewise, some of us have a very different vision for Davis than some property owners looking to maximize profit or business folks seeking ever more people to boost their profitability.”[/i]

    I agree that some have a very different vision for Davis, the state and the country; but God forbid continuing power to those with a vision ignoring that private profit drives everything. Without profit we would be people exponentially more miserable. When my company makes net excess (what non-profits call profit) we reinvest 85% of it back into the community. Profit also helps increase my bonus which the federal and state government combined take nearly 50% of it to redistribute. When others make profit and grow wealth, they reinvest in their companies, and spend. Both benefit other workers trying to create their own wealth.

    I really question the objectivity of those that continue to demonize business, profit and wealth when they are the primary things that feed the public trough. Where does the money to pay teachers and other public-sector employees come from if not profit?

  23. medwoman

    DT

    “Medwoman, talk about a straw man argument. Where have I advocated growth for the sake of growth? And when you use the term “growth”, are you referring to housing grown, jobs growth, sales growth, tax revenuw growth, how are you using this term? It’s difficult to engage with you substantively without knowing what you are referring to. “

    It seems as though I am having a tough time being clear today. At no point did I link “growing for the sake of growth” to you personally. As to
    “growth for the sake of growth” I am referencing the idea that we can essentially grow our way out of any economic problem we may be facing without realizing that what may be good for an individual company or developer may not be identical to what is in the interest of others in the community. I will give two examples of plans for growth that I do not believe have, or will be in the best interests of the community as a whole, one in the area of retail, and the other in the area of housing.

    First, the Target. The vote on the Target itself was extremely close even given the extremely rosy view that had been painted about the increased revenue for the city, how little negative impact it would have on downtown shops and how “green” it was supposed to be. As it turns out, it has brought in less revenue, has had a negative impact on downtown shops including at least one closure, and has been so far from “green” in terms of simply junking surplus shelving and equipment rather than incurring additional costs for storing or reshipping as to be laughable.

    Second, The Cannery project. Here we have a case of an extremely wealthy corporation seeking to maximize their profits regardless of the actual needs of the city. Now I am in full agreement that as the owners of the property, they are well within their rights to attempt to maximize their profit. I also feel that I am within my rights to oppose projects that I do not feel are in the best interests of my community. I do not deny the need for additional housing in Davis. I simply do not feel that this project meets the actual need which as Don Shor has pointed out is for rentals suitable for students and other low income groups, not for more homes in the $ 400-600,000 range as admitted would be the likely range for a large proportion of the single family units by one of the ConAgra representatives at a public hearing on the project. So what would I favor as an alternative to either 0 growth or growth to fill a nonexistent need ? I would favor infill projects such as Lukas has suggested and apartments as suggested by Don. Something with the design excellence of Village Homes would also be welcome.

    I am not against all business and housing growth which would be advocating decline. I am however opposed to the kind of bedroom community, car dominated culture that has been our past, but that I truly do not believe represents our future.

  24. medwoman

    JB

    “I really question the objectivity of those that continue to demonize business, profit and wealth when they are the primary things that feed the public trough. Where does the money to pay teachers and other public-sector employees come from if not profit?”

    You and I have gone around this conversation a number of times so I am sure that you are aware that I am not in the business of demonizing anyone. What we have is a fundamentally different way of viewing the world that leads us to fundamentally different value systems. You seem to value competition more highly, while I value collaboration. You value individual material wealth accumulation, while I value sharing and advancement of the entire group as a sign of success. I do not deny the value of individual enterprise. But I also do not deny, as you do, the value of social, community, or governmental initiatives.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “Whatever happened to freedom of speech?”

    I’m sorry I’m close to violating my own policy in response to this question. But the freedom of speech means that people can say whatever they want, not that they “should” make uninformed comments. Nowhere did I say they can’t say anything, only suggesting maybe they shouldn’t. Not sure why freedom of speech even enters into the discussion here.

  26. Adam Smith

    [i]As it turns out, it has brought in less revenue, has had a negative impact on downtown shops including at least one closure, and has been so far from “green” in terms of simply junking surplus shelving and equipment rather than incurring additional costs for storing or reshipping as to be laughable. [/i]

    The Target subject has been discussed a number times here, but I am unaware that anyone has ever posted any facts about the sales tax revenue from Target, or its impact on downtown. I have no clue what the last part of your sentence refers to. If you are going to make a statement like this, can you please supply some factual information to support it.

  27. Adam Smith

    Don – if you were directing your response to me, then I rest my case. There has been no facts posted which support the statements from medwoman that I italicized. There are fewer vehicle trips to downtown and neighborhood center, but the study you referenced made no attempt to isolate Target vs other causalities (like the recession). There have been some store closures downtown, but that was happening long before Target. Davis Ace, the largest store most likely to have been dramatically impacted, continues on unabated. No facts have been posted regarding sales taxes from Target, but I personally know dozens of families now shopping at the Davis Target who were previously shopping at Woodland. It would be nice to put some facts on the Target discussion, but until we do, statements condemning the impact of Target are just off base.

  28. medwoman

    Adam Smith

    I was relying on three sources for my information.
    The least verifiable in my opinion is information that has previously been posted here regarding the short fall from projected revenues. I admit to taking that at face value without independent investigation.

    My second source of information is a local banker who although he was and I assume remains a strong supporter of the local Target, told me in person that it had been disappointing in its revenue generation but that he felt that as people became more accustomed to making this a regular route, and realized that the newer store provided ” a better shopping experience” he believed that would improve. I have no idea whether or not it has.

    I am on firmer ground with the statement about the level of waste. A personal friend while employed at the store was ordered to do the dumping of excess shelving and when he questioned why, was told those were the orders because it was less expensive than any other option for getting rid of it. Since he was employed there at the time, so was presumably not strongly anti Target, I can not see why he would have any reason to lie.

  29. JustSaying

    Why are we so obsessed about sales taxes in every discussion about whether we should allow a business to enter Davis? We even justify spending our tax money on a million-dollar loan to Hanlees on a bet that yet another auto dealership will will increase our sales tax bottom line–without even considering that another one might end up reducing sales of competing dealerships down the road.

    Shouldn’t there be some points given for improving the quality of life for local residents? Target brings a wide variety of products at reasonable prices close to Davis homes. Any store which does that can be expected to have some impact on a boutique businesses with its boutique products at boutique prices in our quirky downtown.

    How much sales tax did Alphabet Moon cough up, and how much of its sales were to people from outside town? How much tax stays here now that our residents don’t have to leave town to find a wide variety of toys at reasonable cost?

    I’m starting to think that certain people have a high need for politically correct shopping (whatever definition they might have) and want to impose it on everyone around them. Sounds like Davis.

  30. JustSaying

    “A personal friend while employed at the store was ordered to do the dumping of excess shelving and when he questioned why, was told those were the orders because it was less expensive than any other option for getting rid of it.”

    And the problem is? Reduce, recycle, reuse and save energy–aren’t all worthy when we find ourselves with too much stuff? A friend wouldn’t lie, but might not might be privy to all the considerations that went into making the decision.

    In any case, it would be nice to have some data rather than anecdotes on which to condem the store’s place in our community life.

  31. medwoman

    JustSaying

    This was a fair vote with a very small margin in favor. For those of us who feel that large scale brick and mortar are rapidly becoming outmoded in favor of on line shopping, or who believe that with 9 other Targets within a 30 minute drive of Davis, depending on your starting point, and with some folks actually more conveniently located to other Targets than to the new Second street Target, that this particular big box, while convenient for some, did not really add much to what was already available. This has nothing to do with “politically correct” whatever you are using that to mean. To some of the 49% opposed, this feels like an “imposition on everyone
    around ” from those in favor. That is what it means to live in a democracy. My side lost, so no whining.
    Would you have been decrying the extreme inconvenience of not having our very own Target if this vote had gone 51 to 49 % the other way or would you have just gracefully said, well that was the will of the majority ?

  32. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]JustSaying: The Bee is less courteous than the Enterprise about Sue’s double-edge interactions with her colleagues and her wandering “into reckless territory with her rhetoric.” The editorial cited ‘her claim that water from (the) Sacramento River would be unfit for Davis,” calling that “an exercise in fear mongering that helped set back the water project.”[/quote]

    The Bee was spot on with this comment. Sue Greenwald has said the Sacramento River is more polluted than well water on the Vanguard recently. I gave the link to the article and the exact quote in a later post.

  33. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]medwoman: The vote on the Target itself was extremely close even given the extremely rosy view that had been painted about the increased revenue for the city, how little negative impact it would have on downtown shops and how “green” it was supposed to be. As it turns out, it has brought in less revenue, has had a negative impact on downtown shops including at least one closure, and has been so far from “green” in terms of simply junking surplus shelving and equipment rather than incurring additional costs for storing or reshipping as to be laughable.
    [/quote]

    Your prejudice against Target is frustrating, as it seems to be based on anecdotal evidence at best. Adam Smith and JustSaying addressed your point nicely:

    [quote]Adam Smith: The Target subject has been discussed a number times here, but I am unaware that anyone has ever posted any facts about the sales tax revenue from Target, or its impact on downtown. I have no clue what the last part of your sentence refers to. If you are going to make a statement like this, can you please supply some factual information to support it.

    There has been no facts posted which support the statements from medwoman that I italicized. There are fewer vehicle trips to downtown and neighborhood center, but the study you referenced made no attempt to isolate Target vs other causalities (like the recession). There have been some store closures downtown, but that was happening long before Target. Davis Ace, the largest store most likely to have been dramatically impacted, continues on unabated. No facts have been posted regarding sales taxes from Target, but I personally know dozens of families now shopping at the Davis Target who were previously shopping at Woodland. It would be nice to put some facts on the Target discussion, but until we do, statements condemning the impact of Target are just off base.

    JustSaying: Shouldn’t there be some points given for improving the quality of life for local residents? Target brings a wide variety of products at reasonable prices close to Davis homes. Any store which does that can be expected to have some impact on a boutique businesses with its boutique products at boutique prices in our quirky downtown.

    How much sales tax did Alphabet Moon cough up, and how much of its sales were to people from outside town? How much tax stays here now that our residents don’t have to leave town to find a wide variety of toys at reasonable cost?

    I’m starting to think that certain people have a high need for politically correct shopping (whatever definition they might have) and want to impose it on everyone around them. Sounds like Davis.
    [/quote]

    And as to your final point:
    [quote]medwoman: Would you have been decrying the extreme inconvenience of not having our very own Target if this vote had gone 51 to 49 % the other way or would you have just gracefully said, well that was the will of the majority ?[/quote]

    I would have accepted majority rule…

  34. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]medwoman: Something with the design excellence of Village Homes would also be welcome.[/quote]

    Have you visited Village Homes lately? It appears very shabby and unkempt IMO. Again, IMO its architectural elements leave a lot to be desired…

    [quote]medwoman: You seem to value competition more highly, while I value collaboration. You value individual material wealth accumulation, while I value sharing and advancement of the entire group as a sign of success. [/quote]

    Do these things have to be mutually exclusive?

  35. David M. Greenwald

    “without even considering that another one might end up reducing sales of competing dealerships down the road.”

    Do you know for a fact that the economic model did not include that among its variables? Can you cite the model and show that it did not take this into consideration?

  36. David M. Greenwald

    “Have you visited Village Homes lately? It appears very shabby and unkempt IMO.”

    That’s an irrelevant point to the design excellence of the project. And obviously the innovation was not an architectural one. So I wonder what your point really is here.

  37. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]That’s an irrelevant point to the design excellence of the project. And obviously the innovation was not an architectural one. So I wonder what your point really is here.[/quote]

    Go take a look at Village Homes. It looks unkempt, is architecturally unappealing, hardly a stellar example of DESIGN excellence, which would include architectural DESIGN. Sure it might be energy efficient to live in caves, but is that a practical alternative that people will purchase, even tho energy efficient as all get out? I think not…

  38. Mr.Toad

    “How much sales tax did Alphabet Moon cough up, and how much of its sales were to people from outside town?”

    I bought a kite for $35 at Alphabet Moon. My friend got a comparable one for $15 at Costco. We talked about it at the park while flying them. So it wasn’t Target that killed Alphabet Moon it was economies of scale. Preserving the business model of small independent retailers that don’t provide a specialized niche like Nestware or Newsbeat do and can’t compete against big boxes is a dead model not only because of Target in Davis but because you can save money, even discounting travel and time expenses, by driving to competitors in nearby communities. The sooner Davis realizes the futility of providing protection for locals the better off local residents will be with better choices, prices, keeping their sales taxes at home and environmentally correct fewer miles traveled.

  39. medwoman

    Elaine

    “but is that a practical alternative that people will purchase, even tho energy efficient as all get out? I think not…”

    Since the majority of home sales in Village Homes are by word of mouth as soon as there is an opening according to a number of realtors I have worked with and since within the past year, a close friend of my sold his house for well above his asking price in a mini bidding war, I would say that there are a fair number of people who would disagree with you about the relative merits of Village Homes.

  40. medwoman

    Elaine

    “Do these things have to be mutually exclusive?”

    Not in my opinion. But that seems to be the major paradigm of our society. Jeff Boone, as the major proponent of the philosophy of, as he has frequently stated ” there will always be winners and losers” and it is competition
    and the free market that drives all things beneficial in our society with his also frequently claimed ” the government does not produce anything but only spends” completely ignoring such contributions as spinoffs from the largest government program of all, the military seems to believe that they are mutually exclusive and it was specifically in response to Jeff and our previous interactions that this comment was made. It should not be taken out of context as a belief of mine.

  41. Frankly

    [I]“You and I have gone around this conversation a number of times so I am sure that you are aware that I am not in the business of demonizing anyone.”[/I]

    Medwoman: I was responding to a previous post where you mentioned business seeking profit as a negative thing. Maybe “demonize” is to strong a word, but I definitely think read in your comments a certain disdain for a competitive pursuit of profit.

    One thing that seems to be lost on some of my friends with more left-leaning political tendencies is the fact that wealth is needed to fund a country, a state, a community… and that wealth has to be created. It isn’t just laying around on the ground. Even a collectivist style government has to convert natural resources to wealth before it can be used to fund its operation. Once we agree with this simple premise, and the related fact that more wealth allows for greater social benefits than would otherwise be available, we are only left with a choice for the best model/methods for creating the wealth. Collectivist models are lousy at creating wealth, and they routinely fail. The model that has proven to be the best one – by far – is American-style democratic free market capitalism. It is the competitive spirit combined with: a strong moral framework, copious individual freedoms, a strong national defense (to protect us from those that would plunder our wealth lacking a model to create their own) a well-functioning legal system… these combined have been the primary catalyst for a county that has lead the world in so much advancement.

    The wealthiest 10% of Americans earn over 42% of all national income and pay over 50% of all federal income taxes (when including payroll taxes). The 8% premium is certainly something one can use for class warfare (and the Democrats do with glee these days); however, the alternative redistribution model would only make you feel warm and fuzzy while reducing overall tax revenue to the federal government.

    AND, one point that is never discussed in the same Republican-business-profit-wealth – bashing rhetoric from the left is that of charitable giving. Those bashed do 80% of the charitable giving in this country. Take away their wealth through asinine and punitive taxation, crappy economic development practices, a government-crippled banking system that starve capital… and there is less charitable donating.

    I have a theory about this last point. I think this is one area that drives some liberals more crazy that anything related to class differences. They really hate that Bill Gates has $50 billion of his own money to give away to save the world. Their envy only warms at the thought of his large house and private jets, but then heats to boiling when they learn that he is giving it away and not them.

    So, consider this last point when you are on the side preventing economic growth in our city. For example, note how much money Intel pumps into the community of Folsom. All those wealthy, profit-seeking Intel fat cats seem to be good for the city of Folsom.

  42. Don Shor

    Adam Smith: 22% reduction of traffic to neighborhood shopping centers obviously has an impact on the sales of the stores there. That is self-evident. Sales tax figures by store are confidential information that cannot be obtained.
    If the traffic study doesn’t persuade you, then there is nothing I could post that would convince you of the impact of Target. You don’t believe it had any impact, you believe it is all beneficial. I disagree. I guess we’ll have to leave it there.

  43. medwoman

    Jeff Boone

    “I have a theory about this last point. I think this is one area that drives some liberals more crazy that anything related to class differences. They really hate that Bill Gates has $50 billion of his own money to give away to save the world. Their envy only warms at the thought of his large house and private jets, but then heats to boiling when they learn that he is giving it away and not them.

    So, consider this last point when you are on the side preventing economic growth in our city. For example, note how much money Intel pumps into the community of Folsom. All those wealthy, profit-seeking Intel fat cats seem to be good for the city of Folsom.”

    The problems that I have with this last point are three :
    1) I have no idea who these liberals are that you believe hate it that Bill Gates has billions and they do not. I know many, many liberals and not one who is envious of Bill Gates. Perhaps you could name, or introduce me to one.
    2) I am not in favor of preventing economic growth in our city. We do seem to disagree on what type of economic growth we would prefer, but again, that certainly does not mean that I prefer stagnation or decline.
    3) I am unaware of a time in my lifetime when voluntary giving has met all the basic needs of the poor. And as you probably know from previous posts, this I know from personal experience as well as societal observation.

  44. JustSaying

    [quote][u]JS[/u]–“Why are we so obsessed about sales taxes in every discussion about whether we should allow a business to enter Davis? We even justify spending our tax money on a million-dollar loan to Hanlees on a bet that yet another auto dealership will will increase our sales tax bottom line–without even considering that another one might end up reducing sales of competing dealerships down the road.

    [u]David[/u]–Do you know for a fact that the economic model did not include that among its variables? Can you cite the model and show that it did not take this into consideration?[/quote]I do not know anything for a fact for a fact except what people listed as the rationale for using our money to favor one auto dealer. You’re right to question how much I really [u]know[/u] about what tipped the scale. I suspect that the “economic models” upon which such decisions have been made have limited variables.

    I think our redevelopment money could have been spent on more productive projects than some of those I’ve mentioned. But, I can’t prove it.

  45. Mark West

    Don: The greatest recession in our lifetime started more than a year before the Target opened, yet you ascribe all the lost traffic, closed stores and reduced tax revenues to the opening of the store. Your interpretation of the data is nonsense.

  46. Don Shor

    Thank you, Mark West, for your continuing total disrespect. It is a consistent pattern with your comments here.

    From Paul Navazio, Davis Enterprise article 3/15/12

    [i]“Sales tax receipts increased by 16 percent from October-December 2010 to October-December 2011, a city report shows. Statewide, sales tax has increased by 9 percent.”[/i]

    So what accounts for the 7% difference between the city’s sales tax and the state sales figures?

    Trader Joe’s opened Nov 2010.

    Forever 21 opened April 2011.

    [i]“Auto sales, the largest piece of the city’s sales tax pie, have seen a modest but steady rise since the first quarter of 2010, growing from about $230,000 in tax receipts that quarter to $275,000 in the third quarter of this fiscal year.”[/i]
    That represents a 19% increase in sales in that category.

    Target was supposed to provide $600K a year in sales tax revenue. Comparing 4th quarters, that would be $150K. In fact, 4th quarter should be higher due to holiday sales. Net effect of Target? Let us know what you come up with.

  47. Matt Williams

    David M. Greenwald said . . .

    [i]”Well I guess you’ll be relieved to learn that the Hanlees deal fell through.”[/i]

    I could be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but Hanlees did get $1 million from the Redevelopment Agency. Are they now going to pay that $ million back since the deal fell through?

  48. JustSaying

    “Well I guess you’ll be relieved to learn that the Hanlees deal fell through.”

    Just as all scams should. Do you know what’s planned for the money now and how much we pay each year on interest while is sits around for another purpose?

    Don, are you saying that Target is not contributing anything to our “city sales tax pie”? Why doesn’tNavazio’s 3/15/12 include anything about Target’s sales tax? Since it apparently did not, what are you concluding about its role? I don’t get it, sorry.

  49. Don Shor

    Based on sales tax figures from mid-year updates in the city budgets, annual city sales tax revenues went from
    $7.9 million in the 2008-9 fiscal year to
    $8.1 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
    Target opened mid-point in that two-year period (the city’s fiscal year is July – June; Target opened in October 2009, when the recession was ending). This two-year period represents the first full year in which we can assess the impact of Target’s operations. They were projecting $600,000 in annual sales tax revenues for the city, and the increase we see is $200,000.
    Where did the other $400,000 go? Sales lost from other retailers? Target failing to meet its projections? Retail in California recovered in 2010, and state retail figures were steadily rising during the latter part of that two-year period.
    Sales tax revenues to the city declined 4.79% overall in 2010-2011 compared to 2009-2010. Where’s the Target “bump”?

  50. Mark West

    Don: “Thank you, Mark West, for your continuing total disrespect.”

    I have a great deal of respect for you Don. You run a great company that I am happy to be a customer at, and you do a great deal for the community. Unfortunately, you also have a tendency to blame Target for every ill in town, which I don’t respect. You have never presented any data that demonstrates that Target had any impact beyond your anecdotes. If you just stop whining about Target we may be able to have a constructive discussion about the future. I get it, you don’t like Target, fine, move on.

    Now lets take a look at the data you just provided. You are looking at total tax intake, not that due to any individual store or sector. Sales tax revenues increased $200K, but that is a net increase from all sources and says nothing about Target. As far as you know, sales tax across all sectors (except Target) dropped by $400K for the year and Target brought in $600K, resulting in a net increase of $200K. Under that scenario Target brought in the $600K that was projected, but you would never know if from your data. My issue with your spouting this stuff is you are ascribing an impact due to Target without anything to support your claim other than your distaste for the company.

  51. David M. Greenwald

    “but Hanlees did get $1 million from the Redevelopment Agency. “

    I asked that question too and I believe (I heard this a month or two ago) the answer was that they never got the money because they never ended up doing what they were going to get the money to do.

  52. Don Shor

    We don’t have data from specific stores or sectors because they aren’t available. So we have to use total tax intake. [b]Target was supposed to increase total tax intake by $600K.[/b]
    If [b]the net increase in sales tax was $200K[/b], and the revenue from Target was $600K, [b]what happened to the other $400K?[/b]
    Target took business from local retailers, and brought in revenues that were going elsewhere (leaking). Based on these numbers, the majority of their business was at the expense of local retailers. As expected and predicted.

    The economy bottomed out in 2008-9. Retailers were experiencing slow sales growth, but it was growing. Assuming that Target met their projections (we don’t know, so let’s just assume) then the other $400K was at the expense of local retailers. The $200K would represent the amount Target increased sales locally that were leaking.
    So if you’re Alphabet Moon, and your sales dropped 25% in 2008-9, you would have expected those sales to be returning to normal by about 2010-11. They didn’t return to normal. Why?

    I have given you data, Mark. It is the difference in sales tax revenues that we got from Target compared to what was expected. The effect of the recession was largely over when Target opened in October 2009. Retail sales statewide were flat, but not continuing to decline. What you ascribe to the recession cannot be fully or even largely ascribed to the recession.

    The impact on specific stores depends on how much their product mix competed directly with Target. Since retailers rarely divulge sales and tax figures, we have to surmise from these net tax numbers. My guess, if I could see the sector data, would be that we would see shifts from Board of Equalization categories in (for example) office supplies, sporting goods, pet supplies, toys, electronics, and housewares, as they are purchased at general merchandisers (Target) instead of businesses that report in those categories. You can guess which local stores are in those categories.

    Target is a category-killer across several retail sectors. So the impact would be uneven on retailers. They had zero impact on my store, because they closed their garden departments (and barely competed in that category anyway), and my sales are back to 2008 levels this year. But I seriously doubt that retailers in the categories I just listed are back at 2008 levels.

    So the voters traded a net increase of $200K for a net loss to local businesses of $400K. Some of us can weather that, others can’t. Who is affected depends on many factors, particularly the degree of overlap in their product mix, the profit margin, and their other expenses.

  53. Don Shor

    Retail sales in California and elsewhere have been increasing slowly but steadily, according to independent economic analysts. Using the official measure, the recession ended in June 2009. The recovery has been slower than usual, but it is occurring. Just do a Google search for “recession ended.”
    As noted in the quote from Navazio cited in the Enterprise: ““Sales tax receipts increased by 16 percent from October-December 2010 to October-December 2011, a city report shows. Statewide, sales tax has increased by 9 percent.”
    Note that the Q411 figures are not included in my data above. City fiscal year is July through June.

  54. Don Shor

    The point of all this, Mark, is that the Davis Chamber of Commerce is ill-advised in endorsing an incumbent who has harmed local retailers, pushed for a fourth fire station, supported unsustainable MOU’s, and has a poor record on fiscal issues. There won’t be any economic development until the fiscal house is in order. And what medwoman referred to earlier — growth for growth’s sake — often has undesirable consequences. Yet a PAC heavily dominated by development interests apparently thinks that Stephen is worth their funds and their endorsement. I can understand, from their perspective, why they don’t endorse Sue. But why they endorse Stephen is beyond me.

  55. Adam Smith

    Don – you are data mining, and not analyzing the numbers correctly. If Target was “taking” sales from other Davis retailers, the sales taxes would be roughly equal. Instead, our sales taxes are down, according to the numbers you posted. For all we know, Target is generating the 600K in sales taxes that were expected from them, but the rest of the city is down by a $1 million. The bigger issue is not Target – the issue is why does Davis subperform the “average” per capita sales in California by about 60% (roughly 12k/capital in CA vs 7k/capita in Davis. For some reason, Davis continues to subperform in retail sales, in a very significant way. Since we depend so heavily on retail sales for our tax dollars, we should be figuring that out, not casting aspersions at Target.

  56. Don Shor

    Sorry, your analysis doesn’t make sense. Our sales taxes in the time frame I posted are up slightly. But not up as much as they should be. We expected a sales shift from local retailers to Target, and we got it. Not 100%, fortunately. But enough to harm existing stores, considerably in some cases.
    Davis “underperforms” the average because of demographics, location, and history. And we can’t add enough retail to make up the difference. We can encourage more retail, particularly by trying to get the vacancies filled in existing shopping centers and get retail added on the pads near Target. But I suspect Davis has always underperformed the state average, and always will.

  57. Mark West

    Don: [i]”The point of all this, Mark, is that the Davis Chamber of Commerce is ill-advised in endorsing an incumbent who has harmed local retailers, pushed for a fourth fire station, supported unsustainable MOU’s, and has a poor record on fiscal issues. There won’t be any economic development until the fiscal house is in order.”[/i]

    What does any of this have to do with your specious claims against the impact of Target? Is Stephen the one responsible for bringing Target into town? All by himself? Really? I don’t understand the connection, or are you simply trying to connect your hatred for ‘Big Box’ with a personal animus for Stephen?

    My comments against your previous (and repeated) claims had absolutely nothing to do with the election. I was simply calling you out for claiming a cause/effect relationship against Target when you had no data to support your position.

    As to your last point, there will be no fiscal stability until we have economic development. Sticking your head in the sand with Sue won’t solve the City’s problems. Economic development is not the byproduct, it is the only long term solution.

  58. Don Shor

    Stephen strongly advocated for Second Street Crossing. HIs position was harmful to local retailers, who are supposedly part of the Davis Chamber (though, as noted on previous threads, there aren’t many in the Chamber). It is one of several reasons that local businesses should not support his reelection, and that the Davis Chamber should not endorse him. If they wanted a clear message, and don’t like Sue, they still had three choices.
    Many of the policies he and others have suggested to promote economic development require budget items; i.e., money. I keep hearing about sidewalk promenades, and new parking structures, and signage. Staff for DSIDE, commissions and planning for tech parks. Things like that. If budget funds are being allocated to that, they aren’t being allocated to parks and pools and things the community also wants. It’s a shrinking pie.

    I provided the data to support my position. Any time you have some evidence that Target didn’t adversely affect local businesses, I’d love to see it. My claims are neither specious nor ridiculous. You’re long on adjectives and short on stats.

  59. Adam Smith

    Whatever sales Target may take from other retailers in Davis, we still receive the sales tax. When we know how much sales tax is collected from Target, then we’ll have something to discuss about the impact of Target. Otherwise, at this point, there is no credible evidence to support that Target is the causality of what you’ve alleged.

    I think our time and energy is much better spent on growing the economy and sales taxes, than trying to blame Target for the retail ills of Davis. I’ll stay off the Target subject, if you, medwoman and others discontinue the unfounded attacks on it.

  60. Mark West

    Don: “Davis “underperforms” the average because of demographics, location, and history.”

    Nonsense! We under perform for the simple reason that we don’t have retail options in town due to the long history of protectionist policies. It has nothing to do with demographics or location, though you are probably right about history. We have chosen to protect downtown property owners at the expense of everyone else.

    Increase our retail options in town and we will buy just as much as everyone else. Keep things as they are and we will continue to support the communities of Dixon, Woodland and Sacramento with our purchases at the expense of our own community.

  61. DT Businessman

    Don, your fixation on the Target thing has so clouded your judgement that you can’t help making reckless statement after reckless statement. I am on record on numerous occassions saying that I wish 51% of the voters had voted against Target. Well, they didn’t. Get over it. That doesn’t mean that I blame all local retail woes on Target. The local retail sector is being hit on numerous fronts, not just Target. You have said repeatedly that the data is not there to isolate the Target impact, yet you go on and on about Target being the culprit. And your statement, “Yet a PAC heavily dominated by development interests apparently thinks that Stephen is worth their funds and their endorsement.” is downright silly. The PAC is not at all dominated by developer interests as I’ve pointed out over and over again. The retail representation on the PAC outweighs retail’s weight in the business community (19%). The chair of the PAC oversight committee is…a retailer. You are willfully ignoring the PAC contributor list putting the lie to your previous postings. You previously said that the PAC objectives are not supported by retail interest, yet there they are participating in the PAC, contributing to the PAC, and showing their support with their dollars. Go ahead and rail against Target all you want, but you won’t be chasing Target out of town anytime soon. You won’t be preventing retailers from supporting the PAC objectives. And insisting that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east doesn’t make it so.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-President, Chamber PAC member)

  62. Mark West

    Don: “I provided the data to support my position.”

    No, you have misinterpreted data in order to justify your position. In the end you may be right, but so far there is no data to support your conclusion.

  63. Don Shor

    medwoman mentioned Target. Adam Smith asked for evidence. I provided evidence. Now two of you have said, because I did so, that I am “fixated” and should “get over it.” Got it. You want a discussion; when you get one, you attack me for discussing it.

    Michael: “[i]the PAC is not at all dominated by developer interests as I’ve pointed out over and over again.”[/i]
    That statement is preposterous. Look at the donors and the dollars.

    [i]The retail representation on the PAC outweighs retail’s weight in the business community (19%).[/i]
    Give me a break. You have 84 retailers in DDBA. 7 have donated to the PAC. 13 are members of the Chamber, according to their directory. You aren’t still trying to make the claim (I know! Specious!) that the Chamber and the ChamberPAC represent Davis retail interests, are you?

  64. Don Shor

    Mark: “[i]Nonsense! We under perform for the simple reason that we don’t have retail options in town due to the long history of protectionist policies. It has nothing to do with demographics or location, though you are probably right about history. We have chosen to protect downtown property owners at the expense of everyone else.”[/i]

    I moved here in 1974; I seem to recall you’ve been here longer. When I moved here, you went to Woodland or Vacaville for big-ticket items. There has always been a disparity between Davis and the surrounding communities in terms of the types of retail that have located here. I’m reasonably sure there were no protectionist policies then. [i]Location[/i] is because the best land for freeway retail is owned by the university. The stores that choose to locate here are geared toward the student population. [i]Demographics[/i] refers to the fact that a very high proportion of our population is young, college-age, and has the spending habits of that group. Note that Davis has never supported a regular department store for very long, but Forever 21 appears to be doing great where two have failed.
    There may have been a time when a freeway retail mall could have been built. I don’t recall one ever being proposed. That is definitely not going to happen now.

  65. Mr.Toad

    Don Shor: “If the net increase in sales tax was $200K, and the revenue from Target was $600K, what happened to the other $400K? “

    It went into paying overpriced mortgages Don. The revenue from Target probably didn’t reach $600,000 because the State of California cut public sector wages with furloughs and the UC followed suit with the same sort of pay cut. Sales were down all over since Davis is heavily dependent on public sector employment. What happened to retail sales in your business during that time frame Don? Extrapolating from macro economic numbers for Davis doesn’t work because of the differences in public/private employment ratios. When your marginal income decreases discretionary spending decreases and you tread water while you pay more important bills like your mortgage.

    The reverse is also true. Now that Jerry Brown ended furloughs, retail sales in Davis, using your numbers, have outpaced the rest of the state on the upside. If the state cuts big furlough back pay checks you are going to see even better numbers compared to the rest of the state.

    What I find annoying is the consistent inability of people to look at the big picture. This is just one example. Sue asking me about where to build something as if the artificial constraints of measure R limit the options or the notion that Conagra can’t wait out the local infighting over their property is another. The notion that Sue has been effective at stopping peripheral development is one more as if the carbon neutral monstrosity West Village is not peripheral development. Finally, that Sac River water isn’t a resource we should develop any time soon. I’m sure LA will be happy to buy those water rights from us any time we want to sell. OPEN YOUR EYES the world is bigger than the Davis city limit.

  66. Matt Williams

    Don, you are using an incredibly narrow definition of when the Recession ended. I think the following quote from the NY Times in October 2011 is much closer to reality, and much more germane to the conclusions about Target that you are trying to make.

    [i][b]Recession Officially Over, U.S. Incomes Kept Falling[/b]
    By ROBERT PEAR
    Published: October 9, 2011

    In a grim sign of the enduring nature of the economic slump, household income declined more in the two years after the recession ended than it did during the recession itself, new research has found.

    Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession — from December 2007 to June 2009 — household income fell 3.2 percent. [/i]

  67. medwoman

    Mr.Toad

    “OPEN YOUR EYES the world is bigger than the Davis city limit.”

    It is precisely because my eyes are open that I prefer to have Davis remain a relatively small community. I have lived in a town as small as 2000,
    Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Santa Clara. Claremont, and Davis. I have seen rural village life, big city life suburban tract home life and small city life. Of all the places I have lived, Davis is by far my favorite. One thing to keep in mind for those who are in a rush to institute change. Change can always be made in the future. Once you have made a major change, there real,y is no returning to how things were previously. From my point of view, we already have plenty of Vacavilles, Woodlands, and Folsoms. I really do not see the need to convert Davis into another thereby loosing its unique character.

  68. Don Shor

    I’m using the official definition. More to the point, retail sales in California and elsewhere have been steadily, though slowly, increasing.
    [url]http://www.nasdaq.com/article/most-us-retailers-report-modest-april-sales-few-top-estimates-20120503-01227[/url]

  69. Mr.Toad

    Obviously you fail to understand my point. i gave 5 examples of how conventional wisdom in Davis is wrong. I didn’t say anything about what we should do going forward only how what we are doing fails to honestly assess the context of what we are doing now.

  70. DT Businessman

    Michael: “the PAC is not at all dominated by developer interests as I’ve pointed out over and over again.”
    That statement is preposterous. Look at the donors and the dollars. -Don Shor

    Don, you’re the one making preposterous statements. Let’s look at the donors and the dollars. 2 developers donating $300 and 14 retailers/restauranteurs dontating $1,815. Even if you count the 2 engineering companies as “developer interests”, that still doesn’t change the fact that there is significant support from retailers and restauranteurs.

    Again, shouting even louder that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east still doesn’t make it so.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-President, Chamber PAC member)

  71. Don Shor

    With respect to economic development, I believe that Second Street Crossing is languishing. I suggest that maximum flexibility be allowed in reconfiguring the pads for retail; it’s ok per the development agreement to merge some of them into one if a department store or electronics store is interested. I think that zoning along Second Street should be relaxed (if necessary; I don’t have a zoning map at hand) to allow business or high-density residential or both. More apartments could be built there, which could improve the retail sales at that center. Put students near a store, it tends to do better.
    Overall I think that zoning, as I believe Mark West has suggested before, should be loosened, particularly for the properties along Second and between Second and Fifth.
    If council members want to do anything specific, they can press to get those pads filled next to Target.

  72. DT Businessman

    By the way, one of the two engineering companies, West Yost, appears to specialize in infrastructure (mostly water and waste water), not housing development. That hardly would put them in the “developer interests” category. But that’s just based on a cursory examination of their website.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-President, Chamber PAC member)

  73. Don Shor

    Surely you are aware of West Yost’s long history in Davis, and on many threads on the Vanguard. I think they are a fine company, a good local employer, and very reputable. Their interest locally is in the water project.

  74. Mr.Toad

    Medwoman: “It is precisely because my eyes are open that I prefer to have Davis remain a relatively small community.”

    Really? You seem to have no sense of shame in saying this. Don’t you find this even the least bit selfish? The notion that Davis should stagnate for the edification of people such as yourself is something you are proud of, honestly?

    Listen, I do get it and if you lived in Napa, Carmel, Mendocino, Albion, Winters or a hundred other places in California i would agree with you but you live in DAVIS! Davis is one of the great land grant universities in the country. It has a responsibility to do its part for the State of California, from which it derives most of its wealth, and humanity, to educate the next generation of Californians and do the research to address the current and future issues facing the state and the world. Its amazing to me how freely and willfully the people of Davis dismiss the responsibility this community accepted when it became the center of farm research in this state a little more than 100 years ago.

    Go ahead shut the door preserve your selfish little quality of life but remember the decisions you make effect the educational opportunities of young people today and in the future.

  75. DT Businessman

    Don is Red Barn nursery a a marijuana dispensery simply because both are retailers? Real estate related is a very broad category as is retail. Not all retail-related companies are “developer interests”. Get real.

    You need to recategorize as follows:

    University Hospitality Group = hospitality
    Alyce LLC = agricullture
    California Statewide = lender
    Langstaff & Wan = restaurant
    Robert Family = restaurant
    Davis Commercial Properties = RE services, but not developer related
    Doug Toulson = contractor (remodels/TI), but not developer related
    GT Construction = contractor (TI), but not developer related
    Star Crossed Group = RE services, but not developer related
    West Yost = infrastructure engineers, but not developer related
    Bob Bockwinkel = residential realtor, but not developer related
    Charles Roe = downtown mixed-use property owner, but not developer related
    Greg McNece = many companies, but not developer related
    Brooks Painting = painting contractor???
    Aguilar Janitorial = Janitorial. Developer related??? You’re kidding right?
    MC & Sons = Handyman services. Developer related??? You’re kidding right?
    Lynne Ferda & Scott Daugherty = retailer and school teacher
    Sinisa Novakovic = restaurant and entertainment
    Steve Cohan (actually Joy Cohan) = former DDBA executive director

    Your missing one, Presidio Co. ($500) = hospitality

    By the way, there are 9 DDBA board members, a retired DDBA executive director, and several DDBA committee members in the list.

  76. Mr.Toad

    “Don is Red Barn nursery a a marijuana dispensery simply because both are retailers?”

    I’m going to go in there to see for myself. Maybe check out the inventory.

    Anyway good point which candidates support a marijuana club in Davis?

  77. Frankly

    Don: [i]” Target is a category-killer across several retail sectors.”[/i]

    So, where downtown can I purchase products that Target carries? Now, after answering that, the only way you can accurately back this claim as being relevant for Davis is to measure sales tax revenue for those retailers… but then controlled for the recession… while compared to other similar-sized cities that get roughly 60% of the state average sales tax per capita.

    I don’t see many retailers downtown that carry comparable products except maybe Davis Ace Hardware. Alphabet Moon was over-priced and was likely already dying from a combination of Amazon.com and fewer customers from an aging population.

    If Target has killed any retail in Davis, it is second to the perpetual long-range killing done by the NIMBY-protectionist-statists that have made Davis a relative shopping wasteland.

    One last point… Target benefits students and families that cannot afford the higher prices of some competition-protected downtown stores, and that otherwise must drive to Woodland or Sacramento to find similar products and prices. Don’t you have some compassion for these folks? Shouldn’t you be happy that some of your lower-income neighbors have more money in their pocket at the end of the month because they saved on gas money and high-priced Shuz?

    Personally, I rarely shop at Target. But then this brings be to the point I wanted to make. I think you might want to consider your fixation on Target as being outdated. The Internet is the real category killer… including Target.

  78. Don Shor

    Jeff: as noted, the biggest impact of Target has been on the neighborhood shopping center. I think you can look at the stores there, their retail categories, and extrapolate what a 22% reduction in traffic has probably done to sporting goods, office supplies, electronics, and the other retail categories I listed above.

    Before they even came to town, Target joined the Chamber and were listed in over a dozen retail categories. Interesting that they don’t seem to be members any more (at least not on the directory). Target competes with many downtown stores as well. I don’t feel like identifying them here. They’re self-evident.

    [i]”Alphabet Moon was overpriced.”[/i]
    That’s a matter of opinion. There are industry-standard markups on retail goods, which are then adjusted by retailers depending on their expenses. You overstate the impact of internet shopping and understate the impact of changed traffic patterns. You overstate the price disparity. Nobody “must” drive to Woodland, they choose to. I don’t. I know from our past conversations that you prefer big box stores. I won’t persuade you otherwise, so I won’t try. Some people do.

    [i]”The only way you can accurately back this claim as being relevant for Davis is to measure sales tax revenue for those retailers… but then controlled for the recession…”
    [/i]
    That can’t be done, as that information is not available. I’ve given you and everyone else here the aggregate data, as that is all that is available. Clearly I won’t persuade anyone. So that part of this conversation has ended. You and others are welcome to believe that Target had no adverse impact, that there are alternate explanations for every statistic, that store closures were unrelated to Target, and that the pattern that is always observed when big box stores are built peripheral to cities have no adverse effects. I suggest you read Big Box Swindle sometime.

  79. Frankly

    [i]”OPEN YOUR EYES the world is bigger than the Davis city limit.”[/i]

    Mr. Toad: You and I are on the same page for this topic. Don’t let in ruin your day! 😉

    Here is one way to look at it…

    Davis is a unique, quirky and likeable little city. I have lived here since 1974 so I know a little about the town and its late history.

    The problem is that despite all our attempts to remain unique, quirky and likeable, we have not been able to prevent UCD from expanding, and we have not kept our city finances in order. Basically, because of these things we have not done, we have to change. And, the more we deny this fact or fight it, the less likeable we become. I consistently hear it outside Davis. 20-30 years ago people outside of Davis laughed about us while being impressed with us. Now they laugh at us and think we are raging change-averse idiots lacking fiscal sanity.

    Had our city leaders not given away the store to the public employee unions… had we allowed a modicum of normal municipal economic development including early partnering with the university… we might be in a strong enough city budget position to continue our unique, quirky and likeable ways. We did not do any of these things, and so now we have to give up our insistence that things can stay the same. We are not an economically sustainable city at this point… and the trend line slopes down.

    Now, the opportunity here is fantastic. We can pursue economic development and redevelopment in ways that revitalizes the community and significantly enhances the lives of all residents. We must allow some peripheral development, and I think some big box retailers. Our downtown is not going to decline, but it is going to have to adapt. I think as an alternative to some peripheral development we should expand the downtown. I think Mark West has suggested this at one point… that we should rezone the block surrounding the core retail area as mixed use retail/residential, and then when that is developed, do the next block and so on. I also think we need to build up and revitalize the core area. I think we should have more upscale restaurants, entertainment venues and boutique shops. We also need more office space. We need more downtown hotel and meeting space. I think neighborhood shopping centers anchored by a grocery store is a dead idea. Again, I think Mark West has suggested that we shop trying to control what business locates in these neighborhood shopping centers and we will see them occupied. Lastly, and in support of our retail economic development, we need to better partner with UCD to leverage its world-class research university status and attract more related business. That means allowing the development of the research business park.

    I think residents have three choices for supporting this or a similar effort: lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. With all due respect to Medwoman and Don Shor, we cannot afford their statist vision for the town. It is a small city that swells to near 100,000 people when school is in session. It is a small city that is laying off teachers, falling behind on road maintenance, closing pools and parks, and canceling needed water infrastructure projects… and beginning to ask for supplemental parcel taxes to take care of all normal city business.

    We certainly need to cut city expenses, but we also need to expand our revenue and revenue sources. It is time for change.

  80. Frankly

    [i]”I know from our past conversations that you prefer big box stores.”[/i]

    Don, I don’t really. I value my time more than anything. If I can find everything I need in one store within easiest driving distance, that is likely where I am going to shop. Hello Amazon!

    However, I do like to keep my tax money in town if at all possible without having to pay a high price in time wasted.

    My issue is less about my shopping practices (because I think I am a bit unique valuing time over price), and more about city economics and service to the residents.

    You would get me away from most of my advocacy of peripheral retail and big box with a more visionary plan to redevelop and expand the downtown. However, we really have neither at this point.

  81. Frankly

    [i]”Target competes with many downtown stores as well. I don’t feel like identifying them here. They’re self-evident.”[/i]

    Not to me. Target does not sell premium brands like most of the downtown merchants sell.

  82. medwoman

    Mr. Toad

    “Really? You seem to have no sense of shame in saying this. Don’t you find this even the least bit selfish? The notion that Davis should stagnate for the edification of people such as yourself is something you are proud of, honestly? “

    You are right. I have no sense of shame about my growth position, to which I do not believe that you have been listening. I am not opposed to growth. Like everyone else, I have a preference for certain kinds of growth. I prefer growth that would truly help those who have less income: apartments, multiple family units, projects such as Village Homes, student housing cooperatives ( two of which are on the street where I chose to buy recently in old east Davis). Because I do not favor more car dependent, upper income only ( with a minimal amount of affordable housing tossed in ) single family homes, you consider me selfish.I suspect that you believe that, from the select portions of my posts you choose to address, you believe that you know who I am. I believe that you have absolutely no idea who I am or how I think.

    When I arrived in Davis in 1979 the available apartment rate was quoted to me at a realtors office as less than 2%. So, for my four years here as a studens I shared apartments and rental houses with other students in tight quarters.
    This certainly did not prevent me from getting an eduction then, and I fail to see how my preference for the above stated forms of growth would prevent anyone from getting an education now. Perhaps you would like to share with me your idea of how more apartments and truly low cost housing would impede any student from getting their education.

  83. Mr.Toad

    “I suspect that you believe that, from the select portions of my posts you choose to address, you believe that you know who I am. I believe that you have absolutely no idea who I am or how I think. “

    I don’t claim to know you although I did meet you once. I just claim the right to challenge the position you have posted here.

  84. Mr.Toad

    “When I arrived in Davis in 1979 the available apartment rate was quoted to me at a realtors office as less than 2%. So, for my four years here as a studens I shared apartments and rental houses with other students in tight quarters.”

    I have always found this i suffered and survived attitude annoying. i’ve always wanted others to have it easier. My parents walked in the snow 2 miles to school. I rode a bike 2 miles. My kid walks 5 blocks in the sun. Now that’s progress.

  85. Mr.Toad

    ” Perhaps you would like to share with me your idea of how more apartments and truly low cost housing would impede any student from getting their education. “

    Well I’m not sure your position in favor of this type of growth has been stated loudly enough or perhaps you are right i haven’t been able to get past your preferences for your own particular life style that precludes the desires of others and the needs of the larger community known as California but i do welcome your willingness to sacrifice your own quality of life for the young people of CA.

    What is annoying is this piecemeal balkanism where you want apartments, Sue wants a business park, Brett wants senior housing for his grandparents, Dan wants housing for his young friends that grew up here that now have families, Lucas wants innovative infill and Steve wants good water.

    The problem is that I want it all and until the age old horse trading system known as politics builds consensus nothing can be done. What is the smartest thing we could do? Plan Covell and Cannery together allow everyone to get some of what they want for perhaps a decade or more of growth. We are not talking about that much growth over 10-20 years. Sadly the self inflicted restraint of measure R coupled with the intransigence of Sue Greenwald has been impediments to compromise. Remember when city staff wanted to plan Cannery and Covell together that was one time when staff, under emlen, was right and the naysayers were wrong.

  86. medwoman

    Mr. Toad

    “Really? You seem to have no sense of shame in saying this. Don’t you find this even the least bit selfish? The notion that Davis should stagnate for the edification of people such as yourself is something you are proud of, honestly? “

    I am not sure what you think is gained by labeling ( selfish, shame, little lifestyle) but I have a proposal.
    I truly enjoy posting and reading the posts of those whose ideas are different from my own. Since our world views would appear to be quite different, you are an individual that I feel I could probably learn from in terms of seeing the world from a different perspective. However, I do not appreciate the name calling and stereotyping.
    I am wondering if you care to interact with me without the personal attacks. If so, I would be more than happy to continue. If you do not care to interact without casting personal aspersions, you have only to say so and I will simply stop responding to your posts.

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