Commentary: A Range of Responses to a Krovoza-Wolk Showdown

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Krovoza-Wolk

First of all, I want to start with an apology to both Anthony Farrington and Matt Pope – this site, being that it is the Davis Vanguard is a bit Davis-centric.  However, the public should make no mistake here, both Anthony Farrington, a Lake County supervisor, and Matt Pope, a staffer for Noreen Evans who is backed by the State Senator, are very formidable candidates.

I got a lot of correspondence on this topic this weekend as one might imagine.  The overwhelming sentiment was agreement with my Saturday column, that a Dan Wolk – Joe Krovoza showdown will not be in the best interests of Davis.

There is strong support for the idea that the two men should meet, come to an agreement, and attempt to avoid this showdown.

A few of our readers took issue with the notion of a closed door deal that hearkens back to days of yore.

Writes Bob Dunning in this column: “Some folks are lamenting the fact that two sitting councilmen will now be spending the next year delivering body blows to each other rather than concentrating on pressing city business, but there are some folks who are licking their chops over just such a prospect.”

He later adds, “Better to let the voters have the pick of the litter than to have the job done for us behind closed doors. Let ’em duke it out in public for all the world to see. The more candidates the better.

“If it slows down city business for the next year or so, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, given the track record of this council so far.”

Mr. Dunning must be still steamed about the water issue, because the track record of this council so far has been quite exemplary.

If the only thing that mattered was the decision between two candidates for the office of Assembly, then this is correct, the voters should decide.  But that ignores the impact on the Davis City Council itself, at a time when the stakes are extremely high and at a moment where we seem to be just getting things right.

I take exception to Mr. Dunning’s comment in part because other than water, I am not sure that he has covered the most serious of issues facing this community.

I have not seen a column on the $444 million hole we potentially face on roads, the $6 million structural deficit we face in the coming years, the impending impasse that we face with two of our city’s bargaining units, the infrastructure upgrades needed on parks, water, and other critical infrastructure, and now the investment we have made into economic development.

You think this doesn’t matter?  The city of Davis is still facing a rather perilous crisis that if not handled properly could force us into huge losses of services if not bankruptcy.

There are those who suggest that Dan Wolk and Joe Krovoza are big boys and they are not going to allow their fight bleed onto the council dais.

“Joe and I both have the interests of the city at heart, and I know we will continue to work well together along with our council colleagues,” Dan Wolk told the Davis Enterprise.

There is no doubt that Dan Wolk means what he said, but he is not counting on other factors here.

Consider for a second Rich Rifkin’s column from May 8.

Now back on March 13 he wrote, “it is clear, when listening to (City Council members) Dan Wolk and Lucas Frerichs, both ambitious young Democrats, that they are willing to bend over backwards to not come across as anti-union. They know that label could imperil their futures in higher office.”

Mr. Rifkin continues, “Dan and Lucas understand that it’s next to impossible to climb the political ladder in their party if they stood up to the firefighters.

“No one knows the power of the firefighters better than Dan’s mother, Sen. Lois Wolk. After she once voted against them in the state Senate, the firefighters stripped her committee assignments to punish her.”

Now back on April 30 at the Davis City Council meeting, Dan Wolk argued that the fire staffing issue was “mainly about budgetary savings.”  He said, ” We are in a new financial era and the old way of doing things is no longer tenable.”

He ultimately argued that the correct way to proceed here was through the MOU process.

But now comes the real dilemma.  You have the firefighters who are holding out at a tremendous cost to the city’s budget, you have a looming vote on imposing impasse, and you have a group that it would at least appear that Dan Wolk is cultivating to be his foot soldiers in his battle for the Assembly.

So is Dan Wolk going to turn on his foot soldiers and vote to impose impasse?  Or will politics get in the way of this?

In a tough battle, what will win out – the good of the Davis community or the good of the candidate?

From the perspective of this city, which Bob Dunning seems to lack any appreciation of the major issues facing the city, since all he mentioned was water and fluoridation, this is not a good thing.

The other point to make is an electoral point.  The 4th AD is a Democratic seat for sure, at 46.7 Democratic registration to 27% Republican and 20.9% DTS, I’m not sure you would call it a safe Democratic seat as some have implied.

Jerry Brown got 57% of the vote in 2010, Barack Obama got nearly 65% of the vote.  But Attorney General Kamala Harris got 47% of the vote (her opponent got 37%).

What does all of this mean?  One scenario is that the top two vote getters could be Democrats, but if a strong Republican entered, in a four person race, there is a good chance the Republican could finish second (even possible first depending on the split).

From the standpoint of Davis, having a Davis representative is an advantage, especially as the city seeks to become a player on the regional area in economic development.  Having Dan Wolk run against Joe Krovoza has the potential to split the vote.

Davis and Yolo County are not the largest parts of this district to begin with.  Having the two strong Davis candidates on the ballot makes it less likely that one of them will end up in the general election.

There may be people who like that, there may be people who do not care, but from the standpoint of Davis, that is not in the best interest.

So it is easy to say, the more people the better and may the best candidate win out.  I get that feeling and if the only thing at stake here were determining the best person to represent the 4th AD, I would be all for it.  But in terms of the best interests of this community, I think we are better served by avoiding this battle.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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41 thoughts on “Commentary: A Range of Responses to a Krovoza-Wolk Showdown”

  1. Mr.Toad

    David writes: Mr. Rifkin continues, “Dan and Lucas understand that it’s next to impossible to climb the political ladder in their party if they stood up to the firefighters.

    “No one knows the power of the firefighters better than Dan’s mother, Sen. Lois Wolk. After she once voted against them in the state Senate, the firefighters stripped her committee assignments to punish her.”

    So you guys argue, questionably I might add, that Senator Wolk was punished politically by the firefighters yet Councilman Wolk should stand up to them on your time table. Dan lost on a vote you favored yet you continue to attack him instead without pointing out that he wanted to get the savings by other means, stating that he “Was not there yet” on the vote to reorganize the fire department staffing. You also fail to point out that his concern was over trying to save money at the risk of public safety.

    So I guess you are arguing that committing what you see as political suicide is the only course he should follow. Then you attack him because he didn’t crash his Japanese zero into the downtown fire station.

    Let me give you some advise, don’t become a political consultant.

  2. medwoman

    Mr.Toad

    “You also fail to point out that his concern was over trying to save money at the risk of public safety. “

    I think it would be more accurate to say that his stated concern ” was over trying to save money at the risk of public safety”.
    Since actual data had been presented on how a more flexible deployment of personnel would actually provide greater safety given the types of calls predominating in Davis, and no contrary data, but only scarey potential scenarios and well deserved, but largely irrelevant testimonials,
    We’re presented in opposition to the change, I think this is a hard assertion to maintain.

    Having saiid that, I do not think it is possible for anyone other than the council members themselves to know their full range of motivations for making any given decision, and to pretend that we do have this kind of insight and put it forward as though it were truth rather than speculation is disingenuous.

  3. Mr.Toad

    The City was already in the financial hole when he came on board claiming he put the city in that situation is really over the top. Your disagreement is on how to proceed not how we got here. What is sad is that the fire- fighters are headed for impasse and the city is going to be forced into imposing a contract on them. I imagine the firefighters know this but are playing for time since it is in their best interest to not give anything up while holding a losing hand. Instead of attacking individual members for their position on tough votes while calling into question their motives, as Medwoman correctly asserts is impossible to do, why don’t you stick to bashing the firefighters?

  4. David M. Greenwald

    Mr. Toad: You’re missing the glaring problem here and that is Dan has a conflict of interest between his duties as a Councilmember and his concerns about political capital and support from the firefighters.

  5. hpierce

    [quote]Dan has [b]a conflict of interest[/b] [/quote]Suggest you watch your words, David… the term you’ve used has legal implications, and in my opinion, you either need to re-phrase, or notify the political fair practices folks about your concerns… fish or cut bait.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    Actually there’s a third option you don’t account for and that is that I believe the current legal definitions are insufficient to protect us from these sorts of conflicts which are endemic to the political situation, and while not legally the adopted standard, problematic nonetheless in seeking out sound policy.

  7. Frankly

    I don’t see that Dan’s vote on the firefighter change as consistent with his other positions. Because of this, I think David has a valid point. Although, I would have worded it a bit differently… Dan appears to have a potential conflict of interest.

    I’m never a single issue voter, and I don’t respect those that are. There is room for like minds to disagree on any subject. But on the issue of the firefighters and what their continued gross over-compensation means to this city, I am going to have to dig deep to find reasons to continue to support any city council member that voted no on the 3-member fire crews. That vote should have been unanimous. It would have bee a rational thing and it would have sent the right message to the firefighters union and the voters.

  8. Mr.Toad

    But let us go back to the fact that this was one vote that you disagree with. Now you are going to accuse Dan of conflict of interest because you disagree with his vote even though you were sitting right there while Dan was explaining that he wasn’t a yes at that moment saying “I’m not there yet.” He was conflicted but it wasn’t over his own interest. It was over public safety and budget solutions as he stated at the time.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    “But let us go back to the fact that this was one vote that you disagree with. Now you are going to accuse Dan of conflict of interest”

    It’s one vote and the claim of conflict stands on this one issue. This has been the problem I have been arguing for five years – the problem of money in politics, is that it corrupts the process and it’s playing out here.

  10. Don Shor

    [i]and I was really hoping to avoid doing so[/i]

    But you just couldn’t help yourself. I think very few people found Dan’s or Lucas’es positions on the issue very persuasive. Frankly is right: it should have been unanimous.

  11. SouthofDavis

    Mr.Toad wrote:

    > it can be argued, and I was really hoping to
    > avoid doing so, that David has a personal vendetta
    > against the firefighters.

    I don’t see David as having any “personal” vendetta against the firefighters and I’m pretty sure that David would have similar posts if “any” group in the city had an average total pay of ~$175K/year and was setting up “Astroturf” groups to try and avoid any reductions of their pay or increase in their work…

  12. Don Shor

    The key question will be whether any of the assembly candidates will accept contributions from public employee unions, specifically the firefighters. And contributions include time and effort on the ground, not just donations.

  13. Mr.Toad

    “it should have been unanimous.”

    Easy for you to say but ask any of the three who voted for the change how easy it was. In fact, if you go back and look at the tape watch them all sweat out that vote, equivocate, talk about budgets versus public safety, and, show each other much more respect than the sort of character assassination that has been indulged in here by people who should have more political maturity than they have demonstrated this morning.

  14. Don Shor

    [i]the sort of character assassination that has been indulged in here by people who should have more political maturity than they have demonstrated this morning.[/i]
    Wow. Nice one. It’s going to be a long campaign.

  15. Mr.Toad

    Why specifically the Firefighters? Why not be most concerned about money from unknown sources legalized by Citizens United, conservative anti-union groups or gross polluters. How about home builders or water lawyers. If you are expecting that Joe or any of the other candidates are going to run without raising money you are truly naive. If you are believe that anyone who has any business before the City creates a conflict of interest for Joe or Dan its going to be over a year of constant abstentions.

  16. Don Shor

    [i]Why not be most concerned about money from unknown sources legalized by Citizens United, conservative anti-union groups or gross polluters. How about home builders or water lawyers.[/i]

    Because I think there is nearly zero likelihood of these groups donating to any of the candidates in this assembly district.
    It should be obvious why I would have specific concern about the firefighters union.

  17. Mark West

    David: Let me see if I understand your argument here.

    1. Dan voted differently than you wanted him to on the staffing issue, and you don’t believe his stated reasons for his decision.

    2. You have a long-standing disagreement with the actions of the Fire Fighter’s union in town and with their level of compensation.

    3. Dan is planning on running for a higher office.

    4. Dan’s mother is a long serving Democrat who faced consequences for voting against the wishes of her party’s leadership.

    5. Dan chose not to change his last name when he got married and is guilty by association.

    Ergo, Dan has a conflict of interest?

    Personally I think you need a bit more evidence than that, but maybe I’m just using a different standard.

    I wish the vote had been unanimous if for no other reason than to send a message to all employees and citizens that the Council is united on working to solve our fiscal problems. The more telling vote will come when the Council has to make a decision on compensation for the union. That said, I think your conjecture as to why the individual Council members voted as they did on the staffing issue should be based on their statements and previous records, not on your (or someone else’s) imagination.

  18. Davis Progressive

    “Why not be most concerned about money from unknown sources legalized by Citizens United,”

    the answer is i think contained in the first paragraph – this is a site that focuses on davis city council primarily.

  19. Mr.Toad

    “Because I think there is nearly zero likelihood of these groups donating to any of the candidates in this assembly district.”

    If past experience is any indication they will once again be spending heavily.

  20. David M. Greenwald

    Mark: This is a good way for me to clarify my positions because I don’t think you have them right.

    “1. Dan voted differently than you wanted him to on the staffing issue, and you don’t believe his stated reasons for his decision.”

    I never said I don’t believe his stated reasons. What I said is that his decision to run for the Assembly will make it more difficult for him to do what he has already indicated he will do on the MOU issue.

    “2. You have a long-standing disagreement with the actions of the Fire Fighter’s union in town and with their level of compensation.”

    This is basically accurate.

    “3. Dan is planning on running for a higher office.”

    This too

    “4. Dan’s mother is a long serving Democrat who faced consequences for voting against the wishes of her party’s leadership.”

    That’s more Rich Rifkin’s point than mine. I believe she was stripped of committee leadership due to her opposition on the Delta issue, not due to anything union related.

    “5. Dan chose not to change his last name when he got married and is guilty by association.”

    I don’t know where you get that one from.

  21. David M. Greenwald

    Mr. Toad: You of all people should understand that the Vanguard covers the Davis City Council as a primary area of coverage. We have been quite critical of spending by a number of entities in that realm.

  22. Mr.Toad

    “That’s more Rich Rifkin’s point than mine.”

    But then you quoted him without challenge and you brought up conflict of interest so its a squishy dodge at best. You won the vote David but you want to dwell on it instead of moving forward to the next issue or the next vote and you make all these inferencesand accusations instead of accepting what people said at face value. You seem like Captain Ahab chasing the great red whale.

  23. Don Shor

    [i]I believe she was stripped of committee leadership due to her opposition on the Delta issue, not due to anything union related. [/i]
    Yes, and it would be good for the Fourth Assembly district to have a representative working with the Delta Stewardship Council. Candidates in this district are likely to stake out hardline positions on the delta water project(s), but I think expertise and a willingness to work with the other major interest groups will be important. It’s a case where Dan’s pedigree may work against him, though that is no fault of his own. Lois was, IMO, a victim of good ‘ol boy politics on the delta issue (and I agree with David that is more likely why she lost her committee position). I don’t share her opposition to the delta water project, but I think that’s why she was sidelined.

  24. David M. Greenwald

    Mr. Toad:

    I quoted him to raise the point about political ambition and conflicts between running the city and running for the assembly. I stand by that comparison, but just because I quote him, doesn’t mean I agree with everything he writes.

    I you raise the point that the vote on fire staffing was won but miss it that my concern is with the next vote that may be more politicized now with two of the five running for assembly.

  25. SouthofDavis

    Mr.Toad wrote:

    > Why specifically the Firefighters? Why not be most
    > concerned about money from unknown sources legalized
    > by Citizens United, conservative anti-union groups

    I wonder if Mr.Toad can name a conservative anti-union group that is (or has ever) donated signifigant money to a Davis politician?

    I’m not a supporter of “conservative anti-union groups” but is seems to many in the middle and even quite a few that are more liberal than average (like the Bee and Governor Brown) realize that the public safety unions are pushing for more than we (as taxpayers) can ever pay (see the link below from the Bee today):
    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/10/5409431/can-local-coffers-pay-for-benefits.html

    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/10/5409431/can-local-coffers-pay-for-benefits.html

  26. Michael Harrington

    I have the FF policy and budget issues longer than most of you.

    I dont think David has a personal vendetta. His research and comments are based on facts in the record, plus what he finds out while tooling around town and chatting with city and civic leaders.

  27. JustSaying

    I didn’t want to rehash anything tonight, yet realizing that I’m in total agreement with Mr. Harrington moves me to action. You’re correct, Michael.

  28. Mr.Toad

    On April 30th David wrote “In 2008 when I spoke out against the firefighters during the city council campaign, my wife, who was running for council at the time, dared to call 3% at 50 unsustainable. The union president, Bobby Weist, we would learn, responded by trying to get my wife and some others fired from their jobs.”

    I think David has been on a vendetta against the firefighters union ever since. I have thought this for a long time but this statement cinched it. Whatever the merits of his arguments he has used this blog to attack anyone and everyone who has not kowtowed to his anti-firefighters union positions. He has disregarded any arguments that did not agree with his views and attacked those that wavered from his position in any way. He has quoted without challenge the anti-union statements of others while claiming he is not responsible for what others are saying. The anti-union drumbeat of the Davis Vanguard is especially disturbing because David claims that he wanted to have a blog that allowed other voices to be heard, yet when it comes to being anti-union, both the Davis Enterprise and the Davis Vanguard have more in common than either care to admit. Now I actually respect David for his courage in fighting back but it seems he is so blinded by his animosity that he often loses his sense of perspective. The almost daily rehashing of the firefighter staffing vote, a vote that David won, while making inferences about the motives of those who voted differently than David would have liked, is a classic example of the rabid vociferousness with which David pursues his quarry.

    Now many of you have claimed that David doesn’t have a vendetta. I guess you figure that its okay to attack someone’s livelihood and family and that people aren’t going to fight back. The funny thing about David and the head of the firefighters union is they seem to have more in common than either would ever admit.

  29. DT Businessman

    I agree with Toad. Anyone pointing out that Davis firefighters are:

    1)compensated substantially more than their peers;

    2)compensated substantially more than their replacement value;

    3)compensated such that the community is bleeding a tide of red ink;

    4)employing a number of tactics to maintain their current compensation levels that are rather suspect;

    is clearly attacking the fire fighters livelihood and families such that it constitutes a vendetta. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they fight back against the community that is providing for them and their families.

    -Michael Bisch

  30. Jim Frame

    I think David has a vendetta against waste and fraud, not the firefighters.

    With regard to Wolk and Frerichs — both of whom I believe to be smart honorable people, and for both of whom I voted — watching their performance on the dais during the fire staffing vote left me with the impression that both were desperately searching for a way to vote no without appearing to be in the pocket of the firefighter’s union. Both failed miserably in that regard.

    Figuring out how to make the tough votes work for you rather than against you is the mark of a seasoned politician. Wolk and Frerichs aren’t there yet.

    .

  31. hpierce

    Krovoza has declared himself a “lame duck”. Wolk has a “freebie”. Given Mr K’s direct (i.e., not thru CC, nor CM) attempts to direct staff to do HIS bidding, good riddance. Have liked his conduct on the dais, and respect his votes, but he has shown an affinity to be a ‘loose cannon’. I hope Dan remains on the council, and I will probably vote for ‘anyone except’ Joe.

  32. Matt Williams

    hpierce said . . .

    [i]”Krovoza has declared himself a “lame duck”. Wolk has a “freebie”. [b]Given Mr K’s direct (i.e., not thru CC, nor CM) attempts to direct staff to do HIS bidding[/b], good riddance. Have liked his conduct on the dais, and respect his votes, but he has shown an affinity to be a ‘loose cannon’. I hope Dan remains on the council, and I will probably vote for ‘anyone except’ Joe.”[/i]

    Hortense, your bolded words confuse me. Did I miss something? Can you elaborate?

  33. Alan Miller

    >”but there are some folks who are licking their chops over just such a prospect.”

    Is followed by “(see photo above)”.

    Dunning is talking about himself . . . this is classic Dunning humor as it has been for decades. He relishes in CC controversy, and this 5-0 council is lacking meat on its bones for columns. The misquote by omission is a mischaracterization to the point of changing the meaning outright.

    The any-opportunity-to-attack-Dunning obsession is a yawner.

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