Sunday Commentary: The End of the Line for Mace 391 Business Park Proposal

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Morris-1When the Davis City Council voted 4-1 last month to reexamine the possibility of pausing the conservation easement process at Mace 391, one of the concerns that even proponents of the business park expressed was the possibility of harming the city’s reputation and thus prospects for getting future easements, and harming the ability of Yolo Land Trust (YLT) to do their work on behalf of communities like Davis.

A letter dated November 12, 2013, from the US Department of Agriculture’s State Conservationist Carlos Suarez, addressed to Mayor Joe Krovoza, indicates that the consequences would be serious and grave.

The letter notes that the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) has agreed to provide $1.125 million in grant funding to assist the Yolo Land Trust to purchase the conservation easement, and that the deadline to complete this transaction has been extended twice.

“If the City chooses to reconsider the merits of the Mace Curve project, it’s important to understand the potential consequences of returning the FRPP [Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program] grant funding,” Mr. Suarez writes. Should the City decide to no longer pursue the easement, NRCS would be required to return the $1.125 million back to the U.S. Treasury.”

“Unfortunately, this funding cannot be used for other NRCS conservation projects, nor can the funding be used for a modified conservation easement proposal under consideration now or in the future by the City or Yolo Land Trust,” he notes.

As YLT executive Director Michelle Clark indicated back in October, the biggest harm will be the assessment of the city and the YLT’s “closing efficiency.”

“Closing efficiency,” Mr. Suarez explains, “is a measure of a conservation partner’s ability to complete an easement in a timely manner. Closing efficiency can affect future fund allocations to California NRCS and its conservation partners.”  He notes, “A good closing efficiency is also important for our conservation partners to remain competitive on future easement applications. Closing efficiency is one of several criteria considered by NRCS when ranking applications for funding.”

The message here is clear: “If the City decides to not protect Mace Curve/Leland Ranch with a conservation easement at this time and FRPP funds are returned, both the City and the Yolo Land Trust will continue to be eligible to apply for future FRPP grants – although each entity’s closing efficiency will be affected based on the guidelines set forth in FRPP policy.”

While some in the community may still wish to debate whether harming the city’s ability to gain future grants and easements is offset by the advantages of a business park, this clearly represents, in the city’s view and probably the council’s view as well, the final blow for Mace 391.

As staff notes, in June the staff presented the council with options to continue the grant process or suspend it for the consideration of other options.  Staff notes, “No official proposal for swapping was being reviewed or processed and the discussion with the City Council was hypothetical and based on only the one unofficial proposal.”

At that time, the council voted 3-2 to continue with the easement process, with several councilmembers concerned about the process in which the proposal was laid out.

Since that time, staff notes that it “has been actively pursuing the closing of the grant with the City partners at the Yolo Land Trust and NRCS, including soliciting offers for resale of the Mace 391/Leland Ranch property. Consistent with other recent conservation projects, the City would sell the underlying fee-title of the protected farm land to a private buyer and join the Yolo Land Trust as a co-holder of the conservation easement.”

In October, by a 4-1 vote of council, staff was “directed by Council to review and provide options for the use of the city-owned Mace 391/Leland Ranch property. Thorough analysis was not achievable in the short timeframe, but staff has provided Council with several options.”

Staff had supported the idea of pausing the process back in June, but since that time the grant process has gone forward and pulling out now would appear to create substantial harm for future conservation efforts, for both the city and YLT.

Staff therefore writes, “Based on the letter received from USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and the negative implications based on Council direction at the City Council meeting on October 22, 2013 to ensure that the Yolo Land Trust was not harmed by rejecting the grant, staff recommends reaffirming acceptance of the NRCS grant and continue to work towards a resell of the property with a conservation easement by March 31, 2014.”

The Vanguard, based on the June 11, 2013, discussion, felt that a proper discussion of the proposal on its merits were undermined by serious concerns about process.  We were hoping for a broader community discussion to pinpoint the community’s views on whether and where a business park might be built.

Given the lack of discussion on the merits back in June and the city’s precarious fiscal position, we believed that a discussion was appropriate.

Based on the additional information from the USDA, however, we concur with city staff that aborting the grant process would cause more harm than good for our community.  We stand by the notions of open space and agricultural land protection.

City staff has faced considerable criticism for even considering a discussion of reconsidering the June 11 decision and, therefore, they deserve credit for shifting gears based on new information.  In the past, city staff may well have dug in and held their position.

The next question is far more important: where do we go from here?

We do not believe that all has been lost.  Since David Morris published his September article in the Vanguard on Mace 391, we have had several discussions, in council chambers, at the Innovation Parks Task Force meetings and on the Vanguard, about the need for a business park.

The original Innovation Parks Task Force suggested lands east of Mace (just to the west of Mace 391), as well as to the west of Sutter Davis Hospital, as potential spots for business park development.

While the community seemed split on where a business park should go, there may be an emerging consensus on the need for a business park in general.

There are key questions that must be addressed.  Some of that discussion occurred a few weeks ago at the Innovation Parks public outreach meeting.  However, the Vanguard at that time expressed concern that key segments of the community were not present and need to be for future discussions.

Any business park on peripheral lands, whether it be a small innovation center at Nishi, or a broader park at the other two locations, will require approval from the voters through Measure R.  It therefore behooves the city and other stakeholders to present broad opportunities for inclusive public engagement.

In addition to where the park should go, another key question is the appropriate size of an innovation park.

Staff did not conduct a full analysis, but they offer a few sources of information.  The first was the research conducted by UC Davis’s Studio 30, which was presented to the council a year ago.  A second source of information comes from a Sacramento Business Journal article from last week, “Davis Leaders Look to Grow a Research Park.”

Both studies found a large diversity in the size, location, number of employees, and number of companies.  Successful parks were as small as 110 acres in Livermore and 185 acres in Irvine and as large as 7000 acres in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.  That said, a number of parks were right around 200 acres.

The need for discussion is paramount and the city is clearly looking to move forward with the Innovation Task Force Process.

Mace 391 was unfortunately a polarizing proposal.  There are several reasons for that, starting with the lack of public process and extending to the fact that a lot of work had been done to lock that land into conservation easement.

Some may argue that any process that looks to develop peripheral land will polarizing.  We see the need to bring key groups and stakeholders into the process early so that we can, as a community, determine our critical needs here.

In the end, we may not all agree on where, when and what size a park should be, but by having an open and transparent process, hopefully we can avoid the pitfalls that befell Mace 391.

At the same time, we need to remember that, while the process of Mace 391 was far from ideal, in the end it opened the discussion of the need for economic development, and the need for a business park, forward to the point where we have had considerable discussion and perhaps even some consensus on the needs going forward.

—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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42 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: The End of the Line for Mace 391 Business Park Proposal”

  1. Matt Williams

    NRCS said . . .

    [i]”If the City decides to not protect Mace Curve/Leland Ranch with a conservation easement at this time and FRPP funds are returned, both the City and the Yolo Land Trust will continue to be eligible to apply for future FRPP grants – although each entity’s closing efficiency will be affected based on the guidelines set forth in FRPP policy.”[/i]

    I have asked this question before and ask it here again. Specifically, Yolo Land Trust has a closing efficiency to-date (as best as I know.and I could be wrong) of 18 closings out of 18 opportunities. Clearly that calculates to 100%. Not all those 18 were with the City as a partner, but the City’s closing efficiency is almost surely 100% as well. Does a closing efficiency of 95% (18 closes out of 19 opportunities) represent a meaningful decline from 100% for the Yolo Land Trust?”

    Mr. Suarez in his letter states that, “[i]Closing efficiency can affect future fund allocations to California NRCS and its conservation partners.” He notes, “A good closing efficiency is also important for our conservation partners to remain competitive on future easement applications. Closing efficiency is one of several criteria considered by NRCS when ranking applications for funding.”[/i] The clear follow-up question that that statement begs is whether a 95% closing efficiency is any less competitive than a 100% closing efficiency? The answer to that question isn’t transparent.

    The fact that NRCS has chosen to write the letter speaks volumes, and at this point I support proceeding with the easement because of the perception of harm that would come to Yolo Land Trust, but I find myself feeling more and more that the most apt description of this easement process is [i]”While Nero fiddled, Rome burned.”[/i]

    In recent months this City has found itself needing the services of an Ombudsman on a number of occasions. Robert Aaronson for the Police Department, Scott Kenley for the Fire Department, and the Water Advisory Committee for Water are all high profile examples. I strongly believe we need an Ombudsman for the Wastewater Treatment Plan Upgrade as we are still on track for spending $50 million more than we need to on that project. I also feel that if we had an Ombudsman in place in the period from 2011 through 2013 we would have avoided the siloed communication that caused the good work of the Open Space and Habitat Commission to never intersect with the good work of the Finance and Budget Commission , and never intersect with the good work of the Business and Economic Development Commission, and never intersect with the good work of the Innovation Park Task Force. Having an Ombudsman on staff would cost money, but are we being penny wise and pound foolish in not funding that position? By having it we can, as a community, be proactive about avoiding inefficiencies in our government rather than being reactive to those eficiencies after they have happened.

    JMHO

  2. Davis Progressive

    mace 391 in specifics might be over, the next questions are not over.

    the city manager has enough responsibilities and you want someone indepedent overseeing things anyway.

  3. Matt Williams

    Davis Progressive said . . .

    [i]”the city manager has enough responsibilities and you want someone indepedent overseeing things anyway.”[/i]

    Agreed 100% DP.

  4. Mr.Toad

    Why would the actions of the City of Davis effect the reputation of the Yolo Land Trust? Why would a Democratic Congressman operating with a Democratic administration not be able to fix this? Oh, perhaps he did just that?

  5. Mr.Toad

    A reasonable way to proceed on figuring out the appropriate size for a business park might be to have a process where companies could ask for a space allotment at a particular place to see what actual interest there is and how much space is needed. You could add some additional space to accommodate future needs.

  6. Mr.Toad

    “closing efficiency”

    I read that but find it questionable.

    “Closing efficiency can affect future fund allocations to California NRCS and its conservation partners.”

    Notice the word “can” Mr. Suarez uses instead of will or must. This is a political letter not a legal one. it is effectively twisting the arms of the members of the city council. They should resist being bullied by the open space advocates and their friends in high places and do what they believe is in the best interest of the City of Davis.

  7. Frankly

    I am just starting my investigation of conservationist Carlos Suarez. I know how these Federal grant programs and their administrators work. To put it mildly, I am suspicious that this claim of closing efficiency impact is significantly overstated.

    There is no doubt that the Yolo Land Trust is well-served by a fear of being impacted, and there is no question in my mind that they would call in a favour from Mr. Suarez to help them gin it up. Assuming this is the case, all parties should be ashamed of themselves and the Vanguard should consider this a lesson for what level of investigatory reporting should be required for certain hot topics. This is a very big deal because it will be the justification for a final “out” of the council to go forward with the ag easement. Their comments will be something like the following:
    [quote] To ensure that the Yolo Land Trust is not damaged in their ability to win future NRCS FRPP grants, we need to go forward with their proposal…[/quote]
    And what will [b]NOT[/b] be said…
    [quote]…to lock this land up for the single business use of farming in our ongoing support of establishing a complete farmland moat around the city so that we never have to worry about any peripheral development even though without it and the revenue generated from it, we will become more population hyper-dense and more financially insolvent[/quote]
    Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 11 / Friday, January 16, 2009 / Rules and Regulations, Section 1491.6 Ranking Considerations and Proposal Selection, subsection (b):
    [quote]…establishes that such parcels will be ranked according to both National and State criteria. Within the State ranking criteria, the National criteria must comprise at least half of the available ranking points.[/quote]
    Here are those ranking critera:
    [quote][b]Federal Ranking Criteria[/b]
    (1) Percent of prime, unique, and important farmland in the parcel to be protected;
    (2) Percent of cropland, pastureland, grassland, and rangeland in the parcel to be protected;
    (3) Ratio of the total acres of land in the parcel to be protected to average farm size in the county according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture;
    (4) Decrease in the percentage of acreage of farm and ranch land in the county in which the parcel is located between the last two USDA Censuses of Agriculture;
    (5) Percent population growth in the county as documented by the United States Census;
    (6) Population density (population per square mile) as documented by the most recent United States Census;
    (7) Proximity of the parcel to other protected land, such as military installations land owned in fee title by the United States or a State or local government, or by an entity whose purpose is to protect agricultural use and related conservation values, or land that is already subject to an easement or deed restriction that limits the conversion of the land to nonagricultural use;
    (8) Proximity of the parcel to other agricultural operations and infrastructure; [/quote]
    [quote] [b]State Ranking Criteria[/b]
    (1) The location of a parcel in an area zoned for agricultural use;
    (2) The performance of an entity experience in managing and enforcing easements. Performance must be measured by the closing efficiency or percentage of monitoring that is reported. Years of an entity’s existence shall not be used as a ranking factor;
    (3) Multifunctional benefits of farm and ranch land protection including social, economic, historical and archaeological, and environmental benefits;
    (4) Geographic regions where the enrolment of particular lands may help achieve National, State, and regional conservation goals and objectives, or enhance existing government or private conservation projects;
    (5) Matching funds requested from NRCS (50% is the maximum allowed and preferred program contribution)
    (6) Accessibility of easement parcel to agricultural markets
    (7) Entity’s farmland protection strategy and how the FRPP proposal corresponds to this strategy
    (8) Adequate water supply and other on-farm infrastructure
    (9) Demonstrated support for project from local community, government and non-government organizations[/quote]

  8. Frankly

    So, in consideration of:

    1. The Federal Ranking Criteria must comprise 50% of the total.

    2. There are nine State Ranking criteria and most of them would seem to justify higher weighting than would any concern of closing efficiency.

    3. The loss of an existing grant does NOTHING to change the criteria of closing efficiency for a future grant. Declining the Mace 391 ag easement does NOTHING to harm the Yolo Land Trust as the decision would be made by the city and due to any performance problem attributable to the Yolo Land Trust.

    The reason that Conservationist Carlos Suarez is willing to go so far to make his disingenuous claims, IMO, is that these federal program administrators hate it when the money goes back to Treasury. They hate it because their job performance is reliant on demonstrating effectiveness at moving other people’s money.

    But will their hurt feelings carry over to the next grant request? Absolutely not. If the Yolo Land Trust is harmed at all, it will be because Davis has finally realized that its dire long-term financial circumstances can only be solved with economic development, and economic development requires land, and there is not enough land for economic developing within our already hyper-dense little city.

    So, the Yolo Land Trust might need to stop with their Davis farmland moat mission, and seek other areas of Yolo County to for NCRS grants.

  9. B. Nice

    [quote]They hate it because their job performance is reliant on demonstrating effectiveness at moving other people’s money. [/quote]

    Your claiming this is Carlos Suarez real motive in writing a his letter to Korvoza? It’s a little weak.

    [quote]There is no doubt that the Yolo Land Trust is well-served by a fear of being impacted, and there is no question in my mind that they would call in a favour from Mr. Suarez to help them gin it up. Assuming this is the case…[/quote]

    So you are assuming that Yolo Land Trust called in a favor? Do you have any proof beyond your assumptions?

  10. Don Shor

    From the Davis Enterprise: [quote] Rob White, the city’s chief innovation officer, will recommend to the council Tuesday to continue forward with the easement process.

    “Based on the letter,” White said in his report to the council, ” … to ensure that the Yolo Land Trust was not harmed by rejecting the grant, staff recommends reaffirming acceptance of the NRCS grant and continue work toward a resell of the property with a conservation easement.”[/quote]
    Maybe Frankly should take up his arguments with Rob White. Meanwhile, it’s time for the planning process to move on to other sites.

  11. Frankly

    B. Nice – did you read my post including all the criteria?

    Just think a little more deeply. Say you are Mr. Suarez and you have already granted this money and are looking forward to the additional notch on your “list of dollars moved”, and now you are seeing a risk that it might not happen. You are willing to do anything you can to help move the money. And since you are a federal employee, there is no government agency overseeing your tactics to make sure you are not embellishing and are not falsely characterizing the position of the program.

    Then move forward in time and say the Yolo Land Trust has another grant request in after losing out on Mace 391. Mr. Suarez is still motivated to move the money. And he has had some trouble moving the money as of late because most communities are needing to develop their surrounding land into greater economic contributors for their population. Any hurt feelings that Mr. Suarez felt over the loss of Mace 391 would quickly evaporate and he would again be eager to support the Yolo Land Trust in their next grant request.

    It is frankly quite idiotic to keep pushing this notion that the Yolo Land Trust’s reputation is so linked to the city’s ability to decide its own economic destiny. It that REALLY is the case, then I suggest that a close relationship with the Yolo Land Trust is really not in our best interest, nor their best interest, and they should quit with the farmland moat around Davis idea and focus on other Yolo County prospects for farmland preservation.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    Frankly and Toad:

    The notion of closing efficiency and the letter were strong enough to put Mike Webb, Mitch Sears, and Rob White all on the same page in terms of Mace 391 – where they had not been before. If you are questioning Suarez, perhaps you should start by talking to Rob or Mike, whose minds were changed based on the letter. Surely you cannot accuse them of malfeasance.

  13. Don Shor

    We will now go through a process in which the avid supporters of the Mace 391/421 land swap will try to discredit the experts, will trivialize the goals of conservation, will attack the supporters of conservation on emotional grounds and use derogatory terms about them. Why? Because they’ve lost the argument and the conservation easement will go forward. So the sooner they get that out of their system and start productively working with the Innovation Task Force to move forward on the other sites, the sooner the City of Davis will reap the benefits of economic development.

  14. Frankly

    [i]Maybe Frankly should take up his arguments with Rob White. Meanwhile, it’s time for the planning process to move on to other sites.[/i]

    Rob has to be sensitive to the disingenuous and artificial movement of city politics. He is obviously playing the politic game in the hope that there is other options.

    I, however, do not have any political aspirations. But, I guarantee you that me and others on the business and fiscal responsibility side will grow in voice and agitation to make this fake concern about the Yolo Land Trust being damaged a regretful tactic.

  15. B. Nice

    [quote]You are willing to do anything you can to help move the money.[/quote]

    Assumption?

    [quote]And he has had some trouble moving the money as of late because most communities are needing to develop their surrounding land into greater economic contributors for their population.[/quote]

    Assumption?

  16. David M. Greenwald

    Frankly, staff recommendation aside, even Dan Wolk indicated that if there was any indication that this would hurt the YLT, he would not support it. This is now a 4-1 or 5-0 vote against. Time to move on and find a new spot.

  17. Frankly

    I am still doing my research on Mr. Suarez. I will be contacting people in Washington on Monday. Since this entire collapse of common sense is 100% based on his letter, he becomes the primary target for determining his motives.

    It is possible that he might not even exist or that he is a lower-level functionary lacking credibility to make his claims.

    Note that MOST federal grant processes are reviewed by the OMB and the IG and are subject to specific controls documented in the final rule in the federal register to prevent abuse and cronyism. The rules are generally overly restrictive and highly quantitative so that there are not risks of political fallout for grants not awarded.

  18. Don Shor

    Carlos Suarez: [url]http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ca/newsroom/?cid=nrcs144p2_064291[/url]
    [quote]DAVIS, Calif., January 14, 2013—Carlos Suarez began his tenure today as State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California. Suarez will assume leadership of the Agency’s 400 employees in 62 offices across California from the state headquarters in Davis.[/quote]

  19. Frankly

    [i]Frankly, staff recommendation aside, even Dan Wolk indicated that if there was any indication that this would hurt the YLT, he would not support it.[/i]

    Sure David. Hence the motivation for the YTL to work hard to get a letter.

    If this is false, and I am 99% sure it is… or at least it is so inflated to make it false in practice… then the entire decision will be based on a lie.

    And I will make sure I put a lot of effort into embarrassing all of those that bought the lie without spending the time and effort to qualify it.

    I work with federal programs. I work with the USDA and have secured grants. I have had to return unused money and understand how that is not a very popular thing with these program administrators.

    Frankly, I am sitting here with a non-complimentary opinion for all of those latching on to the letter as a basis for a decision. One letter from one administrator for one small program in one small agency of the federal government, and we all jump ship?! You would think that Gog just spoke to us.

  20. B. Nice

    [quote]And I will make sure I put a lot of effort into embarrassing all of those that bought the lie without spending the time and effort to qualify it. [/quote]

    When you do this, can you please stick to facts, and not your assumptions of what happened, and your assumptions of what motivated people’s actions.

  21. David M. Greenwald

    Frankly: You mean one letter from the granting agency? Yes, it was a long shot that the council would find three votes to reverse course before, now the writing is on the wall.

  22. Frankly

    So Carlos Suarez is new on the job. That is why I was not familiar with his name. Now the questions should be focused on the actual material impact to the Yolo Land Trust for future grant consideration.

    See…
    [quote]The performance of an entity experience in managing and enforcing easements. Performance must be measured by the closing efficiency or percentage of monitoring that is reported. Years of an entity’s existence shall not be used as a ranking factor[/quote]

    My reading of this is that the criteria would be an assessment of closing efficiency for the specific grant, and not a performance scorecard for past grants. Since it says that the years of existence shall not be used as ranking, it is clear that each grant request will be considered as a standalone decision.

    Hurt feeling will not be allowed to be a factor.

  23. B. Nice

    [quote]Frankly: I am sitting here with a non-complimentary opinion for all of those latching on to the letter as a basis for a decision. One letter from one administrator for one small program in one small agency of the federal government, and we all jump ship?! You would think that Gog just spoke to us.
    [/quote]

    David: [quote]Yes, it was a long shot that the council would find three votes to reverse course before, now the writing is on the wall.[/quote]

    Good point, a lot of people were never on this ship to begin with. The letter was not a basis for the decision, but more the proverbial straw. Even if it was guaranteed that backing out would not hurt the YCT, I still don’t think council would have voted to turn down the grant money.

  24. Mr.Toad

    Do i know that favors were called in? Of course not. Do you know they weren’t? Of course not. Would anyone be surprised to find out that they were? Of course not. Is this the best outcome for the community? Of course not.

  25. B. Nice

    [quote]Do i know that favors were called in? Of course not.[/quote]

    Frankly makes his claims with such authority, I thought he might know something I didn’t.

  26. medwoman

    Matt and Don

    I confess to some confusion. Matt you make the point that you think an Ombudsman is necessary.
    Don, you seem to feel that coordination between groups is the job of the City Manager.
    Then the comment was made that the Ombudsman should be independent.
    So who pays the salary of the Ombudsman ? If it is the city, how would that make him/her any more independent from the City Manager ? If another entity, how does that ensure independence ?

  27. B. Nice

    [quote]Its not much of a jump to reach such a conclusion.[/quote]

    First, this does not mean his conclusion are accurate, second I think he makes some VERY large jumps sometimes, and he does not always make it clear when he is expressing factual information vs his assumptions of what happened.

  28. B. Nice

    [quote]My reading of this is that the criteria would be an assessment of closing efficiency for the specific grant, and not a performance scorecard for past grants.[/quote]

    How do assess closing efficiency on a grant that hasn’t closed yet?

  29. B. Nice

    [quote]Years of an entity’s existence shall not be used as a ranking factor[/quote]

    I read this as, the number of years an entity has been in existence will not play a factor in it’s ranking. Aka, entity’s don’t get points for having been around a while.

  30. Don Shor

    [quote]Matt and Don

    I confess to some confusion. Matt you make the point that you think an Ombudsman is necessary.
    Don, you seem to feel that coordination between groups is the job of the City Manager. [/quote]
    I don’t believe we need another high-level management employee. If the council wishes greater coordination between the commissions, perhaps some brainstorming could be done among the commissioners as to how to better achieve that. And the city manager could delegate one existing staff person to coordinate those discussions.
    We already have 2 x 2’s, we have liaisons from some commissions to others, and there is a council member for each commission. So it seems to the existing structure could be used better rather than hiring another staff person. And as you note, it is hard to see how true independence would be achieved.

  31. Matt Williams

    Don, you are looking at this through a very restricted lens. There are whole swaths of our City’s operations that are not touched by any Commission or Committee. Water is now once again without any oversight. Wastewater continues to be without any checks or balances. Police has no no Commission oversight. Fire has no Commission oversight. There is no coherent way to do what medical care does very well . . . provide a method for obtaining a second opinion.

    The Ombudsman would have a much greater citizen liaison role than the current City Manager role allows for. When was the last time you met with Steve Pinkerton? Who would you turn to if you felt that greater independence and objectivity is needed in a City procurement? Recently Bob Aaronson has provided that role in Police oversight. Scott Kenley provided a similar role in Fire department oversight, as well as serving as active Chief.

    How would 2x2s support greater accountability? How often do the liaisons from different Commissions ever attend the Commission meetings of their liaison assignment?

    Bottom-line, what we have now is barely lip service to what we truly need.

  32. Matt Williams

    medwoman, I don’t have any specific suggestions, since I have had no direct personal experience with an Ombudsman implementation. Perhaps David can write an article on how the Aaronson implementation of an Ombudsman in the Police Department has worked. Although Scott Kenley wasn’t an actual Fire Department Ombudsman, his tenure as Acting Chief certainly produced very Ombudsman-like results.

    With that said, I guess my gut-feel response to your question is to answer it with a question of my own. Specifically, what concerns about the establishment and maintenance of independence/objectivity do you have?

  33. Adam Smith

    What did anyone reasonably expect Mr. Suarez to say in his letter? He knows that the transaction that his group has worked on for 3 years is much more likely to close if he indicates that there may be some fallout for either Yolo Land Trust or NRCS in CA. This is not different than asking proponents of developing Mace 391 if they prefer not to have a conservation easement on the property.

    Mr. Suarez wrote the following: [i]”Closing efficiency,” Mr. Suarez explains, “is a measure of a conservation partner’s ability to complete an easement in a timely manner[/i]

    Let me suggest this: Davis’ closing efficiency has already been severely damaged, by virtue of the fact that we are 2 delays and 3 years into the process. Our attractiveness as a partner for funding has been damaged already, according to the terms of Mr. Suarez’s letter. Its not the first time we’ve proven ourselves unreliable. It happened just a few months ago with the water project.

  34. medwoman

    Matt

    [quote]“the city manager has enough responsibilities and you want someone indepedent overseeing things anyway.”

    Agreed 100% DP.[/quote]

    [quote]Specifically, what concerns about the establishment and maintenance of independence/objectivity do you have?[/quote]

    I personally don’t have any concerns. I was trying to reconcile your ideas with those of Don. In reading your above agreement with DP, I thought that you must have a belief that an Ombudsman would have greater independence than would the City Manager and was just trying to clarify your reasoning.

  35. Matt Williams

    medwoman, my concern vis-a-vis the City Manager has very little to do with issues of independence, but rather with issues of availability. His cup already runneth over with the work already on his plate. Adding more woukd be foolish in the extreme.

  36. Frankly

    5-0. Well, it is clear that this one was worked out behind the scenes using the fake Yolo Land Trust damage as political cover. Once the innovative task force… the same that screwed up not getting in front of this transaction to begin with… bailed, the game was over.

    Certainly this is not the only parcel to develop a business park on. I think those that won on this will be put in an interesting position if and when we ever get another opportunity. My guess is that they will align in perfect opposition to each and every option except for those like Nishi because it is practically useless.

    The primary losers in this are our young people, our students, our disadvantaged. Once the city hits fiscal bottom and starts its slide into the red, I will be happy to point out those responsible for passing on this opportunity to make us whole… and in doing so kicking the can down the road to our kids yet again.

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