Sunday Commentary: Union Pushes Fight to the Brink, Pushes For Ouster of City Manager

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Krovoza-Pinkerton-Avid-ReaderEarlier this week, a letter from four current officials and a fifth former elected official publicly challenged the city on a City of Davis – UC Davis Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) for shared management services in the fire department.  However, that fight, which will play out during the Tuesday, December 3, 2013, city council meeting, is nothing compared to what is going on behind the scenes.

The council met last Tuesday behind closed doors on City Manager Steve Pinkerton’s performance evaluation.  At that time there was no reportable action, but the council, two days before Thanksgiving, will have another special closed session meeting on the same topic.

As the Enterprise reports this morning, “Council members have described this evaluation meeting as routine.”  Councilmember Lucas Frerichs told the Enterprise it was “a routine evaluation.”

However, the structure of Mr. Pinkerton’s contract suggests otherwise.  The terms of the agreement, signed in 2011, “shall automatically renew and extend” for an additional three year term beginning on September 1, 2014, unless “written notice not to renew and extend is given by City to Employee no later than nine (9) months prior to the renewal date (i.e. not later than December 1, 2013).”

After that point, if Mr. Pinkerton “is asked to resign or is terminated as City Manager, then Employee shall be eligible to receive a cash payment equivalent to the sum of Employee’s then-current monthly salary multiplied by nine.”

In short, the council has until December 1, which is during the Thanksgiving holiday, to terminate Mr. Pinkerton’s contract or his contract will automatically renew on September 1, 2014 and any effort to terminate him will trigger nine months of severance pay.

Despite claims by city councilmembers that this is a routine meeting, the Vanguard has learned that there is an active effort to fire Mr. Pinkerton at the behest of the firefighters’ union.

In September, the Vanguard learned from at least ten different sources that the Davis Professional Firefighters Association President Bobby Weist was telling people that he had three votes on council and that Mr. Pinkerton would be fired by December.

At the same time, at least one councilmember told the Vanguard directly that they were approached by a contact on behalf of Mr. Weist, asking them to join with two other councilmembers at that time to terminate the contract of Mr. Pinkerton.  That councilmember indicated that they were not inclined to join that effort.

However, despite the claims of Mr. Weist to members of the public, the Vanguard was told by at least three councilmembers that they had no intention of firing Mr. Pinkerton.

Councilmember Brett Lee affirmed his support of City Manager Pinkerton, indicating that he believed that Mr. Pinkerton “is doing a good job” during a “difficult time in the city’s history.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk said in a statement to the Vanguard on Saturday, “In our council-manager form of government in Davis, hiring and evaluating a city manager is one of the most important things we city councilmembers do.  Because of this, it’s appropriate that we hear from our constituents – and I have received a number of comments and I welcome them.”

He stated, “I’m not going to comment on the evaluation, nor on the comments I’ve received, due to the confidential, personnel matter this is.”

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs did not respond to a similar inquiry from the Vanguard, as of press time.

The Vanguard this week learned that, despite assurances publicly by members of council, this is anything but routine.  We have learned from sources who opted not to go on the record that there is an active effort to fire the city manager.  That said, there are not believed to be the votes to do so.

These sources have stated consistently, since September, that Bobby Weist has been vocally telling people he has the votes to fire Steve Pinkerton.

The city and the firefighters’ union have been doing battle for some time.  When the city council this week imposed a contract on DCEA, that left the Davis firefighters as the only hold out.  A vote on the last, best, and final offer is due in the firefighters’ case in December.

In addition to the contract disputes, the city council has publicly battled with the firefighters on issues like boundary drop, shared management, and, most notably, fire staffing.

While the issue of a boundary drop was a 5-0 vote, reductions in fire staffing was a narrow 3-2, with Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk joining Councilmember Lucas Frerichs in dissent.

The firefighters attempted to fight back.  In the winter, they created the Friends of the Firefighters group and walked precincts attempting to sway public opinion.  This summer, they issued a no-confidence vote in the interim management for the fire department, Police Chief Landy Black and Assistant Chief Steve Pierce.

In September and October, they held Tuesday afternoon protests outside of city hall.

Despite these efforts, in October, it was a 4-1 vote by council to direct staff to create a JPA with UC Davis, for shared management services.

It was that agreement that triggered a letter from Senator Lois Wolk, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, Supervisors Don Saylor and Jim Provenza and former Supervisor Helen Thomson that urged “the Davis City Council to take another look at the serious long-range consequences of this proposal before contracting out any of these core municipal functions. There is a key difference between sharing or coordinating services and merging governance with the constitutionally separate and unelected Regents and Chancellor.”

“This proposed action would place a well-established and effective municipal service within an entity whose primary mission is higher education and research, not public safety,” the letter continues. “This could easily result in a lessening of service and response for the residents of the Davis community and the surrounding areas historically served by the Davis Fire Department. We deeply appreciate the presence of the UC Davis campus and respect the leadership of the campus. Unified operations and efficiencies are appropriate considerations, but should not come with loss of community accountability.”

The Davis firefighters’ union, in many ways, ran the Davis City Council over a decade that saw, among other things, the expansion of fire staffing from three to four on an engine, the creation of enhanced public safety benefits including 3% at 50 in retirement pensions, and a huge 36% salary increase over the 2005-2009 MOU.

In late 2008, the Davis City Council voted 3-2 to not read the full report by Investigator Bob Aaronson who investigated Grand Jury complaints of union favoritism and hostile work environments.

However, the economic collapse and public scrutiny, starting in 2010, diminished the influence of the union on the council.  And by 2012, none of the elected members of council had received endorsements or monetary contributions from the firefighters.

The hiring of Steve Pinkerton and then-interim Chief Scott Kenley signaled a new direction for council in terms of the management of the fire department.

Under the leadership of Steve Pinkerton, the city has looked to rein in runaway compensation increases that allowed for many firefighters to make over $200,000 a year in salary, overtime and benefits.

It also broke the monopoly on power that the union held over the decision-making in city hall.

As their influence declined in city hall, the firefighters’ union has attempted to marshal its forces in the community.  However, the efforts at precinct walking, signature gathering, and protesting have not borne fruit.

The firefighters’ union has shown, however, that it still has teeth.  The politicians that sent the letter to council, without meeting with city staff or Vice Chancellor and former City Manager John Meyer, have all had strong support over the years from the firefighters’ union.

Tuesday may be the last stand however because, barring a drastic eleventh hour change, the firefighters lack a majority on council to fire Steve Pinkerton.  His contract would go into automatic renewal or he would get a nine-month severance, which the council in these hard times is not likely to wish to pay.

Nevertheless, the power of the union should not be easily dismissed.  As one observer noted this week, if the Davis Downtown Business Association or the Chamber of Commerce asked the council to fire the city manager because of disagreement over parking, the response would be more likely laughter than action.

As much as the union has lost influence in city hall, it retains influence among key elected leaders throughout the Davis community.  This is a battle that is not over, even as the forces of reform get closer to winning.

—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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48 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Union Pushes Fight to the Brink, Pushes For Ouster of City Manager”

  1. JustSaying

    “However, despite the claims of Mr. Weist to members of the public, the Vanguard was told by at least three councilmembers that they had no intention of firing Mr. Pinkerton.”

    Sounds pretty unequivocal. But…. How many total? Which ones? What did they say? When did they say they had “no intention”?

    Looks as though Danny either has been co-opted already by the union(s) or is operating under instructions from Mommy. Or, both.

    Given the fact that The Letter (providing cover for upcoming pro-union votes) required organization and/or pressure from a senior legislator, it’s starting to look as though this whole slimy lash up is an unholy family affair.

    “In late 2008, the Davis City Council voted 3-2 to not read the full report by Investigator Bob Aaronson who investigated Grand Jury complaints of union favoritism and hostile work environments.”

    Don’t forget two things: 1. The fire fighters union owned the city manager as well as the city council majority (and the fire chief) at the time, and, 2. Davis citizens and our leaders still would not know the cautionary tale of mismanagement and favoritism festering in our fire department without the Vanguard’s dogged digging and reporting.

    The Wolk-Yamada-Saylor-Provenza-Thompson public calling out of our city’s elected leaders is a totally inappropriate. It’s obviously an effort to misinform the Davis citizenry and kneecap our council members. How can we ever trust those five again?

  2. B. Nice

    [quote]Councilmember Lucas Frerichs told the Enterprise it was “a routine evaluation.”[/quote]

    [quote]However, the structure of Mr. Pinkerton’s contract suggests otherwise. The terms of the agreement, signed in 2011, “shall automatically renew and extend” for an additional three year term beginning on September 1, 2014, unless “written notice not to renew and extend is given by City to Employee no later than nine (9) months prior to the renewal date (i.e. not later than December 1, 2013).”[/quote]

    So why would it not be considered routine, if not prudent, to do an evaluation at this point. Does the city not usually do evaluations at this point in someone contracts?

    [quote]At that time there was no reportable action, but the council, two days before Thanksgiving, will have another special closed session meeting on the same topic.[/quote]

    Is it possible that they just didn’t get to it last week?

  3. Davis Progressive

    “So why would it not be considered routine, if not prudent, to do an evaluation at this point. “

    obviously the evaluation is routine but not necessarily the meeting itself with what sounds like two members wanting to fire the city manager.

  4. Davis Progressive

    “Sounds pretty unequivocal. But…. How many total? Which ones? What did they say? When did they say they had “no intention”? “

    my guess is that the vagueness is due to david not putting them on the record, or they not going on the record.

  5. Davis Progressive

    i think you can figure out the split by looking at the 3-2 vote on fire staffing or the 4-1 vote on the jpa. one commonality, lucas was on the side of the unions on both key votes.

  6. Phil Coleman

    Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk said in a statement to the Vanguard on Saturday, “In our council-manager form of government in Davis, hiring and evaluating a city manager is one of the most important things we city councilmembers do. Because of this, it’s appropriate that we hear from our constituents – and I have received a number of comments and I welcome them.”

    Curious remark. On the one hand Mayor Pro Tem Wolk accurately described the Council’s (“we”)importance in evaluating City Manager performance. But then follows the comment about constituent input on CM performance.

    Despite the fact that the City Manager is the highest executive in a municipality, he/she has one of the lowest public profiles. While most citizens know the name of the Mayor and several city councilpersons, far fewer know the name of the City Manager.

    That is by design. A skilled city manager works best behind the scenes, staying out of the newspapers, giving the Council credit for all accomplishments, and never, ever, being seen as upstaging or contradicting Council members individually or collectively.

    With that said, why is constituent input so welcome and important, when the City Manager literally works for five people?

    The Wolk remark strongly suggests that the Fire Fighter Union purge story is accurate. Certainly, the other multiple unattributed comments in this column are also compelling and persuasive.

    Assuming the reports are true, the fire fighters made yet another huge blunder in a series of same. The City Manager was, and continues, doing the City Council’s bidding on this current issue. You can’t hope to have a person’s boss fire the employee when the employee is doing exactly what the boss wants him to do.

    This behind-the-scene fire fighter union tactic looks mean-spirited, spiteful, desperate, and childish. Otherwise, not much else to say about it, except that it’s doomed.

    David, if you want to really see somebody sweat, call up Bobby Weist for confirmation. Either way he answers, he’s in trouble. But you no doubt already figured this out.

  7. B. Nice

    [quote]obviously the evaluation is routine but not necessarily the meeting itself with what sounds like two members wanting to fire the city manager.[/quote]

    Obviously the distinction between an “evaluation” and “a meeting” are not evident to me. Are evaluations not usually done by council in closed session?

  8. SODA

    it seems the timing of the meeting is what David is emphasizing, given the terms of CM contract. I would imagine and hope that, short of firing the CM, his evaluation can and should follow a yearly or more frequent process, whereas an actual firing is time sensitive or the nine month payout is triggered…..

  9. Mr.Toad

    “Looks as though Danny either has been co-opted already by the union(s) or is operating under instructions from Mommy. Or, both.”

    It looks as though you are wildly mistaken. Dan voted for the JPA in direct conflict with the position Senator Wolk took in the letter questioning the JPA. When are people going to stop insinuating that Dan is not his own person making his own decisions. He is a U.C. Berkeley trained attorney who won every precinct in Davis. When can we start judging him by his own actions? If all you have got to use to be critical is that his mother is a State Senator you aren’t going to get far. She is quite popular.

    “Given the fact that The Letter (providing cover for upcoming pro-union votes) required organization and/or pressure from a senior legislator, it’s starting to look as though this whole slimy lash up is an unholy family affair.”

    This assumes that you know the outcome of these votes in advance. To date there have only been two contentious public votes on the Fire Department. On the boundary drop Dan voted to keep four on a crew but on the the JPA Dan voted to hire the UCD Chief. To me that looks like Dan’s voting record is 1-1 on Fire Department issues taking the union’s favored position on only one vote, a vote he made out of concern for public safety despite whatever ulterior motive you would like to attribute to it.

  10. medwoman

    JustSaying

    [quote]Looks as though Danny either has been co-opted already by the union(s) or is operating under instructions from Mommy. Or, both.
    [/quote]

    I have no idea what factors have determined Dan Wolk’s votes while on the City Council. I have agreed with some of his positions, and disagreed with others. However, I do not believe that this kind of demeaning commentary serves any purpose except to reflect negatively on the person doing the posting. I see no actual evidence ( innuendo not counted) that Councilmember Wolk has voted in any way other than what he honestly felt was in the best interests of the city whether I happened to agree with his position or not.
    Can you prove otherwise ?

  11. medwoman

    Phil Coleman

    [quote]Despite the fact that the City Manager is the highest executive in a municipality, he/she has one of the lowest public profiles. While most citizens know the name of the Mayor and several city councilpersons, far fewer know the name of the City Manager.

    That is by design. A skilled city manager works best behind the scenes, staying out of the newspapers, giving the Council credit for all accomplishments, and never, ever, being seen as upstaging or contradicting Council members individually or collectively.

    With that said, why is constituent input so welcome and important, when the City Manager literally works for five people? [/quote]

    If it is true that this is by design, it would appear to me to be a poor design. I do not believe that a position as powerful as that of city manger should be a “behind the scenes” position.
    I further believe that constituent input is very important because the City Manager, while he literally works at the discretion of five people, is not paid by those five people. His pay derives from all of us. This would seem to me to give us the rights and responsibility to provide input on our perception of his performance just as it would any other city employee. If we believe that a garbage collector, or fireman, or policeman is not doing his job we have the right to report this to their supervisor. In the case of the City Manager, his direct supervisors are the City Council members. Or am I missing something substantive in your comments ?

  12. Davis Progressive

    if lois wolk wanted to put her son in awkward position, she did a great of it. now he has much less freedom – he can either stick to his guns and risk angering a key interest group or change and risk looking like he caved to the group or his mother.

  13. hpierce

    Basic question.. where can one see (for themselves) the CM contract? Can’t find it on the city website, but David and the Enterprise seem to know what it entails. Transparency? Am thinking NOT!
    Find this thread to be an interesting “spin”. Seems like it is pitting the CM contract extension to how folks feel about the CM performance w/regards to the FF contracts. Except for the slow progress, which might be less the fault of the CM than the Human Resources Division, my problems with the CM performance have NOT been on the negotiation side of the equation.

  14. B. Nice

    [quote]if lois wolk wanted to put her son in awkward position, she did a great of it[/quote]

    Maybe she wasn’t basing her decision on the position it would put Dan it?

  15. B. Nice

    [quote]it seems the timing of the meeting is what David is emphasizing, given the terms of CM contract. I would imagine and hope that, short of firing the CM, his evaluation can and should follow a yearly or more frequent process, whereas an actual firing is time sensitive or the nine month payout is triggered…..[/quote]

    This is my question, due to contract timing, isn’t it natural to assume that now is the right time to evaluate Pinkerton (regardless whatever influence the firefighter may or may not have)?

  16. B. Nice

    [quote]no maybe about it. but why?[/quote]

    Because politician don’t allow the political implication their decisions might have, on themselves or their family members effect how they make decisions? That’s how it works, right?

  17. Davis Progressive

    that’s not how it works in my experience. you have to be able to count votes and in this case, lois has to recognize that her inclusion isn’t going to change anyone’s vote. it was a 4-1 vote. rochelle has no loyalty to lois, neither does brett, lois is the enemy right now to krovoza and she puts her son in an awkward postion. so why do it? don’t tell me it’s the right thing to do. she would have been more effective talking to her son privately and meeting with city staff if she really believed this was a problem. it’s for show.

  18. medwoman

    B.Nice

    [quote]Because politician don’t allow the political implication their decisions might have, on themselves or their family members effect how they make decisions? That’s how it works, right?[/quote].

    I suspect that there are times they do, and times they don’t. I also think that there can be disagreement, yes, even among family members about what is best for the family, as well as what is best for the community. I really don’t see this as a scene from “The Godfather” where family trumps all else, or as a morality play from a culture in which “family honor” trumps all else. I see political decisions as made in our community and region as being much more nuanced than seems to be being portrayed on this thread.

  19. B. Nice

    My comment was a little tongue and cheek. While I wish things worked this way, I’m not under any delusions that it often does. Especially as politicians move out of the realm of city politics.

    Maybe Lois feels strongly enough about this issue that speaking out was more important to her then the position it would put her son in.

    Is there a chance that she made this move to further advance her political career?

  20. medwoman

    B.Nice

    Sorry, my tongue in cheek detector doesn’t appear to have been working very well this morning, even as I was using it myself !
    I think that there are a number or possibilities for why this letter was written. The very fact that we have come up with quite a few just here in the past couple of days would illustrate the point that we really cannot see inside the heads of these individuals to sort out motive. What we can do is to determine whether or not we agree with their conclusions.

    What is of greater interest to me for the future, is the position that our candidates for future open city council seats will take and their rationale for their positions. This will give us a preview of how they frame their decision making processes and will provide some insight into how they may view the inevitable future problems the city will encounter.

  21. JustSaying

    [quote]“if lois wolk wanted to put her son in awkward position, she did a great of it. now he has much less freedom – he can either stick to his guns and risk angering a key interest group or change and risk looking like he caved to the group or his mother.”[/quote]DP, is it intentional or inadvertent? I’ve supported Lois every time she’s run and on most of her stands as well. The current blatant intrusion via a very public spanking letter is what has me wondering about her intentions and/or wisdom.

    None of the five politicians are to be excused for their over-the-top, uninformed written statement. But, Senator Wolk has more reason for political calculation here than the rest. Is she simply providing pressure to influence her son and his colleagues? Or, cover for decisions already considered?[quote]“my guess is that the vagueness is due to david not putting them on the record, or they not going on the record.”[/quote]Just read the [u]Enterprise[/u] story to which David referred.. Sakash has all five on the record. Two (Lee and Swanson) provide positive statements about Pinkerton’s performance. The other three provided statements that they wouldn’t comment his performance. Wold suggested he appreciates the letters he’s getting on the matter.

    We’ll see just how much these interesting events and comments foreshadow the council’s votes on the fire fighters’ and the city manager’s futures.

  22. B. Nice

    [quote]What is of greater interest to me for the future, is the position that our candidates for future open city council seats will take and their rationale for their positions. This will give us a preview of how they frame their decision making processes and will provide some insight into how they may view the inevitable future problems the city will encounter. [/quote]

    I agree. Whatever may have motivated it’s authors, I don’t believe it will influence the decisions of our current council members. (I agree that didn’t believe it would either). So as far as Davis politics go I don’t think their motives are relevant, but sometimes curious minds just want to know;-).

  23. JustSaying

    [quote]“Find this thread to be an interesting ‘spin’. Seems like it is pitting the CM contract extension to how folks feel about the CM performance w/regards to the FF contracts.”[/quote]Good point, HP. The [u]Enterprise[/u] version supports B.Nice’s observation that the council didn’t get around to discussing Pinkerton’s performance the last time it was scheduled. And, Sakash only mentions the firefighter in passing.

    Still, we’re all faced with today’s [u]Vanguard[/u] reporting from “at least ten different sources that the Davis Professional Firefighters Association President Bobby Weist was telling people that he had three votes on council and that Mr. Pinkerton would be fired by December.”

    If it’s true that the firefighter union is engaging in a campaign to oust our city manager as his review is scheduled, it’s not surprising that this conversation continues with that “spin.”

  24. B. Nice

    [quote]But, Senator Wolk has more reason for political calculation here than the rest. Is she simply providing pressure to influence her son and his colleagues? [/quote]

    Does she have influence over her son’s colleagues?

  25. JustSaying

    [quote]JS: “But, Senator Wolk has more reason for political calculation here than the rest. Is she simply providing pressure to influence her son and his colleagues?

    BN: “Does she have influence over her son’s colleagues?”[/quote]Indubitably. I’d be hard pressed to come up with an active elected leader who has more political influence in our community.

    Senator Wolk has accumulated considerable respect and clout over the years. She has displayed integrity even in the face of the Democratic leadership pulling her committee assignments.

    She is well-heeled and has legions of dedicated, hardworking followers. Anyone with political ambitions here would do well to listen to her counsel.

    Which of our city council members wouldn’t have been troubled by the senator’s surprising participation in The Letter (except those already inclined to do the union’s bidding on this issue)?[quote]” I do not believe that this kind of demeaning commentary serves any purpose….I think that there are a number or possibilities for why this letter was written….we really cannot see inside the heads of these individuals to sort out motive.”[/quote]As usual, medwoman, you’re to be commended for heading to the honorable higher ground. You’re correct even though it’s difficult to ignore the family relationship and its effect on the politics of The Letter.

    When much-admired politicians act in ways that seem out-of-character and inappropriate, how can the question of motive not jump to the forefront?

  26. medwoman

    JS

    [quote]When much-admired politicians act in ways that seem out-of-character and inappropriate, how can the question of motive not jump to the forefront?[/quote]

    The problem as I see it is not the question of motive. As humans, I think that is always a part of our considerations. The problem is not about speculation, which is fun, like trying to solve a puzzle. It is when we start believing our own suppositions about what someone else “must be thinking”. I think that more often than not, instead of a true inference about what the object of doubt or derision is thinking, it is more often a reflection of how the author of the accusatory post views the world.

  27. Don Shor

    [quote]“Looks as though Danny either has been co-opted already by the union(s) or is operating under instructions from Mommy.”[/quote]
    I’d like to ask that blog participants stop using these sorts of belittling terms. You can make your point without being disrespectful.

  28. B. Nice

    [quote]The problem is not about speculation, which is fun, like trying to solve a puzzle. It is when we start believing our own suppositions about what someone else “must be thinking”.[/quote]

    Exactly. Throwing out theories is one thing, I start having a problems when theories are presented as facts.

  29. eagle eye

    It’s been my impression/observation that Lois is a doting mother and
    if Dan asked her to write The Letter, she would be inclined to do what he asked. (The Letter itself is off-base.)

    Dan was happy to receive comments from the community. Perhaps most all those comments were from firefighters and their friends and neighbors and relatives? But they would give Dan an excuse to sell out to the fire union.

  30. medwoman

    eagle eye

    Dan has been gracious, if not happy, about receipt of comments whether or not in support of his positions as have most of the current city council. I am not sure why you think he would need an excuse to “sell out” as opposed to voting his own view of what is best for the city, which is after all, exactly what we voted each council member in for.

  31. JustSaying

    Don, medwoman already correctly pointed out that my disrespectful comment belittles me and my apology/explanation has been issued. I should have said that “The Letter makes it appear that Councilman Wolk either has been co-opted by the union(s) or that he is operating under instructions from Senator Wolk.”

    Neither option generates a lot of respect or credit for Councilman Wolk. Senator Wolk could have been more considerate about the perceptions that her interfering letter impose on Councilman Wolk and the other four council members who have to deal with the recalcitrant firefighter union.

    The fact that Councilman Wolk already is in receipt of a bunch of correspondence he’s keeping confidential (likely also generated by the campaign about which David is reporting today) adds an interesting twist. I suspect David could get copies of these public records to confirm whether he and eagle eye are correct about the source of the letters.

  32. medwoman

    I think B Nice poses an excellent question to which we actually need an answer from someone who really knows the answer rather than speculating.

    I think the question actually has several parts.
    1) are emails sent to the council memberss city email of public record ?
    2) Are their responses back of public record ?
    3) Are emails sent to their private email and dealing with public matters of public record ?

    Do electronic communications which can be traced fundamentally change the nature of “private vs public”communication as opposed to reliance on conversation or on paper communication which can be easily destroyed ?

  33. B. Nice

    I’m going to add one more question.

    4) If email correspondence between council members and constituents are part of the public record, what are the procedures for obtaining these records. (Can I just walk into to city hall and say, I request to see all of the mayor’s email exchanges for the past year.)

  34. eagle eye

    I believe the answer to #1 and #2 is yes.
    CalAware could give you an answer about public records.

    Politicians running for higher office are naturally going to be looking at what’s best for that plan – the good of the general population, not so much.
    If you watched the city council meeting recently at which most of the council voted for the 4 story residential building on B street, it was not impressive.

  35. B. Nice

    [quote]You can do a public records request. You can walk in and request them, but it’s better to email the city clerk.[/quote]

    So I theoretically you could go in with a broad request, like, “I request to see all of the mayor’s email exchanges for the past year”, and they would have to give them to me?

  36. Mark West

    Let’s be really cynical for a moment.

    From David’s reporting, it appears that the FF Union has two priorities. First, block the formation of the JPA, and second to replace the City Manager. Given the current political environment in Davis, it is unlikely that the Union could be successful with both efforts, so they have likely prioritized which is most important. I will make the assumption that blocking the JPA is the immediate need, as the City Manager can be dealt with at a later date. So the Union gets their friends to write a letter to the CC laying out a plausible reason for blocking the formation of the JPA due to concerns over governance issues and thereby providing political ‘cover’ for CC members wanting to support the Union’s position.

    Even with this plausible reasoning however, any CC member who changed their vote on the JPA would face criticism for bending to the will of the Union whether or not that was the real reason for the changed vote. So how can the Union convince CC members to change their vote on the JPA without drawing the ire of the local electorate?

    One way would be to spread a rumor around town that the Union had lined up enough votes to replace the City Manager. There apparently has already been significant demand to not renew the CM’s contract that has nothing to do with the FF Union. By broadcasting the idea that those votes are due to Union influence, any CC member who votes in favor of renewing the CM’s contract could proclaim that they were ‘bucking’ the FF Union’s demand and acting in the best interests of the City.

    This then becomes a form of ‘inoculation’ against claims of undue Union influence. A CC member could vote to renew the CM contract, and then turn around and vote against the JPA, with the statement that the vote was due to concerns over governance. Any uproar that ensues from voting against the JPA could be negated by pointing to the vote to keep the current CM, as it would be ‘obvious’ that anyone bending to the will of the Union would have voted against both the JPA and the CM.

  37. JustSaying

    [quote]“There apparently has already been significant demand to not renew the CM’s contract that has nothing to do with the FF Union.”[/quote]Guess I missed any reports on this. What are the details, Mark?

    Interesting scenario, though, even without some non=FF union initiative involved. However, I don’t see a way the current city council members can support either of the firefighters’ insidious priority demands and still show their faces in public since their cave-ins will be so apparent.

    I’m more concerned that the ignorant, bullying letter from our state and county elected leaders is what really will be used as a rationale if there are any turncoat votes.

  38. B. Nice

    [quote]In theory, but I did a four month request, amended to a one month request and still haven’t received it.[/quote]

    Does someone have to screen them and filter out ones containing confidential information? That must be tedious, if not at times entertaining job.

    My guess is a lot of people in the general public don’t realize that their emails to council members are part of the public record. The city should probably have a statement, along with council contact information, alerting people of this fact.

  39. Phil Coleman

    City managers live a perilous life professionally. That’s why most require contracts, with generous separation stipulations, before accepting the position.

    City managers can be terminated for just cause, but they are usually capable and experienced administrators. More often, city managers are asked to leave to fill a political expediency. The political expediency is expressed by majority vote of the city council. I can’t recall a single instance where a labor union representing one city department had the horsepower to cause the firing of a city manager (for their own political agenda). City councils fire city managers, period, and reserve that power for themselves.

    If it can be confirmed, as repeatedly reported, that Bobby Weist publicly bragged to his membership that he owns 3 votes to have the City Manager, that pretty much makes Mr. Pinkerton bullet-proof. No political body wants to be seen as a pawn of ANY special interest group.

  40. B. Nice

    [quote]If it can be confirmed, as repeatedly reported, that Bobby Weist publicly bragged to his membership that he owns 3 votes to have the City Manager, that pretty much makes Mr. Pinkerton bullet-proof. No political body wants to be seen as a pawn of ANY special interest group.[/quote]

    Three possible senario’s off the top of my head.

    1. Weist doesn’t agree with you, he feels he can gloat and get the votes.
    2. Weist never considered the consequences of his actions at all.
    3. Or Mark West’s theory. Weist came to this same conclusion, aka council stands up to the union on this one, allowing them to cave, and not look to weak while doing so, on the JPA agreement.

    Really though at this point do the firefighter’s have any influence on council at all? What power to they realistically have over any of them?

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