Commentary: Assurances Needed on Fiscal Issues for Voter Support

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 walletOn Tuesday, in response to my column suggesting a crowdsourcing process, I got an angry email explaining that we neither want nor need economic development outside of the current borders of the city.  Clearly, I have not been as clear as I need to be that I am not supporting any outcome here; a process is moving forward that will likely put some sort of vote before the people, perhaps as soon as November.

If that is going to happen, I think it would be better for the city to hear from a broader swath about their views and concerns prior to an expensive and potentially polarizing ballot measure.  Unfortunately, at the last meeting, I could see the development of an echo chamber that would have people talking to themselves.

Something else in the letter made me, however, re-think the thresholds here.  It was previous councils that created a situation where we have to consider not only cuts but additional revenue sources, both short-term in terms of taxation and longer-term in terms of economic development.

Many will see a link between the group of people who supported those unsustainable policies in the past and those supporting economic development and new sprawl in the future.

It’s a view that I don’t disagree with and there has never really been a public acknowledgement that pins public responsibility to past actions.  When this issue is brought in contemporary discussions there are accusations about focusing on the past rather than the future.

The problem is that without a public reckoning, the past is likely if not certain to repeat itself.

Observe that, in 2004, the city passed its half-cent sales tax, arguing that state funding cuts put services like public safety and maintenance of the parks in jeopardy.  However, no sooner had the taxpayers in Davis approved the sales tax, than it was given away to city employees – not to save jobs but to go to increased salary and compensation.

So just two years after we had a sales tax increase to save the parks, we had have a parks parcel tax to save them because we had already used the revenue from the sales tax for salaries and benefits.

It would seem reasonable that any tax increase be tied to the notion that there could not be a total compensation increase, during the period of the new tax, that went beyond the pace of inflation.  That would be a reasonable assurance to the voters that we would not repeat the lessons of the past.

There are those who would argue that we must trust our elected officials to do the right thing.  I think that’s a difficult task – we have already seen how some public officials can be pressured into taking positions that are politically expedient, with some not wanting to anger powerful public employee groups as they attempt to ascend to higher office.

Some have argued that the votes on impasse to both DCEA and fire were most critical to the future of the city.  I do not want to discount their importance, but the line in the sand, as we have argued previously, was not drawn on impasse, it was drawn on other cuts that amounted to just as much, if not more, in savings to the city.

There are two events that have occurred in the last few months that have particularly alarmed me.

First are efforts by perhaps two members of the Davis City Council to terminate the contract of City Manager Steve Pinkerton who has worked hard to shepherd through the kinds of fiscal reforms on retirement health, pensions, cafeteria cash out and fire staffing that we have been calling for since 2008.

According to his contract, the council had until December 1 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.  At the meeting two nights before Thanksgiving, in closed session where this was discussed, the council took no reportable action.

The second occurrence was two letters co-signed by four currently elected officials who reside in Davis: Senator Lois Wolk, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, and Supervisors Jim Provenza and Don Saylor, as well as five past elected officials, and a past candidate for school board, Alan Fernandes.

These letters were written without any sort of consultation with either City Manager Steve Pinkerton or UC Davis Vice Chancellor John Meyer and strongly opposed the effort by the city to forge a JPA with UC Davis to provide for shared management services with the fire department.

Those letters illustrated two things of concern. First, the pressure that the firefighters’ union can exact on public officials in Davis.  Second, that the council has two votes right now to end reform.

The current council majority of Mayor Joe Krovoza, and Councilmembers Rochelle Swanson and Brett Lee helped push through fire staffing cuts and shared management services that could save the city more than half a million in the next fiscal year.  But those were achieved by 3-2 votes.

Joe Krovoza is leaving the council to run for Assembly, Rochelle Swanson is up for reelection, and so the council majority here is a very precarious one.

Couple that with the effort to oust the city manager, and the future of the city is at stake.  Do we go back to the old pre-2010 ways of handling the budget or do we continue down the path that has been established since June 2010?  That is one of the most critical questions that enters the picture next year.

If we are to proceed with a tax increase, we need assurances from the city that it will not become a means to fund employee salary increases.  If we are to proceed with a vote on economic and peripheral development, we need to have assurances that we are not simply bolstering funding for future employee groups and opening the door to sprawl.

These discussions have to occur soon and cannot take place in an echo chamber.  The stakes are high, the council majority hangs in the balance.  In June, somehow, they must assure the public that we will move forward with fiscal responsibility and not resort to the old tactics.

—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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161 thoughts on “Commentary: Assurances Needed on Fiscal Issues for Voter Support”

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Because it’s closed session, we can never really know what the reasons were for wanting Pinkerton gone. However, I did hear from people that Bobby Weist was bragging that he had the votes to fire Pinkerton by December. He didn’t. But that is really the evidence I have at this point that this was about the fire issue and not something else.

      1. Mark West

        The City Manager was brought in to turn around a failing program, which required deep cuts in staff numbers and total compensation. It is hard to make those changes and maintain good morale within the organization. That is one reason why ‘turn around’ specialists rarely stay on to manage the company after the fact. On that issue alone I suspect that you would have a majority of the CC seriously considering asking him to move on.

        The reports that Bobby Weist was bragging that he ‘had the votes’ however could easily have been the deciding factor against voting to terminate Pinkerton’s contract since anyone voting in favor of termination would look like a tool of the union, regardless of their true reasons.

        Going forward, I anticipate that we will have a new City Manager before the end of 2014 as I would expect Pinkerton to move on to a new challenge on his own terms.

  1. Mr.Toad

    “Many will see a link between the group of people who supported those unsustainable policies in the past and those supporting economic development and new sprawl in the future.”

    Or maybe some calling for economic development do so because its the right thing to do and kills two birds with one stone. First it provides good paying jobs in a county with a 17% poverty rate. Second it can generate revenue to help get us out of this mess.

      1. Matt Williams

        So much of what drives decision-making by the electorate in Davis i based on the flaws of past decisions/actions.

        — We overspent in the past, therefore we will overspend in the future

        — The build-out trajectory of Mace Ranch and Wildhorse was way too fast, therefore any future developments we approve will do the same.

        FUD . . . it was the primary sales/marketing tactic of IBM in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Sow fear, uncertainty and doubt and you will be able to control the hearts and minds of the voting populace.

        I for one have more confidence in Davis than that. We really do have the ability to learn from our past mistakes, or simply from the events in the past.

        If we pay attention, I don’t think we will falll into the same overspending trap. We will have to elect good leaders (like Robb Davis) and hire good emplyees (like Steve Pinkerton). It is doable.

        With respect to the build-out trajectory of any development we approve (be it housing or technology/innovation park), we can go one step further and pass legal controls that help us even when we fail to pay attention. The 1% Growth Cap is one of those legal controls. Unless we repeal it, the accelerated build-outs that we saw with Mace Ranch and Wildhorse can not legally happen.

        The truth is that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

        1. Frankly

          Get a tax increase or two, and float a bond for road maintenance and the analogy is Davis voters previously pushed off the top of a very tall building are flapping their arms believing they can now fly.

          I am not as optimistic as you oh optimistic one.

  2. Davis Progressive

    “First it provides good paying jobs in a county with a 17% poverty rate.”

    Most of the jobs this creates aren’t going to touch on the poverty rate. You’re basically creating capital for wealthy entrepreneurs and jobs for college students coming out of college. Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t bad things, but they are not going to provide good paying jobs for the impoverished.

    1. Mr.Toad

      How do you know who it will help? Anyway, helping young people economically is a good thing. I read in the NYTimes the other day that only 30% of adults under 32 live independently of their families. Creating good paying jobs for young people is a national imperative.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i question your reading comprehension here as a specifically stated, ” Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t bad things…” however, you specifically cited the 17% poverty rate and did so without citing that figure or showing evidence to suggest these developments will help and then you have the gall to write, “How do you know who it will help?” it’s your claim, i suggest you back it first before turning it on responders.

    2. Frankly

      This is so wrong it is a bit breathtaking coming from someone as informed.

      Businesses hire all sorts of administrative and support personnel to operate a company. These jobs tend to be lower pay because they don’t require as much education and there is a greater supply of labor. However, all these jobs become opportunities for career advancement.

      I think this career advancement opportunity thing is lost on many people working in or having worked in the public sector. For example, a teacher does not really advance his career by exploiting opportunity to demonstrate his capability. Unionization by its nature creates a much flatter organization…. labor and management. It is a collectivist system that strives to implements equality at the cost of individual opportunity for advancement.

      In the private sector a manager can give an employee a raise and/or promotion to a higher position just because the employee demonstrates the performance and capability matching a need. If the company is growing, there is an ongoing requirement for management to do just that… look for talent to promote to cover the growing resource needs for the operation.

      I don’t know why more people do not seem to get this. Their advocate for a $15 minimum wage is a strong indication that they really do not understand what entry-level jobs are and what a career path is. They see labor and jobs as more a static circumstance where your only hope for advancement is some clearly delineated step increase that comes primarily from seniority. In a system like this new people cannot easily advance no matter how strong their performance. They just have to do their time.

      Here is the rhetorical questions. If not for plentiful jobs, how does a low-income person or family escape their low-income circumstances?

      1. Davis Progressive

        “Businesses hire all sorts of administrative and support personnel to operate a company. These jobs tend to be lower pay because they don’t require as much education and there is a greater supply of labor.”

        so how many such people can we expect to be hired?

        “If not for plentiful jobs, how does a low-income person or family escape their low-income circumstances?”

        the question is what kind of jobs and who will be served by those jobs.

        1. Frankly

          Do you really expect or need that level of detailed information to support your opinion? Do we ask exactly how many people will be pulled from poverty and hunger from SNAP benefits or other social programs? No we don’t. We don’t because there is a certain moral obligation. I say there is a larger moral obligation to support economic development because it creates jobs. And it is not just the direct jobs, there are indirect jobs. Adding business to the community enhances the entire economic ecosystem. Companies buy things and acquire services. Employees of the companies buy things and acquire services. Soon we need a few more mechanics, accountants, clerks, janitors, CPAs, receptionists, maintenance workers, etc., etc., etc.

          Every company needs administrative employees that are at lower skill levels and paraprofessional levels.

          I seem to recall that professional service companies generally require a 1-5 ratio of support personnel to professional personnel. So if we have a company with 125 FTEs, 25 of those FTEs would be for people in lower income brackets.

          I have 22 employees and 2.5 FTEs of admin support (that is 4 part-time employees).

    3. Matt Williams

      Davis Progressive said . . .

      “Most of the jobs this creates aren’t going to touch on the poverty rate. You’re basically creating capital for wealthy entrepreneurs and jobs for college students coming out of college. Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t bad things, but they are not going to provide good paying jobs for the impoverished.”

      DP, I think you are looking at this from too narrow a perspective. The entrepreneurs are indeed going to make money, but in the process so are all their employees. Further, the disposable income that those employees and entrepreneurs have to spend at local businesses and restaurants will provide employment and income for people in all segments of the Davis population.

  3. realchangz

    David,
    The unifying theme of your fiscal issues these past few days has been your graphic – today’s commentary is perhaps the most disjointed.

    I think it would very helpful and constructive to the community dialogue if we could do a better job of corralling the major issues underlying the current budget dilemma.

    As observed last week, most – if not all – of the projected budget increases are directl2y attributable to the legacy cost impacts of unfunded liabilities and unfunded mandates passed by previous councils going back to the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s. In order of continuing and sustained fiscal impact, these would likely include:

    1) Moving from 2/30 to 3/30 in 1998 without requiring corresponding lump sum contributions to the pension trust along with dramatically higher annual contributions

    2) Adopting an 8% annualized rate of return in pension assets versus the nationwide average of 5%. This was likely part in parcel with the program changes in 1998, but I’d be guessing.

    3) Offering Lifetime Post Employment Healthcare Benefits to employees serving as few a 5 years on the City Payroll – all without either the employee or the employer contributing one thin dime towards a trust fund to pay for such future benefits

    4) Declining to impose any kind of meaningful water rate increases going back the past 15 years which would have helped create a reasonable sinking fund to finance the DECADES OLD, WELL DOCUMENTED AND INEVITABLE PLAN to migrate to surface water.

    5) Declining to impose ANY KIND of sinking fund assessment with which to continue routine and necessary maintenance of our roads and bikeways. And you will notice is still not being enforced even in the current budget.

    Remove all of these charges to “make up” for these past omissions and the budget looks a whole lot better.

    Viewed in this context, then, who should be liable to pay for the “make up” contributions? Should it be our kids and grandkids as some have suggested with 30 and 40 year amortization periods?

    Let’s get real. Our community has already “enjoyed and consumed” all of these above referenced services – seemingly “free of charge”.

    Particularly for consideration by those who write you emails suggesting that we neither want nor need economic development, how about we propose to levy a one-time “catch up” parcel tax of say maybe $10,000 per household to back to where we should be in terms of suitable funding for infrastructure needs and a reasonable General Fund operating reserve like we had in the early 2000’s. You could even offer a cash discount for those willing to make a current year’s contribution or offer a 10 year financing option for everyone else. The point being, this type of lump sum approach insures that the payment for these “past due” contributions would fall to the generation of those who consumed and enjoyed the corresponding services – rather than passing it on to the kids and grandkids who will have their own bills with which to contend.

    Of course, the “political cost” in such a bargain would necessarily have to include an ironclad guarantee that a similar fiasco of untended and unfunded liabilities would not again soon repeat. That would mean that anytime any new benefit were proposed that corresponding new taxes, fees or lump sum contributions be contributed “up front” and not be left for some future administration or generation of taxpayers to pick up.

    Seriously, I don’t know how we are to rationally address the kind of looming budget impacts now being forecast without being forced to revisit the past in order that the community – and our elected leadership – might clearly understand the path we have followed in arriving at our current fiscal crisis.

    1. B. Nice

      “Particularly for consideration by those who write you emails suggesting that we neither want nor need economic development, how about we propose to levy a one-time “catch up” parcel tax of say maybe $10,000 per household to back to where we should be in terms of suitable funding for infrastructure needs and a reasonable General Fund operating reserve like we had in the early 2000′s.”

      IMO a “catch-up” parcel tax is an excellent idea. If people can be assured that’s what it is, a way to say pay off say the “credit card balance”, rather then to increase spending, my guess is that it would receive broad voter support (especially if alternative ideas include big box stores).

      1. growth issue

        “my guess is that it would receive broad voter support (especially if alternative ideas include big box stores).”

        Even though I know how much you love taxes your ‘guess’ that voters would support a “catch up parcel tax” is wrong.

        1. B. Nice

          Since, a “guess” by definition is an, “a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence” mine on this subject may indeed be wrong, as might be your “guess” that it is.

  4. Mark West

    “Many will see a link between the group of people who supported those unsustainable policies in the past and those supporting economic development and new sprawl in the future.”

    Economic development is not about sprawl, it is investing in our future. Economic development is about creating good jobs for the citizens of Davis, and tax money to pay for the services that we enjoy. Good management of economic development in the City would have resulted in a slow and steady growth of businesses and jobs right along with the growth of the City’s population over the past 30+ years. It was the unsustainable policies of the no-growth crowd, who equated business growth with sprawl, that brought us to the position we are in today with a poor business tax base necessitating our over reliance on taxing the citizens to solve our fiscal problems.

    Yes, we overspent during the last decade, but we have been under investing for the past two or three decades, which is the much bigger source of our problems today. The only reason why we need land on the periphery for business development today is due to the past decades of failing to plan for business growth and to properly manage the land resources inside the City’s boundary.

    1. realchangz

      Mark,

      Thank you. Very clearly and succinctly put.

      It’s saying the same thing, but it seems worth noting that historically the only real private sector “industry” this town has known is the residential real estate and construction industry – with the consequences we have seen.

      Moving the community along to a more realistic view and understanding of the virtues of economic development – when well executed – and its potential for desirable jobs creation is clearly priority number one for 2014. Not to say there aren’t challenges associated with any type of change, but this community with its vast resources would seem well suited to such a conversation.

      1. Tia Will

        I am happy to see that you have included the words “when well executed” in our agreement with Mark. This at least acknowledges that there are nuances to growth and that some may not be “well done”. I think that one central problem is the extreme views on either side.

        On one side, we have those who believe that all growth whether economic or population is undesirable. On the other extreme we have those who believe that virtually any growth, as long as it occurs in the “private sector” is desirable without any discussion or acknowledgement that growth like every other change will have both positive and negative effects as would maintaining the status quo depending on one’s values. What I would prefer to see is an honest discussion that includes all of the projected foreseeable outcomes put forth honestly and allow the citizens of Davis to choose which options they prefer based on their values as individuals.

        The reason that I believe that the onus for laying out the pros and cons of their proposals lies with those favoring rapid change is because we know what we have now. Some of us like what we have and have suggested ways that we might maintain that, as Don has done repeatedly. What we have so far from the rapid growth side is essentially a “trust me, you will like the results of growth”. I am not so gullible as to believe that I will necessarily like all of the effects of growth. Some I will doubtless appreciate. Some I will not. But I distinctly dislike being treated as a child who is simply too naive to know that all choices have pros and cons and being asked to simply pretend that someone else knows best what I will like.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      My only point is that there is a segment of the community that sees any excursion outside of the current boundaries to be sprawl and they may well be a sizable enough segment to thwart future development.

  5. Frankly

    Many will see a link between the group of people who supported those unsustainable policies in the past and those supporting economic development and new sprawl in the future.

    It is just the opposite. Davis is a town that has been dominated and controlled with people having a left political and social worldview. That left control has been undeniably bolstered by public-sector union campaign spending for Democrat candidates and left causes. There have been no truly conservative council members. The state of California is also dominated in control by the left. So is the country at this point. Large government. Over-compensation of government employees. These are things that conservatives have always been fundamentally against except for spending on defense, national security and law enforcement. And beginning in 2008/2009 when it became clear that the previous 2+ decades of economic growth had been largely artificial based on government-inspired fake real estate appreciation; they became even more united in demand for smaller government and cuts to the obscene pay and benefits.

    And we can turn the clock back even further when we knew that our government retiree benefits were unsustainable. This discussion was occurring 20 years ago.

    But as for the state and the city, the left-dominated people controlling all the levers and switches of government can only come up with raising taxes yet again as a solution for their stubborn refusal to accept responsibility for the mess they created.

    It is this same Davis army of the left primarily at odds with economic development for four general reasons:

    1. 1. They are afraid that Davis will become less bike/pedestrian/eco progressive.
    2. 2. They are afraid that Davis will become more right-leaning politically.
    3. 3. They have a general popular dislike of private business beyond a certain size.
    4. 4. They have an irrational fear of sprawl and loss of farmland.

    Then there are reasons that cross ideological lines:

    1. 1. People are afraid that Davis will develop more traffic problems.
    2. 2. People are confused about, or otherwise have an irrational fear about, the connection between economic development and housing/population growth. They see them as one and the same.
    3. 3. People are confused about, or otherwise have an irrational fear about, economic development causing a drop in property values.
    4. 4. People are afraid that more business development will put pressure on housing… cause the prices to go higher and raise the demand for more affordable housing… and this then will put pressure on the city to develop more housing.
    5. 5. People are afraid that we will have more crime and undesirable people coming to town because of the increased business activity.
    6. 6. People are just generally averse to change and resist it.

    But all of this is secondary to the absolute and undeniable fact that our city finances are unsustainable and the ONLY rational long-term solution is to develop our economy so that more tax revenue flows in while we also cut our spending by bringing city employee pay and benefits back to general labor market levels, and we cut all non-essential services.

    I really love how Davis leaders wring their hands that Davis is losing out being known as progressive… and this worry has been the impetus for policy decisions like banning plastic bags. Yet these same people say that we should raise sales tax rates “because other cities have done it”. It seems that the looking-backwards comparisons are made only when it conveniently supports a worldview. Otherwise we celebrate being quirky, different and “progressive” whatever that means in Davis lexicon.

    Keep moving forward without urgency to develop our economy and Davis will surly bolster its reputation for being quirky and different. However, we certainly will not have earned any right be considered progressive in this regard… unless becoming fiscally insolvent is a progressive thing.

  6. Don Shor

    I would say that if the city manager is forced out, it would be very difficult to support revenue increases or land development. There are three legs to the economic ladder: revenues, budget cuts, and development. If a council majority undercuts one of those, it’s hard to believe they’d be responsible with regard to the others.

    There are likely to be proposals for sales tax and/or property tax increases. The Innovation Task Force is likely to make specific recommendations that will lead to a Measure R vote, and Nishi is apparently going forward as well. And the current city manager has proven he is serious about fiscal management. Those things all go together as a balanced and reasonable approach to the current fiscal problems. Any incumbent or candidate who isn’t serious about maintaining that balance had better have a well-articulated plan that pencils out.

    1. Frankly

      There are three legs to the economic ladder: revenues, budget cuts, and development. If a council majority undercuts one of those, it’s hard to believe they’d be responsible with regard to the others.

      There are two legs: revenue and spending.

      We have failed to control spending.

      We have failed to develop our economy to bring in enough revenue.

      We have NOT failed raising taxes. We have done that.

      Taxes increases are a dead dog. Davis is too late to the table to get more. Obama and Brown beat them to it. We already added water rate increases and education parcel tax increases.

      The “balanced” approach is to move forward urgently with economic development… because that end of the teeter tooter has been way too light for decades.

      There is nothing more to cut.

      People are already taxed to the max.

        1. Mark West

          Frankly’s statements in quotes:

          “There are two legs: revenue and spending.”

          True.

          “We have failed to control spending.”

          True

          “We have failed to develop our economy to bring in enough revenue.”

          True

          “We have NOT failed raising taxes. We have done that.”

          True

          “Taxes increases are a dead dog.”

          Hyperbole.

          “Davis is too late to the table to get more.”

          Opinion.

          “Obama and Brown beat them to it.”

          True

          “We already added water rate increases and education parcel tax increases.”

          True

          “The “balanced” approach is to move forward urgently with economic development…”

          Opinion. One that I agree with.

          “because that end of the teeter tooter has been way too light for decades.”

          Bad spelling aside, true.

          “There is nothing more to cut.”

          Opinion, one that I disagree with.

          “People are already taxed to the max.”

          Opinion and hyperbole. Also arguably true.

          Don Shor: “But there isn’t much point in debating with anti-tax extreme ideologues.”

          Especially when his statements are true.

          1. Don Shor

            You oppose an increase in the local sales tax, Mark?

            “We have failed to control spending.”
            True
            –The city manager and council are implementing budget cuts and negotiating contract changes. So this statement is not true.

            “We have NOT failed raising taxes. We have done that.”
            True
            –Davis has lower sales tax than other local communities.

            “Taxes increases are a dead dog.”
            “Obama and Brown beat them to it.”

            True
            –not just meaningless, but pointless.

            “The “balanced” approach is to move forward urgently with economic development…”
            Opinion. One that I agree with.
            –as well as raise local taxes and continue cutting the budget.

            “There is nothing more to cut.”
            Opinion, one that I disagree with.
            –obviously not true. Cost cutting can continue if necessary, but the public probably won’t like it.

            “People are already taxed to the max.”
            Opinion and hyperbole. Also arguably true.
            –tea party drivel.

            Don Shor: ”But there isn’t much point in debating with anti-tax extreme ideologues.”
            Especially when his statements are true.

            –and most of them aren’t.

          2. Mark West

            “We have failed to control spending.”
            True
            –The city manager and council are implementing budget cuts and negotiating contract changes. So this statement is not true.

            They have made positive steps in the right direction, but the work is far from complete. Do you stop fighting a fire on your house once the garage has been saved? Frankly’s statement is true.

            “We have NOT failed raising taxes. We have done that.”
            True
            –Davis has lower sales tax than other local communities.

            We have already raised taxes over the past few years Don. Do you deny that reality? You want to raise them more, but that doesn’t change the fact that Frankly’s statement is again true.

            “Taxes increases are a dead dog.”
            “Obama and Brown beat them to it.”

            True
            –not just meaningless, but pointless.

            State and Federal taxes have continued to go up Don. You don’t seem to think that national events are meaningful in a discussion of local issues, but additional tax increases in Davis do not occur in a vacuum. Again, Frankly’s statement is true, and your counterargument is meaningless.

            “The “balanced” approach is to move forward urgently with economic development…”
            Opinion. One that I agree with.

            –as well as raise local taxes and continue cutting the budget.

            All we have done so far Don is raise taxes. Balance requires doing something else for a while.

            “There is nothing more to cut.”
            Opinion, one that I disagree with.

            –obviously not true. Cost cutting can continue if necessary, but the public probably won’t like it.

            So you will agree that we both disagree with Frankly’s opinion on this issue. Still doesn’t change anything. It was a statement of his opinion, not one of fact.

            “People are already taxed to the max.”
            Opinion and hyperbole. Also arguably true.

            –tea party drivel.

            Name calling. Is that your idea of an intelligent argument?

            Don Shor: ”But there isn’t much point in debating with anti-tax extreme ideologues.”
            Especially when his statements are true.

            –and most of them aren’t.

            The statements of fact are true, the opinions are his own. I agree there is no point in your debating him when all you have to offer in return is to restate your own biased opinions, and when that fails you, a bit of name calling nonsense.

          3. Don Shor

            So you oppose a local sales tax increase?
            — I don’t think federal taxes have gone up for most people.
            — “All we have done so far Don is raise taxes.” Except that as we both demonstrated, the city manager and council have begun the process of cutting costs. I think the number of FTE’s is down sharply at the city, and the employee groups have agreed to concessions. So “all we have done is raise taxes” is provably false.

          4. Mark West

            Balance means addressing both revenues and expenses Don, and all we have done on the revenue side is raise taxes, which you favor doing again.

            I favor investing in our future rather than throwing more money down the drain. Economic development is investing. Raising taxes is just more money down the drain. Since in your case we are mostly talking about other people’s money, it probably doesn’t matter that much.

          5. Don Shor

            I have been very specific. I favor raising the sales tax on a renewable basis. I support development of business parks on the ITF identified sites, assuming they pencil out. I support continuing budget cuts. Why do you say “since in your case we are mostly talking about other people’s money,” Mark?

          6. Frankly

            Increase tax rates and you take more of other people’s money to use for something else. The point is that we already take a lot of other people’s money. There is not any distinction between different types of taxes. They are all categorized as “tax expense” in the P&L and PFS. They all have the impact of reducing a family’s discretionary income. Despite what you might want to admit, we all pay a lot of taxes. The marginal tax rates (when adding up all taxes and fees a person pays) is much higher than it has ever been.

            I don’t think there is much more we can cut. The roads are already in poor shape. So are many of the parks and common areas. The public does no support having fewer cops or fewer firefighters (after the 3 per engine change). In terms of other services, what would you recommend that we cut… and please provide specific dollar savings you expect to derive just as you demand those advocating ED spell out the revenue.

            The bottom line is that urgent and robust economic development is the 90% solution, and ideas for cutting and tax increases – at this point in the process – are just mostly diversionary twaddle.

          7. Mark West

            Don, you called out Frankly for being a lying ideologue. I pointed out that your statement was in fact false. You refuse to admit when you are wrong, so who is exactly is the ideologue?

          8. Don Shor

            Man, these replies are getting narrower and narrower. Kind of hard to read this way.
            I didn’t say Frankly was lying. I said he was wrong. If he says something he knows is wrong, then he is lying. I expect that he believes what he is saying. He is definitely an ideologue. “You refuse to admit when you are wrong….” When was I wrong, Mark? And what did you mean by “in your case we are mostly talking about other peoples money,” Mark?

          9. Don Shor

            “…The bottom line is that urgent and robust economic development is the 90% solution…”
            Income from any business park would be at least a few years out. So it isn’t 90% of the short- or medium-range solution. Off the top of my head (I’m sure Pinkerton will give a more detailed breakdown) I’d say sales and other taxes will be 30 – 40% of the solution for the next 3 – 5 years, then economic development, and continued reduction in costs as the new contracts take effect.

          10. Mark West

            DS: “He is definitely an ideologue.”

            As are you, however in this case, he is the one telling the truth.

          11. Don Shor

            When was I wrong, Mark? And what did you mean by “in your case we are mostly talking about other peoples money,” Mark?

          12. Mark West

            DS: “When was I wrong, Mark?”

            DS: “Most of your statements are incorrect. Provably so.”

            As I pointed out Don, every one of Frankly’s statements were either factually accurate or an obvious statement of his opinion. Your initial attack on Frankly was false.

          13. Don Shor

            No, you didn’t prove that they were factually accurate, as I demonstrated in my reply to you. My initial reply to Frankly was not false. And I continue to await your answer to the other question: what did you mean by “in your case we are mostly talking about other peoples money,” Mark?

          14. Matt Williams

            Don, in an attempt to get at the proof you are looking for her is my independent assessment of your points:

            First Point
            Frankly = “We have failed to control spending.”
            Mark = True
            Don = The city manager and council are implementing budget cuts and negotiating contract changes. So this statement is not true.

            As I pointed out to you in a prior post you have changed the tense of Frankly’s original point from past tense to present tense with a bias towaed the future. Frankly’s statement about our past failings is 100% accurate. Past Councils and past City Managers absolutely failed to control spending, and the current Council and current City manager are doing their best to arrest that trend and control it going forward.

            Second Point
            Frankly =“We have NOT failed raising taxes. We have done that.”
            Mark = True
            Don = Davis has lower sales tax than other local communities.

            Again you have changed the premise of Frankly’s styatement from past to present/future. The voters absolutely did pass an incremental sales tax increase, as well as numerous parcel taxes.

            Third Point
            Frankly = “Taxes increases are a dead dog.”
            “Obama and Brown beat them to it.”
            Mark = True
            Don = not just meaningless, but pointless.

            Again you change the premise of Frankly’s statement, which doesn’t question the accuracy of his statement. I personally would have added George W. Bush to Frankly’s list. All three men raised the taxes of their jurisdictions. I also agree with you that his stetement is extraneous.

            Fourth Point
            Frankly = “The “balanced” approach is to move forward urgently with economic development…”
            Mark = Opinion. One that I agree with.
            Don = as well as raise local taxes and continue cutting the budget.

            Here you appear to be agreeing with the original opinin-based point, and expanding on it.

            Fifth Point
            Frankly =“There is nothing more to cut.”
            Mark = Opinion, one that I disagree with.
            Don = obviously not true. Cost cutting can continue if necessary, but the public probably won’t like it.

            Semantics on your part. Given the new labor agreements that are in place and the 101 FTE staffing (22%) cuts over the past 5 years, what meaningful cuts do you think there still are available to the Council?

            Sixth Point
            Frankly =“People are already taxed to the max.”
            Mark = Opinion and hyperbole. Also arguably true.
            Don = tea party drivel.

            The fact that it is drivel to one segment of the voting public doesn’t make it anything short of gospel to another major segment of the voters. I agree that it is opinion, and any traction that it has depends largely on the listener’s framing. It is clearly neither true nor false.

            Don Shor: ”But there isn’t much point in debating with anti-tax extreme ideologues.”
            Mark = Especially when his statements are true.
            Don = and most of them aren’t.

            So, Don can help me understand which of his statements are not true?

          15. Matt Williams

            Don Shor said . . .

            – Davis has lower sales tax than other local communities.

            Don, you consistently come back to sales tax as a solution. Why is it that you want to penalize the low income members of the Davis community with higher sales taxes? The only more regressive tax instrument than sales tax is the lottery. Sales taxes are reverse Robin Hood . . . take from the poor and give to the rich. Why is it that you see that approach as the best one for Davis to take?

          16. Don Shor

            I have consistently mentioned three things to resolve the Davis fiscal problem. See if you can list them.

          17. Matt Williams

            1) Increased sales taxes

            2) Continued cost controls, and

            3) Innovation Park development based on the Innovation Task Force report

            Lets put your three things into the context of the cuurent year $5 million deficit, which grows to a cummulative $31 million over the next 5 years.

            3) Any revenue from an Innovation Task Force site will be a minimum of 3 years in the future, probably closer to 4-5 years, so it does absolutely nothing to address the $15-17 million deficit over the next 3 years.

            2) With the City’s FTE count already slashed 22% (101 FTEs) over the most recent 5 years, and with the recent round of compensation cuts now in place for all City employees, and the fiscal effects of those cuts already reflected in the $5 million and $31 million deficits, there really are no meaningful cost reduction opportunities, only cost controls designed to keep costs from escalating.

            2b) In addition we have $8 million per year of incremental annual deficit to add to the $5 million andf $31 million if we want to keep our streets PCI at its current level in the low 60’s.

            2c) We don’t know what other “streets-like” deferred maintenance backlogs we have out there that haven’t come to light in other non-streets parts of the City infrastructure.

            Which leaves you with only your 1) as a meaningful way to address the $5 million in the short run.

            With all the above said, I ask you again, “Why is it that you want to penalize the low income members of the Davis community with higher sales taxes? The only more regressive tax instrument than sales tax is the lottery. Sales taxes are reverse Robin Hood . . . take from the poor and give to the rich. Why is it that you see that approach as the best one for Davis to take?”

          18. B. Nice

            “Which leaves you with only your 1) as a meaningful way to address the $5 million in the short run.”

            Matt-You may have already answered this, so sorry if I am asking you to repeat yourself. What plan are you proposing to address the budget problem in the “short run”.

          19. Mark West

            When I owned a business in town, I would never have imagined advocating for an increase in the local sales tax to pay for City services as that would have meant advocating for our customers to pay a disproportionate portion of the cost of service. Sales taxes are paid by the customer, the company just acts as the collecting agency. As for the items that our company purchased, most were either purchased for resale, or used for production, and consequently were not subject to sales tax. Those few items that were subject to sales tax were generally not available locally, so the net effect would have been that the company’s share of the increased cost of services would have been minimal, so the total increase would have almost entirely been paid by our customers and other local residents.

            As unfathomable as it would have been for me to be an advocate for increased sales tax in that situation, it would have been far worse had my business partners done so. They did not live in town and consequently would have paid little or no of the additional costs, and therefore would have been advocating for spending someone else’s money for their own benefit.

            The same is true for parcel taxes too. The Company leased the building, so any new parcel tax would have been the obligation of the landlord, and would only have been passed on to the Company when next we negotiated the lease. Even if we had owned the parcel however the relative impact would have been small and really just another insignificant business expense. The impact on a home owner is much more significant, especially for one with little disposable income and difficulty meeting monthly expenses.

            In my opinion, any business owner in town (especially so for one who lives outside the jurisdiction) who advocates for increasing sales and parcel taxes first, to pay for current or past City services that have already been received, is simply advocating for spending someone else’s money for their own benefit.

            That Don Shor, is what I meant by “in your case we are mostly talking about other peoples money.”

          20. Don Shor

            Well, Mark, I spend a good deal of money in town, both as a local consumer as well as for my office supplies, display materials, and other items for the business.
            I also pay a parcel tax on the property my business is on, since we own it. So I pay plenty of sales tax locally, as well as property tax. Thus your comment does not apply to me. I am not advocating for spending someone else’s money, any more than any other local taxpayer would be. Just as I pay the higher water rates that I endorsed, I also pay local taxes.

          21. Don Shor

            Thanks to my accounting software, I have more information than I really need about my purchases.
            What I bought mostly in town in the last two weeks:
            books,
            coffee,
            furniture,
            gas,
            gifts,
            groceries,
            hardware,
            home furnishings,
            lumber,
            lunch,
            music,
            office supplies,
            pet supplies,
            prescription drugs,
            shipping boxes,
            storage boxes.

            What I mostly didn’t buy in town:
            clothing,
            electronics,
            farm supplies,
            irrigation supplies,

            What I bought other places as well as in town:
            coffee,
            groceries,
            furniture,
            home furnishings,
            hardware,
            lumber,
            pet supplies,
            storage boxes.

          22. Frankly

            Wow! Based on that list you should absolutely support immediate and urgent economic development to get more businesses in town to buy all those things!

            But it is still true that your sales and property tax nut as a resident outside the Davis city boundary is materially less than is that of someone that lives in the town. And so Mark’s point is valid that opining for city tax increases ends up being advocacy for how to spend other people’s money.

            I think it would be good for you to at least acknowledge that point.

          23. Don Shor

            “you should absolutely support immediate and urgent economic development to get more businesses in town to buy all those things!…”
            Huh? I buy all those things in Davis already.

            “it is still true that your sales and property tax nut as a resident outside the Davis city boundary is materially less than is that of someone that lives in the town.”
            Um, no, that is not true. Property taxes are going to vary all over the place, due to Prop 13 — anybody who has held onto a house longer than we’ve had the property the business is on will be paying an even lower property tax bill. And if I recall, the added parcel taxes are per parcel, not a percentage. And I do a very high percentage of my shopping in Davis. So no, you are not correct, and neither is Mark. I don’t really know why you and Mark are continuing to make this point, or what its relevance is.

          24. Mark West

            Don, you have frequently pointed out that automobile sales are the biggest source of our sales tax revenues in town, and have stated that you think that is just fine.

            When you buy a car Don, what jurisdiction gets the sales tax?

            Not Davis.

            Your customers and local residents will always pay a larger share of the sales tax bill then you will. The fact that you have a ‘tin ear’ about that doesn’t surprise me one bit.

            The relevancy is your continued advocacy for someone else paying your fair share of the overdue bill.

          25. Don Shor

            “Don, you have frequently pointed out that automobile sales are the biggest source of our sales tax revenues in town,”
            That is a fact.

            “ and have stated that you think that is just fine.”
            That is not true. I have never said that it is “just fine.” It’s just a reality. Another Mark West distortion.
            “When you buy a car Don, what jurisdiction gets the sales tax?
            Not Davis.

            Of what possible relevance is this to your assertions about me, personally, Mark? The same is true of anyone who buys a car in Davis.
            “Your customers and local residents will always pay a larger share of the sales tax bill then you will.”
            Complete nonsense. I’ve demonstrated otherwise. You are wrong. Yet you repeat it over and over.
            “The relevancy is your continued advocacy for someone else paying your fair share of the overdue bill.”
            And of course, you continue to be wrong about that. I pay my fair share, Mark. Of property taxes, of sales taxes, of water rates, and everything else. I am not a hypocrite, and your continued personal attacks on me on the Vanguard are tiresome and reflect more on your character than on mine.

          26. Don Shor

            Lest anyone come to believe the misrepresentations put forth by Mark West and Frankly, merely because they keep repeating them, I suggest you just look at a property tax bill. I pay my fair share.
            Assessed valuation, of course, is locked in by Prop 13 and rises at a fixed rate. So assessed property tax varies wildly from one property to the next.

            But as to fairness and parcel taxes. You will see 8 items also on the property tax bill. Those are the special taxes voters have approved. Examples are the $204 and $300 parcel taxes Davis voters have approved.

            I own a parcel. Mark West owns a parcel (I assume). Frankly owns a parcel. Each of us pays the same dollar amount. The same $204 and the same $300. And the other six taxes listed are also per parcel. We all pay the same amount. So we all pay our fair share.

            Any parcel tax added to your property tax bill by the voters to help address the city’s fiscal problems will be a parcel tax. I will pay exactly the same amount that Mark West and Frankly pay. I will pay my fair share.

            As to sales tax, I have described my shopping habits. You can believe them or not, as you like. But unlike Frankly, I don’t shop at Home Depot. I don’t go to Walmart or CostCo. I like to practice what I preach, so I shop at locally-owned and smaller businesses as much as possible. Most of them are in Davis; a few are in Dixon and Vacaville.

            On the three occasions over the years when my business has purchased a vehicle, the sales tax has come to Davis. So like anyone else who has a Davis address, I have paid my fair share of sales taxes.

            Repetition of a distortion doesn’t make it so. The constant attempts to personalize these discussions mystify me. They don’t do anything to move the debate forward or to help us achieve solutions. So I urge that they stop.

          27. Matt Williams

            Don Shor said . . .

            –The city manager and council are implementing budget cuts and negotiating contract changes. So this statement is not true.

            While I don’t disagree with you that the City Manager and Council are taking steps to turn the Queen Mary from its historical course, but your response to Mark does not acknowledge that we have significantly more history of overspending than we have of correcting that overspending. Further, because of contractual agreements, there are huge impediments to changing course in any aggressive, prudent fashion.

            Said another way, you have chosen to answer from the perspective of a very narrow slice of time, and are ignoring the full history.

          28. Don Shor

            Bottom line: there are very likely going to be council candidates discussing sales and property taxes, economic development based on the ITF report, and there will be discussion as to supporting the continued efforts of the city manager to control costs.
            Would a candidate’s position on sales tax or some kind of property tax increase preclude you (Frankly, Mark, or anyone else who cares to answer) from supporting that candidate with your dollars or your vote?

          29. Frankly

            My vote will go to the candidate that puts economic development at the top of the list of solutions and agrees that we need to pursue it with a sense of urgency.

            Any candidate that starts flapping their gums about tax increases first. Or that uses words like “big box”, “strip mall”, “sprawl” will immediately get labeled by me as being on the wrong side of what is good for Davis.

            Likewise, any candidate with connections to any public employee union or group will also be labeled by me as being on the wrong side of what is good for Davis.

          30. Mark West

            “My vote will go to the candidate that puts economic development at the top of the list of solutions and agrees that we need to pursue it with a sense of urgency.

            Any candidate that starts flapping their gums about tax increases first. Or that uses words like “big box”, “strip mall”, “sprawl” will immediately get labeled by me as being on the wrong side of what is good for Davis.”

            Agreed!

          31. B. Nice

            “Would a candidate’s position on sales tax or some kind of property tax increase preclude you (Frankly, Mark, or anyone else who cares to answer) from supporting that candidate with your dollars or your vote?”

            It depends on what alternatives to tax increases they propose. If it is build peripheral strip malls with big box stores, then I’m voting for the candidate that supports the tax increase. If it’s to continue to cut services in ways that negatively impact the community, or cut back on things like park and recreation services, I’ll take the tax increases.

            It’s ironic to me that the slow growers on this blog are being accused of causing the city’s economic problems by some, when from what I can tell they are the ones promoting and willingly supporting broad comprehensive solutions.

            I was asked recently if I would be willing to pay a $150/year parcel tax, if by doing so allowed the city to get out of this finical hole without sacrificing additional services, and without having to rely on peripheral strip malls with big box stores. My answer was unequivocally yes, and if it really meant all of these things, it would be the best $150 I’d ever spend.

          32. Matt Williams

            B. Nice said . . .

            “I was asked recently if I would be willing to pay a $150/year parcel tax”

            Lets put that question into a more realistic fiscal reality. What you should have been asked is, “Would you be willing to pay a $400/year parcel tax for the next 20 years PLUS pay an additional 1/2% Sales Tax for the next 20 years PLUS extend the current extra 1/2% Sales Tax out to the same 20 year time horizon?”

          33. Mark West

            20 years is not short-term. Raising taxes is an inadequate solution and to remain a short-term these tax increases will need to be replaced by another source of revenue in a 5-10 year time frame.

          34. B. Nice

            So you are saying that you don’t think $150 is going to do it? I don’t understand the budget problems well enough to argue the merits of your assertions, but the person who proposed this $150 most likely does, and appears to feel differently then you on this subject. Which leaves me to wonder, why the discrepancies?

          35. Don Shor

            A $150/parcel tax on the 23,000 households in Davis would yield about $3.5 million per year.
            A 0.25 – 0.5% increase in the sales tax would yield about $1.6 – $3.2 million per year.
            Development of any of the sites being reviewed by the ITF would begin to produce revenues in a few years. There would be increased property tax revenues as the sites sell and build, and steadily increasing unsecured property tax revenues as time goes by, thus allowing the voters to choose to let either or both of those taxes to lapse after a pre-determined number of years.
            If the sales or parcel taxes have relatively short renewal intervals (say, 3 years), the voters could assess the progress of economic development and make appropriate decisions about continuing the taxes and/or annexing more parcels. There are three sites under discussion, and I don’t assume they would all move toward the ballot at the same time. We don’t even know what the landowners want to do. So the development revenues are speculative and not going to be happening soon.

          36. Matt Williams

            So Don, with an aggregate $13 million per year deficit your “about $1.6 – $3.2 million per year” from a sales tax increase will leave us about $10 million short. Any thoughts on how to address that $10 million?

          37. Matt Williams

            The $150 would come close to addressing the $5 million deficit. The City Manager’s 12/17 presentation to Council shows that a $135 per year parcel tax will generate $3.68 million, so to cover the $31 million aggregate deficit the Budget projects in the next 5 years, we would need 8.4 units of $135 units over the 5 years which means $227 just to cover the deficit without the streets, which is another $8 million per year. At $400 per year you would have an incremental $173 which would cover $4.7 million of the $8 million, leaving $3.3 million, and the City Manager’s 12/17 report says a 1/2% Sales Tax increase will yield $3.61 million.

            Those numbers are on page 18 of the City Manager’s report wich can be viewed at http://city-council.cityofdavis.org/Media/CityCouncil/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20131217/11A-FY13-14-Midyear-Budget-and-FY14-15-Preview-Presentation.pdf

          38. Don Shor

            Based on relatively conservative assumptions about sales and property tax revenues as the economy continues to emerge from the recession, the city manager projects a roughly $5.1 million structural deficit. A combination of a parcel tax of some sort, and a sales tax increase, would cover that plus a little more. Presumably the city would sell bonds to pay for street maintenance that has been deferred.

          39. Matt Williams

            I agree Don, that one option is for the City to sell bonds to cover the streets maintenance. The 12/10 presentation by Staff to Council showed that Capital amount as $164 million (the difference betweem the $49 million in Scenario 2, which is already in the budget, and the $213 million needed in Scenario 5 in order to keep the streets at their current PCI). $164 million is $8 million per year over 20 years. If you sell bonds, then the debt service for the borrowing will be even higher than the $8 million per year principal repayment.

            Using a simple amortization table, if you borrow $164 million at an interest rate of 5% with a 20 year payback period, then the annual debt service payments are just over $13 million per year.

            So, borrowing the roads money increases the annual deficit by an incremental $5 million per year to cover the interest payments.

          40. Mark West

            Floating a bond to pay for new infrastructure makes sense as the future users will recover as much or more of the benefit as the current ones. Paying for maintenance on existing infrastructure should be paid in real time. Advocating for a bond to cover maintenance is forcing someone else to pay for something that we used.

          41. Mark West

            B. Nice: “It’s ironic to me that the slow growers on this blog are being accused of causing the city’s economic problems by some, when from what I can tell they are the ones promoting and willingly supporting broad comprehensive solutions.”

            I don’t believe the slow-growth contingent is offering anything of the sort. What they are advocating is to raise taxes first, and consider economic development only as long as they get to dictate how, or even if, that development occurs. In short, they are simply arguing for a continuation of the status quo. There is nothing new here, they have just repackaged their position to make it sound more reasonable to new readers such as yourself.

            The advocates for economic development are agreeing that taxes will need to be raised to solve our problems in the short-term, but the long-term solution to actually fixing all the issues is economic development. I for one, do not believe we should commit more tax money until we have committed to economic development.

            The other big difference is that the advocates for economic development, such as Matt, Frankly and realchangz, are addressing the full extent of the financial problem, while the slow growth crowd is focusing solely on the initial $5 million structural deficit. One side is being honest about the extent of the problem, and the other is, for the most part, ignoring it.

            Their slow-growth approach is the one that got us into this mess, why would anyone think that continuing that approach will get us out of it?

          42. Don Shor

            “What they are advocating is to raise taxes first, and consider economic development only as long as they get to dictate how, or even if, that development occurs.”

            I don’t know anybody who is doing what you describe. The processes of raising taxes, having the ITF review and recommend sites, and putting those taxes and sites on the ballot will probably occur at the same time.

            “while the slow growth crowd is focusing solely on the initial $5 million structural deficit.”

            No, but the different fiscal problems will likely have different remedies.

          43. Frankly

            B. Nice – What was your position on the Mace 391 property. That was a city asset that we controlled until the council gave it away to the farmland moat cooperative.

            We owned it. We controlled it. We get 2 acres of open space for every acre we would have used for business park development. Those acres of open space could have been accessible space… unlike the existing 2500 acres from Measure O money… none of it is accessible space.

            We could have controlled exactly how that development would look and what amenities it would contain. The value of that land for a business park, plus the tax revenue derived would have gone a long way toward eliminating our structural and cumulative fiscal imbalance.

            Think about it this way.

            Your and your husband are not taking in enough money to pay your bills. You are at risk for insolvency and bankruptcy. You own a valuable piece of land. You owe about $3.5 million on that land, but it is worth $100 million if developed. You sell it for $3.5 million.

            How do you explain this to your kids that family is going to have to accept more budget cuts, take on more debt and will pass it on to them?

          44. B. Nice

            My thoughts on Mace 391 are complex, and I appreciate the perspective of the people on both sides of this issue. But I don’t think the situation is as black and white as your argument makes it out to be. There were a lot of hurdles that needed to be overcome before that property became the ATM machine those pushing the business park claim it could be, and a lot of risk involved. Ultimately I don’t think it would have been appropriate for the city to take on those risks, and so I agree with council decision.

          45. Matt Williams

            Understood B. Nice. There were indeed hurdles and those hurdles would indeed have needed to be surmounted, but the current course toward a balanced budget has hurdles too. In any scenario we start with a $13 million per year deficit ($5 million for General Fund and $8 million for streets maintenance backlog).

            In our current situation (having given Mace 391 away) we have no assets to leverage and no potential cash flow streams any time soon from economic development. That leaves us a relatively bare cupboard, taxes and more taxes. Ahhhhhhhh, but the road to those taxes also has hurdles. In fact the taxation hurdles are in most cases higher than the land use entitlement hurdles becase both require a vote of the people, but land use only requires a 50% majority plus one, while taxes require a 2/3 majority to pass. So, the Mace 391 decision only traded one set of hurdles for another.

            NOTE: Sales tax increases only require a 50% plus one majority.

          46. Mark West

            With Mace 391, as Frankly pointed out, we had a parcel with a potential value in excess of $100 million on the books at a mere $3.5 million. If we had hung on to the land as an undeveloped asset, we could have left it to our children to decide how best to utilize in the future. That would have been a $100 million gift to the next generation.

            Some have suggested that by putting the land in an Ag easement that we have given a gift to future generations by ensuring that the land will always be kept in agriculture. I think a more accurate description however is that we stole $100 million asset from our children to pay for something that we wanted today, the view shed. Personally, I think the decision by the CC was probably the most short-sighted and selfish decision they could possibly have made.

    1. Mark West

      Not at all Soda. I think the ‘woods’ extend far into the foreseeable future and I wish he would stay and continue with the work of cleaning up the mess. I just think the City Manager is smart enough to read the tea leaves and will look for a path that will allow him to leave under his own terms. It is far better to choose to move on to a new job then it is to be kicked out of the old one.

  7. Frankly

    If we are to proceed with a tax increase, we need assurances from the city that it will not become a means to fund employee salary increases.

    This is impossible unless you want to believe what a current politicians says and believe that future politicians will do his/her bidding. There is absolutely no evidence that a new trust is justified.

    If we are to proceed with a vote on economic and peripheral development, we need to have assurances that we are not simply bolstering funding for future employee groups

    Please explain. I don’t get this part.

    and opening the door to sprawl.

    Easy, because of the 1-2 ag land mitigation requirement and the fact that we can demand smart development… we will never have sprawl. I’m sure that most people using the term don’t even know what it really is… or else they are just using the term to inflame opposition to economic development.

  8. B. Nice

    “or else they are just using the term to inflame opposition to economic development.”

    It is really annoying when people use inflammatory rhetoric rather then debate the merits of an issue.

        1. Matt Williams

          B. Nice said . . .

          “Frankly, there is not enough Ibuprofen in the world….”

          I heard a rumor that Colorado has come up with a solution to that problem,

          1. SouthofDavis

            Maybe Davis can vote to make pot legal (like CO and OR just did) and tax it so we won’t have to increase property taxes or sales taxes and we can keep paying Davis firefighters that retire at 50 $10K a month (with CPI bumps) for life…

    1. Frankly

      By the way, I started a New Years resolution to be nicer and reduce the level of sarcasm and hyperbole in my posts. But then I read some recent Obama quotes that reminded me that he really has the best interests of the nation at heart, and would do good things were it not for the fact that he was a dyed-in-the-wool socialist, Marxist… and possible a communist.

      And so I had to rethink that resolution.

      The interesting thing about Obama is that he reminds me of a lot of people on this blog playing lip service to the need for jobs and economic development, but then doing most everything they can to prevent the growth of either.

      1. B. Nice

        I’ll tell you what I tell kids when I substitute, just because someone else is doing something bad does not mean it’s okay for you to do it too, infact it just makes the situation worse. (Doesn’t usually work on them though so I’m won’t hold my breath that 2014 will be an inflammatory rhetoric free one, instead I’ll stock up on the Ibuprofen.)

      2. Matt Williams

        Frankly, the solution to all that ails you is to have a National issues article appear here in the Vanguard every day. Then Don wouldn’t need to caution you and GI about straying off topic, and you could vent freely there . . . and be sweetness and light here in the local issue articles.

        1. Frankly

          This is a reasonable idea. But as I have said before, I personally enjoy a more expansive commentary as long as there is a connection. After all, all of these issues we debate on the blog are based on our human differences and preferences… and there are likely to be common threads at all levels of politics and social interaction.

          I like Don’s approach to remind and warn people without actually deleting posts. My sense is that the former approach is more effective than the latter.

  9. SODA

    Why in the world are our comments often out of sync with time of posts. Very hard to follow!
    And why when you click on a hot item in right sidebar are you not taken to that comment? Is there a place to post issues about the new site?

  10. Frankly

    This op-ed in the WSJ (I am only posting part of it), I think gets to the heart of the larger debate related to economic development in the country and in this city.

    Tocqueville wrote: “Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy,” “This complete equality eludes the grasp of the people at the very moment they think they have grasped it. Democratic institutions strongly tend to promote the feeling of envy. A depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.”

    That is the background by which the current hand-wringing over inequality must be judged. Inequality is not a problem simply because the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer. It’s a problem only when the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.

    Mr. Obama tried to prove that in his speech, comparing present-day income with that halcyon year of
    1979: “The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income—it now takes half,” he said, suggesting that the rich are eating a larger share of the national pie. “Whereas in the past, the average
    CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more. And meanwhile, a family in the top one percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country.”

    Here is a factual error, marred by an analytical error, compounded by a moral error. It’s the top 20% that take in just over half of aggregate income, according to the Census Bureau, not the top 10%. That figure is essentially unchanged since the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton was president. And it isn’t dramatically different from 1979, when the top fifth took in 44% of aggregate income.

    Besides which, so what?

    In 1979 the mean household income of the bottom 20% was $4,006. By 2012, it was $11,490. That’s an increase of 186%. For the middle class, the increase was 211%. For the top fifth it’s 320%. The richer have outpaced the poorer in growing their incomes, just as runners will outpace joggers who will, in turn, outpace walkers. But, as James Taylor might say, the walking man walks.

    As it is, to whom except the envious should it matter that the boss now makes a lot more, provided you, too, also make more? Class-consciousness has always been a fact of American life, but rarely is it about how the poor, or even the middle class, feel toward the very rich. It has been about how the professional class—lawyers, journalists, administrators, academics—feel toward the financial class. It’s what Volvo
    America thinks about S-class America.

    That idiot you knew freshman year, always fondling a lacrosse stick, before he became the head of his fraternity—his bonus last year was how much?

    The moral greatness of capitalism rests in the fact that it is the only economic system where one person’s gain can be another’s also—where Steve Jobs’s billions are his shareholders’ thousands. Capitalism cultivates a sense of admiration where envy would otherwise rule in a zero-sum economic system. It’s what, for the past 60 years, has blunted the democratic tendency toward envy in the U.S. and distinguished its free-market democracy from the social democracies of Europe. It’s what draws people to this country.

    Somewhere in the rubble of Mr. Obama’s musings on inequality there was a better speech on economic mobility. Then again, under Mr. Obama the median income of the poorest Americans has declined in absolute terms, to $11,490 in 2012 from $11,552 in 2009, at the height of the recession. Chalk it up as another instance of Mr. Obama being the cause of the very problems he aspires to address.

    I am connecting this to the debate about Davis economic development because of the challenges from posters on this blog that it won’t result in any help to reduce the poverty rate.

    The simple fact that seems lost on those that make this charge is that it is really the ONLY way to reduce the poverty rate… since government transfer payments are not included in the determination of income classification.

    Said another way, more taxation and greater payments to the poor will never lift them from poverty.

    So then, what choice do we have but to grow the number of available jobs?

    1. Don Shor

      I would be surprised if economic development in Davis would have a significant effect on the poverty or unemployments rates of Yolo County, because Yolo is a rural agricultural county. Both of those statistical measures are very much affected by the agricultural employment market, and it is unlikely that a lot of ag workers would move readily into business park jobs.
      Business parks will lead to better employment opportunities for some college graduates locally, and will provide ripple impact to industries like building and landscape trades, and the service industries that maintain the physical facilities. They might have an effect on the Davis (vs. Yolo) unemployment and poverty rates, but even those statistics are heavily skewed by the demographics of the community. So the jobs are worthwhile and economic development is a good thing to pursue for various reasons. But using the traditional statistical measures of their benefits will likely be difficult.

      1. Frankly

        That makes sense related to Yolo county, but are Davis’s impoverished people really a high percentage of farm workers? That does not make sense to me.

        I would think that that single mother with some office skills would be better off. And that tree trimmer that got laid off finding work doing facilities/ground maintenance.

        And if we have more people eating and shopping in Davis because it is their place of business (if not their place of residents) the local merchants will have to increase hours and hire more people. That too should be good for the lower income residents in town.

        Again though, maybe this is a mute point because if not adding jobs to the local economy, how would we decrease our poverty rate?

        One way is to stop building new housing so the cost of housing keeps going up and lower income people can no longer afford to live here.

        1. Don Shor

          My guess is that a lot of the people calculated as being in poverty in Davis are students. I just don’t think it’s a useful data point here. But it’s good to make jobs for those people who actually are impoverished and live here, and it’s good to make jobs for students as well.

        2. wdf1

          DJUSD reports 21.7% on free and reduced lunch, districtwide. Anecdotally, I think some of that could be attributable to UCD student families (1 or both parents beings UCD students with grade school kids). But I have seen a lot of that percentage as involving more conventional templates. DJUSD serves students from the migrant camp south of Davis, but that’s it as far as migrant farm workers. I think some lower income residents are former farm workers.

          Frankly: One way is to stop building new housing so the cost of housing keeps going up and lower income people can no longer afford to live here.

          Lower income families compete with UCD students for housing, mostly apartments. I don’t see that as lower income families being pushed out this way without also affecting UCD students.

          1. SouthofDavis

            wdf1 wrote:

            > DJUSD reports 21.7% on free and reduced lunch, districtwide.

            Keep in mind the reduced lunch program (like the PG&E Care Program) is on the honor system so they cover not only poor people but people that are OK with telling a lie to save money and/or help their school. I know a teacher from a rural Northern California district who’s school is now close to 100% free lunch since the teachers talked almost everyone in to signing up to “help the school get more funding from the state” (and as a bonus you don’t have to make lunch for their kids anymore)…

          2. B. Nice

            A couple of years ago Birch Lane did request that everyone fill out the form. The did so because as you stated these numbers do effect the amount of money the school receives from the federal government through the NCLB program, (correct me if I’m wrong on this WDF1) and the school wanted to make sure that every child who qualified was counted to maximum this funding which goes towards things like reading and math specialist. (Apparently a significant number of people do not fill out the form because they do not think they qualify but infact do, or they know they qualify but are not interested in their child receiving a free or reduced lunch). While everyone was asked to fill out the form no one was asked to lie about their income, nor was it suggested they do so.

          3. wdf1

            The disincentive for a school and district to participate in school for free/reduced lunch is that your school might then fall under the sanctions of NCLB if the participation rate is high enough. The school lunch program is a federal program, as is NCLB. For instance, Birch Lane is now in program improvement under NCLB.

            As a parent, I find that school lunches are probably okay, but not my preference for my kids on a regular basis. Mostly because I’m not sure that they’d reliably eat what’s available. It isn’t like it’s an all you can eat buffet day at Dos Coyotes.

            My take on it is that this program is probably such that if you can afford to provide your kid with lunch from home, you would. I don’t think parents with means typically have incentive to lie to get into a program like this to save money on what they feed their kid, food that they may or may not eat, depending on the menu of the day.

            If a family signs up for free/reduced lunch, I think that odds are they really need it.

          4. B. Nice

            As my memory serves, the principal was asking every parent at Birch Lane to fill out the free/reduced lunch application, regardless of wether or not they intended for their children to get lunch at school, in order to maximize the amount of federal dollars’ the school received under NCLB.

            Note just because someone fills out the from does not mean they qualify for the program. SOD comment suggest that parents were asked to lie on the form about their income in order for the school to receive more money. I highly doubt this is true. I’m going to assume that close to 100% of the kids at the school he/she referred to actually qualify for the program but hadn’t’ signed up for it, and thus the school was not receiving all the NCLB in was entitled to, so parents were encouraged to apply, even if they never planned on getting the free lunch.

          5. wdf1

            Personally, I think if a school has a student population who needs the program, then morally the school should do what it takes to get those families signed up.

            On the other hand, I think NCLB is a complete failure, and I am almost to the point where I think if a school sees a way to opt out of qualifying for NCLB sanctions, then everyone would be better off, most especially the students.

            But it’s a no win choice.

          6. B. Nice

            I absolutely agree. My guess: the money is tied to to the number of students who receive free and reduced lunches because it’s the easy way to access income data.

            It seems like the money received from this program is put to good use at Birch Lane. But so far we’ve managed to avoid any sanctions, (which I have similar feelings to you about.)

            Our principal mentioned a couple of years ago that once we moved to Common Core NCLB sanctions would end. Do you know if this is accurate?

          7. growth issue

            The program is ripe with fraud and not a good indicator at all of a communty’s true poverty numbers.
            “Verification summaries obtained from 10 of the nation’s largest school districts show a high proportion of those asked to provide proof of income could not or would not comply. The data are prompting some school officials to question the way the program is administered.

            Of the 10 districts, all but 1 had a rate of reduced or repealed benefits above 70 percent for those in the verification sample for the 2007–08 school year (see sidebar). Most of those benefit reductions and repeals were due to participants’ failure to respond to the mailing, which automatically revoked their benefits. The average nonresponse rate among the 10 districts was 58 percent. Significantly, an average of only 1.5 percent of those who did respond had their benefits increased, suggesting that parents were more likely to understate than overstate their income on the forms.”
            http://educationnext.org/fraud-in-the-lunchroom/

          8. wdf1

            G.I.: So you take the position that parents are motivated to rip off the system when they might have the means to offer their own kids an adequate nutritional lunch? Would you rip off the system in that way if you knew you wouldn’t get caught?

            I think there’s also a good case to make that the school lunch program might be underutilized by eligible families. If you work with low-income families, you would find that many parents, for whatever reason, are unaware of resources that are legitimately available to them. Two examples that I have seen are cases of 1) depression in one or both parents, in which they don’t have the wherewithal to function adequately, and 2) inadequate ability to function in English, in which most of the information is given.

          9. growth issue

            wdf1…did you read the article? I can post many more links that show how fraudulant the school lunch system is. Putting your head in the sand and ignoring the theft doesn’t make it okay.

          10. growth issue

            Chicago public school system: “The inspector general reviewed of 1,000 cases of children enrolled in the program and reported “an astonishing 707 recipients — nearly 71 percent — had their benefits decreased” because of violations by parents.”

          11. wdf1

            I have read it. And you posted the link before. And do you think the definition of poverty used in the article is adequate?

            The definition of poverty in the U.S. has been the same for about 40 years, but social conditions have changed over that time. For instance, “food deserts” didn’t exist in the same way back then, and agri-business hadn’t developed to the point then where a single Twinkie is cheaper than most fresh fruit. As far as I know, there is no farm subsidy for broccoli or spinach the way there is for corn and soy beans. Welfare assistance programs don’t allow recipients to eat healthily. I would submit that $1 billion of fraud as defined by the article’s and program’s definition of poverty is a better investment in America than the billions of dollars of foreign aide that has been fraudulantly spent overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

          12. growth issue

            The lunch program has rules and guidlines that are supposed to be followed, after all that’s our taxpayer money be abused. So wdf1, are you saying it’s okay to cheat?

          13. growth issue

            wdf1, maybe if we rooted out all the cheaters then the ones who really need the lunches could get a better subsidy.

          14. wdf1

            If fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods were more affordable, we’d have less childhood obesity and better performance among school kids.

      2. Frankly

        And also consider that companies that locate in a community tend to do a lot of their charitable giving back to that community. So, programs that assist people in lower income situations would tend to benefit from the increase in the number of companies in town.

        1. realchangz

          Not to be ornery, just for the sake of it, but let us not forget that 25% of our Davis residents are full – time students. How do you imagine this demographic registers on the traditional poverty scales?

        2. Don Shor

          I would really like someone who knows better about this to address it, perhaps on a new thread at some point. My impression is that the programs that really affect the poor are mostly funded and administered by the county. It is revenues to the county that most directly help the poor and the homeless directly. Obviously, jobs are good for that, too. But if you’re looking at the most desperate poor, it is — I think — county programs that make the most difference.

          1. realchangz

            Don,
            Then, sad to say but, I guess it will be a while before the County begins any serious work on funding it’s $112MM in unfunded OPEN legacy debts.

          2. Matt Williams

            Don, in the Mace 391 discussions you repeatedly argued that we needed to look at the future of the site through the lens of the County, not the City. Why is it that that approach is okay for you with respoect to farmland, but not with respect to programs that affect the poor?

            It seems like you are practicing a double standard.

          3. realchangz

            Matt,
            What I find troubling in this conversation is the notion that a professional interest-group advocacy group is being allowed to so heavily influence what should be an essentially Davis – community – centric conversation and debate. As mentioned previously, money only grows on trees for farmers – it isn’t an economic conversation that makes any sense for the city. Moreover, given existing pass-through agreements (however they may work) it seems the County too would come out ahead from a business park moreso than dedicated greenbelt?
            Just say in – would it at least be worth discussing?

          4. realchangz

            Matt,
            Actually, I was mistaken in my estimate of Unfunded Other Post Employment Benefits for Yolo County. They now stand at $138MM in unfunded liabilities versus $595K in assets. As previously mentioned, these categories of legacy debts do threaten every facet of county funding priorities.

            When ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A SUBSTANTIVE CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS ISSUE?

          5. realchangz

            Another insightful analysis by RR. So, perhaps bankruptcy is the most realistic approach to resolution and re balancing the ledgers?

          6. Don Shor

            I would look to a legislative remedy first. You’re not going to get more money for Yolo County by taking it away from West Sac, so it would likely be state funding increases for key programs. An effective Yolo assembly member could help other rural counties as well as Yolo, since the problems this county faces aren’t unique.

          1. Frankly

            Sure.

            $4.3 million over the last 14 years.

            The Vanguard certainly benefits from our generosity… both financially and will my time posting all this useful information. 😉

          2. Frankly

            As usual, much is left out.

            Billionaire Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot issued a warning to Pope Francis during an interview with CNBC which was published this past Monday. In the interview he said that wealthy people such as himself are feeling ostracized by the Pope’s messages in support of the poor, and might stop giving to charity if the Pope continues to make statements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.

            This is just Atlas Shrugging. Why keep propping up the world when all you become is a whipping boy for the envy and misery of others.


            Community Involvement by the Numbers

            Since its formation in 2002, The Home Depot Foundation has granted more than $300 million to nonprofit organizations improving homes and lives in local communities.

            2012 Accomplishments:

            Surpassed three-year, $30 million pledge to veterans’ housing initiatives made in 2011.

            Committed additional $50 million to veterans’ housing initiatives over the next three years.

            12,000 volunteers completed 350 in 68 days during the 2012 Celebration of Service.

            Projects included the repair and renovation of 300 single family homes, 85 veteran housing facilities and 10 veteran medical facilities.

    2. Tia Will

      “more taxation and greater payments to the poor will never lift them from poverty.”

      Demonstrably untrue. Had there not been tax supported social security payments my mother and I would have been living in abject poverty. Social security allowed me to continue my education through high school and college.

      A government run program for poor youth provided me with my first job, not someone in the public sector.

      It was funding through the Public Health Service that enabled me to complete medical school.

      So I was “lifted from poverty” through tax supported programs. I know that this is one person’s story. And I also know that you know this story as I have posted it and discussed it with you. To choose to ignore the role of public assistance in helping those in need is to close your eyes to a major social role of our government. You know better and yet you continue to make the same sweeping generalizations. I could understand if you did not know the truth. Since you do, I fail to see the point in making the same demonstrably incorrect statements over and over.

      1. Frankly

        Tia – you are missing a key component here.

        What I should have written was:

        More taxation and greater payments to the poor – alone – will never lift them from poverty.

        The point being that a person never gets categorizes as being out of poverty unless they get a job that pays them above the poverty line. If the government gave a person $10,000 per month and that was the only money they received, they would be considered extremely impoverished.

        Unfortunately, you are a statistical abnormality with respect to government transfer payments to low income families.

        And in consideration of that, the left has a great scam going on. They can demand more and more taxation and transfer payments to the poor… and if the poor are never lifted above the poverty line, then the left can point to the continued and growing need and demand more and more taxation and transfer payments… in a perpetual and never ending cycle of destructive altruism.

        If we were instead measuring the return on investment and deciding what we would spend based on how many were lifted out of poverty, we would direct much more of our limited tax resources to economic development. The ONLY way for a person to be lifted from poverty is for them to have a job that pays them above the poverty line.

        That is a fact. That was my point. Do you disagree?

        Assuming that fact, then any decision to block, delay or divert precious resources from economic development is, in fact, a decision to keep more people locked into poverty.

        But then that serves Democrats well in their political aspirations. It also serves elite liberals well since there is always a plentiful supply of people that they can claim to save.

        1. hpierce

          I often wonder, that if the comfortable made a commitment to charitable giving, to those truly in need, would we need to use government and taxes to ‘get it done’. Am thinking that I more than tithe given taxes ad direct charitable contributions. Yet I am pessimistic whether many people would survive based on private charity alone, particularly in a harsh economy. Think a lot of folks would be like Scrooge, and figure that the world would be better off without them. Where do you stand?

        2. B. Nice

          “The ONLY way for a person to be lifted from poverty is for them to have a job that pays them above the poverty line.”

          Then why not support a higher minimum wage?

          1. Frankly

            How much would you have to increase the minimum wage so that the worker making it is lifted from poverty?

            Minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs.

            Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and now there is competition from employees with higher qualifications… and the unskilled poor have even fewer opportunities to find a job.

            And the products that the poor need to purchase just go more expensive as companies have to recoup the higher labor costs from the increased minimum wage.

            And some companies can no longer operate because they cannot sustain the higher labor costs. So even fewer jobs available and more unemployed poor people.

            And the companies force a smaller workforce to do more work to justify the higher wages. This then eliminates benefits like flexible schedules that allow these companies to hire students and single parents for example.

            Raising the minimum wage is just plan stupid. It is a feel good thing that leads to more problems.

            We already have a minimum wage, yet we still complain that there are too many people in poverty.

            We would be better off getting rid of the minimum wage and let the labor market take care of wage rate setting. If you think you are being paid too little, go learn a new skill or strive to move up the corporate ladder.

          2. B. Nice

            I’m going to cherry pick some of your statements:

            “And some companies can no longer operate because they cannot sustain the higher labor costs”

            I call B.S. on this. McDonalds, for example, could operate with higher labor costs. They could well afford to lower their profit margins and thus increase their employees discretionary spending, which I know you agree is a good thing. Why should tax payers basically supplement workers income while corporations get rich off the increased revenue they receive by paying their workers less?

          3. growth issue

            B. Nice, Frankly didn’t say McD, he said some: (Definition)”used to refer to someone or something that is unknown or unspecified.”

          4. Frankly

            B. Nice. Tell that to Micky Dee’s stockholders. I think you might be forgetting all those pension funds and retirees holding this stock. Hit their profitability and you hit their stock value. Hit their stock value and GMA and GPA can no longer afford to buy a hamburger.

          5. B. Nice

            ‘We would be better off getting rid of the minimum wage and let the labor market take care of wage rate setting.’

            Right, like this would end well. Corporations who care only about profit margins will do whatever they need to achieve this. They will pay as little as possible, and people desperate for work will have no choice but to accept low wages, forcing them below the poverty line and in need of public assistance.

          6. B. Nice

            “We already have a minimum wage, yet we still complain that there are too many people in poverty.”

            Excellent argument for the need to increase the minimum wage to one that allows people to earn enough to rise above the poverty line thus enabling them to get off of government assistance.

          7. Frankly

            If I’m not mistaken I think you have small children. Or if not, I think you know of families with small children. If we do what you suggest, your kids and other kids will have less of a chance to find entry-level work.

            Here is the thing.

            I started making minimum wage.

            Then I got a raise.

            Then I got a promotion and a raise.

            I got more raises and more promotions over time (years).

            That is how it works.

            It takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a complex skill.

            Highly compensated people are those that are masters of some marketable complex skill.

            If you want to make more then practice skills that the job market will pay for.

            At some point I was making enough money to buy my first house. I was 28. I had started working in IT when I was 18. I had 10 years and at least 10,000 hours into mastering that marketable complex skill.

            Flipping burgers is not a complex skill. There is a lot of competition for jobs to flip burgers because there are a lot of people able to do it and not much else. But a lot of them are young people starting their careers or working while they are also getting their education for mastering other more valuable and more complex skills.

            if you pay them $15 or $20 per hour, many will stick with it as a career. (“I can afford my pot and my munchies, so its all good.”) Then there will be less entry level jobs for kids. Employees that would otherwise work in jobs requiring greater skills would pick the easier burger-flipping jobs instead.

            The reasons that we have so many people making careers out of what are supposed to be entry level career launching jobs is primarily:

            1. Too many uneducated immigrants.

            2. A crappy education system.

            3. A crappy President with a crappy economic policy that has kept REAL joblessness as high as it was in the Great Depression.

          8. Don Shor

            A higher minimum wage will be good for your college kid who already has a job, and bad for your high school kid who doesn’t have a job. I don’t know who to attribute that to, but I heard it years ago and it is absolutely true. It won’t have the impact that advocates or opponents think it will — barely an impact on poverty, or on unemployment. It will put a little more cash in the pockets of low-wage employees. That’s about it.

          9. B. Nice

            Frankly I’m headed out the door, so don’t have time to do your comments justice, but I will read and carefully consider them. FYI-I’ve blown my cover (purposefully) so while I do appreciate your efforts to keep my identity anonymous, they are no longer necessary:-).

          10. wdf1

            Frankly: 2. A crappy education system.

            Bullsh*t!

            America has one of the best education systems. When broken down by income level, American students do as well as or out perform most other countries.

            Your framework is a scenario that you focus only on education to take care of childhood and future adult poverty. Take care of both education and childhood poverty. Make sure that all lower income kids have access to nutritional food, healthcare, and afterschool and summer tutoring/enrichment. Do away with high stakes testing. It’s a worthless expense. It limits struggling schools on just English and math so that students miss opportunities for diverse curricula in other areas — arts, PE, science, social studies, school plays, etc.

          11. growth issue

            LOL, the rest of the world is passing us by because our children are falling so far behind in education. I’m astounded that you have to use poverty and income to make excuses for the poor quality of education being administered. Are you a teacher, school administrator or tied to education in anyway besides maybe having children in school?

          12. wdf1

            LOL, did you read the link?

            I have grown up always hearing that the sky is falling on U.S. education. My mother was a teacher in the 50’s and got temporarily RIFd when Sputnik launched because that was a sign that U.S. education was falling behind. I remember 1983’s “A Nation at Risk” which said that U.S. education was going to hell in a hand basket. And every year since the late 60’s that international measures come out that show, based on aggregated standardized test scores, the U.S. is not at the top of the education. In the 1980’s it was the justification for Germany and Japan having such strong economies. If U.S. education continues to suck as always, why has the economy done so well through all those decades?

            Why do you think childhood poverty wouldn’t have some connection to poorer performance in school? Can you suggest another reason why Folsom and Davis students perform better than those in Esparto?

          13. wdf1

            “My mother was a teacher in the 50′s and got temporarily RIFd”

            …because she was an art teacher and they immediately wanted to bring in more science instruction. She eventually was re-employed as a regular classroom teacher.

        3. wdf1

          Frankly: The ONLY way for a person to be lifted from poverty is for them to have a job that pays them above the poverty line.

          That is a fact. That was my point. Do you disagree?

          I disagree. If you don’t have the means to get that job, then you’re stuck in poverty. And by means I mean education. And if you don’t have the basic resources (adequate food, roof over one’s head, safe environment, etc.) to get an education, then all bets are off.

          1. Frankly

            Ok, we are getting to a chicken and egg debate.

            And I completely disagree with your absolute means of education. That is a myth promulgated by the education industry. Education should be considered a means to an end of meaningful employment, but it is not, and should not be, an absolute means. There are, and should be, many paths to achieving employment and economic self-sufficiency. Working itself is an education.

            Choosing between:

            Plentiful education opportunities and inadequate employment opportunities.

            – or –

            Plentiful employment opportunities and inadequate education opportunities.

            I would take the second in a heartbeat.

            But what we have today is plentiful opportunities for inadequate education AND inadequate opportunities for employment.

            Thank you Mr. Obama.

          2. wdf1

            Frankly: Choosing between:

            Plentiful education opportunities and inadequate employment opportunities.

            – or –

            Plentiful employment opportunities and inadequate education opportunities.

            I would take the second in a heartbeat.

            I would definitely take the first because plentiful education opportunities will create employment opportunities and a more flexible work force. In the second scenario you are potentially left with 100s of thousands of job openings requiring tech experience but few qualified applicants.

            But what we have today is plentiful opportunities for inadequate education AND inadequate opportunities for employment.

            We’ll have to agree to disagree over this.

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