Three Councilmembers and Three Council Candidates Back Pinkerton

pinkerton-steveIn yesterday’s Vanguard article, we urged the council to do everything possible to bring back City Manager Steve Pinkerton.

In the conclusion of the article, we wrote, “What (Steve Pinkerton) probably wants is some additional job security.  That means it is incumbent upon all five of the city councilmembers to step up and make public statements that they want Mr. Pinkerton to stay and lead this city…  We will have to wait and see if even that is enough.”

We followed up the article with email and text pleas to all five councilmembers and all four candidates (Rochelle Swanson is the only councilmember who is also a candidate) to post their preference.  The message to the councilmembers and candidates, “Today the Vanguard is publishing just one article. It is an article urging the council to do whatever it takes to keep Pinkerton. I am asking each of the councilmembers and candidates to go to the Vanguard article and to post their plea to Steve Pinkerton to stay. Please do so by the end of the morning thank you.”

The result was telling, three councilmembers – Brett Lee, Joe Krovoza, and Rochelle Swanson either posted or send a message to the Vanguard.  In addition to Ms. Swanson, Robb Davis and Daniel Parrella, candidates for city council, also posted their messages of support.

It is also telling that Dan Wolk, Lucas Frerichs, and Sheila Allen (candidate) never responded to my texts or email message.

We reprint those messages here.

Davis City Council

Councilmember Brett Lee:

As people are aware, I do not to wish to lose Steve as our City Manager.

I have asked Steve if he is open to a counter offer to whatever Incline Village offers him. He has said it is not about compensation but about a lifestyle choice, which he is in the process of making.

While I do believe that is true to some extent, I also believe that the uncertainty over the June election is also a factor.

As you have reported, currently there are three votes that support retaining Steve. The three of us are not able to promise what will happen after June since we do not know what will happen in that election. So regardless of what we do today, there remains the June election which could undo whatever we promise today.

Rightly or wrongly, 3 votes is all it takes to remove the City Manager. Steve is well aware of that.

Mayor Joe Krovoza:

The magnitude of the issues our council has taken on with Steve and senior staff since Steve’s arrival in the fall of 2011 is simply staggering to me. He arrived with direction to immediately begin finding $2.5M per year in savings to address the structural deficit we could foresee then. Then the legislature stripped RDA from us in one set of quick moves. Then council continued calling for the most realistic accounting of coming/mounting costs, from our health care promises to our employees, to expected pension contribution increases, to the roads maintenance backlog. Steve didn’t sugar coat anything. He gave us the honest accounting we wanted, and today that honestly from both the council and senior staff points to a deficit still larger — and we aren’t shying from that whether it might take more belt-tightening or revenue, or both. Through this, Steve has learned all of the moves we might still make to get this right and keep services high. We have ideas for fixing our pools, saving water in our parks, extending the creative management of our surface and wastewater systems. We are methodically investigating whether a POU for electricity could save our residents millions and give us a true pathway to our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Often lost is that Steve and this council have built bridges with UC Davis on planning and economic development that are truly unprecedented and critical to our future as a great college town and economic engine for our citizens and the region.

It would be an enormous loss if Steve were to go now.

Steve knows I want him to stay and he and I are in constant contact on this matter. I don’t know what it will take to keep him, and I don’t know whether the Incline Village opportunity will ultimately be attractive to Steve and his family. Mr. Toad’s suggestion of having candidates for council weight in makes perfect sense to address part of the stability issue.

I will share one story. When Sue Greenwald and I were the council sub-committee managing our CM search in late 2010 and early 2011, I called all over the state to identify good candidates for our position and to encourage them to apply. My goal for the search was to have the greatest possible pool of candidates for council consideration — and we most certainly achieved that. One of the people I reached out to was Rick Cole. He was then the current CM of Ventura, former CM of Azusa, and former Mayor of Pasadena. He’s considered one of the most creative thinkers for progressive city management in the country. (Eric Garcetti has brought him on as Deputy Mayor of LA for budget and innovation). In any event, when I spoke to Rick, he couldn’t think of anyone he could recommend for Davis. I don’t know why, but he just couldn’t think of anyone. I was bummed as I had hoped for a few great suggestions from him. The process played out. We hired Steve. Rick called me to say Steve was perfect, he was very impressed that our council had attracted him, and as a college town with great challenges, we were on a clear path forward.

We’ll see how this goes.

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson:

I am appreciative as a Council member and as a community member for the hard work Steve Pinkerton has done these last few years to help us get on a firmer path of fiscal sustainability. I’m supportive of and respect the decision Steve Pinkerton will make regarding a position in Incline Village.

Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk:

No response

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs:

Apologies for the delay- I spent my Sunday with friends and family, shopping in Downtown Davis, and even catching most of a pretty one-sided football game (the commercials were the highlight). Regardless of what my answer is to yesterday’s question, or any other question the Vanguard poses to me- it will not be taken as face value- it will end up being subject to the (mostly anonymous) circular firing squad that is the comment section of the DV.

[divider]

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Rochelle Swanson:

I am appreciative as a Council member and as a community member for the hard work Steve Pinkerton has done these last few years to help us get on a firmer path of fiscal sustainability. I’m supportive of and respect the decision Steve Pinkerton will make regarding a position in Incline Village.

Robb Davis:

I should be clear that I am NOT privy to the City Council’s evaluation of Mr Pinkerton’s work. However, based on what I have observed of his actions, I believe Steve Pinkerton has done what the City Council hired him to do. He came in at a very difficult time in the history of this City. He has worked with the Council to name the challenges and proceed with solutions. He is helping us achieve critical ends that we must work towards in this time.

My preference is that Steve continue his work here. I hope he will decide to stay and I hope I will have the opportunity to work with him.

I also take at face value Mr Pinkerton’s statements that his decision is a family and lifestyle choice. Having had to make such decisions in my own life (one of which brought me back to Davis), I think we should all give him the space he needs to do what is best for his family.

And IF Steve leaves, this CC must act quickly to appoint an interim who will continue his good work on dealing with the difficult fiscal situation in which we find ourselves. In the long run we must find a replacement who will work with the CC to select a City Manager with strong leadership skills who will work with us to advance the social, environmental and economic health of the city. Like Steve, a future CM must be willing to tell the CC the truth and not shy away from difficult decisions.

I wish Steve much wisdom going forward.

Daniel Parrella:

Steve is caught in the crosshairs of virtually every competing interest in Davis and I believe he has kept a level head and done good things for our city. It would be a shame to lose him.

I will go on the record saying I will vote to keep him as our city manager.

I have been speaking to alot of voters in Davis and I am currently under the impression that the days of taxing the residents of Davis are over. I am concerned the parcel tax we are proposing will fail and our roads will continue to degrade. I know Steve cant magically make the tax pass but if it does fail I want him at the helm making the tough decisions if it does.

Unfortunately for us the job in Incline seems pretty cushy with a lot less drama than he would face continuing as our City Manager. I dont know what direction he will choose but if does leave finding a suitable replacement will be challenging. Best of luck Steve.

Sheila Allen:

As a candidate, I am very interested in assuring that the city council and city manager have a shared vision and good working relationship.  After nine years on the school board, I can attest to the importance of a well-functioning leadership team to move the organization forward and achieve our mutual goals. I appreciate Steve’s work with the city during these difficult financial times. Since I am not a current council member I am not privy to sufficient information to make a comment or take position on his evaluation. If he decides to stay in Davis, I look forward to working with him and if he takes a new position I wish him the best.

We are hopeful that since yesterday was a Super Bowl Sunday, that we might get additional responses today.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

Related posts

99 Comments

  1. growth issue

    “It is also telling that Dan Wolk, Lucas Frerichs, and Sheila Allen (candidate) never responded to my texts or email message.”

    Very telling but not a surprise. I hope the public is enough engaged to understand what’s at stake in the next election. We might still be stuck with Wolk and Frerichs, but at least we can hopefully keep Sheila Allen from creating another “Gang of Three”.

    1. mike

      I read a neutral statement from Rochelle Swanson supportive of and respecting “ the decision Steve Pinkerton will make regarding a position in Incline Village.” Are statements encouraging Mr Pinkerton to reconsider and remain City Manager? Are the Council Members voting yea ? Nay ? Or abstaining ?

  2. Mr. Toad

    “In the conclusion of the article, we wrote, “what (Steve Pinkerton) probably wants is some additional job security. ”

    Why don’t you ask him instead of speculating as if you were Freud? If you had or took his public comments at face value you would understand that this has nothing to do with the dynamics of the city council and everything to do with Steve and his family. While I’m outspoken in my support for Steve, the notion that running Incline Village isn’t attractive enough to draw him away and there is anything we could do to keep him truly overestimates the aesthetic values that Davis offers.

    As for people not responding to you why would they? While you consider yourself to be a legitimate media outlet your anti-union biases say otherwise. If you want to be responded to then clean up your act and stop accusing people of things without saying on the record exactly what they have done. I took you to task last week for accusing Dan and Lucas of trying to fire Pinkerton but you never said anything more than i have my sources without telling what they did that made your sources tell you that. Not only is it unfair its impossible to respond to. I doubt its even up to the standards at Fox news as one person recently told me when I asked why he no longer posts here.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I took you to task last week for accusing Dan and Lucas of trying to fire Pinkerton but you never said anything more than i have my sources without telling what they did that made your sources tell you that.

      Did you read Brett’s quote? Is a current city council members conformation that 3 council members support Pinkerton not a good enough source for you?

  3. Phil Coleman

    Mr. Greenwald: I’m giving you full credit for having taken a very astute strategy in the wake of who was trying to get rid of Pinkerton. You smoked them out and the reality is there for all to see. Council member Lee’s post yesterday affirmed there was a purge afoot and anybody can do the math as to who they were. I’m no longer just suspicious, I’m convinced.

    We can still harbor some level of doubt as to “Why” Pinkerton was targeted, and by whom? But that door will also fully open, and soon. Nobody among the remaining silent can say, “I can’t speak on that,” when colleagues already have made public pronouncements. Before moving from that point, a fire fighter union endorsement, is that still a good thing, or will it prove to be the kiss-of-death?

    One can only imagine the tortuous thought process of 3 campaign managers right now. They can’t continue to stay silent, they can’t get away with any form of double-speak response, and they certainly can’t get away with revisionist history of past closed session council meetings. The public forums await the arrival of all these players and the audience questions will become very pointed.

    I congratulate you, David, this is a courageous journalistic coup that would NEVER been seen on the pages of the Davis Enterprise. It will now, because they can’t stay silent either.

    1. Frankly

      I agree 100% with Phil Coleman on this. Could not have expressed it better. This is what journalism should be. Investigative and succinct… helping readers understand the truth and the facts.

      Now, of course those that did not respond are clearly taking a road that would allow them to deny their true opinion or intentions. But like I always say, a decision to do nothing is still a decision. And given the clear opportunity to respond the lack of response speaks volumes.

      If the voters put Sheila Allen on the council knowing what we now know, then we also will know that the voters are a big part of the problem.

      1. Michelle Millet

        If the voters put Sheila Allen on the council knowing what we now know, then we also will know that the voters are a big part of the problem.

        As my friend just said to me after reading this piece “People get the politicians they deserve”.

          1. growth issue

            So Frankly and I bring up Obama and our posts get deleted, but if you bring up George Bush it’s okay with the moderator? SMH

          2. Don Shor

            Actually, I had just stopped following this thread. For the record, I am going to be pretty vigilant about removing comments on national poitics from threads about local issues.

          3. growth issue

            Okay Don, this is a local issue thread, Michelle’s Bush comment should be removed, right? Am I missing something here?

          4. Michelle Millet

            The key is to throw in references to national politics at 11:48 PM when no one is reading the thread anymore.

            But your eagle eye detective work foiled my efforts, (of course you did mention the name that was edited out, so my point got made anyway….) But besides that good work

          5. growth issue

            “(of coarse you did mention the name that was edited out, so my point got made anyway….)”

            did you mean of course?

          6. Michelle Millet

            More seriously though, I try and keep my extraneous off topic posting to times when the real thread of the conversion has run its course.

            Maybe allowances can be made for posts regarding national politics and such when they occur at this time. Sometimes really good but off topic conversations happen then.

          7. growth issue

            “the conversion has run its coarse.”

            Different meaning but still ‘course’.

            But besides that good work.

            I didn’t make the rules, but don’t you agree the same rules should apply to everyone?

  4. Mr. Toad

    ‘Council member Lee’s post yesterday affirmed there was a purge afoot and anybody can do the math as to who they were. I’m no longer just suspicious, I’m convinced.”

    A Purge? Really? Did he say that?

    1. Mr. Toad

      I would be comfortable with criticisms raised in the normal course of a performance review. Steve might have been worried going into that review but not after he survived it. Let me explain why.

      Pinkerton is 54. They need to give him 9 months notice or severance. He only needed to make it until April or May to have the financial security of having a pay check until he reached full retirement age of 55 when he would have the security a pension provides. So the June election has no impact on his decision making at all.

      After Wednesday, when we will know if he is going or not, I’m sure more will be revealed.

      1. Rich Rifkin

        Toad, the way CalPERS’ pensions work, it makes almost no difference whether he is 54 or 55. Once he reached age 50, he qualified for his 2.5% at age 55 pension. The only difference is that if he takes it before age 55, it’s not quite 2.5% per year. At age 54, it will be more like 2.4% per year times the number of years he has been in the PERS system.

        The problem Davis faces in trying to keep him here is the state income tax. On a $290,000 annual income (what he will make in Incline Village plus his PERS pension), he is much better off living in a state with no income tax. In fact, if he just stayed in Davis one more year and got the full 2.5% per year, he would be advised financially to move out of California.

        1. Mr. Toad

          That is true but in reality its not what happens in your mind as you approach retirement age. Or at least its not how it worked in my case and my guess lots go others. Your pension ramps up towards the end so the incentive is to max out your percentage. In Pinkerton’s case that means working at least until his 55th birthday.

  5. Mr. Toad

    Since when did a guy leaving for Incline Village turn into a purge? I guess god knows nobody would do that without getting purged. Of course the supposition is that this purge had everything to do with the desire of our local puppet masters and that Steve’s performance review did not include any other criticism that council members might have had. Of course we don’t know the truth because nobody is talking on the record but who cares this is the Vanguard. That we would Never see such reporting in the Enterprise is because the Enterprise tries to be a legitimate news organization.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “That we would Never see such reporting in the Enterprise is because the Enterprise tries to be a legitimate news organization.”

      you act like that’s a good thing. they allow public officials to hide behind their niceties rather than call them to task for their public conduct and policies.

  6. Davis Progressive

    the gang of three had every opportunity to reaffirm their support or stand behind their convictions, but they chose the cowardly route of hiding. was the question that the vanguard posed legit? absolutely. no reason they shouldn’t answer one way or another. i have lost all respect for dan, lucas, and sheila. none of them will have my future votes – alll of them had my past votes.

      1. WesC

        My thoughts exactly. Rochelle’s statement says nothing about wanting to keep Pinkerton. She merely says she is appreciative of the work he has done and supportive of whatever decision he makes. That is about as non-committal as you can get.

  7. Mr. Toad

    But the other gang of three Brett, Rochelle and Joe could have given Steve a new contract but didn’t. So why be critical of those that don’t have the power but remain uncritical of those that do?

      1. Mr. Toad

        That is what the people here seem to be demanding that he be given more certainty to stay here instead of going to Incline. How do you do that since a new council majority could go a different way and without blaming any declared candidates we don’t even know who else might still join the race.

        The way you do that is by making it very expensive to fire him under a new contract. So if that seems like an unrealistic action for the council to take why single out certain members for blame, especially when Pinkerton has made no indication that a new contract from Davis is what he wants. It seems the reality is that Steve is going to Incline because he can and wants to. Assigning any other blame is nonsense. Doing so without any evidence is worse than nonsense.

        1. iPad Guy

          I don’t see anyone except David suggesting that more money is a thought. It certainly wouldn’t be compelling or even worth considering for someone who’d be going directly to a $300,000 position in Nevada.

          I think the only hope being proposed is to make it clear that he’s not on borrowed time if he stays, that we really, really want him to say and all this talk that the Weist-Frerichs-Wolk cabal is just miscommunication and a figment of David’s imagination. And since Louis and Dan have made their feelings pretty clear, this idea is going nowhere either.

  8. David Greenwald

    Lucas Frerichs has texted me this response, I also put it above:

    Apologies for the delay- I spent my Sunday with friends and family, shopping in Downtown Davis, and even catching most of a pretty one-sided football game (the commercials were the highlight). Regardless of what my answer is to yesterday’s question, or any other question the Vanguard poses to me- it will not be taken as face value- it will end up being subject to the (mostly anonymous) circular firing squad that is the comment section of the DV.

    1. iPad Guy

      David, please post the question that you sent to our council members.

      It appears that Lucas Frerichs might have seen it as some kind of trick question or trap that offended him and/or to which he feels his constituents don’t deserve to know his actions or opinions.

      1. Matt Williams

        iPadGuy, rather than force you to jump between articles, here is the wording of the question David posed to the sitting Council members and the June Council candidates. As David explais in the other article, “We followed up the article with email and text pleas to all five council members and all four candidates (Rochelle Swanson is the only council member who is also a candidate) to post their preference.”

        Today the Vanguard is publishing just one article. It is an article urging the council to do whatever it takes to keep Pinkerton. I am asking each of the council members and candidates to go to the Vanguard article and to post their plea to Steve Pinkerton to stay. Please do so by the end of the morning thank you.”

      2. iPad Guy

        Never mind, David, and thanks, Matt. I should have remembered. No tricks here.

        Lucas and Dan had three choices:

        1. Ignore the request,
        2. Respond by expressing support in ways like the others did or by affirming his lack of support, or
        3. Respond by attacking The Vanguard and its readers and by refusing to be forthcoming about Pinkerton.

        Lucas picks #3, and Dan picks #1. We’ll see if either choses another forum to let us know. Inquiring minds want to know.

        1. Day Man

          Yes. It’s possible to refuse to answer the question while still being polite about it. Not unlike Rochelle’s very polite response, but it could even directly refuse to answer. Something like “I appreciate all that Steve has accomplished in the City of Davis, and I respect whatever decision he makes regarding this job offer, but I do not feel comfortable making statements about what the CC should or shouldn’t do to retain Steve, as these personnel matters are to be discussed in closed session.” That’s what I would have done if I were in Lucas’s or Dan’s shoes.

          If there’s anything to reliably rev-up the “mostly anonymous circular firing squad” (guilty as charged), it’s calling it a mostly anonymous circular firing squad.

  9. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

    Two comments:

    1. As a longtime resident of Davis seeing our city go through financial uncertainty is unsettling. I thank Mayor Joe, Council Member Rochelle Swanson and Council Member Brett Lee for speaking up on their support for city manager Steve Pinkerton. I also thank council candidates Rochelle Swanson, Robb Davis and Daniel Parrella for speaking up on their support for maintaining city manager, Steve Pinkerton.

    2. Toad, you said, “That we would Never see such reporting in the Enterprise is because the Enterprise tries to be a legitimate news organization.” Yet, you read and comment on the Vangaurd daily and we enjoy your input; however, there is no need to get so testy over a difference of opinion. 🙂

    1. Mr. Toad

      Because i’m a little frustrated that there is all this unsubstantiated finger pointing, yet no credence is given to the actual statements of the principals, including:

      — Pinkerton’s, that this is a personal decision,

      — Dan’s that he finds the inclusion of Steve’s biases in a staff report as disconcerting, and

      — Lucas’ conclusion of the obvious that anything he says can and will be used against him in a kangaroo court of public opinion.

      The Davis Vanguard in its war of words with the firefighters cares not one bit whose reputations are damaged as collateral damage, and cares even less to be as balanced in its reporting as even Fox News.

      I still consider you my friends and I spend a lot of time trying to add a common sense perspective to this blog but the ongoing attempts to see the FF’s behind every thing that happens as the puppet masters of the City Council is insulting to the City Council as a whole and certain members individually. Then when they don’t want to talk to you because they feel they won’t get a fair hearing we get this Bill O’Reilly style Fox News nonsense of Why won’t Obama come on Fox News. You need to ask?

      1. Davis Progressive

        ” i’m a little frustrated that there is all this unsubstantiated finger pointing yet no credence is given to the actual statements of the principals including Pinkerton’s that this is a personal decision”

        how do you know that people are not saying one thing publicly and another thing behind the scenes. you went on this long kick about the firing, you attacked david and the vanguard, and now brett lee has gone on the record essentially backing david’s claims. so you were wrong there, don’t make any attempt to acknowledge that you were wrong, and move onto the next target.

      2. Davis Progressive

        “The Davis Vanguard in its war of words with the firefighters cares not one bit whose reputations are damaged as collateral damage”

        who are you trying to protect??? that’s the thing screaming out in all of this back and forth. who is your sacred cow?

      3. Davis Progressive

        “but the ongoing attempts to see the FF’s behind every thing that happens as the puppet masters of the City Council is insulting to the City Council as a whole and certain members individually.”

        we can see with our own eyes and the entire lack of response from the public officials that this is exactly what is going on.

      4. Davis Progressive

        “Dan’s that he finds the inclusion of Steve’s biases in a staff report as disconcerting”

        if dan had a problem, he should have met with the city manager in private and squared it away. going public means he wanted to grandstand not correct the city manager’s language.

        1. Mr. Toad

          But what if Dan did just that during the performance review or in other private conversations and there it is in another report? I like Pinkerton but I understand he is not perfect, nobody is. So imagine this came up in private one or more times. At some point it breaks out into the open during a public session of the council. What happens? There is no recognition of the conflict only attacks on Dan. Then you wonder why a whole bunch of public officials have decided its just best not to talk with the Vanguard.

          1. Davis Progressive

            now you’re engaging in the same kind of speculation that you accuse the vanguard of doing, only you probably haven’t talked to dan behind the scenes like david has pinkerton and the other council members.

            dan’s response was inappropriate.

            not talking to the vanguard means not talking to thousands of constituents.

          2. Michelle Millet

            not talking to the vanguard means not talking to thousands of constituents.

            Which may be why he choosing not to.

            Plus, sometimes it’s smartest to stay quiet, instead of putting yourself in the middle of a circular firing squad.

          3. Jim Frame

            I appreciate Lucas’s firing squad imagery, but it prompts me to comment on the way that I (and probably more than a few) of the Vanguard regulars approach things.

            I consider all the members the City Council to be smart, capable, honorable, and genuinely nice folks. I’ve dealt with all of them in some capacity or another. But when considering their positions on matters before the council, I have to factor in their potential career ambitions. Some of them are actively trying to climb the political ladder; Joe will move on one way or the other in June, Dan is pursuing the dynastic pattern, and Lucas already works full-time in the political realm. So when I perceive a conflict between a councilmember’s career path and his/her role as steward of the city’s welfare, I look askance at his/her council vote. As the apparent conflict is supported by more and more evidence, at some point I feel obliged to object.

            But that objection is confined to the political persona. I intend to remain on friendly terms with them even when I object strongly a position on a particular issue. I may not vote for them, I may actively support an opponent in an election, but I’d like to be able to greet them on the street with a smile and a “Hi” and have both returned in kind.

            While there may a firing squad aura to the Vanguard comments section, most of the respondents – even those with whom I often disagree – have the best interests of the city in mind. I encourage the council members to participate here even when it’s challenging, in the interests of engaging an interested segment of the community.

          4. Mr. Toad

            Am i speculating? Of course its implied by the use of the word imagine. Or at least I thought it was.

          5. Mr. Toad

            Perhaps you over estimate the influence the Vanguard has in the community. Readers does not mean sycophants.

          6. Michelle Millet

            The Vanguard does not need to attempt to influence in this piece. The answers given speak volumes to anyone who reads them, and apparently a lot of people have.

  10. Frankly

    Related to Mr. Toad’s comments about the Enterprise. Read the most recent “Our View”…

    “City should consider outsourcing more jobs”

    It is breathtakingly direct. Toad’s criticism of the Enterprise does not hold up very well in consideration of this and other recent articles.

      1. Frankly

        Oops… Phil Coleman’s quote:

        I congratulate you, David, this is a courageous journalistic coup that would NEVER been seen on the pages of the Davis Enterprise. It will now, because they can’t stay silent either.

        Two mistakes I made:

        1 – Attributing that quote to Mr. Toad.

        2 – Agreeing 100% with Mr. Coleman when I don’t agree that the Enterprise lacks journalistic courage.

        The connection with Mr. Toad is the inference that the Davis Enterprise would not be an attack dog against the public employee unions like he claims the VG is. My point was that this Our View article in the Enterprise actually goes farther than what I have heard the VG propose.

  11. wdf1

    Doesn’t this kind of communication constitute a Brown Act infringement? It ends up constituting a majority of the City Counsel communicating with each other (via this blog article) on a likely CC agenda item outside of a public meeting.

    1. Mark West

      I thought the point of the Brown Act was to make sure that decisions were not being made in secret. I think it is hard to argue that posting a statement on a public blog constitutes a private conversation between Council members. In addition, I don’t see any indication that they are responding to each other in their comments, but rather are responding either to their constituents or to a request from the press.

      1. Matt Williams

        DP, I disagree with you. The question posed to the 5 Council members and 4 Council candidates asks them to be proactive in making a “plea to Steve Pinkerton to stay” It is not much of a leap of faith to think that the next step after those individual statements is a collective Council statement to the same effect.

        Having had to deal with some very painful Brown Act issues myself recently, I can understand the exercise of an abundance of caution by the elected officials in this situation.

      2. wdf1

        I’m no expert on the Brown Act. Maybe others here are. But if there are Brown Act considerations, then it would probably be meaningless to read too much into what individual CC members say or don’t say publicly on a topic like this.

      3. Good Government

        The Brown Act is one thing, personnel law is another. I am not an attorney, but I know that when Davis High coaches’ contracts were at issue a few months ago, School Board members were staying mum, and it had nothing to do with the Brown Act.

          1. Matt Williams

            I don’t see any bias Toad. What bias does the question inherently have? Curious minds want to know.

          2. David Greenwald

            They have the option of giving that support, not giving that support, giving opposition, or not answering. Therefore it is irrelevent whether there is bias in the question. It wasn’t a ‘have you stopped beating your wife question.’

    2. iPad Guy

      Maybe that legal interpretation is what is holding back Dan and Lucas? Of course, that would mean that no official covered by the act ever could give an opinion to any publication any time since their view might get read by a couple other. Public statements should be encouraged.

      Of course, the Brown Act aims at openness, like “out in the public” openness. And, it attempts to keep the public business from being conducted by city and county officials in secret meetings of any kind.

    3. Good Government

      This goes beyond the Brown Act. I am guessing that Dan and Rochelle (attorneys both) are playing it very safe, concerned about the legal implications of declaring in a public forum how they will vote in a personnel matter.

    4. Matt Williams

      WDF brings up a good point, which I think partcularly applies to Rochelle’s cautious wording. That wordng may not be to the liking of many of the readers here, but it probably was both wise and prudent given the fact that one or more Council decisions on this issue are in the offing in the near future.

      Lucas has gone beyond cautious wording in order to point out the general theme of the comments on this issue in the articles over recent days. I personally would have chosen a metaphorical term other than “circular firing squad” but it is hard to argue with the accuracy of his observation. Although, if Lucas was consciously trying to achieve a double entendre, or even triple entendre, he did it very well.

  12. iPad Guy

    How can this possibly be a Brown Act issue? No meeting (secret or otherwise) is involved.

    Of course, public officials tell us all the time how they might vote on any given issue. Furthermore, no one is asking “how they will vote in a personnel matter.”

    I take Rochelle’s statement as the result of political reflection, not at all a legal consideration. I suspect that she sees no advantage in going beyond what she did after concluding that Pinkerton’s departure is pretty much a fait accompli.

    To suggest that the two lawyers are somehow feeling restrained by Brown Act considerations implies that the two others are fools for expressing support for Pinkerton staying in Davis. I’m more confident that Joe and Brett are fully aware of how their public statements might be affected legally by this state law.

    “Circular firing squad” analogy aside, Lucas is suffering a self-inflicted wound by his decision to support the firefighter union agenda and, now, by claiming he can’t stand the heat that might come from revealing his views.

    However, as the former medwoman observed, speculation about how Dan and Lucas feel about Pinkerton is getting tiresome. No amount of “what if” excuses for their lack of responsiveness is worth advancing (or disputing) anymore. The most obvious reasons usually are accurate.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Very interesting article about Brown Act:
      http://edsource.org/today/2013/lets-bring-the-brown-act-into-the-21st-century/25885#.UvAHcHlMlnI

      Another example is social media. It’s ironic that board members collaborating on a public forum (Twitter, blogs, etc.) is a violation of the Brown Act despite the fact that this is immensely more open, transparent and accessible than forcing people to go to a board meeting! For instance, my fellow board members won’t likely ever comment on any of my EdSource Today articles out of a fear that more than one other board member doing so would unintentionally create a “serial” meeting, violating the Brown Act despite the fact that expressing one’s views on EdSource is as transparent as it gets! Using modern tools, we can go much further than the old paradigm of “show up to a meeting and make a comment.”

      1. Michelle Millet

        One last interesting bit of Brown Act info, I was recently alerted by a local elected official, that while I was allowed to send school board members a group email, I was not allowed to “reply all” to any subsequent emails on the subject. (i.e. I was only allowed to converse via email with them individually after the initial email).

  13. Frankly

    There is nothing whatsoever here at risk of Brown Act noncompliance.

    IMO, this is just wdf1 throwing a bit of a tantrum because he sees Sheila Allen getting deserved negative press.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Remember when Rochelle, when out of state, couldn’t participate via phone in a council meeting a few months back because an agenda of the meeting was not posted at the hotel she was staying in soon enough in advance?

      Brown Act.

      1. Jim Frame

        The reality is that a Brown Act violation resulting from a Vanguard post is highly unlikely to result in prosecution, let alone conviction, because of the requirement that intent to violate was present. My understanding is that in the decades since the Act was passed there have been only 5 prosecutions and no convictions. It’s a low-return play for the D.A.

          1. Jim Frame

            It may be that more than 5 have been charged, but only 5 were actually prosecuted, according to what I’ve read.

          2. wdf1

            In 2008 the Yolo County Grand Jury investigated a Brown Act violation of the Woodland JUSD and found evidence of violation. If interested, link, see pdf page 9.

          3. iPad Guy

            This is an interesting investigation report, but I don’t see anything that relates to officials making public comments. Did I miss something?

            It appears that school officials held a series of secrets meetings that the Grand Jury determined was a Brown Act violation:

            “This report by the 2007/2008 Yolo County Grand Jury finds the Woodland Joint Unified School District…violated the Brown Act in its decision making process concerning the purchase and lease of a new administrative office building in Woodland, California.”

    2. Michelle Millet

      Since Sheila Allen is not a current city council member I don’t see how Brown Act would apply to her though…I’m not convinced this was WDF1 motive for bringing it up, but I’ll let WDF1 speak to that, if so desired. You know how I feel about you speculating in regards to others motives, wouldn’t want to be guilty of that myself.

    3. iPad Guy

      I see from Michelle’s link and experiences that some school board members operate from a serious fear of the “serial meeting potential” concept. That elected officials would tell a constituent not to “cc” their email to others (true with snail mail?) is terrifying.

      The article (and Michelle) call for a update of the Brown Act due to Internet benefits; I agree, particularly if these advances are leading to reduced openness on the part of city and county officials. (The Rochelle example is ridiculous: Is she expected to invite those who see the agenda to join her in her hotel room to oversee her participation in the open meeting?)

      Of course, this anxiety has nothing to do with Sheila’s lack of response on this matter. In addition, none of our current council members even tried to claim that Brown Act considerations are at play. So, I’m not sure why your speculation trumps my speculation.

      1. Michelle Millet

        To be fair the email I sent to the school board was a question about the Brown Act (I was trying to determine if a parent advisory committee was subject to it rules). So her alert of my violation of it was not completely out of the blue, if we hadn’t been specifically talking about the Brown Act she may not have mentioned it.

  14. David Greenwald

    Sheila Allen has now emailed me a response:

    As a candidate, I am very interested in assuring that the city council and city manager have a shared vision and good working relationship. After nine years on the school board, I can attest to the importance of a well-functioning leadership team to move the organization forward and achieve our mutual goals. I appreciate Steve’s work with the city during these difficult financial times. Since I am not a current council member I am not privy to sufficient information to make a comment or take position on his evaluation. If he decides to stay in Davis, I look forward to working with him and if he takes a new position I wish him the best.

  15. WesC

    Rochelle says she is appreciative of the work Steve has done in the past and supportive of any decision he makes about his future. Sheila says she is appreciative of the work Steve has done in the past and looks forward to working with him if he stays, and wishes him the best if he leaves. I see no difference in their response.

        1. iPad Guy

          Please explain. Gives what context? What part of Brett’s quote? How does it affect WesC’s observation about the similarities between Sheila’s and Rochelle’s statements?

          1. Michelle Millet

            The question raised was do you support Pinkerton staying. Brett’s statement make it clear that she does.

            As I write this I realize that I am assuming that she is one of the 3 people Brett is referring to, and I am assuming other people are assuming that as well. I could be wrong on both fronts.

            Given that, I agree with you, her statement does not say much more then Sheila Allen’s.

          2. iPad Guy

            Thanks, I see and agree. I think your assumption about which three council members and their votes support keeping our city manager is right on.

            That leaves the other two as non-supporter votes. Only a serious case of denial would keep someone from assuming that Bobby Weist and the these two are of like mind about the city manager’s future and even have been communicating about it.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for