Commentary: Granda Wastes Community’s Time with Nonsensical Arguments Against Measure O

Jose Granda speaks on Measure O, Wednesday at the League of Women Voters Forum with Lucas Frerichs (left) and moderator Jean Canary (right).
Jose Granda speaks on Measure O, Wednesday at the League of Women Voters Forum with Lucas Frerichs (left) and moderator Jean Canary (right).

From the start we need to be clear, there are legitimate arguments against the city’s sales tax. Some of those arguments have been relatively articulately expressed by commenters on the Vanguard. It is by no means assured that Measure O will pass in June.

What we are about to say really has no bearing on the merits of the No on Measure O position and everything to do with the demerits of its self-appointed champion, Jose Granda. There are good performances and bad performances in debates on ballot measures, but Jose Granda’s had to rank as one of the most nonsensical, counterproductive and ultimately time-wasting as any I have ever seen.

We can make plausible arguments that council has simply not been trustworthy when it comes to fiscal finances. We can talk about massive unfunded liabilities and failure for the council to fund critical infrastructure. We can argue that council did not cut enough, that it failed to credibly plan for economic development.

All of these other people might disagree with, but they would be reasonable and valid criticisms. Instead, we got Jose Granda’s argument. Mr. Granda filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that the city’s ballot language that describes the tax as a half-cent rather than a half-percent was false and misleading.

Never mind that hundreds of jurisdictions, including the state attorney general’s office itself, use that terminology, but Mr. Granda represented himself and failed to file his suit against the proper parties – the county clerk and the city council.

Instead, Mr. Granda brought up a lawsuit filed by Lucas Frerichs as an example of why he didn’t need to file the suit against the city council. Judge Reed addressed the issue in his court and explained why it was not the same issue. Mr. Granda either ignored the judge or simply failed to understand.

Jose Granda started his talk discussing the city’s $248 million budget. Naturally, that is the all-funds budget, which he clearly did not understand, and the city is focusing on the much smaller general fund.

“Let’s talk about the language on the ballot,” he said highlighting what would be the primary focus of his talk. “This was the issue that we brought up in a court case and we wanted to clarify this. We wanted to do the city a favor, do the citizens of Davis a favor by clarifying the language on the ballot. The language on the ballot says clearly here that this is a half-cent sales tax.”

“An additional sales tax for a total of a cent. One penny means one cent,” he said. “The city seems to have some problem with arithmetic because one penny is not the same as one percent.”

“The problem that the city has is they prevented this issue from the court making a decision by saying that technically our lawsuit needed the names of the (city council),” he said.

The city didn’t prevent the issue from getting to the court, the city argued that the lawsuit was improperly filed and Mr. Granda seems to have forgotten that the judge agreed with the city.

He continues, “However, they themselves filed a lawsuit – I have it right here – in which Lucas Frerichs is the plaintiff and Freddie Oakley and the City Clerk are the defendants to correct the argument of Measure O, totally under the radar of the press and under the radar of the public because they put in their argument the website which was a Korean Dating Service.”

“Nobody knows this in the city, and yet this is part of Measure O,” he continued. “He went to court to fix it, and I agree with him.” He complained that they were not able to correct “half-percent” for “half-cent” but Lucas Frerichs was able to correct the website with the help of attorney Alan Fernandes.

Lucas Frerichs would explain to the Vanguard that they had the wrong website listed in the ballot statement on Measure O. The only way to get it off the ballot before it was mailed to the voters was to file a motion to remove it.

Lucas Frerichs and Joe Krovoza paid for this out of their own pockets. They tracked down an attorney to assist them, who happened to be Alan Fernandes, and they got it removed.

What does this have to do with whether the voters should approve or oppose Measure O? Absolutely nothing.

“In summary, we’re opposing the measure because there is no need for this. We are not an ATM machine. We are preparing to vote against the parcel tax, which would be the fifth parcel tax in three years between the city council and the school board. Cannot have the citizens of Davis increasing their mortgage payments just because they cannot manage their money,” he stated. “Therefore I urge the citizens of Davis to intelligently analyze the language, see that the language is false and misleading and vote no on this.”

False and misleading is a bit tricky to prove – even if he had gotten a court to rule on the merits, he would have had to explain how language on the books for a decade in Davis in over 200 jurisdictions across California can be false and misleading.

But instead of providing evidence to back up his comments, he focused on completely inconsequential factors that he completely failed to understand.

Perhaps he would make his case more clearly during the five-minute rebuttal.

“Mr. Frerichs seems to emphasize the scare-tactics, the potholes will not be fixed, the sky is going to fall,” he said. “What does it make you think that with $3.5 million that they are going to fix this when they have a budget of $248 million. If they have not been able to do it with $248 million, how does it make them think they can do it with $3.5 million?”

“I have lived in Davis for 35 years and have not seen this kind of pressure on the voters to say the city is going to change if you don’t do this,” he said. He did manage to bring up that in 2004, instead of fixing the potholes, “they gave a 36% raise to a group of city employees.”

“The record speaks for itself, they have not done, they do not deserve, they have not explained why they need,” he said.

The problem is that both at the city council level and in the mailer, they explained exactly what that money goes to and why they need it. There is no mystery here. There are questions about how best to do this, but to say they have not explained why they need it is itself, in fact, false and misleading.

But instead of staying with this tactic, he went back to the irrelevancy, “Mr. Frerichs did not address the lawsuit.”

Does Mr. Granda really believe that scores of voters are going to be swayed by these arguments?

Over and over again, Mr. Granda failed to do his homework before opening his mouth and was factually wrong. For example, he would lament the impact on business in Davis for the tax increase. But then he stated, “If you buy a car in Davis, that’s when you really would notice because saving $300, $400 would make you go buy someplace else.”

As many are aware, under state law, you pay the sales tax of your zip code rather than the sales tax of the location of the purchase. Davis would roughly have the same sales tax of most other places, but for vehicle purchases it’s irrelevant – a Davis resident pays the same sales tax if they purchase the car in Davis as they would in Vacaville with a slightly lower sales tax.

All of this is unfortunate because Davis does need to have a discussion on this issue. Voters should have concerns about past practices that unfortunately Mr. Granda seems incapable of bringing to light in a credible and thorough manner.

We do need this debate and discussion, but Mr. Granda seems more concerned with dealing with petty side issues than attacking the city’s budgetary practices for much of the last decade. Indeed, he seems to have little comprehension at all about how city budgets work and how the money is allocated.

That might not be a problem for some races, but in this case, a thorough discussion is needed. There are many citizens who, on the Vanguard and elsewhere, have spent far more time than Mr. Granda discussing and debating those issues. Everyone is shortchanged by the banality of the points raised on Wednesday night.

It is ironic that Mr. Granda is lamenting the fact that his suit could not go forward. The city did him a favor cutting him off at the pass. Had he persisted, real costs would have mounted for the city and might have been translated to Mr. Granda himself.

Last night, he threatened to waste more time by threatening to file another lawsuit after the election. Perhaps this time he will file it correctly and lose on the merits, incurring tens of thousands of legal expenses for himself.

Davis can only hope.

—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.

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22 thoughts on “Commentary: Granda Wastes Community’s Time with Nonsensical Arguments Against Measure O”

  1. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > Granda Wastes Community’s Time with Nonsensical Arguments Against Measure O

    Sounds like David got a copy of the Fox News “journalism” book (that says to avoid any reasonable debate you can just bring in Ann Coulter to say the “other side” is delusional and has a mental disorder).

    Sure Granada is a little whacky, but with around half of Davis against a sales tax increase he is not as alone as when he was ranting against the school parcel taxes.

    As far as the “half cent” vs. “half percent” think most (more than half) of the people I know that SUPPORT the tax increase think we should fix the language and be done with it.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “From the start we need to be clear, there are legitimate arguments against the city’s sales tax. Some of those arguments have been relatively articulately expressed by commenters on the Vanguard. ”

      doesn’t sound like htat at all to me sod. it sounds to me like david is calling out granda for making poor arguments, believes we need a discussion on this, and thinks people like frankly, mark west, and michael bisch can give a better debate.

  2. SODA

    Seems as though both the No on P and O measures might have chosen better representatives for the debate. Both seemed to carry more of their own ‘baggage’ than speaking for their causes…

  3. Tia Will

    I was not alone in my disappointment with Mr. Granda’s debate performance. Although I have already decided that I will vote in favor of measure O, I appreciate a well articulated argument against my position. While I may not be persuaded, I almost always learn something. Sometimes the lesson I take away will be factual, sometimes it will just be an insight in to how someone else sees the world based on their interpretation of the evidence.

    Unfortunately, from Mr. Granda, neither pertained. His arguments basically boiled down to:
    1. Although the citizens of Davis are highly intelligent, they will be mislead by the difference between 1/2 cent and
    1/2 percent which is commonly used ballot language.
    2. We haven’t needed this particular tax in the 35 years that I have lived here so we don’t need it now.
    I would posit that much has changed during those years, we have chosen not to address much of this decline
    until now and right now is when these unfavorable changes need to be addressed.
    3. His insistence on pretending that the actions of the current city council are identical to those of preceding
    councils which is clearly not the case.
    4. His refusal to acknowledge the difference between the entire budget and specific items of the budget.

    Very disappointing and in no way educational. I had hoped for more.

  4. SODA

    I did not see the beginning statements but when it came to explaining what the sales tax $ would be used for, I felt Lucas was somewhat disingenuous in that he did not mention employee / benefits but only mentioned roads and parks I believe. My understanding is that the bulk is for the former…..agree?

  5. Creek Path Builder

    The use of “cent” instead of “percent” is either just plain stupid or deliberately misleading. Beyond that, however, there have been no credible arguments for why a tax increase is needed nor what will be done to reduce waste of revenue that is already produced. This one is a no-brainer: NO on Measure O.

    1. Davis Progressive

      dumb or misleading. there are over 200 statutes on the book including prop 30 that use the term, including the sales taxes passed in 2004 and 2010 that this renews, expands, and extends. come up with a better argument. if you can think of one, read the comments from tuesday on the measure o article.

      1. Creek Path Builder

        Sorry Sport, but the responsibility for sound arguments for a tax increase fall on the shoulders of the politicians proposing them. In the continuing absence of such arguments, the only logical vote is NO. In addition to a lack of justification for the tax increase, prior cases of political deceit (cent versus percent) do not justify continued deceit.

        1. Davis Progressive

          deceit means people are fooled, in this case it is well understood vernacular.

          in terms of justifications for a tax increase, the simplest is we have a deficit, we can either makes cuts or raise taxes in the short term. the council has listed the cuts. the citizens can decide which course of action to take. fairly simple to me.

  6. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    On a fairly regular basis, I get “press releases” emailed to me from Jose Granda. All of them are full of poorly thought out arguments which fail to make his points.

    Although I have not yet been convinced by the supporters of Measure O to vote for it, I concede that the best thing that could possibly happen for their side is to have the nonsense of Mr. Granda on the other side. He’s not a persuader. He starts and stops from his fixed position.

  7. Creek Path Builder

    I suppose we can disagree on the meaning of deceit or on when misuse or sloppy use of a word leads to a legitimate new definition, or even when politicians should or should not manipulate word meaning in pursuit of public support for their goals. However, even if I agreed the politicians did a believable job of enumerating cuts that must follow the defeat of Measure O, which I don’t, the challenge is more complex than you suggest. Assuming the politicians mean percent rather than cent, why should I buy something in Davis at a higher price than I can get it in Dixon or Woodland? If others think along similar lines, then the tax increase will not yield the promised solutions because tax revenues will be lower than forecast (but I doubt if the waste will be reduced). Perhaps we should broaden our view from Measure O to the candidates for election or reelection.

    1. Davis Progressive

      to me deceit has two components – an intent and an effect. in this case, the language is common usage, the explanation of the tax is clearly delineated in the voter language and the likelihood of people being fooled by the language that has been on the books for ten years is minute at best, there is no deceit. it is not false and misleading (the legal standard) because no one is misled by common language usage and meaning.

      1. Creek Path Builder

        Perhaps, but it’s no accident that politicians err on the side of the most ambiguous language when it serves their self-interest. Let’s agree to vote NO on Measure O and start with a clean slate.

        1. Tia Will

          “Let’s agree to vote NO on Measure O and start with a clean slate.”

          Let’s not. Let’s agree to vote “Yes on Measure O” and give our city leaders the opportunity to work from an enhanced slate instead of further fouling the slate with the dirt we are emptying from the hole we keep digging deeper by not acknowledging the need for additional revenue now.

          1. Davis Progressive

            i thought i posted yesterday that i am in support of measure o. the city of davis cutting $5 million out of a $42 million general fund is not the ideal community i wish to live in and i’m willing to pay more in taxes to live in a better community. i have concerns about the way the city has been managed, but in the last four years, things have improved.

    2. Tia Will

      Creek Path Builder

      “why should I buy something in Davis at a higher price than I can get it in Dixon or Woodland?”

      I can give you at least three reasons that you might want to do this.
      1. Less gas expense which might mitigate the amount of money saved. Also less pollution.
      2. Less time spent traveling. Depending on how much money you generate per hour spent working, this could
      also mitigate some of the increased expense of local shopping.
      3. Maybe some have values that are more important to them than a few dollars. Maybe additional time to spend
      with family or on personal interests, maybe the desire to shop locally to help the local economy.

      Finally, the choice is no longer between shopping locally vs driving to another community. More and more people that I talk to and certainly younger people are choosing to do more of their shopping on line.

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      At the very least, you might consider the “cost out of pocket” for those who have less money than you; and, if it harms marginal retailers, the costs borne by those folks and their employees.

      But above and beyond magnanimity, I think all of us need to consider whether those who will be spending this extra money will spend it wisely or whether they will go in increasing the total compensation of city employees in an unsustainable manner, such that taxes to cover losses in the general fund will need to be raised even higher in 4-5 years.

      If you are convinced that our elected officials, despite their terrible track record in this regard and their total lack of commitment to solving the labor cost issues, will spend your money more wisely than you will spend your money, then you should vote yes.

  8. Tia Will


    “will spend your money more wisely than you will spend your money, then you should vote yes.”

    Issues that this comment does not take into account are proximity and immediacy. Let’s take the case of a pot hole.
    It might not sound that important to me if the pot hole is across town and I never drive that route. So it may not seem very important to me and it may not seem wise to fix it. Not so for the person whose kid just ended up in the ER because the pot hole was there and she swerved to miss it thus being struck by a care.
    Immediacy is another issue. As human we tend to put off what seems mundane drudgery in favor of what seems like fun. We will probably get away with it in the short run. But if the delayed repair on the upstairs plumbing results in the leak that causes the ceiling to fall into the living room as happened to a friend of mine, the spending
    “my money” wisely on things that we want rather than taking care of infrastructure first may be “wiser” than buying ourselves goodies.

    And, although I do not know if your first comment was addressed to me, I will address it. I have never failed to consider the possible effect on those with less money than me. I lived half of my life below the poverty line. I have not forgotten.

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