Election Digest: If You Are Undecided…

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 If you are undecided about the City Council Election

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By Bob Fung

If you are undecided which candidates (you can choose up to 2) you are going to vote for, then here are a few things you can do in the next few days:

1. If  you like to read, you can read the candidate’s statements in your Voter Information Pamphlet from the Yolo County Elections Office

2. If you like face-to-face interaction, you could go see the candidates at the Davis Farmer’s Market.

3. If you like to watch video, you can see the candidates at various forums at the Davis Community TV website.

4. If you like to read material on the web, go to other articles at the Davis Vanguard.

5. And if you want election information on your smartphone, tablet or computer, go to the Voterprep website.

You can probably learn all you need about the candidates and their stance on issues in a few minutes minutes from your device.  You will find major issues that have been raised over the last few months, and for each issue, you can view and compare candidate viewpoints. If you have time, login, suggest issues to the candidates, create your own viewpoints etc.!   Voterprep is a new, non-partisan, not-for-profit  website made in Davis.  Check us out at  www.voterprep.org!

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Character counts: Ask Council candidates about Council raise

By Dorte Jensen

This July, the Council raise takes effect. Passed last September, it is a 70% increase at a time of City-wide financial challenge: The City projects a $5 million deficit for the fiscal year; Council asks voters to approve and extend sales taxes; and City employees adjust to compensation cuts while bracing for future ones.

In case you want to ask Council candidates about this raise—after all, they will be entitled to it if elected—here is what Council members said before voting to approve it. (My response follows in parentheses.)

–One member said that the present salary was “woefully inadequate.” (In the staff report provided before the vote, Council salary—in Davis and twelve nearby cities with similar population size—was compared, and Davis was fifth-highest. In July, Davis will be highest, since no other Council has changed its salary, although some members in Vacaville and Walnut Creek are voluntarily reducing theirs to participate in City-wide austerity measures.)

–Another member said that the present salary meant that “only retired people or people of means are able to serve.” (If this is true, then returning or re-elected members should decline the raise, since by definition they have the requisite time or money.)

–Another member said that the new salary would attract people who are younger, of lower income, or of diverse experience. (In other words, the raise is intended for them.)

–Another member said that those who approved the raise and are entitled to it should donate it to a City low-income fund. (Instead of donating it, why not leave it in the General Fund? That way it would lower the City deficit and benefit all citizens, since everyone pays tax to shop or live here.)

If you care about this issue, ask Council candidates where they stand. I did so at the Vanguard candidate forum May 14 and found the answers illuminating. When you vote on June 3, remember: Character counts, especially where money is concerned.

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ChamberPACDavis Business Community Recommends a “NO” on Measure P on June 3rd to Ensure Fair Water Rates for All Users

The Davis Chamber of Commerce urges the community to vote “NO” on Measure P.

Our community has had a thorough and detailed public conversation over several years that resulted in an increasingly affordable project to provide our community with clean, safe and environmentally friendly water.

The rate structure that we’ve had for years is arbitrarily based on the size of your connector pipe and is inherently unfair to all users. The Chamber’s Government Relations Committee spent hundreds of hours investigating the details of several rate structures to pay for this project. We continue to support the new rate system adopted by the citizen-led Water Advisory Committee and the City Council. Our new rate structure is equitable to businesses, apartment dwellers, renters and home owners.

Simply put, not every gallon costs the same to deliver, and those who use the most in the summer peak months should pay correspondingly more for infrastructure we all must build. Of all available alternatives, the new rates offer the fairest pricing-asking us to pay our fair share for both our water and water system infrastructure.

Please support a safe, clean and fair water future for Davis and vote “NO” on Measure P on June 3rd.

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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12 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    i don’t know why the raise is an issue at all. it’s was $400 per month for the first time in 16 years. it was a total cost to the city of $30,000 and it didn’t take effect until july after the term ends. what’s the big deal here?

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      In monetary terms, it is not a big deal. It’s comparatively small change. However, I think Dan Wolk (the only member, if I recall correctly) to vote against it got it right when he said (paraphrasing) that at a time when the City is asking its employees to pay more for their pensions and healthcare and to receive less in cafeteria cash out, it sends the wrong message to them to raise the pay for members of the City Council by such a large percentage. He could have also added that since the non-salary costs of members of the City Council are so much larger and growing so much faster, the raise should have been examined in the context of the Council’s total compensation package. And further, if the Council wanted to increase the costs of the City Council by $30,000 per year, then it should have identified a specific cut in another budget item–for example, laying off a part-time city employee–to cover the increase. Instead, the Councilmembers just seemed to pretend there was no trade-off and the messaging to other employees was of no consequence.

  2. paul Brady

    The Chamber argument that summer users should pay more per gallon does not hold water! Summer water does not cost more to produce for two reasons: The larger Project required by larger users produces water which is less expensive per gallon. That is one of the reasons we partnered with Woodland: cheaper water per gallon with the larger project. It is also just economies of scale, a tenet of microeconomics. If the small user built such a [smaller] project the costs per gallon would be much higher. Simulations shows this very clearly.

    Second, the project cannot meet summer demand of water users. On average, about 50% of summer water will come from our deep aquifer which is cheaper by a factor of about three! This Tehama aquifer is fully recharged up-valley and is softer, and very low in nitrates and selenium. What we should have done was switch as many users as possible to the shallower aquifers for irrigation, and used the deeper aquifer for household use. This woulld have been much cheaper than spending $300 million to fund the river water source whose future is uncertain.

    1. paul Brady

      I should add that the larger users do pay more for using more water from the larger system. But it is unfair to have such users pay three or four times as much for using twice as much water. As noted above the larger users in the system make the cost per gallon lower. They subsidize the smaller users! Through their higher water costs they are paying more for the larger system; they are paying their larger share for the larger system. In fact they are paying more than their share if one considers that they have made the cost per gallon lower.

      1. Matt Williams

        Paul, you persist in telling this untruth over and over and over again despite having been provided with incontrovertable prrof that your assertion is 100% wrong. Large users under the current rates DO NOT pay three or four times as much for using twice as much water. In fact, as is shown by the yellow bars of the graph below, large users do not even pay two times as much for using twice as much water. In fact, they get 20% of their water FOR FREE when compared to lower water users. Under CBFR (the red bars) the amount of free water large users get is reduced to less than 10%, but large users are still getting plenty of their water for free.

        Everyone pays the same amount per gallon when the black horizontal bars (percentage of total consumption) are at the exact same height as the colored bars (percentage of total fees). Under the current rate structure YOU, Paul Brady are personally ripping off the efficient users of water in the lowest decile. Those water users are only using 2% of the total water, but are paying 6% of the total fees. You are not subsidizing the smaller users under the current rate structure. They are subsidizing you … big time.
        .
        Final Slides
        .
        STOP TELLING BALD FACED LIES Paul … and yes I am shouting at you.

        1. paul Brady

          Matt – I did exaggerate that factor which came from a source I did not check! Sorry to upset you so! Last year from May to June our use jumped from 31 to 63 ccf. According to the City the BTW tiers were 1.23, 1.37 and 2.33 for 19 and 30 cuts. So our variable water cost went from near 38 to about 118 – about a factor of three in cost for a doubling of water use. The quote “three or four” is incorrect.
          In this respect the CBFR is much fairer! But the CBFR look-back makes one think twice about gardening. As we have discussed, the tomatoes may not be worth it! Assume no gardening takes an average of about 10 ccf per month. If I double that 120/yr to 240/yr with the extra 120 going into the six summer months for gardening, I find, my annual 2018 water cost increases a factor of only 2.3 – not too bad!

  3. DJT

    I am not too worried about the $400 extra per month. I am more interested in what other benefits they get. My brother lives in southern California. In his town it was discovered that city council members who had served a few years and were over a certain age were eligible for free health care for them AND their family members for life!!

    I would be interested to know if the city of Davis has any perks so as these that will end up costing us far more in the long run!!

    Does anyone know what sort of “extra” benefits they get??

    1. David Greenwald

      They get a very small travel expense that is so small they always end up diving into their own pockket. They get a pension which i believe is vested after five years. And they have health insurance, but I don’t believe any are taking it.

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        All of them* were taking the full medical benefit for themselves and their families before the City adopted a new policy–about 3 years ago–which now allows members of the Council to put $6,000 per year into a 457b deferred compensation account with CalPERS. These accounts work more-less the same as a 401k, though CalPERS manages the investments and all of the money is tax free until it is withdrawn.

        So after the 457b accounts were adopted in 2011 by the City of Davis for members of the Council, suddenly every single member changed course, drooped the City’s healthcare plans, and decided it would be a good idea to stick $6,000 in free money in a 457b account.
        ———————

        *The lone exception when the change was made was Stephen Souza, who took his insurance through UC Davis.

      2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        By the way, Yolo County has allowed Supervisors, for a long time, to fully cash-out their unused medical benefit. For that reason, almost no Supes have ever taken the County’s medical benefit. They have all taken the cash. I don’t know if YC also offers a 457b plan. If they do, it would make sense to take the money tax deferred and get a decent return from CalPERS.

    2. South of Davis

      I know someone that worked for the city of SF for a few years in the 90’s that is still getting free (good) healthcare (it pains me to type this since I would be more than $100K richer if I did the same thing).

      Part of Stockton’s BK has to do with health care:

      “Under some of the plans, said Deis, a person with four years and 11 months of service with another employer such as Modesto could work one month at Stockton and be eligible for free lifetime health care.”

      http://calpensions.com/2012/03/01/stockton-work-month-get-lifetime-health-care/

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