The Vanguard has strongly pushed forward issues of public concern for the city: the budget, the upcoming labor contracts, roads, the parcel tax, the continued situation with the firefighters’ union and joint services agreement, and the proposed innovation parks. These are clearly core issues before the council.
The first order of business was finding a new city manager, and now the council clearly has to address the core issues. One commenter notes, “It is amazing how this City Council has managed to keep its eye off the ball ever since they came back from the summer break.”
They would add, “The eye is constantly off the ball–and we shouldn’t let them blather about MRAPs and plastic bags and woodsmoke and sanctuary status until they eat their vegetables! (i.e. our unmet needs).”
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, rightly so, took issue with the comment, noting that after “the crowd went home” they “talked about conducting an update to assessing the costs of building maintenance (replacement costs) for City-owned properties. This is significant because, if we are to assess the full needs of maintenance backlogs, we need this assessment. This assessment, as was noted during the (unreported) discussion, will also allow us to determine the amount of excess City property we may have so we can determine if/how to dispose of it–opening up some sites for redevelopment and reducing our need to maintain un-needed properties.”
That said, I do agree that the council has not taken up the core issues since the break. Where I differ is on the idea that council should take up only core issues.
On the surface of it, the issue of the sanctuary city does not seem like a big issue. But the genesis of it comes from a discussion that occurred in June. At that time, the issue of the Royal Oak mobile home park came back onto my radar. The conditions of that park and the treatment of the residents is an ongoing concern about which the Vanguard is working on having a full report later this month.
One thing that became clear is that the mobile home park houses a number of very vulnerable residents, some of who are undocumented. Their immigration status has played a role in the reluctance of the residents to come forward and complain to authorities for fear of retribution.
At that time, members of the Human Relations Commission (of which I am one) asked about a possible sanctuary city status for Davis. Interestingly enough, we learned, to our surprise, that we already had one. It seems in the 1980s, activists like Will and Jane Lotter petitioned the city council to make Davis a sanctuary city mainly for the purpose of housing refugees from El Salvador and other Central American war torn countries.
The last update was, interestingly enough, from 2007 and although the Vanguard existed at the time and I vaguely remember it, it did not leave a large impression. The reasoning of the HRC and its membership was, if we did not know that Davis was a Sanctuary City, most people, especially those impacted by it the most, would also have no idea.
So we worked with the city, the City Attorney and the Davis Police Department to craft a resolution that had teeth but still complied with local laws. As it turns out, the Davis Police Department, just like the Yolo County Jail, do not report immigration violations to ICE. And so it turns out there will be no actual policy change.
Again, the purpose was to provide a vehicle for us to publicize it, so that vulnerable residents are not afraid to report complaints about Royal Oak, and it allows residents to file complaints – which is one reason the police support the policy – about crime without fear that they will have their immigration status exposed and face deportation.
On Tuesday night, I was in particular moved by the comments of Reverend Elizabeth Banks of the Unitarian Universalist Church, who very articulately described her experiences watching refugees from Honduras removed in chains, many of whom were likely deported to their deaths.
Vanessa Natalie Cerdá Rojas described what it was like to be in a safe place where she doesn’t have to think about legal status or worry about her parents being deported.
So yes, I get it, this issue is not about the core issues facing the city, but maybe we can help people who live in our community have a better quality of life.
This is an example of a city commission identifying a problem, finding a relatively simple mechanism to possibly resolve the problem, and then working with Mayor Pro Tem Davis, the Davis Police and city staff resolve it.
It would have been a consent item, except the HRC wanted to publicize the issue and Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis wanted the opportunity to introduce Andrea Gaytan of the UC Davis AB540 and Undocumented Student Center, which offers undocumented students and their families immigration-related legal services on campus.
Feel free to disagree with initiative, but did that 16 minutes of public discussion really take us off track?
Mayor Dan Wolk is pushing his healthy children’s initiative and, while it is perhaps easy to take potshots at it, there are real problems in our community that this has the potential to at least put into discussion.
As we noted last week, Davis tends to be seen as a white, upper middle class community, but the reality is more complex. About one-quarter of the schools’ population is in Title One status.
From a city perspective, the recent raid on the Royal Oak mobile home park, and the subsequent discussion at the two-by-two of the conditions at that park, highlights the nature of the vulnerable population, much of which has children in school.
A good percentage of the children that live in places like Royal Oak attend schools in Davis like Montgomery. There are children there whose only meals during the course of the day are the breakfast and lunch that they receive at school.
While Montgomery as a Title I school provides meals to children for breakfast and lunch, non-Title I schools provide only lunch. So when we moved to South Davis and moved our kid from Patwin (a Title I school) to Pioneer, he lost the ability to receive a breakfast because it is not offered. While that is not a huge deal in our house, it may be for many other kids.
Along with food is also access to health services. We had a long discussion about dental clinics after the council rejected fluoridation of water, and it seems that those efforts have since been dropped.
We also should be concerned about the issue of vaccination. Last year, Davis was reported to have a low child vaccination rate and, in some schools, the immunization rate is well below the 95 percent threshold needed to keep key diseases in check.
Again, these may not be core city issues, but when one-quarter of the children in our schools have Title I status, it seems to be an important issue to them to make sure they get proper nutrition and access to social services.
I remain a strong proponent of dealing with the nuts and bolts city issues, as laid out at the outset of the article, but what is interesting is that those were mainly the issues that John Munn tackled in his campaign run in June, and our analysis suggests that it was his single-minded focus on those issues that perhaps prevented his election.
I want to see the city tackle the budget, MOUs, roads, parcel tax, innovation parks, but I also don’t want the city to ignore its duties to the lesser and vulnerable citizens in its midst.
—David M. Greenwald reporting