Monday Morning Thoughts: How Fernandes Became President of SB; Innovation Park Calculations

Share:
Fernandes-Alan-HS
School Board President Alan Fernandes

Normally the nomination and election of officers is about as interesting as watching paint dry. However, as we saw back in 2011 with the city council, when there is the lack of a clear script and an obvious answer, things get a bit more interesting.

So, to set things up, in the last nine months, four of the five people who sat on the DJUSD School Board on March 1, 2014, are gone. Alan Fernandes has been on the board since May, three had their first meeting on Friday, and Susan Lovenburg has served since 2007.

There were two obvious arrangements for the rotation of president and vice president. One would be to go strictly in order of seniority. That would put Susan Lovenburg as president, Alan Fernandes as vice president and then you might go in order of finish after that.

Except, there was a concern (at least expressed to me by some) that Ms. Lovenburg had already served as board president. Newly-elected Madhavi Sunder jumped the process and nominated Alan Fernandes immediately.

Newly-elected Barbara Archer asked for some discussion. Ms. Lovenburg expressed the hope that this would be a consensus-based decision rather than a divisive one. And after expressing her interest to serve, she turned to Mr. Fernandes to ask, “Alan, how ready do you feel?”

Mr. Fernandes responded, “I am ready, but only because of your advice and counsel. I will continue to rely on you and the entire board.”

Later, Ms. Lovenburg expressed some concern over how the matter was handled. Alan Fernandes then took a somewhat unusual step as newly-installed presiding officer to make the motion for Madhavi Sunder to be elected vice president.

The longstanding board policy on this has been that the member who has not served yet gets named president on the new board.  Alan Fernandes had been named interim on December 5 by the old board.

While this is mostly a case of much ado about nothing, it was interesting to watch how the new board started to work with one another. Will this be a more contentious board? Will blocks start to emerge? What will be the focus of this board?


Chris Granger (left) moderates the forum with Matt Yancey (center) and Louis Stewart (right) back in October
Chris Granger (left) moderates the forum with Matt Yancey (center) and Louis Stewart (right) back in October

Innovation Park Discussion

In the past few weeks there has been an interesting topic of conversation – how should the innovation parks be rolled out? Right now, there are seven million square feet of proposed space between the two major peripheral innovation park proposals at Mace and Northwest. Plus, there is a third proposal at Nishi that is mixed use.

One concern expressed is that if you end up with three proposals on the spring 2016 ballot – you end up in a situation where they all go down.

At the same time – picking a winner and a loser arbitrarily is perhaps itself a losing proposition. Whoever goes second loses.

There is a school of thought that allows all proposals to go forward and may the best proposal win. However, the electoral scenario of competing innovation parks looks like a losing proposition, as well.

Here is the calculation there. The polling on Mace Ranch shows there is about a 30% opposition at the start. For the purposes of this discussion, we start there. That means about 60% are predisposed to support a project with another 10% undecided.

Now we start the campaign and we have Mace and Northwest going at it. Even if both sides decide to agree not to attack each other but rather make the position case for the need for innovation parks, we have a de facto competition between the two sides – and, given the stakes, the temptation is going to be to muddy the water for the other project.

Here is the problem you face in this scenario. The opposition has a simple case to make to the skeptical voters – seven million square feet is too much. If you vote for one, two might get approved.

Meanwhile, we have three camps developing on the pro side. First, those will support both, either because they want both or they hope one succeeds. Second, those who will support Mace. Third, those who will support Northwest.

Finally, there are two other camps developing besides the 30% who are simply going to vote no automatically. There are those who started out in the middle and those who said they would support the Mace proposal in the poll, but are swayed during the campaign.

The bottom line here is, in a clean election, with one innovation park, it’s probably a close call as to whether you can hold 50% of the voters to support it. The problem in this election, with two options, is you start splitting potential support – those who want an innovation park, but support either Mace over the Northwest or Northwest over Mace.

Even if there is one innovation park that many people think is better, the act of potentially splitting the votes could be fatal if opposition borders around the 50% mark.

On the other hand, who is going to accept going second in this scenario, as believing that the seven million square feet proposal is too much potentially dooms the second peripheral park.

There is an additional concern developing – last summer our analysis was that the city’s fiscal circumstances would help push the innovation parks over the top as the city needed additional revenue, long term, to obtain sustainability.

I still believe we need that revenue. I believe that the surge in property tax is more likely to be the result of pent-up demand than an ongoing increase. I still believe we have millions in deferred maintenance that we need to fund. I still believe that pensions and health care costs will increase dramatically over time.

The result is, even with improved fiscal conditions, we need a parcel tax short-term and we need to generate revenue long-term. But when people start arguing that the structural deficit is about to disappear and that things are improving, I worry we will lose a sense of urgency for creating a truly sustainable budget that can enable us to start doing the nice-to-haves in the longer term.

The council has some critical decisions to make, and how to roll out these options is perhaps at the top of the list.


September candidates forum for school board, one of the many things the Vanguard has done in 2014.
September candidates forum for school board, one of the many things the Vanguard has done in 2014.

If You Like What We Do – Become a Subscriber

It is really simple – we spent about $22,000 last year on two new websites, one that we replaced after ten months of operation. That is paid off, but there are a lot of things we want to do to expand and improve both the website and what we do with the website.

That takes money.

We have a great and amazing base of support that has enabled us to finance these changes. I want to personally thank each and every person who donated in 2014 – whether it was $10 or $5000.

However, what we want is to build in a mechanism so we don’t have to come to our readers every time we have an emergency.

The easiest way to do that is become a monthly subscriber. We’re not asking for much. For the cost of as little as $10 a month, you can help to keep the Vanguard going.

The math is simple. Our typical article receives between 1000 and 2000 unique reads.

If everyone who reads this post could pledge just $10 per month, we would meet all financial goals for 2015 and the Vanguard would be fully fiscally viable.

So what do you say? Please donate today by clicking on the link.

If everyone who reads this post could pledge just $10 per month, we would meet all financial goals for 2015 and the Vanguard would be fully fiscally viable

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

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

24 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: How Fernandes Became President of SB; Innovation Park Calculations”

  1. Anon

    Ms. Sunder was smart, and stepped in to prevent Lovenburg from becoming President, which would have put someone left over from the old board in charge.  We need fresh leadership on the DJUSD Board, but someone who also has some familiarity as to how meetings are run.  It was the perfect solution IMO.

    In regard to the innovation parks, I don’t think the city has any choice but to allow the process to play out.  It is not as if the city can stop a developer from presenting his/her proposal.  So while the Vanguard points out all sorts of “potential problems”, what is the Vanguard’s solution to these perceived problems?  What should the city do?

  2. Davis Progressive

    so it was fernandes’ turn, lovenburg tried to run a power play, realized it would get contentious, backed off and then started complaining about process.  meanwhile archer is starting to show herself as an accomplice of lovenburg.  we need archer to stay independent here.

    1. hpierce

      Good luck on the Archer independence thing.  Look at the “supporters” of Archer this time, and Lovenburg last time.  Heard that the latter (Ms L) tried to push City staff into doing things SHE wanted done, via DJUSD Admin, W/O going thru the City Manager.  About 5 years ago, regarding having the City place a bus turnout and shelter on Richards, just SE of Olive.  City of Unitrans to pay entire cost.  Dave Murphy would have been proud.

  3. Davis Progressive

    on the innovation park – i think we’re going to see a world class project offered by northwest and a bunch of warehouses plus schilling offered by mace.  will the political pressure to keep schilling here mean that people will accept mediocre project proposals?

    1. Barack Palin

      will the political pressure to keep schilling here mean that people will accept mediocre project proposals?

      I hope not.  I live near the proposed Mace project and if it’s just warehouses and not world class I know I or my neighbors won’t vote for it.  We talk.

      1. Davis Progressive

        we’ll see.  the developers in the northwest have designed some of the most innovative innovation parks in the world.  what have the mace developers done?

        1. Anon

          This is why I think you have to allow the process to play out a bit.  It seems a bit early in the game, and a little competition between rivals may end up giving us a much better planned innovation park.  But who knows, perhaps two innovation parks will fly if planned well enough.

        2. Davis Progressive

          i get a little skeptical when the developer first tried to go around measure r, then backed off.  then pushed for an advisory vote.  then backed off.

        3. hpierce

          Now, the one project vs. the other, is defined (by DP) not by the merits of the projects, but by people’s opinions of the proponents…  DP, are you a “registered” lobbyist, or a free-lancer?

        4. Davis Progressive

          i’m a free agent.  available for the hire.  but i only argue my own views, on a blog, using a psuedonym.  if you agree to my conditions, you can find me on the vanguard.

    2. hpierce

      Mediocre is in the eye of the beholder.  David is correct, and we have probably seen the first salvo on denigrating one project, in favor of the other, real time, this thread.

      Note use of “world class”, “bunch of warehouses”, “mediocre” in one post.

      There are only trial balloons and preliminary proposals on the table, and no real discussion yet of traffic, drainage/flooding, extension of water, sewer and ‘dry’ utilities to date.  Suspect those are really more important to success than aesthetic considerations, which are, themselves in a state of flux and may change.  The infrastructure issues are fixed.

    3. Frankly

      This is a bit of hyperbole.   We need some light industrial space because that is what innovation needs.  It does not need to be ugly… it just needs to be functional.

      For all design there is a balance between form and function.  You can demand the most beautiful innovation park ever conceived and then it is vacant because it does not serve the function.  So I hope we maintain a balanced perceptive and not one where we apply more aesthetic demands than are practical.

      You have to understand what the demand and opportunity is.   There is demand for warehouse space, but the the demand for high-tech light industrial and office space is much stronger in this area.  And that space is more lucrative for a developer.

      There is a current commercial real estate shortage for high-tech business.  But there is building that will start over the next couple of years.  We need to be part of that or risk falling behind and hitting the next economic downturn cycle when the  space come available.

       

  4. Frankly

    I still believe we need that revenue. I believe that the surge in property tax is more likely to be the result of pent-up demand than an ongoing increase. I still believe we have millions in deferred maintenance that we need to fund. I still believe that pensions and health care costs will increase dramatically over time.

    Rates go up, property tax revenue begins to fall as people in Davis cannot afford to move out or move up… and the glory days of cashing out a big windfall from our NIMBY-inflated home values declines.

    So, yes, the property tax good news is not long-term good news.

    And all of this good budget news continues to ignore the REAL realities of the unfunded pension liability… the one that grows even with the more conservative estimate of CalPers returns because that estimate is still overly aggressive… and it also fails to account for the true investment risk in consideration of future economic downturns that are inevitable.    A 7.5% return over a long-range investment strategy might be sustainable if it were not funding ongoing and growing payouts.  As we have seen with the Great Recession, when returns fall the outflows don’t fall.  In fact, the outflows increase as the public sector cuts the active workforce and force early retirement.

    The other thing that impacts the REAL risk of growing unfunded retirement benefit liability is the tendency for politicians to hire and boost pay when the economy improves… thereby causing the pension liability to balloon even more.

    The bottom line is that Davis has a local economy that is less than half the size of what it needs to be for us to have the amenities and services we desire and to pay for all our our present and future obligations.   7 million square feet of additional business will put us about where we need to be.

  5. hpierce

    I’m going to make a wager now.  No matter what information comes out of the process, DP will support the NW proposal and cast stones at the Mace one.  Takers?

    David, gotta’ hand you this one.  You predicted this approach… just didn’t think it would happen before the staff has even deemed the applications complete.

  6. Miwok

    Wow, $22K on two web sites in one year? I would like to be your web guy!! I spent $4500 on a Federal site that gets over 80K hits a month. It gets more now.

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      This site since we launched on September 22 has gotten 2.4 million page views. The biggest expense are the 8000 articles and 250,000 comments that we had to migrate.

  7. Tia Will

    hpierce

    the one project vs. the other, is defined (by DP) not by the merits of the projects, but by people’s opinions of the proponents”

    Since I have no stake in one project over another, this is just an observation. While the merits of a project are the primary consideration, I also think that the strategy and tactics used by the developer may provide insight into how they are likely to deal with issues around mitigation of concerns and transparent dealings with the city and surrounding community in the future. I think that both are worth consideration in deciding how to move forward.

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