Vanguard Analysis: The Exit of Rob White Likely Means the End of Davis as a Regional Economic Development Player

Rob White is out as CIO as of June 30
Rob White is out as CIO as of June 30

For some time, the Vanguard was aware that Chief Innovation Officer Rob White would be leaving the city following the end of the budget year on June 30, 2015. However, complicating the reporting of that impending move was the fact that the new budget included 1.0 FTE for both a Chief Innovation Officer and Deputy Chief Innovation Officer.

Moreover, the department was to be fully funded at just under $400,000 which includes the CIO and the Deputy. The Vanguard, in fact, was going to run a story today on the fact that Mr. White would be leaving. Councilmembers were either unaware of the specifics of the situation or in some cases declined to comment due to personnel issues.

Yesterday, the Vanguard asked City Manager Dirk Brazil the status of Rob White and the CIO position. Just before 11 am, the city manager told the Vanguard, “It’s a personnel issue and I can’t comment.” Yet, at 4 pm the city provided a press release stating, that Diane Parro “replaces Rob White, whose contract ends June 30.”

That is certainly interesting that the city manager was able to state that in a press release but not answer a question in the email. Moreover, Mr. White’s contract was a three-year contract set to expire on June 30, 2016.

Qualifications

However, the biggest surprise was not that Mr. White was let go or terminated – but that he was replaced by Diane Parro. With all due respect to Ms. Parro, who gets thrust into what will quickly become a very awkward situation, this move smells of politics.

The most qualified person to replace the highly respected Rob White, whose work has been lauded on a regional level, happens to be the Deputy to County Supervisor Don Saylor?

Moreover, her background seems to be not economic development, but marketing and public relations. The press release noted that Ms. Parro had previously served as Executive Director of the Yolo County Visitors Bureau based in downtown Davis. And, “Before moving to Davis with her family in 2002, Diane was the Senior Vice President of Account Services for Palisades Media Group, a Santa Monica advertising agency.  Her clients over the years included Sears, Target, Caesars Place, Universal Pictures & Theme Parks and Miramax Films.”

When Rob White came to the city of Davis, he had an extensive background in doing precisely this job. He worked as CEO of the i-GATE Innovation Hub Initiative and he was the Director of Economic Development for the city of Livermore since 2008.

At the time of his hiring by Davis, it was a major coup that was a message to the region that Davis was serious about economic development.

In a news release, Livermore Mayor John Marchand commended Rob White “for advancing economic development in the city through building public-private partnerships.”

“Rob has been nationally recognized for his leadership in i-GATE and in the creation of the Tri-Valley’s innovation environments,” Mr. Marchand said. “I am grateful for the work that he has done promoting Livermore’s economic development and fostering our relationships with our national labs.”

The current job description says the CIO “is responsible for developing and pursuing new revenue-generating business relationships with targeted firms, identifying and securing additional business opportunities among existing clients, and fostering relationships with both.”

It continues, “The incumbent will develop, implement, and coordinate the potential for sustainable innovation by defining community/region-wide opportunities and ideas; evaluate, develop and present comprehensive programs to secure business growth and modernization in Davis; and provide economic development support from concept through completion.”

Furthermore: “The objective of this position is to attract and retain private-sector business interests in the City, utilizing fluency in information and/or communications technology and create an internal culture, climate and environment that is needed for innovation and removing barriers both real and perceived that hinder innovative growth.”

These are the types of things that Rob White had been doing for years with Livermore and i-GATE.

Money

Part of the official excuse for Rob White leaving is finances. When Mr. White was hired it was a position with a $240,000 total compensation. Half of that was to be picked up with the city’s general fund and half of that would be financed by techDavis, which was collecting $10,000 a year from 12 donors to generate the salary.

Immediately that arrangement ran into problems, and the city simply took on the full $240,000 with techDavis donating $120,000 to the city, in order for the city to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

However, the Vanguard learned that sometime around eight months ago, techDavis stopped providing the city with the promised $120,000. The Vanguard will follow up on this story at some point.

The move from Rob White to Diane Parro does not save the city a lot of money. Rob White’s base salary was “only” $163,000 at the top end of the CIO’s position salary range. Even if Diane Parro is at the bottom of that salary range, hers would be $135,000. The benefits are relatively flat. So you are talking about a move that appears to have a maximum savings of just $30,000 per year.

So for all of the internal talk about techDavis reneging on promised contributions to the position, the city is not recouping much of that with this move.

Accomplishments

From our perspective, the biggest thing that Rob White brought to the city was that he began a dialogue on economic development that gave new urgency to the city’s efforts.

For years there was discussion of technology parks. The city had done the Innovation Park Task Force and commissioned the Studio 30 report and held DSIDE meetings. However, Mr. White arrived here in late March of 2013. By June we were already having an engaged conversation, which at that time focused on Mace 391.

While Mace 391 ultimately failed both in June 2013 and in the fall, it set the stage for an innovation park discussion focusing on two key sites – Mace 200 (adjacent to Mace 391) and an area of the Northwest Quadrant. After months of talk, Mr. White initiated the RFEI (request for expressions of interest) process that brought three responses and ultimately two applications in the precise locations identified in the Studio 30 report.

Moreover, this move brought new energy. Davis Roots, already in existence, has been invigorated. And now the advent of JumpStart Davis and Pollinate Davis has brought renewed energy and focus on the startup culture and the fostering of innovation.

The budget item showed a long list of accomplishments for the CIO position:

  • Lead agency for a $171,000 US Economic Development Administration grant, awarded to the multi-agency Yolo Rail Realignment working group for reuse and economic impact assessment.
  • Utilized a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) process to attract two Innovation Center Proposals, each totaling about 200 acres and a combined construction and infrastructure investment of about $1.5 billion over 20 years.
  • Assisted Community Development and Sustainability Department with planning review and public outreach for Innovation Centers.
  • Coordinated activities for development of Objectives and Tasks for each Council Goal area.
  • Completed an assessment of local broadband infrastructure, in coordination with the multi-agency Yolo Broadband Strategy.
  • As part of regional leadership, co-chaired Innovation & Economic Development policy team for the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Cap to Cap legislative trip to Washington DC.
  • Developed the Innovation & Economic Vitality Work Program and Action Plan, which outlines objectives, tasks and actions specific to economic development.
  • Assisted Community Development and Sustainability Department with planning review and public outreach for Innovation Centers.
  • Conducted Council Goals and Strategy Retreat and developed Objectives and Tasks for each Goal area.
  • Completed an assessment of local broadband infrastructure, in coordination with the multi-agency Yolo Broadband Strategy
  • As part of regional leadership, co-chaired Innovation & Economic Development policy team for the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Cap to Cap legislative trip to Washington DC.
  • Developed the Innovation & Economic Vitality Work Program and Action Plan, which outlines objectives, tasks and actions specific to economic development.
  • Co-hosted West Coast Startup Summit innovation conference at DMG Mori with Innovate North State in June 2015.
  • Chief Innovation Officer awarded Civic Innovator of the Year by Innovate North State.
  • City of Davis innovation activities highlighted regularly by the media, including print and online news articles, radio interviews and broadcast TV interviews.
  • Staffed the Innovation Park Task Force.
  • Conducted regular business outreach and communications, including Davis startups, makerspace and other City and UC Davis entrepreneurial groups.
  • Continued to work proactively to find tenants for vacant commercial and retail space.
  • Assisted businesses looking to relocate or expand in Davis.
  • Participated in regional initiatives from partner organizations, including SARTA TechCon, Valley Vision’s Next Economy Initiative, UC Davis’ Seed/Food Central.
  • Working with JumpStart Davis, Davis Roots and Hackerlab to grow the number of new startups in Davis..
  • Participated in working group that established Yolo County as a State-approved Recycling Market Development Zone.

Doubling Down

The accomplishments and the energy of the CIO put Davis on the map. That led the former city manager and vice chancellor of UC Davis to produce a report urging the city to double-down on economic development.

He wrote:

“The current investment in economic development activities may not yet be sufficient to meet defined Council objectives. The Council’s goals are reliant on successful economic development efforts that will result in diversifying the local economy, capturing emerging research-based businesses and improving the tax base. In support of economic development activities, a previous Council created a Chief Innovation Officer position. Not only was the title of the position unique, but originally, partial funding support for the position was to be provided by the business community. Economic development officials share something in common with governors and presidents—it is difficult to quantify their contribution to the economic activity, but they often get credit or blame depending on economic trends.

“The interview process revealed some concerns about the salary level of this position and what its actual output has been. While this leads some to question this expenditure, I believe the City should ‘double-down’ on its investment in economic development activities. The City is developing a reputation of supporting business development. A number of major businesses have chosen to locate in Davis. Should the City now dim its focus and investment in economic development, that action will be broadcast throughout the region by your competitors. While our regional leaders are all polite and publicly supportive of one another, any move by Davis to reduce investment in economic development activities will be branded as a lack of support and will be whispered by surrounding communities to businesses under recruitment. Davis has assets that other communities envy, but only Davis can tell this story—do not expect others to do this on your behalf.”

It is hard to imagine that what Mr. Meyer had in mind was terminating the highly successful CIO and replacing him with an individual who lacks an economic development background.

Prognosis

The purpose of this column is not to issue forth a personal attack on Ms. Parro, whom I do not know but I have heard good things about her in her current position. Rather, it is to question the motivation, both for replacing Rob White and the suitability of Ms. Parro to take on this particular task. Again, her field of expertise seems to be marketing, not economic development.

If the city manager, for reasons not explained here, needed to replace Mr. White, there would seem to be a long list of very qualified residents of Davis and Yolo County that could be good hires for the city. We have to question the hiring, given the position that Ms. Parro held and the network of political ties and allegiances that now pervade city hall.

For months the Vanguard had been hearing of a shift in City Hall’s orientation on the innovation parks. When the Vanguard spoke with City Manager Dirk Brazil a month ago, he asserted that the city was not shifting its perspective, but rather looking at a more balanced perspective with regard to the innovation parks and downtown.

However, others have told the Vanguard that the city manager did not see the need for either the Davis Innovation Center or Mace. There has been a group of citizens led by former Councilmember Stephen Souza that have pushed a Nishi-only approach, and this move would seem to favor the downtown orientation over peripheral development.

Since that discussion, the focus has only intensified questions about the city’s commitment to economic development. The pull out of the Davis Innovation Center earlier this month was a huge blow. That left just the Mace Ranch proposal on the table. Moreover, on Wednesday night, the listening tour saw 40 to 60 people in attendance pushing back against the peripheral innovation park approach.

Is this move a sign to would-be investors that Davis is no longer looking to flex its economic development muscles?

For those who cite the dispersed innovation strategy as a reason to move away from peripheral parks, they need to remember that the Studio 30 report suggests “the City pursue a broad strategy to attract innovative businesses that offers a number of sites that are scalable and range in size so the community can accommodate an incubator, startups and expanding businesses. Some should be directly in contact with the University. This mix of small and large sites allows the city the flexibility to successfully attract, grow and retain innovation businesses. External sites have the potential to support the most jobs because of their size and ability to accommodate a wider variety of both size and type of businesses.”

Moreover, it focuses us on the idea that the current available stock is inadequate to meet our needs, writing, “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

The study continues, “With available reasonably priced land and effective marketing to innovative high tech companies, Studio 30 estimates Davis could absorb up to 10 percent or around 100,000 square feet of the 1-1.5 million industrial/office square footage absorbed annually in the Sacramento region. Because of this Studio 30 estimates Davis needs at least 200 acres for business development and expansion over a 20 +/- year time horizon.”

As we have noted in recent weeks, we believe that UC Davis will go forward with or without Davis as a partner and the decisions by the city here will play heavily into those choices. UC Davis has the option of going regional to the Sacramento railyards, or to Woodland or West Sacramento, and they also have the option of developing to the south in Solano County on university land – a prognosis that would hammer Davis with impacts but deprive Davis of the much needed revenue that an innovation park was projected to bring.

Our analysis is that Davis is about to change course on economic development. The innovation park concept may well go forward at Mace, but most of the focus is going to be on small sites and the downtown. Ultimately, a major innovation activity may well have to once again fall to the university.

In short, we question the decision by the city manager and wonder why he would make such a naked political move bringing in the Chief Deputy to Supervisor Don Saylor, who has been a verbal critic of the innovation parks concept in the last few years.

Most of all, we have to consider what message this sends to the region.  Rob White was a highly respected figure, and this move will leave most in the region scratching their heads and reinforcing their worst beliefs about Davis.  After all the progress we have made, most of our newly-found reputation is likely down the tube.

—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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67 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    It seems as if Rob White was shut down by someone about six months ago.  He used to be very visible and it seems as if he was ordered to disappear into the cracks.  It would be interesting to get the story of what happened from Rob White after his contract has expired if he would actually be willing to spill the beans.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think this article spells it out pretty well – the techdavis factor played a role but the fact that parro is close to saylor and frerichs and brazil is another critical factor.

  2. Barack Palin

    Our analysis is that Davis is about to change course on economic development. 

    Who ultimately makes a decision like this.  The mayor?  The city manager?  Some underground cabal?

    I want to know who to blame if this all falls apart.

    1. Davis Progressive

      depends what you mean by “decision.”  i think the cm makes the official call, but is he answering to the mayor and an underground cabal?  probably

      1. Matt Williams

        I met this morning with the Mayor at his Morning With the Mayor coffee hour and the press release was one of the topics we discussed.  I came away from that brief discussion feeling that he was as surprised by the decision as anyone else was, and the dialogue based on the questions that he asked me focused on whether the Innovation Park initiative was ready to transition from the nuts-and-bolts foundation-building approach that Rob White had been following to a marketing approach that would appear to be where Diane Parro’s skill set lies.

        Whether you call this transition one of  “foundation-building vs. marketing” or “professionalism vs. politics” it seems to me like we are jumping ahead prematurely, and the mayor appeared to both hear and understand that message.

        1. Frankly

          This is a reasonable point.  But I think we need both skillsets until the thing gets done.  The feasibility and justification isn’t so much a milestone to complete and then move on, it is the development of materials used in an ongoing and all out war against those that would defeat the change.

          However, it also needs to be repackaged into succinct marketing material to hold support and encourage the undecided to come along.

          But those initially aligned strongly against will always be aligned strongly against.  And weak leadership driving the change is their salvation.

          Substantive change with many stakeholders is the most difficult thing to accomplish.  The more stakeholders, the less likely it will be successful… unless there is a powerful leading change agent that accepts being the lightning-rod for the inevitable stakeholder dissatisfaction.   That leader ends up taking responsibility for any failures resulting, and rarely gets any reward for success until he/she is long gone and historians write the epitaph.  George W. Bush took us to war in Iraq.  Barack H. Obama took us to Obamacare.  Although a case can be made that Bush had more initial support for his decision, it probably would not have mattered… just as it did not matter that 100% of GOP Congress was opposed to Obamacare.  These two leaders wanted to get something done… something they both believed strongly in, and were determined to get done.

          We do not appear to have that type of leadership in Davis.  We let the likely dissatisfied stakeholders drive the agenda.   This hiring move appears to support that point. I hope I am wrong.

          From my perspective, this personnel change would tend to be applauded by those likely dissatisfied stakeholders.

    2. Napoleon Pig IV

      “. . . to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. . .”

      Porcine politicians everywhere care more about appearance than about reality. What better explanation, other than outright corruption, for appointment of an unqualified PR professional? Oink!

  3. Barack Palin

    It’s really sad that we’re watching our economic opportunities fade away but it’s not all bad, hey we just banned soda as the default kid’s drink. Hooooorayyyyy!!!!!!!

  4. Biddlin

    The progressive puppeteers manage to keep Davis bound by fallow, but certainly overworked, farmland.

    Since the site is running uber slow this morning, I haven’t had time to search out my welcoming/warning message to Rob, but, frankly, this is one of the times I hate to be right.

    ;>)/

    1. Matt Williams

      Biddlin, if there are puppeteers at work in this case, I don’t believe they are progressive puppeteers.  Puppeteers can, and do, come in all shapes and sizes.

  5. Alan Miller

    I have held my tongue on criticism knowing he had been shut down and was on his way out.  The respect poured out here in the Vanguard sure wasn’t universal in the community — far from it.  I find the glowing praise constantly doled out in this blog both laughable and suspect.  No need to dig up dead rodents now; the important thing is that he is gone.

    I would first recommend that the City change the name of the position to “Economic Development Director”.  That’s what the position is.  Let’s cut the 1984-esque “innovation” BS.

    I don’t know the new person, but I my hope is that she will be less a self-promoting, connected cheerleader and more of an objective analyst, giving the City a balanced view on the pros and cons of any project.  That is what a city should have.

      1. Alan Miller

        Am I so transparent that you know that I am aghast at the so-called rail relocation?  Yes I am . . . mission accomplished.

        As for your theoretical direct link . . . go deeper, much deeper.

    1. Matt Williams

      Alan, my own sense of Rob from the time he spent here was that he bent over backward to be an objective analyst.  His skill set and experience built and honed in Livermore was very much oriented toward objective analysis.  Cheerleading is much more consistent with a marketing background, and one of the challenges Diane Parro is going to have to quickly address is whether the Economic Development process in Davis has enough of a solid foundation to make the transition to marketing and messaging.

      1. Alan Miller

        Alan, my own sense of Rob from the time he spent here was that he bent over backward to be an objective analyst.

        Not on the so-called rail relocation.  #doh!#

        . . . . . then again, no one has.

  6. #me

    this move smells of politics

    I’d like to nominate this as the understatement of the year.

    a naked political move

    That’s more like it.

    DG: Your report leaves out one of the most glaring facts. The hire was done behind closed doors without an open recruitment. At the bare minimum, the position should have been posted on the City web site.

    http://agency.governmentjobs.com/davis/default.cfm

    More appropriately, the City Manager should have overseen an open search – advertised at least regionally.  A headhunter would have also been useful for this type of position.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Is this even legal? Can a citizen’s group sue to block the hire?

      I would think this would be covered by some kind of open government / sunshine laws. All federal agencies are required to post open jobs.

      Women’s Rights Handbook

      Federal and California laws that prohibit discrimination in employment deal with a whole range of employment issues, from hiring practices to retirement age….”

      Company hiring departments must interview equally. When an employer has its own “company” or internal hiring department, it must provide fair and equal methods for interviewing interested job applicants. [My emphasis.] It may be unlawful for an employer to fill job openings by relying solely on the recommendations of its own employees. This would constitute a practice neutral on its face, but which is prohibited because it freezes the status quo of prior discriminatory employment practices and has a disparate impact on minorities. (Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) 401 U.S. 424.)

      https://oag.ca.gov/publications/womansrights/ch1

      If women have a right to interview, don’t men, and other interested individuals?

    2. David Greenwald

      This is a good point. What was interesting is reaching out to councilmembers yesterday and they were not aware of the hire prior to the city sending out the press release.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        For argument’s sake, let’s say the City Manager hired a good old white feller. Wouldn’t there be cackle’s about the “good-old-boys-network” still running the show? Cigars and decisions made in smokey backrooms?

        Have we now simply evolved to “the good-old-network”, and the CM picked an insider?

        What if there is a talented economic development professional who is black, Latino, handicapped, a Tea Party member or Jewish … they’re frozen out because they aren’t part of “the network”?

        We also don’t get to weigh in because it is all done with cloak and mirrors. For example, we can see that Mr. White (who I have never met) has a far superior education and background to fulfill this mission than an “account services” individual. By definition, someone in “account services” or an “aide” to a politician is not spearheading endeavors, isn’t taking risks, isn’t selling and closing deals and contacting high-level decision makers. It is a completely different skill set.

        1. Davis Progressive

          the good old boys network in yolo has aways included women.  it’s really about one thing – are you aligned with craig reynolds, don saylor and bobby weist or not.  you’re thinking in the wrong direction here by focusing on race or gender in this case.

  7. Biddlin

    DP, it looks, from over here, that Davis is so factionalised, that no consensus can ever be reached on any issue of civic importance. Even in instances where one faction manages to win the required support, the others nip at the legs with slanderous press and nuisance law suits, until they bring progress to heel. The hyper-territoriality is not conducive to any kind of innovation.

    ;>)/

  8. Barack Palin

    DG: Your report leaves out one of the most glaring facts. The hire was done behind closed doors without an open recruitment. At the bare minimum, the position should have been posted on the City web site.

    I wondered about this also.  This just seemed to get sprung on us.   Can a hire be done behind closed doors without going through the process?

    1. #me

      The City Manager probably has hiring authority, but you’d have to review the city hiring policy to determine the rules for making closed hires. Most public agencies try to make hiring as fair and unbiased as possible. This just looks bad.

      1. Alan Miller

        However much Snoopy-style dancing I’m doing today, it’s about the departure and only the departure.

        Without casting any positive or negative on the arrival themselves, I must agree with the many here:  not having an open job application has the appearance of looking bad.  I’m surprised they didn’t at least go through the motions of trying to fill the job with the most qualified candidate, even if they already had someone in mind.  That’s what government agencies do.

        The question to me is:  why did they have to fill the position so fast?  As in, instantly.   I was going to suggest to the CC that the name of the position be changed to “Economic Development Officer” before a hire was made.  For one thing, they are cheaper, because they don’t have a big, fancy, made-up, wool-over-the-eyes title. Alas, we have an instant replacement under the same title.

        Of course, then we’d have to have business parks instead of inno – #cough# #cough# #gag# #choke# parks.

  9. PhilColeman

    The salary economics with this change was pointed out. Not mentioned (perhaps because it was not known) was continued discussion of the fact that Mr. While was still under contract for another year.

    Did Rob get a year’s “severance pay” under the terms of the contract? If so, that sum would have to be added on to the “cost” of this personnel change.

    1. Barack Palin

      I missed that, yes it says his contract is through June 30, 2016.  Good question, how much will Rob White get to leave?

      If he gets a big severance, why the rush to replace him?  I thought he was doing a good job.

    2. hpierce

      Too bad Mr White’s contract, MOU’s/contracts for department heads/’executive management’ are not available, and when I’ve raised this before, it hasn’t seemed to be important to the VG to have those documents made ‘transparent’.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Time to file a few Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests?

        I’m new to some of these issues. Could Saylor, Frenchs, and Brazil be considered modest or strong proponents of slow or no growth?

        1. Davis Progressive

          that’s a good question.  saylor was always a staunch pro-growth advocate when he was on council but when he moved to the county, he became parochial.  he’s slippery and hard to pin down.  lucas supported covell, cannery, i’ve always considered him pro-growth.  don’t know about brazil.  but there is something else going on here.

  10. Anon

    “Our analysis is that Davis is about to change course on economic development. The innovation park concept may well go forward at Mace, but most of the focus is going to be on small sites and the downtown. Ultimately, a major innovation activity may well have to once again fall to the university.”

    “The innovation park concept may well go forward at Mace, but most of the focus is going to be on small sites and the downtown”?  Which is it, Vanguard?  Here’s a thought – why not both? LOL

    “In short, we question the decision by the city manager and wonder why he would make such a naked political move bringing in the Chief Deputy to Supervisor Don Saylor, who has been a verbal critic of the innovation parks concept in the last few years.”

    Please cite sources where the Chief Deputy to Don Saylor has been a verbal critic of the innovation park concept.

    “Most of all, we have to consider what message this sends to the region.  Rob White was a highly respected figure, and this move will leave most in the region scratching their heads and reinforcing their worst beliefs about Davis.  After all the progress we have made, most of our newly-found reputation is likely down the tube.”

    Our newly-found reputation is likely to go down the tubes with doom and gloom articles like this.  I understand why the Vanguard and others are upset that the city made the decision to cut Rob White loose and hire another individual at a much lesser salary and without Rob White’s vast experience on economic development.  I am not happy about it either.  I have no problem being specifically critical of that decision.

    That said, it would seem to me the wisest course of action at this point is to support the new Chief Innovation Officer as much as possible.  But to say such a move most likely will result in our business reputation going down the tubes is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    In short, I would argue citizens need to show up at innovation park forums, attend and speak out at City Council meetings, send emails to City Council members, write letters to the editor in the Davis Enterprise, write articles on this blog, the Vanguard needs to keep the pressure up on its blog, for well-planned innovation parks that generate substantial tax revenue.  In this way we let the City Council know what most citizens want.

    Will the opposition keep up its pressure to destroy the innovation parks?  Of course, that is a given.  So should we then wring our hands in response, become nattering nabobs of negativism, and give up before we have even really gotten started?  That plays right into the opposition’s hands – it is precisely what they are looking for – to break the resolve of those who support well-planned innovation parks.  Personally I don’t plan to give up the well planned innovation park idea without a tough fight.

    There were those opponents to the surface water project who insisted we would never get it off the ground and would never obtain state revolving fund loans to pay for it.  They tried every dirty trick in the book to destroy the project, but they did not succeed because proponents of the project got behind it and would not allow it to happen.  The same strategy can work here.  Don’t allow a small group of obstructionists to break your resolve and destroy a golden opportunity for getting the city out of its economic hole and move towards real fiscal sustainability.

    Here is another issue, which the Vanguard has missed.  Many of the opposition that have repeatedly shown up at the innovation park forums have been individuals who live in the Binning tract area.  They don’t vote in a Measure R election because they reside outside the city limits, and don’t pay city taxes, but enjoy city amenities at Davisites’ expense.  One gentleman who said he represented Binning, advised the city to de-emphasize the city budget crisis when it was presenting information on innovation parks.  How convenient for him, and detrimental to the citizens of Davis!

    Also, it should be remembered that this city is run by the City Council, regardless of what the City Manager may or may not think about innovation parks.  It is the City Council that must be convinced that the majority of citizens want well-planned innovation parks that generate substantial tax revenue.  The Finance & Budget Commission is going to do a thorough financial analysis to ensure we are getting accurate financial data to the best of their ability. They seem a good group of citizens with experienced fiscal heads on their shoulders.  I trust them to do a thorough job, w no “spin” – generating bullet proof numbers that can be justified every way to Sunday – that is their aim as was told to me.

    Onward and upward!

    1. Don Shor

      “…bringing in the Chief Deputy to Supervisor Don Saylor, who has been a verbal critic of the innovation parks concept in the last few years.”

      Please cite sources where the Chief Deputy to Don Saylor has been a verbal critic of the innovation park concept.

      Actually, the way I read it was that David was saying Don Saylor has been a verbal critic of the innovation park concept, not his deputy. But I don’t recall Don Saylor being a critic of them, either. I vaguely recall him saying that the county would want to have input on the annexation and development of county land into the city. That’s kind of a given. So perhaps David Greenwald can give us some examples of Don Saylor being critical of the peripheral business park concept.

      1. Anon

        Grammatically “who” refers to the Chief Deputy and not Don Saylor (that is a descriptive prepositional phrase), which is why I posed the question the way I did.  However, the Vanguard needs to clarify who specifically it is accusing of not favoring innovation parks and cite specific verifiable examples.

        1. Matt Williams

          That’s an interesting grammatical observation Anon.  I read it the same way that Don did, and if the “who” reference was meant to be to the Deputy I would have thought the sentence would have read “… Don Saylor’s Deputy, who …”  The sentence structure would in large part be driven by the proximity of the “who” to the object of the “who.”

          With that said, your grammatical assessment may be right, and Don’s observation about Don’s position on the peripheral parks may also be right.  The only things I have heard about Don’s position have been rumors … fourth or fifth hand rumors.

      2. Davis Progressive

        “So perhaps David Greenwald can give us some examples of Don Saylor being critical of the peripheral business park concept.”

        perhaps but my experience with don saylor suggests that he won’t make such an overt statement and instead will try to find other ways to kill an initiative.

    2. David Greenwald

      “Please cite sources where the Chief Deputy to Don Saylor has been a verbal critic of the innovation park concept.”

      Saylor, not the Chief Deputy.

      “Here’s a thought – why not both? LOL”

      I’m in agreement.

      “Here is another issue, which the Vanguard has missed. Many of the opposition that have repeatedly shown up at the innovation park forums have been individuals who live in the Binning tract area. ”

      Correct.

  11. Don Shor

    the Vanguard learned that sometime around eight months ago, techDavis stopped providing the city with the promised $120,000.

     Imagine that. 

    There has been a group of citizens led by former Councilmember Stephen Souza that have pushed a Nishi-only approach,

    Huh? Stephen now advocates a Nishi-only approach? Please explain.

  12. PhilColeman

    Exceptions are always possible. But the reason we call them exception is because they seldom occur.

    Seldom does a city manager take personal initiative and leadership role in the formation of public policy. Exceptions, yes, but not usually. The city manager is the linchpin between the public policy group known as the city council, and the city departments charged with following the broad-brush directions given by the council.

    A city manager does not obediently follow the dictates or whims of one or even two council members. Even if one is the mayor. The magic number is three. When 3 or more tells the city manager something, it’s heard and followed. (Exception: the direction given is illegal or totally contrary to the manager’s personal code of behavior. Instead, the manger polishes up his/her resume). All city managers count to three before doing anything. It takes 3 to fire him/her.

    From the other direction, city departments have the discretion to seek permission to implement public police or practice within their area of expertise. The city manager will review the request, make a personal judgment as to its suitability to forward to the council, and proceed accordingly.

  13. TrueBlueDevil

    Have we ruled out something unlawful or untoward? Given his sterling track record, I assume everything is legit.

    I’d like to hear more about this possibility for the campus and Solano County. This is the second time I’ve read David Greenwald bring it up as an alternative. Is he referring to land just across highway 80, within a short distance? Continuous to the campus? Or is it miles away?

    A Vanguard commenter said that rule number one in development is to control the land to be developed. That would fulfill that requirement, and would potentially save UCD tens of millions of dollars versus going to the railyards in Sacramento. My guess was that with the successful Sacramento Kings arena and new commercial developments there, land prices may be on the upswing. Developing Solano County land would also likely given further flexibility in the future as I know we own over 5,000 acres. Would development there benefit Yolo County? Is there a Saylor connection there?

  14. Alan Miller

    From Article:

    The move from Rob White to Diane Parro does not save the city a lot of money. Rob White’s base salary was “only” $163,000 at the top end of the CIO’s position salary range. Even if Diane Parro is at the bottom of that salary range, hers would be $135,000. The benefits are relatively flat. So you are talking about a move that appears to have a maximum savings of just $30,000 per year.

    An article in the Davis Enterprise by Dave Ryan dated September 30, 2014 stateed:

    And after 18 months on a three-year contract at a $240,000 annual salary that pulls both from the city and from economic development money put up by a group of business leaders involved with TechDavis, city leaders here say White still has much to prove, but he also has a track record of some success.

    From today’s Article:

    However, the Vanguard learned that sometime around eight months ago, techDavis stopped providing the city with the promised $120,000. The Vanguard will follow up on this story at some point.

    This needs some clarifications:

    When techDavis stopped paying it’s share, did the city make up the difference so RW was paid his full salary?

    What does the contract say?

    Can the contract be found through a public records act disclosure?

    Or, did RW take a $120,000 salary cut?

    Would you?

    Would the above be motivation to leave Davis?

    If the city made up the difference, why wasn’t this made public?

    If the city made up the difference, would this sudden additional salary be a motivation to change the horse mid-stream?

    When did the Vanguard learn that techDavis stopped paying?  (I have known this for several months — so either I have better sources than the Vanguard, or the Vanguard has been sitting on this, or I missed the article.)

    And $163,000 plus $120,000 is $283,000, not $240,000.  So is the difference the bennies?  Whatever was made, the cost-to-the-city is the issue.

    If RW was paid the full amount after techDavis pulled out, RW made more than the new city manager.

    Note the Enterprise article was written almost exactly eight months ago, about when techDavis cut off the golden honey. 

    Was the article an image boosting attempt as the golden honey pot was yanked away?
     

  15. Alan Miller

    the Vanguard learned that sometime around eight months ago, techDavis stopped providing the city with the promised $120,000.

    The latest techDavis website news release was nearly TWO YEARS ago.

    The purpose given for the existence of the group is:  ” . . . in order to help the City of Davis establish a municipal Chief Innovation Officer position.”

    The information on the founders and board for techDavis is that it was “cofounded by David Morris and Robert Medearis who comprise the current Board.”

    A board of two?  Who breaks the ties?

    Despite claiming “techDAVIS currently has fifteen members and more than a dozen sponsors”, there is only a single entity listed under “Partners”:  The Manex Group.

    Hard to be a partner with yourself . . .

    techDavis also claims:  “This . . .  public/private partnership . . .  received accolades from across the economic development community.”

    Perhaps “they”, if they still exist, would like to revise that statement.

    (It’s also possible this information is incorrect and they just have a sh**ty website.)
    =====================================

    By the way, the Board of Directors of The Manex Group, based in San Ramon, is:

    Steve Tessler – Chairman of the Board
    Executive Vice President and Director of Sales for California Bank of Commerce

    Gene Russell
    President and CEO of Manex

    Bruce Kern
    Executive Director of the Economic Development Alliance for Business

    George Lotti
    Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary of Heat and Control, Inc.

    Bruce (Tab) Wilkins, Jr.
    Federal Liason, NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership

    Steve Basta
    Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AlterG Inc.

    John Buckley
    President and CEO of Architectural Glass and Aluminum

    Mark Petri
    Vice President of Sales for Plastikon Industries

    Hale Foote
    President and Owner of Scandic Springs

    Groups “partnering” with The Manex Group are:

    •    Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)
    •    Alliance of CEOs
    •    Armanino
    •    Association for Corporate Growth
    •    Bank of the West
    •    Barnard/Montague Capital Advisors
    •    California Bank of Commerce
    •    City National Bank
    •    Comerica Bank
    •    DeltaTech (DTI)
    •    Energy Commercialization
    •    Growth Capital Associates, Inc.
    •    Industrial Growth Partners
    •    Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
    •    Next Step
    •    North Bay iHub
    •    Robert Half International
    •    Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster
    •    Strategic Business Insights (SBI)
    •    Tatum LLC
    •    The HR Matrix
    •    Turnaround Management Association
    •    US Capital LLC
    •    Vistage
    •    Wood, Warren & Co.
    •    WorldTech International (WTI)
    •    Xantrion
    •    Alameda County Workforce Investment Board (ACWIB)
    •    CalRecycle
    •    California Manufacturing & Technology Association (CMTA)
    •    KITECH
    •    National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
    •    United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    •    Western Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (WTAAC)
    •    California Employers Association
    •    California State University, Sacramento
    •    East Bay Manufacturing Group (EBMG)
    •    East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network
    •    i-GATE NEST Incubator
    •    Inner City Advisors
    •    Laney College
    •    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
    •    Pacific Community Ventures
    •    SFMade.org
    •    SME – Silicon Valley
    •    Society of Manufacturing Engineers
    •    Solano Small Business Development Center
    •    UCLA Anderson School of Management, Easton Technology Leadership Program
    •    University of California, Berkeley, Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability
    •    101 MFG
    •    California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED)
    •    California Employment Training Panel (ETP)
    •    City of Fairfield Economic Development
    •    City of Brentwood
    •    City of Livermore Economic Development
    •    East Bay Economic Development Alliance
    •    Innovate Northstate
    •    Sacramento Metro Chamber
    •    San Francisco Roundtable
    •    San Joaquin Partnership
    •    Silicon Valley Manufacturing Roundtable
    •    Solano Economic Development Corporation
    •    Sonoma County BEST

  16. Anon

    Davis Progressive:

    Quote from the article you site as evidence Don Saylor is against the innovation parks:

    “Supervisor Saylor made it a clear point at the end to move back from the brink when he stated, “I don’t want this to be interpreted as opposition to economic development in this area.”

  17. Anon

    Davis Progressive:

    Quote from the article you site as evidence Don Saylor is against the innovation parks:

    “Supervisor Saylor made it a clear point at the end to move back from the brink when he stated, “I don’t want this to be interpreted as opposition to economic development in this area.”

    How is this evidence that Don Saylor is against innovation parks?

    1. Matt Williams

      Anon, the hearsay/rumors that I have heard on numerous occasions from numerous derivative sources is that Supervisor Saylor is not generically against innovation parks, but rather for certain parks (Nishi) and against the other parks until such a time as Nishi is approved by the voters. The background logic that has been attached to Supervisor Saylor is that the City of Davis is only capable of one Measure J/R “yes vote” and that any attempt to achieve more than one “yes vote” will torpedo them all.

      I can understand someone coming to that logical conclusion, but I personally do not believe there is a Measure J/R “yes vote” quota in Davis.

      1. David Greenwald

        There is a secondary battle Matt and Anon. It is a turf battle between the county and the city on revenue. Thus there is a perception that the county and in particular, Saylor, may be sabotaging the process because the county is not getting their take.

  18. Matt Rexroad

    Good Grief.  Get over yourselves people.

    Is it possible that two people could both be good at the same job yet have different styles?

    Both of these individuals have an incredible ability to help Davis.  You should be thankful for both of them.

    Matt Rexroad — (916) 539-0455 cell

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      “Incredible” sounds like a bit of a stretch in a town like Davis.

      If a well-respected Rob White wasn’t shuttled out the back door in the middle of the night and the new insider wasn’t anointed without competition or public comment, no one would probably need to ‘get over’ themselves.

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