Back when the MOUs were approved, without being pulling off consent, by the Davis City Council, there was pushback by some on the council against the notion that this was an issue of controversy. There were references to the Vanguard 10 – suggesting that the only people really up in arms were the ten people regularly posting on the Vanguard.
Another councilmember more delicately suggested that, if they weren’t reading the feedback on the Vanguard, they would never know this was an issue. Of course, as I’ve noted, the Vanguard was the only entity really raising the issue, so where else was the feedback going to be occurring?
But the bigger point is that the perception of the Vanguard appears to be wrong. It isn’t just ten people commenting – in fact it is much broader. And while yes, the Vanguard is not a complete representation of the community, we do have a very broad cross-section of it.
The legwork on this is from Don Shor. First of all, I’d like to thank Don, he has been our moderator since late 2009 and he spends hours of his time doing this with no compensation. Not everyone agrees with him or his decisions, but read the comments from late 2009 and compare them to now and you will see the benefit of his work.
Don Shor analyzed the data for the month of December. In total, there were 76 different people commenting the Vanguard. Right there is a substantial number. A lot of councilmembers seem to use the email they receive as a gauge – it was referenced a few times in the MOU discussion, but 76 would seem to be a substantial number of communications – perhaps higher than the number of letters to the local paper, higher than the number of public comments, and certainly higher than the number of emails the council generally receives on a given issue.
Don Shor then broke down the comments by frequency, making the arbitrary division at 100 comments. He found that the commenters were almost equally split, with 37 of the commenters having made less than 100 comments in total and 39 having made over 100 comments in total.
Most interesting is that, within the more frequent commenter groups, there are two levels. There are 15 commenters (14 if you don’t include myself) who have made over 1000 comments. There are another 34 people who are in the next tier, making between 100 and 999 comments. That group is varied with some making 700 to 800 comments and others making as low as 109 comments.
The point is that, while there are 14 people who are clearly commenting a lot more than most, there is another tier of active users who are frequent participants.
As Don Shor put it, “Knowing what I do about the range of professions, civic activities, and intellectual prowess of these 76 individuals who commented in December, I would say that any public official who minimizes the Vanguard as a source of community conversation does so at his or her own peril.”
He adds, “This is where conversations happen.”
And that’s really our theme for 2016, this is the place where the conversation is going to happen, whether it is on the website or out in the community. We are going to be sponsoring a monthly (in January, twice monthly) speaker series. On January 13, it will be on Mace Ranch Innovation Center, and then on January 30 on Nishi. Times and locations are pending for both events.
—David M. Greenwald reporting