Commentary: Something Has to Change

City Hall

Driving home late on Tuesday night, I realized something – it’s been a tough year. Maybe it is not true, but it seems like I have been on the losing end of every major council vote since the new council was seated in July 2014.

The soda tax was just the latest blow in a series of votes, some of them 3-2 like the CFD (Community Facilities District) and some of them 4-1 like the new MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) last December. The soda tax in some ways is an easy target, because of the ease with which a monied interest was able to come into our city and roll the biggest proponent of such a measure.

The most appalling thing is I sat and watched yesterday as roughly five commenters literally do not care how the soda tax got killed, they are simply happy that it did. And so when a monied interest comes in and blows up something they do care about, no one is going to be able to do anything.

Good government cannot mean that ends justify the means. Process matters.

Leaving the issue of the soda tax aside, I think the biggest failure of this council, again starting in July 2014, is the failure to pass a meaningful revenue measure. I will give the council credit for finding $4 million in existing funds for roads, but we are still bleeding money on infrastructure and, other than a relatively inconsequential Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), this council has utterly failed on revenue measures.

This failure is now 18 months in the making. It started with the passage of the sales tax in June 2014. The fact that the measure was deemed an emergency measure to close a $5 million hole and it only received 58 percent of the vote, I think, started to spook the council. At the same time, their polling was showing that a parcel tax would not get the two-thirds vote it needed to pass.

At that point it was July of 2014, and they had four to five months to sell the public on our infrastructure needs. Councilmember Brett Lee was willing to put a $50 measure on the ballot, but there was no interest to do so. And so the council punted.

The council does deserve credit in carving out about $4 million in recurring funds for roads, but as much as road work finally happened this past fall, you drive down key arterials like Covell, Russell, Cowell and many others and there are serious deficiencies in the roads, that are only going to get worse.

Even with the cost of oil tanking and bringing asphalt costs to more manageable levels, we are still at least $4 million short on roads, not to mention other infrastructure needs like buildings, parks, etc.

The decision that was made on Tuesday night was why rush to put this on the ballot when we are looking at a special tax anyway, and therefore we can put it on either in November or during a special election. I get it. And at a nearly midnight it made all the sense in the world.

But let us go back in time. We have known that we needed a revenue measure for 18 months. When council did not act in July 2014, that pushed the ball into the June 2016 court for action. But instead of utilizing that time – we squandered it. Yes, there was a task force or a citizen body that was asked to assess taxes.

But the timeline was severely mismanaged. So, instead of having the initial discussion in September when the council would have had plenty of time, the revenue measure was brought to council on December 15. That was the last council meeting in 2015, meaning council would have a maximum of four meetings in 2016 – two in January and two in February – to get squared away, with other major issues like Nishi, and that was going to mean a lack of bandwidth.

Right there, the city manager did not give the council enough time to deal with a highly complex issue.

In December, you’ll recall that the city manager pushed back when the council wanted more information on the soda tax. Ultimately he was outvoted, but he pushed back the discussion on the taxes to the last possible second.

I will have a very hard time believing that there were not at least political motivations behind the city manager’s reluctance on this issue.

What came forward in the first February meeting was a skeleton proposal on soda tax, and a parcel tax proposal geared more toward parks (which was the mayor’s project), rather than the parcel tax proposal that the council majority had pushed for in December.

The bottom line is that the council moved away from a parcel tax last year, and the city considered a UUT (Utility User Tax) which was rejected in December. What emerged in December was a soda tax, a TOT, and a parcel tax.

What the council got in February was a soda tax in skeleton form that needed a lot more work, a TOT that is nice but will generate perhaps $300,000 for the city (again nice, but not game-changing), and a parcel tax that leaned toward parks.

Bottom line, this whole process was mismanaged and that is on the city manager. Had these proposals come forward in September, the council could have worked through them better. The soda tax should have been separated from the other revenue measures, rather than wrapped into one discussion.

The end result is, again, the can has been kicked down the road on city infrastructure needs. Unless this issue comes back in April, we may well have the same problem in July with the new council – not much time to consider a parcel tax before the council has to act, before their vacation, to put it on the ballot.

But there is an even bigger problem here. The council in November of 2014 hired a city manager who lacks both land use experience and a financing background. So we saw at this meeting, for example, the city manager said just about nothing during the entire discussion on Nishi and the entire discussion on taxes.

City staff and some members of council have done a huge amount of work attempting to get Nishi ready, but the complaint I am hearing is that the city manager has hardly, if at all, been involved in that process.

What I am hearing from some unusual sources is that staff is getting burned out because the city manager does not have the expertise to deal with these crucial issues.

We are about to enter into a new political season. Are we going to continue to hear the mantra that “everything is awesome,” or are we going to hear more frank talk about the needs of the city and the shortcomings of the current process?

To me, it was a major failure that we do not have a revenue measure on the ballot. The time was ripe for one. And we will see what the future brings – that was a $100 million gamble by the council on Tuesday to punt on revenue, and hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite us all.

—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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  1. Barack Palin

    The most appalling thing is I sat and watched yesterday as roughly five commenters literally do not care how the soda tax got killed, they are simply happy that it did. And so when a monied interest comes in and blows up something they do care about, no one is going to be able to do anything.

    Some of us see it differently.  We feel that we almost got rolled by a small local group of activists.  Thankfully the council didn’t fall for it.

    1. Matt Williams

      BP, as I said in my public comment Tuesday, I currently oppose the soda tax because neither the staff nor the proponents have provided (1) a scope for the services the tax revenue will fund, (2) the specific measurable success metrics for the proposed new services, (3) an inventory of the specific costs that will be incurred to provide said proposed services.

      The one aspect of the soda tax that you consistently fail to acknowledge is the fact that for each individual consumer it is a 100% avoidable tax.  As a result I believe your opposition to the soda tax is a political calculation rather than an objective weighing of the evidence.


      1. Mark West

        There are three components to address the fiscal crisis: raising taxes, reducing the rate of cost inflation and increasing economic vitality. Historically, the City is great at step 1, and lousy at steps 2 and 3.  I see no reason to support new taxes (of any kind) until the City Council shows a commitment to results for the other two steps.  They can do that by fully implementing Robb’s list of cost containment efforts, and by approving for the ballot both the Nishi and MRIC projects.  If they cannot show that commitment to following through with cost containment and growing jobs then there is absolutely no reason to provide them with any more money to spend.

        1. Matt Williams

          Although I might tweak the action words in your final sentence a bit Mark, I have a hard time arguing with your logic.

          With that said, there isn’t enough available evidence for me to make an informed decision regarding MRIC at this time.  A process has been laid out for gathering that evidence, and significant work has been done and is being done to complete the gathering.  We continue to put one foot in front of the other.

          The feelings I have expressed above are strongly affected by the incredibly high levels of distrust (an low levels of trust) that exist in our community.  I strongly believe that any ballot measures placed before the voters need to first and foremost contribute to a building of trust and a reducing of distrust.  Careful and transparent weighing of the evidence is an important step in that direction.

  2. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > when a monied interest comes in and blows up something

    1. Who is the “monied interest” that “blew up” the soda tax?

    2. Who did they give money to?

    3. How much money did they give?

    I don’t drink soda and my kids don’t drink soda yet I would have voted against the tax even without a “monied interest” payoff, so unless David can answer questions 1-3 and post them to the blog he should edit this post…

        1. hpierce

          Actually, David answered two, to some extent… money was given to the VG (for their ad), by an industry source [David shared this the other day, on this blog, in a response to a question I posed].  He did not share the amount, and he did not share if he was aware of other contributions to other individuals/entities.

    1. Matt Williams

      SoD, my observations of the events in the Council Chambers and what I heard from the dialogue outside the Council Chambers by the soda tax opponents, the answers to your questions are (1) the soda industry trade association lobbyists, (2) the advertising industry, (3) unknown for the moment because the principal tactic is currently the threat of spending “big” money.  If I were to guess (and it is only a guess) I would expect they have spent $1 million or more thus far in advertising and organizing efforts.

        1. Matt Williams

          There were two such staff people sitting in the back row of Council Chambers on Tuesday night.  Both furiously taking notes and supporting the talking heads who made their way to the public commeet podium.

    2. Tia Will

      South of Davis

      I can answer questions 1 and 2. I cannot address question three because I was not privy to the actual amounts.

      1.. Who is the “monied interest” that “blew up” the soda tax?

      The monied interest was an East Coast advertising firm representing the soda industry. For the     name of the firm, David provided it on the previous thread. I don’t remember the name, but it can be easily accessed.

      2. “ Who did they give money to?”

      They paid for ads which ran on the Vanguard and in the Enterprise. That is a matter of record and can be easily verified.

      In case you doubt the veracity of my claim, or my source of information, you can check a thread in which I challenged this ad publicly stating my disagreement with David on accepting this ad. I am sorry I cannot give you the date of the commentary but it was on a sugary beverage tax thread in December.

      OOPS ! It seems I should have read all the posts before tapping away. You can consider this independent corroboration and my thanks to David and Don for being willing to post again.

  3. Misanthrop

    Something has to give and it looks like its going to be the infrastructure. They can’t seem to raise the revenue through tax increases and the resistance to growth has shortchanged the cities coffers while the desire to pay comfortable middle class salaries to city employees has drained the ability to keep up on the maintenance of what we already have. Some of the results of this disfunction include the blighted Rainbow City play area, the crumbling bike path along Russell Blvd. and leaky pools.

    A friend’s kid recently broke his arm when his skateboard hit a bump in a broken sidewalk.

      1. Jim Frame

        The condition of Fifth Street at the east end is bad enough that it’s going to be dangerous soon.

        At Alhambra?  That’s only 25 years old; it seems a little young to be falling apart.

        1. hpierce

          Trench failures near MH’s… compounded by being a major bus route… the first due possibly due to poor construction inspection, and/or inappropriate construction methods; the second due to the nature of bus suspensions, and nature of their operation.  May also be some ‘subsidence’, but am thinking that is only a minor contribution to the problem.

          The solution is not simple.  “Normal” street maintenance “fixes” will not solve the problem.

          1. Don Shor

            Just shows how long we’ve been here…our first motto was “Look for the barn at the east end of Fifth Street!”

        2. Matt Williams

          Subsidence appears to be one of the major contributors to the portion of 5th from Explorit to Alhambra, leaving the concrete rings surrounding manhole covers high above the road surface.  They protrude high enough above the road surface that the exposed concrete edge can slash the sidewall of a car’s tire.

        3. hpierce

          Matt…’subsidence’ would similarly drop the MH’s… subsidence is “regional” and is due to compression of aquifers, generally… trust me on this… the problem is more localized… construction of MH’s means that you don’t necessarily get the best compaction in their vicinity… the City had trench ‘failures’ on Covell between Sycamore and Anderson years ago… similar, but not the same… on Fifth, in Mace Ranch, the failures are not all along the trench, but localized in the vicinity of the MH’s… construction errors, exacerbated by the bus loads…

        4. Matt Williams

          Understood hpierce; however, the vertical concrete manhole structures can not compress the way the soils and gravel and roadbed under the asphalt surface of the road can.  My choice of words was purposeful . . . “one of”

        5. Topcat

          The part that’s in front of a red barn-shaped building.

          Isn’t there a tire repair place near there so we can get the damage from the poor roads repaired? 😉

      2. Topcat

        The condition of Fifth Street at the east end is bad enough that it’s going to be dangerous soon.

        If you want to experience REALLY bad, take a drive along the east end of Olive Drive!

        1. hpierce

          Basically, the east end of Olive can only be solved by reconstruction… underlying much of the roadway is the old Lincoln Highway… that concrete is harder than the proverbial “hinges of hell”.  Cement was cheap ‘in the day’.

        2. Topcat

          Basically, the east end of Olive can only be solved by reconstruction…

          Yes, A portion of Olive Drive was redone last year, but apparently there was not enough money to finish the job,

        3. Matt Williams

          The road work that was done on East Olive is a perfect example of “extraordinary” funding.  Last year the City saw over $6 million of road repairs completed, wit $4 million of that funded by local taxpayer money . . . “ordinary” funding.  The remaining $2 million was funded by one-time windfalls, like the fact that PG&E had to do repair work under East Olive Drive and therefore had to resurface the roadway once their repairs were done.

          Bottom-line, we can’t consistently rely on windfall “extraordinary” funds to fix our roads.  That needs to be accomplished by an orderly budgeting of “ordinary” funds from the local taxpayers.  Then when windfall “extraordinary” funds do become available, they can not only pay for street repairs, but also raise Davis’ current target Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of 63, which is below the California statewide average PCI of 66.  Having streets that don’t even rise to the level of the statewide average is an acceptance of mediocrity.  Does anyone believe that Davis is a mediocre California city?

        4. hpierce

          David/Matt… the work was not a “gift” to the City for street maintenance… it was done as part of a gas line repair/replacement (think, ‘San Bruno’)… much more “mitigation” than maintenance…

        5. Matt Williams

          Understood hpierce.  It was definitely not a “gift” . . . but it definitely was not “ordinary” funding either.  I believe our city budget would be a much more transparent picture of the city’s financial position if “ordinary” funds were reported separately from “extraordinary” funds.  That way we would know how we are doing in providing the baseline services to the citizens.

          With that said, do you consider the SACOG grant for the upcoming work on Mace Boulevard to be a “gift”?

        6. hpierce

          Matt… the SACOG grant is indeed extra ordinary… that is to say, one-time, not dependable for on-going needs.  The PG&E work, on the other hand was merely ‘reparation’ (or, ‘mitigation’) for the damage inflicted to the pavement by their pipeline replacement activities.  Might have been some net gain if the pavement was already compromised, but to compare the two is pretty much an apples and oranges thing.

      1. Matt Williams

        David, your statement is misleading as written.  Failure to control the rate of cost growth over time is the real culprit, not growth itself.  When your recurring annual revenues from taxes only grow 2% per year (on average) and your costs grow 4% (or more) per year due to a failure of cost containment, then the early years surplus is eroded away and eventually becomes a deficit.

        Further, failure to control the rate of cost growth does major damage to the city even when there is no growth.

        That makes the cost containment plan presented by Robb Davis on Tuesday (see below with item 1b. added from the FBC dialogues) all the more important.

        Cost Containment as an Element of Fiscal Resilience

        1a. Undertake a full staffing analysis to determine match between service delivery needs and staffing.

        1b.  FBC discussions have not only embraced a staffing analysis (building on John Meyer’s study last year), but we have also discussed the belief that a thorough Business Process Re-engineering engagement is necessary as well.  Staffing poorly designed, inefficient, ineffective service delivery processes makes no sense.  Einstein said it perfectly, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

        2. Based on 1, consider best ways to provide services going forward with focus on (a) training workers to take on multiple tasks (as is happening already) and (b) consideration of targeted and appropriate outsourcing of services.
        3. Examine all means to further reduce growth in compensation costs including analysis of OPEB options (as other CA cities are doing).

        4. Create more transparent and accessible accounting systems that enable a more precise estimation of costs of specific services—building on work done by the Fee Study consultants.

        5. Promote a more aggressive analysis with the County and other cities, via LAFCo, of shared bidding, service, and consulting options to reduce duplication and obtain scale efficiencies.

        6. Determine what current city programs might be candidates for reduction or elimination and which we want/must keep.

        7. Determine what current city infrastructure we could/should shed (buildings, properties) to reduce expenditures related to them.

        Though not a cost containment item, we should also receive an analysis of all non-enterprise fund balances to determine if/how we can use these funds to meet current needs.

        1. David Greenwald

          Matt, even if you are correct that growth is not necessarily a net loss. The NIshiguro experienced demonstrates that it is difficult to rely on growth to generate revenue. NIshi has a substantial retail and RD  component that most other sites will not have. And it has been a challenge to create even a modest revenue stream.  So I disagree that my comment was deceptive.

        2. Matt Williams

          Not deceptive . . . misleading.

          One of the biggest reasons that the EPS margin numbers for Nishi are what they are is that they are a snapshot of the project 20 years from now (at “full buildout”) and in those 20 years the initial revenues have increased only 2% a year and the costs have increased 4% a year. That 2% difference compounded over 20 years means that the costs have grown an aggregate of 50% larger than the revenues. If we implement Cost Containment, then that 50% gets removed from the EPS cost estimates. That is a HUGE difference.

        3. Matt Williams

          The point I make above is why I formally recommended to staff the following.  The bolded paragraph at the end of my recommendation is what Paul Navazio provided in the Wildhorse ranch measure P analysis, and it should be provided in the case of nishi as well.

          The following question that has been posed by citizens/residents in a number of the conversations I have had, “Does anyone believe that the Innovation Parks are a “short term” money generator?”

          I thought about that question and realized that my reading of the EPS Report (copy attached) hasn’t given me a crisp clear answer to that question.  The EPS report is very clear about the one-time construction costs of $856,128,490 (Table 3 on page 64) for MRIC with housing, and the $564,396,831 one-time impact of MRIC with housing on the City’s economy (Table 5 on page 69), but it is nowhere near as clear about how those one-time impacts contribute both revenues and service costs to the City Budget.

          The Estimated Annual Fiscal Impact Summary at Buildout on page 131 lays out $3,786,000 in annual revenues and $1,585,000 in annual expenses at buildout, (with drill down into the components of those numbers in Table 1 on page 132), but that is only a single point in time (and notably a future time that some say is irrelevant to our immediate city budgetary issues).  We need to show the immediate effect on the City Budget that those one-time activities will create.  A clear explanation of evidence of immediate return (if any) needs to be part of the public dialogue.  It is that kind of “What’s In It For Me” evidence that is going to cause the currently disinterested voters/residents to begin to pay attention.

          Ideally, a table showing the trended annual revenue and expense number estimates from year one to buildout would be very useful to keep that kind of dialogue on a level playing field. However, delivering that full picture shouldn’t delay the creation of and distribution of what the one-time impact of both Nishi and MRIC are.

  4. CountyRoad

    A few things about this town that I wish could have been done differently:

    1. Our sidewalks and bike paths all will eventually get cracked/raised because of tree roots.  How is that the developers/city who planted/approved the trees have no idea what a tree will be like 10+ years from now?  No one thought of the amount of buffer needed?

    2. The City sold the old school property on Grande, and now they are talking about needing space for soccer fields, etc.?  That space isn’t gigantic, but our town really needs more facilities for kids sports, and that location is easily accessible by bike.  Instead, it got sold and will become more housing.

    3. All this talk about needing property and building for businesses, and yet we allow the closed down foster care center on 5th and Poleline to become high density apartments.

    1. hpierce

      1.   They did know about that issue… the developers didn’t care, the arborists and engineers raised their hands to point out the potential problems,and were ignored by the ‘planners’, commissions and electeds.  When you are ignored time and time again, you tend to stop raising your hand.  The arborists and engineers did sometimes under-estimate the effect some species of trees would have.  Also, poor watering practices led many tree species to be more ‘surface root’ than ‘deep root’ inclined.

      2.  False premise… the City never owned the Grande site.  DJUSD all the way.

      3.  Seems your premise is the City owns the site, or should be able to direct the property owner as to how to use their property.  No further comment.


      1. hpierce

        Clarification on 1… if trees are planted with sufficient space from infrastructure… if they are properly maintained, they will not necessarily EVER damage sidewalks/streets.

    2. Don Shor

      1. Our sidewalks and bike paths all will eventually get cracked/raised because of tree roots. How is that the developers/city who planted/approved the trees have no idea what a tree will be like 10+ years from now? No one thought of the amount of buffer needed?

      In most cases tree roots are not an issue. There is one conspicuous example in West Davis where they have become a serious liability, and it is actually kind of surprising given the species involved (Italian stone pine, usually deep rooted). It is clear to any professional looking at the situation that those trees need to be replaced. Tree removal and replacement can be done gradually. The problem there isn’t the professionals.

      1. CountyRoad

        Don – I will defer to your expertise on trees.  I agree with hpierce too.  Unfortunately, I’ve observed trees that are planted too close to the sidewalks and not maintained.

    3. Don Shor

      3. All this talk about needing property and building for businesses, and yet we allow the closed down foster care center on 5th and Poleline to become high density apartments.

      The latest (2015) apartment vacancy report has just been released. I assume David will write about it at some point. Apartment vacancy rate has now dropped from 0.3% to 0.2%.

      1. Matt Williams

        I will second the point that Don is making and add the thought that UCD’s enrollment increase of 2,676 students in September 2015 far exceeded that 0.1% change in the vacancy rate.  Many of the UCD students who couldn’t find a housing vacancy to rent in Davis are now commuting from West Sac or Sacramento, and exiting their car from I-80 at the Richards exit . . . adding to the traffic congestion on Richards and First.

        1. CountyRoad

          UC Davis has built a lot of student housing west of 113.  There is still a lot more land that can be developed along that area. In addition, I don’t see traffic congestion issues along that side. Plus there is easy bike access from those units right to UC Davis. Poleline and 5th creates density issues in my opinion.  The onus should be on UCD to come up with more student housing.

        2. Matt Williams

          Everything you have said is accurate CountyRoad, although the additional units of student housing west of 113 is only 1/3 of the 3,960 student enrollment increase UCD has experienced in the most recent two years (from 32,144 in 2013 to 36,104 in 2015).

          You are absolutely correct that you (and I) don’t see traffic congestion on that side (CA 113 and Russell Blvd), and if we work with CalTrans to add electronic wayfinding signs on I-80 to direct UCD students to CA 113 and Russell and Howard Way (or alternatively to the Old Davis Road exit), then the volume of traffic exiting I-80 at Richards Blvd will decrease substantially.

          The onus should be on UCD, but history tells us that UCD signed a 1989 housing MOU with the City of Davis and not delivered on their MOU commitments . . . and then 13 years later UCD participated in, agreed to, and signed the UC systemwide Housing Task Force that published the 2002 report/commitment “UC Housing for the 21st Century” and now after 14 years UCD has not delivered on their Task Force commitments.

          Bottom-line, UCD has thumbed its nose at the City, thumbed its nose at the UC Office of the President, thumbed its nose at the other eight UC campuses, thumbed its nose at the Regents.  For me, that is an Albert Einstein moment.


        3. Misanthrop

          Of course when UCD tried to keep its promise they got sued and that set them back quite a bit.

          Janet Napolitano recently declared that UC had to prioritize housing. It seems that UC is listening but aren’t getting much recognition. This might be because of the long lead time required for construction. Still on the city side opposition to housing is as strong as ever. Of course we need a Marshall Plan style commitment to new housing to get caught up but I doubt Davis is willing to do its part.

        4. Matt Williams

          Misanthrop is correct, UC President Napolitano has announced new efforts to build at least 14,000 more beds for undergraduate and graduate students by 2020 across the UC system (UCD is one of 9 campuses).  Some quick math says that UCD’s “average” share of that 14,000 is approximately 1,500, which is less than 40% of UCD’s 3,960 student enrollment increase in the past two academic years.

        5. Miwok

          Bottom-line, UCD has thumbed its nose at the City, thumbed its nose at the UC Office of the President, thumbed its nose at the other eight UC campuses, thumbed its nose at the Regents.  For me, that is an Albert Einstein moment.

          Well said, Matt, and the reason is they are not planning on these students having any problems, as they will all be from out of state (read Foreign) with plenty of money to rent homes and no need for dorms like the peasant students from California. They will all have cars, though.

          The West Village Project has stalled and has no one working on it, the second phase has not gotten past the Press release stage where they pat themselves on the back, then ask for bids. They felt it was even necessary to put a building out there for Sac State students, wonder where they live while they go to class?

  5. Tia Will


     trust me on this”

    And I do. I have no difficulty at all acknowledging when someone has expertise in an area that I am lacking in knowledge. I also have no difficulty accepting the expertise of Don Shor on matters concerning trees and agriculture, or Nate Trauernicht when it comes to firefighting and the superior knowledge of the lawyers on our city council when it comes to legal issues.

    What I find so amazing is the apparent lack of trust, or even respect for  the expertise of various members of the health care community. I am not even addressing the issue of whether or not the soda tax would be effective or is ideologically sound. or as Matt quite accurately points out is not fleshed out enough for his current support.

    On the one hand we have a very prominent citizen expounding the opinion that this should be left in the hands of the health care professionals, while at the same time arguing against the expressed opinion of that group. I am also addressing that despite multiple postings regarding the physiology of the liquid delivery system and its unique health hazards and explanation of this point at public comment in which Rochelle was in attendance , we have Rochelle Swanson opining from the dias that irregardless of this factual information, she does not think that sodas should be targeted more than other sugary foods. As recently as yesterday posters were challenging my understanding of basic physiology, and/or not being willing to discuss the actual numbers that I previously presented from the Davis clinic in terms of maternal obesity but instead claiming that there is no obesity issue in Davis. My posts about the specific maternal/fetal risks are discounted despite my 30 years of specialization in this area.

    So yes, I do find it very odd that you are willing to use the phrase “trust me on this” while not extending that courtesy even in the specific area of sub specialization, public health and nutrition on the part of Robb Davis and Dr. Goldstein and women’s and fetal health in my case.


  6. Tia Will

    I agree that something should fundamentally change in the city. And I have one suggestion for what might help. I would like to see a change in the tone of conversation. I would like to suggest that the overall model for process involving conversations about public issue be collaborative rather than adversarial. I know that I am asking for a lot of change since that is not typically either the Davis nor the American way.

    One poster verified this in his expressed appreciation of a citizen at public comment “getting in the council’s face”. While I agree that this kind of confrontations style at public comment and here on the Vanguard makes for better theatre, it is in my opinion, not conducive to collaboration and thus to actual problem solving.

    I have one example of an issue that did not go my way, but for which I appreciated the process. This was the issue of water fluoridation. We were given the chance to do balanced presentations before the WAC which allowed for more discussion and consideration of the factual evidence than is allowed for in the CC format. There was a considerably range of philosophic viewpoints represented by the WAC members. They listened respectfully to the evidence from both the proponents and the opponents. Both sides presented their evidence in this venue without the drama and histrionics evidenced by both sides in the CC format. The outcome of this evidence based process was a mixed vote with the needed majority advising the council to vote in favor. Although the end result was disappointing to me I feel that this kind of contemplative approach is far superior to either side utilizing completely unsubstantiated claims, misrepresentations, name calling ( ideas or individual) or totally ignoring the points of the other side that may be both true and valid since it is easier to ignore than to counter.


  7. Miwok

    Bottom line, this whole process was mismanaged and that is on the city manager. Had these proposals come forward in September, the council could have worked through them better.

    With over 100 employees of the City “laid off” and pay stalled, the exits were plainly open, and if anyone was hired it was for lower pay rather than expertise. However – in the manner that is common now, the CM is hired at a “higher than the last guy” salary. HE is supposed to make up for 100 people, gone before he got there? They are still hiring “consultants” too?

    When you hire a manager, he cannot be a Staff Member too. He has to manage all the projects, and the people. Since you talk about 2014 and 2016 like the same CM was there all that time (Oct ’14?),  He either does not have the people he needs, or he is not his own Staff. I think Mr Meyer’s “survey” was telling, because he had to donate his time to do it. If there is no professional oversight, the inmates (CC) are running the asylum.

    1. hpierce

      Clarification… almost all of the RIF’s were retirements (many, “early”)… NOT layoffs… people have been promoted into mgt. who still had to do their former jobs, as SME’s, and even then, particularly at peak activity, as ‘foot-soldiers’ due to the lack of “troops”.

      The main “layoffs” were in street maintenance, and the tree crew… no HR folk were ‘victims’ of that…

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