Complete Lack of Transparency on City’s TPP Action

tppBy Rob White

First, let me declare that I am writing this article as a single person, and not as a representative of any company or organization I may be associated with.

Over the last 36 hours, perhaps some of you came to the same conclusion I did when reviewing hearing of the City’s resolution to declare Davis a “TPP Free Zone”? Questions like ‘where did this come from?’, ‘why didn’t the business community know about this?’, ‘why weren’t any of the businesses included in the discussion?’, and ‘how can the City have turned a blind eye to process and transparency?’ all came to mind.

Ironically, both the City Council’s Legislative Subcommittee report/resolution dated May 24, 2016, and then Nancy’s follow on comments on the Vanguard have statements about lack of transparency. Specifically, they state:

“…numerous groups have raised concerns about various aspects of the agreement, from transparency concerns…” – City Council staff report, written by Robb Davis and Lucas Frerichs, as reported in the Vanguard on May 26, 2016.

“TiSA is being secretly negotiated…” – Nancy Price, comment on Vanguard from May 26, 2016.

What is troubling about these statements, is that the whole process by which the TPP discussion wound up on the Council Consent Agenda was anything but transparent, and appears to have been done in relative secrecy. I pay reasonably good attention to City dealings and the Council actions, and I didn’t learn about the item until the next day, 24 hours after it was discussed and voted on! And that was because someone who had been at the Council meeting told me about the action.

When I shared what had happened with other businesses and the Chamber, none of them was aware of the discussions that the City Council’s Legislative Subcommittee had apparently been having with a small, special-interest citizens’ group. And the same question came up… Why wasn’t the business community even invited to the discussion?

So as not to get distracted, my major complaint isn’t whether or not the TPP (or any of the other trade deals) is good or bad for Davis. My point is that the very same people that are complaining about the lack of transparency are perpetrating secret discussions and rushed something onto the Council Agenda, without any outreach or discussions with a major portion of the Davis community. And not just the agenda, but the “Consent Agenda”, making it seem even more suspicious and like something was amiss.

To bolster the view that businesses (and their local owners, in many cases) are a significant part of the community, it should be noted that business pay or collect over 60%+ of the fees and taxes that make up the general fund revenues for Davis. This includes property taxes (usually higher than that of residential on a per square foot basis), unsecured property tax on equipment, business license tax, and significantly higher permit fees for everything from moving an interior wall to renovating an entire building. And this doesn’t even account for the sales tax that is collected on behalf of the city and State, at no cost to the taxpayer, but a significant burden on the retailer.

What is even more interesting in this effort to declare Davis a ‘TPP Free Zone’ is that when the action was challenged by Council Member Rochelle Swanson, and she noted that the resolution could have a serious impact on Davis businesses, that no one on the rest of the Council took an action to suspend the discussion and have the item brought back after staff sought additional community input. Why the rush to pass this resolution?

If you are of the opinion that this action by Council to make Davis a ‘TPP Free Zone’ has no ‘real’ impact, let me make this connection for you. UC Davis has for a number of years hosted a program called Seed Central, where a significant number of global seed companies meet monthly to work collaboratively on common objectives. And the City of Davis is a participating member.

According to Seed Central’s website, “some 100 seed and seed-related companies are located near UC Davis and benefit greatly from its proximity, but the influence of UC Davis extends throughout the USA and far beyond.”

Many of these same companies are also members of ASTA — the American Seed Trade Association. And ASTA’s website indicates that the organization has been actively working on passage of the TPP as an agreement that supports the seed and agricultural industries.

Even more to the point would be that agricultural researchers at UC Davis released a study in November 2015 that supported TPP. Daniel Sumner, an ag economist and Director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center (part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which are located on 2nd Street in Davis), with the help of UC ANR researchers Hyunok Lee and William A. Matthews, released a study for the university’s Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics that stated “the proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact could be significant for California, lowering import barriers and enabling more of the state’s agricultural products to be sent to Japan and other nations.” Sumner also observed that “better access to imports from TPP countries would give U.S. consumers more spending power, and thus could increase domestic demand for California farm products.”

So not only didn’t the City Council check in with businesses, they seem to have completely forgotten that agricultural partners and UC researchers right in Davis are also part of this conversation. And unlike the small, special-interest group that seems to have gotten the ear of the two-person City Council Legislative Subcommittee in some private conversations that didn’t include any community partnering or outreach, the real faux pas appears to be that this action actually alienates some of the very businesses and researchers in the most sacred of sectors for Davis – agriculture.

Of course, this issue could have been avoided by adhering to the spirit of the ‘Davis core values’ of transparency and openness. I am not saying that the outcome would have been different – no one will know for sure – but I can tell you that the conversation would have been different and that the action would have been informed and at least we could say that it was inclusive of all of the Davis community, residents and businesses alike.

Though I realize the bandaid has been ripped off on this one, I would still encourage the City Council to take this action up again, ask staff to conduct the appropriate outreach to the business and research communities, and then hear it again when all of the facts are in evidence… there was absolutely no reason to rush this item to a vote.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

42 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    Rob

    why didn’t the business community know about this?’, ‘why weren’t any of the businesses included in the discussion?’”

    Why wasn’t the business community even invited to the discussion?”

    I am going to write this directly to you as one person to another, not as a representative of any group. I think that you have made a valid point that has much broader implications than you have stated. Your have stressed your concerns about the business community and yet many who are pro-business and development ( with some notable exceptions) are anything but forthcoming with those who will be most affected by projects they are proposing to the city.

    My point is not to point specific fingers, but to demonstrate that stealth is a common strategy in our community and that I believe that when we pit one group of citizens against another group, we invite dissension and animosity. I believe that any significant action taken the City Council should have adequate notice posted in advance so that community members with strong views on either side should have the ability to have their concerns heard in advance of the action.

    Within the past year, we have had multiple issues which presented themselves seemingly “out of nowhere”. A few which come to mind …the MRAP, the soda tax, the Trackside proposal, the TPP…add your own favorite. It is not just one portion of the community that engages in keeping a low profile hoping that what they want will just slip through or that no significant opposition exists because there has not been time for one to organize.

    My point is that the strategy of quiet surprise is not owned by any one group but is widely employed but we only protest when it is our side that feels they have been excluded. I would argue that if it is truly transparency that we want, we should want that for every group.

    I do not know the facts in this case. But if Rob is right in his statement of an essentially “back room deal” then I stand with him in calling for greater transparency before an action is taken……and would request that he also stand by me when it is my issue that is being spirited through in relative secrecy.

     

    1. Barack Palin

      Within the past year, we have had multiple issues which presented themselves seemingly “out of nowhere”. A few which come to mind …the MRAP, the soda tax, the Trackside proposal, the TPP…add your own favorite. 

      This is so funny to me that you mentioned the soda tax as coming out of nowhere.  I and others argued that same thing and I remember you pushing back on that.  Thank you for now admitting that the soda tax did indeed come “out of nowhere”.

  2. Barack Palin

    I agree with everything Rob White wrote in this article.  In my posts yesterday I stated basically the same thing but from the citizen standpoint.

  3. Tia Will

    BP

    Thank you for now admitting that the soda tax did indeed come “out of nowhere”.”

    There is no “admitting” involved here.

    I deliberately chose that example to demonstrate how we often fail to communicate with those who may be in opposition. You seem to have ignored a central point of my post in favor of a “gotcha” moment.

    For those of us who are deeply involved in individual and/or public health, the soda tax did not “come out of nowhere”. It has been the law in Mexico long enough to have preliminary numbers. It has been considered in various venues here in the US. It is not a new idea for those involved in this area of health. Just as I am sure that for those who have spent time evaluating the pros and cons of the TPP, this issue also has not come “out of the blue”, and I am honestly a little surprised that it “came out of the blue” for someone as astute in the business community as Rob.

    What I wanted to stress is the importance of understanding the perspective of those who are not deeply engaged on a specific issue on a regular basis, and particularly those who are not on “our side” of an issue. Being willing to step up and actively encourage the involvement of those others rather than just quietly hoping to sneak through our own agenda is critical.  I believe that this should apply to all of us, not just the business community ( Trackside), not just the police (MRAP), not just the public health community ( soda tax), and not just those opposed to specific trade agreements ( TPP). If we want a cohesive community, we need to accept that the same set of “fair play” rules should apply to all.

    1. Barack Palin

      There are many issues being brought up on a national and international level.  We see and hear about them everyday on the news.  We as citizens don’t expect our city to take action on them so when a city comes up with these types of proposals they do indeed come out of the blue.

       

        1. Napoleon Pig IV

          At this point, I don’t remember what I wrote that was censored, but I’m sure it was at least mildly sarcastic.

          The Vanguard Comment Policy is incomprehensible in terms of what will and will not be censored, even for an intelligent pig like myself who supports the right of a Blog owner to have Comment Policies in place.

      1. The Pugilist

        There are issues that connect local and state and national and this may be one of them.  Rob White doesn’t argue that the council weighed in on it, he argues that they short-circuited the public process.

    2. Rob White

      Tia

      I agree that the ‘rules’ should apply to everyone. I am not even saying that everyone has to agree with the outcomes, but not to have a voice or seat at the table is just disrespectful and not ‘the Davis way.’

      As far as ‘coming out of the blue’, it’s not that TPP caught the business community by surprise. Many of us have been tracking it for well over 2 years – some for and some opposed. What is problematic is that the City Council Legislative Subcommittee was having discussions with a small special-interest group (as I have come to find out, it appears this was representatives associated with the Sierra Club Yolano Group) on an item that would obviously be of interest to the business community. So far, I have yet to find a single business leader in Davis who was consulted, or even asked an opinion on this action. I am not saying that none were, but no one has come forward or volunteered that they were a business that was consulted.

      As I indicated in my article, this action is in direct conflict with an industry that the community openly supports – agriculture. Even leadership at the UC ANR has opined that TPP is good for ag. And it is because there was no outreach to these businesses – or apparently any business – that we now have this incredibly awkward juxtaposition between City Council action/policy and our favorite business sector. Again, not saying Council action would have been different, but they didn’t even reach out and ask the question. And when that became obvious from the discussion on the dias, good leadership would dictate that consideration of the item would be suspended and staff would be directed to do the appropriate outreach.

      Because at the end of the day, like it or not, businesses (and the university) are part of the Davis community. Treating these organizations, and the people that staff them, like they are second and third-tier caste members is not inclusive, and does not create a welcoming and vibrant community.

      1. Robb Davis

        So a few observations:

        1) We did not pass a resolution, as you wrote, that declares Davis a “TPP Free Zone.”  We modified the resolution based on a motion by Brett to simply say that the City Council opposes it.  David failed to mention this in his article and you repeated the error. You and David also failed to note the discussion that followed about bringing such elements before the CC in the future (see below). 

        2. My personal view is that unfortunate thing about such trade agreements is that they are handed to decision makers as a block–not allowing a frank discussion about potential positives and negatives (they are designed to not be approved item by item).  As a public health professional I have been struck by how all such agreements have (as Foreign Affairs puts it) affirmed a “patent-based model of drug development” which is “unsustainable and inequitable.”  My opposition is to this reality and I will take opportunities to take this position.  I am not alone: Medicins Sans Frontieres, the NEJM and the American Public Health Association have raised similar concerns in editorials, advocacy pieces and position papers for some time.

        3. I am confused by your suggestion that this was done non-transparently.  We noticed this item like all items and there were proponents and detractors who took the time to read the agenda in advance and describe their support/opposition to us.  You had the same opportunity as did anyone in this community.

        4. I take to heart Rochelle’s concern about bringing such items before Council.  I commit to making this part of the discussion that the incoming Council will have about meeting and agenda setting procedures.

        5. I also take to heart the comments of BP, Frankly, Mark West and others–they do not want us spending our time on this and so I am not going to spend any more time on this as soon as I hit “Post Comment”.

         

        1. Adam Smith

          Robb –

          I understand your sincerity and don’t question your belief that such an agreement may not be in the best interest of citizens of Davis or the world.   I have no opposition to you and other council members, as individuals, writing to your congressional representatives,  publishing editorials wherever you wish,  tabling at the Farmers Market, etc.   But I am adamantly  opposed to you and other council members attempting to use your elected positions to represent me as a citizen of Davis on such matters.    Neither the city council nor the city staff of Davis were elected or hired to make such proclamations, and I hope that you will refrain from such endeavors in the future.

           

        2. The Pugilist

          Here I disagree – the council was elected to represent the best interests of the community.  We often lose in government – we get people we don’t want or things we don’t want.  That’s part of democracy.

        3. Rob White

          Robb

          Thanks for responding. Here are my replies:

          1. If you read what I wrote, I said you ‘tried’ to pass a resolution. Again, it was Council Member Swanson that got the reso challenged and at least got the action down-graded to opposition of TPP.

          2. No disagreement. Again, my complaint isn’t that it was considered by Council, but the WAY it was brought to Council.

          3. I do appreciate the tactic of belittling me (and others) by stating that it was ‘on the agenda’. But even you have previously noted, and did so again in the Council meeting on Tuesday, that the lack of outreach on items of this nature goes beyond just ‘posting’.

          4. I think all of the business people of Davis would appreciate the future (and current) Council’s to work with us collaboratively to represent the whole community.

          5. Yes, the sentiments by others on this blog are correct… we have bigger fish to fry. The problem this time is this specific action has precipitated a tidal wave of actions by agriculturally related companies and organizations. I am sure by now you are already receiving just a few of the many emails I have already been privy to.

          Just so you know, TPP was not my issue, but now that it impacts the business community, it is now a Davis issue. I am merely the first of many voices (and ramifications) that will precipitate due to the action of Council on an item that could have just as easily been done in an open, collaborative manner. We should be collaborative, working together across the sectors to find solutions to the complex global problems – both here and afar.

  4. Matt Williams

    You can add my name to the list of people who were blown away by the sudden action the Council took on this item.

    I’m a pretty close watcher of Council issues/actions, and I’m regularly talking with Nancy Price and Alan Pryor as a byproduct of our respective Farmers Market tabling activities.  Neither of them are bashful, and if a decision on this issue were looming on the horizon I would have expected them to let me know about it and ask me to support their position.  Neither of them had/has said anything to me.

    Two of my fellow candidates Lucas and Brett have had numerous opportunities to describe this impending community action to the members of the community at forums, Farmers Market tabling, and personal discussions.  What have we gotten from them?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  They represent the citizens and yet appear to not have communicated with any breadth of the citizens prior to making this unilateral, very public, very far-reaching decision.

    The parallels between this decision and the Council’s approval of the Mitigated Negative Declaration at the Hotel/Conference Center are striking.

    Where is the Council’s commitment to open, transparent, reliable, repeatable processes?  Where were the community’s expectations considered.  How are those well-considered community expectations going to ensure that the commitment the Council has made on behalf of the community regarding the TPP is executed efficiently and effectively?

    Bottom-line, this was business as usual in the tradition of the Cannery CFD give-away, the Mace 391 debacle (that one was actually a competition between two clandestine processes, with the Davis citizens caught in between), and so-so-many more.

    As we deal with the challenges Davis faces we must change how we make decisions. We’ve made too many decisions like this one, based on political calculation, without involving the community and considering the consequences.  What the Council did Tuesday night was definitely “rushed” and possibly ill-considered.

  5. Alan Pryor

    I pay reasonably good attention to City dealings and the Council actions, and I didn’t learn about the item until the next day, 24 hours after it was discussed and voted on!

    You can’t be serious that you felt blind-sided by this? You were a City-employee once and know exactly how the drill works. You know the Council draft agenda always comes out the Friday before the meeting. You know the City will email it to you for free. That’s always been when everyone finds out what’s being discussed the following Tuesday. In this instance it was clearly disclosed this TPP item was to be on the consent calendar and had the associated Staff report was linked right to it.

    If you are of the opinion that this action by Council to make Davis a ‘TPP Free Zone’ has no ‘real’ impact, let me make this connection for you. UC Davis has for a number of years hosted a program called Seed Central, where a significant number of global seed companies meet monthly to work collaboratively on common objectives.

    Actually, the Council specifically modified the resolution to remove the language of Davis being a TPP-Free Zone and the approved resolution now explicitly only states the City objects to the TPP.

    But thanks for giving me a better understanding of who the TPP, if passed, will benefit locally…it’s our good ol’ friends at Monsanto who have been involved in many of the back-room negotiations of the TPP.  This GMO seed company, the 800-lb gorilla in Seed Central, is infamous throughout the world for having their GMO seed crops contaminate other native seed stock and then suing any affected native-seed farmer for saving and growing their own seeds. The TPP specifically allows multi-national companies, like poor little Monsanto, to file these types of lawsuits and have them heard by by special extra-judicial tribunals. And not only can the multi-national company sue the local entity for TPP violations, including local and national governments, but the law of the TPP governs these proceedings instead of local or even national laws. Further, these multinational conglomerates plaintiffs can sue not only for presumed actual damages to them but for “lost profits”. This is the basis of the Trans Canada lawsuit against the US government for cancelling the Keystone pipeline project claiming that such actions cost them $15 billion in “lost profits”.

    As bad as NAFTA was for the American worker and economy, the TPP is NAFTA on steroids. No wonder it is opposed by over 1,500 groups across the US including those representing unions and worker rights, environmental concerns, and small business interests being destroyed by subsidized foreign competition. The Council did the right thing by the American worker and small businesses on Tuesday night even if the Monsanto’s of the world, big pharma, and big oil are not happy about it.

    1. Rob White

      Alan

      When I read your posts, I don’t know whether to laugh… or cry.

      First, your misguided statement about Monsanto points out just how little you know about the local economy when it comes to agriculture and ag tech. Those that have talked to me about their concerns are not Monsanto (I don’t even know anyone that works there), but instead companies and organizations that have offices in Davis and work directly with the university. But I do appreciate your many words about the goblin under the bed… that kind of misdirection and obfuscation actually just reaffirms that your point is just a tangent to the local conversation.

      Second, it is precisely because I worked at City hall that I know this is not the way the City should partner with the business community. If you have nothing to hide, then why not reach out to the community and ask for input? Why rush something onto the local agenda which has been being discussed nationally for over 2 years?

      Third, your point about the agenda coming out on Friday… you are correct, but I no longer work at City hall and do not wait around for what will come from Council next. I actually expect partnership and collaboration, so I trust the City to reach out to gather input from community members that may be impacted. I realize that this is an inconvenient truth, but it is what we value in Davis.

      1. Barack Palin

        I think I follow city council issues better than your average Davisite.  Prior to this I had no idea the council was even considering TPP trade deal action.  The only local things I had heard or read about it were a few letters to the editor in the Enterprise.  So no, this wasn’t transparent at all.

      2. Tia Will

        Rob

        I do appreciate the tactic of belittling me (and others) by stating that it was ‘on the agenda’.”

        I do not intend what I am about to say and ask to be snarky. This is an honest point of view and question although I have perhaps not found the most diplomatic way to express them.

        It seems that your choice of the “belittling” may indicate that you feel slighted personally by the action of the council. I am wondering what kind of outreach you think is appropriate. You clearly feel that “business” should have had a “place at the table”. Who else do you feel should have had a place ?  For example, since there are implications for health care and medication costs, should I have been invited into the conversation ?  How about the local head of Sutter or the Medical Director of Kaiser ?  Since there are implications for workers, should union representatives have had a “place at the table”?  Since it will have implications for those who are near ( but not at the bottom ) of the economic food chain, should those who head up the local charities that attempt to meet the needs of those who fall through the social safety net have been specially invited ?

        It may not have been your intent, but it seems to me that you were limiting your comment about transparency only to the “business community” who you feel were neglected.  It would seem to me that this kind of cherry picking of groups to invite while others are excluded is not any more seemly than just putting it on the consent calendar and noticing it. I am thinking that there may be some middle ground where the CC is more forthcoming but that citizens also have some responsibility for keeping current on the topics to be discussed.

        Perhaps this is in itself a subject for discussion as Robb Davis seems to have implied.

  6. Nancy Price

    Council Member Robb Davis’ comments above about health care and the cost of medicine is illuminating. Because of extended patents for drugs and lack of affordable generics, the cost of delivering healthcare to the most vulnerable and needy in our community and county will rise. Do we deny affordable care? Do we throw these members of our community under the bus? What is our collective responsibility and where is our empathy for our fellow community members?

  7. nameless

    Though I realize the bandaid has been ripped off on this one, I would still encourage the City Council to take this action up again, ask staff to conduct the appropriate outreach to the business and research communities, and then hear it again when all of the facts are in evidence… there was absolutely no reason to rush this item to a vote.”

    I agree.  But I am also of the opinion the City Council perhaps waded into an area that is really outside their purview.  In general, unless the action specifically affects our city directly, e.g. oil coming through on trains directly through our downtown area, the City Council should stay out of national politics.

    1. Tia Will

      nameless

      In general, unless the action specifically affects our city directly, e.g. oil coming through on trains directly through our downtown area, the City Council should stay out of national politics.”

      I understand your point and see the issue differently. I do believe that that trade agreements affect us directly, just not as obviously as the trains. The fact that the business community is appalled at the lack of transparency is a good indicator that at least some sectors ( agriculture primarily) in our area see it as important on the local as well as national level. The policies that are adopted on a national level are at their foundation made up of the interests of the citizens of local communities of which Davis is one.

      I agree with those calling for more, not less discussion of this issue.

  8. Tia Will

    Nancy

    Do we throw these members of our community under the bus? What is our collective responsibility and where is our empathy for our fellow community members?”

    From my perspective, it is virtually always the members of our community with the fewest resources than get “thrown under the bus”. This is true whether the issue is medical care, small businesses that cannot afford increasing rents, those who cannot afford to pay their rent for housing, but do not qualify for “large A” affordable housing.

    I believe that we do have a collective responsibility for those less fortunate…..cue the “bleeding heart liberal rant”. I see it differently. I see “collective responsibility” as nothing more than the  aggregate of “individual responsibility” that conservatives claim to believe in.

     

  9. Misanthrop

    This is an interesting community discussion but I think it should have happened before a vote by the council. I don’t really know enough about the TPP to have made up my mind. I believe that trade is good but I don’t like the concept of “extra-judicial tribunals. I think that without our seed companies, Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta and H.M. Clause  it would be much more difficult to feed the world but I don’t like some of the things Monsanto does to protect its intellectual property. So I am really in the middle on this and undecided.

    Perhaps, if the CC truly feels the need to engage in these sort of feel good exercises where they pass things that aren’t directly tied to the governance of Davis, they should do it over several meetings so that we can have a fuller public debate about the pros and cons of a topic. Not only might slowing the process down help people better understand why such action might be needed but it also serves to better educate the public about an issue that seems to have generated more heat than light.

    The CC often brings things back for second or third readings before passing a new ordinance. I think doing so serves the purpose of giving those who were unaware of something new a chance to raise concerns that might have been missed and to allow the public to reach a fuller understanding of what is going on with a particular issue. I think such a process would have been more helpful when discussing TPP.

  10. nameless

    Tia Will: “From my perspective, it is virtually always the members of our community with the fewest resources than get “thrown under the bus”.

    Believe me, ALL INCOME LEVELS get thrown under the bus at one time or another depending on the issue.

  11. Tia Will

    nameless

    Believe me, ALL INCOME LEVELS get thrown under the bus at one time or another depending on the issue.”

    Really ?  Please provide an example of how those in the top ( let’s make it 5 % so as to include me) income levels get “thrown under the bus”.  And let’s suppose that you can provide an example, who do you believe has the greater ability to recover from the blow, the rich person or the destitute ?

    1. nameless

      There is a popular myth that the wealthy in this town don’t have problems like the low income do.  WRONG.  Because of their wealth, often higher income folks are the very ones targeted for scams up the wazoo!  Gov’t agencies like the SEC are supposed to be in place to stop things like investment fraud, yet don’t lift a finger to help.  Years later an investment turned Ponzi scheme may come back to haunt the investor in a way they had never envisioned, wiping them out financially and sometimes causing their death.  Banks zero in on wealthy customers, and steer them towards investment advisors who may take a person’s life savings and place it in risky stock portfolios that are totally unsuitable.  I could go on and on with literally hundreds of examples of wealthier folks getting “thrown under the bus” by gov’t agencies, by legitimate businesses, and by society itself as they get older and are denuded of their life savings for medical problems because they have no recourse to safety net programs.  DO NOT EVER TELL ME THE WEALTHY FOLKS ARE NOT THE ONES THROWN UNDER THE BUS, WHEN I KNOW FOR A FACT THEY OFTEN ARE. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but be careful what you say, or I may get on it again!

  12. nickbuxton

    I was one of the people who proposed this resolution on TPP together with a number of important environmental and public interest groups in town, and am very glad Davis city council spoke out, joining cities such as New York, San Francisco, Richmond and many others in opposing this profoundly unjust trade deal. It’s a very strategic time as the current US administration is keen to ratify it at a time when these corporate-led trade deals are causing more public concern than ever.

    Of course there will be some powerful interests who will benefit from these deals, as they are the ones whose lobbyists were intricately involved in the secretive negotiations but that doesn’t mean that the Davis City Council should also work for them!

    However there are many groups from senior citizen groups to environmental organizations to consumer groups to labor groups who are deeply concerned about the way this deal will lower standards, offshore jobs, and attack regulations in the public interest. And I am sure the city councilors who voted in favor took those concerns to heart as Robb Davis himself makes clear above.

    What I think should concern Davis  and indeed its business community most is the fact that this deal includes a chapter that allows multinational corporations to sue through a private tribunal environmental and health regulations that restrict their profits. Similar agreements have seen an Ontario scheme sued for including local content rules, and Canada sued by Bilcon for prohibiting a quarry in an environmentally sensitive coastal area (see http://www.isdscorporateattacks.org). These kind of actions could in the future affect a community like Davis that rightly seeks to build up small local businesses as well as be ambitious on climate change and environmental protection.

    So rather than criticizing the council, I suggest we should welcome the city speaking out for trade rules that serve our whole community. Surely we can all agree that the city is right to say, as it does in the resolution, that it “supports the promotion of international trade as a means to improve the quality of life for all people, but opposes trade agreements which create a “race to the bottom” on  public health standards, environmental protection, labor rights and impacts human rights.”

    1. nickbuxton

      I forgot to say that given that the major corporations had such privileged access and influence on the negotiations, the least a thoughtful and progressive-minded city such as Davis can do is stand up for those whose voices aren’t heard.

    2. Matt Williams

      Nick, because of the under-the-radar way that this was handled it became mostly symbolic. I am assuming that you would like the Davis community to engage the issues that are central to this controversy. By way of example, I am a candidate for City Council and a member of three of the four groups you list in your third paragraph, but to-date I have not seen any educational engagement across the membership of any of those groups.

       

      A visible and active Council  dialogue would have been a great opportunity to accomplish some of that public education.  The reality was that by having the item on the Consent Calendar, it was ensured that virtually no one within the Davis community would have “heard” the speaking out for trade rules you refer to in your final paragraph.  It is ironic that if Rochelle Swanson had not acted to protest the decision, the passage by City Council would have followed the same kind of “secretive negotiations” path you decry in your comment above.

       

  13. Michael Harrington

    To borrow the good name of my neighbor, Frankly, whose post at 2:57 I completely agree with.

     

    Frankly, this resolution smacks of something coming from CC members who need this for either a current or future campaigns where they can beat their chests and claim to be the biggest support of local unions on the block.

    But what are these CC members doing to fix the city’s excessive expenditures or increase revenues in the near term?  Nothing.

    1. Misanthrop

      Yes, agreed, the city should stick to fixing the problems bequeathed to us from Mike Harrington’s time on the council, unfunded pension liabilities, MeasureJ, Richard’s traffic jams and a massive housing shortage.

  14. Adam Smith

    Now that I know the council was lobbied by at least one person with a strong opinion opposing TPP, I’d like to know if Robb and Lucas sought additional input from those with a different perspective before making their recommendation for the resolution.   It is interesting that this trade agreement is proposed by a pretty liberal democratic president, who not been shy about trying to create a presidential legacy for protecting and helping those whose voices may not be  heard.

  15. tribeUSA

    The main benefit I see in the City Council resolution against the TPP is in helping to promote public dialogue about this proposed trade deal, which potentially could have a huge negative impact on the lives of your children and grandchildren; and for most people in the USA. An irony of the issue of transparency is that the TPP terms have been negotiated in secret, and our mainstream corporate media (owned mainly by global megacorporations and governed by boards consisting largely of Wall Street financial head honchos) has given this very little coverage relative to its importance, and does not address the most serious issues with this trade deal. The most serious negative issue I see with the TPP is the further degradation of national sovereignity; which though currently is de facto steered by big finance and big corporations, this power-by-$-influence may be enshrined in law with passing of the TPP; wherein trade deal regulations regarding labor, the environment, product testing and safety, etc. etc. etc. will trump national laws that deal with such matters; and corporations will be able to sue governments for government laws and regulations that conflict with the TPP bylaws.

  16. nameless

    Tia Will 
    May 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    nameless
    “Believe me, ALL INCOME LEVELS get thrown under the bus at one time or another depending on the issue.”
    Really ?  Please provide an example of how those in the top ( let’s make it 5 % so as to include me) income levels get “thrown under the bus”.  And let’s suppose that you can provide an example, who do you believe has the greater ability to recover from the blow, the rich person or the destitute ?

    ReplyReport comment

    nameless 
    May 28, 2016 at 10:27 am

    There is a popular myth that the wealthy in this town don’t have problems like the low income do.  WRONG.  Because of their wealth, often higher income folks are the very ones targeted for scams up the wazoo!  Gov’t agencies like the SEC are supposed to be in place to stop things like investment fraud, yet don’t lift a finger to help.  Years later an investment turned Ponzi scheme may come back to haunt the investor in a way they had never envisioned, wiping them out financially and sometimes causing their death.  Banks zero in on wealthy customers, and steer them towards investment advisors who may take a person’s life savings and place it in risky stock portfolios that are totally unsuitable.  I could go on and on with literally hundreds of examples of wealthier folks getting “thrown under the bus” by gov’t agencies, by legitimate businesses, and by society itself as they get older and are denuded of their life savings for medical problems because they have no recourse to safety net programs.  DO NOT EVER TELL ME THE WEALTHY FOLKS ARE NOT THE ONES THROWN UNDER THE BUS, WHEN I KNOW FOR A FACT THEY OFTEN ARE. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but be careful what you say, or I may get on it again!

    1. tribeUSA

      re: nameless & problems of wealth “Banks zero in on wealthy customers, and steer them towards investment advisors who may take a person’s life savings and place it in risky stock portfolios that are totally unsuitable.”

      But don’t you see that these institutions are providing a service to you? They are helping to relieve you of the backbreaking burden you carry; that is your wealth; source of your problems! You could thank them for taking this burden off you; so that you are left only with the paltry, insignificant problems of the poor.

  17. Tia Will

    nameless

    There is a popular myth that the wealthy in this town don’t have problems like the low income do. “

     

    I do not dispute your point that the wealthy also have problems. However, their problems are not the same as those of the poor. One of their problems, as you pointed out is how best to avoid becoming poor themselves. This is quite different from the set of problems faced by those who have never been affluent.  Wealthy folks, and I speak as one now, have an advantage over those who are poor, I condition that I have also been in during my life. I feel fully equipped to speak from direct knowledge of both states of economic being. Yes, it is true that the wealthy are also vulnerable. However, those who have had wealth have a distinct advantage over those who have never been so blessed. If and when they become poor themselves, and only then, are they facing the same problems as the poor.

    And if your soapbox includes electronic shouting, feel free. It is all the same when reduced to print.

     

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