Council Defends Local Resolution on Dakota Pipeline

Share:

pipeline-protests-ND

While procedural misunderstandings by the public over the timing of discussion on the resolution against the Dakota Access Pipeline punctuated the evening, the main question before the council was  whether such a resolution was the proper venue of the council at all – the answer from the four councilmembers in attendance, in the absence of Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, was a resounding yes.

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, who had objected previously to the council taking up the TPP trade agreement, said, “I really appreciate the speaker who pulled it into being a local issue because of the fact of the water and the air and the social justice issues that are happening there.  As well as the rights of a sovereign nation and trying to be able to support a government trying to support changes within its own territory.”

She said that “for those reasons I think there’s a sufficient nexus.”  She added that this doesn’t undo us “from continuing to monitor and make sure we are adjudicating and hearing issues that really affect our city, things for which we were elected for.”

Councilmember Swanson would add, “We should be vigilant and make sure we don’t have mission creep for political reasons.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brett Lee addressed the issue of distracting from city business, stating, “I don’t think this issue has taken away from my ability to focus on the major and impactful items facing our community.”  He said, “The amount of time thinking about this is measured in minutes not hours.  We all have lives outside of our council roles and they involve being concerned about what goes on in our community, our state, our country, our world – so sometimes we are aware of these things and so to make a gesture of support for something or a gesture against something, in many cases it doesn’t require any incremental time on behalf.”

Brett Lee added that, while he appreciates “the idea of focusing on items that they have jurisdiction over,” he find it a “rather strict interpretation.”

He noted that while the city didn’t have jurisdiction over the rail issue in Benicia, he believes that at some level council was swayed by the outpouring of concern from other communities across the region.

Mr. Lee said, “I get what the concern is, what we don’t want to be doing is delving into controversial topics where we spin our wheels and use up a lot of emotional energy and time focused on things that are not our primary responsibility, I totally accept that.”  But he doesn’t see this as a topic that distracts from the important business at hand.

Will Arnold said, “I appreciate the idea that we go too far afield with our resolutions,” nevertheless, in this case, “as the resolution lays out, there are a number of issues that are of critical importance that are a critical part of this issue as well.”

He noted issues of sovereignty, and the rights to clean water as a community and public good.

“I also reject the notion that if we don’t want oil trains, we ought to remain silent on oil pipes,” he said.  “I wholeheartedly reject the idea that there’s some sort of opportunity cost here – if we hadn’t spent whatever amount of time it took us to do this, we would somehow have used that time and fixed the city budget or repaved all of our streets – that’s not how these things work.”

He rejected the idea that we shouldn’t do this because we have to focus “on all this more important stuff.”  He said, “That doesn’t fly with me either.”

Robb Davis noted that the Benicia situation “became very clearly an issue of indigenous local rights.”  There was a proposal “to make this an interstate commerce issue, thereby taking away the rights of local communities to plan for their own future and their own safety – to me that was the biggest threat that any of us faced, was the reality that the federal government or other entities would take away our local rights to plan.”

He said, “We really want maximum opportunity to control what goes on in and around our community.”  He sees what is happening in the Dakotas and elsewhere as an attempt to seize local power in order to extract resources.  “I think we should all be concerned about (that),” he said.

“Today it’s not our community, today its Benicia, or Standing Rock, but these things get closer and closer to home,” he said.  He noted that several speakers pointed out, “If this was happening here, if someone were trying to take away our right to control some element of our local situation we would want solidarity from across the country.  We would beg for it.  And we would be thankful to receive it.”

Robb Davis said just as we stood with the people of Benicia, it makes a lot of sense to stand at places where local sovereignty is under threat.

He joined with his colleagues to add, “We spend a lot of time on a lot of things here.  We give 30 to 40 hours of our week to deal with the major issues of our city – it bothers me that there’s a call for us not to think more holistically and think about issues outside our borders as though we were somehow independent, autonomous, having nothing to do with the rest of the country, it’s just about us.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth in a globally integrated world,” the mayor said.

With that, the council present unanimously voted 4-0 on the resolution to oppose the Dakota Oil Pipeline at Standing Rock.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

35 thoughts on “Council Defends Local Resolution on Dakota Pipeline”

  1. Robb Davis

    Meanwhile, after the chambers nearly emptied out (and the Vanguard went home)…

    the City Council passed policies that could bring in an additional $3.5 million over five years in investment earnings and an additional $250k per year in parks/program fees.  And we tasked parks with looking at alternative models to deliver services to cut costs.

    No comments were received from the public on either action, which were the culmination of many months of staff, commission, and Council work.

    1. Mark West

      “Meanwhile, after the chambers nearly emptied out (and the Vanguard went home)…”

      “No comments were received from the public on either action, which were the culmination of many months of staff, commission, and Council work.”

      As Mayor, you have control over the agenda and could have placed those items earlier in the evening if you had wanted them viewed by the public. By your decisions on timing, it is clear you were not looking for public feedback on those issues.

      You did not need to waste the public’s time earlier in the evening with the grandstanding over an issue that has no direct impact on the City of Davis, regardless of you and your colleague’s attempts at justification. If you all want to waste your time grandstanding, do it at the end of the evening when everyone with any sense has gone home or turned off the live stream.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      Mr. Mayor,

      I think you and your colleagues have missed an essential point in this – Brett Lee made the comment that he spent minutes rather than hours thinking about this issue. My guess is he probably spent minutes rather than hours in February thinking about a Gandhi statue. I’m fairly certain no one can say that now. The nature of what becomes disruptive is not always immediately apparent. The Gandhi issue has now taken many hours for staff, the police, and others in the community. I can also point to the council taking up a resolution in 2009 on Israel-Palestine that not only cost us hours, but I think had detrimental policy implications.

      1. Robb Davis

        Fee structure came around 7:30 or so, investment policy immediately after.  Are you suggesting we move general public comment to the end of the meeting?  We do not control public comment content and whether we took this up or not there would have been public comment.  Indeed, had we NOT taken it up there would likely have been more.

        We are dealing with the critical city issues and we are doing it early in the evening (unless you consider 7:30 late).

        Mr Greenwald – the Gandhi statue, whether people like it or not, went through a public process via the arts and parks and rec commission–just like the Compassion Bench did.  It is considered public art.  The controversy was not foreseen but this is a public art issue that went through normal channels of approval.

        I don’t know why you are bringing up the Palestinian/Israel issue.  This CC had nothing to do with it.

         

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I didn’t have a problem with the structure of the meeting. My point again is that there are times when the controversy surrounding an issue is unanticipated, that’s why I use the Gandhi example to illustrate the potential pitfall of this issue. The Palestinian/ Israeli issue predates your time on the council, but it’s an example of how these issues can snowball and become all consuming.

    3. Michael Harrington

      Robb,  Thanks for this reminder that often at very late hours the CC conducts significant business on our behalf.  Often it is not noticed or appreciated by the public.  I just want all of you to know that I understand these scheduling issues, and thank you for staying late to get the job done.

       

      I also really appreciate your taking time to post here.  Very helpful to all of us readers.

       

      David:  I think the DV should print some ink on things that go WELL, not just the potential negatives.

  2. Barack Palin

    The council can come up with reasons in their minds why they can justify taking up almost any issue but the community knows what a waste of time it is.

    1. South of Davis

      Rochelle Swanson said:

      > I really appreciate the speaker who pulled it into being a local issue

      > because of the fact of the water and the air and the social justice

      > issues that are happening there.

      I have no problem with the city council talking about water, air and the social justice

      issues that are happening HERE when in session, but I don’t want them talking about issies happening THERE (1,000+ miles away).

      If this is OK for the city council to do will we have the Davis tree trimmers not cutting dead trees in town to work on issues related to deforestation in the Amazon rain forests?

      Will we have Davis cops not responding to 911 calls in town since they want to work on important issues related to violence in East Coast urban areas.

      Will DJUSD teachers get the OK to leave kids in class alone while they work on ways to lower the High School drop out rate in Newark, NJ?

      1. Barack Palin

        It would be like our council justifying coming out with a resolution against the child sexual slave industry because we too have children in Davis.

        1. hpierce

          No… no difference, in my view… they are employees (given “pay” [stipends], health and retirement benefits)… elected employees, to be sure, but employees… we do not elect them to use the “bully pulpit” (yes, more than one nuance there!) to promote their or SOME of their “constituents” ‘agendas’ that do not relate to running the City. Much less non-constituents who live elsewhere….

          They are not subject to the personnel rules, per se, but they are, in substantial evidence, employees of the City of Davis.  They can be removed by their ‘bosses’, the electorate, by the recall process.

          There is nothing in the Muni code that empowers them to speak on behalf of the community on subject matters outside their direct control.

          You might want to believe otherwise, but show your cites as to CC authority as to taking time and effort to deal with “the price of tea in China”.

           

           

        2. Davis Progressive

          believe you have it reversed.  because they council has no formal power, they have the absolute ability to pass a resolution which is a formal statement of support or opposition.  authority?  first amendment.  they would have to be expressly forbidden.

        3. Davis Progressive

          you wanted authority: “Used to express the opinion of the legislative body, or to reflect the action taken. Sausalito v. County of Marin (1970) 12 Cal. App. 3d 550; Central Manufacturing District, Inc. v. Board of Supervisors (1960) 176 Cal. App. 2d 850. “

        4. hpierce

          DP… First amendment applies to individuals, not electeds acting on behalf of a corporation (and, in fact and law, Davis is a Municipal Corporation).

          You must believe in the “Citizens United” decision where CEO’s can use shareholders’ money to influence political issues… that is kinda’ what we are talking about, re:  assigning staff to research, then vote and act on Resolutions that purport to be representative of the citizens of Davis.

          Won’t even go to the “executive order” thing…
          Am going to guess… you are not all that versed in Constitutional law…

        5. hpierce

          DP… you know full well that your cites are bogus…

          https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=522748831502626493&q=Sausalito+v.+County+of+Marin+(1970)+12+Cal.+App.+3d+550&hl=en&as_sdt=2006&as_vis=1

          That’s about zoning and notice.  Not applicable.

          https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8122414345533754092&q=Central+Manufacturing+District,+Inc.+v.+Board+of+Supervisors+(1960)+176+Cal.+App.+2d+850.&hl=en&as_sdt=2006&as_vis=1

          About incorporation of an area.  Not applicable.

          I looked them up and share them.

          You, DP, appear to be lying [an alternate term for an attorney].  Will let interested others decide for themselves…

          I call your bluff, and raise back.

          Suggest all think at least more than once before accepting DP’s “cites”.

        6. hpierce

          DP… why league of cities cited those, have no clue, and don’t care, as they are “off-point” big time…

          I take back my “lying” charge, fully, and will only suggest you drill down into cites you make… I have previously failed to do that, much to my embarrassment, during my career (not legal, but peripherally)… on this issue, we’re good… if that matters to you…

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          The community as a whole”

          I would like to see the results of your polling on this issue. Or any evidence at all that your’s is the majority position in our community.

  3. WesC

    I have no problem with the CC spending time addressing more global issues, and do not think they should be forbidden from addressing issues that go beyond my ability to get to and from Peets coffee and Nugget market.

    Unfortunately Robb couldn’t resist David’s bait, and by commenting on this non-issue he seems to have breathed I little more life into this very trivial subject.

  4. Frankly

    Since the mid-late 1960s we started what has become a trend for activism and political service to become integrated for the benefit of the activist and the expense of the general public.

    “Activistism” used to be temporary agitation for causes… and after the decisions are made… the participant would go back to his/her regular life of producing something of tangible value.  But then the children of the 60s got all wee weed up about the war and then the drugs helped expand their consciousness to consider an actual career in agitation for cause.

    And they pursue politics because they then have more power in their activism.

    When I vote to elect a city council member I am not electing an activist to a platform that benefits the activist and his/her activist cohort, I am electing someone that will be a public servant to focus on the business of the city.

    When I vote for any politician I am expecting that politician to be a public servant to focus on the business of his/her elected domain and not exploit the power of that platform for his/her own activism career.

    1. Topcat

      When I vote to elect a city council member I am not electing an activist to a platform that benefits the activist and his/her activist cohort, I am electing someone that will be a public servant to focus on the business of the city.

      Yes, I think that is how most voters feel.  I think that part of the reason that politicians are held in such low esteem is their inclination to veer off into issues that are not relevant to the posts they were elected to.

      1. Adam Smith

        Agree 100%.   And further, I resent that because I live in Davis, these “proclamations” imply that I support them.  I wonder how  the more liberal factions in Davis would feel if the CC decided to endorse Trump’s proposal of building a wall between us and Mexico.

        1. Tia Will

          Adam Smith

            I wonder how  the more liberal factions in Davis would feel if the CC decided to endorse Trump’s proposal of building a wall between us and Mexico.”

          Wonder no more. I will tell you how this liberal faction feels. I would not be happy about the specific resolution. But if the request had been put forward by a faction of our community, and if after due consideration the majority of the CC voted in favor, I would accept their decision as part of the democratic process. I am strong enough in my beliefs to state my opposition to their position, but would not have a problem with their right as elected officials to take a position.

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            The “liberal factions in Davis” constitute a voting majority. Just look at the election results and party registration data. I think it’s pretty likely that the council’s vote on this issue is a reasonable reflection of the constituency. Far, far more likely than the example given here.

        2. Adam Smith

          Don, I don’t disagree about this issue, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.   Tia has said she would stand behind the council if they made a resolution against her beliefs –  good for her that she is willing to take the good with bad.  Regardless, I think it is far out of bounds for the CC to be proclaiming or resolving anything like this.    I don’t vote for local officials so that they can making resolutions about these types of issues on my behalf.

  5. Tia Will

    hpierce

    elected employees, to be sure, but employees… we do not elect them to use the “bully pulpit” (yes, more than one nuance there!) to promote their or SOME of their “constituents” ‘agendas’ that do not relate to running the City.”

    And here in lies the critical difference for me. When I cast my votes, I did not cast them only for those who would look at only the dollars and cents or nuts and bolts of City management. As an employer, by my vote, I wanted these “employees” to look at the broader issues. I do not want them to be arbitrarily limited by some citizens narrow opinions of what is their role should be. If they are petitioned by a group of citizens with regard to an issue of importance to them, I feel that I am “employing” them to take the citizen groups concerns into account. I am as much a citizen employee as any one else posting here. I do not mind anyone speaking for how they use their individual vote. But I do not agree with the use of the pronoun “we” when asserting what “we” do and do not elect them to do.

     

     

  6. Tia Will

    Adam

    Tia has said she would stand behind the council if they made a resolution against her beliefs “

    That is not exactly what I meant to say. I would stand behind the right of the council to make such a resolution. That does not mean that I would not be speaking out in public comment, writing letters, emailing the CC and addressing the issue in any other peaceful venue available against the substance of their action.

    I believe that the difference in these points is critical. It is what makes me stand behind their choice to speak out on these issues.

    I don’t vote for local officials so that they can making resolutions about these types of issues on my behalf.”

    But I do. And short of some kind of poll, I don’t know how we would resolve which of our opinions on this matter are the more prevalent in the community. Some here have asserted that they are in the majority, but I simply do not know if that is true or not.

    1. Barack Palin

      So Tia, you know how council members stood on these issues before you voted for them?  Funny, I don’t remember them commenting on them before the election.

  7. darelldd

    If I could step back to the “process” for a moment. I remain confused on just one thing:

    Is it true that some person or persons who supported this motion, asked council to pull it from the consent calendar so the people in support could make their arguments for the purpose of convincing council to support this motion?

    Serious question. Because from where I was sitting (back row admittedly, but still in the building!), it truly seemed like the person or persons asking to pull it from consent didn’t understand that “consent” meant it would pass without debate or argument.

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