Sunday Commentary: Evaluating the Candidate Forum Performance


Alternative Title: How to Lose Friends AND Influence People

As I have now gone through five candidate forum answers (still have one to go from Wednesday), my overwhelming sense of the candidates is that they simply do not have a good grasp of the issues.  For the most part, they do not answer the question in a way that shows that they fundamentally understand the question.

I have gone through and evaluated each answer – not on the basis of whether or not I agree with that answer, but rather simply on the basis of their ability to understand the question and answer the question.

No one really understood the food question from the first forum, which was really looking for an understanding of the Farm to Fork industry and the competitive disadvantage that Davis has in developing that industry as they have.  Too many of the candidates instead answered it as a downtown restaurant issue, which is not what it called for.  Nor did anyone think to connect the issue to UC Davis and the World Food Center.

So first is an evaluation, candidate by candidate, in alphabetical order.  I rate each answer on a three point scale (3) is they nailed the question, (2) is they got it but missed some key element, (1) they did something right, but largely whiffed, (0) is a complete whiff.  I think add them up to give a score out of 15.

Ezra Beeman           

My first point here is that Ezra Beeman did not come to the second debate and instead was allowed to have Colin Walsh as a stand in.  By itself that is not the most troubling development, but he has also come to just part of one council meeting.

Farm to Fork: Ezra gave one of the better answers here – which is grading on a curve.  He managed to connect the issue to UC Davis – at least on one point, but got lost at the end talking about “Davis has got some phenomenal food right now.”  He failed to connect the issue to economic development or the World Food Center. (2)

City decision-making process: Again not a bad answer here – he identified the Valley Clean Energy and talked about getting together a group of experts. (2)

Take one issue and explain your plan: Ezra Beeman chose to go with the issue of fiscal sustainability.  He identified the Valley Clean Energy as a key way to bridge the revenue gap.  That is hard to see.  He didn’t discuss unfunded liabilities or infrastructure needs.  He also raised an issue of additional employees hired by the city, which when the Vanguard checked with the city was a misinterpretation of the city chart. (1)

Growth: He was asked to share his thoughts (through Colin Walsh) on growth projects that are clearly under discussion in general in Davis.  He came out in favor of Measure R, against Nishi, and in favor more or less of the West Davis Active Adult Center.  He then spent the rest of his answer instead of talking about the other proposals, talking about better capturing business without really connecting that discussion to growth. (1)

Vacant store fronts:  He was asked to identify why we have many vacant store fronts in Davis and suggestions to improve upon it.  He didn’t really offer an answer to that even through he had the question in advance and submitted his answer.  He also talked about his personal experience and the amount of available office space. (1)

Synopsis: He had two decent answers and three that either missed the mark or missed opportunities to better address the issue. (7/15)

Mary Jo Bryan

Farm to Fork: A good answer, she connected agricultural projects to the Davis downtown and talked about the need for collaboration with the university and economic development.  (3)

City decision-making process: She discussed her neighborhood reaction to Sterling, and how the neighbors didn’t feel they were properly notified. (2)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  She talked about planning and the fact that we are doing piecemeal planning.  She showed a good understanding of the issue, the challenges and stayed on topic.  (3)

Things getting better or worse in Davis:  Her answer is that she likes Davis, doesn’t think things are getting worse and talked about the things she likes about the community.  The problem is she spoke only from the perspective of a senior who already has affordable housing in Davis and didn’t articulate the problems that young people have getting into the market, the problems of people finding jobs, or student housing.  Also, she forgot that this was a Chamber forum and thus she forgot that her audience was not a bunch of seniors but rather business people who might be concerned with the lack of economic development or vacant storefronts downtown.  (1)

Other than senior housing, what issues: She went from senior housing to housing in general.  She got into the problem of people trying to get their first homes, but not much further.  For an answer calling on her to expand her breadth as a candidate, she really stayed in a tight area.  (1)

Synopsis:  She had a really good first debate, but the second one she came up short trying to move beyond her campaign’s focus on seniors and senior housing issues.  (10/15)

Townhall embed:

Dan Carson

Farm to Fork: One of the better answers here, as he connected the issue to economic development and identified existing programs like Farmer’s Market, Food Co-op, Visitor’s Bureau and UC Davis.  (3)

City decision-making process:  He talked about his own commission’s role in passing motions to urge greater accountability over the new tax measures.  He didn’t get hugely into the process, rather he addressed the larger issue and then pumped himself – “You need someone on that city council with the fiscal expertise – and I have someone in mind – who everyday can be on that dais and make the motions and the change happen.”  That really wasn’t what the question called for, but he did show expertise on this issue.  (2)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  Dan Carson has pushed the issue of the relationship between Davis and UCD Campus at both forums.  His solution is an agreement between the university and the city.  (3)

Motivation to run: Fiscal challenges.  He was able to identify and then articulate a good reason for running.  (3)

University and city relations: The Chamber gave him this question, so we can’t fault him for giving a similar answer.  Good marks knowing the LRDP was coming out and, other than that, a similar answer to before.  (3)

Synopsis: Dan Carson has extensive experience on a commission and it shows – he understands the issues and he understands them in great detail.  Overall the strongest performance of the nine candidates and perhaps it wasn’t even close.  (14/ 15).

Linda Deos

Farm to Fork: Focused heavily on restaurants downtown.  She did make the connection with UC Davis and noted the Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences.  But she didn’t really connect that to farm to fork.  (2)

City decision-making process:  She talked about the development process, commissions, and argued that certain voices are not being heard.  She probably would have been better served talking about one project and how the process worked for this as she was not specific enough and didn’t quite directly address the question.  (1)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  She addressed entry-level homes.  This wasn’t a bad answer, as she identified the need for 900-square-foot homes as entry-level homes, but didn’t explain how we are going to get those homes in the current environment in Davis.  (2)

Empty store fronts: She didn’t really identify a way to deal with the issue of empty store fronts.  (1)

Zoning land outside of town for business purposes:  The most vexing thing about Linda Deos thus far is that she appears to be wildly inconsistent on the issue of growth.  Here she wants to explore “all opportunities to expand land either inside or outside” but also won’t take a stand until she sees a concrete proposal.  She supports Nishi but is skeptical of supporting something on the Mace Curve.  Her answer: “Am I open to it?  I’m open to hearing everything.  But I’m hesitant to say that I’m going to go yes on something that I don’t see.” (2)

Synopsis: She missed the mark a few times, but ultimately didn’t do that badly.  (8/15)

Eric Gudz

Farm to Fork:  There are a few times when Eric stretched to try connect the question to one of his key issues.  In this case it was Farm to Fork connected to young professionals having barriers to move into the this community.  But he sees this as a downtown eatery question rather than a farm to fork issue, which hurts what could have been a decent point.  (1)

City decision-making process:  Here he connected the process question to his experience on the Transportation and Safety Commission and the discussion over the funding of Unitrans.  The answer here works and he addressed how the commission successfully took a problem and solved it.  (3)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  Here he took up the issue of renters and the need for renter protections and the development of micro-homes and accessory dwelling units.  Got a little lost with adding in a line about fiber optics and promoting broadband, but overall a strong answer.  (3)

Housing crisis:  This is one of his issues and he was really strong on it.  (3)

Parking in downtown:  He talked about this in terms of transportation and the need to alleviate commuters, but he forgot his audience and they wanted him undoubtedly to discuss the mechanics of getting more people into the downtown.  It’s not a bad answer, but he never talked about key issues like a new parking garage or paid parking.  (2)

Synopsis: Eric might be the youngest candidate here, but he’s been engaged in the city for some time and he knows his issues of transportation and housing quite well.  (12/15).

Larry Guenther

Farm to Fork:  He did well here, not falling into the downtown food trap and instead focusing on UC Davis and capitalizing on the university.  Still never really connected some of the issues like Farm to Fork.  (2)

City decision-making process:  This was all set up for him to take on Trackside, but he instead went to Lincoln40.  That questionable decision aside, he did all right with the question.  I think he could have done more here, nailing why Lincoln40’s outreach worked and others (back to Trackside) didn’t.  (2)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  He stayed closer to home, talking about the downtown.  I think he nailed this one.  (3)

Three things you would do: He said we would increase revenue, decrease expenses, and forgot a third so he added, “sunshine and happiness.”  Okay, high marks for the ad lib, but you have to be able to count to three and, in a way, he only counted to one and didn’t give a great answer even to that.  (1)

Internal housing: This was again a question queued up to explain why Trackside failed and what he would do better.  He was a little all over the map and got involved in the J/R thing rather than focusing on infill.  (1)

Synopsis: Larry gave strong answers in the first forum, less so in the second.  He really needs to take on the issue of Trackside and articulate how the process broke down and how to fix it. (9/15)

Gloria Partida

Farm to Fork:  Her answer would have been good if she was asked about downtown restaurants rather than Farm to Fork and economic development.  “The problem that we have is that we don’t have a cohesiveness.  We have a lot of great places to eat,” she said but not a lot of places to sit down and have the order taken.  “There are a lot of older people who feel that the restaurants are geared towards the young people in town.”  (1)

City decision-making process:  She took on the parcel tax discussion, but didn’t show a lot of insight into the process or how it transpired.  (1)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  She picked the relationship with the university.  Frankly, I’m a bit surprised at her choice here, given her background.  While I get wanting to expand her breadth, I am a bit surprised at the choice.  The answer here is decent, connecting the university to housing needs and economic development.  (2)

Challenge of owning a small business: This was a tough question even for someone who owns a small business.  Her answer didn’t really provide us with a lot of answers for the problem.  She talked about using the innovation officer for outreach and polling more businesses.  (1)

What needs to change in city hall: Her answer, the city needs to do more collaborating and noted that UCD just made a deal with Sacramento for a huge innovation park and we don’t have the land for that.  This was definitely her strongest answer overall.  (3)

Synopsis: Sometimes candidates can be praised for expanding their issue base, other times going away from one’s strength is ill-advised and I would give that to Gloria.  In neither debate did she get the types of questions that emphasize her strength as a candidate.  If she is the frontrunner, she is going to need to expand her issue base to have a better understanding of key issues before the city.  (8/15)

Luis Rios

Farm to Fork:  He took the Farm-to-Fork question to make a more general comment on the downtown and used his line about taking his kids to see the movie “Captain Underpants,” something he repeated in forum 2.  There is not much here that addresses the question.  (1)

City decision-making process:  He said, “I think city council needs to be more intentional, more proactive as far as city decision-making goes.”  But he never addressed the question here about picking a public process and evaluating it.  (0)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  Here he talked about schools and the housing crisis.  His solution he repeated in the second forum.  “We need to convene realtors, developers, business leaders.  We are all stakeholders here, and we need to convene and establish partnerships and find ways of building homes for people to live in.” (2)

Smart growth: He talked about growing up here and coming back to live here for the public schools, but never addressed his vision for/or what would constitute smart growth for Davis. (0)

Education candidate/ how is that helpful: He talked about going to UC Davis but not about the schools in Davis – never how the issue of education lines up with city issues.  (0)

Synopsis: Luis Rios needs to focus more on the issues before Davis and address those issues. (3/ 15)

Mark West

Farm to Fork:  Talked about Davis having a vibrant downtown and a good food environment, and he did finally nail the question as best as it could have been nailed by suggesting “taking a look at what our neighbors are successfully doing.  They are bringing in new restaurants and redeveloping.”  That’s what this question was getting at and he got it.  Although then he went into redevelopment in the downtown rather than Farm to Fork.  (2)

City decision-making process:  He looked at the hotel discussion, criticized the city for picking winners and losers, and tracked the Hyatt House discussion, concluding, “two years to make a hotel decision is far too long.”  (3)

Take one issue and explain your plan:  Fiscal issues.  Mark is running on fiscal issues, and he stuck to his strength and gave a strong answer.  (3)

Traffic impacts of growth: If there is a strength of Mark West, he knows and understands the issues as well as anyone, but people are probably not going to agree that it’s a good thing to have more traffic in the core area because you don’t want people whizzing by your store.  (3)

Innovation center: Mark had a chance to hit Measure R with this question and did.  I think his answer was strong.  (3)

Synopsis: Mark is going to polarize.  There are people who agree with his positions, but he will turn a lot off as well.  One thing is clear – he understands the issues here as few do.  (14/15).


Dan Carson 14/15

Mark West 14/15

Eric Gudz 12/15

Mary Jo Bryan 10/15

Larry Guenther 9/15

Linda Deos 8/15

Gloria Partida 8/15

Ezra Beeman 7/15

Luis Rios 3/15

What do we learn from this?  The two candidates that scored highest on this measure are Dan Carson and Mark West, who have been the most involved for the longest.  You might be surprised to see Eric Gudz in third, but he has been active and engaged.  Mary Jo Bryan is fourth, and a long time activist.  The people who struggle the most are the ones who have been least engaged on city issues.

One person told me: “This is the worst election since I’ve been in Davis.  The candidates are awful.  The responses are fluff.  Their comments at public comment and uninformed and nonsensical.  And no one is calling them on it.”

I won’t go quite that far, but our evaluation is fairly indicative of poor performance.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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71 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Evaluating the Candidate Forum Performance”

  1. Dianne C Tobias

    What am I missing in this Sunday morning?

    Your article implies lack of understanding of the issues by the candidates then proceed to rate several of them almost perfectly according to your scale and most of them  >7.  What am I missing?

    Could some of it be the number of candidates and time constraints in expanding  their views? Perhaps a real debate would be more illustrative?

    1. Matt Williams

      Well said Dianne.  What we are seeing from the candidates is a series of sound bytes.

      What I would like to see is whether the candidates have leadership qualities.  We are going to need leaders a whole lot more than orators in the coming years.



      1. David Greenwald

        A sound bite is about 20 seconds these days, these are 90 second answers.  In that time, you be able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter.

  2. Ron

    This is an entirely subjective article, with the resulting “scale” bordering on meaninglessness.

    Regardless, it is usually more important to determine if one generally agrees with a candidate’s position.  In fact, a “well-informed” candidate (whose views are opposite from one’s own) can be more dangerous on critical issues, than one who is less-informed.

      1. Ron

        I doubt that it’s possible to do so, especially using an undefined numerical scale in this manner.  Attempting to do so is even more difficult when some of the questions asked differed, between the candidates.

        1. David Greenwald

          Just because they got a 3 doesn’t mean I agreed with them.  For example, Dan Carson gave an answer on UCD – City relations, he called on the city and university to do an agreement – something you’ve proposed.  I completely disagree with that approach, but gave him a three because he answered the question and made his point well.

          Are the numbers subjective?  Of course.  But I needed a way to compare nine candidates on forty-five answers.

        2. David Greenwald

          I don’t consider this a question of oratory skills.  For example, Sue Greenwald was a horrible orator but she had a command of the issues.  And so she would likely have rated high in an exercise like this.

          In Dan’s case:

          1.  He understood the issue

          2.  He proposed a solution to a problem he identified

          That was the basis for the rating.

          However, I happened to disagree with him, which in this case was irrelevant to the evaluation.

        3. Matt Williams

          If his solution is (in your opinion) off the mark (wrong headed?), does he really understand the issue?  Many politicians are referred to as a mile wide and an inch deep.  They understand the issue only on the surface.  Is that your assessment of Dan’s understanding of this issue?

  3. Michael Bisch

    Thank you, David, for raising this issue. When one makes a claim to community leadership, and that’s what running for city council amounts to, the candidate has a duty to the community to educate themselves about the challenges and issues. Overall, these candidates are hard pressed to articulate the challenges let alone offer detailed, viable solutions.

    1. Howard P

      I’d rather have someone informed, able to listen to divergent information, divergent opinions, and show independent judgement, as opposed to someone already wedded to their personal “positions”.

      My concern, mounting over time, is that many of this field will say whatever schlock, pablum, etc. it takes to be all things to special/vocal groups, to get elected.  That is not leadership, and we need that far more than someone who bases their decisions on what they feel will “sell” to those present in the CC chambers on any given Tuesday night.


      1. Ron

        Some may have underlying “positions” that are not as obvious to the naked eye.  For example, some may look at a fiscal (or other) analysis, and choose to believe the more “optimistic” numbers.  That person may then champion a very different choice (compared to someone else), regarding a given proposal.

        1. Howard P

          So, you’re saying they have “hidden positions”, and hence, ‘liars’?

          Paraphrasing. “For example, some may look at a fiscal analysis, and choose to believe the more “pessimistic” numbers.  That person may then champion a very different choice, regarding a given proposal.

        2. Ron

          No – not “liars”.  A different, underlying belief (that is not always obvious).

          For example, some may choose to focus on the more “optimistic” numbers from a commission or external analyst, regarding a fiscal (or other) analysis. (Or, may even go beyond that, and perform their own analysis.)

          And, as you noted, some may focus on the less-optimistic range.

          And yet, this is not always obvious from a candidate’s stated “position”. Nor is it necessarily a result of knowledge.

      2. Jim Frame

        someone who bases their decisions on what they feel will “sell” to those present in the CC chambers on any given Tuesday night.

        I’m less concerned about the possibility that a vote will be driven by public comment, and much more concerned about the possibility that a vote will be driven by pressure — explicit or implicit — brought by individuals or organizations behind the scenes.  I’m particularly wary of candidates who have been endorsed by some of the players who led us into the current fiscal mess.

        1. Howard P

          That is indeed the two-edged sword… would that we had candidates with knowlege, judgement, integrity, no personal agenda… then we would not have the conflicts…

          I see many people thinking this is a contest between the Huns, and the Luddites… never could stomach either…

          I have yet to see a candidate in this race that I can cast a ‘positive’ vote for… Plan B… find the “lesser of the evils”…  would have preferred Plan A, but not seeing it…

    1. Michael Bisch

      Don, the majority of the candidates have made it pretty clear that they are ideology driven, single-issue candidates (or are focused on national & state issues). It is no wonder then that they have such a superficial understanding of Davis issues and no apparent interest in gaining a deeper understanding. Two of them are going to be in for a rude awakening when they discover on council that 99% of their time will be spent on stuff for which they have zero interest (and zero knowledge).

      1. Michael Bisch

        My comments are not directed at any of the candidates as individuals. Many of them have tremendous character and have made significant contributions to the community.

    2. Alan Miller

      > I have no idea why some of these people are running for city council.

      I not only write LOL, I actually laughed out loud and strangers glanced my way.

  4. Alan Miller

    I’m curious why a couple of people in this discussion implied stuff about candidates as if it was obvious we knew who they were talking about, but would not name names or describe their actually criticism of the candidate.  Doesn’t have to be a shot at character, this is about politics.

    1. Ron

      Alan:  Not sure if your question was directed (partly) to me, but I’ve found that Dan Carson tends to focus on the more “optimistic” fiscal analyses, for example. (Sometimes, there’s more than one analysis, or range of possibilities.)

      If he gets on the council, I fear that the more pessimistic analyses will essentially be overlooked.  (As is already essentially occurring, on the commission that he heads, now.)

      As a result, I suspect that Dan will ultimately champion a peripheral development, and will (only) refer to the more optimistic analyses. And, some may simply trust his expertise, and fail to understand that there’s a range of possibilities regarding a given proposal.

      An example of this is demonstrated by both of the Nishi proposals.

      1. Don Shor

        While I understand the point you are making, the problem is that for something like 7 of the candidates you have no track record at all of public decision-making. You don’t know if there’s a gulf between their rhetoric and how they’ll actually deliberate and vote on issues. Personally, I think Mark has been consistent enough over the years that he is pretty much going to hew to his beliefs. Dan and Eric have been on commissions. The others, for better or worse, are much more of a gamble.
        For the record, I have endorsed Dan Carson.

      2. Ron

        Don:  I’d rather have someone who hasn’t (already) demonstrated a bias, and who simultaneously has expertise and a personality which might cause others to automatically believe him.

        That’s a particularly dangerous combination for a council member to possess, for those who might prefer more unbiased analyses regarding any given proposal.

        1. David Greenwald

          That’s probably an impossible standard, pretty much everyone has demonstrated a bias.  The question is whether you are supportive of that viewpoint

        2. Ron

          David:  I’d have to disagree with you, here.

          Analyses should be presented as objectively as possible (regardless of one’s “position” on an issue), especially if one has expertise in a given subject.

          It’s even worse if a candidate does not acknowledge a bias. (Or, if it’s not immediately apparent to casual observers, which might be more applicable regarding Dan’s views regarding fiscal analyses.)

          I suspect that the average voter does not follow the issue closely enough, to realize what Dan’s views are.

        3. Ron

          And, taking it a step further, we’ll see what happens if Nishi passes (without an innovation center component), and Dan gets elected.

          If that occurs, I fully expect a “full-court-press”, regarding a peripheral development (which includes housing).  Along with some very “optimistic” fiscal projections, regarding the proposal.

          And unfortunately, Dan has both the expertise and personality to “sell” the proposal.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Nishi really isn’t relevant to that discussion. The city needs revenue generating ability regardless. However, there hasn’t been much of a press for peripheral economic development since MRIC went down, so I’m not sure what’s going to change in the near future.

        4. Howard P

          I suspect that the average voter does not follow the issue closely enough, to realize what Dan’s views are.

          Pretty damn sure that the majority of those who will vote in June, do not follow the issues closely enough, to realize what ANY candidates’ views are… truly scary…

          And the candidates don’t help much at all, thus far… someone else said it best “sound-bites”… this is the weakest field I’ve seen, but have only been here since 1972… am unfit to judge… too recent to the community…

      3. Alan Miller

        > some may simply trust his expertise, and fail to understand that there’s a range of possibilities regarding a given proposal.

        Kinda like Cahill?

        1. Ron

          Well, yes.  But so far, no one on here has the expertise to dispute him.  It also does not seem that he’s interested in participating in the political debate, on here.

          And really, it’s pretty difficult to dispute results which haven’t even been gathered or analyzed (as unanimously recommended by the Natural Resources Commission – as well as Dr. Cahill).

          In contrast, there are folks (including members of the budget and finance committee) who may have as much, or more expertise than Dan regarding fiscal analyses.  Some of those folks disagree with Dan’s conclusions – as did an external analyst, regarding Nishi.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Like Mark, I would argue many have disputed him in a lot of different ways, but you and others have chosen to ignore the evidence to contrary even as you claim that air quality is not driving your opposition to the project. Tia’s point on the lack of epidemiological evidence, my point regarding similar topography of East Olive and his ignoring the research on elevated roadways, Dr. Salock, Larry Greene, and Don Shor have all presented counterveiling evidence and information and you have simply chosen to disregard it. And then you claim no one has the expertise to dispute him.

        2. Mark West

          “Well, yes.  But so far, no one on here has the expertise to dispute him.”

          Actually, several people here have the expertise to dispute him, and they have.

        3. Ron

          Mark:  You’re “right”, actually:

          There’s Don (the nurseryman)

          David (the political blog publisher)

          Robb (the council member / “public health expert”).  (Mostly third-hand comments, as he’s avoided commenting on here.)

          Dr. Salocks (the closest, but still not an air quality expert)

          And, even regarding the political arguments, no one has come up with an answer regarding why the recommendation to conduct an on-site study has been disregarded, the scientific reason that existing standards should simply be ignored, the apparent inadequacy of air filters, etc.

          The only “conclusion” I’ve come up with is that some are purposefully disregarding the recommendation, based upon reasons not related to air quality.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You mean Robb Davis who holds a Phd in public health from Johns Hopkins University?

        4. Ron

          The only “conclusion” I’ve come up with is that some are purposefully disregarding the recommendation, based upon reasons not related to air quality.

          David: How many air quality studies have been performed by ANY of the folks you mentioned?

          Scientific research is not properly conducted on political blogs. It’s peer-reviewed by actual colleagues, for one thing. It’s conducted via scientific methods, and not be referring to newspaper articles, attacks on the messenger, or any other political ploys.

          And, adequate data (e.g., on-site) is gathered before anything else.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The conclusion I’ve come up with is that you are the one purposefully disregarding all counter evidence over blind adherence to faith in expertise whose conclusion is friendly to your own.

        5. Ron

          You’re wrong about that.

          The more you argue about this, the more that the political nature of your argument shows.  (In an article that’s not even about air quality, at that.)

          It is unfortunate though, that the folks who care more deeply about this issue are apparently not commenting on the Vanguard, lately.  (At least for those who are seeking objectivity/balance, regarding the issue.)

          But then again, this really belongs in the scientific realm.  (After adequate samples are taken.)

          In the meantime, even some of the questions brought up by others/laymen who are concerned about the issue (as noted above), have not been responded to. (For example, I recall that another commenter questioned the adequacy of the planned filters, but did not receive a response.)

          Then, there’s outdoor activities, etc.

          Really, there’s a lot of unanswered questions.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            First of all, you made the comment.

            Second of all, we all have to vote on the project and therefore make judgments about issues like air quality. So this has to be the realm where it is discussed. There’s no avoiding it.

            For someone who claims not to be that concerned about this issue, you raise it every chance you get.

        6. Mark West

          Ron –

          You don’t need to be an expert in how to perform a study to have sufficient expertise to evaluate the results of that study. This is especially true when the results being presented are an assessment of incremental health risk. In fact, a public health expert, such as Robb Davis, or an epidemiologist, such as the one Dr. Will conferred with, both are likely better qualified than Dr. Cahill, to evaluate and discuss this incremental risk. That takes nothing away from Dr. Cahill or his abilities, it just points out that it is not his area of expertise.

        7. Ron

          David: I did not make the comment regarding filters.  In fact, it was made by someone who (otherwise) appears to support intense infill proposals. (I believe it was also brought up by Dr. Cahill.)

          I did not raise the point, today.  Alan did, and then proceeded to make a rather snide follow-up comment (again).

          I don’t think I raised the point the other day, either.

          Mark: The recommended, on-site study has not even been done. That IS Dr. Cahill’s area of expertise. (The others mentioned above – not so much.)

        8. Mark West

          “The recommended, on-site study has not even been done.”

          Yes, with good reason. Those with the appropriate expertise recognize that the results of the study, whatever they are, are unlikely to significantly change the relative health risks, so the study is not needed and is, therefore, a waste of time and resources.

        9. Ron

          That type of thinking is akin to an outright dismissal of air quality studies, and resulting health impacts.

          In other words, why bother to measure it (as recommended before Nishi 2.0 even arose), if you’ve already discounted the unknown results.  Of course, the nearby study already showed that existing standards were exceeded.  And, the nearby study was apparently performed within a very limited time frame, during a time when air quality was likely not at its worst.

          I wonder why no one checks with the folks that established those standards, and instead prefer to put forth their own opinions.  And, at least measure what’s there, before downplaying the results.

          Had the study been done when first recommended, perhaps it could have actually gone through a scientific review process, before presenting it to voters. However, with so many willing to downplay the results (even before determining what’s there), perhaps it was a shrewd political calculation to ignore that earlier recommendation.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            No it’s not. There were preliminary studies done on the adjacent property. Cahill has consistently misled people about the uniqueness of the Nishi site vis-a-vis east Olive. Moreover there is fifty years of residency on East olive with no evidence of health impacts. I view the call for more air quality studies as a delay tactic at best and a red herring at worst.

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            “I wonder why no one checks with the folks that established those standards, and instead prefer to put forth their own opinions.”

            You mean like Larry Greene? Oh yeah, you’ve ignored him as well.

        10. Ron


          I really don’t have time to engage on this further, tonight.

          Regardless, the arguments back-and-forth have been presented quite a lot, already.  And, don’t even belong in this article.



        11. David Greenwald

          Regardless, you called Robb Davis, a man with a PhD in Public Health from Johns Hopkins a so-called “public health expert” and seem to not recognize who is Larry Greene, which has distorted your analysis of their comments.

        12. Ron

          I did not call Rob a “so-called” anything.  I do know, however, that a public health expert is generally not going to be an expert regarding air quality studies.

          It seems like you’re becoming unnecessarily defensive.

          Regarding Larry Greene, I have made no comments regarding him (or what he stated).  Some other time, I might be willing to discuss that with you. Please remember that I’m actually not as “wrapped up” into this particular topic as you might assume. (And, as you seem to be.) I also do not know what it means when you state that (I?) have “distorted your analysis of their comments”. (You probably didn’t word that correctly.)

          I have other stuff to do (including fixing an error on my tax return, that I just noticed).  Yeap, last-minute stuff. Sorry, but that’s going to take priority over extending this conversation (which actually doesn’t belong in this article, regardless).

        13. David Greenwald

          You put “public health expert” in quotes implying that you didn’t buy it.  And while he might not be an air quality expert, he is a health expert which is the other end of the coin, and what Cahill btw, is not.

          You made no comment about Larry Greene, but did say I wonder why no one checks with the folks who makes the standard, which was in fact, Larry Greene.  Hence my comment, which you again didn’t seem to recognize.

        14. Ron

          I never doubted that Robb is a public health expert.  I put that in quotes because that doesn’t make him an air quality expert. (I’m going to assume that he hasn’t conducted any air quality studies, at all.) Seems like no matter how many times this is noted, it is ignored by supporters of the proposal.

          I took a moment and looked at the video in which Dr. Greene made a presentation to the council (apparently with the development team, for Nishi).  Wondering why he was presenting with that team, in the first place.

          I looked at Dr. Greene’s brief presentation, and found that he hardly mentioned the conditions at Nishi, at all.  The bulk of his presentation dealt with “smart growth”, and generally reducing the number of cars on the road.  He then went on to make the same mistake that others make, by ignoring an on-campus option, for housing. (Seems like he’s also ignoring the 700-space parking lot proposed for Nishi.)

          Here’s a link to the video, which includes the presentation by the development team:

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You put Robb Davis, “public health expert” in quotes, suggesting it was so-called or supposed.

            Larry Greene was the director for Yolo-Solano and then Sacramento air quality management district, the group that comes up with the air quality standards you were mentioning.

        15. Ron

          And actually, is Larry Greene a doctor (Ph.D.), at all?  The slide does not list that title.  If not, I’m going to assume that Larry Greene has not conducted any scientific air quality studies, either.

  5. Jim Frame

    Side note:  can one of you administrator types fix whatever broke with my account?  I’m not able to see anything written by Don Shor.  I don’t know if any others are being excluded, but Don’s the one I’ve positively identified as unviewable by me.  I’ve not knowingly blocked anyone.


    1. Howard P

      Suggest you contact David/Don directly, off-line… I had that problem, and I got a thing called ‘dashboard’ (that they gave me a link to), where if I “dumb-thumb”, I can restore an accidentally blocked commenter… hope that helps…

  6. Dave Hart

    Maybe in the next forum, instead of 90 seconds for one of several questions, each candidate should get a full five minutes to answer one question: What is your vision for your tenure on the council and what do you hope to accomplish?

    1. Mark West

      “should get a full five minutes to answer one question”

      Why? So we will be better prepared to ‘drone-on’ from the dais while trying to think of something cogent to say to justify our vote? If you cannot express your views clearly in a minute or two you really don’t understand the issues. There is already too much of that nonsense going on in this town which is why CC meetings run so long.

      What would be beneficial is if there were follow-up questions by the MC to clarify or highlight an area of interest in a candidate’s response. Clarification questions can bring out more of the nuance that is lost in 1-2 minute ‘off-the-cuff’ response. With the candidate pool as large as it is, however, that is difficult to do.

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