By Alan Pryor
There is a long history of community forums and debates in Davis on important ballot measures that were hosted by various community groups. Indeed, every major ballot measure for the past 10 years has seen at least two or more such forums or public debates occur leading up to election day.
I myself have participated in a number of these debates on behalf of the City including two supporting passage of Measure D (the Parks Tax Renewal in 2012), six supporting passage of Measure I (the Water Project in 2013), and two supporting passage of Measure O (the Sales Tax Measure in 2014). I also represented the No on Nishi 1.0 campaign in 2016 in five forums or debates.
The campaign committee “No on Measure L – No on West Davis Active Adult Community” has offered to participate in any and all such public forums and debates on Measure L during this election cycle and we were rearranging our work and vacation schedules to make sure we were available to attend such events.
We thought we had a minimum of 2 forum/debates scheduled and were actively working to arrange to participate in others until late last week. Then we were informed that the two planned events sponsored by Civenergy and Rancho Yolo were abruptly canceled and simultaneously the phone lines went dead with prospective sponsors of other potential forums/debates.
The emails below document these cancellations. Apparently, David Taormino, the developer of the West Davis Active Adult Community, had decided to refuse to participate in Measure L public forums and debates with us and notified the organizers that he has canceled his planned appearances with little explanation given to us for such unprecedented, abrupt actions.
Why Won’t David Taormino Defend his Development Project in Public?
Cancellation #1 – Civenergy Forum
Civenergy is an organization dedicated to civic engagement, to discussion of current community issues and building our community’s social capital. For example, Civenergy allows citizens to discuss and make decisions about local elections and has independently sponsored numerous forums during a number of recent Davis elections.
Civenergy contacted No on Measure L Campaign Treasurer, Alan Pryor, in late August about participating in a forum with the Yes on Measure L sponsors. Mr . Pryor agreed. Two tentative dates were discussed and Bob Fung, Civenergy President was to confirm final dates and details. Time passed and, then on Sept. 8, Mr. Pryor wrote to follow up: : :
On Sep 8, 2018, at 6:31 AM, Alan Pryor wrote:
Bob – I was wondering why you had not gotten back to me about the timing on the Civenergy forum on Measure L.
But I have since been informed that the forum will not happen at all because the Taorminos will not participate if I am the spokesperson for No on Measure L. I was initially a bit taken aback but then scoffed at the notion. That cannot be true, can it?
To make myself clear, I am willing to appear at any time or place Civenergy holds a forum. I had requested a change of the previous date proposed, but if that change is not acceptable to the Taorminos then let’s hold it on the initially proposed date.
Please advise as soon as possible.
On 9/8/2018 at 6:51 AM, Bob Fung wrote:
You heard correctly. I have been trying to work it out. I have talked to Robb Davis about it. And I brought it up with David [sic – i.e., refers to David Greenwald, publisher of the Davis Vanguard] and he probably told you he had a conversation with Jason [sic – i.e., refers to Jason Taormino, son of WDAAC developer, David Taormino] he is optimistic that things will work out.
As an FYI, it is Civenergy’s policy to hold forums only with participation from each side. I made this clear for on the Board of Education online forum we are hosting this cycle.
Cancellation #2 – Rancho Yolo Forum
Rancho Yolo is the Davis senior citizen mobile home park on Pole Line Rd. The Homeowners Association has sponsored political forums for most municipal measures for many years. Their forums are always well-attended by their intelligent, engaged residents.
Pam Nieberg, No on Measure L Campaign Secretary, contacted Nancy Redpath, President of the Rancho Yolo Homeowners Association Board of Directors, in late August about their holding a forum this election for the Measure L ballot. The following email exchange ensued:
On 9/3/2018 at 6:34 PM, Pam Nieberg wrote:
Last I heard from you re our group giving a presentation on No on Measure L, you were going to talk to the “yes” side re both presenting at the same forum at Rancho Yolo. I have not heard anything back. Are you still working on that? We would like to get some dates to work it into our schedule.
On Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 12:01 PM, Nancy Redpath wrote
I had to get an email approval from the Board of Directors, and we now have enough affirmative votes to hold this forum. I’ve also spoken to Mary Jo Bryan, and she said that David Taormino agrees to a presentation for the proponents.
The best two dates for us are both Saturdays: October 13 or October 20. Will one of those work for you? I’ll also check with Mary Jo. We’ve found that 10:00 works pretty well for our residents; 1:30 pm. would also be all right. We have a smart TV for a powerpoint presentation (or other), and a small sound system.
We’ll need some help from the presenters to set up chairs and tables, since some of our regular folks are gone. And there will be some ground rules that we’ll go over beforehand. I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that this needs to be an informational meeting with no drama!
I’ll see about reserving the clubhouse as soon as we have some dates selected.
Nancy Redpath, President
On Sunday, September 9, 2018, Nancy Redpath wrote
I talked to Mary Jo last night, and she said that Dave Taormino decided to decline the invitation to a Measure L forum. The board wanted to make sure that it would be a presentation of facts only, and the proponents don’t see that anything positive could come from a setting like this.
I’ve copied Mary Jo, who said she would welcome the chance to talk to you any time you like.
I’m sorry it didn’t work out this time.
Nancy Redpath, President