Monday Morning Thoughts: A Lot of Unfounded Arguments against District Elections

One official from the city told me a few weeks ago that they had thought the school district bowed down too easily on the threat of district elections – until they looked at the statutes and case law and realized that there was no way to win.

I keep seeing arguments put forward that are not based on data analysis – they are not based on legal realities and they don’t pass the test.

A few weeks ago Bob Dunning made the claim that, by going to district elections, we would dilute your influence.  Under the old system, you were able to vote for all five members, but now you will be able to vote for just one.

This argument was unfortunately repeated during a public comment last Tuesday.  No one bothered to analyze it or do the math.

Under the current system, it is true you get to vote for all five of the candidates over the course of two elections. But there is a trade-off for that. The vote for the five candidates is less influential – on average – than it would be for voting for your one candidate.

Let us look at 2016 and 2018 to show how this works.

In 2018, the voters got to select two candidates. But there were 31,739 votes cast.

In 2016, the voters got to select three candidates. But there were 43,102 votes cast.

In the city of Davis, there are 39,463 registered voters. Last June, 20,196 turned out. If we assume those are distributed evenly across all five districts, that means there would be about 8000 registered voters per district and somewhere 4000 votes cast (assuming 50 percent turnout).

You might find yourself as one of 4000 or 5000 rather, getting to vote for five but having five votes among 74,841.

Bottom line is that, while you don’t get to vote for all five candidates, your actual influence for your one will be a lot higher. Plus it is much easier to mobilize and try to win 2000 votes than to need 6000 to 11000 votes in order to win.

Oh but there’s more.

Bob Dunning yesterday wrote that “the problem with tossing Davis into this mix is that we are not a city where traditionally underrepresented groups are concentrated in one specific area of town. Given that districts are contiguous, geographic entities, it’s folly to think that any political map drawn by fair-minded people can lead to more Asian-Americans or Latinos being elected to the Davis City Council.”

The first problem is that Mr. Dunning can argue this point all day, but as the city made clear in a memo, “The threshold required for showing a violation of the CVRA [California Voting Rights Act] is low.”  More importantly, “a minority group does not have to be geographically compact or concentrated to allege a violation of the CVRA.”

So Mr. Dunning is throwing out an argument that is not legally viable because Mr. Rexroad and his clients do not have to make any kind of showing.

But even given that, it is not clear that Mr. Dunning is correct here with his argument.  In fact, no one with whom I have inquired seems to have demographics broken down by precinct.

Jesse Salinas told the Vanguard, “If you are talking about precinct demographic information we don’t have that data at this time.”

That is unfortunate.  The city doesn’t have that data either.  When I asked Matt Rexroad if he had that data, he said he didn’t need it.

But what we do know is that when Valley Oak closed around 2008, it was the only district that was considered majority minority.  We also know that currently Montgomery is the district’s only school that has a high concentration of Title I students (not just ethnic minorities, though many are, but low income).

In fact, if you consider the areas around Valley Oak that generated high concentrations of low income, minority students, the areas at Royal Oak and East Olive, and then the areas headed toward Montgomery including Greene Terrace, Owendale, and New Harmony, you actually have a demographic area that is contiguous and in proximity on a map that probably has a high concentration of Hispanic voters.

The idea that there aren’t concentrated pockets in Davis probably goes toward the invisibility of people of color in this community.

Mr. Dunning then writes that “it should be up to Rexroad and his pals who brought this threat to our doorstep to point out precisely in what manner districts could be drawn to achieve the goals they claim to support.”

Maybe it should be – but the reality is that it’s not.  That is not burden they have under the law.  And maybe that’s a problem or maybe that is a good thing because traditionally disadvantaged people often lack the resources to fight high stakes battles to prove they have been marginalized.

Bob Dunning concludes: “Otherwise, his threatened lawsuit is a charade and a sorry attempt to shame the city of Davis in an area where no shame is deserved.”

Actually the lawsuit is an attempt to get the city to adopt district elections, which they are entitled to do under the law.

Mr. Dunning then attempts to inflame: “I’ll put this as nicely as I can. Voting within Davis is not racially polarized, no matter what some out-of-town and out-of-touch attorney may want us to believe. Case dismissed.”

What do you mean voting in Davis is not racially polarized?  People of color up until the last election held less than 20 percent of all offices in this community over the last 20 years.  Moreover, Davis is racially polarized.  That is why we see DJUSD as having one of the highest and most pervasive achievement gaps in the region.  And that is why many people of color complain that they have been discriminated against in town, there are disproportionate traffic stops, and many people of color feel that they have been singled out by the police and their fellow citizens.

We don’t hear those voices, precisely because they have been marginalized.

When Gloria Partida became the first Latina elected to the city council, upon being sworn in she said, “Why does that matter?  It matters because democracy is about representation.  Everybody here on the dais brings their experiences and their realities into this space.  They are voices for the community.  The voices of women and color belong in this room.”

Those voices have traditionally not been included.  2018 was a big step forward as three women of color were elected in Davis – but does that mean that the problem of representation has been solved?  I don’t think any one would reasonably agree with that.

None of this has to be proved by Mr. Rexroad by the way, but it does lend folly to the arguments put up by Mr. Dunning.

—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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62 Comments

  1. Matt Williams

    Moreover, Davis is racially polarized.  That is why we see DJUSD as having one of the highest and most pervasive achievement gaps in the region.

    While I agree with many of the arguments put forward in this opinion piece, the statement above does not in my opinion pass the scratch and sniff test

    I see the achievement gap issues in Davis as an economic class differentiation rather that a racial differentiation.  I suspect there is substantial achievement gap differentiation within the POC racial group.  I also suspect that the achievement gap much more closely mirrors the 75% vs. 25% “presence of a 4-year college degree” dividing line that the US Census tells us exists in Davis. So I would restate as follows:

    Moreover, Davis is economically differentiated.  That is why we see DJUSD as having one of the highest and most pervasive achievement gaps in the region.

      1. Hiram Jackson

        D. Greenwald:  Moreover, Davis is racially polarized.  That is why we see DJUSD as having one of the highest and most pervasive achievement gaps in the region.

        and

        Matt – since we’ve had this discussion, and I presented your my evidence for my line of reasoning, I leave it as agree to disagree.

        I think Matt has a point.  And I would be interested in your line of reasoning.  Because the logic I’m following is, “Davis is racially polarized, thus DJUSD has one of the highest and most pervasive achievement gaps in the region.”  It seems to miss the mark from what I see happening.

        To counter such a claim, the district will often present standardized test score data (which is conventionally used to define the achievement gap) and show that Latinex students in Davis score above the state average for other Latinex students.   And that African-American students DJUSD also generally score above the state average among all African-American students.  That would suggest that if race is all that matters, DJUSD is doing a better job than many many other places in the state.  But that is because UC Davis does a pretty good job of attracting qualified staff who more demographically representative of the broader state population.  The result is that we also have more Latinex & African American students who come from families with college education and who will score higher on standardized tests.  Statewide results for CAASPP scores, the most recent iteration of California standardized testing, can be found here.

        But DJUSD looks terrible if you look at students based on family education level.  And that is a worthy angle to take because of UC Davis.  In particular UC Davis boasts of having 40+% of its undergraduate student population as first generation college students.  I’m not so sure that a robust portion of that demographic cohort among DJUSD students is represented at UCD.  Also,  in general Davis, a college town, appears more welcoming of residents who have college education than of those who don’t.

        But it is also true that Latinex students in DJUSD make up a larger portion of the cohort having no college education in their family.

        It seems like our community celebrates participating in promoting this social mobility and opportunity through UC Davis, but doesn’t care as much about future first-gen DJUSD students participating in that opportunity.

        I would hope that DJUSD would lead a conversation addressing the question, ‘What does it look like in Davis to see the schools close their achievement gap?’  So far the only clear answer the district gives is ‘the test score range will narrow and maybe disappear among traditionally more privileged and less-privileged demographic groups.’  Is that all there is?  It seems like there should be more.  It all seems a distraction from other deeper issues.

          1. David Greenwald

            And I have a response, but not the time to make it at the moment. He deserves a response and I’m not punting on it. My short answer is that I don’t think Hiram is wrong, I just don’t think his is the full picture. Education is a clear intervening variable, but blacks and Latinos with college educated parents do worse than white and Asians with similarly educated parents. What we heard in 2012 in a public session and have heard anecdotally since more privately is the students of color receive social and institutional bias in the system and that bias contributes to their worse outcomes.

        1. Matt Williams

          I look forward to hearing your response soon.

          I personally don’t think we will see a substantial difference between the White and non-White demographic groups when those two cohorts are segmented by parental education.

    1. Alan Miller

       . . . the statement above does not in my opinion pass the scratch and sniff test

      Depends on what you are scratching and sniffing.  I can think of something dry and globular found in fields dropped from the male variety of a species rumored to be occasionally ‘tipped’.

      – but does that mean that the problem of representation has been solved?

      If it ever was, you’d be out of a job.

      I don’t think any one would reasonably agree with that.

      May one unreasonably agree with that?

  2. Bill Marshall

    There are more things than straight math which you appear to ignore.  At no matter what ‘influence’ your individual vote “counts”, under the current system, you have 5 “at-bats” in a four year period… under the new system, you have one swing at the bat every 4 years.  So, it goes beyond simple math, and gets more to statistics or ‘Monte-Carlo theory’… so, if you don’t like the way the Board/CC is trending, you can just ‘b—-‘, or wait a year to three, to maybe affect one vote on the Board/CC, or mount a recall effort for one seat.

    Your “math” does not appear to take that into account…

    Also, not taken into account, is the ‘effect’ of having open seats open for all to vote on… in Julie Partansky’s first run, she was likely everyone’s third choice… got elected, and eventually became mayor, as she was third choice for a lot of people, which led to her getting the most votes.  That’s real, and is far from the only time that has happened.  If there had been district elections, back in the day, unlikely that Julie would ever have been elected. [I voted for her twice, as my third choice, in preference over others]…

    No one has addressed how Mayor/Mayor Pro Tem will be selected under the ‘new world order’… default is that it will be the electeds, not the electorate… your advocacy does not address those issues, either.

    1. Matt Williams

      No one has addressed how Mayor/Mayor Pro Tem will be selected under the ‘new world order’… default is that it will be the electeds, not the electorate… your advocacy does not address those issues, either.

      My personal preference is that Mayor be handled the same way that Chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors is handled … which is with one-year appointments that rotate theough the five districts in a predetermined sequence.

      Mayor in Davis is for the most part ceremonial.  Robb Davis tried to be more than a ceremonial Mayor and his colleagues rebelled.

  3. Bill Marshall

    But, it is what it is… particularly in the election cycles where there are 3 folk elected, the opportunity of someone who is ‘different’ being elected, increases… [and don’t give me the cost of elections thingy… definitely didn’t apply as to Julie]… it could well be that district elections will devolve into less diversity, and trend more to “turf”…

    Those who support/advocate for district elections need to own the consequences, good, or bad…

    But, it is clear, we will be going to district elections… Thank you SO MUCH Matt Rexroad and your “clients”… you, too, need to “own” your actions…

    1. David Greenwald

      There always are good and bad consequences.  We’re going to district elections because the state law was written such that we have no choice.

      That said, I think you’re going to end up in a place where people who never would have considered running before will have the opportunity to do so.  Will that be good or bad?  Remains to be seen.

      1. Alan Miller

        We’re going to district elections because the state law was written such that we have no choice.

        I have heard there is a strong effort at the state level to repeal and/or fix this law.  If this is truly ‘unstoppable’, could we write the law so that it repeals if the state law is changed?

      2. Bill Marshall

        Compare to Julie P (CC)… elected under the old “corrupt” system;  Gloria (CC), Ruth (DJUSD & CC), Tim Taylor (DJUSD), Lee (CC), Heystek (CC), etc., etc., etc…

        Yes, it is seeming like your view is “no white males need apply”, and if they do, and are elected, no matter their views on inclusion, there is a ‘significant social problem’…

        Own your ‘solution’… now, and for the next 20 years…

        Your view (or you may want to hide behind the “law”) have prevailed… done deal…

        Yet it may guarantee that more conservative, Republican or not, will gain representation.    Own that.

  4. Eric Gelber

    “a minority group does not have to be geographically compact or concentrated to allege a violation of the CVRA.”

    That’s right. Geographical concentration is only relevant when fashioning a remedy through the drawing of district lines. The CVRA clearly establishes a presumption in favor of district elections, and it could have been less controversial and less confusing had it been more clearly drafted.

    As to voter influence, in addition to the weight given to one’s vote in an election, district representation means district residents are more likely to influence elected officials on individual issues for the same reason—they are one of a much smaller group of constituents.

    What district elections will clearly do is give residents a more representative voice on the Council on issues that have a relatively greater impact on a particular district. I don’t know that that’s a bad thing.

     

        1. Ron Oertel

          Matt (to me):  “I think it is clear from your posting history that you tend to look at issues much less from a process perspective, but rather from an end result perspective … at a community level.”

          I think you’ve analyzed this well.  Partly because I think the “process” is already screwed-up (not just locally).  Oh my god, I just got back from Sacramento, which I tend to avoid these days.

          Can’t help but think of the “special favors” that some members of Congress insist upon (for their own districts), in order to obtain their support for issues that impact the entire nation.  I believe that we had an example of that with “ObamaCare”.

          Locally, I can’t imagine that one representative (e.g., who might be concerned about the “Mace Mess”, for example) is going to make much difference.  Same with Trackside. (In fact, they might not even be able to participate, in those matters.)

          Sue Greenwald represented my concerns well, but didn’t have sufficient support from the rest of the council.  (Actually, so did Mike Harrington.) Never understood why Sue pursued issues that she didn’t have sufficient support for, though.

          Regarding the issues that I care most about, skin color probably doesn’t matter much.  In fact, those who share my skin color (and gender) created most of the problem to begin with. Then again, Gloria Partida certainly isn’t my cup of tea – regardless of skin color.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Quoting myself:   “In fact, those who share my skin color (and gender) created most of the problem to begin with.”

          And, they probably still are, even if they sometimes use others to advocate on their behalf.

          “Bonus points” if they’re also younger than all of us, but especially compared to those who created the problem.

      1. Matt Williams

        Ron, I agree with Eric vis-a-vis representation and “being heard.”  I think it is clear from your posting history that you tend to look at issues much less from a process perspective, but rather from an end result perspective … at a community level.  Therefore, you not seeing things the same way as Eric does, is not a surprise.

      2. Eric Gelber

        Ron – Think of how much influence an individual constituent or even a large group of local constituents would have, or how well a locality’s interests would be heard, if all 40 members of the State Senate (or all 80 members of the Assembly) were elected on a statewide basis, rather than by district. It’s a much larger scale but the same principle applies.

        1. Mark West

          On the other hand, think about how much influence one long-serving CC member might accrue after representing their district unopposed for a decade or two, without needing to be concerned about the interests of the rest of the community?

        2. Matt Williams

          Mark, we have certainly seen that pattern at the County level over the recent years, but my suspicion is that the chances of that happening in the City of Davis are really quite low.

          The reasons I believe that are as follows:

          1.  Proportionally Davis citizens are much more politically engaged than Yolo County citizens

          2. County issues are principally social welfare issues.

          3. City issues are much more visceral, and they affect the personal wealth of the Davis citizens much more frequently than County issues.

          4. The number of residents a County Supervisor candidate represents is a bit over 40,000, while the number of residents a City Council member represents will be somewhere between 12,000 and 9,000.  The number of voters a City Council candidate has to  connect with (earn the vote of) is also approximately 25% of the County equivalent.

          5.  The base salary of a Yolo County Supervisor is $67,064.  The base salary of a Davis City Council member is $13,656.  The former is worth sticking around for.  The latter, not so much.

          6.  Each Supervisor has a total of 2 FTEs of Deputy Supervisors to help do the work.  Each Council member has to do the work all by themselves.

          Bottom-line, while the worst-case scenario you describe is possible, it is also quite unlikely.

    1. Tia Will

      Eric

      What district elections will clearly do is give residents a more representative voice on the Council on issues that have a relatively greater impact on a particular district. I don’t know that that’s a bad thing.”

      I have very mixed feelings about the likely outcome of district elections, none of which matter since they are inevitable by law. I would like to speak to your particular point. My concern about having a greater district impact, is that many people simply will not care about districts other than their own. I know this from tabling at Farmer’s Market for many issues over many years. A common comment I would get when the issue is perceived as only affecting one area is “Oh, I don’t care about that, I live in a different area of town”. This is not a good way, in my opinion, to build community consensus and it is questionable, not certain that in Davis it will help remedy any lack of representation.

       

      1. Eric Gelber

        Tia – Point  taken. There are always pros and cons. But district elections at least help ensure that different local perspectives are considered.

  5. Don Shor

    In fact, if you consider the areas around Valley Oak that generated high concentrations of low income, minority students, the areas at Royal Oak and East Olive, and then the areas headed toward Montgomery including Greene Terrace, Owendale, and New Harmony, you actually have a demographic area that is contiguous and in proximity on a map that probably has a high concentration of Hispanic voters.

    You are drawing a district that straddles the freeway? I’m not clear on exactly what you’re proposing here.

    1. Alan Miller

      Sounds like crayon-gerrymandering a district based on personal observation of race based on children seen at a now-closed school, natural geographic boundaries be-d*mned.

  6. Alan Miller

    district representation means district residents are more likely to influence elected officials on individual issues for the same reason—they are one of a much smaller group of constituents.

    That could also go exactly the opposite, should a constituency within a district get a representative that is solidly against their core values.

    For example, “Central Davis” may be one district.  In this district lies Old East Davis, that strongly opposed the current Trackside proposal, suing the City over it.  Living in this district is Councilman Lucas Frerichs, who voted for Trackside and was at one point an investor in the project.

    Sure, OED could run candidates against him, but he’s an established incumbent and therefore has a leg-up.  Then what’s left is four candidates who are representing their other districts.

    And really, in Davis, how does where you live matter — as to what you represent?  This isn’t like Oakland or Sac.  The town is so small, whatever the issues are it applies to everyone.

    1. Mark West

      “The town is so small, whatever the issues are it applies to everyone.”

      Anecdotally, I have heard from many south Davis residents over the years who do not believe that their concerns are appropriately addressed by the CC or the community at large, so I would tend to disagree with your notion. In fact, I would say that your comments regarding your own neighborhood support that same conclusion as the concerns of you and your fellow OED’ites are not shared universally throughout the town. Concerns, and politics, are often quite local.

      I expect district elections to create a much more fractured and contentious CC with an increase in three vote decisions and generally less consensus. This will be especially true initially as everyone adjusts to the new reality. I think you will eventually see a rise in neighborhood ‘power brokers’ who will expect their representative to vote a certain way, and as it will be the property owners who will tend to live in one place for an extended period thereby achieving that ‘power broker’ status, that the concerns of renters will be further marginalized.

      1. Eric Gelber

        … an increase in three vote decisions and generally less consensus.

        I’m not sure that’s a bad thing if it’s due to more perspectives and interests having a voice. And as far as property owners (and I’d add business interests) being the power brokers, how is that different from now? In fact, a district comprised of relatively more renters, due to the concentration of apartments in some areas of town, may give non-homeowners an even greater voice.

        1. Mark West

          “a district comprised of relatively more renters, due to the concentration of apartments in some areas of town, may give non-homeowners an even greater voice.”

          OED (as one example) is filled with apartment complexes, yet how much voice do those renters have when it comes to the decisions of the neighborhood association? City-wide, renters make up roughly 60% of the residents. Is that percentage reflected on the Boards of the various neighborhood associations? Is it reflected on the Committee currently planning the future of the downtown? Renters tend to be transient, and will rarely have a voice among the more stable property-owning residents of a district, especially so if they change districts every few years. Combined they might well have an impact on a City-wide election, however.

        2. Alan Miller

          may give non-homeowners an even greater voice.

          The only thing that will give non-homeowners a greater voice is to vote and participate, regardless of whether we take the Rex Road or the Road Less Traveled.

        3. Eric Gelber

          The only thing that will give non-homeowners a greater voice is to vote and participate …

          I agree, Alan. And I believe local district elections will encourage that.

        4. Alan Miller

          M.We– you’re implication is not correct.  At least three of our current board members are not property owners, and recently we adjusted a proposal to the City to meet concerns presented on behalf of renters.  Thankfully, we have active renters.  And despite what you may think just because Trackside recruited some student campus Democrats to speak at a CC meeting in favor of ‘increased housing stock’ , many of our neighborhood renters can see this project for what it is.  Such persons can speak for ‘multiple generations’ of renters by being active.  The reality is, though, many student renters, especially, are just here for 4-5 years and don’t give a d*mn what happens after they leave, or are concentrating on their studies, or beer. It’s not rocket science to figure that those that’ll be here awhile may be more involved in a neighborhood’s future, and that’s a good thing.

        5. Bill Marshall

          Eric… do you ascribe to belief that renters, primarily students, can/should vote for say, 20-30 year bonds for things they philosophically support, knowing they’ll not be around to ‘pay the piper’?  Obviously they can… and they should vote…

          But, as a student, who foolishly didn’t think I’d be living in Davis for 40+ years, kept my voting in the Bay Area… I specifically did that, believing I had no right to decide financial/community things for others… ironically, had I and others voted locally, we may well have a 4+ lane Richards Blvd OH… ya’ never know…

        6. Mark West

          “At least three of our current board members are not property owners”

          Good to know, thank you.

          “It’s not rocket science to figure that those that’ll be here awhile may be more involved in a neighborhood’s future, and that’s a good thing.”

          You are right, of course, but that does not address those renters who live in town for several years, but due to circumstance, move between districts year to year. They will not be able to have the same level of influence in their district as they may have had if they had only lived in one, though they still have the same level of concerns for the City as a whole. In effect, they have to start over on the ‘influence scale’ every time they move, whereas before with City-wide elections, that would not necessarily have been true.

           

        7. Bill Marshall

          but due to circumstance, move between districts year to year. They will not be able to have the same level of influence in their district as they may have had if they had only lived in one, 

          So, those who move frequently might get to vote in four districts in a 4 year period, as well… they may will be able to exert MORE influence than someone who only gets to vote in one district, every four years… depending how active they are, of course… or they never may get to vote/have influence in a district… most likely, somewhere in between…

          Welcome to the ‘new normal’…

      2. Alan Miller

        as the concerns of you and your fellow OED’ites are not shared universally throughout the town.

        Wow, not everyone agrees with us?  I hadn’t noticed.  Revelations!

    2. Matt Williams

      but he’s an established incumbent and therefore has a leg-up

      Having personally run against two incumbents in 2016, I have a small sample of experience vis-a-vis the “has a leg up” designation.  Bottom-line, it depends.

      In 2016 to all intents and purposes the incumbents had not made any controversial decisions during their term(s) in office.  To their credit they had the successful and only mildly controversial surface water project.

      Fast forward to 2020 and it is a different story.  The incumbents are faced with a more than a few “black marks.”  To name just a few, the Mace Mess, the Covell-F Street Bike Underpass project, the L Street project, the failed parcel tax for Roads, the continuing and growing Budget Shortfall, the 41% rate increase for Solid Waste, the recent Astound-Wave contract, the Slide Hill Pickleball controversy, the Pacifico controversy, the DWR sale to Recology, the Picnic Day policing incident and many more all have broad swaths of opponents in the electorate, and they will face tough questions from voters everywhere they turn.

      1. Bill Marshall

        And, Matt, to your last paragraph, only those in the new districts who were directly ‘impacted’ will have any different voting behavior as to incumbents… but that’s good, right?  Assuming, of course, the incumbents live in the new districts…

        Some of the “issues” are City-wide… others you listed, far from… but we’ll see…

        Aside from Matt’s comments, I foresee ‘fiefdoms’, where as Tia alludes to, it becomes all about “my district” as opposed to ‘for the good of the City’; where “Let’s make a deal” takes the place of what’s right.  We should rename Davis as “little Chicago”… all in the name of ‘more inclusiveness’.

        Apparently, still “crickets” as to how Mayor (who along with CM sets the agendas, literally and figuratively) and Mayor Pro Tem will be designated… clearly, not by the electorate.

        1. Mark West

          “Apparently, still “crickets” as to how Mayor (who along with CM sets the agendas, literally and figuratively) and Mayor Pro Tem will be designated… clearly, not by the electorate.”

          Perhaps this change will provide the impetus to move to Charter City status, allowing us to create a city-wide elected ‘Strong Mayor’ to oversee day-to-day operations in place of the current City Manager (ranked-choice voting would become an option as well). I think there are too many conflicts of interest when it comes to having an unelected employee making decisions that directly impact the operations and budget for the City. The most obvious being one public employee negotiating the compensation for all the other public employees. With rare exception, senior staff in Davis have long been advocates for maintaining the status quo of overcompensated public employees. We shouldn’t expect a better result if we keep repeating the same mistakes.

          1. David Greenwald

            In fairness to the crickets the city has still yet to hold a public meeting. They have basically two choices – one is what Woodland does – rotate. The other is a city-wide Strong Mayor. We’ll see.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Drift, Mark, but appropriate drift… forgetting your comments about CM (and I oppose a ‘strong mayor’ model), direct election of a mayor, at-large, has some potential merit, but currently, the Mayor is rotated every 2 years, and I kinda’ like that.

          Still choosing the mayor gets more complicated with ‘districts’… same for MPT… I like your moving to implementation ideas, even if I disagree with your ‘solutions’… have no opposition to rank-choice voting, nor Charter City status… grew up in a Charter City (San Mateo)…

        3. Matt Williams

          Bill, why is the office of mayor important in our current system?

          I personally see it as mostly ceremonial, but I’m interested in hearing othere viewpoints on its importance in our current governance scheme.

        4. Bill Marshall

          BTW Mark, Charter City does not equal Council districts… not a one-one correlation… nor, vice versa… San Mateo is a charter City… CC members are elected at large, and one could delineate ‘districts’ with folk who meet the ‘under-represented’ “protected classes”…

          https://www.cityofsanmateo.org/166/Meet-Your-Council

          FWIW… note apparently no Asians or Blacks…

          Yet, those communities are significant in SM…

           

      1. Alan Miller

        I don’t agree with any of this, so I’d say everywhere and nowhere . . . but if given a crayon, it’s really impossible to say as I don’t know what the general districts will be or even how many there will be.  Olive really doesn’t fit anywhere . . . it’s isolated and unique.  It certainly doesn’t have any ‘rich’ sections.

  7. Bill Marshall

    BTW…

    Since we are going to district elections, I strongly opine that part of the enabling legislation has all current terms end, effective Dec 2020… in Nov 2020, there should be 3 openings for a 4 year term, 2 for a 2 year term.  To do anything less would violate the spirit if not the letter, of the governing State law cited.

    It would be bad form (and perhaps unlawful) to have 3 new members representing districts, and 2 representing “at-large”… based on residency, some districts could have two or more reps on CC…

    I’d normally opine, “all in”, or “all out”, but it appears the latter is not a choice.

    Another pragmatic issue that I have not seen addressed…

    1. Bill Marshall

      Will also be interesting to see how district boundaries are defined… and whether it is ‘influenced’ to protect incumbents… g-e-r-r-y-m-a-n-d-e-r? [Elbridge might be pleased…]

      Since districts are a “done deal”, isn’t it time to start talking about implementation rather than gloating/self justifying by proponents?

      1. Matt Williams

        Will also be interesting to see how district boundaries are defined… and whether it is ‘influenced’ to protect incumbents… g-e-r-r-y-m-a-n-d-e-r? [Elbridge might be pleased…]

        I suspect that the worst case scenario for the current City Council members would be to surrender the $35,000 lump-sum payment, and then get sued for not acting in good faith to address the representation issue.  Gerrymandering in the manner you describe would be a transparently obvious action in bad faith.

        Such a “not acting in good faith” lawsuit would probably be subject to additional costs for fines and penalties … truly the worst case scenario.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Matt… the $35,000 is a given, just because the atty wrote the letter… it’s about how many times the $35,000.  The first $$$ has already left the station by state law… no matter what, that first $$$ is forfeit…

          Any other challenges would probably start at that… pro forma…

          It is what it is… the law may be an ass, but it is still the law…

        2. Matt Williams

          Actually Bill the $35,000 isn’t a given.  In the scenario where the City decides to fight rather than switch, the $35,000 provision evaporates.  It becomes a “best lawyer wins” contest.

          Effectively there are three scenarios:

          1. City decides to fight, incurring the legal bills to do so.  Outcome uncertain, but based on history, the outlook for the court’s decision does not look promising.

          2.  City decides to comply, and does a sincere and effective job of complying.  Cost to the City is the $35,000 flat fee plus any staff and professional services costs needed to complete a good faith effort that is both sincere and effective.  Plaintiff agrees and that is the end of the legal process.

          3.  City decides to comply, and does not complete a sincere and effective job of complying.  Cost to the City is the $35,000 flat fee, plus any staff and professional services costs, plus the legal costs needed to defend the Plaintiff’s lawsuit that the City has not completed a good faith effort that is both sincere and effective.   It is unknown whether the costs associated with that bad faith lawsuit will be only for lawyers, or will also include fines and/or penalties and/or damages.

          In scenarios 2 and 3 the $35,000 is a given, but in scenario 1. it is not.

    2. Matt Williams

      Since we are going to district elections, I strongly opine that part of the enabling legislation has all current terms end, effective Dec 2020… in Nov 2020, there should be 3 openings for a 4 year term, 2 for a 2 year term.  To do anything less would violate the spirit if not the letter, of the governing State law cited.

      I agree 100% Bill … more than 100% if that is possible.

  8. Bill Marshall

    A Lot of Unfounded Arguments against District Elections

    Same can be rightfully said about arguments “for”… but since district elections are a “done deal”, as manipulated/coerced/retroactively justified, can we focus the discussion on “implementation”?

    DJUSD caved, City must follow, by law, and/or precedent… C’est un fait accompli, for all practical, legal (and political) purposes.

    Might actually be productive to focus on implementation.

    Moving on, as it were…

    1. Bill Marshall

      As to ‘implementation’, we may actually have local control… maybe… knowing that any ‘plan’ is subject to equal litigation “threats” by anyone who doesn’t get ‘their own way’… including (but not necessarily limited to) the ‘potential litigants’ today… They appear to be thinking of a ‘number’/quality between 1 – 100… if we don’t guess right,  expect litigation… from someone…

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