On a night when the centerpiece council item was a wireless ordinance and the bulk of the public commenters were talking about the dangers of 5G, perhaps the oddest item turned out to be a decision by the council whether to oust BTSSC (Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission) Commissioner Todd Edelman.
Three commissioners had submitted a letter to council requesting the removal of Mr. Edelman, claiming that he “shows a lack of respect for the Chair, commissioners, and all involved by consistently prolonging meetings, derailing discussions, failing to yield the floor, and not accepting the decisions of the Commission.”
The council then attempted to split the baby so to speak – instead of ousting Mr. Edelman, they suspended him for two meetings, February and March, with some sort of conflict resolution process. That was not enough for the three commissioners who all resigned, leaving the commission short of a quorum.
Here’s the thing, I rather like Todd. Those who have read his long and rambling posts wonder what he’s getting at, but while I don’t always agree with him, I do agree with one of his core principles – the need to move away from automobile centric transportation and the ability of the city to reduce parking as the result of changes in ridership.
While the council did what this council does – attempt to parse the issue by going the suspension route rather than ouster – I think this illustrates the weakness as well as the strength of this council. In the end, the middle path resulted in the same outcome that I think a more assertive path would have.
I do think the comment in the Enterprise at the start of their article was a bit much: “The bicycling capital of the nation has a problem: The commission that oversees bicycling and transportation safety in the city of Davis doesn’t have enough members to hold a meeting.”
The bicycling capital of the nation does have a big problem all right, but it is not lack of a quorum for a couple of meetings on the advisory commission.
The much bigger problem is that, while we have focused very heavily on the shortfall of funding for roads, we have as big if not a bigger problem for bike paths. This in the town that practically invented a network of bike paths for riders to be able to safely traverse the city.
Yet here we have 51.7 miles of bike paths with an average PCI of 52. Nearly 15 percent of the bike paths in town have “failed” while another 46.3 percent are in poor condition. The city’s target is a 68 PCI. To fix that, it is going to cost the city about $60 million over 10 years.
The bike commission not having enough members temporarily for a quorum is a temporary and symbolic setback. The bike path underfunded maintenance is a disaster that has gotten far less attention than this little blow-up. That’s the real issue.
The council got a lot of pushback during public comment, mainly from regular critics of the council. In this case, I don’t think they were wrong necessarily, but some were more than a bit over the top.
My favorite was this one: “This is a Coordinated effort by people supporting powerful monied interests in town who are seeking to silence voices of opposition that have risen up against their schemes.”
If that is really what the goal of the council was here, I would probably start with a less obscure, less advisory position.
But I will say as over-the-top as that statement was, I have seen what it looks like for a council to do exactly that. One has to go only to the start of the Vanguard and the decision by the council to shut down the entire Human Relations Commission because they advocated for Police Oversight against the wishes of the council majority.
Less dramatic but still evident was the overall effort by the council at that time to remove critics of the council majority and install like-minded individuals across the board.
But really, since 2010, that practice stopped. The council has largely taken its finger off the scale and simply attempted to fill the commissions with the most qualified people – even adopting a process to more formalize it.
Overall, the council could have handled this more cleanly and probably should have had it resolved administratively rather than legislatively. While I think the comment above that was stated is absurd, this type of action does feed into the hands of those critics who are itching for something to sink their teeth into.
—David M. Greenwald reporting