One of the new things in politics is that candidates and their volunteers send text messages to potential voters. The nice thing about them is that they are from real people – not just robocalls. I have received texts from people in the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders campaign. And this Thursday, as I was stuck in traffic on Lyft, I received one from a supporter of Linda Deos, with Linda apparently sitting next to her.
They asked my priorities in the county. Thinking quickly I said – bail reform and ARC (Aggie Research Campus). Strategically, I picked an issue I agree with her on and one I disagreed on.
Linda Deos has made bail reform one of the key points in her campaign. Some will undoubtedly say that bail is not the purview of the county, but there is no reason the board of supervisors couldn’t pass a local county ordinance prohibiting the DA’s office from asking for cash bail – just as in San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin has directed his office not to ask for cash bail.
When asked this question at the League debate last month, Jim Provenza talked about the county’s ORR release program, as he explained that “the own recognizance release program allow the person to be released from jail while they’re awaiting trial without having to put up bail.”
He added, “What they do is study the risk factors – if someone’s risky to commit another serious crime, or too violent, they won’t be let out, but if the risk factors are such they’re likely to show up, and likely not to be a danger to the community, we release them. San Francisco just announced they’re doing that now – we started several years ago.”
Here’s the thing though, San Francisco has gone a good deal further than Yolo. When we went to arraignment court in December, what we found was that the majority of cases were still getting bail, and the majority of people who are assigned bail cannot afford to put the 10 percent down and are therefore stuck in custody.
Here’s the thing – the problem with bail is that wealthy people can be released because they can afford to put down $1000, $10,000 and even $100,000. Poor people stay in custody – they risk losing their jobs, their homes, and they face a huge pressure to plead out.
Bail does not provide public safety. For instance, Marsalee Nicholas in 1983 was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend. The killer was released on bail prior to the trial. That case became the basis for Marsy’s Law in providing protection for victims of crime, but lesser recognized is that it provides a clear example of bail not being a protection for victims in cases where defendants can buy their way to freedom.
In San Francisco this week we saw how bail reform is working there. We saw four arraignments: two of which resulted in pretrial release, one which would have had a release except that there was a violation of probation hold, and the fourth resulted in pretrial detention when the judge determined that the defendant represented too great a risk to public safety – he had allegedly attacked and threatened his ex-girlfriend.
DA Chesa Boudin told the Vanguard that “ending money bail in San Francisco means replacing a wealth-based system with a risk-based system.”
He added, “We will no longer allow people who pose a serious public safety risk to be released pretrial, whether they are wealthy or not.”
They have not completely eliminated cash bail – in another matter on Tuesday for instance, a vehicular homicide case, the man was granted $100,000 bail, something that seemed likely the family could raise and get him released pretrial.
There is no reason why Yolo County cannot put a similar law into place that San Francisco has until SB 10 gets resolved with the November ballot initiative.
Aggie Research Campus
On Aggie Research Campus – I have to admit I am a bit disappointed with the candidates here. In the text message to me, Linda Deos said she had not made up her mind on ARC, but at the candidates forum it seemed more negative.
Linda Deos has concerns about the project – it’s outside of the Mace Curve, and she expressed concerns about the traffic impacts. “I’m concerned that it’s just a housing project not an innovation center out there.” She said, “I want to know, are they just going to be building luxury homes..?”
She said, “I just don’t yet. At this point, I’m not supporting it because I just don’t know enough.”
David Abramson said it was important to talk about what kind of development we want.
He said: “Is it the best we can get? Definitely not.” He added, “It’s going to be another high-priced development.”
Jim Provenza pointed out, “This is something that’s going to come before us later – so I can’t take a position right now.”
I see this as a lost opportunity for, frankly, the city, county and university.
For instance, Jim Provenza talked at one of the forums about the 2 by 2 by 2 on the issue of student housing, and he said, “We were running up against a problem where the university was simply not building enough housing and that puts pressure on the Davis housing market because every time Davis builds more housing, more students come in and the university wasn’t keeping up.”
After the meeting, Supervisor Provenza said that “this resulted in negotiations and the establishment of a 2 by 2 by 2 and, as a result, we now have an enforceable agreement that the university will house 100 percent of its increased enrollment and that will do a tremendous amount to take the pressure off the Davis housing market so when we build in Davis, we can build for everyone else as well as the students.”
Imagine if they took a similar approach to the issue of economic development.
On Tuesday, the candidates talked about ARC largely as a land use and housing decision, rather than the need for economic development.
Jim Provenza did acknowledge: “We need economic development, the voters are going to only approve so many tax increases.”
But this is a way to bring jobs into the county, it is a way to enhance the ag-urban interface between city and county land by expanding the ability for R&D on ag tech and green technology.
And through revenue sharing, it can aid not only the city but the county, which is also in desperate need of revenue.
But, as many have pointed out, where is UC Davis on this project? They have put their energy into Aggie Square, while they stood on the sidelines for both Nishi and now ARC.
This is where the 2 by 2 by 2 can come into play – bring UC Davis on board as a partner here. Turn the county from sitting on the sidelines to becoming an active partner.
This is a lost opportunity by both the university and the county to bring in a major new initiative into the heart of the Fourth Supervisorial District and reshape the entire district economically.
—David M. Greenwald reporting