City Council To Appoint New Commissioners

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By Renee Applegate 

DAVIS — On the evening of Apr. 20, 2021, the Davis City Council met virtually to discuss and vote to appoint members to vacancies on all but three of the City’s advisory commissions. The Council was tasked with filling both short- and long-term midterm vacancies. 

The Council’s meeting agenda clarified that “every effort has been made so that commission membership will include underrepresented groups.” When crafting its recommendations, Councilmember Dan Carson stated, “The subcommittee’s recommendations included recommendations of 14 women, 7 people of color, 1 person who identifies as LGBTQ, and 5 students.” In addition to a thorough application and interview review process, the meeting agenda mentioned that the Subcommittee took “into consideration the current makeup of commissions.”

The Council Subcommittee on Commissions, run by Mayor Gloria Partida and Councilmember Dan Carson, facilitated the applicant selection process and provided appointment recommendations to fill vacancies for eleven advisory commissions. Before an official vote was taken, the City Council heard a total of 29 public comments.

Most of the public comments were centered around the Tree Commission. According to the City’s website, the Tree Commission is tasked with examining “tree removal requests,” making “recommendations to the City Council on Landmark Trees designations” and hearing “appeals regarding denials of tree modification permit applications” and public nuisance decisions “of the Parks and Grounds Superintendent.”

Though the Tree Commission had vacancies for three regular positions and one alternate position, the Council Subcommittee on Commissions made “no recommendation […] for the alternate commission position.” Long-term Davis residents as well as current sitting members on the Tree Commission objected.

Seventeen public comments articulated to the Council their confusion about its decision to not recommend current Tree Commissioner Colin Walsh for reappointment as the alternate commission position. 

The public comments portion of the item swayed heavily in favor of Colin Walsh, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the District 2 council seat in the 2020 election. In his own public comment, Walsh described himself as a “lifelong advocate for the environment” and “dedicated commissioner.” 

Those advocating on behalf of Colin Walsh listed his “very thorough investigation,” “responsiveness,” “history” in the community and “ability to take the positions seriously” as reasons to reappoint Walsh. Though “Walsh has only served one year,” attested one public commenter, “he has been a “diligent and hardworking member, serving on four subcommittees and passing all but one of his motions unanimously.”

Not long ago, Colin Walsh found himself at the center of a controversy regarding Davis’ Measure J in 2018. During the election cycle, Walsh was accused of “slut-shaming” a student for her clothing choice.

Still, several community members, including Walsh himself, noted that removing Walsh would derail the process for updating the tree ordinance considering that Walsh currently serves on the Tree Ordinance Subcommittee.

This subcommittee is tasked with updating the tree ordinance for Davis. This task, one community member commented, “hasn’t been updated since 2002, so it’s a big job.” Another community member requesting Walsh’s reappointment argued that Walsh’s removal during this process “would make it difficult” to successfully rewrite the ordinance.

John Reuter, a current Tree Commissioner, spoke to Walsh’s dedication to the commission and recommended the Council appoint Walsh for the alternate position. Reuter, who is working with Walsh to update the tree ordinance, insists that Walsh “does his homework.” 

Like Reuter, a handful of community members were impressed by Walsh’s commitment to “developing a plan for urban canopy.” While speaking on behalf of himself, Walsh expressed to the Council that “the beautiful urban carbon-sequestering canopy that we have here in Davis is a result of planning and engagement of the City of Davis and its citizens.” Walsh stated that it was this community planning and engagement that drew him to the commission in the first place, and he hopes to continue “forward-thinking work if reappointed.” 

Once the City Council heard all public comments, votes were tabulated behind the scenes and appointments were announced.

In spite of the no alternate appointment recommended by the Council Subcommittee for the Tree Commission, Colin Walsh was reappointed as a regular commissioner to the Tree CommissionWalsh received three regular appointment votes from Mayor Partida, Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs, and Councilmember Josh Chapman.

The new term for commissioners will start on Jul. 1, 2021.

Renee Applegate is a fourth-year student at UC Davis, currently majoring in Political Science (Public Service) and minoring in Environmental Policy & Planning and Professional Writing. She is from San Clemente, CA.

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17 thoughts on “City Council To Appoint New Commissioners”

  1. Ron Oertel

    Not long ago, Colin Walsh found himself at the center of a controversy regarding Davis’ Measure J in 2018. During the election cycle, Walsh was accused of “slut-shaminga student for her clothing choice.

    Not sure why this is being brought up in this article, but this allegation seemed to be a campaign tactic, by supporters of Nishi.

    And it is in fact, incorrect – in that the speculation was that the choice may not have been initiated by students. One can see that by clicking on the referenced link, in this article. Of course, one can easily envision how this speculation can be purposefully warped by opponents in a campaign. Ultimately, it was all part of the typical noise of a campaign, and an example of the reason that normal people hate politics.

      1. Ron Oertel

        The “weirdness” started at the quoted comment, from the article itself.  Especially since it’s not even remotely accurate – though it’s true that he was “accused”.

        Even more weird is the vote against Colin, by Will Arnold and Dan Carson.  Especially since there apparently would have been two vacancies on that commission (one regular, one alternate), if Colin hadn’t been reappointed.

        Perhaps Will and Dan can explain that “weirdness”.

        And perhaps doubly-weird, that Kelsey Fortune wasn’t appointed to any commission.

        1. David Greenwald

          Honestly Ron, I think you are looking for something to complain about.  The description was fairly accurate. The appointment was controversial.  I came out in favor of Colin.  But it was a 3-2 vote.  The two who voted against him had their reasons.  The explanation provided in the article was probably more the tip of the iceberg than the full explanation, but it was publicly aired.  Whether you think the allegation is true or not is immaterial to it being an issue aired in public.  Sometimes it’s okay to just let these things go.

        2. Keith Olsen

          I think you are looking for something to complain about.  Sometimes it’s okay to just let these things go.

          David, this is hilarious coming from you.

           

        3. Ron Oertel

          David:  What you published some 3 years ago (and which the author is bringing up again) was nothing short of a smear campaign.

          Maybe your author shouldn’t be bringing it up, again – as the Vanguard was complicit in this.

          As far as the reason that Will and Dan voted against Colin, that’s for them to explain. I do recall Will attributing the term “flat earthers” in regard to those he disagreed with – which seemed to be the start of some animosity.

          There also seems to be a lack of explanation regarding what happened with Matt (and Kelsey, for that matter).

          1. David Greenwald

            I disagree. His comments three years ago were out of line and completely inappropriate. I think there is value in diversity of opinions in this community but the council was split on whether to reappoint him – I’m glad they did though.

        4. Alan Miller

          Sometimes it’s okay to just let these things go.

          More than hilarious, KO, it’s like rain on your wedding day, which, ironically, isn’t ironic, as I’ve pointed out before.  WHY?

          in 2018. During the election cycle, Walsh was accused of “slut-shaming” a student for her clothing choice.

          Sometimes it’s OK to let an accusation/interpretation from three years ago, go.  Rather than, um, dredge it up like a buried whale carcass.

          1. David Greenwald

            You seem to forget that the reporter is reporting on what happened and that incident was brought up.

        5. Alan Miller

          And perhaps doubly-weird, that Kelsey Fortune wasn’t appointed to any commission.

          WTF?  KF is extremely sharp, knows econ, and thoughtfully considers her positions.   She will be a force in this town if she makes it her home, the only questions is how and when.  One great way to get exposure and experience to move towards Council positions is to serve on commissions.  Not allowing that is a good way to artificially preempt someone who may be a threat to the current guard.  Maybe the CC shouldn’t be the ones making these decisions.

        6. Richard_McCann

          I wrote an email specifically to the Council asking for Kelsey Fortune to be appointed to the Utilities Commission. As it is now, the UC has only one economist whereas it started with four in 2014. That skill set is particularly valuable on that commission.

  2. Ron Oertel

    By the way, here’s another reason that normal people hate politics.  Perhaps even more ironic, in that it originates from an older white male who does not even seem to be part of the “social justice” crowd, in the first place:

     Councilmember Dan Carson stated, “The subcommittee’s recommendations included recommendations of 14 women, 7 people of color, 1 person who identifies as LGBTQ, and 5 students.” 

    1. Keith Olsen

      “The subcommittee’s recommendations included recommendations of 14 women, 7 people of color, 1 person who identifies as LGBTQ, and 5 students.” 

      and a partridge in a pear tree…

  3. Ron Glick

    There have been times where Colin has been tough on CC members during public comment even going so far as to tell them all that they should resign for some sort of malfeasance. In most places that would disqualify you from being appointed by those same members. The surprise here is that he was appointed not that he wasn’t.

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