Commenters Request Public Input in the Davis Principles of Civility

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By Fatima Perez Perez

DAVIS, CA – The 2022 Principles of Civility were discussed during Tuesday’s City Council meeting and per Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs’ suggestion, sent to commissions for review. 

The two public commenters highlighted that civility is important because it maintains useful conflict and input from the public is good. A few of the suggested Principles of Civility to be considered are: be welcoming and inclusive, speak kindly, and be present and listen.

 

City Manager Mike Webb stated that these principles are used to hold staff members accountable when working alone and with one another, and when they provide aid to the community they serve. 

 

Two public commenters called in to discuss areas in which the suggested Principles can be improved.

 

The first public commenter, Connor Gorman, stated, “Interpersonal civility is important…I also think sometimes some level of conflict can be helpful especially when it comes to social and political issues with different perspectives.” 

 

“Structural factors,” Gorman continued, “and systemic oppression are important things to consider as well. I believe these things should be explicitly incorporated into the Principles of Civility or at the very least should be implicitly incorporated through the understanding and interpretation of those principles.”

 

Alan Hirsch, the second public commenter, stated that the “absence of conflict is a problem because it shows that there is violence and not having a place where there is diversity.”

 

However, Hirsch cautioned, “Too much conflict is destructive, so civility is what keeps us in that sweet zone where we can talk about our differences…and we can get the best possible solution.” 

 

Hirsch went on to say that if City Council “actually want[s] to listen [and] want this document to really mean what it says,” council should “hold off” on adopting the principles and instead take input from where they are doing a good job, what are the things they should be thinking about, and what are the issues. Hirsch argued that in doing so, the principles would become “much more meaningful and powerful.”

 

Mayor Gloria Partida stated the Principles are an opportunity to show our respect for one another and said that they create “spaces for everyone and so that there is an opportunity to have some equity in how we interact with the community and how it gives the community an opportunity be represented, to have everyone in the community be represented.”

 

Mayor Partida introduced the idea of adding them in the beginning of all meeting agendas to remind everyone of the principles they are to abide by, jokingly adding, “I don’t think it would make the agenda much longer, and if there’s not room for other things maybe we could knock those things off, make our agenda shorter.”

 

Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs agreed that the Principles of Civility should appear in agendas and added that the council should seek input from “folks” during that time to see how everyone feels about it. 

 

“I think it provides good modeling behavior for members of the public as well,” Frerichs stated. He also added that “seeking input from commissions on this item and getting additional feedback from them” would be beneficial prior to adopting the suggested Principles.

 

The council agreed to send the Principles of Civility to the commissions so they can include it on their agenda, before the topic comes back for final approval by the City Council.

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About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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5 thoughts on “Commenters Request Public Input in the Davis Principles of Civility”

  1. Alan Miller

    After reading this article, I have no idea what prompted the idea such principals were needed, what they are for, or who they are supposed to apply to.

    But since we are talking about civility in Davis, I shall ask:

    • Is it civil for the meth-addicted homeless to gather piles of garbage and bike parts and leave massive litter in their wake?

    • Is it civil for people to camp on public or private property a stone’s throw from someone’s ‘housed’ residence?

    • Is it civil for people, meth-addicted homeless and the housed, to run their dogs off lease as they walk?

    • Is it civil for a group of people speaking at public comment on police reform to keep talking after their three minutes are up, forcing the shutdown of the meeting?

    • Is it civil for a developer to tell different people different stories about the development they are proposing?

    • Is it Civil for the Downtown Davis Plan to have its most contentious element (3 or 4 story max along the E side of the RR tracks in Old East Davis) be changed after the documents are created for the public meeting, so the public is presented with three stories while the committee changed it’s policy to four stories after some last-minute influence and didn’t mention that so the public didn’t have the information to comment on that?

    • Is it civil for a local imam to give a speech that, translated, calls for the killing of all Jews worldwide, every last one?  . . . and have that ‘fade away over time’ as a solution?

    • Is it civil for a local citizen to yell at a 90-year-old holocaust survivor hosted to speak in Davis, because he disagrees with their politics?

    All of this has happened in Davis.  Is any of it Civil?

  2. Keith Olson

    What is the purpose of this?

    Is the council trying to make rules for how speakers at council meetings conduct themselves?

    But then I read this:

    City Manager Mike Webb stated that these principles are used to hold staff members accountable when working alone and with one another, and when they provide aid to the community they serve. 

    That has nothing to do with council meetings.

    So what is this for?

     

    1. Alan Miller

       . . . to hold staff members accountable when working alone . . .

      KO, it’s very important for city staff to be civil with themselves when working alone, LOL.

    2. Bill Marshall

      You miss the context, KO… those have been standards expected for City employees long before (decades before) this current issue… expected to ‘turn the other cheek’ when verbally abused by citizens… and to be the ‘adult in the room’… it wears on City staff to be expected to be civil when confronted by those who are not so ‘bound’…

      Been there… particularly a few CC members, over the years…

  3. Alan Miller

    You miss the context, KO…

    I don’t see where any context was given.  Maybe I didn’t read the Principals of Reading the Vanguard where it says to spend 3-4 hours watching all City Council meetings before reading the articles here.

    … it wears on City staff to be expected to be civil when confronted by those who are not so ‘bound’…

    OK, so the idea is that the public and Council has been so abusive to staff, that now staff will be allowed to be snap back at their abusers?  I’m all in favor!  Give staff some leeway to breath and say what they really feel.

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