Those 'pesky' City Commissions

Scooby-gang-1969By Roberta Millstein

As a Gen-Xer, I grew up watching a lot of fairly silly cartoons, Scooby-Doo among them.  The plot of Scooby-Doo was pretty much always the same.  The main characters would ask a lot of hard questions, and always end up unmasking the “bad guy,” who would utter a phrase along the lines of “if it weren’t for those pesky kids!”

Reading Item 5 of tonight’s City Council agenda makes me feel like I am in an episode of Scooby-Doo.  Commission meetings are too long, the staff report suggests.  They duplicate efforts, staff implies.

Yet it was the commissions who asked hard questions about DISC.  They asked, for example, about the carbon emissions from the project and better ways to mitigate them.  They asked about the percentage of affordable housing.  They asked about the number of trees and protection for burrowing owls.  They asked about the effect of the project on our downtown.

These were hard questions that were not asked by staff and not asked by the City Council.   They all ended up being issues in the campaign that resulted in voters rejecting the DISC project.

Now, it seems, staff would like to reduce the power of those “pesky” commissions with all of their questions.

Are the commission meetings really too long?  One easy way to make them shorter would be to put a time limit on presentations by developers and others; we can expect that commissioners have read the provided written materials.

Are the commissions really duplicating effort?  As evidence, staff provides a table where different commissions weigh in on the same topic.  What staff fails to mention is that they are looking at different aspects of the same topic.  For example, when Open Space & Habitat looks at a park, it considers habitat values. Rec & Park considers recreational values. Tree Commission looks at the number and species of trees.  Yes, these can overlap, but they are distinctive issues that require distinctive expertise. There is no duplication.

Commissions are treated as pesky by those who have to answer their hard questions, but commissions keep the democratic process in Davis strong.  If we want to revisit the commissions, let’s at least involve them – something that was not done for this meeting.  Our past and present commissioners can provide needed insight into this process.


ChatGPT is Woke

Two articles today in the Davis Vanguard about ChatGPT. 

But ChatGPT is woke:

ChatGPT goes woke!

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11646463/Conservatives-test-AI-ChatGPT-uses-responses-prove-going-woke.html

One quote:

"Developing anything, software or not, requires compromise and making choices, political choices, about who a system will work for and whose values it will represent."

I certainly don't agree with some of the political views used as examples in the article, but clearly a political bias is shown when the machine calls out writing about subjects as being 'inappropriate'.  If you can't see how this could so easily be manipulated by whomever is in power, you aren't being real about the concerns.


Pay attention to your food

By Susan Pelican

from James Corbett (check him out!):via Organic Consumers Association...

"As consumers of heavily processed, chemically treated, GMO-infested gunk, we in the modern, developed world have "solved" the problem of hunger that plagued our forebears since time immemorial by handing our food sovereignty over to a handful of corporate conglomerates.

The result of this handover has been the creation of a factory farming system in which genetically engineered crops are doused in glyphosate and livestock are herded into tiny pens where they live their entire lives in fetid squalor, pumped up with antibiotics and growth hormones until they are slaughtered and shipped off to the supermarkets and fast food chains....

But as bad as things may be, they're about to get even worse. As crisis after crisis disrupts the food supply, the "solution" to these problems has already been prepared. New technologies are coming online that threaten to upend our understanding of food altogether. Technologies that could, ultimately, begin altering the human species itself.”

Many of these are rolling in from Universities, including UC Davis (see the Sac Business Journal edition on new startups in the Sacramento Region) and include technological "advances" like Davis' Gotham Greens, (sold at Nugget in Davis)... -a high rise greenhouse which purports to save water (hydroponic) and land (??) AND is in PARTNERSHIP WITH UC DAVIS).

Know about this and invest your $ and your health in farmers markets, organic produce, eggs, milk, meat and bread.


Davis Enterprise should promote better discourse

The following was sent to the Davis Enterprise to be published as a letter to the editor, but as of the time of this posting they have declined to publish it.

By Roberta Millstein

The recent article, "Planning Commission OKs R&D facility for Second Street" elicited a number of comments on the Davis Enterprise's Facebook page where the article was posted. Of these comments, the one that was picked as the "Editors' choice for the web comment of the week" stated "In a town that's absolutely jam-packed with know-it-alls somebody will come up with an objection."

Why did the Editors pick this comment out of all the others?

Surely the 2nd Street project is exactly the sort of infill project that most Davisites preferred when they voted overwhelmingly to defeat the sprawling peripheral DISC project. I for one have no objection to it.

Will someone object? No doubt. Name me one issue that all Davisites agree on. I am guessing that there is no such issue.

But that isn't really the point of the "Editors choice" comment, is it? The point is to denigrate Davisites who dare to raise objections to developer's projects. Or maybe it's just to denigrate Davisites more generally.

So, I ask again, why would the Editors choose to reprint this comment in the newspaper? Is this the sort of discourse that the Davis Enterprise wants to promote? And if so, why?

We can do better and so can the Davis Enterprise.


Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - February 2023

image from www.sparkysonestop.com

February starts early at Al's Corner !  To kick off the month, here are some ground rules:  at Al's Corner, you are welcome to make (judged by some others to be) glib comments that you think are humorous in regard to articles pertaining to tragic situations !   See below:

Continue reading "Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - February 2023" »


Gavvy's Delusions

Regarding Mass Shootings:

Gavvy Newsom: <i> "What the hell is wrong with us? Society becomes how we behave. We’ve allowed this to happen. It doesn’t have to be this way. It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago it wasn’t this way. We’ve allowed this to happen.” </i>

Us who? We who?

Continue reading "Gavvy's Delusions" »


Comments on Inclusionary Multifamily Rental Housing Ordinance Review

Rik Keller, Housing Consultant and Affordable Housing Advocate

 

Davis City Council comments 1/17/2023

Item 5: Inclusionary Multifamily Rental Housing Ordinance Review 

 

I have comments on the product and process:

 

1) It is an overly simplistic, opaque study with bad assumptions.

  • The pro forma analysis has a lot of “black box” qualities: Doesn’t show the calculations used or major assumptions, so it is not possible to adequately vet, double-check, and critique the methodology, assumptions, and calculations.

    • The study doesn’t use a sophisticated pro forma analysis: it is very crude and basic and doesn't allow changes in parameters of things like number of stories, unit sizes, and parking construction types and configurations.

    • Because of this simplistic and opaque approach, it doesn’t offer flexibility in analysis or running different scenarios beyond the very limited canned ones shown.

  • One terrible assumption: it considers one major parameter as given---the underlying land price. 

    • If even the 100% market units don’t reach the 12% IRR threshold in the pro forma, then that tells me that the land price assumption is too high because we have had recent development proposals for multifamily development

    • The fact is that land value varies by its scarcity and demand.

    • This is a massive flaw as the City’s own density, parking, and inclusionary requirements have large effects on this parameter and hence development feasibility.

    • If you increase affordable housing requirements, you reduce the bidding demand price for land

    • In reality, land costs are not fixed and are influenced by the IRR that projects can achieve. If you make more affordable units required, that should actually lower land costs because the rate of return is now lower.

  • Another issue: bringing up reducing/eliminating development/impact fees as the only feasible way to make projects work. If projects don’t cover their own impact costs, you are increasing City debt and subsiding developer profits. I’m shocked that this is the only solution put on the table by the consultants.

  • There is also a statement on page 39 that “No incentives are needed in a policy that requires 15% - 25% of small, workforce units.” However, there is no data or analysis provided for this assertion. 

    • In actuality, small units don’t usually end up providing affordability. The most expensive components of units are the kitchens and HVAC systems. Small units have much higher per square foot costs.

    • The City of Davis has seen this inefficiency in the exorbitant proposed rents for the Olive Drive Mixed Use Project even after eliminating parking requirements.

 

2) Ironically, one good thing about the study is that it shows the City’s planning failure in targeting densities and incentives to get maximum production of affordable units.

  • It states “Downtown’s new form based code does a great job at removing barriers to development. Unfortunately, this limits our options to offer development incentives as part of the policy.” and the “Residential high density zone encourages development that is denser than what is typically seen in areas outside of Downtown Davis and already removes commonly known barriers to multifamily development.”

  • But a terrible assumption of the report is that the City can’t modify its density and parking requirements so that they can be used as incentives for increased affordable housing requirements.

    • If you allow too much default density and reduce parking requirements in a given zoning district up front, you have given away for nothing incentives that you could offer for affordable housing production.

 

3) There is a failure in City’s process with the Housing Element Update lead to this.

  • It has now been almost 5 years since the City scrapped its Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO) for its interim ordinance that drastically weekend Inclusionary requirements.

  • After breaking deadlines multiple times, back in May 2021, staff stated that it would finally provide a “comprehensive update” to the AHO as part of the HEU. But the HE just ended up kicking the can down the road further.

  • The very limited nature of the report under review right now demonstrates the need to comprehensively address housing policy, not do it piecemeal like this.

  • We must think holistically:

    • The City lost an opportunity with the HEU, and needs to to re-group with actual affordable housing advocates leading policy rather than an advisory group stacked with development interests that pushed failed free-market trickle-down approaches.

    • A proper approach is to carefully craft incentives such as increased density and reduced parking requirements that offset affordability requirements. Simply having large allowable densities and allowing by-right development without strengthening affordability requirements is bypassing half of the equation. Density does not necessarily (and usually doesn’t) equal affordability. Providing half of the equation in terms of incentives without receiving the other half in terms of actual commitments to affordability is missing the point.

 

Conclusion: This study is a poor excuse for a comprehensive analysis of the City’s actual policy option for increasing affordable housing production. The analysis put its thumb firmly on the scale to try to justify a weakening of the City’s inclusionary housing requirements. They claim that the requirements eat into developer profit margins and make it so projects won’t “pencil out,” In contrast, actual economic analysis of  the results of implementing inclusionary programs does not bear this out:

  •  “The most highly regarded empirical evidence suggests that inclusionary housing programs can produce affordable housing and do not lead to significant declines in overall housing production or to increases in market-rate prices” (National Housing Conference’s (NHC) Center for Housing Policy: “Separating Fact from Fiction to Design Effective Inclusionary Housing Programs.” https://nhc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Separating-Fact-from-Fiction-to-Design.pdf

 

The City should use evidence-based local policy solutions that further goals for inclusive, equitable, and affordable housing solutions.This process and product is not adequate.






Is this one block on G St. the best choice?

Screen Shot 2023-01-16 at 8.50.05 AMBy Diana

Is the one block on G St. the only area in downtown Davis suitable for a community gathering spot?  Don’t we have the accessible E St. plaza that was converted from parking spaces to a community gathering area, complete with staging for entertainment and communal activities, that would better serve the downtown and the public?  Public funds were used to make this happen in 2000.  Did I see an announcement a year or so ago, either from The Davis Enterprise or from the Davis downtown business association, of plans for a remake of E St. plaza at considerable cost paid for with federal funds?  Wouldn’t that project and space make better sense, financially and economically, for redevelopment by the city with the very same goals in mind for making a safe and comfortable gathering spot for the community in downtown Davis?

Another possible area for the city of Davis to consider in their quest to develop community friendly space is to enhance an area of Central Park with user friendly spaces that would promote community.  Wait!  There’s already something there: Davisphere! “What is The Davisphere? It is a vibrant, eclectic & electric communal atmosphere where there is entertainment for all ages. The idea was based on the simple premise that positive energy builds when people get together and enjoy themselves. The Davisphere symbolizes community encompassment, vibrancy, the Earth we share, and a place of belonging.”  It’s located right here in downtown Davis thanks to the efforts of DDBA.

Screen Shot 2023-01-16 at 8.53.10 AMWhat about having the city work alongside the property owners of Davis Commons on 1st and Richards Blvd. to create the kind of open air community space the city is striving for?  The one-acre, semicircular park bordering the businesses located in the heart of downtown Davis could be a spectacular gathering spot.  This could happen without hampering local business with undemocratically government enforced street closures.

I’m thankful to Davis for providing the 63 miles of bike paths and 102 miles of bike lanes throughout the entire city so that cyclists are able to navigate our town safely. Do we really need to take one more block for bicycles if it means damaging local businesses to the point of endangering the entire downtown? The time and expense it takes to operate a business is huge and when it all goes south the independent owner is devastated!  Are you aware of how many businesses have closed in the last 2 ½ years in downtown Davis? At last count there were multiple dozens! How many more before the lights go out in downtown Davis?

Reopen G St. and look for a better alternative that make sense.


A pedestrian-only area would be neat…let's reactivate G Street!

G Street GuideBelow is a recent letter, shared with the Davisite, to our council members to provide input on the upcoming January 17th meeting, addressing Item 4: G Street Closure Update.

Sent by email on January 14, 2023 

Good day to you council members,

It has been two years and six months since we closed G Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets to vehicular traffic. I helped plan for this closure, as I was staff at the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) at the time. The DDBA worked closely with City staff Ash Feeney and Sarah Worley. I talked to business owners, created infographics (such as the one attached), and monitored this pedestrian-only area frequently when it was considered a part of the City and DDBA's Open Air Davis initiative.

We were all very satisfied with our efforts to support downtown businesses, especially restaurants, and keep them open during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Ever since we converted a portion G Street to a pedestrian-only area, there have been pleas from the business community for one of two things to happen:

1) Open this area of G Street again for parking, or

2) Beautify and activate this area of G Street and take advantage of a rare pedestrian-only conversion

I personally have always been a strong advocate for the latter option; however, I do understand the point of view of those who prefer the former option. In the following sections, I will expand upon these two options; describe the mounting pressure for action; and explain how we can make Davisites happier.

Continue reading "A pedestrian-only area would be neat…let's reactivate G Street!" »


Caring for Our Earth, Caring for Each Other

Celebration-of-abraham-logo(From press release) The Celebration of Abraham, a long-time interfaith organization in Yolo County, extends an invitation to the whole community to join us for our 20th annual community conversation:  “Caring for Our Earth, Caring for Each Other.” Helen Roland, President of Celebration of Abraham explained, “It seemed fitting that our 20th anniversary community conversation theme revisits one of our earlier events of caring for creation, and at the same time expands to reflect a common thread in the Abrahamic faiths recognizing a relationship between stewardship for our earth and for humankind.” The topic was arrived at by a multi-faith group of Celebration of Abraham members who gather monthly to plan for the event.

Regardless of spiritual traditions, all are welcome to join in the virtual ZOOM gathering from 3 pm to 5 pm on Sunday, February 5. Please register here: https://bit.ly/CeleAbraham20.

Continue reading "Caring for Our Earth, Caring for Each Other" »


The City's Failure to Plan for Emergencies

Fixing power pole
PG&E crew working into the night to fix a leaning power pole near Cesar Chavez Elementary

By Roberta Millstein

The recent storms have made it amply clear that the City lacks any sort of coherent plan for dealing with storms (and presumably other sorts of emergencies).  Every action taken in response to the recent storm was late, and in some cases, inadequate. 

Yet these storms were comparable to other big storms that Davis has experienced in past years.  And even if they weren’t, the storm that occurred over New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day ought to have been a warm up, with lessons learned for the storms Jan 4-8, all of which were well-predicted by weather forecasters. 

The City seemed to make things up as they go.  To be clear, I am not faulting rank-and-file staff, who clearly were working hard under difficult circumstances.  It has also been reported that the City did a good job finding shelter for people lacking housing.  I am grateful for these efforts.  I am faulting the City Council  and the City Manager for failure to provide leadership.  There should have been plans in place for these kind of events long ago.

Here are the areas that need to improve.  I have broken them into short-term, medium-term, and long term, in the sense that the things in the short term can and should be fixed right away.  The others will take a little longer.

Continue reading "The City's Failure to Plan for Emergencies" »


"The Fun Habit" Author at Avid Reader

!!RuckerAvid Reader Bookstore to host Mike Rucker (who grew up in Davis) author of "The Fun Habit" Thursday January 12, 2023 at 6pm. Avid Reader is located at 617 2nd Street Davis, CA.

<<From Press Release>>

“Far from being just a feel-good exhortation or collection of fun activities to embark upon, this title brings an in-depth, science-backed exploration of happiness, through the lens of having fun.” — Library Journal

"This cheerful debut trumpeting the importance of joy…is a fittingly entertaining guide."
 Publishers Weekly

"Psychologist and fun lover Mike Rucker has written an enjoyable treatise on the art of bringing more play and joy to life." — Shelf Awareness


“Rucker’s book is full of sound, sensible, and sometimes surprising suggestions for creating space for renewal, connection, and joy.” —Psychology Today

It’s hard to deny the fact that most people want to be happy. But doesn’t it feel like the harder we try to find happiness, the more elusive it becomes?

Until recently, Dr. Mike Rucker had spent most of his life engaged in the pursuit of happiness. Yet even when all his happiness “boxes” were checked—he was married with kids and a successful career, well-traveled, physically fit— he didn’t feel all that happy. It wasn’t until Mike suffered two back-to-back personal losses that it began to dawn on him how much energy he had been expending grasping for an ideal life and criticizing himself when it seemingly always fell out of reach. In focusing on a lofty, abstract concept, he had discounted day-to-day pleasures—in particular, he had neglected to have fun.

Continue reading ""The Fun Habit" Author at Avid Reader" »


Nonprofits: Apply for a Soroptimist grant

(From press release) Soroptimist International of Davis is accepting applications from local nonprofit organizations for its annual Community Grant funding. The deadline is March 7.

For 2023, the club has $3,000 budgeted for Community Grants, which give a boost to local projects that improve the lives of women and girls. Nonprofit organizations whose work supports the Soroptimist mission are encouraged to apply for up to $3,000. Awards will be distributed in late spring. Applicants will receive notice of their application’s status by May 1.

Grant applications are evaluated for their alignment with the Soroptimist mission, vision, core values, community impact and feasibility. Any nonprofit, including previous recipients, can apply. Applicants are asked how the requested funds would address the needs of women and girls in Yolo County, and support Soroptimist core values of gender equality, empowerment, education and diversity.

To apply, visit https://www.sidavis.org/grants. Questions may be emailed to Grants Chair Mary Chapman, Community at marechap29@gmail.com.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. Soroptimist International of Davis has several fundraisers a year, and reinvests all of its profits in its programs and projects. Signature programs include Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women, and Dream It, Be It: Career Support for high school girls. It also funds high school scholarships, anti-trafficking efforts, and these Community Grants to area nonprofits.

The international service club was founded in Oakland in October 1921. SI Davis was chartered in 1954. A second club, SI Greater Davis, chartered in 1985. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. For more information on the club, visit https://sidavis.org or like its Facebook or Instagram pages: @SoroptimistDavis.


Smoke menace

PastedGraphic-1 5
By Darell Dickey

Polluted air makes me sick.

Every year when the cold settles in I am precluded from working in my yard and taking walks. I cannot participate in outdoor activities due to the air pollution produced from fires lit by Davis residents.

The EPA informs us that burning organic matter releases numerous toxic air pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, hydrocarbons, and of course fine particles. Smoke can trigger asthma attacks as well as heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. In my case the smoke from fireplace burning aggravates my autoimmune disease and advances my heart disease. Though many people in Davis suffer serious health risks associated with air pollution, and though the city has declared a Climate Emergency, the City of Davis has no firm rules against fireplace burning.

Instead of treating the toxic smoke appropriately as a health hazard, the City of Davis defines it as a “nuisance,” the same as an over-grown yard or another unsightly condition. And the smoke is considered a nuisance only under limited conditions.

Continue reading "Smoke menace" »


Please Pick the Side of Democracy

Democracy

By Colin Walsh

Please pick the side of Democracy.

Tonight, the City Council has the opportunity to set in motion their own private pick of the successor to Lucas Frerichs for the District 3 Council seat, or they can side with democracy and let voters decide.

I can certainly understand the temptation to save money and sidestep elections and appoint their selected candidate (likely Donna Neville). After all, the council all endorsed each other and almost always votes together. Even our newest council member Bapu Vaitla arrives as a consummate insider with strong relationships with the other council members. I mean really the Davis power clique has dominated the last elections and has every reason to believe their handpicked appointment would win in an election anyway. After all – the inside candidates dominate in fundraising, endorsements, and opportunities in all recent council elections.

The mechanism for picking might look like this - we would probably see the Council set in motion a process where they would pick the pickers. The council could appoint a committee to go through the process of interviewing and evaluating candidates and then pick exactly the same person the council would pick. After all, the council would surely pick the pickers that would pick the council’s pick of choice anyway - all while the voters of district 3 would be left picking their noses.

But maybe district 3 would vote differently than the power clique prefers. They certainly should have a chance to pick for themselves.

Some argue precedent, that the council has picked replacements candidates in the past, but things are different now with district elections. All of the current council members are elected by voters from specific districts and not by district 3 voters. District 3 voters deserve the chance to pick their own council person without interference from the candidates representing the other districts.

Even if the council chooses an election sometime in the future, but picks an interim council member, it amounts to the biggest endorsement they can give providing a very unfair advantage to their pick in the election. Better to leave the seat open until the voters of District 3 can vote democratically for the council member to fill the remaining term that Frerichs has left behind. Frankly if district 3 voters are upset about not being represented for a period of time, they should send their complaints to Frerichs who abandoned his council seat mid term for a better paying gig.

Let’s face it, the council has been voting in lockstep on just about every major issue for years now. A vacancy for a few months is not going to make a big difference in outcome. Especially considering the lockstep council would likely just pick another person to join them in lockstep.

Or maybe the council will pick democracy and district 3 can pick the next council person to represent them. One can hope.


Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - January 2023

image from www.sparkysonestop.com

I woke up this New Year's morning and the Davis Vanguard wouldn't load.  I thought God had smiled down upon me and Davis and our civic nightmare was over -- The Davis Vanguard was GONE!!! 

But a couple of hours later it loaded again.  Shit.

God fails again.

So I would wish you all a Happy New Year, but why?

But is there hope?  I dunno, I got some letter from an anonymous sender referencing articles in the "California Globe" from October 2021 and April 2022.  Seriously, I don't know who sent it to me, but they knew my mailing address.  The article they referenced seems to refer to:

New IRS Complaint Against Non-Profit Davis Vanguard News Service

By Katy Grimes, October 22, 2021 3:35 pm

https://californiaglobe.com/articles/new-irs-complaint-against-non-profit-davis-vanguard-news-service/

AND . . .

Attorney Says Non-Profit Davis Vanguard News Service ‘Continues to Violate’ Despite IRS Complaint

By Katy Grimes, April 22, 2022 10:33 am

https://californiaglobe.com/articles/attorney-says-non-profit-davis-vanguard-news-service-continues-to-violate-despite-irs-complaint/

Each is subtitled:  "It is unfair and illegal for the Vanguard to receive tax-free status and revenue to develop a website and then use that website to campaign for/against certain candidate".  The cover letter for the anonymous letter has just one sentence in a sea of white:  "Why Isn't Anyone Reporting on This?"

So what the hell is this? Doesn't the attorney so-named know that unless someone actually sues and wins, or the IRS takes action, there is no determination of legality?  And doesn't the sender realize that someone named Katy Grimes is, indeed, reporting on this -- so the assertion that no one is reporting on this is refuted on the next page.  But maybe they mean -- in Davis?

And then it occurred to me, the letter wasn't anonymously sent:  maybe there was no sender.  No human sender.  The letter may have been 'immaculately sent', if you will.  Yes, God Almighty Its-Self has chosen me to post this information on Al's Corner!!!  God has chosen ME to Save Davis!!!

God, I'm honored.  I will obey.

Maybe it will be a half-decent 2023 after all :-|

   [See "Pages" --> "Al's Corner - What It Is" for Rulez.]

Will the (new) City Council Uphold Democracy?

DemocracyThis article was originally posted on July 17, 2022. The City Council, which will be composed of four members: Mayor Will Arnold, Vice Mayor Josh Chapman, and Councilmembers Gloria Partida and Bapu Vaitla, will decide this Tuesday (Jan 3) whether to go forward with an election or not. I stand by what I wrote below, calling for an election for District 3 with no interim appointment, and I urge Davisites to email members of the City Council before 3 PM on Tuesday at CityCouncilMembers@cityofdavis.org to let them know your views.  You can also call 530-757-5693 to leave a public comment between 12-4 PM the day of the meeting – this is item #5 on the agenda – or give public comment in person (the item is estimated to be heard at 7:20 PM).

By Roberta Millstein

This City Council does not have a good track record on democracy.  It has the opportunity to do better this time.  Will it?

Newly appointed Mayor Lucas Frerichs, having served on the Council since 2012, is anticipated to step down on January 2, 2023 to become Yolo County District 2 Supervisor.  That will leave a vacancy on the Council in District 3 (note that county and city district numbering is different) until the November 2024 election.  The Council has a choice of two ways of filling the vacancy: 1) call a special election to fill the vacancy (see staff report for possible dates) or 2) appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

The first way is the democratic way.  It’s the way that allows the voters of District 3 to select a representative who they feel listens to them and understands their concerns about their district.  It’s the way that allows new voices to put themselves forward for leadership of the city, fulfilling one of the promises that district elections were supposed to bring – i.e., more localized campaigns being easier and less expensive to run.

The second way is the power-abusing way.  All the other districts will have elected their representatives, but District 3 would be appointed by councilmembers who are not even in their district.  There is nothing about this process that would ensure that the appointed representative would know about and care about issues particular to District 3.  What this process does allow for, however, is for councilmembers to appoint someone who sees things their way or who is part of the current power structure in Davis.

Note that the Council also has the option of calling for a special election (the second way), but then appointing someone to fill the vacancy until the election.  I think this option is problematic too.  The person appointed for the interim period before a special election would have the advantage of incumbency in that election. The council should refrain from any appointment at all and simply call an election to fill the seat.[1]

Continue reading "Will the (new) City Council Uphold Democracy?" »


End of Year Gag Gifts

Screen Shot 2022-12-30 at 1.31.30 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to give the Davis Vanguard 1¢, like a tip for bad service -- in this case bad writing, bad logic and bad ideas.  But the minimum donation was $1.  Hell if I'm giving the Vanguard a whole dollar.  They will use it for something I don't believe in.

Also on the way to the Vanguard office, a box of gifts including a nose-hair trimmer, a bathroom scale, a 3-pack of cheap white underwear, a bright-red MAGA-hat, a small bottle of Pine-Sol, and a hand-crank jack-in-the-box kids toy that plays "Pop Goes the Weasel".

Happy New Year to all the people of Davis who think the Davis Vanguard is a piece of crap!

--Al's Corner


Social Service Groups Receive Biberstein Social Action Fund Grants

(From press release) Fourteen (14) nonprofit social service groups in Yolo County have received grants totaling $18,475 from a fund established by Congregation Bet Haverim, Jewish Fellowship of Davis. The Biberstein Social Action Fund was established in 2002 to honor longtime Davis residents Ernie and Hannah Biberstein for their contributions to community service and social justice.  The fund sponsors efforts to address problems related to poverty, discriminations, abuse and neglect.

The following organizations were funded:

The Bike Campaign; Celebration of Abraham; Davis United Methodist Church – Grace Gardens; HEART of Davis (formerly Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter) ; iDream – The Mac Give Back Project; Meals on Wheels Yolo County; Mercer Veterinary Clinic; Personal Care Pantry (Woodland United Methodist Church); Purple Tree Café; STEAC; St. James Conference Society of Vincent de Paul; Suicide Prevention of Yolo County; Yolo County Continuum of Care; Yolo Crisis Nursery.

“We are very happy to make these awards,” said Ernie Biberstein.  “We think they will make a meaningful difference to the organizations selected and to the Yolo County community.

The winners, who were chosen by a committee of Bet Haverim members, will be recognized at a ceremony at the Bet Haverim Religious School in Davis in February.

“With the loss of Hannah, we continue to feel that it is even more important to show our religious school students the value of supporting the needs of their community,” continued Biberstein. Hannah Biberstein passed away in April of 2011.

Biberstein Social Action Fund awards are given annually on the basis of proposals made to the synagogue committee. Contributions to the fund may be made through Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road, Davis, CA 95616. Please note that the donation is for the Biberstein Social Action Fund.