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April 2018

Sierra Club Endorses Dean Johannsson for Yolo DA


To our Sierra Club members and the Yolo County public -

After an extensive evaluation process by the local Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club Northern California Political Review Committee, the Sierra Club Yolano Group is pleased to officially announce the Sierra Club's official endorsement of Dean Johansson for Yolo County District Attorney.

We were convinced of our choice based on Mr. Johansson's extensive and demonstrable commitment to environmental and social justice and his unwavering support for rights of victims and defendants in the judicial system. Mr. Johansson's platform embraces a progressive, humane, and evidence-based approach to criminal justice that exactly aligns with the core beliefs of most Sierra Clubbers.

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What Measure O (Open Space tax) Should Be

Open space mapBy Robert Milbrodt

While on the City Council, Sue Greenwald made a motion for the City to develop an open space and habitat protection plan with a funding mechanism to be submitted for voter approval. Her proposal died for lack of a second, even for the purpose of discussion. Sue asked a group of community activists to carry the torch.

The Davis Visioning Group took up the task and built a comprehensive science based open space and habitat protection plan that was submitted to the City, Mitch Sears. That plan included a GIS model identifying and prioritizing land for acquisition, and a complete set of tools for maximizing the use of Measure O funds, with management and mapping tools to facilitate public scrutiny and accountability. The premise at the outset was for the community to contribute the funds necessary for property control or ownership and for the City to contribute maintenance and management.

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UCD's Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for Campus Growth Falls Short

Photo credit: Davis Wiki

By Greg Rowe

 UC Davis recently released its draft 2018 Long Range Development Plan for guiding campus growth through 2030-31. Unfortunately, it lacks important detail and substance. Most important, the plan falls short of housing 50% of the anticipated 39,000 student enrollment called for in resolutions adopted by City Council, Yolo County Board of Supervisors, ASUCD Senate and the local Sierra Club.

The LRDP says 18,318 students will ultimately live on campus, or 47% of 2030 enrollment. This is 1,182 short of the 19,500 that would represent 50% residing on campus. This is not insignificant; each 1% shortfall means another 390 students seeking off campus housing in Davis and other cities after freshman year.

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The real costs of Nishi for taxpayers; misleading overstatements on ballot arguments in favor of Nishi

Matt-Williams-PBEBy Matt Williams

In the 2015-16 deliberations about the Nishi 2016 proposal, the City’s economic consultant EPS presented to the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) its initial model of costs and revenues, which showed a $78,000 deficit fiscal impact for the City in the first year of full buildout, which later grew to $106,000 after correction of a math error in the model.  The FBC rightly noted that $106,000 annual deficit would come out of the pockets of Davis taxpayers.


In the robust discussion that ensued, some of the FBC members argued that the discussion should include a “cash accounting” approach in addition to the “full life-cycle accounting” approach EPS was using in their model.  The explanation was that many of the expenses included in the EPS model had already been “pre-spent” by the City and would not have to be immediately re-spent. FBC member Dan Carson calculated an estimated amount of $734,000 per year (out of an estimated total expense budget of $1,532,000), which was a 48% reduction.

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Money to sell Nishi 2.0 to voters, but no money for air quality testing for Nishi residents

Pileofmoney-croppedBy Gilbert Coville and Roberta Millstein

Davis residents have now received a second glossy multi-page mailer in support of the Nishi 2.0 project. Most likely, there will be more to come. How do proponents of Nishi spend their money? What are their priorities?

In local elections in California, campaign finance reports are filed with the local municipality. Here in Davis, these forms are viewable on the eCampaign Public Access system accessed from the City of Davis website’s Financial Disclosures page.

When trying to influence an election, corporations are required to report any related expenses as independent expenditures.

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Meet the Candidates, Pro/Con statements on Ballot Measures, from Davis Media Access

DavisMediaAccess(Press release) Davis Media Access (DMA) has produced a series of “Meet the Candidates” and Pro/Con statements for local ballot measures for the June 5, 2018 election.

Currently celebrating its 30th year, DMA is the non-profit community media & technology center supporting local content creation, archiving and distribution via television, radio and the Internet. DMA operates DCTV Public Access Channel 15, DJUSD Educational Access Channel 17, and KDRT-LP, 95.7 FM.

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Davis City Councilmember Will Arnold Endorses Dean Johansson for Yolo County District Attorney

DeanJohansson(Press release)

Arnold cites Johansson’s experience and progressive justice policies that reflect the values of Davis and Yolo County

DAVIS -- Davis City Councilmember Will Arnold today announced his support for Dean Johansson for Yolo County District Attorney.

“Dean has the experience and record on public safety that reflect the values of our community. I share his commitment to fairness, equality, and justice, which is needed now from our District Attorney,” said Arnold.

Dean Johannson has served for more than 20 years as an attorney in our justice system, both as a Deputy District Attorney and currently as a Yolo County Public Defender. He is challenging the incumbent District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

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CivEnergy Forum on Ballot Measures H, I, and J (taxes and Nishi)

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 11.24.48 AMCivEnergy will host a community forum on Sunday, May 6th from 3pm-5pm featuring representatives of the three local ballot measures that will be on the June 5, 2018 General Municipal Election ballot for the City of Davis. The forum will be cosponsored by Davis Media Access. The free event will be held at the Community Chambers meeting room in the Davis City hall complex located at 23 Russell Blvd.

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From Earth Day to the New Poor People’s Campaign: Honoring Carson, Nelson, and King


By Nancy Price

On this Earth Day, let’s honor Rachel Carson. Let’s remember her great masterpiece, Silent Spring, published in September, 1962.  After decades of drenching the environment with DDT and other chemicals and the atomic bomb and later nuclear bomb testing, she documented and raised concerns about the massive harms to the environment and the “balance of nature” by the indiscriminate use of pesticides and to public health, emphasizing the potential for accumulating body burden and disease at any time from prenatal development throughout an individual’s life.

She questioned whether humans could obtain mastery over harmful pests by chemicals. And she accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation and public officials of accepting industry funding. The public relations campaign launched then against her and Silent Spring by the chemical industry has never let up, only now more massively funded than ever.  

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Join me in voting for Dean Johansson - a candidate who represents the values of today

DeanJohanssonBy Nancy Price

District Attorneys are public servants. Is there any more powerful “servant” than one who wields the power of life and death?

What troubles me is that in California, there are no term limits for District Attorneys. That’s right - California District Attorneys can stay in office as long as they want unless they’re voted out. I didn’t know this, and I bet some of you didn’t either. Jeff Reisig has been Yolo DA for 12 years already, and wants to make that 16!

What concerns me is this: if communities change over time, shouldn’t we also change who is in this most important county office? Shouldn’t we need someone who will come in with a fresh perspective and range of experience to meet the changed and changing needs of our community?

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Environmental Injustice is Health Injustice


by Nancy Price

Let’s Implement the Human Right to Health in Davis!

Recently, Roberta Millstein’s “Nishi 2.0 is an environmental injustice” article in the Davis Enterprise emphasized once again the problems of air quality at the Nishi site, and reminded us of the EPA definition of environmental justice - “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”   

It’s worth noting that the EPA began operation in late December 1970, right after the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Clearly, their definition embraces the Human Right to Health set forth in the United Nation foundational 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states: “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”  In this country, the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative (nesri.org) and the US Human Rights Network (ushrnetwork.org) also work to implement the Human Right to Health.

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Lukewarm and half-hearted support for Nishi from the Davis City Council

CityCounci-on-NishiExpensive and glossy mailers from the Nishi developer (paid for by "Davis Gateway Student Housing LLC & Affiliated Entities") have begun arriving at Davis addresses. The back of the mailer touts support from "local leaders we trust." These leaders are said to include the five current members of the Davis City Council.

But how strong is the support of those Councilmembers? Let's review some excerpts from their comments from the meeting where the Council voted to put Nishi on the ballot on 2/6/2018. The video is located here. Numbers in parentheses refer to the approximate time that the Councilmembers' words appear in the video.

Edit 4/30/2018 to add an edited version of the full video, containing just the clips where City Council members disparage Nishi 2.0.

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Ezra & Larry for City Council: Preserving Measure R, the Citizen's Right to Vote

Beeman_family Guenthers-croppedBy Robert Milbrodt

The single most important issue in this city council election is The Citizens Right to Vote, Measure J/R. This measure was approved by voters in June 2000 as Measure J; and renewed in June 2010 as Measure R with about 77% of the vote. Essentially it requires voter approval for projects that would convert our open space or agricultural land to urban use.

A 10-year renewal of this measure will automatically appear on the ballot in June 2020. We deserve council members who will support its renewal, and who will incorporate its democratic and community-oriented values into the city’s decision making. We are better served by council members who share these core values. Either the candidates believe in community-based governance, or they don’t.

Of the nine candidates for city council: one has consistently opposed the Citizen’s Right to Vote, four stated their early opposition to this measure and are now waffling, two are willing to entertain “amendments” without being specific, and two are steadfastly supportive of the measure in principle and in practice. These two supportive candidates are Ezra Beeman and Larry Guenther.

They have made my decision easy, and I urge you to join me in voting for Ezra Beeman and Larry Guenther for City Council.

Bathing in Sound

Soundbath_smlrBy Carey Ann Hunt

Eyes were closed. Resting on a blue-gray plaid sleeping bag on a carpeted living room floor. The winter sun set hours before. People gathered, settled, warm and comfortable. Pillows all around and blankets, too. Light dimmed to near dark. A chilly night outside. Warm inside. My blanket pulled all the way up to my chin. Breathing slowed down. Silence marked by the roar of a plane in the distance.

As thunder builds in the distance so too did the sound in the room that night when the intensity and volume began to fill the room. Padded mallets striking condensed bronze, nickel and silver alloy. Pressure building as storms do, when thunder clouds roll and grow and rains come sometimes in torrents, washing sideways with force.  Building layer upon layer of sound all around me, now filling the corners of the living room. Every space packed with booming resonance pulsing like windswept currents of air turbulence over an agitated body of water.  Increasing and then deceasing in magnitude.  

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Why is our Democratic Assembly Member endorsing a non-Democratic Yolo County District Attorney?

DeanJohanssonBy M E Gladis

To Voters in California Assembly District 4.

One wonders what the Democratic Assembly Member, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry intends by endorsing the present non-Democratic Yolo County District Attorney since he doesn’t follow democratic values. This District Attorney remains neutral on Prop 39 ( 3 Strikes Reform ) but opposes Prop 47 (Sentencing Reform ), Prop 57 ( Reduce Mass Incarceration ), and Prop 64 (Legal Adult Marijuana Use).These four Propositions Yolo County voters overwhelmingly approved. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry appears to oppose Yolo County voters.

Consider, then, this same District Attorney has filed more felony trials in Yolo County ( Pop. 213,000 ) than has the district attorney in Alameda County ( pop. 1,683,000 ) Felony trials are expensive ordeals. Yolo County 41% to CA average 19% Felony non-conviction rate. Cecilia seems to support this effort.

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What does the proposed Nishi project have to do with traffic downtown?

Nishi-OldDavisRdYesterday, Dan Cornford wrote about how the Nishi project would contribute to traffic and the deterioration of air quality downtown.  People who don't travel these roads frequently might have trouble seeing why that would be the case.  Well, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. 

If the Nishi project goes through, an underpass would be built under the railroad from the Nishi property to Old Davis Road.  As the graphic shows, there is already significant traffic from Old Davis Rd to First Street and downtown, and onto Richards Blvd.  Cars from the Nishi development – with its 700 parking spaces – would contribute to that traffic as residents drive to and through downtown.

This is just one of a number of concerns about Nishi.  As I said in an earlier post, the unhealthy air quality experienced by residents because of its location is my primary concern.  But the concerns about traffic and air quality downtown are serious ones and should not be overlooked. 

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The Nishi Project (Together with Other Projects) Will Hurt Air Quality Downtown

Nishi-picBy Dan Cornford

Thanks to Roberta for posting her excellent comments on Nishi and the air quality issue. The attempts to brush off or ignore Dr. Cahill's findings or to investigate them further indicate just how developer-driven some factions in this town are. I would like to make an additional related comment (s).

On May 26, 2016 I published an Op-Ed in the Davis Enterprise, shortly before the vote on Nishi 1.0 entitled "Downtown traffic also will be worse with Nishi." It can be read in full at: https://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/downtown-traffic-also-will-be-worse-with-nishi/

To summarize briefly I argued that the traffic studies for the EIR for Nishi (on which Nishi 2.0 still relies) were outdated, inadequate, and bordering on fiction.

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What Residents of Nishi Won't Know (Yet It Will Still Hurt Them)

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 9.07.20 PMIf you read the ballot Argument in Favor of Measure J 2018 (that is, the argument in favor of Nishi 2.0, not the Measure J from 2000 that gave Davis citizens the right to vote on projects like Nishi), you will see that it is mostly focused on the issue of student housing. The Rebuttal to the Argument Against Measure J is likewise almost entirely focused on student housing.

Of course, you should also read the Argument Against Measure J (full disclosure: I am a signer) and the Rebuttal to the Argument in Favor of Measure J. In other words, if you read the arguments in favor of Nishi 2.0, you should also read the arguments against Nishi 2.0.

But my point here is a different one. When I read the ballot arguments in favor of Nishi 2.0, I am taken back to the day that the City Council voted to put Nishi 2.0 on the ballot. I am reminded of the passion of the students who spoke that evening. That passion caused me to change my planned comments and to instead speak from the heart, not about the students who were there that night, who were well-informed about the project, but the students who were not there. Here are my comments in full. They are not as well-organized or as well-articulated as I would like, but they are sincere. And they still reflect the core of my objections to Nishi 2.0.

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Wes Anderson's The Isle of Dogs: Movie Review


There are few working directors whose entire filmography is so uniquely stylized that the man or woman behind the camera becomes a genre onto themselves and Wes Anderson is perhaps the most grandiose example of that fact. His last three films; The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), & The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) have each been masterful productions of Wes Anderson and his latest film, The Isle of Dogs (2018), is no exception. Like The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Isle of Dogs is a work of stop-motion animation that fits so snuggly in Wes Anderson’s unique brand of visual storytelling. The film’s plot is relatively simple but by no means is it any less layered or complex than any of this other screenplays. And if you hadn’t guessed already, it looks incredible from start to finish. Wes Anderson has become one those directors audiences either love or hate so for those who already love ’his work you’ve probably already seen the movie or are planning on seeing it already. But if that's the case then just let me say this I think this may be an (if not the) perfect Wes Anderson film. At least that’s what I’m telling myself in preemptive justification while I catch two-three more screenings in theaters whilst I can.

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A few more specific questions to ask City Council candidates

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 5.40.46 PMBy Dan Cornford

I totally agree with Roberta’s criticism about the candidates for city council refusing to be more specific and with specific reference as to how they stand on Measure J/R and if they want to amend it, how precisely would they amend it.

However, I would like to broaden this discussion to make observations about the ways in which almost all candidates for city council have campaigned since I moved here in 2000. A trend that was apparent when I arrived here has become more and more pronounced.

To put it bluntly and simply, almost all candidates are reluctant to, or more accurately often refuse, to discuss specifics especially when it comes to some of the most important and controversial issues. Their reasons for doing this are obvious. They think by appealing to as broad a constituency as possible, and not alienating any one constituency, they are maximizing their appeal and their chances of election. I could cite endless examples from the campaigns of several of our incumbent council members.

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