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April 2019

Davis Enterprise Chastises City Council and Davis Vanguard

Vanguard cartoon
Cartoon by Druiddraws 

By Roberta Millstein, Rik Keller, and Colin Walsh

Having raised concerns about the Davis Vanguard’s upcoming fundraising event in previous Davisite articles (see here, here, and here), we were gratified to see the Davis Enterprise bring the full moral authority of actual journalists to bear on our concerns regarding ethics and access in a pair of Sunday articles, one by reporter Tanya Perez and one a stinging “Our View” editorial op-ed.

We note that the advertisement of this event has undergone a number of changes subsequent to the publication of each of our articles and our comments at the Davis City Council meeting of April 23rd. The event went from having Mayor Brett Lee as a “host,” to having four councilmembers “featured” with each speaking and participating in a Q & A session (with Will Arnold there “in spirit”). And now it has been scaled back to a speaking-only event with no mention of Q & As. The Enterprise’s coverage of this event suggests that event will be even more attenuated than that, with Councilmember Lucas Frerichs saying that he can “only stay a short time at this event because he has another to attend” and Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida saying that she “might not speak at all.”

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Students and Workers Celebrate May Day at UC Davis

UPTE-yds(From Press Release)

UC Davis students, workers, and campus organizations will come together in front of the Memorial Union on Wednesday, May 1st, from 12pm-1pm to celebrate ​May Day​. Live music will be followed by short speeches from various members of labor unions and student groups.

Over a century ago, workers in the U.S. decided that May 1st would be the day for a universal work stoppage. On May 1st, 1886, two hundred thousands workers left their jobs to demand an eight-hour work day. Workers around the world are still fighting for a better life. Here at UC Davis, workers in the union of technical and professional employees in the UC, UPTE, have recently held a strike over pension cuts, stagnating wages, and insufficient career job protections. Members of AFSCME, the union that includes custodians and food service workers on campus, have recently held a strike against unfair labor practices, accusing the UC administration of bribery and violating their right to strike.

May 1st, 2019, 12pm-1pm.

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Summer Camp Magic for Foster Youth

By Colin Walsh

I love summer camp. I was lucky enough to get to go every year starting in about 4th grade all the way through High School. First, I went to Frontier Ranch and then I went to Ponderosa Lodge both in the redwoods near Santa Cruz. 40 years later I still remember the lyrics we sang around the glow of the campfire with our goofy counselors:

I’ve come back to Frontier Rach just like I did the year before,
and I’m going to keep on coming till they won’t let me come any more

I would go back again if I could. Being in the forest, sleeping in tent cabins, archery, games, campfires – it was an experience that left a profound impression on me. Now as a father I love sending my kids to summer camp too. When they come home they are grubby, exhausted, beaming with confidence, and glowing with the joy of new friendships.

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Loved The Pajama Game

Pajama gameBy Rachel Rycerz

Saw the opening night of DMTC's "Pajama Game." Go see it! Excellent acting, fun songs, great choreography. There were many stand out performances.

I loved Morgan Bartoe as Babe Williams. She had it all -- strong acting, expressive, with both humor and emotion, great stage presence, voice, dancing. She and Tate Pollock as Sid Sorokin made a believable romantic couple that you (or at least I) root for. Tate was also terrific all around in this role, solidly establishing his character and playing well with Aimee Rose Santone (a perfect Gladys, fantastic actor and spectacular dancer) in very different dynamics than their pairing as Phoebus and Esmerelda in Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also had a terrific duet with himself in "Hey There" (Go see it!).

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Davis's Great Burger Battle Is Over – What Now?

Would you like to see G Street Wunderbar offer this burger again?

The great COOL Cuisine Burger Battle is over, and by all accounts it was a grand success, both in terms of number of burger consumed and people's delight in the various burger offerings. But what's next for Davis's vegan food scene?  Surely there is more to come from COOL Cuisine, once founder Anya McCann recovers from the herculean effort it took to pull this off. 

In the meantime, though, is there anything that you and I can do?  Yes, I believe there is.  But before we get to that, let's review.

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Plastic Straws Suck

StrawBy Colin Walsh

I am writing this for my daughter. I mean that in several senses. She is becoming aware of the environmental crisis her generation faces and she wants to do something about it. At 11 she is already a person of action and she has been inspired to by Greta Thunberg. I am writing because my daughter is inspiring me.

I am also writing because, she is right, we need to do something. Actually, we need to do a lot of things.

Last weekend, I brought home these great reusable straws from the Food Co-op for my daughter and it was like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny showed up on the 4th of July. She wants to live her ideals and I am proud of her.

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City Council Ethics Questioned

Picture13 Comments Submitted to the Davis City Council on April 23, 2019

Good evening.  I am Roberta Millstein, citizen of Davis, speaking for myself.

I am extremely concerned about members of the Davis City Council participating in a fundraiser for the Davis Vanguard.  Let me quote from the Facebook event:

The Vanguard Fundraiser will feature Davis Mayor Brett Lee, Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida, and Councilmembers Lucas Frerichs and Dan Carson, who will speak at a fundraiser for the Davis Vanguard… Will Arnold, unable to attend will be there in spirit. Each of the speakers will speak briefly and then take questions.  The event has a suggested donation of $25.

So, four out of five of you are the featured speakers of a fundraiser for a self-proclaimed local news outlet, including a question and answer period, with the fifth apparently willing to have his name associated with the fundraiser.  I note that this is a very different sort of event from other events that you all participate in together, such as Picnic Day, where City issues are not discussed.

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Joe Biden is not the president we need

Progressive-montageIn a recent Davis Enterprise letter to the editor, Laurie Friedman writes that we need “a moderate candidate” for U.S. President, suggesting that “Biden would unify the country as he has broad appeal to blue-collar workers in the Midwest as well as Democrats generally.”

Must we make the same devastating mistake twice?

This was the same song that was sung four years ago for Hillary Clinton. Everyone assumed, against all available evidence, that progressives would turn out for Hillary “because Trump.”  She took their votes for granted as did her fellow centrists. Well, they didn’t show up, and now we have Trump.

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A “Revolution of Values” is needed to realize the promise of Earth Day

MLK at Riverside Church

By Nancy Price

The Founding of Earth Day 

During the 1960s, the concerns of environmental and anti-war activists began to converge as they’d had enough of corporate environmental disasters, epitomized by Love Canal (1953) and wide-spread harm to nature from indiscriminate use of DDT and chemicals that Rachel Carson revealed in Silent Spring (1962). There were also the assassinations of President Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, and the increasing violence of the War in Vietnam and at home - the tragic My Lai Massacre (March 1967), police brutality at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the widening carpet bombing, extensive use of Agent Orange, and move into Cambodia.

Finally, in 1969, two iconic disasters galvanized the public and legislators into action: in Ohio, the alarming fire on the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland, long polluted by industrial waste and sewage; and in California, the huge Santa Barbara Channel oil spill, at that time the largest oil “blowout” in U.S. waters that covered 30 miles of pristine sandy beaches and greatly impacted marine life.

It was no surprise that after Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson proposed Earth Day for April 22, 1970, 20 million people turned out to peacefully demonstrate. Anti-war protests continued, however, to escalate at university and college campuses and tragically, less than a month after Earth Day, four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University, Ohio (May 4, 1970).

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VCE community energy advisers offer expertise, provide access

Members of the Valley Clean Energy Community Advisory Committee are, from left, Lorenzo Kristov; Gerry Braun, chair; Marsha Baird, secretary; Christine Casey; Mark Aulman; and Christine Shewmaker, vice chair. Not pictured are Yvonne Hunter and David Springer. (Courtesy photo)

(From Press Release) Greener energy, customer choice, local control, access — they’re the hallmarks of Valley Clean Energy (VCE), a public electricity program launched locally last June. VCE serves residential and business customers in Davis, Woodland and unincorporated Yolo County.

The highly skilled staff members, a board of directors made up of local elected officials and an advisory committee of experts from the three jurisdictions are transforming the idea of community choice energy into a reality.

“The Community Advisory Committee is a really powerful group with quite a diverse mix of backgrounds,” says Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs, a member and past chair of the VCE board.

The members’ breadth and depth of knowledge makes for a “stellar” bunch, adds Yvonne Hunter, a longtime Davis resident who is one of the CAC’s nine volunteer members. Before her retirement from the League of California Cities, Hunter served as the lead lobbyist for state legislation that authorized cities and counties to create Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) electricity providers.

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Bad traffic planning from the City

By Dan Cornford.

This city is just hopeless when it comes to traffic and traffic planning! It bases its growth plans (EIRs) on limited and outdated traffic surveys to begin with in order to hide the even worse congestion that will follow when current projects are built out.

The Mace fiasco is just one example of the city's hopeless traffic planning.

A microcosm of this is the situation now with 8th & L street closed (What the heck have they been doing on L street for ages?), and traffic on Covell one lane between F & Pole Line making east-west transit an ordeal with very few alternatives. Why do these same projects at the same time? Why do projects such as the one on the Covell bridge over rail line take an absurdly long time when I suspect that in many countries they could be done in a fraction of the time. Does the city monitor performance, or have late penalties or what?

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Show Your Support for Black Churches Damaged by Fire

Since the news that three historically black churches in Landry County, LA were burned over the two-week period between March 26th and April 2, the Celebration of Abraham has wrestled with how to respond in a way that says to our black community, we will walk along side of you. Today we learned of a way to show that we care about our Christian brothers and sisters at these black churches. Specifically, our community can help repair the damage done to these important religious communities by donating to the GO FUND ME campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/f/church-fires-st-landry-parishmacedonia-ministry (or type “gofundme seventh district” in your search engine) organized by the Seventh District Baptist Association, a 149 year old non-profit religious organization.

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Urgent! Act today for CA 857 on Public Banking!

Your short calls can make the difference to get CA 857 through its first Assembly Committees!  This is the public banking bill that does so much good.

Please, this week, all you need to say is: Please support AB 857 the Public Banking bill that will enable California municipalities and counties — and the state as a whole — to charter their own public banks.

Many CA newspapers, the California Public Banking Alliance (https://californiapublicbankingalliance.org/)  and many of our state's local public bank advocacy groups support this bill. 

This week, your phone call can help flood the committee members’ offices to get this bill through these committee hurdles! 

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Extortion in Davis? Not from Measures J/R

Cannery-moneyBy Matt Williams

Extortion is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.  Measures J/R clearly do result in additional expenses for a developer; however, the City (and the community) don’t receive any payments as a result of any of the provisions of Measures J/R.  The additional developer dollars are paid out (discretionarily) to third parties, like election campaign consultants, and advertising channels, and experts providing testimony, etc.

In the last 10 years I can only think of one example of “extortion”  and that example is one where the developer “extorted” an $8 million payment from the City.  Of course I refer to the Cannery CFD.  Not only did the developer receive that $8 million cash payment, but that $8 million payment cost the Davis taxpayers a total of $21.8 million in principal repayment, bond closing costs and interest payments.

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Betting on a crash – confronting those speculating on our future

The dark side of capitalism is that disruption, change and scarcity all provide avenues of profit for those willing to speculate on its consequences.

Paradise on fire

By Nick Buxton

It is hard to imagine reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and feeling energised and excited. After all, the report, published in October 2018, warned that we are on a path to catastrophic climate change, way beyond the maximum 1.5 degrees temperature increase goal made three years ago at the United Nations climate conference in Paris. It leaves me with a sinking feeling of dread. Yet, strange as it may seem, some who read the IPCC report may well have reacted with joy. Yes, at the chance to make money. The dark side of capitalism is that disruption, change and scarcity all provide avenues of profit for those willing to speculate on its consequences.

The seemingly shameless capacity of some people to seek profits in the most desperate of situations was brought starkly home recently when I read about a financial investor in Dallas who as Hurricane Harvey approached the US east coast realised that investing in short-term housing in Houston and South Florida would be profitable as people fled their homes and looked for anywhere to stay. “We saw occupancy go to 100 percent in a lot of those hotels,” says the Dallas investor. “We didn’t crush it. But we made 25 percent, 30 percent, pretty quick.”

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Vanguard and City Council Ethical Challenges Persist

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 7.38.01 PMFour (or Five?) Times the Impropriety, Plus Potential Brown Act Violations

By Roberta Millstein and Colin Walsh

On Thursday, the Davisite published an article, “Mayor Brett Lee’s Fundraising for the Davis Vanguard Crosses a Line.”  Since then, the Vanguard has changed the format of its fundraising event to include four of the five members of the Davis City Council.  But this doesn’t make the event better.  The new format makes it worse – at least four times worse.  Plus, with four City Council members in attendance it will be nearly impossible to avoid Brown Act violations. 

First, let’s consider the changes in format and advertising of the Vanguard fundraiser.  The main change, of course, is from one councilmember attending the fundraiser (Brett Lee) to four councilmembers (Lee together with Gloria Partida, Lucas Frerichs, and Dan Carson) attending.  But the Facebook event page was also changed from saying that Lee would “host” the fundraiser to saying that the fundraiser will “feature” the four councilmembers, with Will Arnold (who is pictured in the photo associated with the event; see above) “unable to attend” while “there in spirit.”  It also states that “Each of the speakers will speak briefly and then take questions.”

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Mayor Brett Lee’s Fundraising for the Davis Vanguard Crosses a Line

BrettLeeVanguardFundraiserI like Mayor Brett Lee.  I donated to his campaign.  I endorsed him and put his lawn sign on my lawn.  I voted for him. I haven’t always agreed with his votes on Council, but that’s normal. But now Mayor Lee plans on hosting a fundraiser for the Davis Vanguard next month. This is an ethical breach that is different from a disagreement about policy or process.  Elected officials – especially those who may be running for re-election soon – should not be raising money for purported news outlets, as Mayor Lee is planning on doing for the Vanguard.

It doesn’t help that the Vanguard’s track record is none too clean.  David Greenwald, founder of and primary writer on the Vanguard, has exhibited a lack of journalistic ethics.  The Davis Vanguard is alleged to have participated in a political campaign in violation of its non-profit status; an IRS complaint was filed along with substantiating evidence.  It has developed a reputation for hostile attacks against commenters, forcing repeated changes to its comment policy (most recently to disallow anonymous commenters, although it’s not clear that this change in policy has helped improve the climate for commenters).  And it has failed to follow the Institute for Non-Profit News’s ethical guidelines by failing to be fully transparent about the funding of its news operations, particularly with respect to advertisements from local developers, calling into question its “editorial independence from all revenue sources to ensure news judgments are made in the interest of the communities they serve as journalists.”

Indeed, those very same ethical guidelines for non-profit newsrooms recommend avoiding “accepting donations from government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates actively seeking public office.”

It’s surprising that Mayor Lee would want to associate himself with the Vanguard given all that improper behavior.  But that’s not the main issue.

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Broadband Public Comment to City Council

On April 9, 2019 The Davis City Council took public comments on a proposed new contract for City of Davis broadband infrastructure.

The City Council discussion was held in closed session after comments. The City Council did not record or broadcast the public comments. Audio has been provided to the Davisite by Bob Fung of CivEnergy, photos by Roberta Millstein. Approximately 30 people were in attendance.



DavisGig Urges Demonstration of Concern Before City Council Tomorrow

Davis GigHello Davisites

We deeply appreciated those who came to the 3/27 Broadband Task Force Meeting,  the community spoke with a unified voice to the Task Force and City Council Member Dan Carson! You wanted community ownership and open access, you want a network that will be a foundation for economic development for the years ahead, you are heroes!

But Big Money is barreling ahead.

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Davis Broadband Monopoly Would Contribute to Achievement Gap and Digital Divide

Bb monopolyby Matt Williams

As members of our community who care passionately about social equity and the achievement gap in the DJUSD schools, I believe you should e-mail the Council members, and tell them that the closed session consideration of trading the current monopoly in the past generation of cable and wired telecommunications (AT&T and Comcast) for a new monopoly in the next generation of fiber communications (Astound/WAVE) is selling our school children down the road. Signing a lease with Astound only makes sense if it is for BOTH the City conduit and City fiber inside the conduit.

If the City owns the fiber, then competition between telecommunications service companies will be promoted. If the fiber is owned by a monopoly vendor like Astound/WAVE, they will not lease space on that fiber to their competitors. That will result in higher telecommunications prices for all Davis households, especially low income households, and service denials in the lower income portions of the City. That "double whammy" is referred to as "The Digital Divide." Good service for the rich. Poor service for the poor. And the quality and affordability of service is a major contributor to the Achievement Gap in schools here in Davis and across the country.

Astound/WAVE is a good company, but in an industry dominated by huge companies (Comcast, Astound, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) pricing always reflects the amount of competition in the market. The lease of City conduit being considered reduces competition in Davis. A lease of City Fiber within City Conduit increases competition, reduces costs to the consumers, and increases the quality of service for ALL Davis residents. That is what the Davis City Council (and the DJUSD School Board) should be fighting for.

Please reach out to the Council members and let them know that they can do better than the lease being considered in Tuesday's closed session.