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April 2019

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 It bases its growth plans (EIRs) on limited and outdated traffic surveys to begin with in order to hide the even worse congestion that will follow when current projects are built out.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.

UC Workers Strike on April 10: How to Show Your Solidarity

By Connor Gorman

Solidarity forever! The UC still hasn't agreed to provide basic rights and dignity to many of its workers (much less what they truly deserve) while simultaneously intimidating, threatening, and retaliating against workers for their participation in labor activities. Because of this, AFSCME 3299 (which covers service and patient care workers) filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against the UC and will be striking next Wednesday (April 10) along with UPTE-CWA 9119 (which covers technical and professional employees).

There are a variety of ways that students, workers (who aren't part of AFSCME 3299 or UPTE-CWA 9119), and community members can support the strike and demand an end to the UC's blatant violation of workers' rights along with demanding that the UC provide all of its workers with a living wage while maintaining and expanding essential benefits and protections like good, affordable healthcare; a dignified retirement plan; and job security. The main way that anyone can show their support is by joining the picket line for any period of time that they're able to between 7am and 5pm on the corner of College Park and Russell Blvd., while prioritizing attendance at the 12pm rally if possible (or if you're in Sacramento there will be another picket line at the Medical Center). You can even study or grade at the picket line.

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Local Sierra Club and Audubon Groups Raise Concerns about Burrowing Owls at Mace 25

Buow picture taken by R. Millstein, 8/2017

Davisites may recall the large proposed business park, the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC), which would be sited on the farmland outside of the Mace curve to the east of Davis, subject to a Measure R vote.  The project proposal was withdrawn in 2016, but the commission on which I serve, the Open Space and Habitat Commission, has been told informally that the project may be re-proposed again in some form.  In its original form, the proposal included 25 acres of land purchased with funds from the City’s Open Space program, widely referred to as the “Mace 25.”  (See my op-ed in the Davis Enterprise, “How 25 acres of open space got into the MRIC proposal” for the history of how that occurred).

In response to the widespread belief that the MRIC proposal will back in front of the City, two local environmental groups have raised concerns about the presence of burrowing owls on the Mace 25: the local chapters of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society. Note that burrowing owls have been designated as a “species of special concern” in California, and their numbers have been declining precipitously in recent years.

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Valley Clean Energy Board Meeting to Be Held on April 11

VCE(From Press Release) The Valley Clean Energy board of directors will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. in Davis. The meeting is open to the public.

The board — which includes members of the Davis and Woodland city councils and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors — is expected to discuss strategies for increasing the amount of renewable power that VCE will offer, with a focus on local renewable resources.

VCE, the local electricity provider, launched last June and provides cleaner energy at competitive rates to 55,000 local customers. For more information, visit https://valleycleanenergy.org. To receive agendas by email, sign up at https://valleycleanenergy.org/get-in-touch/.


Letter: Mace Child Safety Problem

MaceMess 8Follow up to Observed Dangerous Child Safety Problem Caused by Mace Blvd Project

To: Supervisor Provenza:

Thank you for your prompt reply to my email in which I recounted my witness to yet another public safety problem created by the Mace Blvd. “reconfiguration.”  For your information, I am attaching the email that I sent to City of Davis officials after the first “fire station” meeting a couple of months ago.  That email summarizes a number of aspects of the public safety and traffic crisis created by the “reconfiguration” (with the notable exception, of course, of new problem I called to your attention: the enticing skateboard challenge created by the bike lane barriers soon to be augmented, I understand, by “signage” slalom poles).  Despite multiple meetings with and comments from residents, petitions, and "concern" and vows to fix the mess expressed by the City, yet the project continues.

I appreciate your invitation to join your small group for discussing and strategizing about this situation.  In my opinion, anyone who was involved in the conception, development, promotion, touting, or defense of this “reconfiguration” has disqualified himself/herself from participating in this matter any further; those who caused this travesty cannot be trusted to effectively undo its damage.  Please consider the following as my contribution to your “strategizing” which, in the end is really quite simple, as you will see.

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On the So-Called "Parking Compromise"

Dynamic-pricingBy Daniel Urazandi 

 I want to thank every businessperson, customer, employee, visitor and friend who cared enough about downtown to object to the city's paid parking plan. If we had not spoken up they would have metered every space, endangering businesses and increasing our cost of living while reducing quality of life. While we deserve our moment of relief and celebration there are very real problems with the substitute plan the city is imposing.

    Council decided not to put meters on the streets but to put them in nearly every public lot instead. This is 279 spaces that will go paid, a 600% increase. Common sense and all data says this will send drivers to the streets to avoid paying in the lots, making it harder to find a free space. This will hurt businesses, particularly those closest to the lots. The lot across from Woodstocks is going paid while there are three vacant storefronts on that block. The disincentive of paid parking will help ensure that the only occupants there continue to be homeless camps.

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Friends of Empower Yolo Host an April Shower for Domestic Violence Shelter

EY-Shower-Flyer-2019-final(From Press Release) Friends of Empower Yolo are hosting an April shower for the agency’s domestic violence shelter in recognition of  Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The shower will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Empower Yolo’s D Street House at the corner of Fifth and D streets in downtown Davis. Everyone in the community is invited to bring a new gift for the shelter and enjoy refreshments.

Staff members will be available to answer questions about the services the agency provides to families seeking safety.

All donations are tax-deductible.

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Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation - Friday April 26

The Davis Friends Meeting (Quakers) will be screening Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation on Friday April 26 at 7 PM. The screening is free and will be held at the Friends Meetinghouse 345 L Street in Davis.

"The 60s folk revival in Greenwich Village sparked lasting political, social and cultural changes. through Poignant interviews, rare archival footage and new live performances, this film tells the story of the great singer-songwriters, performers and authors from Greenwich Village who collectively became the voice of a generation." states a flyer distributed by The Davis Friends Meeting

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A Problem with the Davis Vanguard’s Citation Practices

JournalisticethicsThis article originally appeared on May 27, 2018.  I am reposting it in light of a recent and blatant violation of the exact kind that I criticized here. On March 25, 2019, I wrote an article entitled, "City Council Out of Step on Parking, Roads, Housing, and the Claw: Will it Impact the 2020 Council Race?" . On March 30, 2019, David Greenwald wrote an article entitled, "My View: Some Are Saying the Council is Out of Step – Let’s Have a Look."  If you compare the two articles, it is obvious that Greenwald was responding to me, yet he never mentions me or the Davisite.  Instead, he refers vaguely to "some people." 

In other words, the Davis Vanguard continues to violate the basic principles of journalistic ethics.

Recently, the Davis Vanguard has been discussing articles from the Davisite without citing them.[1] This is, in my opinion, a violation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics.  It also hampers the ability of a community to engage in informed discussion.

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Where do Mace, Covell and L St. Meet?

MaceMess1redBy Matt Williams

Some Davis residents have pointed to the problems with the Mace Boulevard Improvements (stylized as the “Mace Mess”) and the delays caused by the Cannery grade-separated crossing project on Covell near L Street as two examples of significant contributions to increased traffic congestion in Davis. (see the prior Davisite articles HERE and HERE and HERE, in the Enterprise HERE and HERE, as well as in a Davis Vanguard comment thread.

The difference between the Covell and L project and the Mace project is that the lane reduction due to construction of the Cannery grade-separated crossing is temporary.  Once the construction is completed Covell will return to two vehicle lanes each direction plus the enhanced and protected bike/ped lane.  In the case of the Mace project, what was originally five vehicle lanes plus two bike/ped lanes will permanently become three vehicle lanes plus four bike/ped lanes.

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City of Davis is Compromised

F72D8D50-E1BA-4207-BBBE-69AA45F126AEBy Dunn Bobbing

After a short City Council Meeting lasting only 3 days, Davis City Council members managed to wrap 3 issues into one compromising solution.

The Davis City Council has been accused of being out of step with the public in its move to eliminate its street “claw” yard waste pick up, installation of parking meters in the downtown, and its failed attempt to levy a parcel tax for road repair. In all 3 cases the City has faced stiff opposition and name calling, which prompted Council Member Frerichs to chant “I am rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!” at the recent parking meter Council meeting.

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