Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - Volume #10
The Village Feast returns in-person Oct. 16

Explaining what shouldn’t need explaining

PileofmoneySpending one million dollars is a sign of a mis-managed campaign

By Roberta Millstein

In his most recent apologia for the Yes on Measure H campaign, David Greenwald suggests that it is inevitable that developers will spend “exorbitant amounts of money” to promote their projects. 

But nothing forced the Yes on Measure H campaign, led by “Honorary Chair” Councilmember Dan Carson, to outspend the No on Measure H campaign by more than 14-1, as Alan Pryor reported.

In 2020, the Yes campaign spent around $323,000 to promote the DISC project. Let’s consider how the developers might have reacted to that loss.  They might have talked to voters to find out what, in their eyes, would make for a project that was better for Davis and modified the project accordingly. 

Instead, they polled Davisites to find out what would “sell” to voters and rushed a virtually unchanged project to voters (just cut in half) only a year and a half later.  Apparently, voters like parks, greenbelts, environmental sustainability, and affordable housing, so those are the features that they poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into highlighting, even though these aspects were at best incidental to the project and at worse deceptive. The graphic of the stand-up paddleboarder was perhaps the most egregious example of this.

And they dumped in almost three times the amount of the previous campaign – a campaign that had itself had spent large sums of money – in order to sell the project. That includes over $200,000 on a heavy-handed free-speech-squelching developer-funded lawsuit, which, bizarrely, Greenwald says is not a campaign expenditure issue.

Greenwald implies that “no” campaigns have a built-in monetary advantage – they can, he says, use “volunteer precinct walkers and canvassers” and “do their own in-house mailers or drop pieces, they can print off their home computer and copy it at Copyland or FedEx office and get away with it.”

So, let me get this straight.  Not having money is a huge campaign advantage.  Got it. 

Here’s the thing: nothing is stopping developer-led campaigns from having unpaid volunteers (these need not be students, as Greenwald suggests) who are willing to dedicate their time and skills to crafting a message, walking precincts, talking with folks at the Farmers Market, spreading the word on social media, etc.  Nothing.  Nothing, that is, except for an apparent lack of enthusiasm about the project. 

Perhaps there is an expectation that mailers and ads look a bit more “slick” from the developers, but it is just as likely that the slickness backfires. Davis voters are smart and they know when they are being sold a bill of goods.

And they know when someone is trying to buy their vote: as Pryor documents, $136.27 for every "Yes" vote.  They know that that doesn’t pass the sniff test, and they get suspicious.

The bottom line is that the campaign was mismanaged, not just in terms of its tactics, but also in terms of its finances. Voters in District 1 who think that one of Dan Carson’s strengths is his financial acumen should take note.


Nancy Price

By the time Ramos and Oates approved, if they did, the "paddleboard" mailer, they knew they had to find more votes upstream.

Alan C. Miller

Greenwald implies that “no” campaigns have a built-in monetary advantage – they can, he says, use “volunteer precinct walkers and canvassers” and “do their own in-house mailers or drop pieces, they can print off their home computer and copy it at Copyland or FedEx office and get away with it.”"

Well that's rich, coming from an entity that got $6K from the campaign for . . . well DG, what was it for? ANSWER US, the People of Davis DEMAND YOU ANSWER . . . oh sorry got sidetracked . . . an entity that got $6K from the campaign and uses volunteer labor all the time in terms of student 'interns' and community 'volunteers'. So who's REALLY got the advantage?

And as for that $6K, if it wasn't used for ads as has been implied, but the DV supported the campaign in articles, isn't that paying a non-profit to campaign for a political issue? I don't know sh*t as I'm no f*cking law-yer, but just sayin' can such dots be connected? Smarter people then me, please tell us.

And vote NO on Carson!

Ron O

I posted the following response to another commenter (whom I respect) in the Vanguard, last night. He believed that any theoretical non-paid "student volunteers" (while noting that few would exist) would not "help" a developer campaign:

Quote from the other commenter: "And the few who are willing probably aren’t the ones you want out there trying to sell your project."

My response: "I actually view this in an opposite manner."

"In a political campaign, I’d rather hear from the people who actually believe in what they’re doing, rather than from those getting paid to participate (even if it’s just “pizza money”).

None of those on the “No” side got paid. In fact, it cost them money. As such, they would be equivalent to any “handful” of Yes supporters willing to canvas for no money (assuming they exist).

During the last campaign, I was holding a sign opposing DiSC when a guy (who somehow appeared “homeless”) came roaring down the Mace overpass on the sidewalk on a bicycle. I stepped off the sidewalk to let him pass, which I suspect he appreciated. He came to an abrupt halt at the intersection after passing me, and asked me how much I was getting paid to wave/hold the sign. I told him I was doing so “for free”, to which he responded something like, “cool”. (The exchange left me with a very positive feeling.)

All of the responses that I did receive (e.g., from drivers or the small number of pedestrians) were positive."

Colin Walsh

“ do their own in-house mailers or drop pieces, they can print off their home computer and copy it at Copyland or FedEx office and get away with it.” This is such a bizarre greenwaldism. It still has a steep cost to print at home or a copy shop and there is no contribution limit for a ballot initiative so there is absolutely 0 financial advantages gained by doing these things. What’s more, the developer’s campaign can do the exact same thing.

Alan C. Miller

> This is such a bizarre greenwaldism.

Beware "Bizarre Greewaldisms"

Every man, woman and child should take this phrase to heart and meditate on it every day before venturing out into Davis.

Nora Oldwin

So to provide one answer to the question about the 6K that was paid to the Vanguard- I asked, and was given to understand that the money was paid for ad space there. However….. The buyers never placed their ad, although the space was held open for that purpose. Apparently there was follow-up to find out when any ads would or might be placed, without response. Money paid for space- ultimately unused. (You all know I’m on the Vanguard Board, just to be emphatically transparent!)

Colin Walsh

My take on it is this. There was a transaction of $6,000. Both parties seem to have gotten what they wanted out of it. For the yes on H campaign apparently it wasn’t about getting ad space.

Alan C. Miller

Thank you for the investigative work, N.O.

(Funny that the Master can't/won't answer for himself.)

This confirms no ads were ever run.

Must be nice to have so much money that one can shell out $6K and 'forget' about it. Or pretend it was 'forgotten' about, wink wink.

Must be nice to be a shill that can be on the receiving end of 'forgetful' souls with leaky pockets. A blogger here, a Councilmember there, a Student Democrat everywhere.

That's the thing about those of us with integrity - no one ever gives us 'forgotten' money. Hence, why I will never be a politician :-| Or run a progressive blog :-| Or be a Democrat :-| . . . . . . . . . . . calm down! calm down everyone! . . . or be a Republican :-| . . . . . . . (hmmmmm . . . they are still mad :-| )

Ron O

Nora: "Money for space - ultimately unused."

Was there just a big blank space where an ad would normally go?


In any case, the Vanguard has "plenty" of ads, now.

Colin: "There was a transaction of $6,000. Both parties seem to have gotten what they wanted out of it."

With the exception of a "win".

In any case, the Vanguard certainly did its share of advocacy - which will continue on, no doubt. Not seeing a lot of difference between what the Vanguard does, vs. what Spafford and Lincoln does - except for the amount of money involved.

The "win" was reserved for the side which didn't receive any money - other than that ordered by the court (for legal costs incurred to defend themselves).

In my opinion, the city itself "won", as well.

Karen L Baker

I worked many Saturdays (and Wednesdays) with the other fine volunteers of No on H at the Farmers' Market. I gave up my free time because I felt passionate about the the very obvious, negative impacts of allowing DiSC to be rammed through by an unscrupulous and unethical City Council backed by a developer who did not care about the environmental impact of this proposed boondoggle.

As I sat at our table week after week informing voters about Measure H, I also observed the very unenthusiastic paid workers at the Yes on H table. One set of such workers showed up on a Wednesday, and were never seen again. For Mr. Greenwald to posit that volunteer citizens have an "advantage" over highly paid professional proselytizers is quite ludicrous: our "advantage" was that we CARED; we were there because we wanted to be there. For Greenwald to state that it was not a campaign expenditure that Mr. Carson received (from Ramos) so he could afford to sue his own constituents is beyond ludicrous: I hope District One voters show Carson the door.


Alan states:
"That's the thing about those of us with integrity - no one ever gives us 'forgotten' money."

Yeah, I know how you feel. I was stupid enough to have actually paid off my kid's college loans.

The space below is being held for anyone who wants to give me money for an ad:
| |
| |

ron glick

How much got spent on the Nishi campaigns? How much on WDAAC? This seems to be what it costs to run one of these campaigns. The big question is who got paid to advise them to put it on the ballot in what could easily have been foreseen as a low turnout election if you were after higher turnout? I saw a thing that said Spafford and Lincoln were paid $400,000. I wonder what they advised? Go in off year primary? Sue over a ballot statement?

Roberta L. Millstein

Ron, you're mistaken. They spent much more on this campaign than on recent campaigns. It does not have to cost this much.

DiSC 2022: $981,038
DISC 2020: ~$323,000 (as already stated).
Nishi 2: ~$296,000
WDAAC: ~$264,000

In other words, DiSC 2022 cost at least three times as much, or more than three times as much, as all of the other recent development campaigns.

But I do agree that whatever they paid, they clearly didn't get their money's worth.

Roberta L. Millstein

Also, I would question whether even those earlier campaigns needed to cost that much. The No campaign spent $68,771 and won decisively (and actually, that was a lot). As I pointed out in the article, if developers put together good projects that people were genuinely excited about, they could find people to volunteer just as the No on H campaign was completely run by unpaid volunteers.


I'm curious Roberta. Since your name is mentioned and parts of your comments here appear in today's Vanguard did you post this anywhere else or just here on the Davisite?


Roberta L. Millstein

Just on the Davisite. Nowhere else.


So for a guy that initially would censor any mention of the Davisite posted on the Vanguard David is now writing articles about and posting links to articles posted the Davisite. My, my, how times have changed.

Roberta L. Millstein

Yes, he's stopped twisting himself in a pretzel to try to avoid mentioning the Davisite while still discussing it. However, he is still bending over backwards to be an apologist for developers, e.g., conveniently ignoring the figures I gave in a comment above:

DiSC 2022: $981,038
DISC 2020: ~$323,000 (as already stated).
Nishi 2: ~$296,000
WDAAC: ~$264,000

DiSC 2022 is the only one who blew through almost 1 million dollars. And yes, he did in fact say that the lawsuit was not an expenditure issue. Here is the direct quote:

"They failed because they made a tactical error to challenge the ballot arguments and do so with a sitting councilmember and because the message they presented failed to resonate with the voters. But neither of those are campaign expenditure issues."

Ignoring facts, misrepresenting facts. Good stuff there.

Ron O

It seems that the Davisite has "stolen" some of the Vanguard's energy (and commenters), in regard to local issues in particular.

As such, it's pretty difficult to totally ignore.

But perhaps there's a more accurate range of wording than "stolen", such as "kicked-off", "fed-up", etc.


In regards to the Davisite, maybe David now has the attitude that "if you can't beat em, join em." Welcome David, and if you want to post comments on the Davisite I'm sure the moderators here won't censor you. The Davisite believes in free speech and the same rules for all regardless of your political views.

Ron O

Keith - who knows, maybe even "Craig Ross" will comment here. He sure has been quiet lately.

Alan C. Miller

September 1, 2022 - The Davis Vanguard not only admits that the Davisite exists, but links to the Davisit. Still without using the term Davisite.

My theory: The Davis Vanguard sucks so hard that it needs to quote from *other* comments sections in order not to suck even worse.

In other news: The north and south magnetic poles reversed polarity today.


Hey David Greenwald, I'll bet that you would even be allowed more than 5 comments per day on any given article here on the Davisite. The Davisite doesn't try to limit or squash conversations and commentary.

Ron O

Now, now, Keith - the Vanguard did this because folks (like me?) were preventing others from commenting. And now that we've been limited, all of the others are now able to do so.

The same theory in action regarding the requiring of full names, awhile ago.

Well, that's probably enough Vanguard-bashing for the day. :-)

I'm just glad to see the Davisite picking up some interest. (Of course, this doesn't imply or require agreement on all issues, but things are different on here.)

Al's Corner has been a bigger success than I first thought it would be. A lot of "freedom" to talk about a range of local issues - not limited to the Vanguard's articles or moderation practices. (Though that certainly is one of the motivating factors for Al's Corner.)

And as a bonus, no one asking for money.

Alan C. Miller

> And as a bonus, no one asking for money.

Hey everyone, please send me money.

Al of Al's Corner


If I send you money Al can I get a justice award named after me that will be given out at the next Al's Corner hot dog fest?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)