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Commissionsby Elaine Roberts Musser,

It appears that our long established city commission system is in chaos!  

Look at what happened in the month of May - many cancelled commission meetings.

Because of Councilmembers Vaitla and Chapman refusing to appoint applicants to commission vacancies, the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) has appeared not to be  able to meet for nine months and counting. Nor is the Senior Citizens Commission (SCC) meeting anymore, for lack of a quorum. Many commissions have not been able to meet on a regular basis because of quorum problems.  


To add insult to injury:

    • In a staff report written by Councilmember Vaitla and Chapman, they prematurely and presumptuously claimed to be recruiting applicants for “newly merged commissions”, even though the City Council hasn’t weighed in on merging any commissions.
    • Councilmember Vaitla has said publicly that commissions are dysfunctional, don’t give the City Council information it wants, and commissioners are somehow “privileged”.


159 commissioners, former City Council members and concerned citizens signed a petition to stop the mergers. Councilmember Vaitla did make the rounds of the commissions to be merged, and many commissioners voiced their concerns.

    • Commissioners are not well versed in two disparate subject matter areas.
    • There will have to be more meetings/longer meetings to cover all the material required.
    • Critical issues will get less attention because of time constraints.
    • Recruiting qualified commissioners will become more difficult since they will be expected to be well-versed in two subject matter areas.  Commissioners are apt to quit from burnout and frustration at the heavy workload. 
    • The proposed scopes of the merged commissions are vague and unclear to the point of being almost meaningless.
    • Once commissions are merged, it is highly unlikely the former commissions can be resurrected, if things go wrong (which is likely - 2 commissions are already defunct).
    • Fiscal oversight of the city budget will be minimal, endangering any city tax measure. 


This issue is to be heard on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 @ 6:30pm.  SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE MERGERS AT THE MAY 21 CITY COUNCIL MEETING. Express your discontent. Either: 

    • Preferably come in person to the City Council meeting on May 21; or
    • Record a message ((530) 757-5693); and/or
    • Write a letter to City Councilmembers ( 


See petition and updates at the following link:   


Rebellion is the answer

This is how the leftest version of democracy slowly converts a balanced system into a dictatorship.

Welcome to the new Davis.

Colin Walsh

I would describe it more as the undoing of Davis's liberal democracy.

R Keller

These aren’t “leftists” doing this.

Alan C. Miller

From the names of the new commissions, I'd call it the beginning of Davis' woke theocracy, with our leaders channeling under the spiritual rule of the Woke God.

Tuvia ben Olam DBA Todd Edelman

To Rebellion... "Leftist" is a broad brush -- this is autocratic fakequity. This is nearly totally contrary to my Leftism. I'm not impressed by, for example, the Hate Free Together program which didn't involve the HRC, the Paving Program which didn't involve the BTSSC, and the regularly-appearing rainbow crosswalks, ignorantly and ironically claiming the small part of the street granted by automobilism as some kind of symbol of sexual freedom.

Let's not forget that the primary symbol of Davis is aanachronistic and anti-egalitarian - it points backwards. Almost no other municipalities use it to promote cycling for this very reason. It's like if Davis was known as the Capitol of Reproductive Rights with a chastity belt as a symbol. It's also very likely that very few if any highwheeler bicycles were ever ridden in Davis.

Tuvia etc

In regards to Vaitla's appearance, my understanding is that he never ever attended a Tree Commission meeting - and no Councilmembers were present at May's BTSSC meeting was this subject was on the agenda.


"I would describe it more as the undoing of Davis's liberal democracy."

And who's behind the undoing?


Colin Walsh

Kieth, those are not liberals. At best they are autocrats.

Matt Williams

On April 17th I attended the meeting of the Utilities Commission for which the one agenda item was a Consider Council Subcommittee Proposed Scope of Fiscal Commission” discussion with Councilmember Bapu Vaitla, City Clerk Zoe Mirabile, and Public Works Utilities and Operations Director Stan Gryczko.

I attended in large part because I am a past member and Chair of the Finance and Budget Commission, as well as a member of the Utilities Commission. I wanted to hear Both what the current Commissioners had to say and what the three City representatives provided as documentation materials and responses to the Commissioner questions.

It was a contentious meeting with Councilmember Vailtla immediately on the defensive because the Utilities Commission Chair clearly stated that he had never been contacted by the Council Subcommittee despite their assertions that they had. I also had been told by the Chair of the Finance and Budget Commission that he too had never been contacted by the Subcommittee.

The Scope statement for the proposed Fiscal Commission was interesting in its sparseness and what was/is missing from the current scope statements of the Finance and Budget and Budget Commission and the Utilities Commission. It read:

Proposed Functions

— Provide accountability and transparency in spending tax payer dollars. Review spending outlined in the City budget for appropriateness and alignment with Council goals and priorities, as well as potential cost saving measures and revenue generators.
— Review and advise on City rates, fees, and charges for all funds including annual or multi-year adjustments to the City’s utility rates.
— Review and provide recommendations on impacts of financial policies. Review and provide recommendations on financial impacts of projects at the request of City Council.

Most noticeably missing from the current scope of Finance and Budget was/is:

— Searching for and advising actions that could maximize City revenues and reduce governmental costs and help ensure municipal fiscal stability.

Councilmember Vaitla’s comments clearly showed that the Council does not want the new Commission to do anything other than review the spending plans of the annual Budget.

Most noticeably missing from the current scope of the Utilities Commission was anything relating to operational oversight and/or planning. Back in the middle of 2019 in joint discussion with City Council, the Utilities Rate Advisory Commission was renamed and rechartered as the Utilities Commission. In that process Council approved the following two additional scope and function statements for the new commission

— To consider applicable City goals and policies and incorporate them into utility policies; costs associated with providing utility services; utility customer needs and satisfaction with utility services; short and long term factors and consequences identified in rate studies; information provided by city utility managers, the City Council, and City advisory commissions, especially the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) and Finance and Budget Commission (FBC); current and potential future state regulations and policies, industry experience and best practices.
— To evaluate and compare options to improve utility service and/or change the scope and methods of service delivery; social and economic equity effects of utility service and rate options on different segments of the Davis community; utility rates and rate structures of other communities to assist with informing policies for Davis; and long-term strategies to achieve service value and efficiency, resiliency, environmental sustainability, and other City objectives.

Prior to that change the URAC’s only responsibility was rates. In the new Fiscal Commission scope statements, all consideration of “utility customer needs and satisfaction with utility services” is gone, as is “evaluate and compare options to improve utility service” and “social and economic equity effects of utility service” and “consideration of short and long term factors and consequences identified in rate studies” and “long-term strategies to achieve service value and efficiency, resiliency, environmental sustainability, and other City objectives.” Throughout the history of the Utilities Commission, City Staff has complained about and event undermined the Commission’s efforts in the operational and planning efforts put forth by the Commission.

Councilmember Vaitla’s responses to the Commissioners’ questions made it very clear that what Council wants is a Fiscal Commission that only looks at the reported numbers on paper for accuracy … and steers clear of any thoughts of accountability or proactive planning.

That clearly stated desire is ironic given the fact that the last audited financial statements published by the City are for the period of July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, which was issued this January 2024. The prior 12-month period audited financial statement was issued in January 2021.

Can you imagine purchasing the stock of a publicly traded company that has three years of open unaudited financial statements? Would your personal financial advisor recommend such an investment? Is having unaudited financials out of compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP)? What does the absence of audir]ted financials say about the City of Davis’ commitment to fiscal accountability?

Elaine Roberts Musser has hit the nail on the head when she says, “It appears that our long-established city commission system is in chaos!” It also appears that our City finances are in chaos too. No wonder there are seven vacancies on the Finance and Budget Commission. Would you want to be responsible for giving a “Yea” or “Nay” to the state of the City’s finances?

South of Davis

Matt wrote:

> Council wants is a Fiscal Commission that only looks at the reported
> numbers on paper for accuracy … and steers clear of any thoughts
> of accountability or proactive planning.

I am reminded of the quote "Democracy Dies in Darkness"...

This is not a liberal vs. conservative thing and the bible thumping "conservatives" in red states are doing the same thing as the I have a trans flag in my front yard "liberals" are doing since they (almost) all want to pay off the special interest groups that got them elected (along with helping out friends and family). The days of people that wanted to "serve" probably ended when Rob Davis retired.

Matt Williams

South of Davis, back in 2016 shortly after I announced that I was running for City Council, someone came up to me and asked me, “How does it feel to be a politician?”

Naively, I responded, “I’m not a politician! I’m a public servant!”

What I learned in the weeks after that exchange was that you only get to be a public servant after you get elected. In order to get elected, you have to be a politician.

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