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Letter: No Confidence in the Council

By Elaine Roberts Musser

I was appalled with City Council’s response to the apprehension many expressed at the City Council meeting on June 4 about the proposed midterm city budget and 1% sales tax increase. Concerned citizens were gaslighted, accused of seeking revenge for the commission mergers and engaging in hyperbole. (Gaslighting in this context is manipulating citizens into questioning their own perception of reality to avoid accountability for questionable behavior.)

The fact of the matter is we only pointed out things the Finance & Budget Commission would’ve zeroed in on, were it still in existence (but hasn’t been for almost a year). But as we know, the current City Council (minus Councilmember Neville) voted to eliminate this commission in favor of a more generic Fiscal Commission that has not yet met, now manned with new commissioners who are mostly commission inexperienced.

Here are the problems we highlighted:

  • No city audit in three years;
  • A general fund reserve of 7.5%, half the 15% it should be;
  • One time gimmicks/delays: suspension of paying down $42 million in unfunded liability of employee healthcare benefits; reduction of $1.5 million originally intended for pavement management;
  • A 1% sales tax increase, to offset general fund reserves and to pay for additional services/programs. What new services/programs is purposely vague.

In other words, the City Council wants us to approve a 1% sales tax increase, in essence a blank check with virtually no accountability, insisting we trust them to make responsible decisions. Their conduct has hardly inspired confidence!


South of Davis

I had not heard about the proposed 1% sales tax, but I'm hoping that someone will tell the council the story of the "straw that broke the camels back" or at least tell them the story of Watermelon Music (who after decades will soon stop paying sales tax to the city). It has been harder (and more expensive) to run a business in Davis than most of the US and even most of the state of CA, but things are really getting bad and I bet in a decade we have even less locally owned business in town (and the McDonalds on Chiles will have just has one employee who puts buns and burgers in the burger making machines and wipes down screens the replaced all the cashiers years ago after they built the new building). As for the commissions that were eliminated I've been out of politics for decades but in my younger days when I was super involved (before I learned how corrupt and slimy politics is) I noticed that politicians (and the management of private sector companies) would fill commissions (and boards) with people that would "rubber stamp" what they wanted to to (basically fill the board with "cronies") who would OK paybacks to campaign donors (or million dollar bonuses to everyone in the C Suite). With district elections you don't need a lot of votes to stay on the city council so they don't have to worry about closing down commissions that are saying things they don't want (or don't want others) to hear. Just like most CEOs don't care if a company is even around after they retire after a decade of high pay few (like will fit in my car at the same time few) politicians care if half the business in Davis are gone after they leave office as long as they can help friends and family while they payback campaign donors. The key to fixing things is to remind the politicians that if their actions kill more business like Watermelon Music that they will not only have less "sales" tax but have less "property" tax (less cash to do things with) since under Prop 13 you can get your "property" taxes lowered if your building loses value and vacant retail and office space is worth a LOT less (usually not this much less):

Alan C. Miller

Stop making sense, SOD.


I guess you never really know what a candidate will be like until they get in office.


"A 1% sales tax increase, to offset general fund reserves and to pay for additional services/programs. What new services/programs is purposely vague."

I posted this on the Vanguard this morning in regards to a past sales tax and how the tax revenue was actually used:

Keith Olsen
June 17, 2024 at 7:19 am
A half cent sales tax was passed in Davis in 2004:

"The tax was originally proposed as a means to address historical structural budget shortfalls, as well as provide funding for a variety of expanded service demands.
Does that sound familiar?"

But here’s where the tax revenue went:

"What they did not say, is that the money would go largely to increased salaries, particularly for fire who in April 2006, were retroactively givens an annual increase in compensation of 8.46% per year, or 34% over the course of their four year contract.
While the city sold the public that this would pay for additional protection for police, it actually went for increase salaries, and fire got by far the largest increases in salaries. And while it billed it as a way to meet park and recreation commitments, in fact, we had to pass a parks parcel tax just two years later because we had used the entire sum to pay for employee compensation."

Do you know who wrote this?

Well here you go:

Alan C. Miller

I remember that David Greenwald. I still usually disagreed with him, but not always, and he seemed to play a role in town and hosted a comment section for the community - before the bannings. I assume that person is still in there somewhere. It is as cynical as it seems?

He's banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee
Oh, that ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Get your money for nothing, get your chicks for free

ACLU-style lawyers and local developers as seemingly the only source of money left, so the civic activism quash-plodes and morphs into a clouded chasm of copy-and-paste ACLU articles, endless churning of a self-labeled 'crisis' in housing, and a few scrappy comment hangers-oners who burn with strong views on housing, tither or nither . . . . . is it that simple ? Is it that right? Is it that wrong?


"I remember that David Greenwald."

Yup, the Vanguard ain't what it used to be.

Alan C. Miller

KO say: "the Vanguard ain't what it used to be."

I'll say. What I miss most is that guy who used to post in comments: Alan Miller. That guy was brilliant -- insightful, sarcastic, droll, witty, and not at all self-obsessed. What ever happened to that guy?

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