Entries categorized "Current Affairs"

Thinking about the Thin Blue Line imagery

Bluelinebadge OfficerCoronaI had originally intended my previous post, “Processing the events surrounding the tragic killing of Officer Corona,” to be my only published thoughts on the subject. But recent discussion of the Thin Blue Line imagery on social media and in a recent Enterprise article have convinced me that more needs to be said, if only to try to help people to see what the concerns are, even if they ultimately still disagree with those concerns.

But before doing that, let me again reiterate, because it’s important, my deepest condolences for the family, friends, and colleagues of Officer Natalie Corona as well as my thanks for all the public safety professionals who risked their lives to keep everyone else safe on the tragic night that she was killed.

As is pretty widely known by now, some UCD students and others have objected to the Thin Blue Line imagery, both in the American flag and in the Davis Police Badge.  They equate the imagery not only with the Blue Lives Matter movement, which they see as deeply problematic, but also with white supremacism.  Again, this article in The Public, dated June 26, 2018, sums up the association better than I can, and also shows that this isn’t something that local activists made up.

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Processing the events surrounding the tragic killing of Officer Corona

SacBee photo
From the SacBee

The events of the last few days have been difficult and emotional ones, with news coming at us at a fast pace as the story has unfolded, with more surely to come.   It’s hard to process, hard to know how to think about.

First and foremost, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Officer Natalie Corona.  By all accounts, she was a kind person who was dedicated to serving her community.  Her senseless and tragic death is a reminder that even in seemingly mundane situations, a police officer is always putting their life on the line, a target for those who have a grudge against the police (if that is indeed what has happened here, as suggested by the letter from the shooter).  We all need to be grateful for those who are willing to serve on a police force.  (Full disclosure: my grandfather was a NYC street cop).

It is understandable that so much of our focus would be on the loss and sacrifice of Officer Corona.  But I want to highlight something else we’ve heard a lot less about: the officers who were working the night of her death.  They surrounded the house where the shooter lived for hours.  According to the accounts I’ve read, the shooter emerged from the house twice, at least once with a gun.  That could have gone very badly for the police. The situation was unpredictable and the lives of those police officers were under a direct threat. 

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Healing Service of Solidarity

Healing 2Tuesday, October 30th from 6pm-7pm
Location: Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Rd

Celebration of Abraham, Hillel at Davis and Sacramento, and Congregation Bet Haverim will coordinate a community-wide service of healing and solidarity. This is a sacred gathering to lift up our prayers through song and spoken word, with the focus on healing and unity.

If you have questions, please contact: Rabbi Greg Wolfe
Email: rabbi@bethaverim.org
Phone: (530) 758-0842

Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2235174793160887/


Sacramento Region Foundation Sends David Murphy Scholarship Award Monies to Two Colleges for 2018-19 Academic Year

The David Murphy Annual Scholarship for Immigrants/their Children

(From Press Release) When David Murphy announced his retirement in 2007 as the Davis superintendent, friends and community members asked him what he would like as a retirement gift. 

His request was for contributions towards raising $20,000 to perpetually endow an annual $1,000 scholarship for a graduate of a Davis high school, who was either an immigrant - or son/daughter of an immigrant - and who had demonstrated their academic achievement to be successful in college. He did not expect to reach that goal for several years.

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City Recruits for Advisory Commissions

The following is a press release from the City of Davis. I encourage Davisites to apply for Commissions they are interested in serving on.  I have served on the Open Space and Habitat Commission for a number of years now and find it to be a rewarding experience.  I’d be happy to chat with anyone who is interested about serving on the OSHC in particular (since we need members, as you can see from below) or on City Commissions in general.  –Roberta Millstein

The City of Davis is accepting applications from citizens, 18 years of age and older, interested in serving on one of the following commissions:

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Stand Against Anti-Semitism

Celebration of Abraham gathThe Celebration of Abraham will gather at the Statement of Love Mural behind the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St. at 6:30 Pm Wednesday night (October 10) where they will organize a candlelight march to Central Park for a short program denouncing the hateful anti-Semitic propaganda distributed on the UC Davis campus earlier this week.


Bob Dunning’s False Equivalency Regarding the Testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh

Ford-kavanaughAlthough Bob Dunning and I agree on one thing (that Dr. Blasey’s testimony was “compelling and believable without holes or hesitation”), I otherwise find much to disagree with in his recent column in the Davis Enterprise, “Truth gets lost in the crossfire.”  In particular, I object to his casting this as a purely political disagreement, where Republicans are taking Brett Kavanaugh’s side and Democrats are taking Christine Blasey Ford’s side, where “reasonable people can disagree over which person they believe,” and where “if everyone in America believed that Judge Kavanaugh had assaulted Dr. Ford, he would not be confirmed.”

Maybe the debate over Kavanaugh’s nomination started out as a purely political disagreement a month ago, but it stopped being that the moment that Dr. Blasey came forward with her testimony of sexual assault – her testimony that, 36 years ago, Brett Kavanaugh laid on top of her, tried to rip off her clothes, covered her mouth so that she couldn’t scream and couldn’t breathe, and then laughed about it.  And that the only thing that saved her was that he and his buddy, Mark Judge, were too drunk to follow through on what they had begun.

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Davisites' attitudes towards Kavanaugh, Thomas, #metoo, #whyIDidntReport

I posted a link to this Davis Media Access video to the Davisite Facebook page a few days ago, but I can't get it out of my head.

In the video, you see men supporting (now Supreme Court justice) Clarence Thomas, and men supporting Professor Anita Hill.  You see women supporting Thomas, and women supporting Hill.  But most of all, you hear exactly the same arguments on both sides that you are hearing in the media today concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is now facing three separate sexual assault accusations: one from Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, one from Deborah Ramirez, and one from a number of as-yet-unnamed women who lawyer Michael Avenatti is representing.

If DMA were to redo those interviews in Davis today – in the #metoo #WhyIDidntReport #BelieveSurvivors era – would the results be much different?

I'd like to hope that they would be.  But I fear that they wouldn't.


Planned West Davis Adult Community, if Approved, Would Perpetuate Racial Imbalance in the City of Davis

Complaintimage(Press release) The proposed restrictive West Davis Active Adult Community on the City of Davis’ November 6 ballot which advertises its purpose as a planned community “Taking Care of Our Own,” is being challenged in federal court because it will perpetuate racial imbalance and discriminate against minorities by restricting sales to residents of Davis

In a federal complaint filed Monday, September 24, by Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark E. Merin, plaintiff Samuel Ignacio, a Filipino/Hispanic senior on behalf and all other minorities outside of Davis, seeks to stop the project because it excludes those living outside of Davis from buying most of the 410 planned for-sale units.

Davis, a city whose senior population is disproportionately “white” as a result of historic racially restrictive covenants, red-lining practices, and previous University of California hiring practices, approved the project with 90% of its units restricted to “purchasers with a preexisting connection to the City of Davis.” The result of this “local resident” restriction, as alleged in the civil rights complaint, is the continuation of a racially imbalanced community and the exclusion of minority would-be purchasers in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

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More on recent problems with the Davis Enterprise

News-stock-photoBy Eileen Samitz

I appreciate this Davisite article and completely agree with its response to the defensive Enterprise article by Tanya Perez. However, the problem with the Enterprise goes far beyond the few mentioned. The Enterprise needs to become more even-handed and print the comments and concerns of the wide variety of community members, instead of focusing on and reflecting personal opinions of its new editor Sebastian Oñate so often on its Forum page.

Further, it is inexcusable that the Enterprise's publishers would tolerate the condescending comments posted by its new editor, Sebastian Oñate (on Twitter) ridiculing Davis community members and their submitted writings to the Enterprise. His predecessor, Debbie Davis, was a professional who respected all opinions, regardless of whether she agreed with them or not, and would never have behaved so unprofessionally and disrespectfully towards the community.

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A response to Tanya Perez on the purpose of the Davis Enterprise

Perez-and-Beckett In Sunday’s paper, Tanya Perez writes a spirited and mostly reasonable defense of the Davis Enterprise, but she doesn’t quite get it.

Lamenting the loss of eagle-eyed editor Debbie Davis, AP news stories, and the like, Perez writes:

The Enterprise aims to give you the information you cannot get elsewhere. We know you have Google, so you can look up the recipe sections we no longer carry. You can Google comic strips you miss, or AP News stories or national headlines.

 We are trying to give you context for local issues. And we are working to tell you what people in our immediate area want to know. That is our core mission [emphasis added].

Right on.  This is certainly why I subscribe to the Enterprise – why I subscribed as soon as I moved here and why I continue to subscribe.  I am always a little baffled when people say they don’t read the local paper.  I think it’s important to know what is going on around us, even more so than what is going in the state or nation.

Where I think she misses one of the core missions of a local paper, however, is where she writes:

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Downtown/Core Planning Should Be Part of a Holistic, Organic Plan for Davis Overall

Davis-neighborhoodsBy Nancy Price

I'm glad for Chris Jones' alternative vision. In my opinion, the process has been hijacked by special commercial interests, outside planners, the Planning Department and the City Council. Having attended two meetings, seems to me the community is being railroaded by the process, stirred up by the dream that downtown redevelopment that will cure Davis' ills, especially the economic "problems," and be the city of the future.

Though the process appears to be democratic and fully participatory, the outside consultants were rude, didn't answer questions honestly and without bias, and dismissed others...treating many participants as lacking the requisite "credentials" and education on planning to participate meaningfully. How many of our tax dollars are being spent on this process?

Yes, the town square concept described by Chris Jones has historical, traditional roots with major state institutions clustered around the square or central commons: church, school, administrative and judicial offices, financial institutions, etc. But let's be honest, cities all over the world are made up of neighborhoods that replicate the same concept on a smaller scale.

Here I offer another alternative. Why create a downtown that is a central place in the economic/social hierarchy? That's how we in Davis have always thought of the downtown - the "Main Street." In fact, after a few of us "saved" Central Park from being a three-tiered shopping mall, we created the first Core Area Task Force..maybe that was 1987 or 88 or 89. We have always had a very protective attitude toward the "core" and tried to ensure peripheral malls would not compete with the core.

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Preserve our right to be heard at City Council meetings

GaggedIf you want to preserve your right to speak in general public comment at City Council meetings, come to the City Council meeting today (Tuesday, July 10) at 7:15 PM and express your concerns about the proposal to shunt some of general public comment to the very end of the meeting.  Maybe you’ve never spoken at a Council meeting.  Maybe you don’t think you would. But it’s exactly when our concerns are the greatest that we find ourselves doing things that we didn’t expect we’d do and when we most need to preserve our right to speak.

Although I’ve spoken at Council meetings a number of times, I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken at general public comment at the beginning of the meeting (exception: my first time when I didn’t understand how things worked).  But I have heard others give general public comment.  They speak of issues that the Council might not yet know about or has yet to take up and place on the agenda.  Or they speak to items that are on the agenda, but for which they cannot stay to speak. They speak with passion and conviction.  Maybe the issues aren’t important to me.  But they are important to the speaker.  In a democracy, all voices should be heard, even those we disagree with or those who speak about things that we ourselves do not care about, because when it’s our turn, we will want to be heard.

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New Police Surveillance Technology Needs More Disclosure and Specificity

CameraDear Mayor Lee and Davis City Council Members,

We are pleased to see our new city surveillance ordinance being implemented. Last Thursday night we saw the first staff reports on surveillance technologies being used in the city. As our first attempt as a city to lead the way in public disclosure of use of surveillance technologies, we want all parties to contribute to fully meeting the spirit and requirements of the ordinance. To that end, we offer both questions and suggestions regarding the Police Department staff reports.

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Envision Downtown Davis

Virtual Community Workshop Flyer FinalThe City of Davis is asking for your help in planning for the future of downtown. By participating in the Virtual Community Workshop, your input will help with the creation of the Specific Plan. The workshop is currently live through June 28.

Join the conversation and participate in the Virtual Community Workshop at www.cityofdavis.org/EnvisionDowntownDavis

Additionally, the Downtown Davis Plan Team will be hosting the second Participatory Design Workshop from July 10 through July 14 at the Davis Community Church Fellowship Hall, located at 421 D Street. They will be reaching out with a flyer and additional information shortly.


Democracy and general public comment: A reply to Jon Li

Brett_LeeI want to thank Jon Li for his thoughtful response to my earlier article, an article that objected to the recent proposal to limit the time for general public comment at the beginning of Council meetings, shunting the rest of general public comment to the end of the meetings.  His remarks provide the opportunity for me to reflect more on the nature of democracy as it pertains to our humble town.

 Jon asks us to think about the real purpose of public comment and about the nature of a representative democracy, and rightly so.  It is my view that recent events, both regionally and nationally, have shown us that just showing up to the polls and voting during elections is not enough.  Citizens can and should be more engaged than that.  Of course, ultimately we do rely on our elected representatives to make decisions.  But it is incumbent on us to let them know where we stand on issues, to raise concerns that they may not have thought of, to give them the information that they need in order to be able to properly represent us.

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Inappropriate Behavior from the Editor of the Davis Enterprise

Onate-taking-overEveryone knows that newspapers are under severe threats to their survival and have been for some time.  The Davis Enterprise is no different.  Yet newspapers play an essential role in informing the community, fostering community dialogue, and forging community.  That makes me loathe to criticize the Enterprise.  But when the new Editor, Sebastian Oñate, engages in practices that undermine those very goals, I feel as though I must speak out.  I do so not to hurt the Enterprise further but rather in the hopes of changing his ways, or if that is not possible, to encourage the paper to find a different Editor.

The problem with Oñate’s practice is this: he has engaged in practices that demean and disparage readers.  This serves to reduce participation and harm one’s sense of community, not foster it.  An Editor should always take the high road and be seen as open and fair to all.  Unfortunately, Oñate has not done that, as the following examples illustrate. (If images are too small to read, you can click to enlarge, or just follow the links).

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Nishi money spills into tax measures

Pileofmoney-croppedBy Gilbert Coville

As we all know, it’s illegal to give money to an elected official in exchange for a favorable vote. However, monied interests get around this by contributing to elected officials’ pet projects if a vote goes their way.

This doesn’t happen in Davis. Or does it?

On Feb 6, our city council voted to advance the Nishi 2.0 student housing project to a Measure R vote. They were clearly not as excited about this project as they were with the previous Nishi proposal (just search on YouTube: “Davis council lukewarm”). However, they advanced the project to the ballot anyway; it is now Measure J. The Council continues to promote the project, with the mayor as the de facto spokesperson for Yes on Measure J.

The Council also is promoting two local tax measures, H and I, to help fund local park and road maintenance. Two Council members are officers of the committee promoting these measures, and Council members have been staffing its table at the Farmers Market.

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If you look at most downtowns...

Bw-bicyclestatueBy Jon Li

Most downtowns have lots of jobs, and lots of people living downtown. Davis has neither.

The economic and business problems with Davis are outside the General Plan, which only deals in land use terms with housing and traffic. The Downtown Plan process is about how to make Davis “look” more appealing, as though that will work.

The merchants’ answer is a new parking structure so that people can drive their cars. But that is 20th century suburbia. What about re-thinking the downtown as an urban center, with six to ten story buildings, as high as UCD’s Sproul Hall which is 9 stories.

The problems with Davis have to do with the non-existent economy. Davis city staff with their grand salaries want to keep Davis just the way it is, as though the state hasn’t killed the Redevelopment Agency almost a decade ago. Amazon is transforming the world economy, and Davis needs to figure out how to respond.

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