Entries categorized "Politics"

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 It bases its growth plans (EIRs) on limited and outdated traffic surveys to begin with in order to hide the even worse congestion that will follow when current projects are built out.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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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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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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Local Sierra Club and Audubon Groups Raise Concerns about Burrowing Owls at Mace 25

Burrowing-owls
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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Petition to Restore Mace

PetitionThe below petition is being circulated at change.org. It was started within the last 2 days - after the recent neighborhood meetings. At the time of this posting it already has 270+ signatures.

The petition can be signed here: **sign**

CITY OF DAVIS TO RESTORE MACE BOULEVARD TO TWO LANES (BOTH WAYS)

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Did the Council Listen to Citizens on Parking? Process and Outcome

G-street-and-amtrakYesterday, I wrote an article wondering whether the City Council would listen to citizen’s objections to the downtown parking proposal, drawing attention to a pattern of problematic communication between Davisites and Council.  Last night, they unanimously approved what is being billed as a “compromise” between the proposal and what Davisites wanted (which was, for the most part, no change to what we have currently). 

How did the Council do? 

This being winter grading season at the University, I’ve got grades on my mind.  I give the Council a ‘C+’ for process and a ‘C’ for outcome.

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City Council Out of Step on Parking, Roads, Housing, and the Claw: Will it Impact the 2020 Council Race?

Checking-pulseTonight, the City Council will decide whether or not to convert approximately 32% of downtown parking to metered parking spaces, 7 days a week, 10 AM-10 PM.  The opposition to the City’s proposal from citizens and business owners has been vocal and voluminous. 

Will the City Council nonetheless vote to proceed with the plan?  And if they do, will voters next spring remember and think twice about re-electing incumbents?

This is not the first indication that the Council isn’t communicating well with its citizens. 

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Failings of the Downtown Paid Parking Proposal

E-St-Graph-2By Dan Urazandi

The history of paid parking in Davis has unfolded outside my store window. From here, the center of downtown and the maelstrom of the debate on paid parking, I can see the cause of parking problems and effect of supposed solutions. I can see close to 40 spaces that have been removed over the years—the E st plaza cost 25, three more for the walkway through the lot, three given away to zipcar and uber, two to the crosswalk, at least two to bulb outs, some to bicycle parking in the street, two to the bus stops. This is just on one block. Throughout downtown nearly 100 spaces have been whittled away over the last 20+ years. I use hand count estimates since the city refuses to release hard numbers that would prove they caused the parking shortage. All these losses entailed removing a practical necessity, parking spaces that were being used many times every day, for aesthetic gains that are used far less often by far less people or serve no purpose at all. Now the city wants to tax every space because each is a valuable commodity, but they placed no value on them before wanting to monetize them.

This is the sort of firsthand evidence the Council needs to hear and heed. There are solid reasons why 90% of downtown businesses, customers and employees are opposed to the city's paid parking plan. The 70 businesses that entreated council to stop implementation represent generations of knowledge of how best to serve downtown Davis. The Chamber of Commerce, the vast majority of DDBA members and downtowndavis.org are all against the plan. Business is against metered parking because it deters people from coming and staying downtown, which is bad for business.

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Regarding Chiles Road Apartments / Loss of Commercial Site

Chiles-Project-2WThe following letter was submitted to the Davis City Council yesterday (March 15) and is reprinted here with permission of the author.  For background information on the proposed Chiles project, see this Davis Enterprise article. The Council will consider the project at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, March 19.

To Davis City Council:

In reference to the Chiles Road apartment proposal, some seem to be claiming that there's a "shortage" of available commercial space (while simultaneously advocating for conversion of existing commercial space to accommodate residential development). If there is an actual shortage of commercial space, then the proposed conversion of the Chiles Road site (from commercial to residential zoning) is difficult to logically explain. One might think that (at a minimum), a mixed-use proposal might be appropriate and in-demand - assuming that one truly believes that there's a shortage of commercial space. (Also assuming that the city believes that commercial development is needed, to fill its coffers.)

In any case, this latest missed opportunity is surely something I'll remember, if/when the MRIC proposal arises again.

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Young Democratic Socialists Hold Launch Party for "College for All" Campaign in Davis

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 1.28.17 PM“Public college and universities tuition free? Damn right.” Bernie Sanders , most popular politician in the U.S. [1]

WHAT:

State funding for higher education has declined by 65% in the last four decades, part of a broader gutting of the U.S. public education system. In response, tuition and fees have more than quadrupled in California since 2000 [2]. At UC Davis, 49% of students take out loans during their time in school. These students graduate with an average debt of $19,124 [3].

The YDSA at UC Davis is launching Davis’ College For All campaign on Saturday March 2nd , 2019. The YDSA’s nationwide College for All campaign demands tuition-free public higher education through direct federal and state funding to fully cover living wages of all campus workers, student debt cancellation, ending all forms of government subsidies to for-profit institutions, and democratic representation for students, faculty and staff in all higher education budgeting decisions. Davis’ local YDSA chapter will be working to build a broad coalition with student organizations on campus, as well as working with campus workers in their joint fight against austerity.

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Why we need a Green New Deal and Why Garamendi and Feinstein should cosponsor it

Paradise-on-fire
Paradise on fire

I just dug up my lecture notes from a class on “Science, Technology, and Values” from Spring 1998, my first year of teaching, more than 20 years ago.  At that time, the Sierra Club warned that global warming would lead to heat waves, disease, vanishing habitat, and extreme weather.  They urged:

  1. The Clinton administration should be negotiating a strong, enforceable and legally binding global warming treaty that protects our children's future by cutting global warming pollution 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2005.
  2. The president should raise miles-per-gallon (CAFE) standards to from 27.5 mpg to 45 mpg for cars and from 20.7 mpg to 34 mpg for light trucks, as the majority of the commission he appointed recommended.
  3. Increase research and investment into clean car technology like hydrogen fuel cells and improved batteries.
  4. Cut subsidies for oil and coal development. Increase funding for clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power.
  5. Raise energy efficiency standards for home appliances and electronics. Create incentives for homeowners and businesses to become more efficient.
  6. Require that any energy industry restructuring encourage energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable technology, and that dirty, coal-fired power plants switch to cleaner natural gas.

Of the above recommendations, either they have not been done or they were done insufficiently. 

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Laundered Campaign Contributions Appear to Have Been Made to the Yes on Measure L Campaign by West Davis Active Adult Community

Money-launderingby Alan Pryor, Treasurer and Principal Officer of No on Measure L

INTRODUCTION

In previous articles pertaining to the financial disclosures of the Yes on Measure L/West Davis Active Adult Community campaign on the November 2018 ballot in Davis, I provided evidence showing:

  1. About $70,000 of campaign expenditures that were made by the Yes on Measure L campaign for attorney’s fees were probably illegal under FPPC campaign finance regulations as set forth in the FPPC Disclosure Manuals that provide guidance and requirements for such campaign expenditures.
  2. The Davis Vanguard ran daily ads from the inception of the campaign until voting day and for a substantial period beforehand. The payment for these ads is not disclosed on any financial statements filed by the Yes on Measure L campaign which may be a violation of FPPC regulations.
  3. A disclosed financial filing expenditure of $3,000 was made to "Froggy's" for food service for a Vanguard fundraising event. This is probably not an allowable campaign expense for the Yes on Measure L campaign under FPPC guidelines.
  4. Over $64,000 of non-monetary contributions to the Yes on Measure L campaign for “salaries” have been disclosed in campaign filings but the recipients of these salaries have been kept secret. Further, it is not known if these payments were for personal gain, which is prohibited by FPPC regulations, or may be otherwise disallowed under FPPC guidelines.

This information is more fully disclosed in the BACKGROUND section attached to the end of this article and referenced in previous articles I have written as disclosed therein.

In this article I report how the primary financial contributor to the Yes on Measure L campaign is the West Davis Active Adult Community entity itself, totaling $164,500. In 2017, West Davis Active Adult Community was formed as a Fictitious Business Name business under the charter of Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc. Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc was a California Domestic Stock Corporation whose Agent for Service of Process was David Taormino. However, Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc was dissolved in 2018, thus apparently rendering West Davis Active Adult Community as an orphan company without legal status in California.

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Requesting investigation into WDAAC and Yes on L allegations

Justice2The following was emailed to CityCouncilMembers@cityofdavis.org this morning

Dear Members of the Davis City Council,

I am writing to request formally that the Davis City Council send a letter to the Yolo County District Attorney and California Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC) requesting investigations into the allegations against the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) and the Yes on L campaign, as described in the following article by Alan Pryor:

https://www.davisite.org/2019/02/yes-on-measure-l-campaign-violates-fppc-disclosure-laws-by-failing-to-report-davis-vanguard-ad-expen.html

(Or please click here if that link wraps).

Specifically, the article alleges:

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Yes on Measure L Campaign Violates FPPC Disclosure Laws by Failing to Report Davis Vanguard Ad Expenditures and Providing Inadequate Disclosure of other “Non-Monetary” Contributions and Expenditures

PileofmoneyBy Alan Pryor, Treasurer and Principal Officer of the No on Measure L campaign.

In an article I authored and published on February 12th in both the Davisite and Davis Vanguard, I vehemently disagreed with and disputed allegations that the No on Measure L campaign committed expenditure or finance reporting violations (see Background below). I noted, to the contrary, that California election law specifically disallows campaign monies to be used for these type of litigation expenses.

Further, I also disclosed that about $70,000 of campaign expenditures which were made by the Yes on Measure L campaign for attorney fees were illegal under FPPC campaign finance regulations as written in the FPPC Disclosure Manuals that provide guidance and requirements for such campaign expenditures.

In the course of investigating such expenditures and in recent commentary on-line by different observers, it was noticed that there were other areas of campaign expenditures that are inconsistent with financial disclosure standards of the FPPC. In particular, the Davis Vanguard ran daily ads since the inception of the campaign until voting day and for a substantial period beforehand. The payment for these ads is not disclosed on any financial statements filed by the Yes on Measure L campaign which is a violation of FPPC regulations

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The Yes on Measure L Campaign has “Unclean Hands” when Alleging Improper Financial Disclosures by the No on Measure L Campaign

Dirtyhandby Alan Pryor, Treasurer and Principal Officer of the No on Measure L campaign.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

The “unclean hands” legal doctrine is where one party in a legal dispute argues the other party is not entitled to obtain an equitable remedy because the other party is acting unethically or has acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaint—that is, with "unclean hands”.

David Taormino is the principal promoter of the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) which was recently approved by the voters of Davis on the November 2018 ballot as Measure L. During the course of this campaign, a federal lawsuit was filed by the well-known Sacramento civil rights attorney, Mark Merin, against David Taormino and the City of Davis. This lawsuit alleged that a preferential “Davis-Based Buyers Program” in the Development Agreement signed between the Davis City Council and David Taormino was discriminatory and exclusionary in nature. Thus, it was illegal because it favored Davis residents or people connected to Davis who are predominantly white. However, this Development Agreement was NOT part of the ballot measure put before the Davis voters and the lawsuit was unrelated to the issues before the voters on the ballot.

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Vote for your delegates to the CA Democratic Party: Check out Workers & Students for AD4

Screen Shot 2018-12-27 at 7.32.11 PMOn Sunday, January 13 from 10 AM-12:30 PM at Davis Veterans Memorial, you have the opportunity to vote for Assembly District 4 Delegates for the CA Democratic Party.  To vote, you just need to be a registered Democrat and live in the region pictured at the left.  (Dates and locations to vote in other regions varies; see this page for details).

Wondering what an Assembly District Delegate for the CA Democratic party does?  According to the CA Dem website we are electing:

 

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