Last Tuesday evening, I witnessed an unprepared Davis City Council struggle in confusion to deal with a high-pressure proposal to reject a $1,125,000 federal farmland-preservation grant that city staff had placed on the consent calendar.
It is troubling that City Manager Steve Pinkerton stated that the staff often put items for which debate is expected on the consent calendar. This practice is a disservice to the citizenry and our council must put a stop to it now.
I note that the city’s own meeting agendas state that the consent calendar is for “routine and non-controversial items” that “require no discussion and are expected to have unanimous council support,” thus allowing for the swift approval of all consent-calendered items with a single vote.
I want to commend Brent Lee for pushing the council toward resolution by being the first council member to articulate that — regardless of the merit of the staff-recommended and developer-driven proposal to abandon this grant and reject the recommendations of the Open Space and Habitat Commission in order to pursue this particular developer’s project — the process, or “backstory” as he called it, made the proposal unacceptable.
Open government and public participation may be slow and even frustrating, but without transparency we are vulnerable to corruption.