You know, every now and then you come across a public servant so dedicated to helping our town out of the self-imposed financial pickle we find ourselves in that you just have to stop and give credit where credit is due.
Such an individual is my friend Jim, who instead of lamenting the monstrous price tag attached to the effort to bring Sacramento River water to thirsty Davisites, has set about devising a plan to singlehandedly raise the cash involved so individual citizens won’t have to foot the bill.
Jim’s been working night and day on the plan since just after 9 p.m. on Election Day when it became clear the surface water project had been approved by the handful of folks in this town who bothered to vote.
“I have been thinking about a way to get 50, 100 or maybe even 150 million dollars to help fund the $113 million (LOL) water project,” Jim begins, apparently believing that the actual cost of the project is a moving target.
“Before you laugh,” Jim goes on, “please recognize that over my career I have been a reviewer for many research proposals to different government agencies.”
Are you the guy who turned down my million-dollar grant request to study what activities Davis toads actually engage in while they’re inside our famous toad tunnel?
“I want no credit for this idea, nor commission,” Jim goes on with more humility than our new pope. “I hereby assign all rights to you (see photo above), although a 1 percent thank-you gift, say $500,000, would not be refused.”
The check’s in the mail, Jim.
“So here is the idea. Blind-blind studies on health issues are enormously expensive and usually have very limited populations. But in Davis, we are about to provide ‘clean’ water (our City Council has assured us of this) to part of the population all the time, to part of the population part of the time, and to part of the population none of the time.”
I’m beginning to get your drift here.
“No one has been told which population is which (might have messed up the vote), thus we have inadvertently succeeded in producing a truly blind-blind study, usually a very difficult task.”
I can see UC Davis researchers in all sorts of fields snapping to attention even as we speak.
“Also, it is almost impossible under normal circumstances to get the authorities to approve providing a bad substance, ‘unclean’ water in this case, to a part of the population. This is a fantastic opportunity.”
I’m getting more excited by the minute.
“So we go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and ask for $150 million to study the health of the different groups in the study population, which is the whole city of Davis. We might have to exclude Village Homes and others who figure out how to opt out of the water project, although they could be a separate group in the population.
“Since the City Council was able to convince 54 percent of the 39 percent who voted that this project was going to provide ‘clean’ water, surely they can convince the five or so NIH referees” to approve the study.
Wow, this is really great stuff. Not only can we compare “clean water” and “dirty water” Davisites, we can compare Little Leaguers to soccer players, GATE children to non-GATE children, meat eaters to vegetarians, council members to school board members, longtime community members to newcomers, East Davisites to West Davisites, and Democrats to Republicans, all based on their varying uses of clean and dirty water. Then again, there might not be enough Republicans in Davis to do a scientifically sound study of that category.
We also can study folks who work on campus, but live in Davis, drinking UCD well water by day but brushing their teeth with Sacramento River water at night.
We can study the effects of differing water consumption habits on tooth decay, male-pattern baldness, excessive shedding by the family dog, coyote abatement, town-gown relations and so much more.
Plus, if it’s a government grant, there’s bound to be some graft and corruption along the way, which means Jim and I will be able to collect some sort of whistleblower money as well.
I don’t know about you, Jim, but I’m already looking at property on the Oregon coast.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org