Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bob Dunning: Pepper-spray deal leaves us all confused


From page A2 | October 25, 2013 |

PEPPERED WITH CONTROVERSY … so, by now we all know that the protesters who were pepper-sprayed on the UC Davis quad received $30,000 each and the guy doing the spraying received $38,000, not to mention full salary during an extended period on leave …

So, what lessons can we take from this whole sorry episode? … if you think of any, let me know …

A HAT IN THE RING … it may seem a bit early to be discussing candidates for next June’s Davis City Council election, but anytime anyone wishes to toss his or her hat in the ring, I’m a happy guy … the more the merrier is my motto … I long for the days when we have 10 or 12 or even 15 candidates vying for two seats …

So I thank Robb Davis for being the first Davisite willing to dip his toes in the council waters … I’m certain we’ll disagree on a number of issues and agree on others, but Robb will be a serious candidate right out of the chute … he loves this town and he wishes it well … he’ll be a formidable candidate …

WATER WISE … yes, the city I love notified me that our family is actually doing pretty good with this water conservation bit, which prompted Barbara to ask “What’s your secret to being so water-efficient, Bob?” … well, first off, we sneak out at night and fill great big jugs with water from various drinking fountains in our city parks … we use that for drinking, brushing our teeth and watering the petunias …

We also purchased a very long green garden hose that we attach to the outdoor faucet of whichever neighbor is on vacation … we use that to water the lawn and give the kids chilly outdoor showers after the sun has gone down and no one is looking … and we pee in the backyard, which helps the fruits and vegetables grow … that pretty much explains it. Barbara … but please, keep it to yourself …

TENNIS ANYONE? … for reasons unknown, Davis City Manager Steve Pinkerton has agreed to battle Woodland City Manager Paul Navazio in an exhibition tennis match at 11 a.m. Saturday at City Park in Woodland … organizers actually asked the Above-Pictured Columnist to sit in the umpire’s chair for this historical and possibly hysterical event, but they couldn’t match my fee, so these two may have to call their own lines …

All I can say is Pinkerton better win this thing … the public embarrassment of losing to Woodland in tennis would be too much for this town to bear … fortunately, both combatants will have a legitimate tennis pro on their side of the net in this doubles event …

It’s being billed as the “First Annual Manager’s Cup,” but as I learned from Mr. Carey in seventh grade at Davis Junior High School, you can’t call it an “annual” until you’re doing it for the second time … until then, it’s just the “first” and nothing more …

MEA CULPA … recently I used this space to credit the late, great Ronald Reagan with the expression “Let me say this about that.” … that prompted a quick correction from my friend Woody, who noted “I’m pretty sure it was Richard Nixon and not Ronald Reagan who is associated with the phrase ‘Let me say this about that.’ ” …

Woody would be right … what he didn’t realize, however, is that I was actually quoting Ronald Reagan quoting Richard Nixon … that’s my story and I’m sticking to it …

BULLY FOR YOU … well, some sour-grapes parent actually filed a “bullying” complaint against a high school football team in Texas for running up a 91-0 score on his kid’s team … look, it’s football … people block and tackle and try to score as many points as they can … and given that the head coach of the winning team put everyone but the cheerleaders into the game very early in the proceedings, was he supposed to tell his reserves not to try to score? …

Football involves winning and losing … your kid lost … turn it into a teachable moment instead of trying to bully the winning team …

— Reach Bob Dunning at


Discussion | 9 comments

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  • Alan MillerOctober 25, 2013 - 12:46 pm

    The lesson? It is all about the leaders keeping their jobs and benefits, and the U paying out as little as possible while trying to save face with P.R. campaigns. The lesson to students is that being real mad and making over-the-top demands means nothing. There was never widespread political support for getting rid of the police department on campus as was demanded by some, and that little bit of movement faded quickly. There was never a sustained push for change once the students moved on. U correctly knows, they needed a scapegoat who was at the field level, time, student turnover, and P.R. campaigns. The $30K payout to those sprayed was an unfortunate "end" to the incident. It left many feeling those sprayed were ultimately monetarily "rewarded" for being "victims" while the U lost $1m which is to the U chump change, and the administrators responsible for bone-head level decisions skated sans migraines while those in the trenches got the hacking. A common sentiment after the payout was "I'll get pepper sprayed for $30K". The monetary payouts on all sides (Pike, sprayees) cheapened and made less unlikely the real reform that could have help prevent a repeat of the incident. Some decent reform did occur, and some questionable police removed, maybe the right thing for the wrong motivation. Several of those who were sprayed wanted to carry this on a civil rights issue and drag the U reputation through the mud publicly for years to come to evoke change. They were under pressure from those who wanted the "$30K now" to stop holding out. Most did not want to wait years and continue to have their time and their lives dominated by this incident, with an unknown result or payout. At that point the "$30K now" was looking pretty sweet. In the end limited real change in the system, and the payout was a pimple on the U budget. The lesson is, in the end, it is all about the exchange of money and how much of a cut the lawyers get.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 25, 2013 - 4:59 pm

    Alan: "The lesson? It is all about the leaders keeping their jobs and benefits." ........ My view is that this is a case lesson in the benefit of having a strong union; or put another way, the price everyone else pays when corrupt public officials sign off on labor contracts which protect the interests of all union members, no matter how horribly they do their jobs. (I say "corrupt" because these folks take campaign donations from the very same unions they are paid to negotiate against on behalf of the general interest.) ......... Clearly, if Mr. Pike did not have a strong union behind him, he would have been fired and received no settlement, no perks and no other benefits of a forced retirement. To anyone who says unions are bad for workers, look at this kind of a case. Unions are bad for efficiency, for productivity, and very often for fairness. They tend to hurt individuals who are high achievers in their own right. But there is no question that for the average worker and below, they are very good for workers. Think of how much benefit is given every day to the thousands of terrible public school teachers in California who can never be fired, no matter how many children's lives are ruined by their shameful performances in the classrooms. Yes, the best teachers, who would make twice as much money without a union, are hurt by having a union, as are the most recently hired whenever budgets get tight. But most teachers, just like most cops, most firefighters, and all slackers in all unions are greatly better off with a union contract.

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  • Alan MillerOctober 25, 2013 - 9:16 pm

    First I heard LInda was in a union.

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 25, 2013 - 9:58 pm

    Lt. Pike's union is called the Federated University Police Officers Association. I think it represents all UC police officers at all the UC campuses. The terms of Pike's settlement were based on the terms of the FUPOA contract.

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  • SteveOctober 26, 2013 - 5:37 am

    Not a union, an association, Rich.

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  • ScottOctober 26, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Don't correct Rich...he knows everything!

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 26, 2013 - 10:13 am

    Steve, both legally and practically there is no difference at all between an employee association and a union. None whatsoever. Here is what Robin Nahin of City Employees Associates, a Long Beach-based firm that represents 108 public employee associations throughout California, says to that question: "Legally, they're charged with the same obligation: to negotiate a contract for their members and to enforce their contract under the law." And here is what Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer said of the difference, when his city was in contract disputes with the public employee associations in Costa Mesa: "It's a distinction without a difference. That's all this is."

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  • Rich RifkinOctober 26, 2013 - 10:20 am

    FWIW, I looked up the term origin for "employee association" in a law book and it says that term for a union came about in the Cold War, because "union" as a word was tainted by connections to communist parties, the Soviet Union and organized crime. It says that in the 1960s, when Attorney General Robert Kennedy was attacking the Teamsters Union over its nexus with racketeering, newly formed employee unions began leaving out the word "union" from their names. It also says some unions changed their names to take out the word union. But it does not give any examples.

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  • BillOctober 26, 2013 - 8:19 pm

    Bob- The pepper spray picture is real easy to understand but you must look at it 180 degrees differently. Who is the criminal? Of course most would say the campus police officer. Might I ask you to explain that to me? We had people protesting who were ordered by a duly sworn officer to disperse. They didn't. So now who is the criminal. The officer did exactly what he should have done- attempt to carry out the order of a superior officer. What is totally wrong is that the protestors receive any money, they should have receive time in jail because they were the criminals.

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