Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bob Dunning: Tell ‘em to take their money and run


From page A2 | February 26, 2013 | Leave Comment

OUTSIDE INFLUENCE … to no one’s surprise, a wheelbarrow full of outside money rolled into town in the past few weeks to prop up the Yes on Measure I campaign … much of the money came from the same Sacramento unions who sent out that slimy and despicable mailer in our last City Council election that ended up costing both Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza their council seats …

After that underhanded stunt that introduced Davis voters to big-city union politics, you’d think the Yes on I folks would have had the good sense to tell those unions that their money and their participation is not welcome in our town … no such luck … it’s an odd decision for Yes on I, since it’s so far ahead in the money game that it doesn’t need this outside infusion of self-interested cash … if I were running this campaign, I’d tell the Plumbers and Pipesmokers and Bagpipers Union to keep its bag full of money on the other side of the river where it belongs …

LACK OF ANSWERS STARTLING … the thing that struck me most about last week’s troubling story concerning the water rates the good folks in the Rancho Yolo Senior Community will be paying compared to the rest of homeowners in town was how utterly incapable council members were of explaining the rates to those directly affected … while council members were polite and generally responsive, the best any of them could offer to the Rancho Yolo Community was “let me check with staff and get back to you.” …

One council member said flatly he “didn’t know” why the rates were so far off base and another said he was “alarmed” by the rates … this would be the same council member who just several weeks ago voted for the very rates that now alarm him … the council, in fact, voted unanimously for these rates, obviously without a clue about how they were derived … I don’t know about you, but when I cast my vote for a city leader, I don’t expect someone who will merely rubber-stamp whatever the experts or consultants or attorneys come up with … I want someone who is going to ask the hard questions of staff and consultants and attorneys, then be able to fully explain why they ultimately voted in a certain way … and never accept anything the experts come up with as “gospel” …

Sure, if we’re talking about the difference between a three-quarters-inch water pipe and a 3-inch water pipe, it’s fine for the council to pass the question off to the city engineers … but we’re talking about basic water rates the council proposes to impose on the entire town … if they don’t understand the rates they’re voting for, how do they expect any of the rest of us to understand them? …

The vision of experts and consultants and attorneys is necessarily narrow and focused … but the vision of the council needs to be broad enough to assess the advice and do what’s best for the city as a whole … the paid personnel are there to provide guidance, but it’s the council that should be fully informed before imposing a rate or a program on the public …

In this case, it’s clear from their answers that council members didn’t have a clue about the rationale for the rates they were imposing … again, they voted unanimously for rates none of them could explain … the long thread of emails between the president of the Rancho Yolo Community Association and our elected representatives reads like a “Saturday Night Live” skit … funny stuff if it wasn’t so serious for the residents of this cherished senior community …

A GIRL NAMED SUE … the current council is consistently praised for its collegiality and general lack of combativeness, which is probably a good thing if they’re only debating what type of carpet should line the floors of City Hall … but a good, old-fashioned fight every now and then is not a bad thing … as irritating and frustrating as she could sometimes be, Sue Greenwald was never afraid to do enough homework to challenge the experts and frequently vote against them … sometimes she was right and sometimes she was wrong, but she consistently kept everyone on their toes … this council is sorely missing such a burr under the saddle …

— Reach Bob Dunning at


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