Does Davis care about living wage?

Let’s be blunt here–you could work a full-time job at the newly built target and not be able to afford to live in Davis. Does that trouble you?

That’s the question raised by newly elected Lamar Heystek who was promptly villified for playing politics. There is a political element to the debate, there is no denying that, but the core issue is that defines our society and our town–fair wage for a hard day’s work. That is in many ways the core of the progressive mantra.

Yet that action embroiled Heystek in a heated fight into the wee-hours of the morning. Don Saylor went on the attack.

(From the 9/20/06 Davis Enterprise) “There’s just a number of questions about this,” Councilman Don Saylor said. “To bring it up as a discussion is appropriate. To bring it up as a full-blown ordinance for a first reading, that’s not talking about policy, that’s talking about politics in a lead-up to an election.”

That’s really the statement at issue for me. The first problem is the requirements for an ordinance to be passed–namely a first reading and a second passage.

City Attorney Harriet Steiner told the council that for the ordinance to have a potential effect on Target, it would have to go through a first reading at this week’s meeting, and be approved no later than Oct. 6, a month before the election.

So this measure is time sensitive. Can we fault Heystek for bringing this up at the last possible moment? Well if we look back to the August 1, 2006 meeting, yes a month and a half ago, Lamar asked this be agendized. Of course, the council majority voted it down. Saylor then suggested to Lamar that he could prepare the item himself (in lieu of staff preparation) and put it on the agenda as a councilman’s agenda item. That is what Lamar did.

Had the council approved the placement of the agenda, it could have been on last week’s agenda, and brought back this week for discussion. They voted against that option as such they created the situation that they faced late Tuesday night, not Heystek.

The rest of the council assured Greenwald and Heystek that they would like to see a living wage ordinance— and in fact, Councilman Stephen Souza said he and Saylor are hammering out a projected labor agreement between Target and two unions — but questioned the narrowness of Heystek’s proposal.

Well, I’ll believe that when I see it. The Sacramento Labor Council has already come out against this proposal. The Council majority opposed even having an item on the agenda discussing this issue. IF they were truly concerned with the narrowness of Heystek’s proposal, they could have at the August 1, 2006 council meeting have made an alternative suggestion. They are not interested in doing that because they do not support a living wage ordinance in Davis. They are merely trying to kill this proposal before the ballot initiative in the fall. In essence, they are trying to have their cake and eat it to.

The question really is, do the people of Davis care about living wage?

—Doug Paul Davis reporting


  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

    View all posts


Labor Issues

Leave a Comment