2006: The Year in Davis Review

These last days we will have a countdown of the top 10 stories from Davis in 2006. We continue with our seventh installment, No.3 Davis votes for a “Green” Target.

Target is perhaps the most written about topic on this blog. I note that there are 37 blog entries on this blog that have Target as a label. The decision by the Davis City Council to place the issue of Target on the ballot preceded the formation of this blog. The issue of Target became among the most important local issues during the fall campaign.

I began the fall campaign planning to vote against the construction of Target. There were two primary reasons for this. One, there are no stores like Target in Davis. That was a reason given by both sides of the issue–in both support of and opposition to building a Target. But for me, what makes Davis special is that it is a small college town without a lot of the huge commercial enterprises that blight our countryside across this nation. If we cannot keep a giant corporate conglomerate out of Davis—what hope do we have in the rest of the country.

The second reason for opposing Target was, following from the first, I am a believer in small and locally owned businesses and good paying union jobs. I think stores like Target give us cheap merchandise and not in the good sense and poor customer service. I want the knowledgeable salesperson to help me with my purchases not a person hired at ridiculously low wages who knows as little as I do about the general products. And I want well-paid and well-treated employees who are not treated as mere commodities.

However, and this is something I realize more and more, what really angers me is not people who oppose my viewpoints because I enjoy differences of opinion and conversing. No, what really angers me is when people are dishonest and deceptive. The Target campaign was dishonest and deceptive.

If you want to make the argument that we need a Target because it provides us with cheap products in-town that people would have to drive out of town to buy, I will disagree with you that that should be a rationale for bringing in a Target. However, it is a fair argument and not one that I am going to complain about.

However, the marketing of the “green Davis-friendly target” was nauseating beyond words. And duplicitous. They sold Target in Davis by changing their trademark color from red to green. Somehow that was supposed to symbolize that Target fit in with Davis values.

The Davis Enterprise in their October 15, 2006 endorsement of Target closed with this:

“Davis’ Target store will be an environmental showplace as well–one of only 10 retail stores worldwide… that have achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.”

Theresa Francis in writing a letter to the Davis Enterprise actually had the best response, “I’m going to open a Hummer dealership in a giant LEED building; that way I can help save the environment.” And that sums it up. You have a giant corporation with world-wide impact on the environment. Opening a LEED building in Davis is not going to change that. Nor does it address the labor polices of the company which are also quite bad.

Both PG&E and Target have poor environmental records and both tried to sell themselves as environmentally friendly. It was an insult to the intelligence of the Davis voters. Unfortunately, this is not the only example of the pro-Target side trying to manipulate the voters on the issue of the environment.

On November 5, 2006 we write:

“A November 1, 2006 advertisement in the Davis Enterprise suggested that the EPA was in support of Measure K. The EPA spokesperson wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Davis Enterprise, clarifying that the EPA had not taken a position on the Target Development.

The text quoted in the advertisement was verbatim from the emails exchanged between the EPA’s Project Manager and Councilmember Don Saylor. However, those quotes were juxtaposed with other material to suggest that the EPA had in fact supported the measure. This is a clear attempt to change the meaning of the information that the EPA provided to Councilmember Saylor.

Saylor completely twisted the words of the EPA to suggest to the public that the EPA was supporting this project. This is a gross attempt by Saylor to manipulate the public into supporting the Target project and Measure K.”

The EPA then wrote a letter making it clear that they took “no position regarding the proposed Target development.”

This was just one of the misleading acts committed by Davis City Councilmembers acting as supporters of Measure K. Then we have the entire living wage issue. The major problem was that Target was proposing bringing in 200-250 jobs into Davis with their store opening. Now research suggests that is a misleading figure at best because there are generally coinciding job losses when big box retail stores open in a given market. However, even granting those figures, the average worker would make minimum wage. As recent statistics demonstrate, that is not even sufficient for a single-wage earner with no family to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Davis.

Newly elected Councilmember Lamar Heystek raised this issue at one of his first council meetings on August 1, 2006. Heystek at that meeting asked for the council to agendize a living wage ordinance for discussion. The council majority voted down that request. Councilmember Stephen Souza specifically recommended to Heystek that he bring it up as a councilmember’s item and do the legwork himself. This led to an agenda item on the September 18, 2006 agenda to create a living wage that would pays workers of large retail stores $10/ hour instead of minimum wage.

  • Saylor complained at that meeting, “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.”
  • Souza wrote a letter to the editor suggesting, “The particular living wage ordinance was trotted out at the last moment before other council members could review or comment on the measure.”

One of the points that Souza made on the night of September 18, 2006 was that he and Saylor had been working secretly on a project labor agreement. Until that moment the actions of Souza & Saylor were not known to either Mayor Sue Greenwald or Councilmember Lamar Heystek.

“We [Souza and Saylor] have been working on that and we’ve almost completed it, we’re hoping that these actions won’t jeopardize it, because all parties have been in agreement so far to date… We were hoping that we’d be able to bring that to you as an announcement, but we have not got it completed but we are very close to having it completed.”

This rationale was used to quash the proposal for a living wage. However, we discovered in November, coincidentally right before the election, that there were negotiations for a project labor agreement but it involved not Target workers but those who would construct the Target store. So Souza clearly misled the community and the council of what was going on.

As we discussed at the time at some length, these negotiations occurred outside of the authorization by the City Council. Members of the Davis City Council, Souza and Saylor did this on his own.

Souza was misleading in his characterization at the September 18, 2006 meeting when he led us to believe that this would be some sort of broad labor agreement. Souza and Saylor were both unscrupulous in their back door deal cutting.

As Heystek would write in a letter to the Davis Enterprise:

“I am disappointed that the exclusive group working on behalf of Mr. Dewes is interested in pursuing labor issues only insofar as it will win the election for Target. Should Measure K pass, the days after Nov. 7 will surely test their mettle when it comes to fixing the long-term integrity of Target’s labor practices. I invite them to express a full commitment to this issue by supporting legally tested safeguards such as a living-wage ordinance. It’s the right thing to do.”

In the November 2, 2006 Davis Enterprise article Souza played down the importance of this announcement.

“We don’t want to make a big hoopla about this…We don’t want to say anything about it, and then after the election we could say something.”

You will note that the date this occurred was the Thursday before the election. You will also note that it is now nearly two months later and I have yet to hear an announcement of a project labor agreement. Was this a cynical manipulation by Souza and Saylor in order to prevail in what was a very close election?

Once again, we see a very deceptive campaign run by the supporters of the Target Project. The opposition to Target was outspent by nearly a 20-1 margin. The supporters of Target promised people cheap consumer goods, a green and a labor friendly Target, and that mustered them an impressive victory by less than 700 votes. The opposition to Target against all odds nearly were able to pull off an improbable victory only to come up just short. For that, the Target campaign and ballot measure is our No.3 story of 2006.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • 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.

Categories:

Elections

4 comments

  1. During the Measure X Covell Village campaign, let us not forget Saylor’s and Souza’s statements concerning Davis'”fair share” requirements and the penalties that the State attaches to this. Claire St. John went to the source at SACOG and was outraged to find that what Saylor and Souza were claiming was untrue(go to Davis Enterprise archives, part III of St. John’s 3-part series on Measure X). In addition, Saylor was claiming that the 1% growth guidelines initiated by the Davis council gang of three plus Puntillo had its own penalties if not met.. an outrageous position as the 1% was a Davis council initiative imposed upon itself without penalty and could be reversed any time by a council vote.
    Note: Saylor raised these bogus issues again recently when discussing what criterea would be used for the housing element discussion now being launched.

  2. During the Measure X Covell Village campaign, let us not forget Saylor’s and Souza’s statements concerning Davis'”fair share” requirements and the penalties that the State attaches to this. Claire St. John went to the source at SACOG and was outraged to find that what Saylor and Souza were claiming was untrue(go to Davis Enterprise archives, part III of St. John’s 3-part series on Measure X). In addition, Saylor was claiming that the 1% growth guidelines initiated by the Davis council gang of three plus Puntillo had its own penalties if not met.. an outrageous position as the 1% was a Davis council initiative imposed upon itself without penalty and could be reversed any time by a council vote.
    Note: Saylor raised these bogus issues again recently when discussing what criterea would be used for the housing element discussion now being launched.

  3. During the Measure X Covell Village campaign, let us not forget Saylor’s and Souza’s statements concerning Davis'”fair share” requirements and the penalties that the State attaches to this. Claire St. John went to the source at SACOG and was outraged to find that what Saylor and Souza were claiming was untrue(go to Davis Enterprise archives, part III of St. John’s 3-part series on Measure X). In addition, Saylor was claiming that the 1% growth guidelines initiated by the Davis council gang of three plus Puntillo had its own penalties if not met.. an outrageous position as the 1% was a Davis council initiative imposed upon itself without penalty and could be reversed any time by a council vote.
    Note: Saylor raised these bogus issues again recently when discussing what criterea would be used for the housing element discussion now being launched.

  4. During the Measure X Covell Village campaign, let us not forget Saylor’s and Souza’s statements concerning Davis'”fair share” requirements and the penalties that the State attaches to this. Claire St. John went to the source at SACOG and was outraged to find that what Saylor and Souza were claiming was untrue(go to Davis Enterprise archives, part III of St. John’s 3-part series on Measure X). In addition, Saylor was claiming that the 1% growth guidelines initiated by the Davis council gang of three plus Puntillo had its own penalties if not met.. an outrageous position as the 1% was a Davis council initiative imposed upon itself without penalty and could be reversed any time by a council vote.
    Note: Saylor raised these bogus issues again recently when discussing what criterea would be used for the housing element discussion now being launched.

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