Surrogate-gate

In the debate over the General Plan last Tuesday night at the Davis City Council meeting, as we reported on Wednesday, there was a complaint by Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson who, somewhat inexplicably, became very upset over use of the term “surrogate” by Councilmember Lamar Heystek to describe the membership of a proposed steering committee for the drafting of an update to the general plan.

“You know that’s an insult to the community to call any community member that will be part of this committee, a surrogate.”

The definition of surrogate is: “a person appointed to represent or act on behalf of others.”

Is that not what they are asking this body, the steering committee, to do–represent and act on the behalf of others?

“I don’t want to call them my surrogate, I will appoint people I think who should be in that steering committee. But they have to put their independent thinking…”

Asmundson is clearly taking the use of the word surrogate in a negative context here. But let’s be honest. The Mayor Pro Tem is going to select her appointees from like-minded individuals. She is not going to select me (or people who share my vision of Davis) as one her representatives. That is certainly to be expected and well within her rights. In the end, the members of this steering committee will reflect the breakdown of the council as a whole. There will be nine appointed by the majority faction and six by the minority faction.

I see no reason to get upset about the use of the term surrogate to describe the situation. It is a very accurate description in the opinion of this blogger.

While the implication that these people might be mindless automatons and robots appears unsettling, the bottom line is that Asmundson is going to appoint three members who share her vision of Davis. Heystek is going to do likewise. We need to be open and honest about what this type of process is going to produce. If you like that format, then by all means approve it. But let’s at least be able to have that discussion. Objecting to a word like surrogate serves to end that discussion and detract and distract from the issue at hand.

Objecting to a word, surrogate, is a strong overreaction by Asmundson, reminiscent of the day when the council voted to remove the HRC in June. Asmundson on that day, told us that her heart was racing and that she was shaking due to the contentiousness of the situation. I think a veteran office-holder such as Asmundson, who is not only serving her second term on the City Council but also served as a school board member for nine years should be a bit more circumspect about the use of a word, surrogate.

View the video to see the content and context of this statement.

—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.

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Land Use/Open Space

12 comments

  1. That’s a very perceptive point. “Surrogate” being the opposition of “independent thinking.”

    In reality, everyone is going to come with their preconceived notions about what the vision of Davis should look like. That doesn’t make them non-independent thinkers, it just means they aren’t empty vessels.

  2. That’s a very perceptive point. “Surrogate” being the opposition of “independent thinking.”

    In reality, everyone is going to come with their preconceived notions about what the vision of Davis should look like. That doesn’t make them non-independent thinkers, it just means they aren’t empty vessels.

  3. That’s a very perceptive point. “Surrogate” being the opposition of “independent thinking.”

    In reality, everyone is going to come with their preconceived notions about what the vision of Davis should look like. That doesn’t make them non-independent thinkers, it just means they aren’t empty vessels.

  4. That’s a very perceptive point. “Surrogate” being the opposition of “independent thinking.”

    In reality, everyone is going to come with their preconceived notions about what the vision of Davis should look like. That doesn’t make them non-independent thinkers, it just means they aren’t empty vessels.

  5. Ruth Asmundson is desperate to delete her recent public record from voter consciousness. What she was most upset about, was that the issue was raised of her cheerleading for Covell Village and the heavy-handed manner that the council majority under her,as at least titular leader and member of that majority, attempted to thrust this voter-rejected project down the voter’s throats. “Let’s not go back to the past!” she petulantly announced. Sorry Ruth, that’s your public record to date.

  6. Ruth Asmundson is desperate to delete her recent public record from voter consciousness. What she was most upset about, was that the issue was raised of her cheerleading for Covell Village and the heavy-handed manner that the council majority under her,as at least titular leader and member of that majority, attempted to thrust this voter-rejected project down the voter’s throats. “Let’s not go back to the past!” she petulantly announced. Sorry Ruth, that’s your public record to date.

  7. Ruth Asmundson is desperate to delete her recent public record from voter consciousness. What she was most upset about, was that the issue was raised of her cheerleading for Covell Village and the heavy-handed manner that the council majority under her,as at least titular leader and member of that majority, attempted to thrust this voter-rejected project down the voter’s throats. “Let’s not go back to the past!” she petulantly announced. Sorry Ruth, that’s your public record to date.

  8. Ruth Asmundson is desperate to delete her recent public record from voter consciousness. What she was most upset about, was that the issue was raised of her cheerleading for Covell Village and the heavy-handed manner that the council majority under her,as at least titular leader and member of that majority, attempted to thrust this voter-rejected project down the voter’s throats. “Let’s not go back to the past!” she petulantly announced. Sorry Ruth, that’s your public record to date.

  9. The only reason Ruth got upset is because Lamar pushed the CV button on her. That whole clip has nothing to do with the word “surrogate” and everything to do with Covell Village.

  10. The only reason Ruth got upset is because Lamar pushed the CV button on her. That whole clip has nothing to do with the word “surrogate” and everything to do with Covell Village.

  11. The only reason Ruth got upset is because Lamar pushed the CV button on her. That whole clip has nothing to do with the word “surrogate” and everything to do with Covell Village.

  12. The only reason Ruth got upset is because Lamar pushed the CV button on her. That whole clip has nothing to do with the word “surrogate” and everything to do with Covell Village.

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