Commentary: Enterprise Article on Mayor Greenwald Slanted

I was quite surprised on Wednesday evening to read the Davis Enterprise Article that covered the city council discussion on the West Village. In my view it unfairly pilloried Mayor Sue Greenwald and it missed out on some of the key points that Mayor Greenwald was trying to make.

First of course is the headline that dispels any reasonable belief that this would be a somewhat impartial analysis of the proceedings:

Annoyed City Council reaffirms position on West Village project”

Key word here is “annoyed.” Annoyed is a word that requires subjective categorization of events. It implies that one has been annoyed by a specific situation without explaining of course whether that annoyance is justified.

Next Davis Enterprise Reporter Claire St. John writes:

“But the philosophy of how to present that message was at issue Tuesday night when most council members criticized Mayor Sue Greenwald for bringing the issue to the table without supporting documents and with an intention to change the message, if only slightly.”

“Most” in this case is the council majority who generally opposes Mayor Greenwald’s policies and frequently clashes with her. There is little context to this categorization and it implies that this is something unusual rather than business as usual (when in fact the council majority often criticize Greenwald and they are often wrong to do so). Moreover, just because the council majority of Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson and Councilmember Stephen Souza and Don Saylor criticized Mayor Greenwald, does not mean there is any validity to their criticism. They have at times criticized her and she has been the one who is right.

“Greenwald said the council’s position should be that it wants to annex the development if at all possible, pointing out that the council does not require affordable or student housing within the city to break even.”

The mayor’s motion was actually:

“It shall be the position of the City of Davis that annexation of the University’s West Davis neighborhood is a goal that we strongly support in concept.”

A key component of that motion was to provide a more accurate and detailed fiscal analysis. One huge point of contention is that the current fiscal analysis fails to consider a scenario where the university is the provider of fire and police services to West Village.

Another subjective invective statement:

“The council didn’t get to the West Village item until just before midnight, and annoyance was apparent.”

There is that word again–and again no discussion as to whether the council majority was justified in being annoyed. One could argue that Mayor Greenwald should be the one annoyed because the majority refused to allow this item to come forward as a regular agenda item.

The article quotes Don Saylor:

“We have no staff analysis in front of us, there are questions of the analysis that are not before us, there are questions of the assumptions that are not before us. This is incredible… And then there’s a request to change council policy.”

And yet the article fails to mention that the reason that there is no staff analysis is that the council majority refused to allow this to be agendized as a normal agenda item and instead had to be brought before the council as an item submitted by a councilmember which allows for no staff work to be done on it.

The article also includes this quote from Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson:

Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson repeated that annexation should occur only if it pencils out, the same statement the council made four years ago.

“I wish the mayor would remember, once a policy or issue has been approved by a majority, it becomes city policy… That’s government; that’s democratic process.”

Of course there is no context for this quote. It is unclear what the Mayor Pro Tem is speaking about and it is unclear what statement means in reference to the article. It was as though the reporter had this great quote and could not find a place to put the quote. The reader is left to wonder if the Mayor Pro Tem is objecting to the Mayor bringing this item forward because the council majority has already ruled on the issue. Does that imply that the council can never rehear consideration? Well that cannot be the case based on practices by the this council. So then what? I have no idea what Asmundson was objecting to and the reporter never clarifies the quote, puts it in proper perspective. or even makes it clear what the speaker was saying.

My sense of this issue was that Mayor Greenwald was attempting to bring this item forward in order for there to be a fresh fiscal impact report that would examine the cost without the city provision of fire and police services.

Additionally the Mayor seemed to desire a public discussion rather than the discussion of annexation that has been relegated to a council subcommittee. Moreover she believes that the fiscal assumptions that the fiscal impact would be neutral or negative would destroy any hope for annexation.

It should surprise few that while the article was loaded with invectives and incomplete information, there was little coverage in this particular article as to why we ought to consider annexation. What benefits the community would have to bring in a housing development planned on the city border by the university rather than leaving it cut off from not only city services but also city government. We’re talking about 475 single-family homes and townhouses along with apartments that would house an additional 3,000 students. We do not want faculty and students to reside in our community?

It is my general view on matters such as these that fiscal analysis is an excuse rather than a reason to not do the annexation. If the council majority believed that such an annexation would benefit them, they would have done it long ago–just as they have pushed for other peripheral housing developments which probably also have the same fiscal impact on the city as the West Village would. The major reason for opposing this is that it would not benefit them to add affordable housing as opposed to adding homes that cost $500,000 or more. Why is that? I guess we can do the math and figure out who is more likely to support them.

In the end this is a simple political analysis–affordable student and faculty housing just doesn’t fit their goals. Hopefully students and faculty will remember this next time they claim to be university friendly.

—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:

Land Use/Open Space

32 comments

  1. “In the end this is a simple political analysis”.

    Doug.. this is the telling phrase that appears to capture your frustration with the Enterprpise article. I do not think that Claire was assigned to do an ANALYSIS but rather to report on what took place. While I have not seen the council interaction in question, it is not difficult to visualize Mayor Greenwald being successfully “baited” to distraction by Saylor and Souza.Mayor Greenwald,the most experienced and knowledgable councilperson on the dais ,probably agrees strongly with the analysis
    you present here in Vanguard. It is a shame that Saylor and Souza’s(with Asmundson’s usual acquiecence) MO appears to still be working effectively to divert Mayor Greenwald from calmly and clearly articulating the real issues which ,hopefully ,Claire would have reported upon more fully rather than the more “entertaining” theatrics.

  2. “In the end this is a simple political analysis”.

    Doug.. this is the telling phrase that appears to capture your frustration with the Enterprpise article. I do not think that Claire was assigned to do an ANALYSIS but rather to report on what took place. While I have not seen the council interaction in question, it is not difficult to visualize Mayor Greenwald being successfully “baited” to distraction by Saylor and Souza.Mayor Greenwald,the most experienced and knowledgable councilperson on the dais ,probably agrees strongly with the analysis
    you present here in Vanguard. It is a shame that Saylor and Souza’s(with Asmundson’s usual acquiecence) MO appears to still be working effectively to divert Mayor Greenwald from calmly and clearly articulating the real issues which ,hopefully ,Claire would have reported upon more fully rather than the more “entertaining” theatrics.

  3. “In the end this is a simple political analysis”.

    Doug.. this is the telling phrase that appears to capture your frustration with the Enterprpise article. I do not think that Claire was assigned to do an ANALYSIS but rather to report on what took place. While I have not seen the council interaction in question, it is not difficult to visualize Mayor Greenwald being successfully “baited” to distraction by Saylor and Souza.Mayor Greenwald,the most experienced and knowledgable councilperson on the dais ,probably agrees strongly with the analysis
    you present here in Vanguard. It is a shame that Saylor and Souza’s(with Asmundson’s usual acquiecence) MO appears to still be working effectively to divert Mayor Greenwald from calmly and clearly articulating the real issues which ,hopefully ,Claire would have reported upon more fully rather than the more “entertaining” theatrics.

  4. “In the end this is a simple political analysis”.

    Doug.. this is the telling phrase that appears to capture your frustration with the Enterprpise article. I do not think that Claire was assigned to do an ANALYSIS but rather to report on what took place. While I have not seen the council interaction in question, it is not difficult to visualize Mayor Greenwald being successfully “baited” to distraction by Saylor and Souza.Mayor Greenwald,the most experienced and knowledgable councilperson on the dais ,probably agrees strongly with the analysis
    you present here in Vanguard. It is a shame that Saylor and Souza’s(with Asmundson’s usual acquiecence) MO appears to still be working effectively to divert Mayor Greenwald from calmly and clearly articulating the real issues which ,hopefully ,Claire would have reported upon more fully rather than the more “entertaining” theatrics.

  5. that article struck me as weird too. the earlier one just a few days earlier didn’t have that editorializing.

    while we’re talking about annexation, though, why not consider annexing all the on-campus residential buildings? in the campaign last time around, both sousa and heystek suggested the possibility of annexing buildings but not services or utilities, just to give on-campus sudents a voice in the community, but i haven’t heard anything since.

    i suspect that there was a lot less conflict on the issues than the article suggested.

  6. that article struck me as weird too. the earlier one just a few days earlier didn’t have that editorializing.

    while we’re talking about annexation, though, why not consider annexing all the on-campus residential buildings? in the campaign last time around, both sousa and heystek suggested the possibility of annexing buildings but not services or utilities, just to give on-campus sudents a voice in the community, but i haven’t heard anything since.

    i suspect that there was a lot less conflict on the issues than the article suggested.

  7. that article struck me as weird too. the earlier one just a few days earlier didn’t have that editorializing.

    while we’re talking about annexation, though, why not consider annexing all the on-campus residential buildings? in the campaign last time around, both sousa and heystek suggested the possibility of annexing buildings but not services or utilities, just to give on-campus sudents a voice in the community, but i haven’t heard anything since.

    i suspect that there was a lot less conflict on the issues than the article suggested.

  8. that article struck me as weird too. the earlier one just a few days earlier didn’t have that editorializing.

    while we’re talking about annexation, though, why not consider annexing all the on-campus residential buildings? in the campaign last time around, both sousa and heystek suggested the possibility of annexing buildings but not services or utilities, just to give on-campus sudents a voice in the community, but i haven’t heard anything since.

    i suspect that there was a lot less conflict on the issues than the article suggested.

  9. Am I wrong to understand that the city of Davis CANNOT annex any University of California land without the complete cooperation and agreement of the U.C.? And am I also wrong to understand that UC Davis has consistently opposed annexation of any of its land into the city of Davis?

    It’s one thing for the city of Davis to desire to acquire more territory and power and so on. However, it’s something else if the other party, understandably, doesn’t want to live by the laws and rules of Davis, over which it has little or no say.

    P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple.

  10. Am I wrong to understand that the city of Davis CANNOT annex any University of California land without the complete cooperation and agreement of the U.C.? And am I also wrong to understand that UC Davis has consistently opposed annexation of any of its land into the city of Davis?

    It’s one thing for the city of Davis to desire to acquire more territory and power and so on. However, it’s something else if the other party, understandably, doesn’t want to live by the laws and rules of Davis, over which it has little or no say.

    P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple.

  11. Am I wrong to understand that the city of Davis CANNOT annex any University of California land without the complete cooperation and agreement of the U.C.? And am I also wrong to understand that UC Davis has consistently opposed annexation of any of its land into the city of Davis?

    It’s one thing for the city of Davis to desire to acquire more territory and power and so on. However, it’s something else if the other party, understandably, doesn’t want to live by the laws and rules of Davis, over which it has little or no say.

    P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple.

  12. Am I wrong to understand that the city of Davis CANNOT annex any University of California land without the complete cooperation and agreement of the U.C.? And am I also wrong to understand that UC Davis has consistently opposed annexation of any of its land into the city of Davis?

    It’s one thing for the city of Davis to desire to acquire more territory and power and so on. However, it’s something else if the other party, understandably, doesn’t want to live by the laws and rules of Davis, over which it has little or no say.

    P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple.

  13. “P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple. “

    I’m sure he’s heartbroken.

  14. “P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple. “

    I’m sure he’s heartbroken.

  15. “P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple. “

    I’m sure he’s heartbroken.

  16. “P.S. I find David Greenwald’s analysis of The Enterprise article to be rather whiny and partisan, making a mountain out of an ant’s pimple. “

    I’m sure he’s heartbroken.

  17. That is an interesting point, I don’t recall anyone on the council making it and I would think that they would. I also did not read it in the article. So I’m guessing that UC Davis is not objecting to it.

  18. That is an interesting point, I don’t recall anyone on the council making it and I would think that they would. I also did not read it in the article. So I’m guessing that UC Davis is not objecting to it.

  19. That is an interesting point, I don’t recall anyone on the council making it and I would think that they would. I also did not read it in the article. So I’m guessing that UC Davis is not objecting to it.

  20. That is an interesting point, I don’t recall anyone on the council making it and I would think that they would. I also did not read it in the article. So I’m guessing that UC Davis is not objecting to it.

  21. “Annoyed is a word that requires subjective categorization of events.”
    That doesn’t make it an inappropriate characterization to include in the story.

    “Most” in this case is the council majority who generally opposes Mayor Greenwald’s policies and frequently clashes with her.
    That isn’t relevant, really. The fact that this council has frequent clashes is obvious to anyone who watches them. It is a story: this council doesn’t get along well. Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.
    I really don’t get your point here.

  22. “Annoyed is a word that requires subjective categorization of events.”
    That doesn’t make it an inappropriate characterization to include in the story.

    “Most” in this case is the council majority who generally opposes Mayor Greenwald’s policies and frequently clashes with her.
    That isn’t relevant, really. The fact that this council has frequent clashes is obvious to anyone who watches them. It is a story: this council doesn’t get along well. Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.
    I really don’t get your point here.

  23. “Annoyed is a word that requires subjective categorization of events.”
    That doesn’t make it an inappropriate characterization to include in the story.

    “Most” in this case is the council majority who generally opposes Mayor Greenwald’s policies and frequently clashes with her.
    That isn’t relevant, really. The fact that this council has frequent clashes is obvious to anyone who watches them. It is a story: this council doesn’t get along well. Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.
    I really don’t get your point here.

  24. “Annoyed is a word that requires subjective categorization of events.”
    That doesn’t make it an inappropriate characterization to include in the story.

    “Most” in this case is the council majority who generally opposes Mayor Greenwald’s policies and frequently clashes with her.
    That isn’t relevant, really. The fact that this council has frequent clashes is obvious to anyone who watches them. It is a story: this council doesn’t get along well. Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.
    I really don’t get your point here.

  25. “Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.”

    Unless you are a partisan — which obviously David Greenwald is; he makes no bones about that — it’s pretty obvious that the fault lies with the mayor. She is too abrasive. It makes no sense to have a person running the meetings who is in the minority faction. Our system needs to be changed, so that the majority picks its own person to sit in the mayor’s seat. This same problem, an abrasive mayor in a minority faction, happened when Suzy Boyd was mayor. So the problem can exist whether one side or the other is in power or in the minority. But if you are going to have a minority member running the meetings now, I think it would be far better to have Lamar in there, as his personality is not so aggressive and harsh.

  26. “Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.”

    Unless you are a partisan — which obviously David Greenwald is; he makes no bones about that — it’s pretty obvious that the fault lies with the mayor. She is too abrasive. It makes no sense to have a person running the meetings who is in the minority faction. Our system needs to be changed, so that the majority picks its own person to sit in the mayor’s seat. This same problem, an abrasive mayor in a minority faction, happened when Suzy Boyd was mayor. So the problem can exist whether one side or the other is in power or in the minority. But if you are going to have a minority member running the meetings now, I think it would be far better to have Lamar in there, as his personality is not so aggressive and harsh.

  27. “Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.”

    Unless you are a partisan — which obviously David Greenwald is; he makes no bones about that — it’s pretty obvious that the fault lies with the mayor. She is too abrasive. It makes no sense to have a person running the meetings who is in the minority faction. Our system needs to be changed, so that the majority picks its own person to sit in the mayor’s seat. This same problem, an abrasive mayor in a minority faction, happened when Suzy Boyd was mayor. So the problem can exist whether one side or the other is in power or in the minority. But if you are going to have a minority member running the meetings now, I think it would be far better to have Lamar in there, as his personality is not so aggressive and harsh.

  28. “Whose fault that is will depend on your perspective.”

    Unless you are a partisan — which obviously David Greenwald is; he makes no bones about that — it’s pretty obvious that the fault lies with the mayor. She is too abrasive. It makes no sense to have a person running the meetings who is in the minority faction. Our system needs to be changed, so that the majority picks its own person to sit in the mayor’s seat. This same problem, an abrasive mayor in a minority faction, happened when Suzy Boyd was mayor. So the problem can exist whether one side or the other is in power or in the minority. But if you are going to have a minority member running the meetings now, I think it would be far better to have Lamar in there, as his personality is not so aggressive and harsh.

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