YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

Almost half of Yolo County’s roughly 50,000 mailed votes were received after the Friday before Election Day (Nov. 8, 2016) — delaying timely inclusion within reported results, according to County officials.

“Yolo County simply does not have the resources to process [mailed] ballots on Election Day,” indicates Sou Xiong, Program Manager for the County Registrar of Voters.

“It is also important to keep in mind that each county has their own processes when it comes to counting [mailed ballots],” notes Xiong.  “Some counties have the resources to continue processing [mailed ballots] throughout Election Day, which could explain why they experience only a small increase in their turnout when comparing unofficial Election Night results to final results.”

Nearly 60% of Yolo County voters mail their ballots.

Unless received by the Friday prior to an Election Day, these ballots are not counted until the post-election “canvass,” conducted during subsequent weeks, leading to a final (official) report.

23,461 of 84,685 votes cast in Yolo County for the 2016 General Election were not counted and reported until such post-election “canvassing” was able to verify and tabulate them.

Yolo County has elected (so to speak, perhaps wisely) to not expend resources required to achieve a more timely election report / result.

Presently, though, there is no way for the local public to become informed about the basic proportion of votes — remaining to be counted — after initial (unofficial) reports of Election Day.

As Xiong observes, “some counties have resources to continue processing [mailed ballots] through Election Day,” such as San Bernardino County.

However, San Bernardino County also informs the public about the proportion of votes which appear yet uncounted, according to its official website:

“The estimated number of ballots remaining to be counted is provided to the public at the final posting of the unofficial Election Night results.”

Yolo Sun has duly requested the Yolo County Registrar of Voters to now begin following this same practice.

“The Yolo County Elections Office is open to ideas to improve our processes; your suggestion has been noted and will be considered as we move forward,” responds Xiong.

Thus, it appears that the local public will likely now have an improved and timely understanding of the dynamics of future elections.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

City of Woodland recently issued its required, annual sales tax report, regarding local Measures E and J (1/2 cent and 1/4 cent, respectively), the former funding capital (civic) improvements and the latter funding various municipal programs.

Measure E is currently projected to raise $49.2 million in total revenue during its twelve year term, 2006-18, of which 45% must (according to its ballot advisories) be spent on roadway renovation.

By far, Measure E’s largest funding category is roadway renovation, at $20.76 million, of which only $11.28 million has been expended to date (June 30, 2016) — just 27 months from its sunset date (September 30, 2018).  Measure F was enacted by local voters in November, 2016, basically extending this 1/2 cent sales tax program, for another dozen years (until December 30, 2030).

Questions clearly arise about why almost half of total funding for roadway renovation (~$9.5 million) remains to be allocated during the final 27 months of Measure E’s term.

Measure E’s budget already includes a “Reserve” element, amounting to $1.68 million (roughly twice the revenue dedicated to Woodland Public Library ($.874 million)).

(a)  With Measure F approved to continue funding of roadway renovation (although, without Measure E’s advisory measure setting a 45% rate), why is it necessary to relatively instantly expend / categorically reserve this entire ~$9.5 million in budgeted — but yet unused — roadway renovation funds of Measure E?

(b)  Is this ~$9.5 million required for delayed renovation of Kentucky Avenue, or for exactly what purpose?

(c)  Is (was) the roadway renovation component of Measure E:  inflated / exaggerated / overdrawn?

(d)  Will as much as 45% of Measure F funds be needed in the future to keep local roads in order; if not, how will such increasingly available funds be used?

Measure E funding categories of:  Parks – Ball Fields – Pool ($4.65 million), Civic Center Expansion ($3.3 million), Community & Senior Center Sports Park ($7.26 million) and Library repairs ($.274 million) are all at or very near their budgeted allotments.

A category named, Opera House / State Theater, has $1.34 million budgeted, but has to date (over)expended $1.47 million, with $556,620 spent in FY 2015-16.

Library renovation and expansion, begun in the late 1980s, will finally become completed in 2017 (- thirty years later –) by the finishing of its remaining ~1,600 square feet of space ($.6 million).

Finishing this last ~1600 square feet came in $10,000 over allocated budget ($.6 million).  This $10,000 was taken from the library’s independent reserve account (Fund 917), rather than being handled with added sales-tax money.

Contrastingly, ~$130,000 is represented as being over-drafted within the Opera House / State Theater category of funding (just above).  While, it appears that $10,000 was too much to over-draft for the library.

Library expansion (presently, it is only 1/3 of the size recommended by national standards) was again an original goal of Measure E, but only $.874 million became available, largely due to fiscal impacts of its roadway renovation category ($20.76 million), as well as to fiscal impacts of the second largest category of sales-tax revenue funding: Debt Service on the Community & Senior Center / Sports Park ($12.34 million). Combined, these two categories alone amount to ~$33 million of Measure E’s projected $49.2 million.

This Debt Service category has amounted to ~$1 million per year for the previous eight years (since the collapse of a boondoggled, development-fee based bond-service mechanism).  Curiously, ~$4 million ($12.34 million, minus $8.1 million) remains budgeted for the final 27 months of Measure E revenue collection, instead of the regularly annual ~$1 million payment.

Measure F is directed to serially continuing this Debt Service category / purpose, likely for another decade, whereupon this “Long Term Loan” (as characterized by the city, to explain / excuse its apparent abridgment of Measure E’s ballot advisories, by servicing otherwise defaulting bonded debt) might begin to be repaid — likely with added future sales tax revenue.

(e)  Why are several million dollars, of seemingly over-budgeted, sales-tax revenue, contained within this Debt Service category?

(f)  When and how is funding to be raised for accomplishment of the long recognized need for basic library expansion?

(g)  When and how is funding to be raised for accomplishment of the long recognized need for opera house expansion (another specific goal of Measure E)?

These seven questions (a – g) demand immediate and meaningful responses from city hall.

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

For years, Woodland’s legions of skateboarders have been wondering why their City Skateboard Park “really sucks, but it’s all we have,” expressed one of two ardent skateboarders recently using it.  “The City doesn’t even maintain it, since it sucks so much,” he went on.

Vividly apparent was ample and egregious city mismanagement and neglect, underscoring his view.

Unusually, the city even seems to have promptly eradicated a (small) maverick improvement to this pathetic park, accomplished by skateboarders themselves, according to the two on hand to tell this tale.

Transformed from former tennis courts at the southeastern corner of Crawford Park, and adorned with the name of the city mayor of those times — Dave Flory — exists what can only be described as a city facility that “really sucks,” used by local enthusiasts only as a technique / fashion of deep desperation.

Flory was asked for his comment (by Yolo Sun), but he did not have much to say about this mess.

Abysmal quality of this City facility is easily attributable to the fact that most all sales-tax money for Woodland’s capital facilities (library, opera house, parks and various other facilities) program has for nearly a decade been siphoned off to backfill the bonded debt of the City’s new community and sports complex, a vast debt strangely conceived to be reliably serviceable using development fees from cyclical housing circumstances.

Roughly, during 2009 – 2016 (and ongoing), about half of the City’s Measure E sales-tax revenue has been used to service that debt, with the other half being used as the City’s primary source of funding for roads.

Downtown Woodland merchant — Skate or Die Boardshop — has long been asking the City for a solution, for a genuine and proper City skateboard park, even offering to bring together private capital to help, only to be met with the blunt reply that “the City doesn’t have enough money” for a proper skateboard park.

http://www.sordboards.com/

A visit to its new downtown location, noted in above link, is highly recommended.

Contrast this scene with that in City of Corning, right up the road from Woodland — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corning,_California

Corning (population 7663) has somehow produced a wonderful, $3 million skateboard park for its youth.

On the video, below, this Corning Skateboard Park is introduced to the public by a very proud mayor of Corning.

Could Dave Flory (or Woodland’s present mayor) ever be envisioned as so introducing Woodland’s miserable little facility?

Woodland’s skateboarders deserve (have earned) an equity position in our community, such as the one celebrated in Corning.  Providing such a proper facility clearly serves the civic interest, trending skateboarders toward it, rather than other potential sites of such activities, affording them good reasons to observe relevant City rules.

Woodland could raise its sales tax a quarter-cent to cover the huge bonded debt it must service, so that it might also service our valuable civic interests and quality of life, from our library to our skateboard park.

Links about Corning’s Skateboard Park (the video in third link, below, displays what a marvelous facility this is, reflecting comments / reviews on the link just below and on its Facebook page):

http://www.concretedisciples.com/index.php/skatepark/usa/northern-california/25602-corning-skatepark

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Corning-Skate-Park/246946962125625

http://www.thrashermagazine.com/articles/videos/corning-skatepark/

 

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

Yolo County Registrar of Voters, Jesse Salinas, has timely responded to inquiry by Yolo Sun, concerning an apparent collapse of the County’s historical rate of voter turnout (based on prior but skewed, official state and county election data), showing at only about 48%.

Normal voter turnout would be in the 75% range.

Salinas now indicates a final result which has miraculously pulled this county out of what would have been the sub-cellar of the state’s counties regarding voter participation.

“Frankly, I have no idea how they [the state (and this county, by the way)] arrived at their figures,” expresses Salinas to Yolo Sun.

“Perhaps they only calculated the election night results along with the provisional [ballots],” continues Salinas, “which did not include  the some 26K VBMs [Vote By Mail Ballots] we received either on election day or via the mail that were postmarked on election day and arrived within the three day window for us to count them in the canvassing process.”

County data itself mirrored incorrect state data, until just a few hours ago, when Salinas officially contacted the state and filed this county’s final and certified ballot count.

Properly responsive to its press inquiry about such a huge historical disparity / anomaly in local voter turnout, Salinas actually informed  Yolo Sun of this suddenly corrected situation — about 15 minutes before he officially contacted the state to present the final county ballot figures.

“Even if you look at eligible (but unregistered] voters[,] we are over 60% based on the latest census figures we have for comparison,” proudly notes Salinas.

Countywide, 76.1 % of voters have now been counted, with Davis in the turnout lead at 80.7% turnout and Woodland managing 74.4%.

Rounding out county tallies, Winters voters showed up at 74.6% and West Sacramento managed 70.3%, while the unincorporated county voted at a 78% rate of registered voters.

About 44% of Woodland ballots were mailed in, with about 31% of ballots cast at polling booths, nearly equivalent with basic countywide figures.

[* Editor’s note: Yolo Sun will soon publish a final (wrap-up) news report about local voter turnout results for this election, once Yolo County Registrar of Voters, Jesse Salinas, responds to several follow-up questions and comments.]

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

Presidential elections historically bring out 74% – 77% of local voters to their polling place (2000-12).

2016 was a truly astonishing exception.

Yolo County election turnout totally tanked, in an abruptly historical fashion, swiftly and dramatically dropping this County into the bottom 10% of voter turnout within all California counties.

Only about 48% of Yolo County voters bothered to cast their ballot, including in Woodland, which saw only 44% – 48% turnout for its initial, city council district elections.

Statewide, there was the usually wide variety in voter turnout among counties — from only 23% in Mendocino County and 38% in Lake County, to 80% – 84% in several rural counties, such as: Mariposa, Sierra, Inyo, Alpine, Mono and El Dorado.

Bay Area and Central Coast counties showed between 70% and 80% voter participation.

Los Angeles County voter turnout easily exceeded Yolo County’s, with about 52% in 2016.

Regionally, Sacramento County voters turned out at about 62%, while Placer had 69%.  Sonoma’s voters turned out at 62%, while Solano reached 72%.

Yuba County voter turnout was 64%.

Colusa County voters showed up to the polls at 79%.

So, what happened with voters in Yolo County (at only 48% turnout, very sharply down from its usual 74% – 77%)?

Only four counties (Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Merced) had lower voter turnouts than Yolo County.

Yolo County (and Woodland) is suddenly within the very bottom (<10% of all counties) voter-participation tier of California counties, by its startlingly collapsed (1/3 absent) voter turnout (in this key, 2016 presidential election cycle).

[Editor’s note: Of course, all votes are not yet counted, statewide, especially provisional ballots; however, Yolo County’s status is assured by this preliminary data, to be suddenly within the cellar of statewide election turnout. Yolo Sun will publish a follow-up report, when final voting data issues.]

YOLO SUN OPINION :

A double dose of democracy will be needed, for Woodland’s good ol’ boys’ political system to be uprooted.

Primarily caused by its lack of a proper newspaper, Woodland has a relevantly uneducated electorate, easy prey for unscrupulous political shenanigans, such as Tom Stallard’s arrogant, gentry-styled refusal to address his apparent violations of our City’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance and General Plan, his obscuring and evading key sales tax matters and his impeding of downtown traffic circulation reform, among other important civic issues.

An educated electorate is, of course (on the Jeffersonian model), the very foundation of democracy, the utter basis for accountable management of our common civic resources.

This failure of proper voter awareness has led to Stallard winning a critically flawed, depressed turnout, rain dampened election process, portraying himself as some Mr. Clean candidate, supposedly required to retard impending progress between Jim Hilliard’s (chamber of commerce, new money) clique and Conaway,  risking eastward city sprawl.

Yet, Stallard voted to use hundreds of thousands of city dollars for funding this very sprawl as a new and basic, General Plan option.  Conaway now influences (by paying for their election / appointment) a majority of our city council (Davies, Barajas, Rodriguez).  Stallard’s political style is excessive compromise, ‘peace before justice’ (indicated by his support for city analysis of Conaway’s ridiculous General Plan option).  He votes to help pave Conaway’s path, then claims he wants to stop their using it.  His posture is too conflicted and lax, to succeed.

Instead of a tyranny of Conaway influence, Stallard proposes / represents a cagey local plutocracy, based upon big election dough from the shallow but deep-pocketed, gentry – old money clique, relatively equivalent with Conaway’s funding of Hilliard.

Hilliard wasted Conaway’s money on huge signs, some outside of this election district and worthless local media ads, while Stallard denigrated the election by participating with Hilliard in undemocratic local media efforts, flinging political gimmicks like shower timers and a superficial sea / snowstorm of lawn signs — and steadfastly refusing to confront and debate his numerous and serious political problems.

Stallard seems to believe his tens of thousands of dollars are pure and Conaway’s money is corrupt; while, his funding sources are an incredibly thin veneer of local voters.

Debates are inherent to democracy, avoiding them is anathema to our basic political principles and electoral system.  People’s issues and concerns must be thoroughly aired; otherwise, our commons is corrupted.  With proper debates and adequate press coverage, big money and adverse influence by these small and pernicious cliques becomes tempered and balanced, serving the public interest.

But, Stallard and Hilliard arrogantly chose to run and hide from city voters, using their influence-fattened wallets as political cover.

Bluntly, Stallard lacks political integrity and peril for our community arises by his stubborn, egotistical unaccountability, clearly demonstrated in this election process.  He, for one example, led recent council action to continue ignoring the vast, good ol’ boys’ boondoggle of bonded debt regarding the city’s community and senior center.

Stallard and the good ol’ boys stole / erased our sales-tax based capital projects (library expansion / renovation, opera house expansion, parkland acquisition, swimming pool rehabilitation, youth center creation, etc), to fill their debt hole, starkly refusing to recognize and accept this imperative civic responsibility by adjusting the local sales tax.  They would rather our city suffer, distressed by significant declines in quality of life, rather than admit and fix their monstrous mistake of crazily predicating key bond payments on fees from uncertain and fickle housing cycles.

When Stallard says: “We don’t have the money” for improving capital facilities, that’s because he and the good ol’ boys have stolen our money to cover up their bonded debt boondoggle — and this civic predicament will continue — unless challenged and overcome with a pivotally essential sales tax increase.

Stallard has demonstrated his inclination for violating local and state planning laws, such as our General Plan and Urban Limit Line Ordinance, in order to best appease real estate developers, permitting projects adverse to our community.  At root, Stallard is himself a developer, conflicted with his supposed civic posture.

Stallard chose to run and hide from Woodland’s voters in an adolescent manner, just as politically unethical as Hilliard’s ill-fated election scamper.  The simple contrast was that in District Two, the old-money clique is more powerful than the new-money clique, with both intent on buying the election, while denying voters’ opportunity for understanding pertinent, indeed crucial civic issues.

Knocking on doors and talking with hundreds of local voters, it is quite plain that Stallard’s support (as well as improperly founded) is generally shallow, soft and tepid.  Most of his supporters are unaware of his serious political problems, since he tries so hard to hide them.  If he had tried so hard to do our public good, he would then deserve respect.

Stallard has violated the local voters’ trust and respect with his juvenile approach to a landmark election, in addition to his other political failings, and he must go.

Therefore, a grassroots committee is now forming to: Recall Stallard in 2017.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Recently, Woodland is very thin on political venues for its City Council Elections. Happily, the League of Women Voters provides a fig-leaf forum as the only civic function for such important elections, otherwise, there would be nothing — because the good ol’ boys want it this way, easing their buying of our city hall,  by eliminating illumination and education.

Actual debates are forbidden, deemed too personal (and risky) for toleration by this town’s good ol’ boys’ political system.  Debates are fundamental to politics in the public interest, though, so I’ll now have to proceed with some text (below) on this blog’s opinion platform, in absence of needed public debates.

As a candidate in District 2 — I’ve repeatedly requested participation of competitors, Tom Stallard and Jim Hilliard, for a few such political encounters / events, actual debates.  But they abruptly refuse, consistent with their good ol’ boy tactic of avoiding fair political exposure and civic accountability.  They prefer to just smile at city voters and simply pretend they properly behave, while rather they are running and hiding from public discourse and city voters — yet they desire election to our city office.

Stallard and Hilliard believe all they have to do is tolerate one, single forum event, with little chance of debate, where political accountability is confused with personal attack (at least it was on this occasion).

Hilliard and Stallard have flatly refused to respond to very basic city planning questions, such as the legal nature of the city’s voter-enacted Urban Limit Line Ordinance, unimplemented for an entire decade, as well as to questions about starkly apparent and potentially chronic violations of our city General Plan.  To obtain their plain response about such basic city actions — Hilliard exclaims that the public must: “Sue us!”

Such outrageous conduct raises obvious issues and concerns about what the city is attempting to evade / suppress / bury — similar to its big recent project, Gateway 2, being completely overturned and voided by state courts.

Both Stallard and Hilliard have a lot of explaining to do regarding their time and actions in office, so they instead want to play adolescent politics with our civic good and future in this election, secluding themselves away from regular voter scrutiny in any debates.

The so-called newspaper (Daily Democrat, often called Daily Disappointment and best resolved as birdcage / garbage-can liner) in Woodland is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, its editor often described as: “a despot.”

Please see my specifically relevant campaign handout about the Daily Democrat, further below.  It is working its own crass, corporatist agenda in unprincipled ways — undermining our local democracy — practicing its dismal industry against our civic interests.

Publishing the regular, standard (short) profiles of all city council candidates — except me — the Daily Democrat is now busy attempting to sell its usual editorial substance as advertising space — violating the primary ethic of proper / good newspapers (effective separation of editorial content from advertising influence) — corrupting its basic mission.  Our problem is that its (legendary) corruptions and incompetences conjure adverse civic consequences, because communication within a community is elemental to its cultural character.

In Woodland, the so-called newspaper is a regularly demonstrated and reliable lap dog for the good ol’ boys’ political control, not being able to report its way out of a paper bag.

_________

Vote:   Bobby Harris for Woodland City Council

Woodland voters in this election – must separate personal from political; this is essential if our city is to politically progress.

Are Stallard and Hilliard nice people?  Of course they are, and in different ways they have community value.  I’m happy to go fishing with them.  But — they both lack political integrity and are a huge mistake to leave in our political office.

Hilliard led our city council into improperly using its member appointment power — denying, depriving local voters of their legitimate civic interest in the last two years of Bill Marble’s term.  Hilliard acted to further interests of Conaway Ranch, appointing its foremost local champion — Skip Davies — to the council, against our plain and obvious civic interest.  Hilliard has also accepted $20,000 in recent Conaway campaign donations, for advancing its civic boondoggles.  He must go.

Stallard and Hilliard have for months, both refused to respond to very basic inquiries about fundamental city planning issues, while falsely claiming that they are available and responsive to public concerns. Clearly, both of them sorely lack political integrity and basic understanding about important issues of Woodland.

Stallard says real estate developers can — “choose what they build” — projects plainly in violation of our city’s General Plan and Urban Limit Line Ordinance, ignoring for all of his six years in city office, that the city’s Affordable Housing Ordinance has been dysfunctional for at least a decade — being used to excuse bad projects — against our vital civic interests.  He is asleep at our civic wheel.  At root a developer, Stallard identifies with developers — against his civic role.

Stallard seemingly believes that his immense wealth, philanthropy and downtown properties should win him yet another city council term, while he lacks the ability or willingness to become aware of, understand and confront key city issues.

Stallard made a fool of our city, maligning from its council dais, a distinguished panel of our state appellate court, which found a half-dozen serious violations of state environmental law at the city’s Gateway 2 project; he invited Paul Petrovich to cry on his (mayor’s) shoulder, as our city was ordered by the appellate court to vacate this horribly absurd project, so adverse to civic interests.

Stallard did not even properly accept civic responsibly for five very long years of adverse city manipulation and focus on civic disaster of the Gateway 2 project; seemingly, since he did not want to offend politically supportive, local chamber of commerce attitudes, huge cheerleaders for this unlawful and unwise city project.

Stallard has stonewalled my own proposals for calming traffic on downtown Main Street, by using 4-way stops, presented four years ago; while, he also ignored a formal petition on parking items, filed by a majority (38) of Main Street merchants.

Stallard has mismanaged the Woodland Farmers Market, by its wrongful (former) location on Main Street, without bringing such a key issue to our city council, instead contriving with Hilliard and Denny — without any city council hearing.

Stallard and Hilliard refused to evaluate civic benefits of raising the sales tax by a quarter cent, so as not to explore city options they would — personally — not accept, preventing our city from best understanding its basic values and options, such as expanding our library, parklands, swimming pools and other beneficial programs. They are not accountable for the fact that the city is largely eliminating the public projects of Measure E / F sales tax, to backfill its fiscal fiasco over the community and senior center, eroding our quality of life to pay its bonded debt.

The “good ol’ boys” refuse to recognize our dire need to raise sales tax to fill the debt hole they’ve dug; instead — they intend the city suffer for their big mistakes.

Stallard and Hilliard want to obscure that our city’s parkland standard has been hugely inflated, by odd inclusion of city land generally unavailable to residents.

Stallard and Hilliard agreed to wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars and city staff time to include Conaway’s outrageous ‘option’ within our new General Plan.

Stallard and Hilliard represent the two basic political cliques in our town, between which political power so adverse to community interests has so long been held.  These are viewed as the “new money” (chamber of commerce) and “old money” (gentry) cliques.  With these pernicious influences, public interest / good are lost.

They are the city council members of the good-ol’-boys’ heretofore tight control of our city, which will continue to retard our progress — unless well challenged.

Stallard and Hilliard have both participated in Daily Democrat’s so-called ‘election supplement,’ which profoundly violates basic journalistic ethics – by forcing candidates to purchase newspaper editorial content — undermining our local democracy / civic values.  On vivid display by such conduct, again, is their lack of ethics and civic values and their inability to comprehend our civic good.

Neither Stallard nor Hilliard are up to the key challenges of Woodland’s future.

Please see my other political handout, noting our city’s most crucial: “Needs.”

Woodland’s choice is clear, it’s the usual, sour, good ol’ boys’ routine  —  or me.

Woodlanders can rely on me, Bobby Harris, to best accomplish our civic interests.

Please, provide your vote for our best future.

_________

FOR MEMBER OF WOODLAND CITY COUNCIL

BOBBY HARRIS                                                                                                              AGE:   64

Occupation:   Community Advocate / Lobbyist

I am:

  • Woodlander since 1983;
  • First City Council candidate advocating Woodland Downtown Revitalization (1990);
  • Knowledgeable about Woodland’s social contexts and challenges;
  • Advocate responsible for Woodland renters’ right to display political signage;
  • Journalist (Yolo Sun : https://yolosun.wordpress.com) covering the City since 2008;
  • Devoted community advocate, a fresh voice, independent of local political cliques.

I will:

  • Help design and promote affordable homeownership and diverse inclusionary housing;
  • Support increasing our community resources by ¼ cent for 2018 sales tax renewal;
  • Expedite proper renovation and expansion of Woodland Public Library;
  • Challenge city hall’s “good-ol’-boy” system, ending corrupt civic planning practices;
  • Support 4-way stop signs on downtown Main Street, help rehabilitate County Fair Mall;
  • Strengthen / widen community understanding, cohesion, while raising our quality of life.

Woodland City Council sold-out our Downtown areas, allowing 10 years to resolve serious environmental impacts of Gateway Center.

Recently, Woodland City Council violated state and local laws at proposed Gateway 2 project, approving development adverse to municipal interests.  State appellate court opinion exposed sham environmental processes permitting subversion of our community interests and values.

Please display homemade signage (4 square feet:  Vote Bobby Harris) for this grassroots campaign to improve Woodland.

/s/   Bobby Harris

————————–

Fellow Woodlanders,

Woodland is politically run by a corrupt “good ol’ boy” system, not in the pure public interest.

Under threat of litigation, the city council has finally moved our city elections to: Districts in Nov..

This year (2016) is the first election held in such a way.  Citizens should act upon this change.

Briefly, on the second page of this handout, are listed various aspects of what I believe to be our key city needs, including: affordable housing, augmented city fiscal resources, southerly (not easterly) growth, better property tax split with county, traffic calming for Downtown Main Street.

_________

ELECT  BOBBY HARRIS  FOR WOODLAND CITY COUNCIL

WOODLAND NEEDS:

  • Affordable Home Rental And Ownership – Woodland’s Affordable Housing Ordinance Is Dysfunctional And Rigged For Developers’ Benefit, Losing Millions Of Dollars In Community Housing Equity;
  • Elevated Sales Tax – Most Of Woodland’s Sales Tax Revenue Is Used To Pay Debt At Community & Senior Center And Fix Roads, Leaving Little Money For Valuable Civic Purposes, City Library;
  • Southern (Not Eastern) Growth Toward City Urban Limit Line — Disregarding The Cons Of Conaway Ranch And Associates, Such As Pacific Coast Producers’ Cannery Operation Being At Risk;
  • Specialized Housing Developments Upon (Former) County Fair Mall Expansion Area (38 acres) — On East Street Between Mall And Community & Senior Center, Next To City YoloBus Hub;
  • Optimization Of New, Reformed Property Tax Split With County;
  • A Paul Petrovich (Inc.) Performance And Management Program;
  • Creative, Community Bridge-Building Programs With Davis;
  • End Of City Planning Corruptions (Gateway 2 Lawsuit, Gateway 1 – No Mitigation For A Decade, Conflicting Policies On Urban Limit Line, Unlawful Use Of Development Agreements, Housing Fees);
  • End Of City Staff Practice Of Making “Recommendations” To Elected And Appointed Panels, Just Presenting Relevant Facts;
  • End Of City Political Control By Local “Good-Ol’-Boy” System – Example:  Responsibility For Unreasonable Appointment, Instead Of Election, For Filling Recent Two-Year City Council Seat.

_________

  • Campaign Flier About Daily Democrat :

Dear [Woodland City Council] Candidates,

Please take a stand against the unethical practices of the Daily Democrat!  [R]equiring you to pay money to have your candidate profile in the paper is extortion and borders on illegal.  All candidates should be given equal coverage by the press.  I implore you all to NOT pay the money and ignore any paid coverage by the Daily Democrat.  Better yet, I encourage all of you to take a public stand denouncing this action all together.  [  ]  By taking a stand against these types of practices, you are showing your city and its citizens that you are working for them and not yourself or the newspaper.

Thank you for listening,
Lisa Lutton, Woodland Resident

My response —

Thanks for your vital concerns.  Bobby Harris will take a stand on this item; we’ll see which council candidates cave in to the DD’s unethical and undemocratic demand.

What is a newspaper’s so-called “election supplement” worth — if its editorial substance does not equally cover all candidates?    Less than nothing!

Obviously, DD didn’t think its notion through and it depends upon cooperation by council candidates willing to sacrifice basic political values for a crude attempt at personal gain.

Any Woodland City Council candidate who cooperates with the DD’s — “pay to play” –scheme is clearly demonstrating:  (a) their inability to understand and serve the local public interest, (b) their plain lack of ethics, (c) their propensity toward civic corruption.

The lazy DD is not properly reporting local council election news, expecting candidates to do its job, answer its stewed-up questions and  also pay it for what should be its ordinary press coverage  (for me, there’s no DD profile article, at all, since its editor, Jim Smith, doesn’t like me solidly challenging good-ol’ boy buddies, Stallard & Hilliard).

Paid political ads are normal practice; but here  —  the DD is starkly violating the conventional, “advertising – editorial firewall,” by mixing / conflating what should be conventional news coverage with paid advertising  –-  excluding candidates who cannot / will not pay its price.

Thus, the DD has hijacked our public commons of information for ransom — there is nothing more deplorable, more despicable, for what claims to be a local newspaper.

Such press behavior undermines our local democracy and offends our political values.

The political culprit is DD’s corporate identity and undemocratic logistics.  No genuinely, locally accountable newspaper would attempt such conduct.  DD is owned and operated by one of the largest and worst media corporations in the U.S. – MediaNews Group.

[Wikipedia:  MediaNews Group is known as a cost-cutter in the newspaper publishing industry. The company has a reputation for buying smaller daily newspapers in a single area (examples include Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area) and consolidating their operations, including sharing staff writers and printing facilities. As a result of the cost-cutting, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times,[15] some former employees say that its newspapers are focused on making a profit to the detriment of good journalism.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Woodland City Council has during 2016 delayed its General Plan (2015-2035) processes and wasted several hundred thousand dollars of precious City revenue, behaving like a dumb animal with a ring through its nose, being led by obvious hoaxes contrived by Conaway Preservation Group (Conaway), a little band of very rich and powerful folk who own about 17,000 acres within the Yolo Bypass of the Sacramento River.

Conaway also presently owns (so to speak) Woodland City Hall.

Conaway was a partner for Woodland’s (Davis’ and UCD’s) new surface water program, and is now “joined-at-the-hip” to Woodland, says its regular representative, Bob Thomas.

Voters of Woodland are capable of reclaiming their City Hall from Conaway’s grasp, etc., at the upcoming City Council Election, on November 8.

Jim Hilliard (now mayor) attempted a year ago to justify City inclusion of Conaway’s development option / alternative (on eastern edge of Woodland, nearby the City’s Waste Water Treatment Facility) within general plan processes — in order to preserve farm land.

Council member Sean Denny swiftly agreed with Hilliard and the rest of City Council (Tom Stallard, for whom sheer consensus is often a good enough reason to cave in, and Angel Barajas) soon fully caved in to this unbelievable, unconscionable hoax.

Please see previous Yolo Sun articles, just below on scroll:

Conaway’s Crazy Campaign Succeeding, Woodland City Council Succumbs To Hoaxes

Woodland Planning Commission Buffaloed By Conaway Ranch, Regarding New General Plan

Voters of Woodland in 2006 adopted its Urban Limit Line Ordinance (ULLO), which set ultimate parameters for City growth; those parameters include a relatively small amount of farm land along the City’s southern border.

The basic and approved public policy notion of the ULLO was to draw a line, outside of which no conversion of farm land could ever occur.

Now, this silly City Council — clearly at the strict beck and call of Conaway — wants to arrogantly ignore the plainly spoken will of City voters, by presuming that development of this small amount of farm land within the Urban Limit Line should be hindered / balanced toward the favor of Conaway’s plan to develop easterly, out past Gateway Center, into the floodplain (some distant day to be fixed, assisted by Conaway’s purchase and development of ~900 acres of City land (with potential freeway frontage), now used as a spray-field for organic residue from Pacific Coast Producers’ local tomato cannery, through relocating its spray-field somewhere within Conaway’s many thousands of acres around Yolo Bypass).

At the recent (August 24) City Council – Planning Commission meeting to receive the draft City General Plan, a stream of public testimony — churned up earlier in 2016, by a deviously misleading policy campaign, created by the sending of (very pretty, Conaway approved) post cards to City Hall — seemingly demanded City protection of farm land within the Urban Limit Line.

As previously and accurately announced by Woodland Planning Commissioner, John Murphy: “That ship has already sailed.”

At this draft General Plan reception, there was present a representative (from its Lodi headquarters) of Pacific Coast Producers, “concerned” about how its local tomato cannery was becoming involved within the sketchy chemistry of Woodland City Council politics.

Teamsters Union folk have appeared before the City Council / Planning Commission, falsely arguing that cannery jobs are somehow at risk because of an inadequate spray-field; and thus, the City should pay keen attention to Conaway, since it has ready a better spray-field (and it can then purchase the current ~900 acre spray-field to join with its adjacent land holdings and develop at the eastern edge of the ULLO).

Interestingly, this cannery-ownership representative stated (to Yolo Sun) some quite interesting facts.

Most all of the cannery’s very considerable amount of tomatoes come from with 15 miles of it; but — only about 25 or 50 acres of cannery tomatoes come from within the City Urban Limit Line.

Development on farm land within the Urban Limit Line will, thus — not have any significant effect upon cannery operations.

Also, the cannery will attempt to follow “whatever” the city desires (if revenue neutral); in other words, whatever the city wants, including new development being exclusively directed southerly and no new spray-field, are fully acceptable to it.  There is no form of urgency about the status of its spray-field (and “no recent complaints”), which is large enough to satisfy future cannery needs, for more than a decade if not perhaps forever.

Pacific Coast Producers’ cannery’s future viability does not depend in any way upon the various cons of Conaway.  The cannery was dragged into this matter, simply because Conaway wants its spray-field for development purposes and needs to conjure-up whatever manner of hoaxes are needed to get what it wants, at great expense to Woodland and its citizens.

Voters of Woodland decided, a full decade ago, to develop the farm land within the Urban Limit Line, so that inevitable, slow urban sprawl would not further and unreasonably encroach upon local farm lands.  As well, such land is a prime resource for optimized City planning.

The City Council decided, only a few weeks ago, to appoint Skip Davies to the Council, instead of holding a democratic election, as a device to strengthen Conaway’s control of City Hall.  Davies noted at this recent meeting that — increased City regulatory barriers to any conversion / development of farm land within the Urban Limit Line — should now be strongly considered.

Davies’ newly expressed view appears to be directly at odds with Woodland’s voters and its ULLO, but cunningly consistent with Conaway’s interests.

To complain about and attempt to slyly subvert such well-formulated and clearly intended voter policy, as is now being contrived and contemplated by Woodland City Council — is tantamount to civic (political) treason.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Before its summer recess, Woodland City Council decided to fill the two-year remains of former Council Member Bill Marble’s term, by means of suddenly appointing former two-term Council Member and Mayor Skip Davies.

At this same meeting, Tom Stallard was removed as Mayor, in favor of Council Member Jim Hilliard, for the rest of 2016, and Council Member Angel Barajas was assigned to be Mayor during 2017.

Oddly, an election for Woodland City Council is on the November General Election Ballot, in only a few months,  where Marble’s “at-large” Council seat could have been contested, rather than being subject to (with this timing) an undemocratic incumbent appointment.

Woodland City Council (perhaps excepting Barajas) is slyly reinforcing what is termed the “good-ol’-boy” political system, for many decades the prevailing force within Woodland.

Woodland City Council easily could have chosen to place this quite key council vacancy upon City voters’ ballot, as being the last “at-large” Council seat in City history.

The City “good-ol’-boy” system — under thrall of instant civil-rights litigation — has now (2016) agreed to split the City into five (5) electoral districts and it will hold its Elections at regular General Elections — instead of Primary Elections, where — combined with an “at-large” venue — powers of this “good-ol’-boy” political system were best protected against assault from our City’s citizens, who usually focus on General Elections.

So, how and why was Davies appointed?

Process to fill Council Member Jeff Monroe’s (2010) vacancy included almost thirty (30) applications.  Marble’s vacancy only brought six (6) applications, perhaps because the word was out in the local “good-ol’-boy” network, that Davies had already secured the votes of Council Members Hilliard, Stallard and Denny — locking-in his Council appointment.

Indeed, such a scene was on display at this City Council meeting (July 19), where Hilliard and Denny very strongly insisted that Skip Davies be immediately appointed and, to the seeming distress of Barajas, Stallard (although he had earlier requested more time and process) quickly conceded — ensuring Davies would be appointed (perhaps because anyone on the local political grapevine knew that this was the “good-ol’-boy” plan).

Civic corruption is at the center of this Council appointment.  Lame excuse given, was that Davies being on the council is somehow essential for best adopting the new General Plan.

Davies is in Conaway’s (Conaway Preservation Group’s) ‘hip-pocket,’ when it comes to assuring its (perhaps unreasonable) commercial interests,  for soon increasing various developments at the City’s eastern border (where it holds what it believes to be valuable interests) are advanced within the new City General Plan (2015-2035).

Also clearly in Conaway’s ‘hip-pocket’ are Council Members Hilliard and Denny: Thus, their joint and sudden (as if planned) insistence, during this key council meeting,  that Davies be immediately appointed (while a local election option was earlier shunned).

So, what’s wrong with appointment of “good-ol’-boy” Davies?

This Woodland City Council 2-year vacancy clearly should have been filled with an obviously convenient, democratic election, coincident with its new election format.

Selection of an appointment process for this council seat vividly implies desperate and undemocratic influences within Woodland City Hall, determined to further entrench the local “good-ol’-boy” political apparatus, in hopes maintaining its control of city affairs.

So, what else is wrong with appointment of “good-ol’-boy” Davies?

Where does one begin?

(1)  Davies was instrumental in the — essentially unlawful (a cooked city redevelopment report at the root) — collapse of the City’s opportunity to have developed a renovated and expanded State Theatre complex, five years ago, siding with Paul Petrovich, against very valuable and vastly resonant City interests;

(2)  Davies was a very strong proponent and formidable instigator of the City’s greatly failed Gateway 2 Project (and often heard to say, “we have to get her done”), which has since established state legal history, with a half-dozen violations of state environmental law and ten reprimands of City legal counsel, by the state appellate court — within only 50 pages of this state appellate court opinion;

(3)  Davies was exposed as conniving a “sweetheart deal” between the City and his crony, Bob Takhar (aka: Takhar Bharpur), for an unreasonable and fiscally unwarranted extension of city services to the AM-PM Mini-Mart And Gas Station at the West Street – I-5 Freeway Interchange, outside of the city limits; Takhar, after receiving only 3% interest and long-term installment payments for the expense of providing city services — failed for several years to even pay off this “sweetheart deal” — until Yolo Sun and Woodland Record exposed Takhar’s and Davies’ conduct, resulting in collection of ~ $150,000 of due city revenue;

(4)  Davies was exposed as writing and submitting to the Yolo County Superior Court — on City letterhead and signed as Mayor of Woodland —  a clemency plea for a convicted local pedophile, which he could have done on his own personal initiative; this abuse excused by the Daily Democrat as being his believable mistake of reaching for the wrong stationary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Woodland Public Library is the oldest operating (Andrew) Carnegie Library in California and about half of the size it should be in the modern era.

Formerly, a city utility tax helped fund prior (1980s-era) library renovation and maintenance, but this tax was not renewed, because of the emergence of local Measure E (2006-2018), a half-cent sales tax.

Library trustees of those days were persuaded to fully merge its fiscal interests with the city by not seeking to renew its former utility-tax funding, instead relying on Measure E.

The ~20,000 square foot library (of which, tellingly, a 2000 square foot section still remains unfinished for decades, finally due to be accomplished in 2017) was initially provided with 8% of Measure E funds in 2006: 1% for exterior renovations and 7% for a then proposed 10,000 square foot expansion.

This dimension of planned library expansion is based upon — long obsolete policy language — in Woodland’s (2002) General Plan.

Since at least 2001, American Library Association Guidelines have determined that .75 – 1.0 square feet of space per capita is recommended for a library such as Woodland’s. Its General Plan, however, sets policy for the library service standard at only .5 square foot per capita.

In order to satisfy this nationally recommended criteria (developed over a half-century of broad library experience) for serving 56,400 persons — and growing — the Woodland Public Library would need to at least double in size.

The previously planned, 10,000 square foot library expansion project is clearly insufficient to provide this community with service standards that support the library’s important missions, at the apex of local culture.

Woodland General Plan’s substandard /obsolete library-service goal (half a square foot per capita) must now be replaced with current national standards (three-quarters to one square foot per capita).

Funding for a 20,000 – 25,000 square foot library expansion must be raised, for credibility of the city’s new (2015-2035) General Plan.

Measure E expires in June of 2018 (with funding through September).

General fund tax measures (even linked to advisory measures for political (not legal) purposes) must appear on a city council election ballot. City elections have shifted to November; so, 2016 is the last election to occur before expiration of Measure E.

Renewing Measure E would annually bring ~$4.5 million to city coffers, but most of this money is intended for the city’s roadway improvement program and city debt tied to its new community – sports park complex.

Already lined up behind those key fiscal needs are several public safety goals, which always tend to trump library goals. The library won’t receive much of anything from a simply renewed Measure E, making a farce of properly updating relevant general plan standards.

Is Woodland to have Cadillac roads, alongside a sorely limping library?

Thus – Measure E must be revised, not simply renewed, this time establishing a three-quarter cent tax, combining with the existing quarter-cent tax (Measure J) to make a full cent of sales tax available for city purposes.

That extra quarter-cent of sales tax would annually garner ~$2.25 million, of which $1.25 million should be devoted by advisory commitment to the library, raising $15 million in total (over twelve years) for its proper expansion.

About $1 million per year would also become available to best resolve intense squabbling over the fringe of inadequate half-cent tax revenue.

Measure J (similarly with other local tax measures) was adopted by a 68.6% majority of the local (2014) electorate.

A revised Measure E, setting a three-quarter cent sales tax, would easily be adopted at a threshold of 50% plus one vote.

On balance, Woodland Public Library is as important and popular as the local road program, bonded debt service and public safety.

Woodland City Council must recognize and support library service to local cultural safety (and public / community welfare), by revising both its new General Plan and Measure E for needed satisfaction of library interests.

 

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