YOLO SUN OPINION :
Below are the remarks and responses of Bobby Harris, candidate for Woodland City Council, during League of Women Voters’ Forum on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
Opening Remarks, LWV Forum 2014, Bobby Harris
Woodland greatly needs a progressive voice on City Council. Progressive means someone with knowledge, aptitude and civic loyalty to advance the public interest against entrenched malfeasance and corruption.
Indeed, civic malfeasance and corruption has been plentiful during recent years, reaching apex under city manager Deven, who was an unmitigated disaster, repeatedly engineering adverse actions for the City Council, seriously damaging our community development, such as: Gateway 2 project, Chase Bank project, downtown theatre fiasco, no city budget for two years (including secret briefings for Chamber of Commerce), violation of the city’s ballot-based, urban limit line ordinance, undue roll-backs in development impact fees, ignorance about our city library, closed-door dealing, catering various corruptions for city council cronies, etc. etc..
Most of our citizens are unaware of these huge problems, since we don’t have a city newspaper with allegiance to journalism in the public interest, leaving it for blogs to try to rake the mountains of muck.
An older item: Does anyone know that the city paid Petrovich $2 million at commercial real-estate rates for the land containing the on-ramp for Gateway Center? It should have been dedicated to the city, per regular planning process.
Deven left town (warmly thanked by the city’s political class / elite), leaving an interim city manager the grim task of beginning clean-up of this mess.
Finally, we have a city manager who seems a champion of public interest, Paul Navazio, with whom the city should be able to make civic progress.
Bill Marble has a lock on his seat in this election, he’ll be our next mayor. The real political contest is among three candidates. I am the one who is independent of the entrenched political cliques that have long used their influence within a twisted leverage of at-large, primary elections, to control the city council and exploit our community. That’s plain and simple truth.
Where have been these other two candidates, while I have been for many years continually monitoring city conduct and defending our community interests, outside of the influence of these political cliques, that these two candidates depend upon to grease their sleds. I don’t use such grease, I carry my sled to where the public interest provides gravity for progress.
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LWV Question 1:
The City of Woodland is currently redoing their General Plan. A major component of the Plan is “How much growth should the Plan accommodate for the next 20 years?” Please state your position on growth alternatives for the city including where and when it should occur?
Community development demands a wise balance of measures designed to evolve consistent with our interests, values and opportunities. General Plan provisions are our basic planning document, our cultural blueprint.
Since redevelopment authority is gone, primary support for amenities of essential infill opportunities, such as downtown revitalization / urbanization is through negotiations over peripheral development. A wise balance of development provides economic leverage for Woodland’s urbanization.
The political question is if the City Council is able to wisely act in the public interest; if history is indication, it is not so capable. It needs serious help, which I propose to provide, as a progressive voice to balance what exists. My proposal is to: Develop the Hwy 113 – Road 25A interchange using regional commercial uses and business park opportunities, as outlined in the draft General Plan, allowing residential development to occur within Specific Plan 1A boundaries — when ~50% of permits are pulled for SLSP.
38 acres south of the mall (Prudler project), now in our planning process, violates our urban limit-line ordinance, which requires formal evaluation of potential for increased densities, as well as being proposed without parks. This project should be re-negotiated and re-designed to best suit its parcel, between the mall and the community center on the key East Street transit corridor. Infill development should also substantially assist and fund our paramount goal of city urbanization.
Proposed General Plan consolidation and modernization of zoning is long overdue.
Flood risks have now diminished with new mapping, inducing food-processing related enterprises to begin considering locations within Woodland’s industrial area – as well as general, agriculturally related enterprises — central to our local economic interests.
Mixed-use development should occur upon the formerly proposed site of Gateway 2, as outlined within the draft General Plan, consistent with our urban limit-line law.
No movie theater should ever be allowed at Gateway Center. Clearly, this is a discretionary issue for City Council (upon review of the CUP), despite contrary concern.
Flood protection may now be on the planning horizon, due to our ability to apply for state (Prop. 1A) funding, meaning that we may have a flood solution within a decade or so.
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LWV Question 2:
How do you think sustainability should be incorporated in all actions taken by the City Council including but not limited to the General Plan, transportation, and water? Include in your remarks your view of a Climate Action Plan for the City of Woodland.
Walking around town the other day, I met a 21 year-old bike rider who is getting one for his girlfriend. “I make $9 an hour,” he said, “I can’t afford a car or gas to put in it.” Fossil-fueled transit impedes sustainability of our community; we must invigorate alternatives in every possible manner.
Water conservation is a clear priority, as well as our surface-water project, establishing well-storage uses and marketing our treated-water supply. Solar-energy installations are now planned for city facilities, a key trend, which is expected to annually produce more than 5 million kwh of power.
Our Climate Action Plan, presently being developed, will provide us with policies articulating in great detail our quest for community sustainability.
The City Council should endorse and promote a state / national carbon tax, rebated directly to each citizen and outside of all political influences.
Wise land use is also a prominent element of community sustainability. Peripheral development must not only pay its own way and contribute to city urbanization; it must also meaningfully help accomplish sustainability. Infill projects must also serve local sustainability goals, wherever relevant, upon establishment of municipal codes to better implement such policies.
On key a land use matter, worth recognizing is that only one Woodlander defending against Gateway 2, now voided by the state appellate court for multiple violations of environmental law, was quoted for this cause within the court’s opinion: Me, monitoring and objecting against this bad project.
Court records indicate that the City Council defended this project with its announced policy that the City: “Has no power to distribute or control the distribution of commercial potential,” an outright abdication of our zoning authority, having implications for sustainability. Such nonsense must end.
Finally, we should recognize that there is a cultural component basic to any notion of community sustainability. We now exist in a hot, class war, wherein the City Council must possess a scope of experience outside of its present ability for political understanding. “Diversity” is more properly understood as class-based, contrasted with the usual focus on ethnicity. I am the only City Council candidate of the city’s economic underclass.
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LWV Question 3 :
The City Council has made the decision to ask voters whether to move to electing Council members by District. This may be the last election for electing Council members at large. What is your position on District elections and when should the election for city council be held?
Are we a real democracy; or are we a plutocracy, perhaps an oligarchy?
Most citizens want to vote in November general elections, so why are City Council elections held when only half of our citizens vote? Elites among us demand it, to best protect various interests of local political cliques.
As earlier stated, our primary political challenge is class-based inequality, rather than that of ethnicity, which currently carries such identification.
Discerning that the City Council would attempt what amounts to another unlawful, at-large, primary election in 2014, knowing a politically inclined Latina mother of six, desiring to become a legal petitioner, I decided to contact a prominent Bay Area firm specializing in civil rights issues.
During our discussions, there suddenly arose a quite strange situation, of which local citizens should now be made aware.
Out of the blue, Jesse Ortiz contacted this Bay Area law firm, for purposes of dissuading it from assisting CVRA reform in Woodland. At the same time — Ortiz postured as a primary advocate for Latino voting rights, with Skip declaring in open council session that: “Jesse knows what’s best for Woodland,” by cooperating with unconscionable delay in CVRA reform.
Why did Ortiz (a prominent Latino) thusly behave, seeking to obstruct local CVRA reform (he has long ago been afforded an opportunity to respond)?
In the first place, he is running for county schools chief and must appeal to the basic political quotient within a primary election scenario — which he is not willing to challenge. Ortiz seems not to perceive the obviously inherent conflict-of-interest involved with presuming to be a strong leader of Latino voting rights and running for county schools chief. But then again, unless this situation surfaces, he might expect to hide such a complexion.
Secondly, CVRA reform would complicate / upset long-made plans for Angel’s candidacy. Another Latino, Joe Romero, wanted to run; but, he was told to stand in line, to await his turn — since CVRA reform had been delayed. Such behavior is repellent to democracy, much rather being the nature of politically conservative, clique behavior, from which we suffer.
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TEXT: WAVE TV’S CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE VIDEO, BOBBY HARRIS
(– To view video on internet, go to: wavetv.org –)
Thanks to Wave staff at Channel 21, for this election opportunity of a publically sponsored nature, where all candidates are on equal ground, rather than being boosted by money from only a very few of about 25,000 voters in Woodland, the political cliques that have for decades controlled our City Hall by using at-large, primary elections. This election should have been held by districts at the general election in November, but these political cliques, both conservative and supposedly liberal, wouldn’t let that occur, because it threatens their control.
No cliquey bankroll for it, but Woodland desperately needs a progressive voice on its City Council, for the first time in its modern history, because times are changing much faster than a politically one-legged Council can ever keep up with. Improved dialogue of wider political experience and scope is needed for our community evolution, and that will occur only if I am elected to the Council.
Diversity is needed, class-based diversity on City Council, and the only way this progressive diversity will begin to exist, is by my election, since I am the only under-class candidate. As a member of the economic under-class, I’ve successfully advocated and innovated two major, statewide public-policy reforms; poor people can help get the job of justice done, for they best understand it.
Bill Marble will run away with this election and be our next mayor. The actual political choice is which of the other three of us becomes elected, whether the cliques will prevail with their usual methods of control — or whether we actually bring fresh ideas and experienced vision on our City Council.
I believe Angel and Steve are earnestly endeavoring for election; it’s simply that progressively diverse values are best represented by someone with such life experience.
Angel was born and raised here; I’ve been a Woodlander for those same thirty some years, as an adult involved in civic affairs. Steve, successful conservative businessman; but now, we profoundly need progressive diversity.
Both of them should run again from districts at the next election, but neither has the political character needed to pursue an experienced balancing of Council perspectives. Marble is the candidate of maintaining our consistency; I am the candidate of our progressive change and evolution. Such political balance is essential for success.
Durable political independence and experience is what I bring to council decision-making, garnered from a lifetime of involvement and understanding, a complex seasoning.
When our community needed defense against Petrovich’s now defeated Gateway 2 project, I was on the front line, with my criticisms recognized by the state appeals court.
So, what are some prominent community challenges?
Economic development: Agricultural and food-processing enterprises should be attracted, since our heritage is so valued, as is our location on primary transportation routes. We are presently receiving attention for this development, as new flood-maps reveal minimal impacts in some areas. Several such businesses are now actively inquiring about their potential location in Woodland, says City staff.
Let’s develop the Highway 113 – Road 25A interchange, with business-park and regionally commercial uses, both likely attracting increased participation of Davisites within Woodland’s economy.
Let’s focus on creating a long-delayed Renaissance in our downtown, altering our Main Street traffic pattern toward pedestrian values with four-way stops, diagonal parking and a reasonable program for Main Street being our city square, where regular events attract foot-traffic needed for our downtown merchants to succeed and flourish.
Let’s spend a substantial part of remaining redevelopment funds for what this community has long desired, creating a renovation and expansion of our State Theatre, which should have already occurred, but for bad Council actions.
Public Safety: Woodland needs a Council member of the underclass, to best comprehend and transform challenges into established justice and community progress. Needed are innovative programs to manage these matters and an experienced attitude devoted to community protection.
Housing: Home ownership is fundamental to a healthy and happy community; yet, the City Council is not properly challenging housing developers to serve this great need. Let’s find ways to bring home-ownership within the reach of working-class Woodlanders, using innovative planning designs to foster sustainable community development.
Library: Our library needs more city support. Measure J is simply a beginning. A way must be found to expand our library in a proper manner; yet, the City Council will have taken thirty years to finish its current renovation plan. We need dynamic, innovative leadership to discover the way for best expanding the library toward future demands.
Climate Action Plan: Woodland must have a successful climate action plan as a pivotal General Plan component, fully integrated into developmental decision-making. The City Council should endorse, promote a national carbon tax, rebated to each citizen, outside of any political use.
Transparency: This has obviously been a huge challenge for the City Council, with its prevalent backroom deals and handshake agreements, which are grossly undermining community development; from Gateway 2, to Chase Bank, to the downtown theatre fiasco, to violation of ballot-based planning policy for residential developers, to sweetheart deals for council cronies, to undue impact fee roll-backs.
Flood Control: City staff are now working to obtain state bond funds, to be allocated in 2016, which would totally resolve Woodland’s flood issues, since the Cache Creek drainage is becoming realized as the key to regional flood solutions. We may now have comprehensive flood control within a decade or so, without compromising community integrity by premature, peripheral development schemes.