Yolo County grand jury releases final report
July 7 – Davis Fire Department personnel were at the center of an investigation by the Yolo County Grand Jury, which released its final report for the year at the end of June.
This year’s grand jury received 43 complaints from the public, and undertook 10 investigations which resulted in five final reports.
Among them was an investigation of the Davis Fire Department in response to allegations of misuse of facilities by off-duty employees and a difficult work environment stemming from the close relationship between the fire chief and the local union – the Davis Professional Firefighters Local 3494.
The grand jury also discovered that off-duty firefighters misuse fire department facilities after drinking at the bars in downtown Davis by sleeping at the firehouse rather than going home.
The city of Davis released an initial response to the report in which city manager Bill Emlen thanked the jurors for their dedication but criticized their findings as either inaccurate or not detailed enough for the city to investigate fully.
“We believe the Grand Jury Report includes several statements that are factually incorrect,” wrote Emlen in his response. “Taken together, they contribute to a less than accurate picture of the Davis Fire Department.”
-Originally reported by Alysoun Bonde
Nader presidential campaign stops in Davis
Aug. 4 – Ralph Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez came to Varsity Theatre to speak at a campaign rally, where they focused on their campaign goals and challenges.
Just hours before his visit to Davis, the California Peace and Freedom Party announced that Nader, an Independent, would be the party’s presidential candidate on the California ballot in November, a major step for his campaign.
Gonzalez, a San Francisco politician, took the stage first, opening and closing with a heated message responding to demands that Nader apologize to people who believe his campaign took away votes from Democratic Party candidate John Kerry in 2004.
“The only way you can make your vote relevant is to vote for who you want and not be scared,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard out there, and it’s important that the people who support us defend us.”
Nader spoke about his belief in a single-payer national health care service. He also discussed the environment and the need to get air pollution under control, the need to harness solar energy, to decrease the “bloated military budget” and to have a livable minimum wage.
-Originally reported by Ali Edney
County needle exchange gets one more year
Aug. 18 – Yolo County’s needle exchange program, active for one year, has generated some controversy this summer because of reports that used syringes were showing up in public parks.
Despite the concerns, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 earlier this month to allow the needle exchange to continue into its second year at a cost of $100,000.
The needle exchange program is designed to give sterile needles to injection drug users in exchange for their old and used syringes. The goal of the program is to reduce the spread of blood- and bone-transmitted diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV, said Bette Hinton, Yolo County health director.
The program works on a “one-to-one plus 10” syringe exchange system, meaning that the program will give 10 syringes to a new participant in the program and then exchange one new, sterile syringe for every old, used one brought back.
“This program has only had a year’s worth of time to grow,” said supervisor Mariko Yamada, who represents part of Davis. “We need to give the program time to sort out the problems.”
Others say the problems are too great for the program to continue.
“My primary concern … is that there are 11,253 unaccounted-for needles out there and 150 people in the program,” said supervisor Matt Rexroad to the board. “The average user is responsible for 75 needles that are unaccounted for rolling around out there.”
-Originally reported by Ali Edney
City begins charging for parking downtown
Aug. 28 – The Davis City Council voted in April to implement a paid parking system in the E Street Plaza, and parking pay stations were installed at the beginning of September.
Visitors now have to pay a dollar an hour to park in the lot, up to a maximum of four hours at a time. Parking can also be purchased in smaller increments, at 25 cents for every 15 minutes.
Parking will still be free after 6 p.m. and on Sundays. Parking in most other downtown parking lots remains free, up to two hours at a time.
“It stems from many, many requests we’ve had from downtown patrons who want to be able to park for longer downtown,” said Downtown Davis Business Association administrator Joy Cohan. “They do not want to have to move their car if they want to eat and shop, or go to a movie.”
Cohan said converting the lot to a fee-based system will open up more spaces for people who really need them and are willing to pay.
“With paid parking, they know they have a place they can park, and we think that’s going to bring more visitors,” she said.
-Originally reported by Jeremy Ogul
CITY NEWS SUMMER DIGEST was compiled by JEREMY OGUL. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.