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Roberta L. Millstein
Davis, CA
I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Davis; my research is in the philosophy of science, the history & philosophy of biology, and environmental ethics. I serve on the Open Space & Habitat Commission for the City of Davis. The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer’s views in any way. Nothing posted here should be considered official or sanctioned by my employer or any other organization I’m affiliated with.
Recent Activity
Thanks, Robert. I guess I need more detail about that. What's considered the I-80 corridor -- how far away from the highway? Some of these effects are for siting quite close: 500-1000 ft. Are those data published anywhere? Were other factors accounted for, such as age, socio-economic status? And, of course, no such data could say anything about Nishi itself, since no one is currently living at Nishi (legally).
I had the honor of working with Martin in my capacity as a commissioner on the Open Space & Habitat Commission with respect to the changes in IPM Policy that he mentions. I was continually impressed with his professionalism, his depth of knowledge, and his dedication to doing what is right for the City and for the environment. What was done to him is nothing short of a travesty; the City should be ashamed. There seems to be little or no oversight to prevent a talented and valuable employee from being abused in this way. This needs to change. I'm sorry, Martin. This should not have happened to you. And I agree with Martin about the new IPM Policy; it "is more burdensome and bureaucratic, requiring input from an advisory committee and unnecessarily lengthy evaluation of any herbicide & pesticide product used." Yet the City patted itself on the back for a job well done, in spite of Commissioner protest from me and from members of the Natural Resources Commission. For shame.
Nora, I agree especially with what you say at the end: it is complex and the conversations are important. I also agree that when it comes to police oversight and social justice issues, representation from diverse peoples (again, race, gender, LGBTQI, disability, etc) is absolutely essential. But what I think is that there are many ways for people to participate and have a say, and what is important is for our leaders to be committed to that inclusion. Again, of course, ideally the leaders themselves also reflect that diversity. But since this is fairly publicly known already, I might as well admit that I supported Bernie over Hillary, in part because I thought he'd do a better job addressing the needs of and listening to those diverse constituencies, based on his past track record. As for the Davis situation, I think the issues are all entangled. How fast we grow and where and how, and how much money the City has, all affect how the police will operate and what kind of social justice goals we can achieve. My view is that Larry's and Ezra's track records and values put them in a better position to achieve those many and connected goals for the City.
Todd, I may be misremembering, but I don't think that Tia said that there was a *study* of residents of East Olive, only that she spoke to an epidemiologist that she knows and that that epidemiologist did not know of any increase in cancer among that group. It seems to me that those data would be difficult to obtain and that without a proper study, someone's impression isn't that weighty. But maybe Tia can weigh in herself on this issue.
I agree that representation matters, and I would certainly prefer to be represented by a woman all else being equal. I actually think that if this were a national vote all of the women running would represent my values well and I do respect each of them. If I thought that any of the women running represented my values for the City of Davis, I'd vote for her in a heartbeat. But none of them do. Two very important issues for me are the anti-Nishi vote (I want to know that a future Councilmember will support safe and wise projects, which I don't think that Nishi is) and Measure R (which supports citizens' rights to vote). Ezra and Larry are anti-Nishi and pro-Measure R without qualification. So, they have my vote. I had hoped that one of the women running would fit that characterization, but it was not to be. In talking with Larry and Ezra, I do have confidence that they are sensitive to issues that women and people of color face (as well as issues faced by the LGBTQI community and people with disabilities), that they listen, that they care. So, while I very much respect your choices, Nora and Evan, they are not my choices.
Bill, thanks for re-engaging on this question (and for asking the question in the first place). Although (as I said) I do think there are reasons to think that the Nishi site is worse than other near-freeway sites, I also agree with you that there are still questions, and that we ought to do more monitoring to find out. The City Council could have asked the developer to test the Nishi site, but they chose not to (and meanwhile, the developer has already spent over three times what that testing would have cost just to promote the "yes on Nishi" campaign), and they could have also tested nearby sites for comparison's sake. I think that would be a good thing to do.
So sorry to hear this, Nancy, but I appreciate your sharing your friends' experiences. I guess that brings me back to the last point in my post: Let's not repeat mistakes of the past. Using past mistakes to justify future ones is a very perverse form of reasoning.
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In a recent letter to the editor in the Enterprise, Bill Wagman asks, "What is the difference [between Nishi and Olive Drive] and why do there seem to be no concerns voiced about Olive Drive. Or are there concerns which have not been made public?" The answer is: It is... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2018 at The Davisite
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In a recent post, Jon Li decried the process used by "Downtown Davis Plan Team Participatory Design Workshop." In addition to those concerns about process, in his view the right solution to Davis's economic problems is to turn the Downtown into 10,000 residences by building six stories, and higher, and... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2018 at The Davisite
That's very disturbing to hear, Pam. In San Francisco, building tall has resulting in empty storefronts: https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Empty-storefronts-cast-pall-over-city-street-life-12744566.php If San Francisco can't attract businesses under these conditions, what makes us think that Davis can? As you say, it seems like our focus is on the wrong thing. I want to support our local and independent businesses.
Todd, I'm not sure what it refers to. But that is the full name: "Davis Gateway Student Housing LLC & Affiliated Entities"
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By Matt Williams In the 2015-16 deliberations about the Nishi 2016 proposal, the City’s economic consultant EPS presented to the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) its initial model of costs and revenues, which showed a $78,000 deficit fiscal impact for the City in the first year of full buildout, which... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2018 at The Davisite
And here I will shamelessly plug my own DMA video in the series, for the "No on J" campaign: https://dctv.davismedia.org/content/no-measure-j-nishi
Well, some of us didn't buy that argument the first time around, and we're certainly not buying it the second time around with an inferior project and the same health-harming bad air quality.
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Expensive and glossy mailers from the Nishi developer (paid for by "Davis Gateway Student Housing LLC & Affiliated Entities") have begun arriving at Davis addresses. The back of the mailer touts support from "local leaders we trust." These leaders are said to include the five current members of the Davis... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2018 at The Davisite
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Yesterday, Dan Cornford wrote about how the Nishi project would contribute to traffic and the deterioration of air quality downtown. People who don't travel these roads frequently might have trouble seeing why that would be the case. Well, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2018 at The Davisite
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If you read the ballot Argument in Favor of Measure J 2018 (that is, the argument in favor of Nishi 2.0, not the Measure J from 2000 that gave Davis citizens the right to vote on projects like Nishi), you will see that it is mostly focused on the issue... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2018 at The Davisite
A note from the post author: Dan Cornford left a long comment on this post, but at his suggestion, I have made it a separate post. The comment can be found here: http://www.davisite.org/2018/04/a-few-more-specific-questions-to-ask-city-council-candidates.html
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At the recent CivEnergy City Council forum, audience members filled out cards asking other questions of the candidates -- questions that there was simply not enough time to ask during the forum itself (with 9 candidates, it's hard to ask a lot of questions!). It's a little grainy and part... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2018 at The Davisite
I don't disagree, Richard. What bothers me is when some people (here,Linda is the example) get excoriated for changing their mind, while other people (Mary Jo, Eric) get a pass for changing theirs. That's why I wrote this piece. Linda is being singled out for doing something that two other candidates have done.
People deserve and expect a minimum level of safety in their homes. This is recognized in a variety of governmental ordinances. Nishi, as far as we know (again, more testing should be done) does not meet that level of safety. Again, the City's own EIR said that the health impacts would be significant and unavoidable. Luckily for us, Nishi is not the only place where students can live. We should be insisting that the university provide more housing for students, where they can be housed more safely and without needing to commute. We should not be sacrificing student health in the name of a housing crisis.
Toggle Commented Mar 31, 2018 on Seven FAQs about Nishi Air Quality at The Davisite
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1. What is the Nishi project? Measure J/R gives Davis citizens the right to vote on whether residences (aimed at students, but not exclusively for students) should be built on the Nishi property. Two years ago, Davis citizens voted down a project at Nishi. That project had a commercial component... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2018 at The Davisite
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The Davis College Democrats (DCD) have excoriated Linda Deos for her apparent change of position on Measure R* from "I am definitely for repealing" to "I support Measure R." Now, with the publication of the candidates' responses to CivEnergy's question about Measure R, we can see where the other four... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2018 at The Davisite
That's an interesting hypothesis, Ross, but David Greenwald, the Vanguard's site owner, has said explicitly that the links were removed because he sees us as competition. The screenshot is the link that I give in the comment right above yours, or, you could go to the Vanguard's post, which I like to at the bottom my post above. Here is the text to save you the trouble: Ron March 15, 2018 at 12:27 pm What happened to the link to Davisite.org, where the above reference can be located? References are allowed on the Vanguard, if there’s an appropriate text reference included. Commenters do this on a routine basis. Please put the link back. It reflects poorly on the Vanguard, to delete it. Keith O March 15, 2018 at 1:26 pm Maybe the problem is that’s the competition? LOL Ron March 15, 2018 at 4:10 pm Well, that’s what I was thinking. No other links with text have been deleted, in my experience. But, at least my comment noting the deletion is apparently being allowed to remain. Seems like there might be room for more than one politically-oriented publication. David Greenwald March 15, 2018 at 4:19 pm There’s room for more than one soft drink company, but I’m not expecting links to the Pepsi site to remain on a Coca Cola site.
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Source: Davis Wiki At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 20, a very important but easily missed item was presented and approved by the Council: The 2030 Strategic Plan for the City of Davis Open Space Program. I highlight it here not only because I think the issues are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2018 at The Davisite