Monday, May 12, 2014

Davis City Council candidates Q&A

Two questions for the 2014 Davis City Council candidates:

1. The City’s hourly (or unit) labor costs have been growing faster than the City’s revenues have been growing for many years. Do you believe that is sustainable?

2. If you think the growing unit cost of labor is unsustainable, what reforms, if any, to the City’s labor contracts would you suggest the next City Council pursue to make these costs sustainable?


Daniel Parrella:

        1. No, whenever you have costs increasing faster than revenues that is inherently unsustainable. The growing employer's share of CalPERS in particular is daunting and represents a significant chunk of rising costs. 

        2. I would like to continue to build on the successes of the last labor negotiations. We have a few options moving forward. For starters all the employee groups should pay what the Davis Police Officers Association pays. They are the only group that pays both 9% employee share of CalPERS as well as 3% of the employer's share of CalPERS. We could also cut down on the Cafeteria Cash-Out Plan, It is currently at $500 and could be lowered to zero. Asking our employees to pick up a bigger tab of the employer's share, boosting it from 3% to say 5%, would also save a tremendous amount of money in the long run. 


Sheila Allen:

The growing cost of pensions and health benefits for the staff of the City of Davis and other public agencies is a major and legitimate public concern.  It is a major contributor to the $5 million structural budget shortfall that the city manager has estimated over the next five years.  A major portion of any public entity and most businesses are personnel costs.

However, labor costs are not the only factor that has been growing faster than city revenues in recent years. For example, the cost of materials needed to rebuild our pot-holed city roads have accelerated.  And, obviously, water rates will be increasing to pay for the joint project with the City of Woodland that will secure Davis' water future.

In comparing labor costs to revenues, it is important to remember that the country just suffered the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and the recovery has been much slower than past economic recoveries. The City of Davis was not immune from this economic downturn. Also, major state funding sources such as RDA have either dried up or significantly decreased. In addition, insurance costs have also increased. grew faster in recent years than city revenues.  But this problem is not unique to Davis. Almost every entity of local government across the state of California has been enduring these difficulties.

2. The situation calls for looking at every part of the budget equation to gets the city's books permanently back into balance. This includes the new revenues from Measure O on the June 3 ballot, which I support. I would look at every important asset in the city's portfolio and examine how it could be used to better the city's financial condition. In addition, economic development will also add to the revenue side of the equation.

And I think the adoption of additional budget efficiencies, including steps to help contain future growth in labor costs, are unavoidable until we are in balance. The city will need to go beyond the $11 million reduction in General Fund costs that have already been implemented by the current City Council in recent years.  While funding for public safety is a core service of city government and must always be the city's priority, every sector of city spending deserves a closer look in times like these.  

The city has just implemented a new round of contracts and imposed terms on two labor groups that did not reach a new contract with the city that have imposed some significant rollbacks in city compensation.  I support adhering to the terms for the life of the contract agreements. Future increases in compensation agreed to in future labor negotiations may need to be accompanied by offsetting concessions that require city staff either to contribute more to the cost of their benefits and-or agree to other changes that enable additional savings to assure a balanced budget and the long term fiscal health of the city.

That said, I am a very strong supporter of the city employees who are being asked to do more with less and to accept these difficult decreases in pay.  We must be careful to remember that we operate in a competitive market for city staff.  We need to attract, retain and value public servants who will maintain the high quality of city services that Davis residents rightfully insist upon.


Robb Davis:

I would say they are not sustainable and we can think about this in a number of ways.  First, 70% of our General Fund is in Employee Compensation.  By my calculations the total GF costs will be growing at about 3.2% per year and revenue at 2.5% over the next 5 years.  Given the place of employee compensation in total costs it is clear that we cannot bring the two rates of growth into line without dealing with growing employee compensation.  But the prospects for that are dim.  Our pension costs are set to double between now and 2020—going up to over $13 million.  Further, and this is where the lack of sustainability is clear, even though we have cut 22% of workforce over the past 5 years, pension costs alone next year will be where they were 3 years ago.  So we are cutting staff but paying more for that staff.  Most of that is in pensions, OPEB and current employee medical care.  Finally, even as our “reserve” shrinks to zero over the next year or so, we are still not maintaining streets and other critical infrastructure within our GF budget (the proposed 2014/15 budget has 2 million or so for maintenance but that is a drop in the bucket compared to need).  So, we may need to return to citizens for a parcel tax to cover street repairs.  THAT demonstrates the lack of sustainability of our budget: if we cannot cover the costs of maintaining current infrastructure with our current revenues but must look to hard-to-achieve tax increases (2/3 vote to pass), we have a problem.  

Of course we could deal with this lack of sustainability with rapid revenue growth from sales, property and unsecured property taxes.  But I am skeptical that we can grow or maintain growth rates in revenue to fill these holes (and you did not really ask about growing revenue—even though it is a piece of the puzzle).

2. If you think the growing unit cost of labor is unsustainable, what reforms not yet undertaken  if any, to the City’s labor contracts would you suggest the next City Council pursue to make these costs sustainable?

My solutions are stated in general terms because I am not sure (yet) where the greatest savings can occur.  But we should be willing to do all of the following (and I may be missing some—you will educate me I am sure):

1. We have reduced the cafeteria cash out but could/should we take it to zero?  Some cities do not have this and while some argue that by going to zero we may push more people INTO our plan (which would cost us more), I have not seen evidence of that.  Cutting the cafeteria cash out to zero should be on the table.
2. We will have to seek greater staff contributions to pensions.  This has been done in the past but salary lost to such contributions was “backfilled” by giving salary increases.  In the future we must request greater contributions to pensions and NOT backfill.
3. We must freeze all salaries (see previous point) in the next round of negotiations if possible.
4. We should explore graduated salary reductions.  By graduated I mean we should ask the highest paid staff to take salary reductions at a higher rate than lower paid staff.  We may simply freeze some salaries (I AM talking about salaries here) but have graduated salary cuts above a certain threshold.  UC Davis did this a few years back.
5. We should stop closing city offices (using a kind of furlough program) and ask staff to work full time for the same (or less) salary.  
6. I think we have gained some cost saving via recent state level decisions about where our medical care is referenced (Sacramento versus Bay Area).  We should also examine the possibility of asking for greater employee contributions to current medical care (if possible) and contributions to the retiree portion for beneficiaries (again, if possible—I need to study this more).
7. I am not sure what, if anything, we can do with current retiree medical care but we should examine what is possible to have them contribute more or provide a different coverage. 
8. Finally, we should look at the potential for outsourcing at all levels.  My only concern about outsourcing is that while it seems like a logical way to cut costs (we could offer contracts to those who pay salaries equal to the city staff’s and decent medical care but save tremendously because of no pension costs), I am concerned about quality of work.  This is not a smokescreen but a real concern.  Ownership and identification with the goals of the city IS a motivating factor for city staff and if we are going to outsource we need to have in place clear quality assessment guidelines for any outsourced jobs.

We have done some of 8 but perhaps need to be more aggressive in putting all of them on the table.  You can correct me where I am wrong here—as I am sure to be.  This is a huge and challenging area of learning for me.


John Munn:

I will start by observing that there are more challenges to the City of Davis budget than unit labor costs alone. I have not tried to separate unit labor cost out before, so you are going to get my initial thoughts that sometimes need to be corrected, which I expect but can be more painful in a public arena. I can also note with certainty that, having followed your columns, you already know a lot more about this than you will get from me.
I have commented elsewhere about the apparent lack of control over providing city services that comes from relying on attrition to reduce the number of city employees, and that total payroll has increased despite the reduction in number of employees. Increasing unit labor costs resulting from higher health care coverage and pension charges helps explain why the City’s budget has grown while number of employees has gone down. Rising payroll while the number of employees has been reduced by over 20 percent could also result from loss of lower paid workers, who actually provide services, while increasing the number of higher paid management employees. At his point, I don’t have information needed to know the relative importance of these possibilities in creating our current labor cost problems. Also, I want it to be clear that I consider total employee compensation to include both what is paid directly to an employee (including deducted amounts) and what is contributed by the employer to pay for benefits (some of which may be an unfunded future benefit). With that background, I will go on to try to answer your question.
Unit labor cost increases, alone, might not be the only reason for our current City budget deficit. But they must be a big part since, without raises, fewer employees should mean lower overall costs. However, having fewer employees might also pencil out to a lower overall cost of pension and health care costs depending on how the city contributions to pensions and health care are calculated for different employment classes (for example, is the health care cost of an employee tied to salary or not) and on the recent “give-backs” in employee bargaining agreements. This would need to be compared to increased health care system and pension system costs to know for sure, and I would work with City staff to produce that information.
With or without the complications noted above, and even without raises, there will be future increases in pension compensation because of staged increases in CalPERS rates and likely growth in health care premiums. So the City’s share of unit labor costs must be brought under control or they will inevitably grow to be larger than the general fund. This is obviously not sustainable.
In addition, total employee compensation is still adding to our unfunded liabilities. I have seen estimates of unfunded compensation liabilities of $15 million for pensions and nearly $60 million for health care. These are really big numbers, but I also know that they can grow or shrink based on assumptions about investment returns and rates of increasing cost that are subject to change.

Rich Rifkin Question 2: If you think the growing unit cost of labor is unsustainable, what reforms not yet undertaken, if any, to the City’s labor contracts would you suggest the next City Council pursue to make these costs sustainable?
John Munn Response:
From the information I have seen so far, paying for growth of unit labor costs without large, and probably unacceptable, local tax increases or other large sources of new revenue requires that employees pay a greater share of the cost for pension and health care benefits that are made available to them through City employment. Another approach to reducing the growth of unit labor costs is to create tiered systems, where reduced benefit packages are offered to new employees. However, I still want to see the assumptions and calculations before stating conclusions about how the City Council should deal with these costs.
Opportunities for collecting more City revenue from new sources, in addition to sales and parcel taxes, such as from business park property taxes and business-to-business sales, would also help to support growing employee costs. But the net City revenue increases that can be realistically produced from innovation parks and other business growth still need to be determined. This does not mean that business parks do not provide benefits, some of which have revenue spin-offs, such as local jobs. Hotel occupancy taxes are another potential source of new revenue.
Labor cost is a major part of the City budget, and my approach to balancing the budget is to go through a review process to identify available revenues and then match revenue to spending, including the cost of future unfunded needs such as pensions, health care, and street maintenance and repair. Then the holes between revenue and spending can be seen and a discussion about how or whether to fill them can take place. This is needed to gain the public’s trust in decisions made by the City Council, particularly about taxes and cuts. And City employees must also participate in this process so that they can see what measures are needed to maintain their benefits in the long term.


Rochelle Swanson:

As a sitting elected, it is inappropriate for me to give specific answers on specific items on labor contracts — especially when (we) have a couple not formally agreed to, but imposed. I think my record is strong on taking tough votes on getting our budget in better shape.

I can tell you that I will continue to support the use of a hired outside negotiator, which Joe (Krovoza) and I championed. And no, growing costs without matching revenues is not sustainable.

Monday, February 10, 2014

NYT: Nuclear Waste Solution Seen in Desert Salt Beds

One of the great problems of nuclear power has always been what to do with the radioactive waste. Most of it presently is stored at the reactor sites, and most of the spent rods are kept in specially designed pools, called wet storage. 
The rest of the waste, also usually kept on site, is in dry storage. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, dry storage began in 1986: "In this method, spent fuel is surrounded by inert gas inside a container called a cask. The casks can be made of metal or concrete, and some can be used for both storage and transportation. They are either placed horizontally or stand vertically on a concrete pad." 
Finally, however, The New York Times is reporting that New Mexico salt mines are providing a simple, feasible and effective solution:
Half a mile beneath the desert surface, in thick salt beds left behind by seas that dried up hundreds of millions of years ago, the Department of Energy is carving out rooms as long as football fields and cramming them floor to ceiling with barrels and boxes of nuclear waste. 
The salt beds, which have the consistency of crumbly rock so far down in the earth, are what the federal government sees as a natural sealant for the radioactive material left over from making nuclear weapons. 
The process is deceptively simple: Plutonium waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and a variety of defense projects is packed into holes bored into the walls of rooms carved from salt. At a rate of six inches a year, the salt closes in on the waste and encapsulates it for what engineers say will be millions of years.

For many years the hope had been to bury it in Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But that never happened, largely because Nevadans opposed it, and they had strong political leadership from Sen. Harry Reid to make sure it was never done.
(The salt beds of the New Mexico desert are) of particular interest since the demise of the plan for Yucca Mountain, a volcanic ridge 100 miles from Las Vegas chosen by Congress for the storage of nuclear waste from power reactors and weapons, but adamantly opposed by the state of Nevada. 
The material buried at the plant, which began accepting waste in 1999, is limited by law to plutonium waste from making weapons, which is exceptionally long-lived but not highly radioactive. The waste from spent nuclear fuel, which is far more radioactive in its first few centuries, is not permitted. But experts say that proper testing and analysis might show that the salt beds at (the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) are a good home for the radioactive waste that was once meant for Yucca.

Unlike with the situation in Nevada, the nearest neighbors in New Mexico support using he salt mines to bury the spent nuclear material.
In the nearby community, business and political leaders are agitating for expansion. John A. Heaton, a Democratic former state representative and the head of the Nuclear Opportunities Task Force, a local business group, argued that the geology was suitable. “The Permian basin is 250 million years old,” he said. “It’s been here a long, long time.” His group has bought a patch of desert and is now exploring whether the land could be used for interim storage of highly radioactive waste.
However, some opposition has arise at the state level, and the governor, Susana Martinez (R), has not yet decided which way she stands.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Maira interview

Prof. Sunaina Maira

What follows is a complete transcript of an email interview I recently conducted with UC Davis professor of Asian American Studies, Sunaina Maira:

Rifkin: As you know, the members of the American Studies Association have endorsed the Association’s participation in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. You are listed as being on the ASA Council. I would appreciate your responding to some questions I have regarding the boycott:

Q. The ASA has no boycott against any other country in the world but Israel. Is it your belief that Israel’s human rights record is worse than that of all other countries?

A. The ASA responded to the call from Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions as an act of anticolonial and antiracist solidarity, following the Association of Asian American Studies, the Association for Humanist Sociology, and now also the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. The response to this call from Palestinian academics, trade unions, and civil society groups has come after years of diplomatic negotiations and UN resolutions condemning Israel's illegal military occupation and war crimes have failed. 

Israel is the largest single recipient of US financial and military aid and receives unconditional US diplomatic and political support. It is the only country in the world that receives $3 billion annually from the U.S. Moreover, the US has singled out Israel for exceptional impunity in protecting it in the UN and despite its ongoing failures to comply with international law. The US mainstream media and academy has also helped maintain an embargo on free and open debate on Israel-Palestine through censorship. The Israeli state has been largely exempt from criticism of its human rights abuses, unlike, say China, North Korea, etc. A double standard has long been applied to Israel's human rights violations in the U.S. mainstream media and state policy. 

I should note that the crisis of academic freedom does not exist on any other geopolitical issue in the US at present. No academic in the US has ever been denied tenure or employment due to criticism of China or North Korea. Therefore the academic boycott is an *enlargement* of academic freedom for Palestinian, American, and Israeli academics alike, all of whom face reprisals for objective criticism of the Israeli state. So the issue was not just one of human rights, but also of academic freedom and repression.

Q. If you don’t think Israel has the world’s worst human rights record, would you support a boycott of the academic institutions in all countries which have human rights records worse than Israel’s?

A. If civil society or academics in other countries called upon US academics to engage in an academic boycott, yes, of course. Note that the ASA boycott resolution was adopted after years of discussion within the ASA and after an overwhelming show of support from the membership in the referendum, an unprecedented measure in the association. 

Q. What do you believe will be accomplished by the boycott? 

A. The boycott is a nonviolent, focused measure to oppose collaboration and complicity with Israeli academic institutions, none of which have condemned the daily violation of academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students; and which engage in military and intelligence collaboration with the Israeli state and expropriation of Palestinian land that helps perpetuate the illegal occupation. Numerous reports have documented the extensive repression, surveillance, and racial discrimination against Palestinian students in Israeli universities; for example, see Yet the US academy has till now been largely silent on this. The academic boycott specifically targets academic institutions because the academy plays an important role in legitimizing Israel's illegal occupation and racially discriminatory policies. It is part of a global, nonviolent civil society campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and end this rogue state's daily human rights abuses, which have been provided cover by our own government and the lockdown on open debate in the US academy. 

Q. Do you believe there is a risk of harm, where academicians in Israel who believe in changing Israeli policy will be shut out of dialogue by your boycott and thus they will be less effective? 

A. The academic boycott promotes dialogue and collaboration. The false presumption that the boycott "shuts down" dialogue emerges from an obfuscation of the actual academic boycott resolution, which does not in any way prevent individual Israeli scholars from attending conferences in the US or collaborating with American colleagues. Israeli scholars who challenge Israel policy have for years been shut out of the Israeli academy; some have even been forced into exile due to repression and backlash, e.g. Ilan Pappe. The boycott resolutions will enlarge academic freedom by supporting Israeli scholars who want the illegal military occupation and apartheid policies to end and who support the global boycott movement. 

Yet it is striking that the US mainstream media coverage fails to mention Palestinian academicians who are shut out of not just academic dialogue, but sometimes out of the US and other places in their own country as well, given Israel's discriminatory travel policies, checkpoints, and restrictions on Palestinian freedom. 

Q. The head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he opposes the ASA boycott. Your reaction to this? 

A. This is false as President Abbas never said anything about the "ASA boycott." But what the Palestinian president or PA thinks is not relevant to the academic boycott which is a response to the call from Palestinian civil society, and is an act of people-to-people solidarity, and academic-to-academic dialogue, not a response to any political parties. 

(Note: I am not sure if Ms. Maira is unaware that Mr. Abbas said in December he opposes boycotts against Israel or if she thinks that because he did not specifically discuss her boycott that he therefore is not opposed to it. Either way, her claim that he is not against the ASA policy is clearly wrong. And it should be said that, where the so-called civil society which she says asked her to boycott is unelected, Mr. Abbas is the democratically chosen leader of the Palestinian Authority and of his party, Fattah.)

Q. The anti-Israel sentiments (outside of Muslim countries) around the world seem to be rooted in left-wing politics (as opposed to anti-Semitic prejudice). Do you think the ASA’s boycott is a reflection of this left-wing attitude toward the Jewish state? And if so, does that suggest that there is a lack of political diversity in the ASA? 

A. The ASA boycott resolution reflects the organization's commitment to social justice, antiracism, and anticolonial and anti-imperial solidarity. If "political diversity" means being pro-racist, anti-justice, and pro-colonial/imperial, then that is a form of diversity that very few people would uphold-or so I would hope!

Furthermore, to assume that Muslims critique Israeli policies generally because of "anti-Semitic" prejudice suggests a gross misrepresentation of Muslim politics around the world and a denial of the impact of the Israeli state's anti-Arab policies on the region. 

(Note: Muslim anti-Semitism is in fact widespread and a serious problem. The Anti-Defamation League wrote this in 2013:

“Newspapers across the Arab and Muslim world continue to feature anti-Semitic caricatures and themes, with demonic depictions of Jews that include big noses, black coats and hats, large skull caps, and many promoting age-old global Jewish conspiracy theories, including blood libel themes, Nazi symbols and the use of animal imagery – snakes, vultures and sharks - to portray Israel as a sinister predator.”

Public opinion polls in all Muslim countries confirm a ubiquitous, nearly unanimous hatred of Jews by most Muslims in Muslim dominated countries, even those with no Jews.)

Q. Some universities associated with the ASA, including Brandeis, have withdrawn their participation in the ASA in reaction to the boycott. Would you support UC Davis withdrawing from the ASA or otherwise issuing a protest against the ASA over the boycott? 

A. It is the American Studies department at Brandeis that has withdrawn its institutional membership from ASA. This is very unfortunate, as it suggests that some departments are enforcing their own political or partisan views on their faculty and graduate students and depriving them of engagement with a professional academic association. This restriction of academic freedom is very troubling and entirely inappropriate, given that the ASA resolution is not legally binding on individual members so there is no reason for this backlash. 

Note also that there has been a massive campaign of hate mail, intimidation, and threats, including physical threats, to leaders and members of ASA and supporters of the boycott since the resolution. I am on the ASA National Council and I know many colleagues have received highly racist, homophobic, and offensive emails and letters, including myself. It is extremely disturbing that opponents of the boycott would resort to such tactics to bludgeon and terrify academics into silence.  

Q. Michael S. Roth of Wesleyan University recently wrote that “… the boycott is a repugnant attack on academic freedom, declaring academic institutions off-limits because of their national affiliation.” What is your reaction to this? Would you feel differently if associations like the ASA launched a boycott of UC Davis because your university was built on land taken from American Indians and is thus UCD is considered by them a colonial institution oppressing indigenous people? 

A. Please see above response re: the twisted logic of academic freedom. What all these statements clearly illustrate is blind support for the Israeli state's illegal and racist policies and human rights violations. It is also hypocritical for university leaders and academics to call for a boycott of an institution that has called for a boycott!

It is misleading to presume that a boycott could take the same form if it were enacted in one's own country. The academic boycott of Israel was inspired by the boycott and divestment movement opposing South African apartheid, which was also an act of solidarity with Black South African and antiracist academics and movements there. If indigenous and Native American scholars or others at UC Davis asked for the ASA to take a programmatic stance on settler colonialism here, of course, we would. Many of us work on issues of settler colonialism, imperialism and indigenous rights and we do not see these struggles as pitted against those of indigenous Palestinians--nor does the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association which just endorsed the academic boycott. Social justice activism is not a zero-sum game.

Wolf interview

Prof. Diane Wolf

I posed the same questions I asked of Sunaina Maira to other faculty at UC Davis, including Diane Wolf. Ms. Wolf is a professor of sociology and the director of the Jewish Studies Program at UCD. What follows is a complete transcript of her response to my inquiry.

Wolf: Thank you for your questions which are very thorough and thoughtful. This is clearly a very complicated issue.  

I think that the ASA and the Association of Asian American Studies which was the first scholarly organization to vote on this have chosen the wrong institution to boycott and in that sense, they have mis-fired. Clearly there are other countries whose human rights abuses are worse than Israel's and there are no protests about or boycotts of these other countries.   One argument in response to this challenge has been that the US gives Israel more foreign aid than other countries, and, therefore,  we are implicated in these behaviors and human rights abuses.  While I agree somewhat with this argumentation, at the same time, I am also struck by the single-mindedness of this movement when protesting Israel's behavior. For example, why were there no protests on campus and around the country against Syria's mass murders of civilians this past year?  Why weren't petitions circulated demanding that the Syrian government cease its murderous behavior?  The silence around this most recent disaster was and continues to be eerie, indeed.  At the same time, this is not to say that what Israel is doing in the Occupied Territories is acceptable. It is not.  

I am very much against a boycott of Israeli academics and of Israeli universities. It is crucial for Americans to be exposed to Israeli academics so that they understand there exists a multiplicity of voices in Israel.  The Jewish Studies Program at UC Davis has sponsored several visiting Israeli professors who taught UCDavis students and gave talks at the university and in the community and we hope to continue doing so.  We will not observe a boycott.    Israeli universities are an important site within Israel where progressive discussion can take place.    American academics are inflicting symbolic violence on their own by boycotting Israeli academia; instead they should be showing solidarity with their colleagues.  This boycott then, I believe, is an error.  A boycott of universities will not be felt or noticed by most Israelis.

Some colleagues predict that this academic boycott will pick up steam and sweep through other disciplinary organizations, e.g. the MLA; the idea is that many more will follow. Much as I believe it is an error to boycott universities if one is aiming at the government, some politicians in Israel ARE noticing.  Since many European countries have already instituted boycotts and bans, the addition of some US academic organizations has made at least one Minister in Netanyahu's cabinet notice these votes and suggest that these boycotts  will quickly catch on and lead to boycotting Israeli goods more broadly.   Minister Livni encouraged her colleagues to take their heads out of the sand in order to understand that such boycotts will hurt Israel economically.   Thus, while I do not condone academic boycotts, it is possible that a broader movement of US academic organizations boycotting Israeli universities could catalyze broader protests which are then taken seriously by the Israeli government.  

Abbas does not favor this boycott because it does not focus specifically on the occupation.

I do not believe that UC Davis should withdraw from the ASA because of this boycott; Chancellor Katehi has already issued a statement protesting this attack on academic freedom and the way it singles out Israel. Our American Studies Program has some superb and fascinating faculty whose work is important. It would be silly to react to the ASA as a whole due to this one vote by what turns out to have been less than 1,000 of its members.