Thursday, February 4, 2016

We cannot “Take control of Davis’ mean streets,” if we don't “Take control of Davis’ mean labor costs”

Quin Denvir, a lawyer who lives in Davis and became nationally famous when he defended Ted Kaczynski, wrote a letter to The Davis Enterprise today titled, “Take control of Davis’ mean streets.”

After expressing outrage that “the streets of downtown Davis have become dangerous on weekend and holiday nights, including a murder, stabbings, beatings and sexual assaults,” Mr. Denvir makes two suggestions:

“First, impose a 10:30 last drink and 12:30 closing for drink establishments on those nights.”

I have no idea why anyone thinks closing earlier will make any difference. If the problem is the admixture of insobriety and a predisposition to violence, criminal mayhem can break out at any time. It’s not as if no one can get drunk by 10:30 pm; or that a propensity to misbehave does not start until 1 am.

“Second, the mayor should direct the police chief to increase patrols in those areas on those nights.”

This is a more sensible suggestion. However, there is a problem. The Davis City Councils that Davis residents have repeatedly elected have overpaid all city employees by so much that there is no money to “increase patrols.” 

Mr. Denvir needs to qualify his call for increased patrols by calling for a halt to increases in employee compensation.

The City is now operating with about 75% of a full staff, because employee compensation increases keep breaking the budget. And yet, every year the City Council keeps raising employee compensation more and more, always faster than tax revenues can grow.

Among the most overpaid employees are our police officers. They cost taxpayers around $200,000 to $250,000 a year. So it is no wonder that our police department is understaffed.

Yet Mr. Denvir ignores that crucial point in his suggestion. And oddly enough, he calls for “the mayor” to request more cops on this beat, when it is the current mayor (along with his hand-picked city manager) who has been so friendly to city workers, jacking up their compensation without any regard to how we can afford those hikes.

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