After almost 30 years here, my wife Maureen and I are diehard Davisites. We can regularly be found walking the streets downtown on Second Friday ArtAbouts, riding the Davis Bike Loop, attending UC Davis basketball games (Go Ags!), or catching the latest art-house movie at the Varsity. We believed Davis would be the ideal place to buy a home and raise a family, and have never regretted our choice.
In high school, I was bitten by the journalism bug. I ran two different campus papers and sued my school principal in federal court over newspaper censorship. At San Francisco State, I exposed misuse of student funds, including a $1,000 check paid to a campus advisor under a phony name. Upon graduation, I covered City Hall for the San Diego Union and eventually served for a decade as the paper's state capital bureau chief.
Much of my newspaper career has focused on investigating wrongdoing and reforming state and local government. Some of these stories won awards. Some led to criminal or civil prosecutions by federal, state and local agencies of wrongdoing I uncovered. I regularly fought for the public's "right to know" via public meetings and records about state and local government actions. Secret decisions on increasing city managers’ pay must be promptly disclosed to the public because of my efforts.
After completing an MBA at UC Davis, I began a 17-year career at the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), a fiscal and policy advisor to the California Legislature renowned for its independence and nonpartisanship. I worked my way up through the ranks to deputy legislative analyst. In that role, I oversaw almost every analysis and report the LAO released about health, social services, transportation, environmental, energy, veterans, and criminal justice programs and helped manage a staff of 50.
No one accomplishes anything alone in the Legislature, but I took actions that made a difference in slowing the runaway growth in prison populations and budgets, improving drug and mental health treatment programs, and reigning in prescription drug costs for taxpayers and individual consumers.
For example, I led our office's successful opposition to a $6 billion proposal to build seven new medical prisons that would have cost taxpayers $1.4 billion a year to run. I wrote state legislation to allow women offenders to receive drug treatment services in family residences so they no longer faced the heartbreaking choice between recovery from addiction or caring for their children. I blew the whistle on a then-growing trend of correctional officer misconduct that had led to expensive wrongful death claims that left taxpayers on the hook for the wrongdoing. My work set the stage for reform legislation requiring independent review of such cases.
And when a Republican governor and a Democratic Legislature stalemated over a new program to provide discounts on prescription drugs for Californians, I recommended a bipartisan compromise later enacted into law that allowed the program to move forward.
Long before I retired from the LAO, I joined in the types of volunteer activities that are fulfilling for so many Davis residents.
I became a devoted "soccer dad," coaching my sons' soccer teams, serving as team treasurer, and personally driving soccer and football team carpools seemingly everywhere this side of Patterson. I served as member and president of the Saint James School board, served on the parish finance council, and threw myself into a successful $4 million fundraising campaign to build a new church hall and gym. I belong to Sunrise Rotary and have enjoyed helping their community projects. I am a community member of the Chamber of Commerce. My wife and I signed up years ago for the city's Adopt-a-Park program to tend to a park entry near our house.
My volunteer work has engaged me in important community issues. In 2003, I supported legal efforts by West Davis Neighbors to modify UC Davis' West Village project to avoid the loss of priceless open space and agricultural research fields. We lost the case, but the issues we identified then -- including the impacts of dramatic university campus growth on housing, traffic, parking, and city finances -- remain major civic concerns today.
The City Council later appointed me to the Finance and Budget Commission and I am now commission chair. My colleagues and I have transformed the volunteer commission into one of the most influential advisory bodies at City Hall. I have done my part, crafting annual analyses of the city budget and offering $8 million in budget adjustments that could finance a "fix it first" program to improve local roads and bike paths and parks.
I have been a vocal champion of local economic development projects -- such as new hotel projects -- showing their fiscal benefit to the city. I documented how other cities with UC campuses, Berkeley and Santa Cruz, obtained ongoing financial payments and other commitments from their universities to help cope with increases in student enrollment. I have recommended the City of Davis pursue similar agreements.
The City Council also appointed me to city's Sports Complex Task Force, which developed a plan to remedy a shortage of playing and practice fields for children and adults. I am continuing to support this promising new approach, which would involve private-public partnerships and a community-wide fundraising effort.