By Donald Kochis
Introduction by Mark Nemmers

The following speech was delivered by Davis resident Donald Kochis to the Davis City Council on March 19, 1997. It is an appeal for basic democracy.

In spite of a recent vote by Davis residents to not widen a street underpass adjacent to the proposed Borders development, the City Council's voting majority has resisted removing the widening project from the City's General Plan. The same voting majority has refused so far to change the zoning of the development. As it stands, that zoning allows the building of economically destructive mega-stores, such as Borders, which are incompatible with Davis's existing downtown.

For an hour and a half on March 19, speakers criticized the Council for not following through on the will of Davis's voters. Mr. Kochis's remarks drew extended applause from the near-capacity audience:

"It becomes apparent from the tenor of recent decisions and statements made by the majority voting block on this city council, that the vision of these members would involve a relatively rapid population growth for our city with shopping done primarily, if not exclusively, at peripheral malls. For these members of the city council, the downtown is an inconvenience at best.

"So, it would seem, is the will of the people, an inconvenience. The sole purpose of the widening of Richards in the present tense, whatever its initial motivations, would have been to service the Aggie Village project, a project in which the populace of Davis has never had any realistic input.

"Your reluctance to look at pragmatic solutions to the legitimate grievances of the people of South Davis for one, to get beyond the widening of Richards Boulevard, an issue that has been decided by the people in a fair and legitimate fashion, and to do your job, is alienating even people who supported your stance on the widening. Especially when it becomes apparent that your steadfast adherence to a vision for the future that I would contend is clearly out of step with the majority of people who live in this city is delaying the pursuance of realistic solutions to these genuine problems.

"This 'silent majority' for whom you supposedly are a voice, this 'silent majority' who want no say in their future, who would blithely agree with the argument that people exist to serve the needs of commerce and not the contrary, that we have to submit to whatever sort of development is put before us because to not do so would be to create a 'negative business climate' for other development packages, that will ultimately destroy the reasons we choose to live here in the first place, that will in a very real sense, break the heart of our city, this 'silent majority' is, it would seem to me, not silent at all, but rather, mute.

"And if they exist, in any place other than your own flawed vision for our future, or in your own political ambitions, then you should have the courage and the decency to trust your future and our own to their voice.

"You serve at the will of the people, even if that will contradicts your own will, your own ego. To subvert that voice to the will of an influential minority, whether it be the University, a lucrative development, or an affluent developer is not just wrong, it is insulting to the people who elected you to jealously guard, first and foremost, their right to decide what's in their own interests.

"Do your job. Let us decide our own future."

Donald Kochis
Davis, CA
March 1997

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