Elk Grove Citizens Files Suit Against City Asserting Violations of Calif. Public Records Act, Brown Act Over Proposed Casino

A portion of the unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove was
sold to Boyd Gaming to build Wilton Rancheria's proposed
$400 million casino resort. | 
June 20, 2017 |  

DEVELOPING STORY

A group of Elk Grove citizens have filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court today against the City of Elk Grove over what they claim have been denied public information requests.

The public information requests made of the City involved correspondence between, among others, the past and present Elk Grove City Council Members, past and present city officials, the Howard Hughes Corporation, the Wilton Rancheria, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Boyd Gaming. The requests center on the Wilton Rancheria proposed $400 million casino resort located next to HHC's unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove shopping center on Highway 99 and Grant Line Road. 

The suit asserts the City of Elk Grove of Elk Grove is in violation of California Public Records Act (PRA) and the Ralph M. Brown Act. The filing states the City had initially refused to release requested documents, but have subsequently released some. 

Although the City has released some of the requested documents, the complaint claims the City has not released others claiming exemption, but it refuses to specify which requested documents are exempt. Because of this, the plaintiffs say "it is impossible to to determine if claimed exemptions apply."

"City refuses to release public records from former City Councilmembers and/or employees during the time period they were with the City, including records related to meetings held regarding the casino/hotel. City refuses to to turn over documents from consultants working on behalf of the City on the casino/hotel, and refuse to turn over relevant text-messages, emails, and phone messages. By refusing to release the public records requested, City has violated its legal duties. Petitioners therefore ask this Court for writ of mandate to compel City to comply with PRA."

City of Elk Grove public information officer Kristyn Nelson said "Our legal counsel has not had an opportunity to review the complaint yet and we are not able to provide a substantive comment at this time. Generally speaking, City staff believes that the City has complied with the Brown Act and the Public Records Act in all of its proceedings related to the casino project."  

A press release issued on behalf of the plaintiffs asserts that Mayor Steve Ly, and Council Members Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, and Darren Suen were involved in backroom deals that sought to obscure their true intentions.

"The actions of the City Council effectively shut the voters of Elk Grove out of the process of determining whether they support the Wilton Casino project. At the same time, these private backroom conversations allowed the City Council to publicly provide the false impression that they had no influence in the matter, again avoiding public scrutiny and bypassing public involvement in the Casino project."

The Elk Grove residents listed as plaintiffs include Patty Johnson, Joe Teixeira, Omar Ahmed Jr., Xin Guo, and Carolyn Soares. The plaintiffs are represented by Brigit S. Barnes, State Bar No. 122673. 

Developing story - check back for further information contained in the complaint.



  




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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I'm very confused. All of the sitting City Council members have repeatedly mentioned during their campaigns that they would bring greater transparency to city hall???? If the city attorney is withholding public records, I'm sure he has a good reason and this case should be thrown out!

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