Elk Grove City Attorney, Council Turns Government's 'You Have Nothing To Fear If You Have Nothing To Hide' Logic On Its Head



September 30, 2017 | 

For those who have been following it, Wilton Rancheria's proposed $400 million casino in Elk Grove city limits has not only been a source of controversy, it has also attracted at least two lawsuits. Those lawsuits were filed in Federal Court in Washington DC and Sacramento Superior Court.

The Federal lawsuit has been filed by Stand Up For California and is challenging the validity of the decision to take land purchased by Las Vegas-Boyd Gaming for the casino proposed for the unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove shopping center into federal trust. That suit, which is currently working its way through the Federal courts, is based on the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

SUFC argues the decision made by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Lawrence Roberts, lacked the authority under the Vacancies Reform Act. If SUFC prevails, the project could be halted and proponents forced to restart the process.

The other case, which was filed in Sacramento Superior Court by a group of Elk Grove plaintiffs seeks to compel the City of Elk Grove to release several documents and correspondences of all types. That correspondence relates to the casino project and is primarily between past and present city officials and office holders, the Wilton Rancheria, the Howard Hughes Company and a host of interested individuals and entities.

After attorneys for the plaintiff's successfully served current California Assemblymember and former Elk Grove City Council Jim Cooper at his residence in August with a summons to be deposed, the City sought to quash the deposition. In response, on behalf of the City, attorneys from Sacramento-based Kronick Moskovitz filed an anti-SLAPP lawsuit, which helped Cooper avoid being deposed under oath.

In a tentative ruling issued last week, Judge Shellyanne Wang denied the plaintiff's request for relief from a stay of discovery. Although a hearing was held on Friday, September 22 and no final ruling has been issued by Wang as of Friday, September 29, it is unusual for a judge to reverse their tentative ruling. 

With that presumptive victory by the City, Cooper will not be compelled to answer questions under oath the plaintiff's had sought on council practices. Some of those activities include text messaging by council members during council meetings, use of private email accounts to conduct official business, holding serial meetings in violation of the Ralph E. Brown Act, and numerous correspondences between the interested parties.

Apparently, the City is using every legal option at its disposal to stall if not outright thwart to release public documents related to the casino and shopping mall project. The question citizens should be aksing is why?

Readers familiar with decisions from the Warren Court undoubtedly remember several historic Supreme Court rulings granting additional rights, particularly to criminal defendants. Just like the game of whack a mole, no sooner had those right been given there was an immediate push back.

That pushback came from American government entities on every level, and especially law enforcement officials. Their argument can be traced back to a saying, which some historians attribute to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

That statement, in the context of government searches and surveillance, says "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide." If you are not hiding anything, the logic goes, then you will not have a problem with government inspection of any aspect of your life.

This was the argument favored by law enforcement and government officials staring in the 1970's in response to things like the reading of Miranda rights and the right to legal counsel for criminal defendants. These practices and arguments at the hands of government continue to this day with activities like NSA's extensive data mining and local law enforcement agencies of use Stingray technology.

These practices' runs afoul not only to the Constitution, but it also is contrary to the values a majority of Americans across the political spectrum hold dear. Still, the government and law enforcement persist and insist, if you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

What happens if the roles are reversed, and that logic is directed towards our government and elected officials, specifically here in Elk Grove? Will they be willing to practice what they preach?

As we have seen, Elk Grove City Council Members, whom we need to remind citizens direct City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs and his team of white-shoe law firms to protect them, are more than willing to undertake Herculean efforts to conceal documents from the public view.

What is in those papers the Elk Grove City Council is holding back from the public view? Is there embarrassing political information, or perhaps some more nefarious activities that might not only neuter the proposed casino but bring any number of state and federal alphabet law enforcement agencies to city hall to probe with a jaundiced eye?

So we ask former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, Assemblymember Jim Cooper, Mayor Steve Ly, Council Members Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, Stephanie Nguyen, and Darren Suen, what are you hiding from the public view? After all, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

Let's not forget, in theory, ours is a government for and by the people, not the casino, and moneyed interests trolling the corridors of Elk Grove City Hall.





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3 comments

An Elk Grove Voter said...

When an inquiry was made concerning how many emails the plaintiffs received regarding the casino from city of Elk Grove from Elk Grove Council members who use their personal email addresses for official city business, the answer was that they received only one email from one council member, and two from another. One and two emails respectively? That speaks volumes that there is much more information out there that is being deliberately kept from not only the plaintiffs in the case, but the public.

The public needs to insist that Elk Grove City Council members use their official city email addresses for all city business. No exceptions!
Additionally, those council members who refuse to do so must be called out and publicly held to answer.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

EGN needs to back off!

Elk Grove is a fine city above reproach and we should trust its leaders. We have the nation's first Hmong Mayor. Need I say more? Well, if you insist...

Our leaders glance at their cell phones during meetings to monitor the news alerts, because we are expecting Howard Hughes to greenlight the mall any minute now; we are waiting on a call back from NRC Manufacturing to plant their high-tech seed in our city; the Alabama consultants are polishing their final retail strategy report for our city; and some Nigerian keeps e-mailing about some wacky Sister City proposal????

This is a global economy we live in now and Elk Grove is the hub of high finance and high technology. The Tokyo stock exchange is just opening when our city council meeting occurs and we need to stay abreast of events that may affect us. I'm sure Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan glances at his cell phone during meetings, so why can't the City Council of the 2nd largest city in Sacramento County do it too?

I trust our leaders if they are withholding documents from big deals, such as the gambling casino, because another city might steal them away from us if we reveal all our secrets. I remember a few years ago how proud I was when we landed the ice rink--I was so worried that Sloughouse or Ione would have sweetened the pot and stolen them from us! Nope, in the world of high finance and big business, you must keep key information confidential.

EGN seems to imply that Jim Cooper does not want to be deposed and the city is pulling out all the legal stops to assist him. I for one have the highest regard for Jim Cooper because all the times he was on City Council, I'm sure he was looking down at his cell phone because the Sac County Sheriff's office was keeping him up to date on the crime reports. The bad guys don't stop robbing banks just because the Council is in session.

We have a top notch crew running our city. I was so proud the night our economic development director proclaimed to the Council, "I have 17 years of experience reviewing developer financials. I don’t pretend to be a CPA or a commercial expert, but I do have a lot of experience looking at taking apart and rebuilding financial pro-formas for real estate projects".

EGN needs to back off. There's money to be made out there and the Grove wants its piece of the action!


Alan H said...

This SUFC one woman crusade is chasing a Quixotic windmill. The Feds have given the land in trust to the tribe and a go-ahead to build the casino. The State of California has signed off on the compact. The CIty is pretty much a bystander now.

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