Voices of Elk Grove - Is The Ghost of John Danielson Haunting Elk Grove City Hall?

Febraury 18, 2018 | 

The name of a notorious former Elk Grove city manager popped up at the Wednesday, February 14 meeting of the Elk Grove City Council. That name was John Danielson.

For new Elk Grove residents or those who do not recall, Danielson was the city manager during the city's formative years. During his time as city manager, Danielson, along with his sidekick and city attorney Anthony Manzanetti, conducted business in a way that many would characterize as self-serving.

Although she did not go into detail during her public comments at least week's meeting, Elk Grove resident Lynn Wheat brought up one of Danielson's reputed transgressions. In this case, it was when Danielson wrote himself a check for $7,625 for closing costs on the purchase of his primary residence.

As readers will note, the check was written on November 14, 2002, but it was not until three years later that this incident, which the then city council members were unaware of, surfaced. The information was revealed after a public records request.

The person requesting the information thought it was strange that the check which Danielson made payable to himself, was written on what looked like a personal-style check. Further, it did not have a warrant number of the check which is standard procedure.

The person who requested the information, who asked not to be identified for this story, adds the following:

"Shortly thereafter, I requested all the checks written from the special little checking account which I received after many attempts. I also asked to get a copy of Danielson’s contract to verify what is written on the check, “closing costs per contract.”  That request was denied.

I called then-Council Member Jim Cooper to ask him about it. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about and that the city council never approved paying for the closing costs on Danielson’s house.

After going public with the Danielson check, suddenly the little personal checking account disappeared, and all checks were then processed by the city’s accounting department, coded with warrant numbers and appeared in the check register. "

While Danielson and Manzanetti's playbook was full of chicanery that is a separate story in itself, it was in the context the Wheat made her comments. As can be seen in the video below, Wheat presented a copy of Danielson's check during her presentation.

As Wheat pointed out, she was not suggesting current city manager Laura Gill is involved in Danielson-style hijinx. Instead, she urged the city council to deny a request from Gill and her staff that would have permitted her to make purchases offers up to $500,000 without their approval.

Fortunately, the city council heeded Wheat requests, and perhaps their own better judgment, and denied the proposal. There are a few take aways from this recent exercise.

First is the city council should recall that there are still some people in the community who not only have long memories, they are willing to use the tools at their disposal to dig deeper. 

The second takeaway is this - as our requestor found, it took tenacity to find out the truth of how Danielson was wrting checks, unchecked if you will, for his benefit on the backs of Elk Grove taxpayers. 

One final note - as readers may also recall, the City of Elk Grove has been involved in litigation seeking to block numerous documents from a public information request regarding dealings between the city, the Howard Hughes Company, the Wilton Rancheria, and Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming regarding the Wilton Rancheria's proposed $500 million casino. As was the case with Danielson, we cannot help but wonder what the City of Elk Grove is trying to cover up? 

Between the request made by city staff to increase the city manager's authority and the stonewalling of public documents regarding the casino deal, the ghost of John Danielson is alive and well and hanging out in Elk Grove City Hall.   

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

"In the 6 ½ years that he worked for Elk Grove, Danielson created wealth for himself at the rate of $746,000/year. When he left Elk Grove in April 2008, at the age of 52, he was set for life financially,”

"Sophia Scherman asked why questions about Danielson’s compensation were now being raised. When told that the inquiry stemmed from assertions made in the California Public Pay Institute’s article, Scherman said, “the details are not in there, and that’s why I’m not commenting.”

Elk Grove Mayor Pat Hume – elected in 2006 - couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

Elk Grove Citizen

We've gone from this to "retail leakage". Things are looking up in The Grove!

Connie said...

D.J., how right you are! I also have that detailed article which I forwarded to Elk Grove News. It is worth a full read given what transpired at the last council meeting and the $500K check approval request.

If Lynn Wheat had not come forward and gave the request "sunshine," would the Council have just rubberstamped the approval? They certainly did that with the $400K for "spatial needs" request, even though no bids were before them to justify such an exorbitant expenditure.

As the saying goes, "If we don't learn from our mistakes. . . ."

Josie said...

In regards to the $400K for "spatial needs"....was that not just a ballpark figure thrown out?

Now that the City Council has brought this to my attention, I wonder if it would be possible to incorporate residents' spatial needs and perspectives (i.e., local knowledge) into planning processes and plans?

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