EGN's 2022 in Review - Part I




Elk Grove residents saw another year of unique events that will shape the future of their City. Aside from having two new city council members, there is now a California Assembly member and Sacramento County Supervisor from Elk Grove.

While the 2022 elections were significant, other events happened in 2022 worth reviewing.   

January

Albright announces retirement


One of the first news items from the City of Elk Grove in 2022 was the announced retirement of Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright. During his tenure, Albright presided over the department during a period where law enforcement community relations nationwide were stressed following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. 

Although Elk Grove Police had relatively good community relations during Albright's time, a few incidents tested the goodwill. One involved the arrest of the Elk Grove Police officer for excessive force, and another drew national attention when an officer was accused of profiling a young Black man. 

Months later, it was disclosed Albright was hired by Sky River casino as their head of security. 

Eric Guerra drops out of the Senate race and enters the Assembly contest.

In 2021, Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra declared his candidacy for the California State Senate. However, with the entry of Sacramento City Councilmember Angelique Ashby and former California Insurance Commissioner and Assemblymember Dave Jones, Guerra had second thoughts and took what he thought would be the path of least resistance to higher office, the race for California Assembly.

Even though Guerra had superior campaign financing, as he would learn, more is needed. 

Cooper introduces legislation to roll back sentencing reforms ... Again.

If there was one consistency to Jim Cooper during his eight years in the California Assembly, it was his willingness to introduce legislation favorable to law enforcement. Given Cooper's 30 years as a high-ranking Sacramento County Sheriff, this was not unexpected.

Cooper's attempt in January to reclassify several crimes that he said would address anti-Asian hate was killed in committee. But as we will see, even though that legislation failed, it wasn't dead.  

Diversity and Inclusion Commissioner purged

Like she did in early 2021 after taking office when the Elk Grove Planning Commission was purged, Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen did the same thing with the City's Diversity and Inclusion Commission. Singh-Allen cleverly had all 10 commissioners reapply for their positions.  

Not surprisingly, only five existing members were reappointed, while five new members were appointed. If there is one thing, and only one, that Mayor Singh-Allen excels at, that would be purging anyone she thinks will not pass her loyalty test.

That, our friends, is how you attempt to build a machine. 

Elk Grove Police officer killed in the line of duty

January marked an unfortunate event in the City's 22-year history - the first Elk Grove Police officer was killed in the line of duty. 

Motorcycle officer Michael Lenehan was killed by a drunk driver while operating his motorcycle unit. The suspect was driving on the wrong side of Hwy. 99 in the early morning hours of January 22, he struck and killed Lenehan. 

The suspect, Jermain J. Walton, remains in custody at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. His next court appearance is on February 1, 2023. 

Former Elk Grove Mayor Ly attempts a comeback

After being defeated by Bobbie Singh-Allen in November 2020, former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly announced his candidacy for Sacramento County Board of Supervisors District 5.Ly had served two two-year terms as Mayor and two years as the District 4 City Council member.  

With Ly's entry and the 2021 declared candidacies of Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume and Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno, the field, which would grow to four candidates, almost guaranteed there would be a runoff in November. 




February
  
Cooper amasses $1.6 million

Even though he had not declared if he would run for Sacramento County Sheriff or for a fifth term in the California Assembly, Jim Cooper was able to amass a massive pile of cash. Financial disclosure revealed Cooper was sitting on a campaign war chest of $1.6 million.

With that sort of cash on hand, Cooper had placed himself in a strong position regardless of what office he sought. 

New Police Chief appointed

EGPD Chief Bobby Davis. 

Following the announced retirement of Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright in January, the new chief was announced by Elk Grove City Jason Behrmann, and it would be mildly historic. 

Behrmann announced the new chief was from within the ranks and would be Bobby Davis. Davis, who is African-American, would be the first non-white person to lead the department. 

Prior to his appointment, Davis was Elk Grove's Assistant Police Chief and came to the Elk Grove Police from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. 

Cooper formally enters the sheriff's race.



Even though it was the worst-kept secret in Sacramento area politics, on February 10, Jim Cooper announced that he would run for Sacramento County Sheriff. Cooper's announcement followed Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones' announcement that he would not seek a fourth term and would instead run for Congress.

Even though Cooper enjoyed a visible role in the California Assembly and had a successful 30-year career at the Sheriff's Department, he lost his bid to become Sheriff to Jones in 2010. The allure of getting the one that got away from Cooper was overwhelming.


Get ready for the Zoo - Elk Grove purchases 100 acres for relocation of the Sacramento Zoo

Even though the City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoological Society are loath to say the relocation of the Sacramento Zoo is a done deal, actions speak louder than words. One massive action indicating the zoo's intention to relocate to Elk Grove came when the City purchased 100 acres for the facility. 

While the City seems fully intent on having the zoo move, one detail still has not been worked out - who pays

Guerra amasses $500,000, starts airing commercials 

In a move that, in retrospect, could have been meant to scare off viable challengers, Eric Guerra started airing commercials in his bid for the California Assembly District 10. This early advertising campaign marketing was aided by an early cash ledger of over $500,000 

Nguyen enters the Assembly race

In what was the second-worst kept Sacramento area political secret, Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen entered the race to replace Jim Cooper in the California Assembly. However, Nguyen held back on her announcement until Cooper announced his intentions. 

CNU gets approval in Sacramento

After wearing out the welcome in Elk Grove and getting the cold shoulder in Rancho Cordova, California Northstate University found a new home for its $1 billion hospital project in Sacramento. The proposed project was approved for the site of the former Arco/Sleep Train Arena in North Natomas.

While the project was hyped by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg during the February meeting, not much has happened since then.

 

CHA-CHING! Signature gathering starts for Measure A 




In February, business advocacy groups announced they would gather signatures to place what would become Measure A, a countywide sales tax increase, on the November ballot. With recent caselaw in their favor, the business groups, who had the money from real estate developers to run a multi-faceted campaign to get taxpayers to pay for their all-important Southeast Connector Road, thought they had this one bagged. 


Unlike the failed attempts by the Sacramento Transporation Authority's efforts in 2016 and 2020 to raise billions of dollars for developers, by gathering signatures and placing it on the ballot as a "citizens" initiative, they would only need a simple majority for approval instead of a two-thirds supermajority. 


The business leaders were already dancing around, saying cha-ching!  


March 

In-person meetings resume for Elk Grove City Council

Following two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the Elk Grove City Council resumed in-person meetings in March. It was the first in-person meeting for Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and District 3 City Councilmember Kevin Spease following their 2020 election victories. 

For Councilmember Darren Suen, it is better to receive than give



In accordance with state law, Elk Grove District 1 Councilmember Darren Suen reported all the gifts he received. Apparently, for Suen, there isn't a freebie he won't pass up! 

Here are gifts Suen received the previous year, which were during COVID restrictions.

  • Pacific Gas & Electric, May 6 - Golf, $250
  • Crown Castle, August 9 -  Jalapeno Golf Classic, $250
  • Region Business, October 1 - BBQ, $200
  • Sheet Metal Local Union 101, October 1 - DAD. Golf Tourney, $250
  • Association of General Contractors, October 20 - Reception, $50
  • Assemblymember Jim Cooper, October 22 - Luncheon, $75 
  • OCA Sacramento, November 3 - Reception, $50
  • Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation, November 4 - Lodging, dinner, $566
  • Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation, November 5 -  Breakfast, lunch, reception, $366
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 447, December 3 - Holiday luncheon, $50
  • Sacramento Area Firefighters 522, December 9 - Holiday reception, $50
 
The zoo could cost $363 million
.

A feasibility meeting on the Sacramento Zoo relocation revealed an estimated construction cost of $363 million.  

Even though details of who pays for the zoo are, at best, murky, Elk Grove City Manager Jason Behrmann has assured taxpayers it will not affect services. This isn't the first time taxpayers have been given blue-sky promises from elected officials and bureaucrats

Oh, and this doesn't include annual taxpayer subsidies, maintenance, et cetera. But remember, it's really about the animals! 

Former Elk Grove Police officer convicted of excessive force assault


Former Elk Grove Police officer Bryan Schmidt was convicted of excessive force in a Sacramento County Superior Court jury trial. In July 2019, Schmidt stomped on the head of a shoplifting suspect who had been restrained.  

The incident was notable because Elk Grove Police released body and dashcam videos (see below) of the incident in March 2020. When releasing the video, the Elk Grove Police acknowledged that Mendoza had retained legal counsel for a lawsuit against the City.

Three maps were presented for redistricting, city council approved one that eliminated Davis

After receiving public input over a multi-week process, the Elk Grove City Council approved new city council maps for the 2022 elections. Although there were no large-scale changes, there were some interesting adjustments, especially as they related to Districts 2 and 4.

With former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis trying to resurrect his political career after mysteriously leaving office in 2016, Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume tried to tweak the lines between the two districts ever so slightly to favor his former colleague. Alas, Hume's efforts, which may have been half-hearted, failed, and maps favorable to Davis were nixed. 

Elk Grove officials laugh it up, Part I 

Whoever said politicians lack humor has never seen an Elk Grove City Council meeting. Watch Councilmember Pat Hume's performance of Dancing on the Dias.  



Hume tries to pass himself off as a teacher

One of the more curious political footnotes during 2022 was Pat Hume's attempt to gain a designation as a teacher. Hume claimed his couple of days as a substitute teacher qualified him to place "teacher" on his ballot for his Sacramento County Board of Supervisors candidacy. 

The collective bargaining unit for the Los Rios Community College District panned Hume after he, in their words, "tried to dupe voters."  

Voters asked if they think Hume is a Trump supporter 



April


Elk Grove Air BnB rental site of a murder

An Elk Grove house that was rented for a party through Air BnB was the site of an early morning murder. The victim was an 18-year-old male who was shot to death.  

Golf anyone? High-paid City of Elk Grove employee accepts developers' gift

Even though he is highly paid, Darren Wilson
loves to golf, especially when a developer
picks up the tab. 

During the month, Elk Grove taxpayer learned one of the City's highest-paid employers couldn't afford to pay for a round of golf on his own. 

Darren Wilson, the City's planning services director, found it necessary to accept a round of golf from home builder Taylor Morrison to the Elk Grove Golf Classic

That Wilson has a salary of about $200,000, not including a very generous benefits package most citizens would die for, and the median family in Elk Grove - the citizens he presumably serves - is about half that and accepts this gift is curious. 

This much can be said about Wilson - at least the gift was reported. 

Priming the pumps for Measure E




In an effort to prime taxpayers for what would become Measure E, a $23 million consumer tax increase, the City of Elk Grove and Cosumnes Community conducted what could be best called a push poll. The questionnaire was loaded with a list of goodies - who doesn't want better parks and more public safety? 

New garbage can distribution starts in Elk Grove, throughout California


New garbage cans were distributed throughout California and in Elk Grove starting in April. The new receptacles came in response to new garbage collection regulations requiring the segregation of organic waste.

By the end of this year, Elk Grove's contracted garbage collector Republic Services was expected to have distributed new organic waste containers to its customers. We can hardly wait to see or smell the results next summer as people store organic waste for seven-day pick-ups in the heat of a Central Valley summer. 

And, oh, by the way, your garbage collection fees had a huge jump in 2022 too. 

May

Robles changes plans, moves to District 4 

After announcing his candidacy for Elk Grove City Council District 2, Elk Grove Planning commissioner Sergio Robles had a change of heart. Convinced by other elected officials, Robles switched gears and districts.

After Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen announced her candidacy for the California Assembly, District 4 would be open. Robles reportedly moved from District 2 to 4 and declared his candidacy there.  


Elk Grove, Sacramento Zoo agrees to MOU

.


In yet another inevitable sign that Elk Grove will be home to the relocated Sacramento Zoo, the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding in May. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of each party.

Elk Grove City Councilmember Kevin Spease stressed the MOU does not mean the project has been approved. True enough, but with each subsequent step taken, the relocation of the Sacramento Zoo is building a head of steam that will be difficult to stop.  

Hume doesn't say a word about reproductive rights

In May, it was learned the Supreme Court would be issuing a ruling in June that would allow states to outlaw abortion. That leaked information and the subsequent June decision became a battle cry for many candidates.

In what became a pattern for Sacramento County Board of Supervisor candidate Pat Hume, he refused to comment on reproductive rights. Conversely, his three opponents offered their opinions on the matter.   

June 

Nguyen overcomes late start, comes in first place in Assembly primary

Even though she entered the race late, and was at a slight disadvantage in fundraising, Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen came in first place during the June primary race for California Assembly District 10. 

Nguyen finished ahead of fellow Democrat, Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guerra and Republican Eric Rigard, who came in a close third to Guerra. Sadly, just days after the June 7 primary, it was announced Mr. Rigard had passed away. 

Hume, and Moreno head toward a November runoff

Even though there were four candidates in the field, Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume had hoped to achieve a majority of the votes and declare an outright victory for the District 5 Sacramento County Supervisors seat in the June primary. However, Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno had other plans.

After the elimination of Alex Joe and former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, Hume and Moreno started their campaigns for what became an extremely close race in November.  

In the aftermath of Uvalde, protester takes to Elk Grove Blvd.



Last spring, the world was again shocked by the senseless slaughter of school children in Uvalde, Texas. One person in Elk Grove took to Elk Grove Boulevard to express their dismay.  

Mayor Singh-Allen makes another big promise

Aside from purging people from commissions who are not loyal to her, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen is really good at making big promises. Remember when the Mayor promoted her five-point traffic congestion relief program when she first ran for Mayor in 2020?

Well, last June, the Mayor made another promise - a commitment to affordable housing in Elk Grove. Let's see how this works out for Elk Grove families hoping to be part of the American Dream of home ownership!



Elk Grove officials laugh it up, part II




If there is one thing the entire Elk Grove City Council can do effectively, it is to laugh it up while governing. 



Hoping to tap voter fears, city council candidate launches specific website

It is often said candidates can attract support by either expressing hope or playing to voters' fears. As part of his campaign for Elk Grove City Council District 2, Felipe Martin preyed on fears.

As part of his campaign, Martin launched a website opposing the controversial Oak Rose supportive housing project proposed for Old Town Elk Grove. 

Motorists continually trapped by UP trains, or, 
Where in the hell is the Mayor's Five-Point Traffic Plan! 

In what is becoming an all too common occurrence, Elk Grove motorists are being trapped by stopped or extremely slow-moving Union Pacific Railroad trains. This video was recorded in June.

For all the talk by Elk Grove officials about improving public safety response times, until the City builds several underpasses on the city eastside, it just more hot air coming from Elk Grove City Hall. 



Elk Grove Mayor stumped 

Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen is great at purging city commissions and filling them with loyalists and making outrageous promises. When it comes to basic municipal financing, well, she needs a few more lessons. 

It makes you wonder how much the Mayor understands or appreciates budget matters. Not her cash, so no problemo! 


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