Voices of Elk Grove - Why the City Charter Matters

By Jake Rambo When we formed our city in 2000, local control was the rallying cry. But for more than nine years our city governance has been...

By Jake Rambo

When we formed our city in 2000, local control was the rallying cry. But for more than nine years our city governance has been defined the state legislature through a set of general laws. In 2008, our city council recognized the need for our own system of governance, designed by and for the people of Elk Grove. Those rules will be defined in a city charter. (A charter is essentially a constitution for city government.)

A charter is an important document. It defines the powers citizens grant to their city government and (most importantly) it limits the powers of that government over the citizens. The City Council recognized the importance of a chartering process that was both transparent and representative of the citizens. To that end, they took two important steps in the chartering process. First, responsibility for drafting the charter was assigned to a volunteer charter commission. This ensured that the politicians would not have the authority to define their power or serve their own agendas through the process.

Second, the charter process was divided into two phases, the first of which has been completed and the second of which is about to begin. In the first, the commission was tasked with researching and drafting a charter that address core governance issues. The commission also met with citizens to promote citizen involvement in the drafting process. In the second phase, the initial draft charter will be presented to the community and community input and proposals will be incorporated into a final charter.

The initial draft charter limits the power of city government. The charter changes the way we elect our representatives by reducing the cost of a run for city council. Candidates would no longer be forced into exorbitant debt or beholden to special interest dollars. The charter takes the power of redistricting away from the politicians and gives it to the citizens. It prohibits drawing boundaries to favor elected officials so that the voters pick their elected officials, instead of elected officials picking their voters. The charter ends the backroom dealing to select a mayor and gives that power to the citizens.

Already, exciting citizen proposals are being drafted for incorporation in the next phase of the chartering process. Some proposals would improve our protection of open space and rural lands. Other proposals would protect the community from tax and fee increases. I am sure many, many other innovative proposals await the commission during the public input phase.

We are at a crucial point in the charter process. Special interest groups have zeroed in on our charter, groups that stand to lose power and influence under the current draft. They are pressuring the council to roll back unfavorable provisions in the charter. They want to eliminate the second phase and preventing the public from presenting their proposals.

Wednesday night the council will discuss the charter. I encourage citizens to remain involved and encourage the council to buck the special interests and preserve the people’s voice. Let’s keep this the citizen’s charter!

Jake Rambo, Elk Grove City Charter Commissioner

Post a Comment Default Comments


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Mr. Rambo has used the Charter to push his personal and politcal views. As a person he has attended some meetings I can tell you that Rambo is pushing the right wing agenda for this supposed charter. He is also pushing to keep the city from paying public works workers the standard wage. These workers build our city buildings, streets and other public buildings and should be paid the prevailing wage scale that the State general law stipulates. Rambo thinks these workers should work for less than what it takes to live in Elk Grove.

No to pushing political agendas and no to this Charter.

Anonymous said...

The poster who attacked Mr. Rambo should be more honest about his position. He represents a large state-wide labor organization that is seeking to use this charter as a means of forcing the city to pay 12-30% more on public works projects. He's upset at Mr. Rambo because, at a time when our police and city staff are taking pay cuts and furloughs, his union wants to be paid based upon a wage formula that inflates wages.

If the above poster gets his way, we will pay huge premiums on all public projects. If the city partners with a charity on a project, the charity will pay a huge premium.

The fact is the Charter is silent on prevailing wage, meaning the city can set any prevailing wage it wants, higher or lower than state law. The charter is democratic, his union is apparently not.

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:02
Shameful remarks
Jake Rambo is not pushing a right wing agenda. He is an honest and fair person. The last time I checked, the Charter was comprised of diverse people that have devoted countless hours for community service.
No to political agendas is a good thing if consistently applied. There is nothing in this thread other than the public being more engageed and involved in the charter process. Why would you want to curb public input?
The citizens should shape the Charter, not Council members or their cronies with their own agendas and aspiration for higher office.
I fear the Charter is being used to circumvent the political process and public input. We have a real chance to include growth issues and reducing the need of special interest money. Why would you focus on someting like "prevailing wage"- it is not even mentioned in the post.
You sound more like a politician running for office and the need to pacify donors than someone who genuinely cares about citizen input and the ability of the people to tell government how we want to run things.

No to pushing political agendas and yes to the Charter. Don't fall for red herrings that are meant to confuse you and take away from the issue at hand. The bottom line is- the Charter gives we the people the power to tell the Council what we want.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jake
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I have attended several meetings and know firsthand that you ar enot pushing a right wing agenda on the Charter.
There are people in the community that want to turn everything into a polarizing and ideological battle. I wish they would stop.
I for one am looking forward to getting more involved in the Charter because it allows us citizens a direct say on our future.
I may not agree with you or your fellow commissioners but I know you all are working hard and giving up your family time.
Anyone that has disagreements on the content of the Charter should attend a meeting and voice their concerns. Public input allows the opportunity for us to speak our minds.
The Chairman is a fair person who allows equal opportunity for dialogue from all sides.
As I recall, you were appointed At Large unanimously so you can't be all that bad like the first poster alludes.

Anonymous said...

I think I can safely say I am as far away from Mr. Rambo on just about very national issue there is.

When it comes to the local issues about land management, and goals to increase citizen participation, I think we are singing from the same choir book even though I am not a church goer.

Connie Conley said...

I have attended Charter Commission meetings and our community group, the Elk Grove Community Connection, even partnered with Charter Commission on public outreach. This committee has been given a difficult task and they have done a great job.

I am the first to say that Jake Rambo and I are of different political philosophies, but he has always, and I mean always, treated me and everyone else with total respect.

And to poster 9:37 a.m. regarding Chair Jake Allen, his leadership has been amazing and he is, hands down, a class act!

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but there's no way in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks this charter will get passed by voters, if it even gets to them anyway! As an outsider, I live in Elk Grove, but do not know anyone in the local government or in these circles. From where I sit, this commission has had problem written all over it from day numero uno! Ebmbarassing articles in the newspaper, gossip, it's actually pretty funny to watch from the sidelines! Actually, it is all pretty funny! Also got a hoot from the city manager and her attorney getting investigaged for cursing and making animal noises! Better comedy than I can get on television! ha ha!

Anonymous said...

Is this the same guy who ran for CSD a couple of years ago and only got like 5% of the vote?

Anonymous said...

Poster number 8, you are correct! That would be the one writing EG's "constitution." hahahahaha! "We the people" aaaaaaahhhahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Teddy Roosevelt
Better that our charter is being written by someone who has tried than those who poke fun and murmur behind a cloak of anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Good to seek Keith Gruenberg has a found a place that will still let him post. Stay classy Keith!

Anonymous said...

Jake Rambo is too smart for the CSD and I am glad he lost. CSD is filled with mentally challenged people, especially Michelle Orrock and Dennis Albiani.

Anonymous said...

I mean Gil Albiani, Dennis is his lobbyist son.

Anonymous said...

The Albiani Clan are jokes. Their name is meaningless. They are a good reminder that not all politicians can climb the political latter.

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast