How Did Sunshine Week Work Out For The City of Elk Grove?

By Kathy Lee Special to Elk Grove News Ironically, last week was dubbed “Sunshine Week.” Sunshine Week was created by newspaper publi...

By Kathy Lee
Special to Elk Grove News

Ironically, last week was dubbed “Sunshine Week.”

Sunshine Week was created by newspaper publishers in 2005, and has grown in include teachers, organizations and ordinary citizens interested in good government. Its purpose is to promote the importance of open and transparent government, the free flow of information for citizens and residents, and the goal to hold accountable local, state and federal bureaucracies.

Now for the “ironic” application: Holding accountable our city leaders for their failure to follow their own laws, policies and procedures for the benefit of a preferred vendor for maintenance of our city fleet of vehicles. This was done to the detriment of local taxpayers who must bear the cost of higher maintenance fees and the substantial legal bill incurred to defend its actions. This council set aside staff’s recommendation to accept the lowest bid so that the potential $400,000 contract would go to a preferred local vendor.

Last week, a Superior Court judge tentatively ruled that Elk Grove officials erred when they violated their own bidding policy by awarding the contract to this preferred vendor rather than the lowest bidder. In recent months I have watched as this council cut fees and awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives for businesses to come here. Conservatively speaking, we have lost more than we have gained in these scenarios. We act as if we have an unending stream of cash. If we do, then my taxes are too high. Remember, we gave this local dealership a $500,000 gift for bringing their business here. We also gave them a 5% credit on the bid process. How did they reward us?

Their bid was $30,000 higher than the lowest bid. Their offer charged $6.00 more per hour in labor charges and 6% more for parts than the lowest bidder. The lowest bidder, who held the previous contract, and by all accounts from staff performed well, was jettisoned from consideration. This dealer ranked in the top 8% of Ford dealerships NATIONALLY in consumer service satisfaction. Our local dealer did not warrant even an honorable mention in the consumer satisfaction ratings.

Back on January 11, 2012, I spoke on the record of my displeasure with this council’s decision to circumvent the RFP process and award the contract to a bidder that has taken our incentive money and essentially spat on us. Evidently, the judge was displeased as well. The acts of this council are neither transparent nor open.

The owner of the winner bid, who took to the podium that night, lied to all of us. He said he was committed to the community, stating he and his wife recently purchased a house “here.” Records show they don’t live in Elk Grove - they don’t live in South Sacramento; they don’t live in Sacramento; they don’t even live in Sacramento County - they live in Auburn. Shame on him for deceiving this council and our residents. He is undeserving of our business if he isn’t committed enough to even live here.

It’s time for accountability and it’s time to get back to doing what’s right and fair. The fairness of the process ensures that just decisions will be made. With the judge’s decision comes an opportunity to fix a wrong. Let’s get back to Elk Grove being a partner where “good faith and fair dealing” is a way of business. Time to let the Sunshine back into Elk Grove.

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Anonymous said...

All great cities have their early leaders they can identify as being the visionaries who helped guide their city to become what it is today. Those early pioneers are typically enshrined in local museums, plaques, parks, schools, etc. It is generally agreed by most town folks, that without these particular leaders, the town would possess the qualities it currently has.

Since Elk Grove is a relatively new city, fast forward a 100 years from now. What will our local residents say about the current stewards of our city?

Might they say, "oh, they dealt from the bottom of the deck during competitive bidding in exchange for political/financial favors; or possibly, "yeah, they put us on the fast-track backwards by telling RT to take a hike and take their light rail with you; or, "yeah, they started out with some pretty hefty budget reserves, but the influential police officer's union, economic development giveaways, and the e-tran boondoggle whittled that away; or, "the running of the elk had to end because the elk got too fat eating at all the fast food and take-out restaurants that lined all pf their boulevards".

Sunshine in government you say? Nope, not here. The forecast is for more rain--and lightning if you dare stand in the way.

Captl Benajamin L. Willard said...

Ms. Lee certainly has hit the head on the nail. These type of antics put the integrity of our government in question.

Connie Conley said...


Great op ed! Yesterday morning, I sent an email to the council for public comment to further "shine a light" on the ramificiations here.

In part it said, "Finally, though we may have all wanted Elk Grove Ford to be the lowest bid and be awarded the contact, they failed to do so. That is a fact!

This council has the fiduciary and intellectual responsibility to ensure the RFP process is completely fair and equitable, void of bias, conflict of interest, the perception of any backdoor deal and/or a set up to “pull the rug out” which will certainly lead to future lawsuits. Simply put, the RFP process exists for a reason: To weed out corruption that plagued government of old, especially at the local level.

If you now decide to thumb your nose at the process, you will be rewarding failure, and setting the tone for all future RFPs."

Anonymous said...

Hume made a mockery of the process and now they cry "local". Not buying it. Amen on the article. Time to stop spending our tax dollars in this fashion. If you didn't want the competition (or competitive pricing) then don't send it out to bid.

Anonymous said...

We need a new council. It is time to vote them out. We can not afford this to much longer. Please someone run against them.

Anonymous said...

Besides weeding out corruption at the local level, another important purpose of competitive bidding is to ensure that the taxpayers get the best price for their investment. Now, I anticipate that the Council will probably exercise their right to throw out all the bids on their next agenda (since the judge did not award Downtown Ford the contract), and they will justify the higher, "local" bid as being superior, somehow, someway.

I'm all for buying local, but as you peel away the layers, it becomes to sound more like political rhetoric, and less about hard numbers and value for our tax dollars.

Politicians are great at spending other people's money!

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