The Last Line of Defense

August 5, 2013 | In conversations with a wide assortment of people across the political spectrum there is one common denominator that...

August 5, 2013 |

In conversations with a wide assortment of people across the political spectrum there is one common denominator that, in our opinion, they have in common and it is this - a mistrust of the political system in which we currently find ourselves whether it be local, state or federally based. Think of the support Sen. Rand Paul received from people on both the left and right on his drone inquiry that was largely based on mistrust of the government.

Closer to home there seems to be two groups of voters in Elk Grove - a very small group who care about the future of our city and quality of life and the vast tuned-out majority of voters who could care less what happens locally and vote based either strictly on party affiliation lines or political slogans cooked-up by some well paid aspiring Karl Rove or James Carville in downtown Sacramento. Our local politicians really love the latter group - they offer platitudes and sound bites that resonate while obscuring reality.

It is the former group the entire council and select members of the city executive team seem bent on squelching. Whether it is a council member rebutting citizens speaking their minds on non-agendized items, citizens harassed for questioning the inordinate number of items and content placed on the city's consent calendar or the city manager and councils dismissive attitudes towards those citizens who have cared enough to attend council meetings and speak to their concerns only to have them ignored or ridiculed while cowing to each developer offering re-zones, and even unsolicited monetary incentives to build here, so much so that the citizens who once monitored and interacted with the council no longer attend the meetings. 

There seems to be a concerted effort to suppress public participation in spite of Mayor Gary Davis' oft repeated and truly laughable claim that the city hall is the peoples hall The truth of the matter is that public participation is just a facade that our city council (or most governmental body's for that matter) offers up the groveling but quickly diminishing public as a modern day table scrap. The real decisions are made behind doors that are only accessible to those willing to pay the price of admission.

For those of us who are still concerned how taxpayers dollars are spent or land planning decisions are made, there are few alternatives. Most of us lack the deep pockets that can gain the access of the ear of our Mayor or council members.

What you may ask what is the price of admission - quite simply it is money. If you want to play the game and get things done, cough-up some good hard cash.

That is how the system operates - good or bad, that is the reality. Any politician who denies this is either a liar or delusional.

Nonetheless, there are still two lines of defense that the ordinary concerned citizen has at their disposal and both are free, sort of.

The first of course is the First Amendment enshrining Freedom of Speech. While Freedom of Speech is important and worth fighting or even dying for, the second means might be far more effective and it is the Freedom of Information Act requests.

As non-moneyed people concerned about our city's future, utilizing this tool might be the last available act citizens have to keep our government accountable. To this end, no matter what your political ideology might be, if you have a question how the City of Elk Grove is conducting business in your name or spending your money, we urge you to submit a public information request.

With many big financial decisions in front of the city most notably the push to issue bonds for a multi-million dollar soccer stadium and the proposed 12-square mile expansion of the city, if you have a question, Email Elk Grove's City Clerk Jason Lindgren ( with a public information request.

As a matter of public service, should you submit a public information request, please feel free to forward a copy of your request to EGN. When you receive information back from the city, we will post your request and the response from the city with your prior approval.

Ask the questions and let them know you are watching. This is YOUR city and YOUR tax dollars.

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Anonymous said...

Well stated and accurate, so much so that I cannot attach my name here.

'nuf said.

Not Citizens Alone said...

Even with active citizens, who do give a damn despite all efforts by the Elk Grove City Council to gag them, it does take more.

Transparency International, a worldwide organization, in a special report entitled, The U.S. Experience, states that a successful anti-corruption regime at the local government level must include:Enacting and applying local ethics, including having an effective, independent Ethics Commission; Implementing local government controls; A role for citizen watchdogs groups; The presence of a strong, investigative media; And the availability of multiple organizations or mechanisms at the local level interested in rooting out corruption.”

One component alone cannot do it all!

Don't be fooled said...

This "last line of defense" was almost gutted in the current State budget when it was proposed that the State would no longer reimburse cities for responding to public records requests. Cities would have been able to charge for such requests, or possibly not respond at all. Darrell Steinberg back-pedaled for this budget year, but has now introduced a constitutional amendment on the next ballot that will permanently preserve the Public Records Act, but not on the State's dime. Cities would fend for themselves and be able to establish fees to provide this service.

So fellow EGN friends, enjoy your records requests for now, because in the very near future, it may cost you an arm and a leg to get any information from the archives of Elk Grove City Hall...

Is that a solar eclipse, or just the sunshine laws being slowly wittled away?

Anonymous said...

If the world wide web was a zoo, EGN would be the monkey enclosure. It sure is fun to watch the monkeys whip themselves into a frenzy!
It isn't that commenters don't have important points but the messages are lost in the theatrics. If you understood that "what you say" is as important as "how you say it," your message would have more impact. But, please, continue... Monkeys are funny!

Paula said...

Money Boy: It seems to me that all the comments except yours are clear and concise. I understand all of the above comments except yours. You are right, it's all in how you say what you mean. You refer to "theatrics" and "monkey enclosures."

What exactly are you referring to? You're a bit vague and ambiguous.

Anonymous said...

you hit the nail on the head! I am one of those who attended meetings regularly; but over the past several years, the snide remarks; the disrepectful attitudes; the sense the council isn't listening; the continued perception that money and developers have the upper hand; all have lead me and several other concerned citizens to throw in the towel. Personally, my thoughts about retiring here are now being re-evaluated. When it's time, I am pretty sure we will move from Elk Grove after nearly 50 years of calling this place home. It is no longer home; it is now a "destination city" with nothing to show. Our charm and character have been sacrificed for more and more houses; resulting in less and less charm...we are becoming just another gas station stop on I-5. It is pretty sad to see such a transition.

A Few Good People said...

Like Briggs, Leary, Scherman and Soares before them, one day the current council, with all the promises of change, honesty, integrity, accountability and morality will be gone, leaving us with more mess and probably in debt so deep that Elk Grove may never recover.

What we have now is an elitist bunch of egomaniacs who abuse their office for own personal gain. Is anyone else sick of seeing their smiling faces in every photo op as they push each other aside jockeying for the best camera angle?

At least the first four mentioned didn’t try to bankrupt the city with their pie in the sky ideas. And that is saying something that some of the current council members could be worse than Leary!

Trigg will be gone in 2014 and we must elect someone who has the real courage to stand up to the others. Hume is up for reelection and needs to be replaced. Cooper might be gone as well if he wins the Assembly race.

With the possibility of three being gone, our city might just have a chance. But the question is: Who among us can be elected without falling prey to the abuse of power of those who came before them?

Anonymous said...

There's already political maneuvers. Gary wanted Chaires but when he couldn't make it work with an appointment he didn't let anyone else take the chair and have a leg up. He'll get his developer buddies to back her and he'll have another vote at his disposal.

Vote for people that really care.

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

I agree with a "a few good people" in that at least Brigg, Soares, and yes even convicted felon Leary where far more responsible with our money than the current group under the "leadership" of Mayor Davis. No wonder Mr. Cooper is running for Assembly - he is about to be tarnished by the Mayor's scheme to line the pockets of Fabian Nunez.

Political tip to Hume and Detrick - delay things as much as you can, fight like hell against Davis's outlandish and risky schemes. Not only will you will be protecting the pocketbooks of taxpayers, you will embellish your street cred with the average voter (you know who votes) and aid your own political ambitions, whatever they might be. You are both fiscal conservatives, now prove it. Common sense voters from the left and right are counting on you.

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