Open Letter to Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis

By Connie Conley | March 30, 2015 | This letter is in response to your public statement posted on  Elk Grove News  (EGN) regarding t...

By Connie Conley | March 30, 2015 |

This letter is in response to your public statement posted on Elk Grove News (EGN) regarding the wasting of taxpayers’ money by the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD).  [As most know, the CSD is a special district which handles parks, recreation and fire services for the city of Elk Grove.]  
I believe you have opened up a Pandora’s Box in that now it is fair game the taxpayers of the city of Elk Grove ask you, as our elected Mayor, to answer the same questions, me being one of them.
In your statements, both in writing and at the March 11th and March 25th Elk Grove City Council meetings, you adamantly declared the CSD is wasting taxpayers' money by not using council chambers for CSD Board of Directors' meetings and by not partnering with the city on copying services – whatever that means. 
Yet hours later after issuing your written statement to EGN, again professing the waste, you praised the CSD at the State of the City Address by saying, “Elk Grove is known for its parks and recreation offerings.  We work in partnership with the Cosumnes Community Services District.  Most of the time that partnership means we celebrate all the good things that they do and get to take a tiny bit of the credit for it.  But truly, the Cosumnes Community Services District has served this community for a long time and they do it well.”
So which is it?  Does the CSD serve the community well or is the CSD wasting taxpayers' money?
Comments posted regarding the EGN article stated that the CSD is not wasting money, as you stated, because insurance is taking care of any added expense for administrative needs during the rebuilding of CSD headquarters caused by the fire including the temporary space for their board meetings.
However, there is evidence that you have, in fact, wasted taxpayers’ money many times over.
Just one example:  The Elk Grove City Council voted to approve $500,000 of taxpayers' money for famed architect Zaha Hadid to design the proposed new civic center in Laguna Ridge.  All along the way, the Council approved the updates, design review guidelines and whatever studies were thrown in for good measure – you seem to be very keen on approving feasibility studies.  Not once did you raise any concerns regarding the designs even after a very vocal town hall meeting which was held early on in the process back in 2009.
When the city of Elk Grove couldn’t get but 14 residents to attend the three workshops they hosted regarding the civic center, the Elk Grove Community Connection hosted a town hall meeting with then Mayor Pat Hume as the facilitator.  We planned, widely publicized the meeting including Mayor Hume and myself writing an Op Ed, and paid for the meeting.  The civic center meeting was standing room only, because we believed public participation in this process was an absolute must.  You were also in attendance.  The public made their viewpoints very well known, did they not?
However, when the final designs were before the Council, you voted to scrap the entire project as it currently existed – meaning that $500,000 spent was for naught.  Is that not a waste of taxpayers’ money?
The Elk Grove City Council authorized $500,000 for this design
of the Elk Grove Civic Center by renown architect Zaha Hadid.
Plans for this design have subsequently been scrapped. 
Currently, you voted to approve a $700,000 feasibility study for the proposed aquatics center which is your brain child.  Yet when the financing did not come through, and the company that was hired and paid to secure the financing, P3 International, defaulted on the contract, which was validated by City Attorney Jon Hobbs at a council meeting, you did not hold them accountable so that the taxpayers could recoup some of their investment here.  Is that not a waste of taxpayers’ money?
Equally as important, isn't it true that only three companies initially submitted RFPs to build the aquatics center?  However, two of the companies rescinded their respective RFPs and the third wanted the city to reimburse them for their costs to generate the proposal. Additionally, city staff cannot find an operator to manage the aquatics center.  These are very important factors, and yet you have not addressed them at a council meeting.  Why is that?  And how much taxpayers' money has been wasted here?
Disclaimer:  I will end this letter that I have supported Gary Davis every time he has run for office.  So much so that he used materials I designed and paid to have printed for his first run for Mayor.  However, none of us should have blind faith in our elected leaders and we should always “question, question, question.”  Wouldn't you agree it is questions that drive us forward?  That would certainly be true in ensuring good governance for the city of Elk Grove which you reinforce at the beginning of every council meeting.
You have often stated you believe in democracy and the people’s right to speak.  In a democracy, the principle of accountability holds that elected officials are responsible to the citizenry for their decisions and actions. Transparency requires that the decisions and actions of those in government be open to public scrutiny.  Both concepts are central to the very idea of democratic governance.   Most believe without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible.
In closing, that is what I am doing now as a constituent, openly questioning your actions.
But the last question to Mayor Davis:  Will you answer?

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Ms. Conley,

Thank for having the courage to make your thoughts known, opening this conversation, and reminding us of a few facts.

Of those facts, yes, two of our current council members were more than willing to spend an excessive amount of money on the Zaha Hadid design. Maybe they thought it was worth the roll of the dice. Unfortunately this is not some barracks craps game, this is the money of the taxpayers.

This craps game with taxpayers dollars seemingly has no boundaries. The Old Town Parcel, the aquatics center, the soccer stadium, and yes even the Veterans Hall - so much money spent, much of it wasted, and nothing to show for all those dollars.

Mr. Davis way need to remember this the next time he launches an attack on his colleagues at the Community Services District for being "wasteful".

Anonymous said...

The city keeps on approving new homes.

Real smart forward thinking there.

Where is the water going to come from? Sure isn't coming from thin air.

We won't even have enough water to flush our toilets.

Continued drought, one of the worst in over 500 years and they want to allow more new home construction which will lead to even more high density Low Income Housing Projects?

California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?

"Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir.


Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain."


Anonymous said...

Well said Ms. Conley and I can also add a couple of other councilmembers names to that list. It would be my hope that our two new councilmembers will attempt to clean this mess up and do their due diligence for the taxpayers. However I believe I heard councilmember Suen say he felt obligated to support the Mayor in all decisions...anyway something along those lines.

The sad part is as stated....we have nothing to show for the millions spent except for some signs posted about a FUTURE project coming. It's insane....turns my stomach every time I see one of those signs.

Lynn said...


Thank you for the article and great questions! Let us make transparency truly happen! I might have it wrong but I believe in the end the total wasted on the civic center design was closer to 700,000.

This was the design our leaders wanted and the night at council when the firm presented the design concept and plan they were blasted by council. IMO our leaders showed no respect. I went up and spoke to the individuals after the meeting. Thanking them for providing a very creative forward thinking design and a job well done, however our city isn't ready for something like this and that people in our community really wanted something that represented our heritage and spirit.

The remaining GEM of our city and Elk Grove Council wants to mess with our parks.....sad....hmmm wonder if this has anything to do with the SOIA.

Anonymous said...

I just don’t get the battles Davis picks. First he tries to remove Chaires and Maita from the planning commission. That backfired stating, “I heard the message loud and clear from the community and decided not to make any changes.”

Now he wants to take up Hume’s cause to mess with the CCSD for entirely different reasons. Hume wanted to talk parks and recreation. Davis makes it worse by accusing them of wasting money.

Shouldn't Davis just focus on his own plate, or in this case, a very large platter of city business? The aquatics center hasn't even broken ground and the staff person in charge of the project is leaving. Not to mention other key personnel that have left the city’s employ that have yet to be replaced.

Also, the buzz words “economic development” seem to be absent from the Davis’s vocabulary these days.

And finally, why criticize another government agency when your own is not a model of efficiency?

Col. Walter E. Kurtz said...

We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.

George S. Patton

Connie said...

So I went on a fact-finding mission this morning and contacted the CSD regarding Gary’s comments.

Regarding the use of the Pavilion: The Pavilion, in two words, is very old! I was just there for one of Darren Suen’s town hall meetings and I noticed that it needed a lot of work. For example, the walkway was so dark going up to the front entrance, you practically needed a flashlight to guide your way. As it was, I hadn’t been to the Pavilion for 31 years for my sister’s wedding reception.

We have been told for years the Pavilion was going to be torn and rebuilt; but of course, money got the way during the recession.

So not only is the CSD not wasting money, but because they are now using the Pavilion for their board meetings, the insurance company is going to pay for the necessary required updates, such as ADA requirements, lighting, air conditioning, new flooring, etc.

These were improvements the CSD had in the budget. So in essence, the CSD is saving the taxpayers money here that can be reallocated for other community needs.

As far as the copying services, apparently a few years ago, it was just an idea thrown out there for consideration during a regular meeting between the new agencies. Neither agency put in any thought into discussing it further; probably knowing it wasn’t practical.

So why Gary didn’t pick up the phone and talk to anyone at the CSD and get these same facts is another question for him to answer.

Col. Walter E. Kurtz said...

Thanks Connie for your diligence in seeking the truth. Politicians who rely on soundbites and not results are like those chinese firecrackers that turn out to be duds--you light the fuse and it sparks and looks impressive and everyone stands in awe--then after a few seconds, it fizzles, pops a little--and poof--nothing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing forward the facts that the City is the government agency in town wasting tax payer money. The CSD has and continues to provide award winning recreation programs and services. The city has wasted a lot of tax payer money on feasibility studies only to do nothing with the plans. Mr. Mayor needs to turn his attention inward and look to finish the mall and other projects that do not duplicate what the CSD is already doing so well. Please look at the facts that the aquatics center is a loser proposal and change directions. Do a real community assessment of what the residents want not just a few load mouths.

Anonymous said...


Vision for Elk Grove -

Massive Sprawl

Build more homes and lead to even more Elk Grove traffic issues:

Inadequate east west boulevards to handle the sprawl.

Way too many houses and high density low income housing projects which result in masses of speeding maniacs.

No turn in and turn out lanes to / from major shopping centers.

No turn in and turn out lanes to / from major boulevards from intersecting streets.

Traffic signals that aren't synchronized resulting in people racing make the next light.

Red light cameras that cause people to slam on the brakes to avoid driving through on a yellow which results in rear end collisions.


Don't look now, but your pants are on fire said...

Well, apparently no one wants to state the obvious....Mayor Davis lied. He continues to lie, which makes him a liar.

And if doing your job is so difficult or boring, then step down from the position Mayor Davis and let someone else do the job. I'm sure there are four men sitting on the council right now who would be more than happy to take over as Mayor.

William Jefferson Clinton said...

Lied is such a vulgar word. Let's just say he misspoke the truth!

William Jefferson Clinton said...

Lied is such a vulgar word. Let's just say he misspoke the truth!

Steve L said...

Connie makes some good points here regarding Davis's inability to get anything done notwithstanding spending $ millions of our hard-earned tax dollars in pursuit of so many hair-brained schemes.

Let's not forget about the $100,00 he spent the enter into an exclusivity contract w/ Nunez to bring MLS soccer here. Everyone knew that was a pie-in-the-sky dream except our mayor (who I might add, along with Nunez, wasn't even present when MLS visited the area).

How about paying $4.7-6 million for the proposed MLS and youth sports fields located outside the city; land that was purchased in foreclosure just a year prior for just $650,000.

How about the $1 million dollar purchase of the Union Pacific property in Old Town. He has found no viable use for that land, land in the center of Old Town that potentially could be a an economic beacon to our community.

How many times has he promised the mall was back on track and tenants were lining up to fill the storefronts? The mall is back in litigation due to the mayor and council allegedly breaching a contract with adjoining developers.

Davis has worn out his welcome, at least with those who watch what really transpires at city hall.

Pegasus said...

Davis is way out of line attacking the CSD. By all accounts they do a wonderful job with limited resources.

The city, under Davis especially, has proved time and again to be totally inept. Living for the soundbyte, saying whatever the audience he's in front of wants to hear; this is Gary Davis.

He has done absolutely nothing as mayor that he can hang his hat on.

He's looking desperate and it seems obvious he's looking to assess blame away from his own ineptitude and lack of leadership. He's no longer fooling the masses. His time for accountability is close and he's showing panic.

Thanks for your service Mr. Davis, now please ride off into the sunset like your predecessor. It's time for a change.

Will someone with vision, morals, accountability and an IQ over room temperature step forward please?

Anonymous said...

There comes a day of reckoning and I believe that day has come for
Mayor Davis.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts..I don't usually agree with you as my perception is that you personalize your relationships with these council members then after some dispute or "disrespect-type" event, you pounce on them. I have no idea what Davis did to you to deserve this review of his abilities; however, I believe this time, you nailed it on its head. Mayor Davis should not be throwing stones from his glass house. Our city council members have spent millions of tax dollars on schemes that never pan out...OK, sometimes you need to push the envelope on a particular development or idea, but this council is so ADHD in that they have multiple projects in preliminary stages, that none of them have a realistic chance of coming to a conclusion. Anyone remember the "incubator" business model...we spent about 500,000 (I think) on cultivating small business ideas and to the best of my knowledge, not one small business succeeded. Not to mention the railroad land in old town that we bought (for 1 million) that it seems Mayor Davis uses to hold his monthly "hot dog" truck rallies. Why did we need that land? What's the plan for it? We've owned it now for about 3 years and still no concrete plan in place? I find it oddly absurd that Davis criticizes CCSD for fiscal mismanagement when his staff approves study after study for bogus "ideas". CCSD does nothing but provide excellent park design; excellent outreach; and excellent management of the parks system. I believe Davis has turned out to be quite a dud as a mayor and politician. I guess if raising money somehow makes you a great politician; then he qualifies. If, however, a great politician is one who engages the public; hears and listens to the public; makes decisions based on facts and not friendships (or donor status); then Davis has shown over and again that he fails miserably. High hopes for Davis back in 2006/2008 but through the years his rhetoric and nauseating oratory have driven many past supporters away. He has become an empty shell of a charlatan, swindler, cheat and/or con artist. Those of us smart enough to see through the smoke screen are not fooled. Apparently Connie, who is a consummate Elk Grove supporter, see's it to. You can fool some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool educated people too many times before they see the king without his clothes.

Anonymous said...

To bring the loop back around, all the comments here point to a comment, that if memory serves me correctly, was made by Jeff Ramos of the CCSD made at a city council meeting. It was made by Jeff at one of the aquatics center meetings over the last few years.

My memory isn't exact, but when asked about their mission, Jeff said the CCSD designs its programs to deliver services to the residents in the district. Conversely, the city of Elk Grove is trying to design its discretionary programs to people outside the city. This is the essence of the differences between the two government agencies.

The CCSD designed the Bartholomew facility for instance, to primarily serve the needs of its ratepayers, and importantly, within its budget and no revenue bonds. The city, on the other hand is chasing some nebulous idea of becoming a tourist destination to serve the needs of people outside the community. They couldn't even buy the Grantline lot without playing a shell games with taxpayers money. How are they going to build the Grantline soccer fields without the issuance of revenue bonds?

If the city of Elk Grove could take that one basic lesson from the CCSD - make your residents your priority, not people outside the community - they wouldn't be facing these crisis' of confidence.

Anonymous said...

This city is turning into a big joke!

What happened to our sister city relationship with the Kingdom of Zamunda?

Anonymous said...

The CCSD is not without faults. Buying park land outside their territory. Agreeing to take over the Galt fire dept. and saying they would not remove the name Elk Grove from the fire equipment, have you looked at a fire engine lately, not one mention of Elk Grove. Oh, yeah, this action was done to put off any take over by the City. However there is not mention fo the millions it cost the tax payers in increased salaries and equipment replacement to bring the Galt fire department up to date.

Peggy Fleming said...

Bring back the ice rink! :)

Anonymous said...

Yea, or maybe the Mayor could have another weiner roast at the park. Just hope he buys enough the next time.

Anonymous said...

I agree that our Mayor is asleep at the wheel, but I also think our other electeds could put a stop to this wasting of taxpayer dollars. At a recent council meeting I heard Mr. Detrick wanting to increase the size of the stadium.

It might even be to our advantage after this hay crop lease is mowed to just lease that land out for farmers to grow crops on. You've heard of Farm to maybe a crop of veggies this summer would be a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Can't we at least let the patrons of Old Elk Grove once again use that million-dollar property as a parking lot!? We really need more parking, and it is sitting there - VACANT!

Sadly, until someone steps up and opposes Davis in the next mayoral election, which did not happen this last time, we are STUCK! On the other hand, there is really no one currently on the council who I would support. What a muddle we are in!

Anonymous said...

Mayor Davis,
Seems there is some concern regarding your leadership, or lack thereof. Will you be responding to some legitimate concerns or will you try to divert our attention to some other crisis in the city? I believe it is time to stand up and answer your critics. True leaders make themselves available; answer the hard questions; provide feedback and accept input. What kind of mayor are you Mr Davis....a run and hide guy or a stand up professional?

Anonymous said...

I think our Mayor and Council are too aggressive and not focused on what they are doing and it is costing us dearly. When each of the above listed ideas comes before the council, they only focus on that ONE project, never considering all those that have or will come before them. It's as if that ONE project is all that's in the hopper. They're probably all good people, just do not have the expertise that is needed.....kinda like a bunch of kids. I wanta, wanta and why can't I have it?

At the rate they're going it's going to become too expensive to live in Elk Grove and that will hurt all of us homeowners big time.

Anonymous said...


Are there term limits for the positions of mayor and councilperson?

If not, Elk Grove is well on its way to becoming the next Stockton.

Anonymous said...

As we all know we are suffering from a drought and watering of lawns are limited to two days a week and most likely there will be more restrictions before the year is over. Perhaps even restrictions on new swimming pools being built, maybe even topping off, draining, etc. of existing pools. Certainly not the time to be putting in an Olympic Aquatics Center while residents have brown lawns, not to mention all of our city parks & roadside trees & grass brown or worse. Some cities nearby are putting restrictions on new homes being built...50% lawn, drought resistant plants & those sprinkler systems that monitor conditions...?? what they're called. Time for EG to face facts and perhaps put restriction on new home construction.

Anon 20:52 No I wish there was.

Anonymous said...

Time for a housing moratorium.

Building new homes during a period of severe drought is socially irresponsible.

Why should be conserve if homebuilders can keep throwing up hundreds ofhomes?

Laguna Pete said...

Where is our chuck 'n duck Mayor's response?

It seems he has a lot to answer for.

Anonymous said...


Folsom and El Dorado Hills consistently denies any further SECTION 8 developments to be built, instead opting to pay the fine. This has lead to outstanding developments like the Palladio and all of E. Bidwell creating a booming economy while ELK GROVE still hasn't managed to get a MALL BUILT (which is now to be a "outlet stores area") that was promised years ago. All of this new housing and no new jobs? Crime is on the rise and more and more people are moving to ROSEVILLE, EL DORADO HILLS, FOLSOM, ROCKLIN for a safer environment, a booming economy and a sense of GROWTH.

Elk Grove is so stagnant it's pathetic and it's boring. A new "Dutch Bros" doesn't change anything.

Anonymous said...

So, what are we going to do—continue to tick off the list of Gary Davis blunders, recount again all the money this mayor has wasted while we vote him back into office? How can a politician who is so inadequate continue to hold office?

Fed up with the lies and cover ups...... said...

Your answer Anon 20:55 is a combination of apathy and busy lives trying to stay afloat. Sad.

I fear what we don't know. What is the financial status of our city? Craig leaving and others being fired. What do they know that we don't?

How much is in the ciy's reserves? I'm thinking it's a lot less than we've all been told. There may be a very big shoe waiting to drop.

A lot things are occurring within our local government that we have a right to know, but the city will not disclose. What's going on with the EGPAL? Rumors of malfeasance and wasteful spending abound. However, asking direct questions of our city leaders, police chief, city manager, Michelle Orrock (EGPAL Director) leads to double speak and misdirection. What has happened to the money? Is it true the city, or Orrock, is trying to very quietly shut it down? Perhaps a Grand Jury investigation is in order.

How much taxpayer money has been spent on the failed civic center? Studies, conceptual drawings etc. How much money has been spent on the soccer stadium, studies, land, etc? What about the aquatic center? And we all know that is Davis' idea to gain votes from the Piranha parents and to appease his child, who has two different entities named after said child.

Answer the questions Davis, etal. How bad is it really? Maybe we'll let you all stay...then again maybe we won't.

Anonymous said...

There are very knowledgeable people who contribute to this website. No one really expects the mayor to suddenly come clean on the monies misspent under his leadership. What we need is an avenue for obtaining a true accounting of city finances. Mr. Davis may be a less than adequate mayor but has proven himself to be a stellar politician. In a community that is too busy to care you just need to engage a fraction of the voters. He has done that with diehard fans of MLS and what I see as an attempt to do so with his support of Mr. Ly. I would love to see this become more than just an exercise in words.

Anonymous said...

My parents moved to EG 25 years ago from the Bay Area, and I have lived here for 15 years...
After reading all these comments and viewing the Council on TV during thier meetings, it further confirms, that I'm not the only one that views our Mayor and Puppet Council, as a inadequate, Wannabe Career politicians.... They will say and do anything to keep their seats.
How about the Capital Nursery housing project... What a joke!

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove is actually a small community. One where you can easily run into our Mayor and Councilmembers while running errands, yet it seems that many have lost trust in where our electeds are taking us. You cannot IMO have public trust without public engagement and that is where we are lacking.

Do we have a strategic planning process for our city’s long-term economic objectives? What is coming to Elk Grove...we need a way for citizens, business owners, and potential new residents and investors to gain a better picture of what is being planned, built, and developed in their city and neighborhoods.

I see our Mayor and some Council as looking at those who do attend and ask questions at meetings as nothing more than "a nuisance" they have to listen to. That is when they lose public trust. Seems that would be something they would want to fix...something so important in the making of a great city.

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