'The Steves' - Detrick, Ly are Elk Grove's Parochial Dynamic Duo

December 15, 2015 |

Though they don't appear to have much in common on the surface, two Elk Grove City Councilmen are fast becoming Elk Grove's dynamic duo.  

The two councilmen are of course The Steves - Steve Detrick and Steve Ly.

For those who don't follow the Elk Grove City Council, this might be hard to understand. After all, a few months ago the Republican Steve Detrick told the Democratic Steve Ly "that's a load of crap" during a council meeting

As time has passed, The Steves have become something of intellectual soulmates. First, each man has brushed aside the philosophies of their respective political affiliation.  

The Republican Steve, who has tried to frame himself as fiscally responsible, hasn't met a feasibility study or any one of the several hair-brained schemes floating around this city he hasn't fallen in love with, that is as long as there is some contributors money involved. When Detrick's fellow Republican Council Member Pat Hume tried to kill the soccer stadium scheme on June 11, 2014, it was Detrick who sandbagged Hume and former Council Member Bob Trigg's maneuver (watch video here). Drifting further from his supposed fiscal conservatism, Republican Steve got in bed with the Council's two Democratic members saving the soccer scheme that June evening and ensuring wobbly financial footing for Elk Grove to the point that the city is deferring $8 million in annual road maintenance.

Of no small coincidence, a few months later during his annual fundraiser Republican Steve received a $2,500 donation from Democratic heavyweight and former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. As the city's exclusive agent for negotiating a soccer stadium deal with Major League Soccer, no joke, Nunez happened to be in the audience that June evening. Perhaps there was some quid pro quo texting going on between Team Steve and Team Fabian during deliberations.

As for Democratic Steve, during his campaigns for the Elk Grove Unified School District and Elk Grove City Council, he conducted self-described grass roots campaigns, which of course were aided by generous contributions from real estate developers. Democratic Steve spoke glowingly of giving every person regardless of their background an equal voice and a seat at the table. Ly unabashedly wrapped himself in the blanket of progressive Democratic politics. 

But when it came to pursuing some of those progressive ideals, the results were, well, incongruent. Democratic Steve flatly rejected a progressive stance when he refused to support raising minimum wages in Elk Grove during his 2014 city council campaign. So much for looking out for vulnerable families in our community. 

Most recently the twain has met and The Steves have joined hands - their mutual opposition of switching Elk Grove to a "by-district" form of representation. Both Steves agree that maintaining the status quo of "from district" representation is in their own interest if for no other reason than making entry of some opposing candidate almost insurmountable. 

The Steve's talking points, which are seemingly dictated by Joshua Woods and the Region Business interest group to which they are beholden to for fundraising purposes, goes something like this - if all of a sudden city council members were elected on a "by-district" basis, they would not represent the entire city. Put another way, the Steves are admitting that if they suddenly became by-district councilmen, they would throw the rest of the city under the eTran bus in singular pursuit of the interests of their district.

Steves - this is your logic - you both presented it that way - so own it.

If we look north to Sacramento, we can see their "by-district" system has worked well through the years. Whatever you think of Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Golden 1 Center, it can't be denied he pulled it off in no small part by gaining the support of a majority of "by-district" council members. 

Additionally, earlier this year when Eric Guerra won his seat on the Sacramento City Council - a special election to fill a mid-term vacancy at that - sound familiar? - he was outspent by a three-to-one margin. Yet even with this disadvantage, Guerra and his garage-based campaign still beat the establishment candidate in the "by-district" race. 

If Guerra had to run citywide it is unlikely he would have been able to win because of the high costs of conducting that type of campaign. For once shoe leather actually beat a fat wallet. 

So what is your answer Steve and Steve - if you were thrust into a "by-district" system would you suddenly become a parochial politician as you have suggested others will?  Or will you claim to look out for the greater good of all of Elk Grove and for once be true leaders? You can't have it both ways.

So what is it - are you leaders or just parochial hacks? We await your response.           

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Anonymous said...

I can't say you convinced me, but the cartoon is very funny.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget that Steve "The Mentor" Detrick also brought up vote swapping as a possibility of the outcome of by district voting.

So which of five would engage in that illegal activity?

Anonymous said...

And if you watch the video, Detrick made the statement about speaking first a lot at the meeting, foregoing his usual speaking after Hume and saying,“Ditto.” But speaking first has not faired Detrick well as now Hume had to clean up Detrick’s comments becoming Pat “The Clean Up Man” Hume.

Warren Buffett said...

I'm not sure who is to blame the most here: the apathetic public who choose to only get involved in issues that personally affect them, or the councilmembers who take advantage of the empty seats in the council chambers to vote as they have?

On the subject of elections by district, I suspect the average Joe on the street has little interest in the pros and cons of either method. I wonder if the larger obstacle to democracy is the failure to register to vote and the low voter turnout by the ones who have registered. I seriously doubt the average voter cares how much the candidates appearing on their ballot had to spend to get on it, let alone take an interest in the candidates from other districts who they cannot vote for. Remember the empty seats?

So while EGN has captured the opinions of a small, I should say very small, slice of the Elk Grove electoral pie, it should surprise no one that profit-bound special interests have stepped forward and paid their admission to fill the void we have created by our own inaction. So whether we want to characterize our leaders as cartoon characters, athletes, businessmen, or financial wizards, the fact remains that the silent majority continues to cheer for them (at the ballot box) as the parade passes them by.

Connie said...

WB, I am sad to say you might be correct here despite the fact that the small majority tries to get more people involved – keeping in mind the Margaret Mead quote.

Your points, however, are well taken. Evidence of that is a former council member was quoted as saying, “All the people in Elk Grove care about is having their garage picked up.” When I heard that I didn’t know whether to get mad at the insult or cry because it speaks directly to the voter apathy which is why we have so many under votes in every city council election. People make the effort to vote but they skip over voting for their own city council members. That is appalling to me.

And that needs to change!

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