Unknown Anti-Elk Grove Casino Group Submits Petitions; Opposing Group Files Complaint With FPPC

November 21, 2016 | 

In a whirlwind of activity this afternoon, the unknown group that has held a petition drive in the last week-and-half in Elk Grove has submitted 14,800 signatures today in hopes of qualifying a voter imitative.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee and the Sacramento Business Journal, the petition drive organizers have submitted the signatures in hopes of reversing a vote by the Elk Grove City Council on October 12 releasing the Howard Hughes Company from a development agreement on their unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove shopping center. By releasing HHC from the agreement, the Wilton Rancheria could seek to purchase a portion of the development and win approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in hopes of building a $400-million casino resort.

The petition was submitted by the Sacramento-based law firm of Bell, McAndrews, and Hiltachk, who did not answer a telephone call seeking comment. The paperwork did not reveal who was sponsoring the petition drive although there has been widespread speculation on nearby competing Indian casinos possible involvement.

The hidden identity of the petition's sponsor has been a point driven hard since the petition drive surfaced by the Sacramento-based business advocacy group Region Business. In defense of the October 12 vote Region Business has deployed sign wavers, organized an effort for people to remove their names from the petitions and has had the cooperation of at least two Elk Grove City Councilmen, Mayor Gary Davis, and Steve Detrick, who have recorded robo calls urging voters not to sign the petitions.

The focus of Region Business, which is operating a committee called Save Elk Grove Jobs, has framed the petition drive as detrimental to restarting construction of the shopping center. Construction on the shopping center, formerly known as the Elk Grove Promenade, came to an abrupt halt eight and a half years ago during the global credit collapse.  

Since that time, the unfinished mall has become a source of embarrassment for the Elk Grove City Council. When the City Council approved the abandonment of the development agreement, it was viewed as a way to spur the resumption of construction on the troubled development.

As part of Region Businesses efforts, the group's Executive Director Joshua Wood submitted a letter today to the Elk Grove City Clerk and the Fair Political Practice Commission requesting an investigation. Wood claims the unknown agency has violated the California Political Reform Act by not filing required financial disclosures. 

According to information reported by the Sacramento Bee, Elk Grove City Clerk Jason Lindgren is said to have 30-days to verify signatures and that the cost of the special election could approach $500,000. The Bee also reports that 200 voters to date have submitted documentation to remove their name from the petition.

Interestingly, with the election of Councilman Steve Ly to Mayor, there will be a vacancy on the council next month. With the last two vacancies in 2012 and 2014, the City Council made appointments rather than hold special elections citing the high cost to the City. 

Should the petition qualify, the City Council could defer on making an appointment and allow voters to decide who will fill the vacated seat. 

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