Elk Grove Mayor Ly Suffers Another Setback, Stripped of Full-time assistant

January 13, 2017 |  

The start of Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly's tenure continued its turbulence on Wednesday night. After being called a hypocrite by an Elk Grove citizen earlier in the City Council meeting, further indignity was heaped on the new Mayor in the final agenda item for the evening when Ly was stripped of his full-time assistant.

The move, which was supported and argued for by his City Council colleagues Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, and Darren Suen reallocated the position to serve the Mayor and all four council members. The position was created in May 2015 when former Mayor Gary Davis argued the demands of being a directly elected Mayor warranted the extra support.

When the job was created, Davis selected his full-time assistant who reported only to him, essentially making the position a political appointment. As such, Davis' assistant was given considerable leeway in their job duties, schedule, and was provided flexible working arrangements including the ability to work from home. 

Although details were not offered during deliberations, the new position will be a regular civil service employee and will be selected by City Staff following established practices. Additionally, the position will serve all five council members and report to City Manager Laura Gill or another member of the City's management team. 

During council deliberations, Ly argued the responsibilities of Mayor amount to a full-time position, and to adequately serve constituents the full-time assistant should be retained.

"I find it very difficult to try to balance two full-time jobs," Ly said. "I try the best that I can."

In his effort to retain his assistant, Ly suggested that another full-time assistant be hired for each of his four city council colleagues, but they were having no part of that proposal.

Detrick, who has not used his allocated part-time assistant for the last several years, said most communications and constituent requests he receives involve city services and is handed directly over to city staff for completion. As such, Detrick said the need might be a function of city staffing rather than a personal assistant.  

"If Laura [Gill] feels she needs another person, then she can add another person," Detrick said. "I would let her make that determination, she handles the day-to-day operations, If she feels the existing team can handle it, then so be it. If she feels needs another person, she can add that person."

Detrick went on to say during his eight-plus year tenure on the City Council he has served as Mayor and Vice Mayor and never found the responsibilities so overwhelming to have a full-time assistant. He stated the existing city staff was able to assist him as needed.

"The rest I do myself, that's what I signed up for," he added. "I respond to every email personally, I schedule my own appointments because if somebody sends me an email and wants to meet with me, I don't need to punt it to another person to put it on a calendar, it is just as easy to put in on the calendar myself." 

While his colleagues stripped him of his personal assistant, it took the step of reallocating the $50,000 budget to be shared among all five council members, giving each an annual budget of $10,000. At the current pay rate of $12 hour for the position, it would allow each council member to schedule an assistant to about 16 hours per week.  

The action was another setback for Ly, who at this time appears to have no allies on the Council. At last months meeting his three colleagues dismissed Ly's suggestion that the City look at switching to by-district representation of the City Council while last Saturday his entire slate, including himself, lost in the California Democratic Party's 9th Assembly District delegation election. 

During deliberations Ly unsuccessfully tried to stall the change until the next budget is approved in June saying he needed more time to determine his needs as Mayor. 

"I definitely need that position to support me," Ly said.   

Detrick replied saying "There is a difference between needs and wants. I think this is a want." 

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