Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly Should Thank City Council, Heed Advise of President Truman

First Hmong-American Mayor Steve Ly

March 13, 2017 |

As reported, Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly unsuccessfully tried to change the duties of the City employee who assists him and his four City Council colleagues at the Wednesday, March 8 meeting of the Elk Grove City Council.

Although the Mayor never came out and said it directly during the deliberations, part of which can be seen in the video posted below, what Ly was subtly trying to do was change the nature of the job from a civil servant to a political operative.

The first thing to keep in mind is that when former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis got his personal assistant in 2015, the rules of the road for that employee were far different.

Unlike the structure of current assistant position which reports to Elk Grove City Manager Laura Gill and works under her or her staff's direction, Davis' assistant worked under his direction. Even though the position was sold to the public as a helping hand to the Mayor at City Hall, that employee had great flexibility as to when and where their duties could be performed.

Although it was never exactly known what duties this employee executed, given that this person could work off-premise conducting the Mayor's business under his direction, the potential for misuse of taxpayers’ dollars by doing non-city related activities became a built-in feature of the position.

When the City Council denied Ly's request to loosen the job duties of this assistant to help his personal needs, they were doing the Mayor a favor although he undoubtedly will not see it that way. By having their assistant employed as a regular civil servant, versus a political appointment which essential what Davis' assistant was, any chance of having the employee involved in political activities on behalf of the Mayor or any of the City Council members is greatly diminished.

Given Ly's fondness for fundraising throughout the United States and organizing community events for his personal benefit, this assistant could have been used for political, non-city related purposes by the Mayor or any of the City Council members. Not only would that have put the employee in an awkward spot, but this is also the type of activity can easily land an elected official who would be inclined to illegally use a civil servant on a perp walk.

Sometimes politicians’ worst enemies are not the public, political rivals or the press, as President Trump suggests - their most dangerous enemy is often staring them in the mirror. Ly should thank the City Council from saving him from himself.

Along with this, as several commentators have already suggested in the story on Ly's defeat, the Mayor needs to quit whining about not having his own full-time personal assistant and get on with conducting City business.

Furthermore, Mr. Ly, you were fully cognitive of the responsibilities entailed in being Mayor specifically as it relates to your day job, so please do not come hat in hand pleading poverty more than one time.  You knew what the job was and you were not conscripted to serve.

As President Harry S. Truman accurately said, If you can't take the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen!   


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

In retrospect, it is now obvious that Ly's mentor, Gary Davis, pushed the envelope so far that the chickens have now come home to roost! The political assistant on the taxpayer's dime is only the first of many chicken turds to drop on Ly's watch. Wait till the countless 'Destination City' boondoggles and feasibility studies come home to roost and sit stillborn gathering dust or only partially completed.

How can you say watered down civic center, 100-acre soccer stadium currently growing hay, expensive bathrooms in the Old Town Plaza and streetscape renovation redux 3.0, the Old Yeller animal shelter with police department funds, the state prison medical office incentive money that was going to allow employees to visit the auto mall to buy cars during lunch according to one current Council member who voted for it, and don't get me started on what this casino litigation might eventually cost us.

So, Mr. Ly, you've come to the party a little late, but believe me that is a good thing. Past boondoggles have a way of biting you at the ballot box.

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