Opinion: Breakdown in the Elk Grove City Clerk’s Office
Who is to Blame?

By Connie Conley | September 11, 2017 |

The city clerk is an important function to city government. And the city of Elk Grove is no different.  The city is fortunate to have an outstanding city clerk in Jason Lindgren and his staff of two full-time employees. However, three employees in the clerk’s office may not be enough to meet the demands of a growing municipality.

Lindgren’s role is very important as he is often the first and most direct link between residents and government. Most of the important functions of the city clerk are dictated by law or statute and include some of the most basic services expected by residents. Duties of the city clerk also includes being the election’s officer, public information requests, records management and he/she must be familiar with all government functions.

Another one of the most important tasks is providing meeting minutes of the Elk Grove City Council meetings. Recently, it has come to the forefront that the clerk’s office has been unable to provide meeting minutes for almost a year. The importance of minutes also speaks to the city clerk being responsible for providing transparency in local government. Minutes of council meetings are very important because they provide a permanent record showing what actions were taken.

Lindgren has taken responsibility for the tardiness regarding the minutes, calling it a “shortcoming” due to the demands on the clerk’s office.

Anyone who has ever interacted with Lindgren would never criticize or question his professionalism. Lindgren has a strong, positive professional relationship with residents and other stakeholders which is important for the effective service he consistently delivers to residents. 

According to the ICMA (International City/County Management Association), “Clerks are now reporting that fulfilling requests for access to public information is the greatest demand on their time.” With all the lawsuits facing the city of Elk Grove, and subpoenas for thousands of documents, may be one of the reasons why Lindgren cannot get the meeting minutes done in a timely manner.

Recently, the city of Elk Grove posted an available job for an Economic Development Specialist with a salary of $59,985 - $80,386 annually plus benefits. This position reports directly to Economic Development Director Darrell Doan and City Manager Laura Gill and was approved by the Elk Grove City Council. Residents, along with news media, have questioned this new position especially when the city contracted with Birmingham, Ala.-based Retail Strategies for $50,000 to recruit new businesses to Elk Grove.

As with Gill and City Attorney Jon Hobbs, Lindgren is the only other employee who reports directly to the Elk Grove City Council. Since the city council is ultimately responsible here, why hasn’t the city council acted?  Why haven’t they sought to hire another position for the clerk’s office?

After all, when the Council didn’t see any minutes on the consent calendar for approval for over a year, none of them thought to inquire as to why? Or didn’t they notice?

Copyright © 2017 by Connie Conley. All rights reserved.

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