After leaving office former mayor Gary Davis continued to easily access city hall staff, former Elk Grove city manager

August 9, 2018 |  

The days when politicians leave office and, as General Douglas MacArthur suggested, they just fade away seems like a quaint notion in the time of big money politics. In the world of never-ending spin and influence peddling, former elected officials either become rainmakers, lobbyist or cable news talking heads. 

In Elk Grove, former elected officials fading into the sunset no longer appears to be the norm either. 

A prime example of this is former mayor Gary Davis. After voluntarily leaving office in 2016 for still murky reasons, Davis, or Mayor Emeritus as he crowned himself, had continued to have easy access to City of Elk Grove staff, and a what appears to be a close relationship with former city manager Laura Gill. These dealings with Gill and other city personnel were revealed after reviewing correspondence between Davis just before leaving office through the time of Gill's termination this May.

One of the earliest examples of Davis' post-mayoral influence at city hall happened just as he was leaving office. In October 2016, two months before he left office, the city's economic development director Darrell Doan pressed Davis into service to meet with California State University-Sacramento president Robert Nelsen with the intent of discussing a satellite CSUS campus in Elk Grove.  

Through a series of emails, a meeting was arranged between Nelsen and Doan, Davis, Gill, and former mayoral assistant Teresa Rodriguez on December 19, 2016, five days after Davis left office. There is no indication from the emails reviewed that Doan or Gill attempted to include any of the other four council members at the time, Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, Steve Ly or Darren Suen in the meetings (At the time there was only four council member seated).  

Perhaps the most revealing set of emails indicating the relationship between Davis and Gill occurred earlier this year. Although the emails do not offer details on what the content of their conversation included, it is demonstrative of what appears to be an intimate working relationship Davis continued to enjoy with Gill 13 months after leaving elected office.

The email exchange started at 1:24 p.m. on January 17, 2018, with Davis emailing Gill saying "Hope you are well Laura! Would you have time for coffee soon to catch up on a few things? Take care. Gary."

In her response, written two minutes later at 1:26 p.m., Gill wrote "Absolutely. Are you available on Friday? I don't have any meetings on Friday. Laura." 

In the next minute, Davis responded by saying "Shoot. I  am going to San Diego Friday. Next week?"

Gill replied five minutes later "Monday between 10 and 3?'

Davis then wrote five minutes after that "10 am is perfect. City Hall or coffee? Thanks!"

In her final reply within the minute, Gill wrote: "How about 10:15 at that coffee place we've been meeting at?" 

Davis responded 55 minutes later saying "Perfect. Looking forward to it!"

A little over one week before that on January 9, 2018, Elk Grove deputy city manager Kara Reddig sent Davis, with a copy to Gill, an unsolicited email regarding the city's key to the city program. The exchange seems deferential and implies the report was prepared in part at Davis' request. 

Reddig wrote: "Hi Gary - Below is a link to a staff report which compares the Key to the City, Mayor's Volunteer Awards, and the Hall of Fame programs. We are exploring making some modifications to the Key to the City Program to minimize overlap and effort with the various other local awards programs. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks. Kara."

Aside from the key to the city program, Davis communicated with Gill and other staff members including Kristyn Nelson, and Jodie Moreno in the city's public affairs office to coordinate events such as the Elk Grove Hall of Fame. Although Davis continued to use email address for all his post-mayoral email correspondences, much of the communication with the public affairs employees focused on his activities with the Elk Grove Community Council. 

For it's 2018 Elk Grove Hall of Fame event, the City of Elk Grove awarded a $5,000 grant to Davis' Elk Grove Community Council. Davis formed the community council after leaving office as an intermediary for other community charities.

Another set of emails in April 2017 show Davis offering his assistance regarding impact fees for a member of the Elk Grove Youth Sports Foundation, another non-profit he founded. The email exchange revealed that instead of turning the matter over to Mayor Steve Ly or the appropriate council member, in this case, Suen, he attempted to handle the issue as if he was still in office.  Furthermore, there are no indications that Suen or Ly was informed about the constituents concern over about permit fees.

Davis volunteered to help Cameron Lee of the Pin n Strikes bowling center on Laguna Boulevard and contacted Gill regarding the fees. Davis asked Gill if she "would be able to look into this and provide some guidance." 

Gill responded to Gill saying "Rachel [Brown] and I will track down the answer for you." Brown works in the city's economic development department under the direction of Doan.

Emails also show that Davis was part of the Citizens Advisory Committee that was formed in October 2017. The purpose of the committee, which was aided by the city's outside political consultant Clifford Moss, was to gin-up support amongst voters for placement of a possible sales tax increase on the 2018 city ballot.  

Although the Elk Grove City Council scuttled the idea for 2018, the committee met several times. Davis was unable to attend the December 5, 2017 meeting telling Gill in an email that he would be in Southern California to which Gill responded and said: "I'll get you caught up when you return."


Post a Comment Default Comments


Josie said...

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.”

― Walter Scott, Marmion

D.J. Blutarsky said...

EGN needs to back off. Back when Mayor Davis ran the People's House, he said he loved Elk Grove and was laser-focused on the city. Just because he's not in office now, why would he stop caring? I miss those exciting days of the Trigg-Davis team!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

EGN: This is the FOIA at its best and its vital role in transparency in government and you nailed it!

I wonder if former city manager Laura Gill, and her secret meetings with former Mayor Gary Davis, who was obviously still trying to run the city, played into Gill’s dismissal? Didn’t Gill get the memo that she no longer answered to Davis which she obviously was doing, and in the cloak of darkness I might add, at their “usual place?”

Furthermore, when any request takes over two hours of city staff time, by mandate, and I am sure some of the Davis’ requests did, Gill had the responsibility to inform the entire Elk Grove City Council? By the looks of their email exchanges, Gill made no mention of having that obligation.

I wonder what the “Gang of Four” think about this? And if I were the current mayor, Steve Ly, I would be pissed. But then then again, Davis is Ly’s mentor and Ly wouldn’t dare say a disparaging word to Davis. Why? Because, like Trump, people have found out the hard way that Davis demands loyalty but does not give it in return and will turn on anyone in a New York minute.

Now to the $64K question: Is interim Elk Grove City Manager Jason Behrmann having similar clandestine meetings with Mayor Emeritus Davis?

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast