Mayor Steve Ly takes heat on assistant's action at Elk Grove protest

Several audience members at the Elk Grove City Council meeting stand in support of comments criticizing the
actions of an assistant to Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly during a recent protest opposing a proposed hospital.  |   
In the aftermath of an incident at a protest in Elk Grove on the afternoon Saturday, February 23, the actions of an assistant to Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly were criticized by over a dozen speakers at last night's Elk Grove City Council meeting.

The criticism centered on an encounter between Ly's part-time external affairs liaison Ty Sorci and protesters who had gathered on the sidewalk near California Northstate University (CNU) on West Taron Drive on the city's west side. The protesters were demonstrating in opposition to a proposed $750 million hospital on the site of the Stonelake Landing shopping center in the Stonelake neighborhood.

During the protest, Sorci left the event celebrating Ly's reelection to a second term as mayor being held at CNU. Sorci then walked among the protesters, taking pictures of participants.

Several protesters took exception to Sorci taking pictures of their children without their permission. During public comment on non-agenda items, Elk Grove resident Kathy Engle played a video she shot after she encountered Sorci. Additionally, Sorci is alleged to have intentionally bumped into a male protester.

"The more the woman told him to stop taking pictures of their kids, the more he seemed to do it," Engle said. "I asked him several times, 'who are you and why are you taking picture of peoples' children.'"

Engle added "No citizen should have a government official taking their picture or anybody who works for our government and say 'they are keeping track of you;' there is no doubt this was meant to threaten us."  

Along with Engle, other people who were protesting raised several questions during public comment for Ly, with one speaker suggesting that he resign. Engle also said she was appalled at the lack of response from the city council members with the exception of Darren Suen to inquiries regarding the matter. 

After hearing comments, Ly and his city council colleagues responded to Engle's remarks. Vice Mayor Pat Hume quickly said this situation was the mayor's responsibility.

"Several of us have talked to the mayor behind the scenes, and expressed this is his problem he has to deal with," Hume noted.

Council Member Steve Detrick said, "I've had a conversation with the mayor about the situation as well and city staff." Council Member Stephanie Nguyen was absent.

"Let me say, I am sorry this actually happened," Ly said. "Ty Sorci works for me; he works three hours a week as an external liaison."

Ly went on to note that during the time of the incident, he was not on city time and was working for Ly, but was not aware that he was engaging the protesters. In the past Ly has paid Sorci as a political consultant from his campaign fund.

"Nonetheless, that doesn't excuse that particular behavior," Ly said. "As you have seen by the statement that I have sent to all the news venues within the city of Elk Grove, this is something I take very seriously."

Ly added that he is consulting with Elk Grove city manager Jason Behrmann and city attorney Jonathan Hobbs "for an appropriate action" and "that an action has not [yet] been taken." 

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