Protesters greet visitors to Elk Grove mayor's celebration event; Ly addresses discord between assistant, protesters

A group of people opposing a proposed hospital in the established Elk Grove Stonelake neighborhood protested at an event held o...

A group of people opposing a proposed hospital in the established Elk Grove Stonelake neighborhood protested at an event held on the campus of California Northstate University Medical School.

The protest, organized by NEST - Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency was held on the afternoon of Saturday, February 23. The campus was the site of an election victory celebration that drew several hundred people held by Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, who won a second two-year term in November.

For over two hours, up to 40 protesters waved signs and encouraged motorist to stop and sign an advisory petition opposing the $750 million structure that would be in part be built on the site of the current Stonelake Landing shopping center on Elk Grove Boulevard and West Taron Drive. Should the school's facility be approved as currently proposed, the shopping center would be demolished.

Participants for Ly's event drove past the spirited group as they made their way to a CNU facility that played host. During their protest, the group also gathered signatures for the advisory petition.  

Speaking to a TV news report, NEST spokesperson Daisy Hughes explained among other things the group is seeking is transparency of the project as it progresses through the city's approval process. 

"That's what we want throughout the process, of evaluating, of approving or not approving the hospital," Hughes said. "We are not getting it through CNU. They are a for-profit school, and certainly, they are not known to be very transparent." 

Even though the protest was confined to the sidewalk of CNU's campus on West Taron Drive, and the protesters were orderly in their dissent, it was not without discord which started with photography of the children of protesters participating in the demonstration. 

A political consultant and part-time appointed assistant of Ly, Ty Sorci, walked through the protesters who were located on the sidewalk. As he made his way through the crowd, Sorci took pictures of the protesters with his mobile device.

One of the protesters who asked not to be identified was accompanied by her 10-year old son, and 7-year old daughter expressed concern to Sorci that images of her children were captured without her permission. When asked by the mother why he was taking pictures of her children, the mother said Sorci told her he could do whatever he wants because it is on public property. 

"It is very frustrating because they are small children, and if you want to talk to me, then talk me," she said. "Don't bring my children into this issue."

Another person participating in the protest was Elk Grove resident Neal Alie who said Sorci twice intentionally bumped him as he passed him on the sidewalk. Alie called the group's encounter with Sorci unprofessional and bizarre and said he thought the bump was an intentional provocation in an attempt to intimidate and discredit the gathering.

"I felt like he was trying to intimidate the entire crowd, not just me," Alie said. "I didn't want to react to it." 

Alie added, "He was doing this to get reactions from people I think." NEST has posted a video of their encounter with Sorci which can be viewed below. 

Reached for comment, Ly said he is treating the concerns conveyed by the protesters seriously and will issue a statement. He also noted since Sorci is on the City of Elk Grove's payroll, he will first consult city attorney Jonathan Hobbs to ensure human resources considerations.  

Speaking during a break from his Saturday event, Ly acknowledged the group's presence and said he understood it was part of the process for the project which for many Elk Grove residents has become a lightning rod of controversy since its December debut. (Ly spoke for the video at about the same time the encounter with Sorci occurred).

"This is an opportunity for folks to be involved in the process, I am one that always stands in support of an open conversation," Ly said. "People are entitled to voice their concerns, opinions because this is the time when they should be doing that." 

Notwithstanding the incident with Sorci, protest participants said they were encouraged by the support they encountered from motorist and pedestrians. Along with spreading their message, the group also collected 50 more signatures for their advisory petition.

An Elk Grove News video is posted below that features interviews with five NEST protesters as well as Mayor Steve Ly. The NEST video has also been included in this posting.


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