Opinion - Shouldn’t the Elk Grove City Council Know What Laws They Have Passed?

By Connie Conley |  As someone who believes in being involved in local government, as evidenced by last Wednesday’s Elk Grove Ci...

Elk Grove City Hall GIF

By Connie Conley | 

As someone who believes in being involved in local government, as evidenced by last Wednesday’s Elk Grove City Council meeting, I was dismayed that the Elk Grove City Council doesn’t even know what laws they have passed.

Which one of the following ordinances has been passed by the Elk Grove City Council?
  1. A "sagging pants ordinance" which levied fines of up to $500 and/or imprisonment to visitors on city property wearing pants two inches or more below their waist.
  2. An ordinance which "outlines" what city council members can and cannot post on social media.
  3. An ordinance in which requires charities feeding the homeless to obey strict food service restrictions and provide toilet facilities.
  4. An ordinance restricting the sale of tobacco within 1,000 feet of children’s facilities and prohibiting the act of smoking within a specific proximity to children’s facilities.  
  5. An ordinance against easing regulations on backyard chicken farming.
All of the above ordinances are laws on the books passed by various city councils.  Which one was passed by the Elk Grove City Council?

The answer is “D;” but you couldn’t tell that by what occurred at the February 25th Elk Grove City Council meeting.

At the meeting, there was a lengthy presentation by Saving Our Legacy, African Americans for Smoke Free Safe Places – The SOL Project regarding restrictions on the sale and use of flavored tobacco, other tobacco-related products, updating the definition of smoking, and retail density options.

After the presentation, Elk Grove City Council deliberation included what can we do?  What can we do to protect our children?  The only council member who seemed to recall “something on the books” was Vice Mayor Steve Detrick.

Even Elk Grove City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs seemed perplexed, when questioned by Detrick, about a current smoking band ordinance. I guess Hobbs didn’t remember he signed the ordinance “approving it as to form.”  No other staff person flipped on their microphone to substantiate Detrick’s inquiry.

While one could believe a city council forgetting an ordinance banning eating peanuts and walking backwards during a concert (Greene, NY); when it comes to laws protecting children, no.

If the Elk Grove City Council and staff don’t even remember this 2011 law, how many businesses have opened since then that are currently violating the law? A fair question, don’t you think? Is this council really taking their job or taking their responsibilities very carefully?

How many other laws are on the city’s books that have been long forgotten, or worse, not enforced?  How many of them are laws that protect the public welfare, health and safety of our citizens, including our city’s children?

When it comes to the laws passed by the Elk Grove City Council: When this council is asleep at the wheel, who’s minding the store?

Editor's postscript - Other silly ordinances

  • Eating Peanuts and Walking Backwards During a Concert Is Banned; Greene, NY
  • Illegal Not To Smile; Pocatello, Idaho
  • Hitting a Vending Machine Is Prohibited; Derby, Kansas
  • Don't Bite Your Landlord; Rumford, Maine
  • You Can't Paint Sparrows; Harper Woods, Michigan
  • Don't Give Beer to Elephants; Natchez, Missouri
  • Stay Off Ugly Horses; Wilbur, Washington

Copyright by Connie Conley © 2020. All right reserved.



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D.J. Blutarsky said...

I have the perfect solution!

The City needs to purchase Alexa and set it up on the dias for those difficult moments. "Alexa...does Elk Grove have a law on the books related to smoking in public places?"

"Alexa, what should we do?"

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Ms. Conley, your query whether or not the Elk Grove City Council should know what they have passed may seem reasonable; you must not realize the pressures our council members and the mayor face.

First, they all have to work full-time jobs so they possibly can't be expected to know what goes on in city hall. Also, since they rely on city staff to spoon-feed them information and develop talking points during their pre-city council briefing on agenda items, if the staff doesn't know, how can we reasonably expect them to know?

Most significantly, if the city council members are expected to recall their past legislative work - even if it were only Mr. Detrick and Mr. Hume in this case - it would take up valuable brain storage space needed for them to provide their bi-weekly social calendar report during city council meetings on their attendance at events like crab feeds and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

Unknown said...

I just can’t...

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