As the censure issue festers, elected officials should focus on immediate challenges confronting Elk Grove

During the COVID-19 pandemic getting out and about Elk Grove has been curtailed. When visiting places that you have not seen in months ...

During the COVID-19 pandemic getting out and about Elk Grove has been curtailed. When visiting places that you have not seen in months is a reminder that seeing things in person is often more striking than reading about them.  

Such was the case this morning after a visit to Costco. After leaving the store, we took a ride by the Elk Grove's District56 facility and aquatics center at about 11 a.m. and found an empty parking lot and unused swimming pool.

The emptiness of the facility and the parking lot was a stark visual image. While the city and the Cosumnes Services District have been operating the swimming pool on a limited basis, the void was a reminder of the financial strain of the facility.

Before the COVID shutdown and recession, the facility was projected to lose money and require subsidies for its operation. Now, with the loss of the all-important summer revenue stream from pool use and reception center, that subsidy will balloon as all revenues fall.

All three government agencies in the city - The Cosumnes Community Services District; The Elk Grove Unified School District; and the City of Elk Grove face difficult times in the months ahead as revenues decline and new operational issues have arisen with the under-used District56 facility a wide-open example for all to see. More examples, much less visible abound for all three agencies.

With schools operating on a distance-learning basis, record-setting unemployment, uncertainly of further enhanced unemployment benefits, and the possibility of evictions looming, you would think the main focus of our elected officials would be preparing in hopes of aiding constituents for the tough decisions they have to make in the face of declining revenues and impending social problems. You would be wrong.

Instead, all five members of the Elk Grove City Council and some trustees of the school district and directors on CCSD are delving into the political conflict and all its implications surrounding Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly and his former campaign manager and others, include elected female officials over allegations of harassment and threats. That sole issue has, for several weeks, consumed Elk Grove's political oxygen. 

The accusations leveled by Ly's former campaign manager and elected women serving on the school board should not be dismissed. These are serious allegations that must be addressed, and there should be appropriate consequences.

Nonetheless, should not the energy devoted by members of the three agencies involved instead be dedicated to serving their constituents who face a multitude of festering issues arising from the pandemic? There must be a better way to resolve this conflict so our elected representatives can do the jobs they were elected to execute.  

Here is a suggestion, that probably will not please anybody, but could avoid another embarrassing, awkward session of the Elk Grove City Council when they next meet on August 12.

Foremost, Mayor Ly should bite the bullet, forgo a costly investigation into the accusations, and quickly release a sincere apology to all the aggrieved parties and coordinate meetings, perhaps facilitated by a neutral third party. Along with issuing his act of contrition, the mayor should agree to some type of anti-bullying training as suggested by Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen during the recent city council meeting.

As for the city council, they should accept the apology. Given that Ly has not one single ally on the city council, his four colleagues and the other elected officials should refrain from taking a victory lap over the mayors mea culpa. 

While these actions will probably not be satisfactory to Ly, the city council, or any of those who oppose him and have accused him of wrong-doing, this is almost by definition a fair settlement.

As Elk Grove residents face prospects of unemployment and an uncertain future, elected officials need to focus efforts on conducting the business of the people for the benefit of the people, not their political proclivities. That's their job.

As for political consequences for any of the elected officials involved, let the voters make their decisions at the ballot box. They usually make the right choice.  

Copyright by Dan Gougherty, Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.



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