Part I: Dispute between Elk Grove Mayor and former associate spills over in city council meeting with claims, counter claims

i>Video</i> - Elk Grove City Council Candidate Steve Ly Fundraiser ...

This is the first of a three-part series on tonight's Elk Grove City Council meeting and the public and city councilmember comments portions of the meeting. The next two parts will be published on Thursday, July 23. 

In a public comment period that lasted close to 90 minutes, over two dozen speakers commented on a dispute between the Elk Grove mayor and a former campaign associate.

The public comments focused on a rift between Mayor Steve Ly and his 2016 mayoral campaign manager Linda Vu. The disagreement that started over a month ago over social media posts by Ly that led to charges by Vu that associates of Ly had harassed, threatened her and other women. 

As the row between Ly and Vu grew, others have become ensnared in the on-going controversy, including Dr. Jacqueline "Jax" Cheung, editor of Elk Grove Tribune. Cheung has alleged harassment by members of the Hmong community (Ly and Vu are of Hmong descent) caused stress and led to her recent pregnancy miscarriage.

At tonight's meeting, Cheung and Vu spoke in tandem during public comment. They said the alleged behaviors of Ly's and his associates were unacceptable, and he violated the city's code of ethics. 

Cheung and Vu cited an opinion piece by Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Nancy Chaires- Espinoza. In her piece, Chaires-Espinoza asserted, among other things, that Ly was party to a whisper campaign where it was suggested she broke-up her husband's marriage.

Chaires-Espinoza noted that assertion was not only false but that her husband was never married to the mother of his child, and she had no involvement in their split. Additionally, the three had strong co-parenting bonds, and the mother of her husband's child actively supported Chaires-Espinoza during her 2014 city council campaign against Ly from where the alleged whisper campaign arose.

Reading from a statement, Vu said Ly described her as "a disgruntled former employee who was fired by Mayor Ly, a swindle who stole money from the city of Elk Grove, a lazy employee who ate all the donated food."

Cheung, reading from her statement, said she was described by Ly as "a hater of Hmong culture, a liar, a woman who caused her own miscarriage."

Along with the characterization of themselves and Chaires-Espinoza, they also read characterizations from Ly and his associates about Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen and Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno.

As a remedy, they said the city council should move to censure Ly for his actions. Additionally, they demanded an independent investigation into Ly's actions.

"We also demand that the city open an independent investigation with an entity outside the Elk Grove Police Department," Cheung said.

Along with Cheung and Vu, there were about two dozen speakers who spoke on the controversy. The split was nearly even between supporters for Ly and those for Vu and Cheung.

Mia Foster of Elk Grove, who spoke in support of Ly claimed Singh-Allen and Moreno, made derogatory comments about the Hmong culture. She also said the recent heightened focus on the Hmong community in the media, which Vu has criticized for their traditional patriarchal family arrangements, has created a negative impression of her culture and put individuals in danger amidst growing anti-Asian sentiments.

"The Hmong community is being used as collateral damage, and a personal and political agenda is driving all of this," Foster said. "And the women leading all these efforts is a local political insider by the name of Linda Vu."

Foster said she had a conversation with Vu on July 12, where she appealed to her to stop the attacks on Ly so as not to tarnish the Hhomg community. As a result, Foster said Vu threatened her. 

"I have since filed a police report regarding this threat that was made by Linda Vu," Foster said.

Elk Grove resident and former Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Paul Lindsay called the accounts presented as credible and urged the city council to act. 

"Even if you discount the account of Ms. Vu as one caller suggested, we still have accounts from Ms. Nancy-Chaires-Espinoza, Ms. Bobbie Singh-Allen, and Dr. Jackie [Jax] Cheung," Lindsay said. "In this day and age, this must not and should not be taken lightly."

One of the most controversial comments during the session came from a speaker who claimed to by Linda Vu's brother, Thay Vu. According to his accounts, Thay Vu said his sister violently attacked and injured him in a 2010 stabbing incident.

"I chose not to charge because I did not want to go outside our family," he said. "But thinking back, I should have charged."

Thay Vu also said in 2016 Linda Vu assaulted his wife and then-girlfriend at a family gathering. He claimed that his sister is mentally unstable.

"She fabricates stories to make herself to be the victim, so don't be deceived by this person," Thay Vu said. "She finds enjoyment in malicious attacks against those who are at odds with her."

The last speaker of the night was Singh-Allen, who said she decided to call in at the last minute to the teleconference meeting. Singh-Allen said she was also representing Chaires-Espinoza, and Moreno and that she was dismayed, disheartened and angry after hearing several of the spoken comments.

Singh-Allen said many of the spoken comments were "victim shaming" Linda Vu.

"This is so disheartening; I am in shock to what is happening to my city," she said. 

Without saying his name, Singh-Allen said the comments were all orchestrated by Ly, and they all had the same talking points. 

"I am one person here, this is one story, but the fact you sit there on the dais, and you went after Ms. Vu, and Ms. Cheung - come on," she said. "We as a community, as citizens, we expect more from you." 
Singh-Allen added, "this story is beyond Ms. Vu" and that other woman would be coming forward with their stories. 

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.


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Steve L said...

This entire episode has become an unequivocal embarrassment to the city. Regardless of which side you believe, it has turned our city's leaders into what an outsider would consider a bunch of "rubes" or "Huckleberrys." It has become so contentious and unprofessional from all sides.

Decorum and ethics are absent and it's just so sad.

It would be best if Mayor Ly were to resign, for the benefit of the city.
Others should be voted out in lieu of fresh ideas and motivations.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

From the sounds of last night’s meeting Mr. Ly’s bar tab is finally being called.

Perhaps the most noteworthy comments came from Mr. Paul Lindsay who referenced the city’s code of ethics. Other readers may recall that Mr. Lindsay was a lone voice over four years when he accused Mr. Ly, who was Vice mayor at the time, of violating the city’s code of ethics for making an unauthorized seal using official city images for his own political purposes. Mr. Ly followed that up with making another seal when he became mayor.

Where was the indignation of this outrageous move by Mr. Ly at that time by council members Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, and Darren Suen? Or when Mr. Ly disturbed a vigil for murdered children in West Sacramento? Not a word was spoken during any city council meeting to the best of my memory.

All of this leads to the question, given all the mayor’s other well documented transgressions, why now?

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