EGN's Year 2020 in Review - Part I

2020 has been like no other year for people worldwide because of the COVID-19 virus. It is has reached into every person’s life in some mann...

2020 has been like no other year for people worldwide because of the COVID-19 virus. It is has reached into every person’s life in some manner and not in a good way.

In Elk Grove we saw retail closures, at-home schooling, and lost jobs and that is just the top of the list. The COVID-19 has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and that is just in the U.S.

There were hopeful signs amidst the turmoil; American’s voted against a pathological lying narcissistic sociopathic president and the breakneck speed development of several COVD-19 vaccines recently introduced give hope that the virus will be subdued and life can return to some degree of normalcy in the new year.

While the COVID-19 crisis reached into Elk Grove and affected many aspects of life, there were other events that will have consequences in the coming years.

Let's take a look at some of the COVID-19 and other stories unique to Elk Grove over the last 12 months.


Three city employees ensnared in FPPC complaint

One of the 2019s stories that bled into 2020 was the litigation over Elk Grove’s District56 Aquatics Center. Three City of Elk Grove executive employees were subjected to a Fair Political Practices complaint.

While no actions were taken against assistance city attorney Jennifer Alves, public works director Robert Murdoch, and engineer Jeff Werner. The complaint early in the year was a reminder that the litigation over the flawed design at the swimming pool progressed through 2020 unresolved.

Elk Grove’s hospital race gets juiced

In early January, Dignity Health announced their plans for a 100-bed hospital in Elk Grove’s Civic Center area. Dignity, which can trace its healthcare legacy in the Sacramento area to the Gold Rush era said it expects to have all of its State of California approvals – it has already received local approval - in the next two years and hopes to open in 2025.

Dignity’s announcement came on the heels of the announcement of California Northstate University (CNU) that it would open its $900 million 450-bed hospital by the end of 2022. CNU has not identified its financing source as they compete with Dignity to become Elk Grove's first hospital.

Additionally, CNU will have its first hearing before the City of Elk Grove in early 2021 meaning it will have to plow through all of its approvals, identify financing, demolish the Stonelake Landing shopping center, fend off certain litigation and gain State of California approval in less than 23 months.

Hope and apparently, delusion spring eternal at CNU.

Ah, Councilmember Hume, you are wrong 

At a January Elk Grove City Council meeting, a city executive took the highly unusual step of correcting a city councilmember during a public meeting. The correction was made by city attorney Jonathan Hobbs and directed at councilmember Pat Hume. 

That statement was regarding the city's litigation against construction companies involved in the problem-plagued District56 civic center and aquatics center. In an attempt to address concerns by one of the defendants in the case, Hume incorrectly told the company, Big B Construction, who has retained legal counsel and been involved in months-long negotiations, they were not being sued by the city. 

Below is a video of the exchange. 

Students to Elk Grove City Council – Quit giving us the run-around

A group of environmentally-minded students in Elk Grove learned the meaning of the old saying that you can’t fight city hall. The students urged the city council to consider adopting a single-use Styrofoam container ban.

The problem for the student was that the Elk Grove City Councilmember received substantial campaign contributions from Michigan-based Dart Container, the world's largest producer of single-use containers. Additionally, Dart provides free recycling of Styrofoam that is left at the city’s waste depot. 

Don't give up - keep up the good fight kids.

Early Indications in Elk Grove of the coming COVID-19 shutdown

Often the executive staff at Elk Grove City Hall get thing wrong, really wrong. Just think about the District56 design and litigation debacle, neglecting road maintenance for years, city attorney Jonathan Hobbs acting as personal legal counsel for city councilmembers, or the excessive legal bills paid to Hobbs’ former law firm where he was a partner, Kronick Moskovitz et al.

But on a rare occasion they stumble into doing the right thing. Such was the case in late January.

With the COVID-19 pandemic just beginning to percolate in the news cycle, the city wisely canceled the January 31 Lunar New Year celebration to minimize possible exposure to the virus. 

Notorious landlord, wife convicted of real estate fraud

A landlord in one of Elk Grove’s western neighborhoods was convicted of real estate fraud after putting the neighborhood through what could be best described as a living hell. A trial jury found Raghvendra Singh (left) and his wife Kiran Rawat guilty of 14 counts of felony filing false or forged documents and two counts of felony conspiracy to commit a crime. 

Finally, the Elk Grove city attorney's office did some work for the good of the people, and not the city councilmembers. 

CNU holds four Pizza Town Halls across the city but results weren’t very favorable

Alvin Cheung. 
As part of their effort to, in the words of Elk Grove Councilmember Pat Hume, regain some political capital, California Northstate University held Pizza Town Hall meetings in each of the city’s first city council districts in February and March.

Hosted by Elk Grove city councilmembers, the meeting were designed to bolster the image of the controversial project and the for-profit medical school. Unfortunately, the meetings didn’t go as planned. 

The school’s president, Alvin Cheung, and his associates were subjected to criticism at each of the meetings for their actions and lack of transparency with the residents of the Stonelake neighborhood, the proposed site of the hospital project. Several people characterized Cheung's behavior towards them as condescending. 

Better luck this year fellas. 

Elk Grove’s city attorney’s former law firm accused of social media stalking of critic

In one of the few public meetings of the Elk Grove City Council, a law firm closely associated with city attorney Jonathan Hobbs, Kronick Moskovitz Tiedmann & Girard was accused of stalking a critic of the city and their law firm.

The alleged social media stalking was made by a critic involved in the city’s litigation in District56 construction defects. Seems all the money taxpayers are spending with the firm where Hobbs was once a partner, is being used to cruise the internet and attack critics. 

Elk Grove Unified cancels classes after students test positive for COVID

One of the earliest signs of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic came in early March. After two students tested positive of the virus, Elk Grove Unified School District canceled classes which was followed by a suspension of in-class instruction, making it one of the first districts to do so in California.

In-class instruction has been suspended since then and the issue of when it will resume has become a political challenge for school administrators and trustees. 
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Elk Grove City Council makes a historic, shameful mistake

As the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis became apparent, the Elk Grove City Council made history and not in a way that will be viewed favorably in years to come. 

When given the opportunity to place a local moratorium on evictions caused by the worldwide pandemic, four city councilmembers – Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, Stephanie Nguyen, and Darren Suen voted against the measure. Fortunately, other orders negated their vote, and moratoriums were invoked. 

It is no mistake Detrick, Hume and Suen are landlords. And who says politicians never act in their own self-interest. 

Highly compensated Elk Grove city hall employee whines while other face food shortages, layoffs

The COVID-19 shelter in place orders had far-ranging consequences. People already living on the margin were immediately affected as evidenced by the huge demand food banks throughout the country experienced.

While many faced layoffs, loss of health care access, and a god awful slow receipt of much-needed unemployment benefits, one highly compensated Elk Grove city hall employee whined about having to work a few extra hours.

Poor baby! 

Failed power play

An effort led primarily by former Elk Grove City Councilmember Steve Detrick attempted to reverse the will of voters in April. Detrick wanted to revoke Elk Grove’s direct election of mayor that was approved by voters in 2010 and enacted in 2012.

Even though there was no popular movement or support to revert to the previous system of a rotating mayor among the five councilmembers, and it failed after public outcry, Detrick thought it was a good idea. This maneuver was mostly a reflection of the disdain four city councilmembers had for former Mayor Steve Ly. 

Detrick must have been sore after serving only one term as mayor in spite of 12 years on the city council. Never forget, that Detrick nominated himself to serve a second term as mayor after his one and only term ended in 2011.

Never let it be said politicians are humble.

Noshing, smiling faces while others await unemployment checks, stand in food bank lines

The City of Elk Grove’s public relations didn’t have a very good year. 

Aside from whining about working a few extra hours at home, they found it necessary to post whimsical tweets about city councilmembers noshing on a takeout lunch from their at-home workplace, while many people suffered through slow payments of unemployment claims and waited in lines at food banks nationwide.

Talk about being tone deaf while working in their taxpayer-paid ivory towers equipped with a state of the art wellness room or from the comfort of their homes. Don't forget we are watching.  

Social influencers in the Wild

So-called social influencers will do almost anything to attract attentions and followers on social media platforms, most notably on Instagram. One Elk Grove women’s attempt didn’t turn out so well as noted in this tweet. 

Ly outwits Suen, Detrick; exposes Brown Act violations?

Even though Steve Ly lost his reelection battle in November, earlier in the year another of Steve Detick's maneuvers against him didn't have the desired outcome. 

In politics, sometimes battles are waged in subtle ways that aren’t immediately visible. Such was the case in a battle waged by Elk Grove City Councilman Darren Suen and Detrick against Ly. 

In one of our podcasts this year, we traced the battle between Ly and his city council colleagues over a controversial proclamation that seemingly exposed a major breach of the Brown Act by four members of the Elk Grove City Council members.

The butterfly effect of George Floyd’s death on Elk Grove politics

The shocking murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis had well-documented consequences around the world. Those events even affected Elk Grove politics. 

Along with many peaceful protests, there was rioting in cities across the country, including the Sacramento area. On the same night that rioting occurred in downtown Sacramento, there was a fire several miles away that destroyed a business owned by a friend of former Mayor Steve Ly. 

In a social media posting, Ly made comments that critics said linked the downtown rioting to a fire that destroyed the business. There was no law enforcement information suggesting the two events were related. 

That comment set off an avalanche of criticism and grievances against Ly that ultimately led to his defeat in the November election. 


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