EGN's Year 2020 in Review - Part II

Part II of EGN's 2020 Year in Review


Problems escalate for Ly following social media post

Not long after the former Elk Grove Mayor posted his impassioned plea on social media (see Part I), which was subsequently removed, the backlash was swift.

Ly was criticized that his post was not supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. More troubling for him were other complaints that soon surfaced.

EGPD voluntarily drops use of carotid control hold

Following the death of George Floyd, in mid-June the Elk Grove Police Department, like many other law enforcement agencies, voluntarily dropped the use of the controversial control hold. 

“In collaboration with the Chief’s Advisory Board (CAB) and in hearing the concerns of the citizens of Elk Grove, we have moved forward in removing and prohibiting this use of force technique from our policy," Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright said at the time of change. 

Mayor Ly's former 2016 campaign manager claims harassment; Ly issues statement

After posting comments critical of former Mayor Steve Ly, his former campaign manager Linda Vu claimed in a written story his associates bullied and harassed her in retaliation. Vu's assertions set off an avalanche of claims from other women in Elk Grove that Ly and his associates, identified by the accusers as being part of the Sacramento area Hmong community.

Vu, who is of Hmong descent, accused male members of that community of acting on the directions of  Ly to silence her after her critical comments. In a statement, Ly denied any association with the alleged harassment. 

Elk Grove celebrates its 20th anniversary with remote fireworks

What would have been an otherwise prime opportunity for the Elk Grove City Councilmembers to preen and prance on stage for Elk Grove's 20th anniversary as a city was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in over 20 years, the annual Salute to the Red, White, and Blue at the Elk Grove Regional Park was canceled.

Rumors swirl about the possible candidacy of former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis

In early July rumors flew that former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis would be challenging his former political ally, Mayor Steve Ly. That candidacy never came after Davis, as we will see was outmaneuvered.  

Tension mount between media, Mayor Ly

Another accelerant in the controversies stemming from former Mayor Steve Ly's early June social media post was a story in the Sacramento Bee that he took exception with. In that story, Ly noted the reporters used the word clan to describe the Hmong community's social structure.

Ly told the reporters "Your use of the word 'clan' in this context ... has caused irreparable damage making it dangerous for Hmong families in this region. The tone of this article is counterproductive for our region to come together and move forward."

Other women come forward with claims of harassment by Ly, associates

Bobbie Singh-Allen (left), Jaclyn Moreno, Nancy Chaires-Espinoza, and Linda Vu. 

Just when he thought things couldn't get thornier, Mayor Steve Ly was confronted by claims from other women in the community that they too had been harassed. These claims came from three elected officials - Elk Grove Unified School Board Trustees Nancy Chaires-Espinoza and Bobbie Singh-Allen, and Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno.

While Chaires-Espinoza and Singh-Allen characterized what Ly and his associates allegedly could be called political bullying, Moreno's charges were the first time to suggest there was a degree of sexual harassment. Moreno alleged that a former associate of Ly's during the 2018 campaign, where Moreno and Ly shared resources, made several inappropriate comments. 

Additionally, other women in Elk Grove came forward with claims of harassment by Ly or his associates. While the charges were never verified, cumulatively they painted a picture that undoubtedly damaged Ly's reelection. 

Suen suffers political setback when STA sidelines sales tax increase

In what he certainly thought would be a defining moment as he tries climbing the political food chain, Elk Grove City Councilmember Darren Suen suffered a crushing defeat as chairperson of the Sacramento Transporation Authority. As STA chair during 2020, Suen had hoped to guide a multi-billion dollar sales tax increase to the November ballot, and gain a super-majority voter approval for a variety of county-wide transportation needs by arguing it would offer an immediate economic stimulus.

Instead, only after being confronted by an angry electorate made up of a broad political coalition who said raising taxes, a regressive one at that, was misguided during the severe economic downturn, did STA members backed down on their quest for $8.4 billion in taxpayer money. In what he hoped would be a feather in his cap as he looks to run for the California Assembly, Suen instead came away empty-handed. 

Lifestyle writer claims Ly's harassment caused pregnancy miscarriage

As the mayor's harassment problem progressed, Ly and associates were accused by an Elk Grove lifestyle writer of harassment so severe that it caused her to miscarry her pregnancy. In a most unusual move, that same writer provided graphic photographic evidence to validate her claims.

These same claims surfaced at an Elk Grove City Council meeting. Speaking during public comment the writer said she had a filed a criminal complaint. 

Even though the Elk Grove Police investigation found no wrongdoing on Ly's part, the narrative created about the mayor continued to be reinforced. But, there was pushback.

Singh-Allen criticized for what critics called racist comments

As the Ly imbroglio progressed others were ensnared, Most notably, in the days before she declared her mayoral candidacy, EGUSD Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen was accused of making racist comments against the Hmong community and their centuries-old clan system in an Elk Grove Citizen story.

Even though Singh-Allen denied the claims, several people persisted in their claims and organized. The pushback against Singh-Allen culminated in a late-August protest rally that attracted over 200 people to the Elk Grove Unified School District administrative offices. 

Elk Grove City Council explores censure of Mayor but punts off responsibility 

The repeated claims against Mayor Ly reached a crescendo when his four city council colleagues explored the idea of censure during a July meeting. Although the city councilmembers discussed workarounds to resolve the complaints, they shirked responsibility and referred the matter to the Sacramento County Grand Jury for an investigation.

Interestingly, the Sacramento County Grand Jury is under no obligation to investigate the matter, and with a new term of the body starting this January, it is not known if it will indeed look into the claims. Also, as Ly lost his reelection bid, will they undertake the investigation as it would seem to be moot.

Regardless, the referral alone made for an effective sound bite against Ly. In the war of words between Ly's antagonists and his supporters, the critics won.  

Dueling online petitions between Ly antagonists, supporters

While Mayor Steve Ly had his share of detractors during the Summer of 2020 showdown, he also had several tacit supporters. These supporters, while not directly aiding Ly, instead railed against Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen for her alleged slight of the Hmong culture.

The manifestations of these two groups were dueling online petitions condemning one another. The petitions, like most advisory ones, might feel good for its signatories but really are almost meaningless.
Bobbie Singh-Allen jumps in Elk Grove Mayoral race

As if all the events and accusations against Mayor Steve Ly were a set-up, in late July Bobbie Singh-Allen jumped into the Elk Grove Mayoral race. In her announcement, Singh-Allen cited the allegations that Mayor Ly was a bully at city hall and that she was urged by several people to declare her candidacy.

"We have a bully at City Hall and I am heeding the call to step up and lead the effort to take back our city and put an end to threats, intimidation, and harassment," Singh-Allen said at the time.

In the days leading up to her announcement, there was chatter about former Mayor Gary Davis entering the race as well as one other local elected official. In the end, Singh-Allen was the first to make the leap and jump into the race, or, viewed another way, she outmaneuvered the other possible candidates.

Makes you wonder what all those high-paid employees are doing at Elk Grove City Hall 

Thanks to one of EGN's contributors, it was learned in early-August there was an illegal demolition in the heart of Elk Grove. That site was the former OSH hardware store on Laguna Boulevard and Bruceville Road where cement was being ground.  

After our contributor pointed out the illegal activity, employees left their city hall (or possibly home) cocoons and ordered the activity to stop. For all the money these directors at public works, planning, economic development, innovations departments and city manager's office are paid, you would think someone, anyone, who have enough curiosity or initiative to investigate the illegal operation.   

But hey, That is so Elk Grove! 

Continued on the next page

Another costly taxpayer-funded scheme being hatched at City Hall for District 56 

If there is one thing that can be said for the executive staff at Elk Grove City Hall, they never lack ways to wastefully spend taxpayers' money. Be it a $400,00 expenditure for a spatial study (sounds like something from a 70s era Cheech & Chong comedy routine) to the development of the so-called city hall wellness room, they often spend our money in baffling and troubling ways.

The latest scheme being conjured-up is the soc-called District56 Project Elevate. You can read more about it here, but suffice it to say, not only are city executives, and apparently, all five city councilmembers at the time, clueless about the future and health of the American retail business, if they end up pursuing this, it will be on the backs of taxpayers who will once again subsidize the developers who fund our city councilmembers campaigns and egos.

That is so Elk Grove, Again! 

Elk Grove gains national exposure, but not in a favorable way 

A mid-Septebmer traffic stop by an Elk Grove Police officer generated national attention but not in a way that casts a favorable look on the city. The traffic stop led to a showdown of sorts where the officer, who was wearing an unauthorized protective face mask, confronted a young African-American resident who rolled through a stop sign.

The incident, which was video recorded and went viral, drew the attention of noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump and shed an unfavorable light on the practices of the officer, who stood with her hand on her service weapon. Ultimately EGPD Chief Timothy Albright and Assistant Chief Bobby Davis issued a video statement on the incident.   

If the shoe fits, wear it?

One of the more interesting, and mud-slinging-worthy mailers during the Elk Grove mayoral race came from candidate Bobbie Singh-Allen who seized on the narrative formed about Mayor Steve Ly. This particular mailer had the image of misogynist in a dictionary, and of course it included Ly's name in the definition.

To Ly's credit, he was not known to engage in negative mailers against any of his opponents since entered elected office in 2012. Of course many of his political opponents would argue he engaged in more subtle, less visible, indirect ways of negative campaigning. 

Ly's political future is uncertain, but he may want to reconsider that stance should he find himself in a competitive race.

Rote Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce mayoral debate disrupted by rowdy demonstrators 

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the entire business of running a political campaign and candidate debates. Nonetheless, a group of spirited anti-Bobbie Singh-Allen demonstrators managed to make the forum traditionally sponsored in late September by the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, which at their best have been rote, useless.

The demonstators, who were staged outside the Wackford Center site of the forum on Bruceville Road, blasted sirens and horns everytime Singh-Allen spoke. Those attempting to listen to the forum live online could barely hear what Singh-Allen, Ly, and the third mayoral candidate Brian Pastor, had to say.

Singh-Allen and Pastor issued statements condemning the interference from the demonstrators, who were there to primarily protest against Singh-Allen, but the damage had been done. 

 BSA's big promise; Big let down coming?

Along with taking regular pot shots at Ly, the bad cop portion of her campaign, Bobbie Singh-Allen had a good cop routine for voters. One of her methods to endear herself to voters was to offer a solution to a problem that irritates most every Elk Grove resident - traffic congestion.

It is doubtful Singh-Allen, let alone the entire city council can solve these long-established traffic problems, especially before she attempts to move up the political food chain. But by golly, voters love seeing those words on a page regardless if they are unrealistic or simplistic. 

Singh-Allen defeats Ly; Spease wins District 3 seat 

Perhaps there was Ly fatigue with Elk Grove voters, or the campaign waged against him by Singh-Allen portrayed him as sufficiently negative. Whatever the reason, Singh-Allen easily beat Ly with a plurality of votes to become the city first directly elected woman mayor.

Another new face on the Elk Grove City Council, Kevin Spease won the District 3 seat vacated by Steve Detrick. Spease, who won the five way race with just over 30-percent, proved that money, particularly from real estate developers who have determined the past and the future of Elk Grove, is the key to securing a seat on the city council.

Jim Cooper confirms long-heard rumors 

Not long after he won his fourth term representing California's 9th Assembly District, Jim Cooper announced he was forming an exploratory committee to run for Sacramento County Sheriff in 2022. For Cooper, who retired from the sheriff's department, this pursuit seems to be an attempt the one that got away after losing the same job to current Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones in 2022. 

With Cooper's announcement, it is almost a sure bet ambitious politicians in Elk Grove and throughout the 9th Assembly District are looking in the mirror saying they would be a wonderful California Assemblymember.

In first meeting as Mayor, Singh-Allen flexes her muscle

It didn't take long for Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen to flex her muscle. During her first meeting, she said she would like to see all five planning commissioners reapply for their postions.

While the mayor's position is just one of five city council's votes, it does have a few powers that the other council member don't have including the nomination of planning commissioners. With little discussion, Sigh-Allen's four councilmembers went along with her suggestion.

It will be noteworthy to watch how this process unfolds. Will Singh-Allen appoint one person who has previously sought appointment who also happened to make a four-figure donation to her campaign? 

Will Singh-Allen, who is not known for timidity, immediately get what she wants without any pushback? If she succeeds without any objections, she will own and have control over city councilmembers in a way only imaginable by former Elk Grove Mayors Gary Davis and Steve Ly.   

No such thing as bad publicity - Jim Cooper quoted in pro-Trump conspiracy-spinning AON   

With his eyes set on the Sacramento Sheriff's office, Assemblymember Jim Cooper has been working hard to reinstitue some of the previous get-tough laws that filled California prisons. While we will not get into a debate of Cooper's law enforsment legislative agenda, as a Democratic party member, his actions have not gone unnoticed in the media.  

As such, as 2020 ended Cooper was quoted in an OAN article. For those not familiar with OAN, it has become one of the favorite news outlets for out-going President Donald Trump for publishing conspiracy theories that are music to the orangeman's ears.

Cooper obviously can't control where his quotes or legislative priorities are published, but if nothing else this might help him with right-wing supporters of current Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones should he seek the Sheriff's position in 2022. And as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity!   

And how was your year?


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Great overview Dan!

While I believe the vast majority of residents are not even aware of our city politics, the ones who are aware will find your summary to be painful and shall we say shameful! While the PR machine at City Hall churns out sugar-coated morsels for mass-consumption, Elk Grove News has successfully dissected the reality from the hyperbole.

As we begin 2021, I can only imagine what lies ahead for us. I say us, because City Hall often forgets who pays the bills and who gave them a seat at the table in the first place!

Happy New Year Dan and keep doing what you're doing! Someday you might just earn a Key to the City...oops, April Fools Day is still a few months away!

Steve L said...

Looks like the city and our electeds have much room for improvement.
It would be nice to some improvement soon. Are they up to the task?

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