Guest Commentary - A Request for Jonathan Hobbs, Elk Grove's City Attorney

By David Anderson | 

Recent History of the City Attorney’s Office, COEG

Prior to 2016, the City contracted the City Attorney’s functions to the Sacramento law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedeman, and Gerard (KMTG). Those duties were executed by Jonathan Hobbs who was a partner of KMTG.  After 2016, the City felt that it was in the City’s interest to have a full-time City Attorney and hired Mr. Hobbs to fill that position.  

Once Mr. Hobbs became the City Attorney, he sought approval from the City Council to augment the staffing in the City Attorney’s office in order to more efficiently address legal issues internally and thereby avoid more costly outside hired legal services.  The City Council agreed and supplemented Mr. Hobbs services with additional resources.  

However, there seems to be little change in the amount of hired legal services obtained by the City particularly as it pertains to KMTG.  KTMG continues to perform the bulk of the legal work for the City at millions of dollars of legal fees. 

Deferred Compensation

It is a common practice in legal firms to offer partners of the firm compensation packages that include deferred compensation which is a mechanism to set aside revenues as part of attractive retirement incentives.  The deferred compensation is not considered taxable income as defined by IRS rules until it is distributed at some future date.  

The City of Elk Grove enforces policies to ensure no conflicts of interest in accordance with State laws. These policies include disclosure of potential conflicts by key City officials including the City Attorney.  

Key City personnel are required to complete a Form 700 as provided by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The Form 700 requires disclosure of all sources of income

Mr. Hobbs did not disclose any other income other than that which he receives from the City since 2016. However, the question of whether Mr. Hobbs is continuing to receive deferred compensation as part of the City’s ongoing relationship with KMTG has not been resolved.  

If Mr. Hobbs is recognizing income as only taxable income, as defined by the IRS, then he may be in violation of the State conflict of interest statutes by not declaring his financial compensation of deferred income from KMTG. 

 Batter Up

A couple of months ago, a concerned Elk Grove citizen asked Mr. Hobbs in a written request to clarify his position whether or not he is receiving financial compensation from KMTG through a deferred compensation account.  

She received no answer. 

Strike one. 

So, I made a Public Records Request asking the same question. The City advised that I should refer to the official Form 700 Mr. Hobbs had filed.  

Strike two.  

Undeterred, I asked the California Fair Political Practices Commission on how to resolve the question.  I was advised to file a complaint which I did. I was informed 14 days later they would not open an investigation.

 Strike three.  

The Fair Political Practices Commission acknowledges than any clarification necessary to resolve the definition of income on the Form 700 would require a change in the law. They further indicated the question may be resolved by filing a complaint with the Sacramento County District Attorney, the California State Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or all three.

 Extra Innings

Mr. Hobbs has had three opportunities to clarify this question and three times he has declined.  

I think the gentleman doth protest too much.  

I offer my apologies to Shakespeare aficionados. But really, just answer the question, under oath. Is that so hard? 

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Mr. Anderson seems to forget that Elk Grove now has the nation's first elected Sikh mayor and that means we will be a great city! Take your issue up with Madam Mayor and I'm sure all of your questions will soon be answered!

Atticus Finch said...

Mr. Smith to Mr. Andersen in The Matrix:

Agent Smith: I'm going to be honest with you [takes off glasses and ear-piece]. I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink, and every time I do I fear that I have somehow been infected by it. It's repulsive! Isn't it? [violently grabs Morpheus's head] I must get out of here. I must get free, and in this mind is the key, my key!

I concur with Agent Smith.

Looks like EG taxpayers have been getting the royal shaft for years by footing the bills for Mr. Hobbs and his legal eagle team. We should fire Hobbs immediately, demand damages for services NOT rendered (I believe that is called fraud) and have him formally sanctioned by the state bar association. Why are we paying Hobbs and an entire City legal department huge sums of money in salary and benefits when we are also still contracting out to KMTG, which stands for Keep My Taxes Going. This stinks of obfuscation and malfeasance. I encourage Mr. Andersen, (the OP, not the movie character) to file grievances with all three government authorities to seek relief on behalf of the taxpayers of EG. Also give Howard Jarvis a call too.

Perhaps this could be BSA's grandiose entrance into local politics? Start by cleaning house and taking out the garbage!

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