'Three to Hire, Three to Fire. . . Is that the reason the Elk Grove City Council never hears the word NO!'

By Connie Conley |


Elk Grove News has covered this issue many times over the years. However, of late, the question continues to be: Why is it so hard to tell the Elk Grove City Council, “No!”

The Elk Grove City Council directly hires the three highest-paid staff positions. They are the city manager, the city attorney, and the city clerk.

Long-time council watchers have witnessed over the years that those three positions, when the cameras are on, appear to be fearful of saying the word, “No;” even when the answer is obvious to those seated in council chambers. 

Could it be in the backs of their minds runs the echoing vote cogitation, “Three to hire and three to fire."

There are many examples of when the complete sentence of “No” should have come from one of these high-ranking city staff positions. However, I will only cite one (keeping in mind the word count).

Years ago, Downtown Ford filed a lawsuit against the city of Elk Grove for allegedly violating the bidding process for a contract to service and repair Elk Grove Police Department vehicles.

Rightfully so, as the lowest bidder, city staff awarded the contract to Downtown Ford. The city council rejected the bid. and instead. awarded the contract to Elk Grove Ford.

However, before doing so, the council asked City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs if they were within their rights to reject the bid. Before Hobbs could answer, several of us from the back of chambers spoke out, “Don’t do it, Jon. Tell them no. We will get sued and we will lose!” Ignoring the pleas from active citizens, Hobbs said, “Yes!”

The costly answer on behalf of the taxpayers should have been the complete sentence of, “No!”

Sure enough, Downtown Ford sued the city of Elk Grove that same week. The city lost in Superior Court in record time, and the taxpayers paid over $19,000 in legal fees to Hobbs’ former law firm Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard. 

Once again, Kronick wins and the taxpayers lose!

This author personally knows the “three to hire, three to fire” mantra. A council member called in the past requesting this author lobby a colleague to get a third vote to fire. I refused.

Is “three to hire, three to fire” a constant nagging threat over the three top positions keeping them from doing their jobs in the best interests of the city and the people they serve?

Or should the actual question be: Why is it that the Elk Grove City Council cannot hear the word, “No” when they are clearly in the wrong?

(And because of late, songs have been an effective theme during public comment, and because all three top positions are held by men, the appropriate song is, NO where man!) . . . “Doesn’t have a point of view. . .” 

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Copyright by Connie Conley © 2021. All right reserved.



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Steve L said...

Well stated.

Great song. Appropriate song.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Ms. Conley, thank you for asking the million dollar question of why the 'Three Amigos' never speak up and say no! Sadly, I believe the answer is quite simple and resembles a food pyramid:

The Granite Bay Boys (a term I will use to generically refer to the big land developers in Elk Grove); the Old Time Elk Grovians (the original landownwers who stand to profit by selling their land to Granite Bay); and the well-heeled local business owners who stand to profit by rapid growth, all essentially sit at the top of the food chain and buy their City Council members.

So if you imagine a food pyramid---you have the "Masters" at the top controlling the City Council in the middle; and the Three Amigo staff persons you reference, essentially sitting at the bottom of the food chain!

Those three recognize that their marching orders come from the very top; get passed on to the obedient City Council; and then land directly on their highly paid laps.

Waiting for those three staff to say "No" to the City Council would be like a lion in the zoo telling his zookeeper he is tired of eating steak and wants out! But in this case, it would be called taking early retirement or wanting to "spend more time with family"!

In the case of Downtown Ford--Elk Grove Ford bid too high and tried to circumvent the low bid by calling in their chips with the City Council. It was not a cooincidence that the Council suddenly decided to not accept the low bid. Hobbs' thumbs up was all the political cover they needed, and the silver lining is the Hobbs mother ship raked in some extra dough to help pad their profit sharing plan for its members!

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