Guest Opinion: Political Corruption - Elk Grove style

By Marie Vue | Special to Elk Grove News | 

American political division has reached unique and alarming heights.This is certainly true at a national level where frustration levels associated with our political processes, our bureaucratic partisanships, our self-seeking agendas and our federal representatives are tangible and multiplying. It is also not entirely unique to our national policymakers.

If you want a taste of how the disease of national politics can infect small town America, just take a short trip to the mayor’s office in the small city of Elk Grove, California (population 170,825), where corruption, exploitation and impropriety have gripped the community.

In the November 2020 Elk Grove Mayoral Election, incumbent mayor Steve Ly lost the election to challenger Bobbie Singh-Allen by a margin of 46% to 34%. Ly, the first Hmong Mayor in United States history, conceded the election to Singh-Allen, an immigrant from India and a member of the Sikh community, at noon on Monday November 9, 2020.

But the local race, mirroring the bitterness and animosity existent in our national races, was certainly not without controversy.

In August 2020, just prior to the election in November, a group of Hmong Americans called for the resignation of then school-board trustee Singh-Allen over a Facebook post in which she described the Hmong community as part of a “controlling and intimidating system used to attack and silence,” a tactic used not just to enflame the small and supportive Hmong community, but also to serve as a launching pad for her mayoral candidacy announcement.

As might be expected, there was immediate outrage from within the ranks of the Hmong community as supporters circled the wagons in opposition to a mayoral candidate accused of blatantly and subversively coordinating and encouraging racial attacks while hiding in the shadows of her social media platforms.

As election day drew closer, the tensions and hostilities continued to grow, clearly the one thing that Singh-Allen vastly underestimated was the single-minded force and resiliency that existed with the Hmong community, the Hmong mothers, who organized a coordinated effort to demand an apology from Singh-Allen. Dozens of calls were made to the school board and requests were made at local city council meetings for a simple public apology. Those calls went unanswered and those requests were ignored. For a politician who ran her campaign under the tagline “Integrity. For a Change,” you would think that a simple apology for her mistake would be a no-brainer. A small price to pay for a chance to right a wrong and unite a community.

That apology never came.

Singh-Allen was elected in November. The pressure from the Hmong community remained unrelenting. As plea after plea went disregarded, the local Hmong mothers initiated the now-mayor with a recall. On March 23, 2021, the group held a press conference outside Elk Grove City Hall and announced their recall campaign against Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen.

On April 13, 2021, Vice Mayor Stephanie Nguyen, Executive Director from the Asian Resource Center (ARI), met with the mothers leading this recall effort and pleaded with them to stop making calls if they wanted a solution – a public apology.

Nguyen and Singh-Allen remained steadfast in their efforts to silence their critics. Going so far as to surreptitiously entice one mother by offering her a position within ARI and even offering ARI grant money to a non-existent Non-Profit Organization, deviously walking the tightrope of political legality as they lawlessly run our city government like an Al Capone bootlegging ring. 

As the wheels of ineptitude continue to spin in the shady backrooms of Elk Grove City Hall, one thing is still certain - All of the accusations and ascertains made against former Mayor Ly, the police department have found no evidence and no charges and no activities from the grand jury, while a former accuser, Jaqueline Cheung lined up at the local courthouse to go after Singh-Allen’s critics.

Ultimately, this means that all of the original allegations against the former mayor have no evidence to substantiate any of the claims. No facts. No verification. No corroboration. No proof. You might just say that it was all a lie to begin with. Vice Mayor Nguyen said on April 13th that this was all political, which is a demoralizing shame considering this is exactly how we have come to be where we are today.

There are almost 50,000 Asian Americans living in Elk Grove, which accounts for almost 30% of the entire population of the city. And, according to the latest reports from the “Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate” watch group, the number of hate incidents reported has spiked 38% since the start of the pandemic, despite months and months of political and social activism. Incidents ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault, and from civil rights violations to online harassment. 

The numbers are startling for sure, but for the Hmong community here in Elk Grove, these are not merely statistics, this is the reality of their daily lives. Forced to suffer the indignity of racial assaults from the city’s mayor, Cosumnes Service Director Jaclyn Moreno, and ranking community members and then live with the fact that they are offered no viable avenue for repercussion. Frankly it’s un-American.

I suppose this is what it all boils down to. If you want to continue to further divide a community, take the easy road and continue to spew hateful language within a false narrative and then hide behind the cowardly curtain of an etymological misunderstanding – just be like Singh-Allen and Moreno.

Marie Vue is a co-founder of Elk Grove Hmong Americans. 

Follow us on Twitter @ElkGroveNews
Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2021. All right reserved.



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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Ms. Vue’s opinion piece reinforces the pettiness of most politicians, including our very own in Elk Grove.

What is thought-provoking is the relationship between Ms. Singh-Allen and Ms. Moreno. While they both spoke out against the former mayor last year, it seems that the relationship was transactional, much like former President Trump. Now Ms. Singh-Allen has endorsed Ms. Moreno’s opponent for Supervisor, Elk Grove Councilman Mr. Pat Hume.

The question is between Ms. Moreno and Ms. Singh-Allen, who is the transactional Trump-like politician?

White Hat said...

What has Singh-Allen done to be recalled for? Steve Ly wasn't exactly a stellar mayor, he showed up for photo ops and left, he didn't do much for this city. During the very short times he did show up to community events, he rarely interacted with anyone. The Hmong community owes an apology to Singh-Allen and the people of this city for not allowing anyone to hear the debate between the two candidates because they chose to disrupt the debate.

As for who Singh-Allen chooses to endorse for County Supervisor, this is still a free country and she can endorse whoever she wishes.

Josie said...

Capt.....very perceptive!

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