EGN's Year 2021 in Review - Part I

Like its preceding year, 2021 was historic for many reasons. This year started with the January 6 Donald Trump-inspired attempted coup d’état, the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States Joe Biden, the first women Vice President Kamala Harris, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

While life is coming backing to normal, the effect of the once-in-a-century pandemic continues to be felt, and the uncertainty in the strength or weakness of our democracy as exposed by Trump accolades remains unresolved. 

In 2021, Elk Grove saw a new mayor exert her influence over her city council members, the loss of a proposed controversial project, and the announcement on a new project and the stumble already made by Elk Grove leaders. 


Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen takes office, exerts power over her city council

After being was sworn into office in December 2020 as the city’s third directly elected mayor and the first woman to hold the position, Bobbie Singh-Allen started exerting her power over the city council in ways her predecessors could only imagine.   

While former mayors Gary Davis and Steve Ly had trouble getting rid of appointees, particularly to the planning commission, Singh-Allen immediately convinced her four colleagues to follow her suggestion to make all five planning commissioners reapply. 

With this maneuver, by February, Singh-Allen was able to replace three of the five planning commissioners. Nothing builds a cadre of loyalists than appointing them to the city’s most visible commission while dispatching holdovers appointed by predecessors and rivals. 

For whatever reason and to her credit, Singh-Allen has dominated her four city council members. That was something Davis nor Ly could accomplish even after each held the office for two terms, yet Singh-Allen did it in weeks. 

Rep. Bera makes floor speech on Trump insurgency and the 25th Amendment

Days after the Trump-led insurgency, the U.S. House of Representatives debated a resolution urging then Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment on President Donald Trump.

Among the speakers was Rep Ami Bera. Here is what he said that evening. 

Dust Bowl Brewery opens in Old Town after developer gets city loan guarantee

In January, the Elk Grove City Council approved a $1.25 million loan guarantee for the site developer that now is Dust Bowl Brewery in Old Town. 

The Brewery opened in December and could be the shot-in-the-arm needed for the long-languishing Old Town special planning area. If the developer defaults on the loan, taxpayers will take ownership of the remodeled structure. 

CNU throws in the towel on proposed Elk Grove hospital  

The roller coaster ride of California Northstate University’s proposed hospital ended abruptly early this year. The end of the for-profit school’s sketchy hospital project started in February when it was rejected by the Elk Grove Planning Commission.

Sensing things were not going well, CNU proponents led by Alvin Cheung not long after that rejection but before it went to the Elk Grove City Council announced they dropped their controversial Stonelake neighborhood project in favor of a site in Rancho Cordova.  Alas, things didn’t work out in Rancho Cordova, so they moved on to the Arco Arena site in Sacramento. 

CNU’s spin in Sacramento remains unchanged from what was said in Elk Grove starting in late 2018. Good luck with that, Sacramento - you’ll need it! 

On a side note, many of the “consultants” hired to shepherd the project through Elk Grove, like former Mayor Gary Davis, Joshua Wood, executive director of Region Business, former Sacramento City Councilmember Allen Warren, and others were fired by Cheung and CNU. So much for their expertise!  

School Daze

One of the significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on education. Starting last year and continuing in 2021, Trustees and administrators with the Elk Grove Unified School District have heard loud and clear from parents and many employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.

For the EGUSD, it has meant Trustees were pressed on issues ranging from proposed mandatory vaccinations, complaints about limiting student social activities, and continuing charges of institutional racism at district high schools.

On top of that, Trustees have been stuck in tough negotiations with unionized school bus drivers and complaints about working conditions and pay for paraeducators. Unfortunately for EGUSD Trustees, these conditions rolled over from 2020 to 2021 and will likely spill into next year.

Wilton Rancheria breaks ground on Sky River Casino 

After a process that took about five years in Elk Grove alone, the Wilton Rancheria broke ground on their casino in early March. The Indian gaming facility, the only one in Sacramento, was named Sky River in a nod to the nearby Cosumnes River.

Financed by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming, the original plans called for a $500 million project that included a resort hotel. The new facility will initially feature gaming, drinking, and restaurant services when it opens later this year. 

While the casino will undoubtedly rake in cash by the boatload, and employ hundreds of people, if they can recruit, it is unlikely to spur activity at other Elk Grove businesses such as restaurants.  Never forget, once a casino gets you inside, the last thing they want you to do is to leave for other nearby establishments unless it is owned by the Wilton Rancheria. 

California housing crisis plays out in Elk Grove – A one in 200 chances for access to affordable housing

An example of the stresses of the housing crisis played out last March in Elk Grove. 

Listen Time 1 Minute 

Jaclyn Moreno enters Board of Supervisors race

In early March, Cosumnes Community District Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno announced her candidacy for the District 5 seat of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Her announcement came after Supervisor Don Nottoli would not seek an eighth four year-term.

First elected to the CCSD in 2018, Moreno has experienced a meteoric rise in local politics. Moreno played a role in the demise of former mayor Steve Ly, which later in the year was brought back to the attention of the public in a negative way for her.

He’s in, he’s out; Is he back in again?


He’s in, he’s out; Is he back in again?

After leaving office in 2016 under still-murky circumstances, former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis has tried to stay relevant. This desire to stay in the public eye included forming non-profit groups, appearances in TV commercials, and his entry into the Sacramento Board of Supervisors District 5 race almost immediately after Moreno announced her candidacy.

As we will see, that didn’t last long, because Davis still harbors a return to political life.

Recall, recalls & more recalls

Even though 2021 wasn’t an election year per se, California voters were beckoned to the ballot box for the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom. While Newsom fended off the wolves at his door, other recall efforts failed to even qualify for a vote. 

Locally, there were recalls signature drives launched against Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Nancy Chaires-Espinoza. Even though the efforts failed, it's not hard to imagine organizers were primarily interested in tarnishing the images of the two elected officials.

We’ll see if the various accusations launched at the two will affect the 2022 elections. 

Rally against anti-Asian hate

Another effect of the COVID pandemic was the national rise of anti-Asian hate. Last march Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen as the executive director of Asian Resources Inc. led a rally in Elk Grove to raise awareness of the issue.

Hume throws hat into the Supervisors race

After Gary Davis entered the race, Elk Grove’s longest-serving council member Pat Hume announced his candidacy. A favorite of real estate developers and the donor class in the Sacramento region, Hume’s entry reportedly froze Davis out of access to the money people.

Although Davis likes to portray himself as the invincible incumbent slayer, Hume’s trump – pun intended – of Davis forced him out of the race. 

District 2 candidates jump at the opportunity for an open seat

Pat Hume’s imminent exit from the Elk Grove City Council in 2022 will create a competitive by-district race for the District 2 seat. Four candidates have already declared their candidacy. 

Among notable candidates is Cosumnes Community Services District Director Rod Brewer. As a three-term CCSD incumbent, Brewer will have to vacate his otherwise safe seat on the CCSD in his bid to move up the political food chain.

Interestingly, Brewer’s initial political consultant is Pablo Espinoza, who managed Mayor Singh-Allen’s successful campaign in 2020.    

The other three candidates who entered the race this year are businessman Felipe Martin, Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Sergio Robles, and Mahavir "Kalli" Kallirai. 

They’ll never just fade away

Once he did his calculations and realized he probably couldn’t win a seat on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, former mayor Gary Davis dropped out of the race. 

Once the dominoes fall after Jim Cooper announces his sheriff’s candidacy and Stephanie Nguyen formalizes her bid for the Assembly, Davis is expected to immediately enter the District 4 seat on the Elk Grove City Council.

Unlike old soldiers, let it be said, old politicians never just fade away.  

BSA's Big Promise - MIA in 2021 

Aside from taking potshots during her 2020 campaign against former Mayor Steve Ly, Bobbie Singh-Allen presented a five-point traffic congestion relief program. 

As 2021 expires, those stuck in traffic are still waiting for relief from the mayor's plan. Just another meaningless campaign promise. 

Part II on December 30 

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


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1 comment

Eye on Elk Grove said...

IMO, Mayor BSA is the elected version of former City Manager Laura Gill. Don't get why some women in power have to rule by fear. Not a good example at all of effective leadership. And to make a toxic environment even worse, it is clear the three men on the council are just BSA lackeys.

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