EGN's Year 2021 in Review - Part II

Along with her mentorship 
of Mayor Singh-Allen,
Sophia Scherman helped
launch Pat Hume's 
political career. 
When you leave office, you’re just another schmo; Why no love for Sophia Scherman?

Last June, the Elk Grove City Council approved a rezone despite objections from their former compadre. 

The city council permitted the rezoning of an 18-acre parcel to slightly higher housing density even though it is across the street from one of the city’s most exclusive gated communities – Short Line Lake on Sheldon Road, whose residents included former Elk Grove City Councilmember Steve Detrick. Like other politicians, Detrick learned his influence evaporated after leaving office and that he was just another schmo going hat-in-hand to the city council.

During that hearing, it was suggested by smart planning advocate Lynn Wheat that one of the streets in the subdivision be named after former Elk Grove City Councilmember Sophia Scherman. Curiously, Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, who long said Scherman was her mentor and self-proclaimed second mother, didn’t take up the cause.  

Whatever happened to the Grand Jury inquiry? 

When she was elected mayor in 2020, one of the things that aided then-candidate Singh-Allen was the investigation referral to the Sacramento Grand Jury by the Elk Grove City Council of complaints lodged against former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly. Several people who would have been contacted this year for a possible investigation never heard from the Grand Jury.

Did the Grand Jury never take up the investigation? It makes you wonder if the complaints leveled against Ly were as serious as portrayed by Singh-Allen and her supporters or if they were outright lies. 

Either way, there doesn’t seem to be any interest to date by the Sacramento County Grand Jury to investigate the allegations.  

Whatever happened to the soccer fields?

Remember all the soccer fields promised by former Mayor Gary Davis? Well, they never materialized – surprise, surprise! 

Nonetheless, the 100-acres purchased by taxpayers served a useful purpose for developers and landowners. Given the land was outside Elk Grove city limits, it was a convenient excuse to annex that area south of Grant Line Road. 

Davis shamelessly preyed on the hopes of hundreds of soccer parents and their kids and promised a world-class soccer facility for his political purposes. Not to worry though, about half of that parcel was sold to Kubota Tractor who is relocating their operations from nearby Lodi.   

Hume insincerely addresses Trump's coup attempt

Following the January 6 Trump-led coup attempt, many of the former guys' fellow Republicans spoke out against the attack on American democracy. Most notable among the conservative Republicans fighting for the perseveration of our democracy from the Trumpites has been Rep. Liz Cheney. 

Closer to home, the two Republicans on the Elk Grove City Council, Kevin Spease and Pat Hume have largely been silent on the attempted overthrow of our government. Oh sure, Hume spoke in vague terms that were more reminiscent of Trump’s good people on both sides comment regarding the Charlottesville white supremacy marches that left one person dead, but he nor Spease have ever taken a stance on some of their fellow Republicans like Cheney has in defense of our democracy.

Did they not understand the oath they took?

The Mayor defends Hume!

Even though Hume hasn’t personally taken a stance on the coup attempt, Mayor Singh-Allen seemed to come to his defense in a peculiar manner. 

Listen Time 1 Minute

Train station to fully integrate Elk Grove to the megaregion 

After several stops and restarts over many years, Elk Grove is finally getting a rail station on the city’s westside. 

The good news is the Dwight Road station will offer Amtrak and commuter rail connection opportunities. The bad news is the much-needed connectivity will make travel between Elk Grove and Silicon Valley jobs substantially easier and fully integrates Elk Grove into the Bay Area megaregion, which unfortunately will drive housing demand and exasperate housing costs.   

And yet, still no firm light rail plans from Sacramento Regional Transit.  

October flooding catches city flatfooted

Over one weekend in October, Elk Grove experienced a so-called atmospheric river that brought heavy rains in a short time. 

The flooding in the Quail Ranch neighborhood was so severe that Bond Road and many streets in the subdivision became swift-moving rivers. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and flooding damage was minimal this time.

In response, officials said the city’s systems handled the flooding. They in fact, did not.

The incident not only caught the city flatfooted, but it also reaffirmed what many people have experienced in dealing with city hall have said – they ignore citizens’ concerns if they conflict with the wants and desires of the beloved developers who fund city council members political ambitions.

Elk Grove gets $23 million from Feds

One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemics has been additional federal funding for state governments and municipalities. Elk Grove learned from Rep. Ami Bera the city would receive $23 million from the American Rescue Plan, and the Elk Grove Unified School District received a whopping $150 million. 

Assemblymember Jim Cooper’s intentions create still unresolved political scramble

Assemblymember Jim Cooper’s intentions create still unresolved political scramble

Going back to 2018, former Elk Grove City Councilmember and current California Assemblymember Jim Cooper never hid his desire to become the Sacramento County Sheriff. A retired captain with a 30-year sheriff’s department career, Cooper, ran for and lost his bid for sheriff in 2010 against Scott Jones. 

With Jones’ announcement he will not seek another term in 2022, Cooper formed a sheriff’s election committee indicating his desire to run for the one that got away. 

As 2021 ends, Cooper hasn’t formally entered the race, which has frozen fellow Democrats from announcing their candidacy. The only known Democrat who is expected to announce their candidacy once Cooper announces is Elk Grove Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen. Now that Elk Grove is in the 10th Assembly District and paired with Sacramento, it is expected to attract several candidates for the June 2022 primary. 

Mayor Singh-Allen takes flak during public comment

Although it faded by this summer, Singh-Allen was barraged with criticism as she settled into her position. In this Elk Grove News Podcast, we covered some of the more intense critiques of the mayor.

A few glitches to work out - ‘Grassy Knoll’ at District 56 causes serious injury

One civic amenity bureaucrats and elected officials love touting is Elk Grove’s District56. That facility includes a still under-utilized swimming pool and, more recently, high-profile addition to the playground in the Preserve area. 

That amenity, which has been nicknamed the “Grassy Knoll,” received a lot of publicity but not in a favorable way after its October debut. The steep Astro-turf playground hill caused a severely broken leg of an Elk Grove mother.    

The city acknowledged it was only a glitch

Redrawing the lines

Using the results of the 2020 census, jurisdictions throughout California redrew boundaries. For the California Senate, Assembly, Board of Equalization, and the state’s Congressional delegation, those lines were created by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

New boundaries have been created for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and the process for Elk Grove School District has begun. Not surprisingly, the City of Elk Grove has not initiated the process.

Steve Ly plots his return

Former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly has returned to local politics after a relatively short absence. 

After running for office every two years between 2012 and 2020, first for Elk Grove Unified, followed by the Elk Grove City Council two years later and then-mayor two years later. His string of victories ended in 2020 after losing to Singh-Allen.

Toward the end of the year, Ly plotted his return. His first step was the announcement of the formation of a civil rights group called Asian American Civil Liberties and Anti-Defamation

Ly followed this by a November Elk Grove City Hall news conference where he and others defended himself against charges against him during the 2020 election. Although Singh-Allen was targeted during the news conference, Cosumnes Community Services District Director Jaclyn Moreno received most of the shrapnel exploding that evening. 

After this, Ly formally left the Democratic party, citing their lack of support in defending the Hmong community (Ly is Hmong-American) against racism. Ly then revealed he would enter the District 5 Sacramento Board of Supervisors race against Moreno and Elk Grove Councilmember Pat Hume.

With Ly’s entry, chances are the contest to replace Supervisor Don Nottoli will extend to the 2022 November general election run-off between the top two June primary finishers.      

Zoo in Elk Grove? 

The most significant announcement this year in Elk Grove was the disclosure that the Sacramento Zoo was considering a move to Elk Grove. In September, the city and the zoo announced a six-month negotiation period.

While the news was greeted with enthusiasm, many unanswered questions, such as who will pay for the multimillion-dollar facility, remain. Additionally, as we shall see, the mayor and city council members are not operating in an above-the-board manner.

Mayor and her two councilmen take a trip to the Houston Zoo

Even though the public has not learned any of the details of a possible deal, Mayor Singh-Allen and her Councilmembers Pat Hume and Kevin Spease secretly traveled to the Houston Zoo in a flagrant violation of the Ralph Brown Public Meeting Act. 

Even though city officials claim up and down the trio did not discuss the zoo in any possible manner and thus did not violate public meeting laws, Spease shot that claim to the ground days later. 

Spease admits ‘three of us had a meeting at the zoo’   

Perhaps it was an error or a moment of honestly – a rarity for most politicians - but in any case, Councilmember Kevin Spease admitted he, Councilmember Pat Hume, and Mayor Singh-Allen did conduct a meeting at the Houston Zoo.

He said it, he owns it, and yes, they broke the law.

Who is minding the store?

Toward the end of this year, an Elk Grove citizen discovered what could most charitably be called sloppy administration or, worse, cronyism in the disbursement of taxpayers’ grant money by the City of Elk Grove. The citizen learned that a non-profit fronted by former Mayor Gary Davis was awarded grants and privileges that, by the city’s own rules, they were ineligible to receive. 

While City manager Jason Behrman said city staff felt really, really bad the mistake was made, it should give taxpayers pause. Was the former mayor given preferential treatments, or is there no processes control at city hall?

BSA and her CCCs make a splashy debut

Showing their multi-faceted talents, Mayor Bobbie Singh Allen and her City Council Crooners made their stage premiere in December. We are looking forward to more of their special performances!

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


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Post a Comment Default Comments


D.J. Blutarsky said...

As we roll into 2022, the City Council Chambers (aka "The People's House") remains off-limits for our own safety, while our fearless leaders flood their social media pages with COVID-defying maskless selfies!

Looking ahead to next year, I am bracing for the midterm elections and the flood of glossy campaign fliers promising us everything under the sun, even the sun itself!

In July, when the new state law requiring us to recycle our food scraps kicks in, I wonder if I can put my campaign fliers into that same trash bin? I care about the environment you know!

And while the Elk Grove Citizen will carry on as a shell of a newspaper, and their merry band of "gnats" will continue to buzz City Hall to ensure transparency and compliance with the laws.

As Walter Conkrite would have said: "And that's the way it is"...

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Right on DJ!

The Elk Grove Citizen was warned by a current council member he would ensure a former editor be fired if he printed an disparaging, albeit factual, article about him. This is not hearsay!

Moreover, a former council member told the Citizen to keep their public notices printed in the paper by the city of Elk Grove not to even print one word in criticism, let alone investigative reporting against any Elk Grove City Council member. Only Elk Grove News has stepped up to keep the “sunshine” on the continuous shenanigans at city hall.

As Transparency International, a worldwide organization, in a special report entitled, The U.S. Experience, states that a successful anti-corruption regime at the local government level must include the following:

1. Enacting and applying local ethics, including having an effective independent Ethics Commission. The Elk Grove City Council refused to implement an ethics commission even though recommended by the Sacramento County Grand Jury.
2. Implementing local government controls
3. Role for citizen watchdogs’ groups
4. The presence of a strong, investigative media
5. The availability of multiple organizations or mechanisms at the local level interested in rooting out corruption

So, in Elk Grove, #4 is only provided by EGN. And kudos to all the “EGN Gnats” who take #4 and #5 very seriously.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Thanks Eye On for the backstory on the Citizen and the ultimatum by an unnamed Council person--not surprised.

The struggling Citizen ran their story today about its sale, and I had no idea Herberger printed so many 'editions' throughout the Sacramento region. Pardon my naivety, but I have now concluded that these various editions are kept financially afloat by the printing of the required legal notices by the various governmental agencies in the area.

So if those other governmental agencies have given similar "hands-off" ultimatums like Elk Grove has apparently given, then what the public is left with are essentially "government-owned" newspapers that protect the 'hand that feeds them'.

Happy New Year!

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