Guest Commentary - Does Elk Grove's Leadership Suffer From The Napoleon Syndrome?

Can our wallets keep up with their "small man" obsession to be a big city?

D.J. Blutarsky | Guest Contributor | 

The "small man syndrome" was first attributed to Napoleon because, at the time, it was thought that his preoccupation with his short stature (about 5 feet tall) was the reason for his extreme anger and obsession with war and power. 

This aggressive acting out by short people has been validated by scientists and psychologists, and I would suggest that Elk Grove's leadership suffers from a variation of the Napoleon Syndrome--I call it the Small City Syndrome. My only concern is how much will this complex cost us taxpayers?

Ever since the City was first incorporated in 2000, the City Council's actions have, and continue to demonstrate, the empire-building, arrogance, and regional bullying that has characterized Elk Grove's reputation in the region. 

Take for example, the City's attempt to take over the same functions that were being provided by the Cosumnes Services District (CSD), which led to a protracted lawsuit; the costly boondoggle of starting our own inter-city bus service and snubbing Sacramento Regional Transit, and also telling them we didn't want light-rail (and now we do!); the Elk Grove urban sprawl growth plan that threw away the County's land planning for our surrounding area, including the preservation of prime agricultural and industrial lands in favor of homes and more homes; and snubbing the County and building our own costly animal shelter and the waste recycling center, to name few. 

In more recent times, the City came to us with hat in hand asking for a sales tax increase to help mitigate the impacts their growth policies created in the first place! The Measure E sales tax was marketed by the City and CSD as a quality of life initiative that would somehow, despite worsening traffic congestion, improve the unacceptably long emergency response times; provide more open space and trails that urban sprawl took away; provide additional tax funding to properly maintain existing parks; and lastly to provide about $1.5 million each year to give to developers for "economic development".

And speaking of economic development, millions have been given away for projects including brew pubs, Costco, State Corrections office, numerous restaurants, car dealer advertising, and any item under $50,000 which does not require public disclosure. The premise for giving away public money for economic development purposes is that a dollar spent will yield a return greater than one dollar. 

But in the nebulous world of public sector finance (unlike the private sector), it is impossible to trace those dollars spent. So the bigger the deals, the more we should be concerned.

Unrestrained growth, unrestrained spending, lack of quantifiable results, and big promises made with our tax dollars sounds a lot like a modern-day Napoleon on a rampage. In addition to property taxes, most homeowners in Elk Grove are currently paying supplemental tax assessments to pay for infrastructure maintenance, some parks, and police services. 

Many of those annual assessments are tied to the cost of construction or inflation and are not capped. Also, be sure to include District56, the animal shelter, waste transfer station, police service, and possibly the zoo into the mix as well. 
As our City leaders get giddy every time a new restaurant comes to town or they siphon more tax dollars into real estate deals, remember that a bigger city costs more to run, and flawed policies will come back to bite us in the pocketbook later down the road. I can see a Measure F sometime down the road!

Instead of the City motto being "Proud Tradition, Bright Future", maybe it ought to read "Bigger is Better, Just Keep Paying Your Tax Assessments."

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