Lies by omission - How the Elk Grove City manager, mayor and city council obscured termination of negotiations for Project Elevate


Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. 


President John F. Kennedy uttered a version of this famous saying after taking responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The wisdom of those words is undeniable.


As a companion Elk Grove News story reported, Elk Grove recently suffered a failure. While not catastrophic, it is embarrassing enough for elected officials and bureaucrats to shun it like an unwanted orphan.


We are speaking of the termination of the exclusive negotiation agreement (ENA) the city had with internationally renowned real estate developer Hines Interests. The Houston-based developer terminated its ENA City on May 15.


It wasn't until an examination of a staff report for tomorrow night's Elk Grove City Council meeting that there was a suggestion of termination. An email to the city's public affair office confirmed the termination.   


Interestingly, Elk Grove city manager Jason Behrmann hid the termination in plain sight in his twice-monthly administrative report during Elk Grove City Council meetings. The announcement of the termination came during Behrmann's May 24 report.


And here is the catch - it wasn't reported during his administrative report verbally presented to taxpayers and the city council. It was in a written report posted on the city manager's department page on the city's website.


Didn't know the city manager had a more thorough written report, including worts posted to the city's website? Don't feel bad - most people are not aware of these postings.


For people who have never seen Berhmann's administrative report, you can see his May 24 presentation in the video below. Behrmann's reports are filled with rainbows and puppies but little information that might portray the city unfavorably.


Additionally, while Behrmann posted the report to his department's webpage, on the meeting agenda, it is not linked like every other staff report. Why?


What are they hiding from taxpayers? A little bad news? This is a classic case of lies by omission. 


If they are willing to obscure this, it is fair to question if they are hiding unethical, or illegal activities going on at city hall. Remember, these are the same people who refused to release the police video of the DUI arrest of Elk Grove City Councilmember Sergio Robles.  


While Behrmann is probably under strict instruction from Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen to avoid reporting lousy news, who are they all ultimately responsible to?  


For all the gibberish from the mayor, her city council, and city executives about transparency, we say bullshit! 


If they were truly transparent, they would report unfavorable developments in public with as much gusto as the positive. But alas, as we have seen with this item, when they say they are being transparent, they are being anything but.  


At a minimum, Behrmann's twice-monthly written administrative report should be linked on the city council agenda. That would be a step in the direction of their oft-stated commitment to transparency.  


Of course, while the mayor and city council praised themselves for Measure E expenditures, none dared to acknowledge this development. Are they so arrogant to think someone would not eventually catch on to their cover-up? 


Sure, it might result in some short-term embarrassment, but true leaders report the good and the bad.  


To again reference President John F. Kennedy, to paraphrase his inaugural speech, the mayor, city council, and city executives need not ask what they can do for themselves, but how can they be honest with taxpayers. 


Is that too much to ask? 

 




   

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4 comments

CCO_EG said...

They think they can sweep things under the rug... but they can't when we have a dedicated website to monitor their BS. Dan, thank you for reminding us how inept our local government is. They preach transparency, and do the exact opposite of it.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Since it looks like Project Elevate is now Project Deflate, it proves that government bureaucrats and their highly paid consultants sitting in a cubicle shouldn't cook up plans without first consulting with the major private sector investors to gauge the economic feasibility of such pie-in-the-sky plans. When Pappas 'Easy Money' Development declined to submit a proposal for Project Elevate, that was a red flag for me. 

The City Hall Propaganda Machine has moved on with new media blitzes. The lead story on today's KCRA news broadcast was about the City's brewpub grant program. $250,000 of Measure E sales tax money available for eligible businesses up to $50,000 each. Then for the one-two punch, a few minutes later, KCRA reported on the City looking for flawed LED streetlights. 

No matter how convoluted the messaging was, Project Deflate is now officially a bust and the City would prefer that we move on. Buy local to support the Measure E sales tax and please keep your public comments under three minutes. Check!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

No comfort here. John J. Mearsheimer is a University of Chicago political scientist. In his book, “Why Leaders Lie,” he states, “Leaders tend to lie to their own citizens more often than they lie to each other.”

Interestingly, Mearsheimer writes about the “strategic cover-up,” in which a leader misleads in order to cover up a policy that has gone badly wrong. Sound familiar?

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

With this wrinkle in the story, you can't help but wonder if this is another Lent Ranch Mall, aka Elk Grove Promenade aka The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove in the making. Will the Wilton Rancheria have to bail them out...again?

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