Part III July - September: EGN's 2023 Year in Review

Like a criminal rape trial defendant, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city councilmen blamed the plaintiff [victim] and others for their inaction during a September meeting reconsidering the Oak Rose housing project. | 


As 2023 started the third quarter on July 1, pressed by the Oak Rose lawsuit filed against the city by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the city revisited its denial of the supportive housing project. Additionally, the city acknowledged the failure of its signature projects that they hoped nobody would immediately notice.   

July

City Councilmember Darren Suen appointed Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen's Chief of Staff

In a move with future political implications, City Councilmember Darren Suen accepted a job to become Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen's Chief of Staff. An engineer by schooling and training, Suen left a higher-paying job with the Department of Water Resources for his job at the state capitol.

As for future political implications, Nguyen, who was elected to the Assembly in 2022, has made no secret that she will run for Congress when current Rep. Doris Matsui steps aside. Suen, who had planned a 2022 Assembly run, stepped aside for Nguyen's candidacy.

Now that Suen is in the capitol and presumably making deep connections with the money people when Nguyen runs for Congress, he will be well-positioned to run for the Assembly seat that Nguyen will have to vacate.

Reliable sources have said this has not gone over well with Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, who has her political aspirations. EGN has learned that Singh-Allen is reportedly trash-talking Nguyen. 

Let's see how the mayor's trash-talking of Elk Grove's Assembly representative works out during the appropriations process!  

Social media video shows a street fight in Elk Grove's tourist district

With Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen already proclaiming Old Town-Historic Downtown Elk Grove will become like San Diego's famed Gaslamp Quarter tourist destination, a social media video showed a daytime street fight in the area. Probably not what the mayor had in mind when she made her declaration. 


Activist momarmy.elkgrove takes culture war to the city of Elk Grove, target the mayor 

The ongoing battle mounted against the Elk Grove Unified School District from vocal activists who started airing their grievances with the Elk Grove mayor and city council into their focus. One activist claimed Mayor Singh-Allen has influence over the school board and she should use it to protect children. 


Elk Grove Animal Shelter pet adoption fees lowered in response to overcrowding 

As if to validate the concerns of feline advocates for increased funding, the Elk Grove Animal Shelter lowered adoption fees. An effect of the post-COVID-19 world, pet adoptions have fallen, and people turning over pets to animal shelters have increased nationwide. Not surprisingly, the city's announcement said the shelter was at capacity for cats and kittens. 

Mayor and city council told Queer people not safe in Elk Grove.

As the culture wars crept into Elk Grove City Council meetings, one business owner said queer people are not safe in Elk Grove. 

The speaker commended the city council for their support during Pride Month but said that was not enough. She said the LGBTQ+ community needs support and advocacy year-round.

Outside of Pride Month, the five-member Elk Grove City Council has remained silent on the protection of the LGBTQ+ community. 



Citizen tells Mayor Singh-Allen 'Don't call me a liar' 

At the same meeting where the city council heard Queer people were not safe in Elk Grove, Mayor Singh-Allen was criticized by a citizen. That person, who appeared at an earlier meeting discussing Elk Grove Unified School District issues, pushed back on the mayor, who said he was a liar.   




If 1st Amendment rights are threatened, exercise 2nd Amendment rights, says speaker at city council meeting 

In a wide-ranging commentary at the Elk Grove City Council meeting, one speaker suggested Second Amendment rights should be exercised if First Amendment rights are threatened. These comments came from a resident who told Mayor Singh-Allen not to call him a liar. 



August 

Project Elevate negotiations collapse, Hines Interests terminates agreement with Elk Grove   




Aside from the City Councilmember Sergio Robles admitted drunk driving and the ongoing Oak Rose fair housing lawsuit the city is dealing with, the other big story for 2023 was the collapse of Elk Grove's Project Elevate.

The city hid the collapse by burying its demise in city manager Jason Behrmann's written administrative report to the city council. The city didn't want to admit that the ballyhooed project was not desirable enough for Houston-based Hines Interest to pursue. 

Of course, not all is lost. Innovations czar Christopher "CJ" Jordan and economic development director Darrell "Bojangles" Doan have a reason for another taxpayer junket to visit Las Vegas again! 



Mayor Singh-Allen amasses a large campaign reelection fund.

Even though Mayor Singh-Allen's political aspirations might be stymied by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen and Elk Grove City Councilmember Darren Suen (see above), she is still amassing a significant campaign fund. Required financial disclosures showed the second-term mayor reported $198,000 halfway through 2023.

With no significant threat, Singh-Allen appears ready for a third term.  

Commissioned study on Elk Grove Animal Shelter validates complaints, paints bleak financial picture

During the early August  Elk Grove City Council meeting, a report was heard on a commissioned study on the city's animal shelter. That report validated several complaints voiced during repeated city council meetings by feline advocates and painted a bleak picture of the facility's financial health.

The study performed by Citygate Associates shows the facility is understaffed. Over the last several months, animal shelter advocates interested in the city's feral cat population have pressed Mayor Singh-Allen and her city council to hire another veterinarian to amplify spay and neuter services.

EGUSD Trustees urged to resist removal of books from school libraries

Even though Elk Grove Unified School District Trustees were barraged for much of 2023, they occasionally heard words of support. At one of the district's August meetings, one person urged the trustees not to succumb to book ban requests.  



Elk Grove Unified Trustee Forcina agrees with public comment that board members have behaved unprofessionally 

During an August meeting, EGUSD Trustee Carmine Forcina called out his colleague for unprofessional conduct while on the dais. 


Forcina's comments were spurred by public comments seen in this video, pinpointing what they said was poor behavior displayed by some trustees during meetings. 



September 

Elk Grove City Council punts recommendation to approve Oak Rose project 

Faced with an expensive and presumably unwinnable lawsuit, based on the counsel of city attorney Jonathan Hobbs, the Elk Grove City Council considered reversing its position during a September meeting and approving the Oak Rose supportive housing project.  

Even though Hobbs told Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city councilmen that taxpayers could be on the hook for millions of dollars for plaintiffs' legal fees, the five-member body rejected a recommendation to approve the project. Instead, it deferred a decision to October. 

Their inaction was swayed by a boisterous audience opposed to the Oak Rose project, frightening the mayor and city council like a child in a haunted house. And in the true fashion of a rapist on trial, Mayor Singh-Allen and her four city councilmen blamed the victim [plaintiff] for their actions.   

As we will see, the city council members' words of cowardice in that September meeting would come back to haunt them in further legal proceedings.  

Interestingly, one speaker at that September meeting linked California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who initiated the lawsuit against the city, to George Soros. We can't help but wonder if the mayor will remind Mr. Bonta of that when she tries to pose for her selfie with him? 




Bonta vows to follow through with the lawsuit, calls out the Mayor and her city council 

One of the immediate effects of Elk Grove City Council's deferral on the Oak Rose project was a statement issued by Attorney General Rob Bonta. 

In the statement issued less than 24 hours later, Bonta affirmed the state will continue pursuing its lawsuit against Elk Grove. 

"The Elk Grove City Council has been put on notice on multiple occasions that denying approval of the Oak Rose Apartments is unlawful. Every single time, they have chosen to ignore those warnings, wasting precious time and public resources in the process. It is profoundly disappointing,"

The hits just keep coming for Mayor Singh-Allen! 

Mayor Singh-Allen throws shade at former allies, former city council colleague

As noted earlier, Mayor Singh-Allen has reportedly been talking trash about Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen, who was a city council colleague before her 2022 election to the California Assembly. 

During the late September meeting, Madame Mayor threw shade at Nguyen, among others, while she tried to avoid blame for the ongoing Oak Rose debacle that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. 





Elk Grove Citizen, Galt Herald sold to Messenger Publishing Group

For the second time in less than two years, Elk Grove's official newspaper, the Elk Grove Citizen, was sold. The new ownership group, Messenger Pulbishing Group, took possession in September.

Along with the Citizen and the Galt Herald, MPG purchases include the sale of the River Valley Times, Pocket News, Arden Carmichael News, Land Park News, and East Sacramento News. Rodriguez bought the chain in late 2021 from longtime owners, the Herberger family, who assumed ownership of the Citizen and Herald in 1959. 

While the Citizen remains afloat, buoyed by public notices from the city of Elk Grove, the news-gathering operation has, unfortunately, been disseminated. 




Old Town/Historic Downtown Elk Grove merchants, residents object to temporary homeless shelter

As part of its efforts to address Elk Grove's growing homeless population, the city announced it would run a winter months shelter at a location in Old Town-Historic Downtown Elk Grove. Located at the former drugstore on Waterman Road and Elk Grove Boulevard that the city purchased for the library relocation project, the plan drew substantial opposition.
 
The comments in the video were typical of those opposed to the shelter. 




Elk Grove Unified Trustees hear from LGBTQ+ advocates

In a one-hour-plus public comment segment on non-agenda items during a September meeting, the Elk Grove Unified School Board of Trustees heard from several speakers on the so-called parental rights movement.

While the trustees have frequently heard parental rights advocates, during the Tuesday, September 20 meeting, several speakers spoke to defend LGBTQ+ students. They urged the district to resist calls to ban books some claim are objectionable.



Land acknowledgment statement adopted by the Elk Grove City Council 

At the late September meeting, following the lead of other nearby communities, the Elk Grove City Council adopted a land acknowledgment statement. The statement will be read at the start of every city council meeting and was adopted based on a recommendation by the city's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. 

Oak Rose misinformation being spread in-person, on social media; Elk Grove, Calif.


The Oak Rose project was the most contentious issue for Elk Grove in 2022 and 2023. The issue will continue to fester for Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city councilmen in 2024. 

The festering problem, like many issues today, has taken on a social media life. As we see in this video, there has been a drumbeat of misinformation on the supportive housing project.  




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