When asked about a potential conflict of interest, Elk Grove mayor didn't even bother asking city attorney for a hall pass

Elk Grove resident Michael Monasky addresses Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen during the
January 25 city council meeting. | 

As she made clear during a news conference addressing retail theft on Tuesday, January 23, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen represents a trade association of gasoline stations and convenience stores. Like all part-time city council members, their day jobs ocasionally create conflicts of interest that require recusal from deliberations.

A potential conflict of interest arose during the Wednesday, January 24, Elk Grove City Council meeting. During that meeting, the city council considered a liquor application for a new gasoline station.

During public comment on non-agenda items and the hearing, Michael Monasky noted the mayor's role as a trade representative representing merchants selling gasoline, liquor, tobacco, and other items. Mr. Monasky's comments and exchange with the mayor can be viewed in the video.

Although Singh-Allen stated the owner/applicant was not a member of the association she is employed by, had Monasky not inquired, consideration of a conflict of interest would not have surfaced, and Singh-Allen would not have voluntarily disclosed her relationship with the industry. Even after being confronted with the possibility of a conflict, so confident in her invulnerability to scrutiny, Singh-Allen didn't even bother to ask city attorney Jonathan Hobbs for a hall pass on the hearing.

In the past, Elk Grove City Council members have voluntarily recused themselves from deliberations, even when not required. When the city council gave a multi-million dollar incentive to Pappas Investments in 2018 to build the Elk Grove Boulevard Costco, City Councilmember Darren Suen recused himself based on owning less than $10,000 in Costco stock. 

Nonetheless, as matters such as climate action plans, especially as they relate to fossil fuels and other products purveyed by Singh-Allen's trade association, come before the city council, it will be worth monitoring if the mayor voluntarily recuses herself because of conflicts of interest.  

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Sid Vicious said...

Here is the best way to describe Rod Brewer, Sergio Robles, Kevin Spease, and Darren Suen? Pantywaists!

Steve L said...

Mr. Monasky is entirely right here. As the President of the association that supports these type of businesses, the Mayor absolutely should have recused herself from any discussion or vote on this matter. Our Council has been investigated on these issues in the past and it was held that even a “perception “ of a conflict dictates that that council person should recuse themselves from the matter. There was definitely a “perception” regardless of the mayor’s statement in denial, that there was a potential conflict. Regardless, this wasn’t a hot bed issue, no one voiced any opposition to the granting of the license. Instead of doing the right thing and recusing herself, the mayor created more embarrassment and poor judgement. The city attorney did as well by not advising her to recuse herself. Same attorney that advised the council to fight the Long Beach housing firm, thenafter $M of our tax $ spent defending, advised them to settle. Like Mr Monasky said, all the councilmen sat on their hands ratifying the mayors position of no conflict. Not sure why they’re there. They all fall in line right behind her. None have a shred of ethics.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Mr. Monasky wisely realized that "legally" Mayor Bobbie could have cast her vote, but smartly challenged Mayor Bobbie on ethical and appearance of conflict grounds.

After watching concerned citizens speaking from the podium for almost 15 years, I can say that the view of the podium from the Council's dias must be like watching Casper the Friendly (or Unfriendly) Ghost speaking. The citizens are invisible and their words go in one ear and out the other. But that three minute timer is glowing neon in their eyes!

Sorry Mr. Monasky, Mayor Bobbie was not going to give you the satisfaction of asking Hobbs, Esq. for advice or recuse herself. Your three minutes are up she barks!

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