How Elk Grove and other municipal budget reports are like your high school yearbook

Just like the Dacron, Ohio's 1963 Estes Kefauver High School's Kangaroo's one-win football team description in the Kaleidoscope yearbook that characterized opponents as "repeated ball hoarding and score happy," editors of the 2025 Elk Grove budget report glossed over the ineptitude of one of the city's vital departments that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. | 

The high school yearbook is that one book that many people cherish for a lifetime, while others put it on the shelf or in a box and never open it again.

Regardless of how one might handle their high school yearbook, those who own one may recall the contents, especially in a written description of a school sports team that performed poorly. Typically, the writers might describe a winless football team as spirited and prideful and maybe highlight the punter who broke school records for the most punts or the running back with the least fumbles in one season!  

Municipal budget reports are often like a high school yearbook with a terrible-achieving sports team when describing a particular department or aspect of operations. Tonight's city council meeting will formally unveil Elk Grove's fiscal year 2025 budget report. 

Like the yearbook, a municipal budget report highlights the city's accomplishments. And like the high school with a poorly performing sports team, the city of Elk Grove is no exception.

True to form, an observant Elk Grove News reader pointed out one such department's description in the Elk Grove 2025 budget report. The terrible sports team at City Hall is the legal department. 

Here is the description of the legal department's "accomplishments" in the last 12 months. See the list below.

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The most curious item is "Provided legal support to major City projects, including the proposed Zoo, Old Town Streetscape, Kammerer Road, and the Kubota project."

If we are not mistaken, isn't that their job function? And for that matter, aren't all of these "accomplishments" part of their regular duties?

Or does city attorney Jonathan Hobbs prefer their legal work to be contracted to the city's preferred outside counsel, Sacramento-based Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, where Hobbs was a partner?

Saying Hobbs and his staff provided legal support as an accomplishment is like listing having police officers write traffic tickets as an accomplishment. Cops are supposed to enforce traffic laws as part of their regular duties. 

Beyond the dubious accomplishments of the city attorney's department, what is more glaring is what is not listed. That would be the city's substantial financial setback because of Hobbs and his staff.

Of course, we are referring to Hobbs' fumbling and bumbling legal opinion on Oak Rose supportive housing project. Based on Hobbs's counsel, in July 2022, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council rejected the affordable housing project, which generated the costly California Attorney General-initiated lawsuit against the city, which is still pending.

The legal counsel was so bad, about one year later in 2023, Hobbs backpedaled on his opinion to no avail. Hobbs' little folly has cost Elk Grove taxpayers $10 million, and the meter is still running. 

Excellent job, Hobbs!

So, as Mayor Singh-Allen and her four city councilmen heap praise on city staff tonight for producing a balanced budget, which is state law, it will be noteworthy if there are any mentions of the foul-ups by the city's legal staff. Our guess is like the high school yearbook editors, they'll gloss things over and blame it on the lawsuit happy California Attorney General Rob Bonta.   

What's the difference? 

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