Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mayor will ask Sacramento County Grand Jury to investigate Hume

By Cody Kitaura - Citizen Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, June 3, 2010 4:06 PM PDT
Elk Grove Mayor Sophia Scherman will ask the Sacramento County Grand Jury to investigate alleged threats made by Council Member Pat Hume, the city council decided at its May 26 meeting.

Hume allegedly made threats against a local activist shortly after the two stopped dating last year, according to a letter from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. That office previously investigated Hume’s comments but declined to press charges.

According to an April 22 letter from the district attorney’s office, local activist Connie Conley went to the Elk Grove police saying that Hume threatened her, failed to report political gifts, and tried to restrict her movement.

The police referred the case to the district attorney’s office, which found “no evidence of criminal misconduct warranting prosecution.”

The council chambers fell silent at the May 26 city council meeting as Linda Ford, a fellow activist, recounted Conley’s allegations against Hume.

Hume told Conley he would take gifts she had given him and set fire to them in her driveway, Ford and the district attorney’s letter said.

“Ms. Conley called me immediately afterward and the fear was evident in her voice,” Ford told the council.

Hume recused himself from the discussion, but in a previous interview confirmed saying he would burn the gifts, but said “there was no threat implied in it.” He said he was saying the gifts were now his property and he wouldn’t return them.

Hume also said Conley’s claims were embellished.

Council Member Jim Cooper, who said no one asked him to push for an investigation, proposed the investigation into Hume’s conduct.

“It’s not a matter of someone coming to me and saying, ‘Hey, do this,’ ” Cooper said. “It’s a matter of stuff as a law enforcement officer I’m concerned about.”

The letter will be written by City Attorney Susan Cochran and then approved by Scherman.

Scherman opposed any investigation into Hume’s actions, and said she would bring the letter back for council approval to avoid an appearance of bias.

“That’s why I’m not writing it,” Scherman said after the meeting.

Scherman was sharply criticized by Elk Grove resident Steve Lee, who called her “an embarrassment and a hypocrite” for opposing an investigation when earlier this year she authorized more than $4,000 for an investigation into ethical allegations brought against Vice Mayor Steve Detrick.

“The joke of Elk Grove lives on and a new chapter is written,” Lee told the council.

Both Detrick and Council Member Gary Davis said they were embarrassed to have to be talking about the alleged threats.

“At best what it displays is poor judgment by an elected official,” Davis said. “At worst it’s criminal activity. Neither one are reflective of what we’re supposed to do here.”

More grant money promised to Police Activities League, teen center

Two local teen outreach groups received promises of more grant money last week, but one must first explain how it would spend it.

In discussing community grants for next year, the city council decided to give more than $90,000 extra to the Elk Grove Police Activities League (PAL) for building improvements and $28,000 to the Elk Grove Teen Center USA for facilities costs – assuming Teen Center officials can provide a plan for spending the money.

That $90,000 was unspent money for previous years originally slated for an East Stockton Boulevard sound wall, and the $28,000 was surplus from the city receiving more federal grant money than expected.

The PAL staff said it would use the $90,000 to perform improvements on three buildings they plan to lease: a sports facility on Kent Street, a new Bond Road headquarters, and a “Teen and Resources Community Center” on Bruceville Road.

The funding would be added on to $38,000 previously promised to each group, but couldn’t be used for programs, activities or equipment costs.

Because the Teen Center enjoys a rent-free stay in a city-owned building on Elk Grove Boulevard, there was a question as to what they could use the money for.

Volunteers and officials from both the Teen Center and the Police Activities League dominated public comment on the item, and council members again said the two groups should combine to save resources.

Cooper was most vocal, saying the city should have more input into what the organizations do with the grant money.

“There is no good reason why these organizations should not merge,” Cooper said. “You can’t sit up here and tell me there isn’t a duplication of efforts.”

Detrick encouraged the two groups to find a compromise, as the city and Cosumnes Community Services District had done during their past disputes.

The council also approved a staff recommendation to allocate nearly $20,000 in unspent money for homeless services. In coming weeks the city will ask for organizations to submit proposals for how they would spend that money.

Budget may end city employee furloughs ahead of schedule

Elk Grove’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year is full of good news, but the city still faces some uncertainty.

City Manager Laura Gill presented an overview of the 2010-11 budget at last week’s city council meeting, and said cost savings meant the city would not be required to dip into its emergency reserve funds to balance the current year’s budget, as it had planned to.

“Our employees really did a very good job of controlling expenditures,” Gill told the council.

The budget projects a 6 percent increase in sales tax over the next year, which Gill said is also the figure projected for all of California.

She said the city expects a half-percent increase in property tax revenue, but mostly from residential property growth.

“We’re still concerned about the commercial side,” Gill said in an interview before the council meeting.

Gill said if officials are optimistic about the budget come this fall, they may put an early end to employee furloughs. Currently, all city employees are required to take eight furlough days each year. City department heads are required to take 12.

The council must adopt a budget by July 1, and can do so at either of its next two meetings. To read Gill’s full report on the budget, click here.

Old Town guidelines updated, tattoo parlor ban included

The city council last week finalized a list of changes to development guidelines for Old Town Elk Grove, banning tattoo parlors, loosening regulations for display signs, and including many other revisions.

The council was scheduled to discuss the revisions in February, but area residents, business owners and members of the Old Town Elk Grove Foundation requested time to go over recommended changes from the Elk Grove Planning Commission.

That group of residents and business owners asked for several changes. The council accepted a mixture, siding with the Planning Commission on some issues and with the residents and business owners on others.

Old Town resident Damon Mireski said many salons in Old Town already perform permanent makeup tattooing. That led Cooper to question the request to ban tattoo parlors.

“If it’s going on right now that’s not fair,” Cooper said, adding, “To me it’s all the same.”

Scherman, whose council district includes Old Town, argued that the two should be treated differently.

“Getting your eyeliner tattooed permanently is a lot different than lying down and having them (tattoo) a needle across your chest,” Scherman said.

Davis said he supported the tattoo parlor ban because “the merchants don’t want it … (and) it’s just not the right fit for Elk Grove.”


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