Scott Adams, the creator of the comic Dilbert once wrote a whole book about the idea that there is a right way, a wrong way and the weasel way. Last night the weasel way was on full display at the Elk Grove City Council meeting. A special meeting was called by Gary Davis, Jim Cooper and Steve Detrick for 6 pm to strip Sophia Scherman of her role as Mayor of Elk Grove.
Scherman—not willing to “go quietly into that good night”—called as many of her supporters as she could and invited them to the meeting. As a result, not only was there standing room only in the back of the room and along both sides of the council chambers but both overflow areas were full also. Seeing the outpouring of support for her, Scherman’ accusers like the Pharisees and Sadducees of old, decided their best tactic was to move the special meeting from preceding the regular council meeting to the dead of night. As a result about 75 percent of the supporters had gone home by the time the four and a half hour delay was over.
Once the agenda was completed for the regular meeting, the three accusers were finally forced to do the deed they had threatened. When given the opportunity to explain their actions they bravely took a pass and choose to go straight to public comment. Many members of the public that endured the previous four plus hours then had the chance to state their support for Scherman and ask that these three councilmen reconsider their actions.
Cooper, Davis and Detrick all took turns verbally pummeling Scherman for calling a special meeting last week to talk about a group home for juvenile sex offenders in the city. Scherman was frequently accused of “strong mayor tactics” for calling the meeting and other un-named actions that she had taken as mayor. The only evidence presented was that Scherman followed Robert’s Rules of Order and the others didn’t like being bothered with the increased level of involvement that Scherman was asking them to display. Apparently their idea of limited government was being left alone so their involvement was limited.
Perhaps part of the friction was that Detrick, Davis and Cooper were upset with Sophia for acting more from her emotions. She looks at things as a mother and grandmother. Sophia responds to issues from her heart. If these married, middle-aged men haven’t figured-out that women see the world differently, I really pity their wives.
All three men are wannabes. Earlier this year, Davis wanted to be a congressman—until his party threw him under the bus. Cooper wants to be Sacramento County Sheriff but not bad enough to avoid stupid public displays like this and Detrick apparently wants to be mayor.
The three men reminded me of playground bullies taunting a small child and trying to cow her into submission by the force of their combine wills. In the end, none was willing to throw a punch. Knowing that the first man to drive the political knife into Sophia would be simultaneously ending his political future none had the guts to make the motion to remove her. Instead they kept punting to the next person like a slow motion version of the proverbial hot potato game. Trying to end this farce, Pat Hume motioned to end the meeting. The motion was defeated. All three wanted more. Like three alley cats toying with a wounded mouse they kept taking more verbal swipes at Scherman.
After all the boys had their turn to speak, Scherman read from a prepared statement. Then it really hit the fan.
After about 45 minutes of this, the city attorney even tried to suggest some language to make special meetings better fit the schedules of the three combatants but they wanted more. Steve Detrick especially wanted unconditional surrender from Scherman. He didn’t get it and Detrick kept doubling-down.
In the end, and yes there finally was an end, nobody motioned to remove Sophia Scherman as mayor. After an hour and a half, Hume finally got the others to agree, however reluctantly to end the meeting. The only clear winners were Pat Hume and Scott Jones—Cooper’s opponent in the sheriff race.
Davis, Detrick and Cooper took a crack in the community and turned it into a fissure. The unresolved episode of last night has the potential to color the political landscape in Elk Grove for many years. My wife, a fifth generation person from Elk Grove, said it had been many years since that number of old-time residents has assembled in one place. These three threw a grenade last night but others are likely to pull the pin and throw it back.
More as developments warrant.