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Editorial - Nav Gill wasn't an exception

We honestly don't like to dis Sacramento County. But since we have a goal to speak up on behalf of improving our community, there are times we don't have a choice. So when we saw The Bee's latest article about Nav Gill, the now-departed County CEO, we thought we should say something about it.

The article is something of a dog-bites-man story, i.e. not "news" in the sense that man-bites-dog would be. Essentially it says that the guy running Sacramento County, the Chief Executive, was a bully. And that Mr. Gill's bullying had been going on for years. What does that tell you? It means that bullying has been  condoned at Sacramento County. As the County CEO, Mr. Gill could easily see that his bosses (the Board of Supervisors) bullied their constituents. He must have determined that bullying behavior was OK for him if it was OK for his bosses. Some of his underlings must have figured it out, too. On several prior occasions we have written about how representatives of various county departments and sets of county appointees have been dismissive of citizen input - the list is long and the behavior has been consistent. Please understand we are not saying there are no nice people employed by or appointed by Sacramento County. In our experience we've observed that the preponderance of county employees and appointees are hard-working public servants, professionals at what they do and respectful of the public. While it is disappointing that there a few bad apples in the bunch, it's shameful when those bad apples are at the highest levels of the management chain. Like Mr. Gill, for example. Or Sheriff Scott Jones. Or the Board of Supervisors.

"Do you know who I am? I am the one who controls the resources!".
Nav Gill, articulating an attitude of arrogance not uncommon among high-ups at Sacramento County {Source: Michael Finch, "Report: Former C0unty CEO intimidated workers", Sacramento Bee, March 27, 2021}
May contain: person, human, audience, crowd, and speech
Former CEO Nav Gill, one of the several over-infilated egos who run Sacramento County

Over the years we have observed that the Board of Supervisors has condoned excessive to-go alcohol sales in our community despite pleas they stop it, that they have given great latitude to their developer-donors while keeping the public at arms-length, that they have shrugged their shoulders at the homeless camping and litter and unsanitary conditions that are all over our community, and that they have favored 1960s-style commercial death-spiral development over citizen requests to implement the Supervisors' own policies about mixed-use. Please understand those examples are references to the Board as a whole, not digs at our lone Supervisor.  (Being aware of the reputation of our now-retired Supervisor, we're certainly grateful to have a new one and we wish him well.) It takes at least 3 Supervisors to do anything, which means our own Supervisor is not in control. Our community must, therefore, rely on the kindness of the other Supervisors we cannot elect or un-elect. As The Bee article indicates - and our own observations have shown - kindness doesn't exactly run amok at the highest levels of Sacramento County government.

There are many ways that the situation can improve. The Supervisors, the incoming CEO, the Sheriff, the various appointee bodies and certain upper managers in key departments could, by themselves, end the pattern of arrogant behavior. Or our community could vote to take over the municipal responsibilities by incorporating. Much as we might prefer to see both of those possibilities come to fruition, we are not holding our breath. Why? Because the Supervisors did not put themselves in power, the voters of Sacramento County did. The voters gave them the reins and have tolerated their behavior.  Any change, then, will have to be driven by the constituency, by all of us. That won't be easy, given that people in Arden Arcade don't get to vote on 4 out of 5 Supervisors. Still, Arden Arcade's voters CAN put up a fuss if they want to and CAN form alliances with voters in other Supervisorial Districts. The question, then, is whether the voters in our community have the interest, time and energy to put into pushing for better local governance.

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