Linda Vue, an Elk Grove woman who publicly accused associates or supporters of Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly of harassing her, criticized three directors of the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) board during their July 15 meeting.
This board governs the Cosumnes Fire Department as well as Elk Grove’s parks and recreation system.
Vue last month claimed that Ly, who is America’s first Hmong mayor, used patriarchal forces within the Hmong familial clan system to harass her for posting critical comments of the mayor on social media.
During the CSD board’s July 15 meeting, she called into the board’s meeting during its public comment period and condemned CSD Board President Orlando Fuentes, and CSD directors Rod Brewer and Gil Albiani for not issuing public comments about the allegations against Ly.
Fuentes and Brewer campaigned with Ly when they ran for office in 2018. Albiani made a contribution to Ly’s reelection campaign that year.
Vue worked as Ly’s campaign manager during his 2016 run for Elk Grove mayor – she mentioned that she met both CSD directors at the time. She recalled when she spoke with Fuentes about his work in restorative justice as a social worker.
“As (you are) a longtime ally and friend to Mayor Ly, a self-proclaimed Democrat and elected leader, I am holding you and Director Brewer accountable for protecting Mayor Ly’s ego,” Vue said.
She also praised CSD Director Jaclyn Moreno for her public support of the local women, including elected officials, who alleged they were also harassed by the mayor’s associates. Moreno on social media and in a Citizen interview called upon elected officials to challenge patriarchy at-large in American society.
“Director Moreno is correct, patriarchy not only exists in the Hmong clan system, it is also in our political system, it exists on the CSD board because elected men refuse to hold their elected brother accountable,” Vue said.
She then concluded her statement by giving a challenge to Fuentes, Brewer, and Albiani.
“You don’t have to decide now where you stand – go home tonight and marinate on my words, but ask yourself, will you stand by the multiple, brave Elk Grove women who have come forward and the many more who have not out of fear of retaliation?” Vue said. “Or will you choose to consciously stand by their bully, Mayor Steve Ly?”
CSD board members were prohibited from responding to Vue’s remarks since they were made during their meeting’s public comment period.
Fuentes the next day told the Citizen that he was disappointed by Vue’s remarks against him.
“I met Linda during one of the mayor’s campaigns, but once that ended I had little to no contact with her,” he said. “I am not familiar with the details of the issues and therefore chose not to engage in this matter.”
Brewer in a telephone interview explained why he stayed out of the issue between Ly and Vue.
“I respect the comments that Linda Vue has made, but I think this is between her and Steve Ly, and they need to work that out,” he said.
Albiani declined to comment for this story.
Moreno told the Citizen that she hopes her colleagues and other leaders also denounce patriarchy.
“I would hope that other leaders, including my colleagues on the CSD board, would make a statement denouncing the patriarchy and in support of women and girls,” she said. “We need men to be allies, and silence on this issue does not help.”
Preceding the CSD board meeting, three local women alleged that they were harassed by associates or supporters of Ly.
Those allegations were made by Vue, Elk Grove School Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen, and Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung, the owner and editor-in-chief of the online news site, Elk Grove Tribune.
Vue mentioned the three women in her remarks toward Fuentes during the CSD board’s July 15 meeting.
“I am deeply disappointed by your continued silence on this matter,” she said. “Who benefits from your silence?”
Earlier this month, Singh-Allen posted a statement on her personal Facebook page, claiming that she was harassed by Ly’s associates after she was appointed to the Elk Grove school board in 2012. She mentioned that she believes that alleged action occurred because she endorsed Ly’s school board opponent, Jake Rambo.
Ly defeated the incumbent Rambo in that year’s election, and he went on to serve with Singh-Allen on the Elk Grove school board until he was elected to the Elk Grove City Council in 2014.
In her op-ed, posted in the Tribune on June 29, Vue claimed that after she expressed criticism of the mayor through her public Facebook posts, she was harassed by Ly through his associates who are part of the Hmong clan system.
Vue, who is Hmong, noted that a Hmong clan is a family, social structure that is “called upon from time to time to act as a communal court to settle various community and family issues.”
In her post, she referred to the Hmong clan system as a “failed system that has been heavily criticized for its role in gender-based violence in the Hmong community,” and that Ly used that system to his advantage.
Vue alleged that she was harassed after she claimed through her personal Facebook page that Ly had prematurely implied that Black Lives Matter protesters set fire to his friend’s south Sacramento business.
It was later revealed that the fire was not associated with the protesters, and Ly deleted his post.
Ly later denied that his post was in reference to Black Lives Matter protesters, and that he did not order Hmong clan system members to harass or threaten anyone.
After posting Vue’s op-ed, Cheung said that she received telephone threats against her family from strangers.
During the CSD board’s July 15 meeting, Cheung submitted a public comment and claimed that stress from the harassment caused her to suffer a miscarriage and prompted her family to go into hiding.
She complimented Moreno for her public support for her and Vue.
“Thank you, Jaclyn Moreno for giving me the courage and strength to come forward,” Cheung wrote. “I recognize that as an elected leader, coming forward and standing by me is not an easy thing to do – you risked your own safety and political career to stand up to a very powerful bully.”
Moreno responds to mayor’s accusations
Moreno last week defended herself against Ly’s statement that she was denouncing the entire Hmong clan system through her July 1 Facebook post.
In his own Facebook post, on June 30, Ly referred to patriarchy, “specifically in the Hmong community,” as a “real problem,” and expressed his desire to “uplift and empower” all women.
Responding to that post on her personal Facebook page, Moreno wrote: “Mayor Ly acknowledged the patriarchal system in place, but failed to denounce the use of the system to silence women in the community who dare to speak out.”
Moreno also noted in that post that the Elk Grove community needs “elected leaders who are allies and active in dismantling the systems in place that continue to uphold the patriarchy.”
In an interview with the Citizen for its July 10 edition, Ly claimed that Moreno called for a dismantling of the Hmong clan system in her Facebook post.
“In her post, she is asking that I denounce the clan system,” Ly told the Citizen earlier this month. “I’m going to denounce my family? She doesn’t understand that.”
The mayor expanded on his charges against Moreno in a recent Citizen interview.
Ly said that Hmong residents of Elk Grove have been contacting him to voice their concerns regarding Moreno’s Facebook comment.
“I take that very seriously, because these are voting citizens in the city of Elk Grove,” he said. “It just so happens that they are of Hmong descent. That does not invalidate them at all. That’s the reason the Hmong came to the United States is because they supported and rescued American pilots in Southeast Asia.
“And so, a callous remark from any elected, including Bobbie Singh-Allen and Jaclyn Moreno, they’re misinformed and they’re mis-categorizing the Hmong community.”
Ly also expressed concern with how Moreno’s comments have allegedly been perceived by members of the local Hmong community. In 2018, he supported Moreno when she ran for the CSD board.
“The same clan system that helped (Moreno) get elected, she is now taken that to task and has disingenuously marked them as patriarchal,” he said. “I think that’s unfair. I think (for) the voters of Elk Grove who happen to be of Hmong descent, she has a duty to make sure that she corrects what she said.
“What she said, in the perception of the Hmong community, is that she invalidates them, and that’s the part that I’m concerned about.”
Echoing her words in the Citizen’s July 10 article in which she called for a dismantling of the “patriarchy that exists within the (Hmong clan) system,” Moreno last week told the Citizen that she was not asking for the entire Hmong clan system to be denounced.
“As a white woman that is not a part of the Hmong community, I would never ask anyone, including Mayor Ly, to denounce an entire culture or practice within a culture,” she said. “The purpose of my statement was to call out patriarchy that exists in many aspects of the world, but also within the Hmong clan system.”
Moreno stressed that it was not the purpose of her post to denounce Ly’s culture and family.
“I’m disappointed that the mayor would use this strategy as a tactic to deflect from the real issue – that the patriarchy exists within every aspect of our society, and as a leader with such a large platform, he should be standing up against the patriarchy and coming up with concrete, actionable items that he can do to support women and girls in the community,” she said.
Moreno mentioned that everyone has implicit bias, stemming from messages that they receive in society. She also noted a need for people to recognize their “blind spots,” so that they can correct them in order to not continue causing others harm.
She also encouraged others to make efforts to be “anti-racist.”
“As an elected official, I also want to be clear that we should all be working to be anti-racist,” Moreno said. “Sometimes people make assumptions about systems within communities that they don’t understand, which can lead to biases or racism.
“Take some time to educate yourself on the history of the Hmong community. You will find a story of strength and resilience. Let’s support the Hmong community leaders and activists on the ground, doing the work in their communities to dismantle patriarchy everyday by listening to them and donating to their organizations.”
Moreno stated that it is important to continue to work to dismantle patriarchal systems that “hold women down,” until women achieve equality in “decision-making power in our society – as CEOs, as elected officials, as business owners.”
“When I decided to run for office, I did so with the promise that I would use my voice and platform to stand up for the most marginalized in our community and I will continue to do that,” she said.
Responding to Moreno’s comments this week, Ly said that patriarchy is embedded in every culture, including Hmong culture.
“What’s important here is recognizing that patriarchy exists in every culture, in every aspect and we, as elected, need to work together to move forward to empower women, so they can actually have opportunities that men do,” he said.
Ly expressed pride in the progress that Hmong women have made in America.
“I’m real proud that the Hmong community has made progress along these lines, and I think that to cast one brush and stereotype of the Hmong familial clan system as something that’s completely patriarchal and is designed to suppress women is ill-informed and misguided,” he said.
Ly is running for his third term as Elk Grove mayor in this November’s election. His current opponents are Justin Brown, Michelle Kile, Glen Paddyachee, and Brian Pastor.