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Elk Grove Citizen

Council Honors Women’s History, Extends Sanctuary

Mar 28, 2024 09:47AM ● By By Shaunna Boyd
ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - At the March 13 meeting, the Elk Grove City Council issued a proclamation recognizing March as Women’s History Month, which honors and celebrates women’s contributions throughout history. Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen read, “Women have played critical roles in history and continue to serve as leaders, securing women’s rights and creating a fair and just society for all.”
City Council presented the proclamation to Raquel Williams, vice chairwoman of the Wilton Rancheria Tribal Council. Singh-Allen said that Williams “has been involved in her culture, ceremonies and celebrations from a young age. Her love for her family, people and culture is evident in all aspects of her life.” Singh-Allen said the council appreciates Williams’ “commitment to the community and our city.”
Williams accepted the proclamation “on behalf of our tribe, on behalf of the nation, on behalf of indigenous women, women of color, and also just that role that we play as pillars in our communities and pillars of our family.” 
"Thank you to the women that kept me here. Thank you to our lost and loved ones,” said Williams. “But also too, thank you to the women that brought you guys here today and that helped raise you guys and helped shape and mold you guys, for the betterment of my community. … I honor the works that you do.”
Singh-Allen said, “We sincerely appreciate the friendship and the partnership.” 
During Public Comment on this item, Elk Grove resident Michael Monasky brought up the city’s financial relationship with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe, relating to the Sky River Casino project currently under construction in Elk Grove.  In 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed to arrange $132 million in funding from the Tribe to the community over the course of 20 years to benefit the city of Elk Grove, Elk Grove Unified School District and local nonprofit organizations. 
Monasky said he is not against a proclamation honoring Williams or the tribe but that it was inappropriate to use Women’s History Month to provide that opportunity since most women are not providing a revenue steam to the city: 
“I disagree with this kind of glad-handing that the city does. All the hugs and kisses and everything, fine — you can do that but please do it as recognition of the tribe or recognition of the individual but not of Women’s History Month. … I think most people who struggle in the world and have to put food on the table and take care of children, the greatest burden of which is taken by women, would disagree with this kind of action.”
City Council also issued a proclamation recognizing March as American Red Cross Month to honor the organization for the help they provide to communities in times of crisis.
 Councilmember Darren Suen read the proclamation, stating that Red Cross volunteers “make a lifesaving difference in people’s darkest hours” and “lead with their hearts to serve people in need.” The proclamation was accepted by volunteers from the local Red Cross in the California Gold Country Region. 
During Public Comment, Monasky spoke again to express disappointment with the City Council for this proclamation, pointing to allegations from 2016 that the American Red Cross uses more of the charitable donations it receives on internal expenses than it had reported. 
Monasky said while the local volunteers should be commended for their work, he has serious concerns about the organization. 
“I think the glad-handing that happens here is embarrassing,” said Monasky. “It’s an embarrassment.” 
Deputy City Manager Kara Reddig updated City Council about the city’s Enhanced Winter Sanctuary, a temporary facility that offers shelter to individuals during the winter as well as providing social services, resources and help to find permanent housing. The city worked with Roseville-based nonprofit The Gathering Inn to run the Sanctuary and the partnership has proved successful. 
The Enhanced Winter Sanctuary will now run through the end of April: “Careful spending has generated savings for the program, which will help keep the doors open for another month. 
By providing this additional time, we hope to empower more individuals to make a smooth transition to stable and secure living” said Reddig.
Keith Diederich, president and chief executive officer of The Gathering Inn, praised City Council for implementing the Enhanced Winter Sanctuary: “That is community taking care of community.” He thanked all the donors and volunteers who helped make this season such a success, saying “You guys have a great city.” 
Tina Green, a resident who now has secure housing, offered an emotional thank you to The Gathering Inn for “their commitment to helping me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.” 
Danny Snyder also shared his success story. He experienced homelessness due to high rent prices and a lost job. “They took me in and helped me. They gave me food, a place to stay, counseling. … I’m housed now, and things are looking bright right now. So, I’m pretty excited. I just want to tell everybody, thank you for what you guys have done down there.”
Singh-Allen said, “It’s hard to not shed a tear here. We are so proud of you. We want to thank The Gathering Inn, and hearing these success stories, this is what it’s all about. … We’re just so proud of the work that’s happening over there. … You have been a godsend to our city. Truly.”
For the 2023-2024 winter season, the Enhanced Winter Sanctuary has been located at the city-owned property that is the future site of the new Elk Grove Library (9260 Elk Grove Blvd.).  Construction on that project will start later this year, so the Sanctuary will need a new location for the next winter season. 
City Council considered the appointment of a new member to serve on the Sacramento Environmental Commission, after current member Eric Rivero-Montes announced he would not be available to continue serving in that role. 
The city received two applications for the position, from Michael Monasky and Eugene Lee. 
During his comment period, Monasky said that most people don’t realize the negative effects that public policies can have on their individual lives.
 He expressed deep concerns about the health of society, but said, “I don’t expect to be appointed by this mayor and this Council, but that’s my take on public health. … I don’t see much hope for public health.”
Eugene Lee said that as an Elk Grove resident, he knows it is a good place to raise a family. He said, “Better futures require intentionality and effort. Creating healthy and sustainable communities requires the same intentionality from our local government leadership and our diverse residents and businesses. I believe in contributing to the work to support a sustainable tomorrow, and that it is worthwhile. And I would be proud to use my time and experience to help make that happen.” 
Lee detailed his professional environmental experience, including leading energy efficiency and clean energy equity policies for the California Energy Commission. He has also worked as an energy inspector to improve home efficiency in Sacramento County and is currently serving as the Elk Grove’s Climate Ambassador. 
Singh-Allen said, “You bring a wealth of experience and knowledge that would be just an amazing voice representing this great city on the commission.” 
City Council agreed and Lee was selected to serve in the position. 
The next meeting of the Elk Grove City Council is scheduled for March 27.