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Join Our Sunshine Week Scavenger Hunt!

Learn about your local government, win cool prizes.

This week, Elk Grove Patch, along with journalistic organizations around the country, is celebrating Sunshine Week—a week dedicated to promoting open government and freedom of information.

Every day, elected officials and staff at local government agencies make decisions that affect our lives—from whether to approve a new development to how much to pay a teacher.  Sunshine Week is about shining light on those decisions.

In that spirit, Elk Grove Patch is launching our first Sunshine Week Scavenger Hunt, a chance for you to win cool prizes while learning about how your local government works.

Here’s how to play: We’ve listed some questions below that deal with publicly available information about local government agencies in Elk Grove. The answers to most of these questions can be found online. (If you get stuck, see below for contact information for people who can help you.)

Pick the questions that most interest you, and go searching for the answers. When you find an answer, post it in the comments, and let us know how you found it. We’ll award one point to the first person to answer each question correctly. The three people with the most points by Friday at 5:00 p.m. all win prizes!

The Prizes:

First Place: Two tickets to the ($50 value). Feast on Texas chili served up by a celebrity chef, mingle with Mayor Jim Cooper and other city council members, and receive $2,000 in play money for the evening.

Second Place: A Patch T-shirt

Third Place: A Patch water bottle

The Questions:

1. What is the starting salary for a high school principal in the Elk Grove Unified School District?

2. How many candidates have officially entered the race to become Elk Grove’s first elected mayor?

3. Which two Elk Grove City Councilmembers voted ‘no’ on an ordinance banning outdoor marijuana growing that the council introduced at its Feb. 8 meeting?

4. How much is the Cosumnes Community Services District spending on firefighter salaries and benefits for the 2011-2012 fiscal year?

5. Which Cosumnes Community Services District board member got a free ticket to the California Capital Airshow last year, paid for by the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper?

6. How many assaults were reported to the Elk Grove Police Department during the week of March 1 through March 8?

7. What is the cost of the dinner that Sacramento law firm Hefner, Stark and Marois bought for Elk Grove City Councilmember Steve Detrick during elected officials’ ‘Cap to Cap’ lobbying trip last year?

Relax: You don’t have to answer all the questions! Pick the ones that interest you. Remember, one point for the first person to correctly answer each question.

Helpful Contacts:

Christine Brainerd, Public Information Officer, City of Elk Grove, cbrainerd@elkgrovecity.org, 916-478-3632

Elizabeth Graswich, Communications Director, Elk Grove Unified School District, communication@egusd.net, 916-686-7732

Christopher Trim, Public Information Officer, Elk Grove Police Department, chtrim@elkgrovepd.org, 916-627-3709

Jason Lindgren, Clerk, City of Elk Grove, jlindgren@elkgrovecity.org, 916-478-3635

Here's the fine print from our legal department:

  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.
  • To enter, post answers to the above questions as individual comments to this article, and explain how you found the answers. One point for the first person to answer each question correctly. The top three point-getters win prizes.
  • All entries must be received by 5:00 PM Pacific Time Friday, March 16.
  • You may enter once for each question.
  • Three winners will be selected.
  • Prizes: One (1) First Place Winner will receive two tickets to the Elk Grove Mayor's Charity Casino Night on April 27, 2012. Approximate Retail Value of tickets: $50. One (1) Second Place Winner will receive a Patch t-shirt.  Approximate Retail Value of t-shirt: $20. One (1) Third Place Winner will receive a Patch water bottle. Approximate Retail Value of water bottle: $5.
  • Click on the attached PDF for complete Official Rules.
Connie Conley March 13, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Question Number Two: If "officially" means filed their "Candidate Intention Statements" with the Elk Grove City Clerk's office, there are three in alpha order: Jerry Braxmeyer, Gary Davis and Greg Higley. Source: http://www.elkgrovecity.org/city-clerk/campaign-disclosure-statements-2012.asp Bit of history: Kudos to us citizens who had to fight for all the Campaign Disclosure Statements to be placed on the city website's such as the 460s, SEI, etc. Before then, we all had to fill out records request, taking up way too much time of the clerk's office to find out who gave what money to whom. Now all that information is there for all to view with just a couple of clicks of the mouse. That is clear definition of "Sunshine!"
Felicia Mello March 13, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Correct, Connie! And thanks for the history lesson. You bring up an important point about government transparency: Federal and state laws require that certain information be disclosed to the public. But how easy that information is to access can vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction...just one reason why Sunshine Week, and other open-government campaigns, are so important.
Mark Paxson March 15, 2012 at 01:15 AM
#1 ... $95,971 Obtained from EGUSD's website that includes the salary scales for the full range of EGUSD positions. #3 ... Sophia Scherman and Steve Detrick. Google'd "Elk Grove vote on outdoor marijuana" and found an article. The better approach would have been to go to EG's website and find the minutes for the vote. #4 ... $30,956,061 Went to CSD's website, located the link for the 2011-12 budget and found the information there. Yes, I was bored for a few moments and decided to practice writing avoidance.
Tanya Jeske March 15, 2012 at 07:16 PM
5. Which Cosumnes Community Services District board member got a free ticket to the California Capital Airshow last year, paid for by the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper? It was Gil Albiani. Found this information by going to www.yourcsd.com Public records, tickets by agency or http://www.yourcsd.com/about/pdf/20110922_ticket.pdf
Tanya Jeske March 15, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Question 6. There were a total of 5 assault's reported for March 1 - 8 in Elk Grove. I went to the EG Police Department website and then to the crime statistics link. Taking out all of the other incidences and leaving just assaults came to a total of 5. Question 7. Steve Detrick received $350 for the Cap to Cap lobbying dinner last year from Hefner, Stark, & Marios. This information is found on the City of Elk Grove website. In the City Clerk's Office section under Economic Interests in the 2012 filed report for Detrick. This one was not as easy to find I will say, but fun game.
Felicia Mello March 15, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Mark, you are correct! #3 was a bit of a trick question: You were lucky to find the answer in a news article. The vote records can also be found in city council minutes, which by law are public information. However, you won't find the most current council meeting minutes on the city's website. Why? The City Clerk brings the minutes to the council for approval before they are posted, and is currently running behind—council members are just now approving the minutes from last fall! However, a video of every council meeting is available on the city website—live while the meeting is taking place, with archived videos available the day after the meeting. Coming soon: City Clerk Jason Lindgren says he plans to start posting a thumbnail summary, with records of all votes, so that curious residents will not have to scan through the video or wait for minutes to be approved.
Felicia Mello March 15, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Here's the link for council meeting broadcasts http://www.elkgrovecity.org/council/live-broadcast-schedule.asp
Felicia Mello March 16, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Correct on all three, Tanya. Nice job! Folks, this is the crime statistics page Tanya was talking about. http://www.elkgrovepd.org/information/crime-stats.asp There's an interactive map that you can customize by date range and type of crime.
Felicia Mello April 10, 2012 at 10:09 PM
We've got a tie for first-place here. The folks behind the Elk Grove Mayor's Casino Night have generously donated an extra set of tickets, so first-place winners Mark Paxson and Tanya Jeske can both receive that prize. Second-place winner Connie Conley will receive a Patch T-shirt. Email elkgrove@patch.com to claim your prize. Congratulations to all, and thanks for playing!

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