Developer Paul Petrovich is suing a former Sacramento city manager for calling him “mentally ill” in a text message weeks before the city rejected Petrovich’s request to build a gas station at his Crocker Village development.
Petrovich says in the Sacramento Superior Court lawsuit that he suffered damage to his reputation when the text became public.
Since-retired City Manager John Shirey sent the text to Councilman Jay Schenirer in late 2015 after Petrovich had sent several angry emails to city officials and others. The developer in those messages accused Schenirer of trying to start a race war and appeared to reference Schenirer’s Jewish faith.
“I have read all of Paul’s blasts to us today,” Shirey texted. “I have concluded he is mentally ill and is in serious need of psychiatric treatment.”
Petrovich’s legal team unearthed the text during a lawsuit the developer filed to challenge the city’s denial of his gas station request. The Petrovich legal team introduced the text in court filings, citing it to support their argument that city officials held “personal animus” toward Petrovich. The Sacramento Bee later published the quote in a story about the lawsuit.
Petrovich initially filed a claim with the city in August against Shirey and the city, contending the text caused him harm. The city rejected the claim.
Shirey declined comment on the new lawsuit.
Petrovich scored a partial victory in court last month. Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny overturned the city’s permit denial and ordered the city to reconsider Petrovich’s gas station request. Kenny said he concluded that Schenirer, who represents the project area, was probably biased and failed to act in an open-minded manner in the weeks leading up to the council vote.
City officials say they will appeal that decision.
Crocker Village is a planned community of homes, apartments and stores under development in the former railyard next to Curtis Park and north of Sutterville Road.