Business

Worst Of Elk Grove? Legal Threats Shut Down Popular Business Competition

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — A popular business competition in Elk Grove has folded after it was hit with accusations of possible cheating.

“Best of Elk Grove” is an online competition that’s been around for nearly a decade. Hundreds of businesses compete for the title every year, but its organizer announced it will be ending after being threatened with legal action by a local attorney.

Elk Grove attorney Jeff Yazel is questioning the fairness of the competition in general. He says the organizer not only helps tally results but is also a participant in the contest. There are also concerns that votes are not being counted properly, which Yazel says may have happened in his client’s case.

For nine years, the online competition has brought bragging rights to it’s winning businesses.

“It’s like a tradition here in Elk Grove,” said one Elk Grove resident.

Red Door Antiques Vintage and More owner David Hipskind said, “It just kind of gives the confidence to know that you’re doing the right thing.”

The competition abruptly shut down Tuesday night. The woman who runs it announced the move on social media saying the “Best of Elk Grove” was forced to shut down after being threatened by a lawyer and his client. She has retained an attorney.

Elk Grove attorney Jonathan Stein said, “When an attorney comes at you and says they’re going to sue you and shut you down, sometimes it’s easier to agree to shut down.”

“I don’t think it’s a matter of sore loser at all,” said Yazel.

Yazel says his client had checked the numbers just before this year’s best of competition wrapped up in August and said he was winning by thousands of votes. But when the results came out, he was not the winner. Yazel says he called the competition’s organizer and requested to see the data.

“She refused. She immediately went into she was going to shut down the contest.”

On top of that, Yazel says there’s also a major conflict of interest. The organizer of the competition also owns a small graphic design business in Elk Grove and has been named “Best of” every year. He says many of her clients have won as well.

“It’s just not fair,” said Yazel.

Some Elk Grove residents agree.

True Salon and Spa stylist Veronica Agrego said, “It’s not fair for the rest of us that work really hard for the Best of Elk Grove.”

Other residents say the allegations are bringing out the worst in what’s supposed to be a fun competition and a best-of boost for businesses.

Hipskind said, “It’s like get over yourself. It’s no big deal.”

Yazel says he is not disclosing his client’s name because of the backlash that’s already taking place on social media. CBS13 also learned there are already plans in the works to start another “Best of Elk Grove” contest by another community member.

More from Angela Greenwood
Comments

One Comment

  1. I suspect that Yazel’s client is Doc Souza, who runs Elk Grove Laguna Forums (EGLF), a Facebook group of Elk Grove residents that serves 22,000+ users. He was a contender for best blogger and actively promoted the Best of Elk Grove contest on his Facebook group trying to get people to vote for him. This guy has a HUGE ego and an over-inflated sense of self-importance.

    It is totally in his character to have had it shut down when he didn’t emerge as the winner. Many users on his group called him out yesterday because he seemed to know a whole lot about this “lawsuit” that shut down the contest… the same contest that he promoted on his group. His response? He deleted the thread. So yeah, seems pretty evident that Doc Souza is behind this…. but that’s just my educated guess.

  2. A statement regarding Best of Elk Grove:

    Earlier this week Ms. Guerrero, the operator of Best of Elk Grove was contacted with a cease and desist request from a local attorney, requesting the competition be discontinued due to his “clients demands.” Ms. Guerrero made a decision to discontinue the competition.
    Ms. Guerrero said “I want to thank the business owners and community who stopped by my office, called, posted or emailed me expressing their support. That’s what true community is and I sincerely thank you.”

    After the matter continued to proceed and the attorney conducted an interview with CBS 13, Ms. Guerrero retained Jonathan G. Stein, a local attorney. Mr. Stein has reached a resolution where the other attorney has agreed to drop the matter. There is no longer any dispute between the attorney, any of his current clients and Ms. Guerrero. Mr. Stein stated, “I am disappointed that counsel wanted to continue discussing this in the media even after agreeing, in writing, to drop this matter.”

    There has been speculation about who brought this matter forward. “We would ask that everyone stop speculating on which business may have been behind this. I have not been able to independently confirm the existence of a business who retained counsel to threaten Ms. Guerrero with litigation. I spoke with the individual whose name was sent to me and he has confirmed, several times, that he never intended to threaten litigation. Out of respect fort his individual and his business, I am electing not to disclose his name,” Stein said.

    Ms. Guerrero stated that “I do it for the businesses. I know how challenging it can be to run a small business and the competition is really there to support them and give them a platform, all while having a little fun do it. Winning or losing the completion doesn’t matter, the important thing is your listed and people see your business. We have a lot of great businesses in Elk Grove and I just wanted to help showcase them.”

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