Mayor Johnson responds to editorial criticism
After reading an editorial in the Sacramento Bee this morning, Mayor Kevin Johnson posted a response on his blog.
We haven’t been able yet to get permission to reprint it on our site, but we think Sacramento Press readers will find it interesting.
Please feel free to continue the conversation here on The Sacramento Press.(Later this evening, our reporter Kathleen Haley received permission from Johnson’s office to reprint Johnson’s blog post from his private campaign website, which is not subject to the same open access as would be a post on a government blog. Here is his post in his entirety.)
It’s all about accountabilityI love accountability. And I find it curious when elected officials and the media decide the moment has arrived to wrap their arms around the fundamentals of accountability, for the time being. They demand accountability — for everybody but themselves. They choose which rules they follow — then attack others without investigation, due process or fact. They ignore my calls for an independent audit — only to embrace an audit when it suits their ambitions. And now, suddenly, conveniently, they are champions of accountability.Let’s talk about accountability. It’s a subject I understand. I ran for Mayor on a platform of accountability. I demand accountability for myself, my staff, and every employee in the city of Sacramento. But standing alongside accountability is responsibility. Public officials have no claim to accountability if they make accusations without facts and blunder forward in pursuit of personal gain. That is not the definition of acting responsibly. I’ve been Mayor of Sacramento for 324 days. Not one day has passed without me talking about accountability. Some facts: In my first action as Mayor, I convinced a nationally respected firm to send experts to Sacramento and perform an external review of city departments. It was all about accountability. The company was willing to waive most if not all of its fees — an unprecedented offer for the city. How did a majority of the city council respond? With disdain, ridicule and ambivalence. The council voted against the review – not once, but twice. Today, several council members have rotated 180 degrees. They want an audit of the city’s Community Development Department. To which I say, “Amen,” and “Where were you in January? Where were you in June?” The need for an audit became obvious after the suspension of two city employees after other city officials found problems with building permits in Natomas. An investigation is underway. When the facts are established, I will do what I have always done: demand swift and appropriate action and protect the taxpayer. In other words, accountability. Now I am asking the city council for accountability. At the October 20 city council meeting, in a brief remark, I asked the City Manager to investigate how privileged city documents were being leaked to the media. My request puts several people in uncomfortable positions. The people who leaked the material are uncomfortable. And the media are uncomfortable. But the comfort of those people and organizations is not my concern. My motive is simple: Leaking privileged documents violates the trust placed in us by the citizens of Sacramento. It destroys the integrity and credibility of municipal government, and the government’s ability to function. It’s sneaky and dishonest. It’s all about accountability. Accountability isn’t just for front-line city employees. It runs from top to bottom. I must be accountable. And so must my colleagues. Yet today we have the possibility that a city council member or council senior staff member decided to violate the spirit if not the letter of our laws, and violate the public trust. Maybe they have what they consider a good reason. Maybe they believed the media had a right to the documents, despite the fact that they were written under the attorney-client privilege fundamental to our judicial system. If so, they should have had the courage to accept accountability, stand up at City Hall and say, “I did this.” I would respect that person. But they have no courage. And while I won’t speculate as to their motives, their lack of courage and need for secrecy erases any legitimacy of their act. Accountability is not situational. It can’t be used for political convenience. You are either accountable, or you are not.