Strong Mayor: Johnson to pitch new ballot measure

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has not been deterred by two court rulings that prevent his strong mayor initiative from being placed on the June ballot. His latest strategy is to ask the City Council to place a new strong mayor proposal on the ballot.

But Johnson’s new plan, which he announced on his blog Monday afternoon, cannot include the existing strong mayor initiative. That’s because Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster struck down the initiative last month, saying it broke state law.

Johnson’s blog entry does not explain the components of his new proposal. He described his new plan as a "collaborative executive mayor reform package." Joaquin McPeek, Johnson’s spokesman, declined to specify details Monday night. McPeek said Johnson will take questions from reporters on the proposal Tuesday.

Johnson said in his blog that he would ask the City Council on Tuesday to consider his new plan.

"The time has come to spell out in simple language a handful of points necessary to make executive mayor reform work in Sacramento," Johnson wrote.

If the City Council decides to vote on a new measure, it will need to create a new proposal in 15 days. The City Council has a Feb. 23 deadline to prepare a measure for the June ballot.

“The City Council has the ability to put their own measure on the ballot,” city spokeswoman Amy Williams said. “They are barred by Judge McMaster’s order from placing the strong mayor initiative on the ballot.”

Johnson’s strong mayor goals have been stymied by two courts.

Plaintiff Bill Camp sued the city of Sacramento, the Sacramento City Council and Thomas Hiltachk, the attorney who wrote the strong mayor initiative. Making major changes to a city charter through an initiative conflicts with state law, Camp argued.

The January Sacramento Superior Court decision said the existing initiative would revise the city charter. A revision differs from an amendment because it makes major changes, according to the decision.

Johnson’s initiative also faced problems at the 3rd District Court of Appeal, which last week decided that it would not temporarily halt McMaster’s decision.

In a separate development last week, the group Sacramentans for Accountable Government held fundraisers for the initiative. Each person who attended a SAG luncheon at the Cosmo Café last Thursday paid $1,000. The contribution amount for an event sponsor was $5,000.

A second fundraiser focused on a conversation between Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, and Willie Brown, who formerly served as California Assembly Speaker and mayor of San Francisco. The cost to attend that fundraiser was $100 per person.

Photo by Anthony Bento.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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February 9, 2010 | 4:09 AM

This mayor has no shame. His unyielding gall, hubris, and just plain overreaching bad taste, has no bounds…

Sacramento’s form of governance is collaborative already, and has spared this city the disastrous prosecutions for corruption experienced by other cities of similar, and greater, size and complexity. Our form is a paradigm of democratic rule, and the ONLY reason for seeking its modification at this time by this mayor is for self aggradizement of authority to hide the backroom deals his backers have engineered without public consent or knowledge…

There is no pressing need to change this city’s constitution — PERIOD!

What is needed is the ouster of this mayor and the sinister interests he has brought with him, aiming to covertly undermine the Council’s role to enable things like an unnecessary arena build, among so many other covert corruptions, only paying lip service to public input…

And with people like Frank Luntz, who seems to have suffered an integrity bypass at birth resulting in a conscience-free amoral combination of Orwell and Macchiavelli, all on behalf of the most right wing conservative corporatist interests, you can bet that Johnson is certainly not doing the bidding of Sacramentans of modest means who do the heavy lifting in this town….

It’s time to move forward on recalling this woefully inadequate woefully unfit incumbent and closing this darkest chapter in our city’s history….

February 9, 2010 | 12:54 PM

He doesn’t even hide his back room deals. He sent Nestle and City reps into a side room to make a deal, DURING the City Council meeting.

If Johnson is incapable of performing as a good and effective mayor under the current system that he was elected to serve in, then yes, a recall is the only reasonable solution. Let THAT be the Council resolution on the next ballot.

February 9, 2010 | 8:25 AM

From KJ’s Blog:

“In the next week, I will ask city staff to draft the appropriate resolution, which the council can place before voters in June.”

“Tuesday night at City Council, I will ask my colleagues to place a collaborative executive mayor reform package on the June ballot.”

To KJ-

Why don’t you try to READ and COMPREHEND the existing charter & The Brown Act!!

§ 62 Non-interference with City Manager.

The city council and its members SHALL DEAL SOLELY AND DIRECTLY THROUGH THE CITY MANAGER with respect to the part of city government under the direction and supervision of the city manager; provided, that nothing herein shall limit the power of the city council, or members thereof, to do the following:
(a) to conduct investigations as provided in Section 34 of this Charter, or
(b) to contact officers and employees of the city for the purpose of inquiry or obtaining information that is a public record, or
(c) to contact officers and employees designated by the city manager for the purpose of advising said officers and employees or citizen complaints relating to the operation of city government.

At the top of every City Council Agenda it clearly states:

Government Code 54950 (The Brown Act) requires that a brief description of each item to be transacted or discussed be posted at least 72 hours prior to a regular meeting. The City posts Agendas at City Hall as well as offsite meeting locations.

This SM discussion is not on the Agenda

This is not a DEFCON 1 situation

You want reform? You want Transparency?

Why do You and Hiltachk fear and disparage The Charter Commission process?

Oh Right-You can’t Buy it or Control It.

February 9, 2010 | 1:11 PM

If Kevin Johnson did not believe the existing City Charter and Council structure provided him the Mayor’s role he wanted, he should have worked to change it before being elected. If he believes he can’t be effective and accountable as Mayor with the power he now holds, he should be removed from office.

Ah yes, the “collaborative executive mayor reform package” had a Frank Luntz Orwellian ring to it and here he is in the story, helping KJ craft the strategery for an Imperial Executive Mayor and a privatized takeover of the public schools, with Queen Rhee at his side. Glitz and glamour, Arne Duncan, Arnie Schwarzenegger, Willie Brown, Obama ……

The problem that KJ and his Luntzheads have is Sacramentans is not suckers.

“Collaborative executive mayor reform package…..”

Hmmmm Focus Group, whaddya think, how ’bout the:

“Pre-packaged Reformed Executive Mayor Collusion” or PRENC.

This is a PRENC — a prank on the people, the history and the future of Sacramento.

February 9, 2010 | 1:42 PM

He’s still under investigation for various matters (not all of them stopped by the Obama administration, as the Gerald Walprin investigation was). After hearing repeatedly the same version of “gossip” regarding the 40 Acres and a Mule story, KJ may have plenty of reasons to resign his office.

February 9, 2010 | 3:23 PM

The following is just ‘gossip but may be true’, but at lunch I heard that if this thing isn’t passed tonight — correction, SOON — KJ’s thinking of resigning….

Wouldn’t THAT be a godsend!!!


February 9, 2010 | 3:25 PM

Well, so much for the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee. I believe that was a truly collaborative process that actually involved input from Sacramento citizens.

February 9, 2010 | 4:51 PM

Excellent point, StellaM. I wonder if KJ’s new ideas address the missing 9th Council District/Member at all.

February 9, 2010 | 5:43 PM

Gheez, he is a persistent little squirrel or a nut

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February 9, 2010 | 10:46 PM


February 9, 2010 | 11:33 PM

I can’t believe the gossip around 40 Acres hasn’t gotten more attention; it would be career ending, given his record. Unfortunately, I’m not all that surprised because nothing sticks to KJ…. he must wear Teflon underwear, Teflon clothes, and Teflon jackets.

Given the challenges our city is facing, KJ really thinks that this is the best use of our limited resources and time? Ugh.

The only upside to this is that he truly is showing how much he only cares about KJ and not the city… Who is starting the recall petition?

PS – I’ve also heard murmerings that he’s doing this so when the city council fails to put it on the ballot, he’ll hold a press conference announcing that he can’t work where people don’t want change and will resign. I don’t think this holds any water, but I’m still crossing my fingers…

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