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.