Sunday, December 23, 2007

City Developers not Developing

There are two local city developers (Kevin Johnson & Mo Mohanna), both receiving a lot of money to develop their properties, but neither seems to be doing that, and though there are certainly stories to be told about why, the facts remain undisputable, development that was promised is not occurring.

Redevelopment in Oak Park is a story Johnson needs to tell
By Ginger Rutland -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 23, 2007

School officials in Washington, D.C., were courting Kevin Johnson in hopes he would create a charter school there when The Bee published a story saying he had failed to maintain many of his Oak Park properties. The city of Sacramento had cited the former NBA All-Star and his for-profit company 73 times in the past decade for violating city codes, racking up fees and fines totaling $32,080.

Clearly, the article in The Bee embarrassed Johnson.

"They go Google Kevin Johnson and what comes up, those darned articles," he fumed. "Then I realized (the article) could cripple everything we are doing from an image standpoint, from a fund-raising standpoint, from a credibility standpoint. We can't let that stay on the record in the same way," Johnson told me.

Bee reporters who wrote the story repeatedly asked Johnson to talk before its publication. He adamantly and, in my view, arrogantly refused, a mistake he now admits.

"I realize, no matter what … I'm going to be a public figure, whether I like it or not," he said.

It's a painful lesson, but one Johnson needed to learn. He has to understand that he's no longer a basketball superstar fending off adoring fans. He's a Sacramento developer who has taken millions in subsidies from the city's redevelopment agency. He has accepted millions more in donations for St. HOPE, his nonprofit dedicated to school reform and development of Oak Park.