Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sacramento Mayoral Politics Goes National

The largest daily newspaper in the country—the Wall Street Journal (they passed USA Today earlier this year)—has a story on the local politics around the strong mayor proposal.

An excerpt.

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- With California's capital city in deep economic trouble, Mayor Kevin Johnson wants to call the shots, just as he once did as a star point guard for the Phoenix Suns basketball team. But there's an obstacle: Sacramento has what is known a "weak mayor" system, making its mayor, in effect, just another city-council member.

“Mr. Johnson says Sacramento needs a "strong mayor" arrangement -- with the mayor as head of the government -- as do a majority of big cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco. To get there, Mr. Johnson is campaigning for a controversial ballot measure that would boost his powers to lead this city of 480,000.

"If you have to do everything by committee, it gets bogged down and you miss a ton of opportunities," the 43-year-old Democrat said during an interview in his City Hall office.

“But those who oppose the measure accuse Mr. Johnson of making a power grab. "This initiative, if it passes, will put only one seat at the table," says Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy. "The checks and balances are lopsided" in Mr. Johnson's proposal.
“Mr. Johnson says Sacramento needs a mayor with clout to deal with its economic downturn, which has been exacerbated by furloughs of tens of thousands of state workers. The city faces a 15% unemployment rate, a depressed real-estate market, rising retail vacancy rate and a budget shortfall that is expected to hit $30 million for the next fiscal year.”