Commentary: Mayor Johnson's Math Lesson


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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, January 16, 2009


Kevin Johnson got a basic math lesson at Tuesday's city council meeting. The mayor learned it takes five votes to get anything done.

Johnson failed to get five votes for an outside audit of the city's budget he wanted. The council majority instead approved a measure by Councilman Ray Treatheway to vet the outside audit idea at some future meeting. Johnson should insist that that meeting take place quickly because, frankly, an outside examination of Sacramento's troubled spending plan makes sense.

Tretheway's astonishing statement that he didn't think there was any fat in the city budget proves that. The city faces a $12 million dollar midyear budget shortfall. When spending exceeds revenues, that's almost a definition of fat.

For his part, Johnson fumed that his colleagues were about to squander an opportunity because 'i’s weren't dotted or 't’s crossed.

Public discussion of public actions, competitive bids and consultation with colleagues are not aimless exercises in i dotting and t crossing. They are essential requirements of honest, open and effective government. Along with counting to five, that's something else the new mayor needs to learn.

 

Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.