So who should run Sacramento – the mayor or the city manager? Johnson says the mayor should, like most other large cities. And his supporters have done the leg work to send a charter amendment to voters. Johnson says voters want the mayor to articulate a vision – and then hold him accountable.
Kevin Johnson: “People are excited about the possibility of us evolving from a charter that was once outdated to something that’s current – that allows us to hold our elected officials accountable and make Sacramento a world-class city where we can get things done.”
Johnson wants the council to send the measure to voters in June of 2010. But there’s significant opposition on the city council to the mayor’s initiative. For example, some council members say a clause that gives the mayor the authority to hire and fire hundreds of city employees goes too far.
Sheedy: “As it’s presented to us right now, it’s really an invitation to corruption.”
Councilmember Sandy Sheedy wants to slow the process down and keep Johnson’s initiative off the ballot until 2012.
Sheedy: “It’s badly drafted and it can’t be changed. And that’s what happens when you do something and put something together in secret instead of in daylight with a lot of public input and input from the council.”
Meanwhile, a city council-appointed commission is examining the city’s charter – and it could suggest its own changes. Former councilman and county supervisor Grantland Johnson is on the panel. He says the debate over the actual system of government kind of misses the point. What’s more important, he says, is the political ability of whoever’s in charge.
Grantland Johnson: “It depends upon the skill, the personality, the clarity and the vision – and the facilitative capacity to build coalitions. Politics is about coalitions.”
The panel’s recommendations are due early next year, though they could come sooner. The election date? That’s up to the council.