City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

March 15, 2011
Shake-up or status quo at Sacramento City Hall?

Will tonight's City Council meeting lead to a shake-up among the city's most powerful appointed officers? Or will the status quo prevail?

It seems the second is more likely, despite job reviews of both Interim City Manager Gus Vina and City Attorney Eileen Teichert scheduled to take place during a closed-door session prior to the public council meeting. But you never can tell.

Teichert's review was called by Mayor Kevin Johnson after a memo by Vina surfaced two weeks ago accusing the city attorney of misleading the council during a discussion over the city's controversial "crash tax."

Vina's memo said Teichert made inaccurate statements when she claimed at a March 1 hearing that she hadn't been kept in the loop during talks over a contract to hire a firm to collect the crash fees. The memo went on to list a handful of dates on which Teichert's staff was involved in that process.

The mere fact that the contract was back in front of the council, one month after the crash tax had been approved, seemed to upset a couple of council members. In the end, a motion was made to bring the ordinance back for repeal, which seems almost certain to happen in the next week or so.

Teichert fired back at Vina's claims last week, telling me that some parts of the memo were not true and saying Vina's staff "did not follow legal advice." She said she could not elaborate because doing so would violate the attorney-client privilege she has with the council.

Meanwhile, Vina is being called into his own review so he can explain his role in this fiasco.

Despite the political brawl that has broken out here, it doesn't appear either Vina - who runs the city's daily operations - or Teichert - who provides legal advice to City Hall - are headed for dismissal.

It takes six votes to can Vina and five to dismiss Teichert.

Still, you can be sure I'll be waiting tonight outside the room where the council conducts its closed sessions. You never know what will be said in those closed sessions.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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