City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

September 30, 2011
Sactown Magazine's exclusive photos of the mayor's wedding

Photos of Sacramento's "wedding of the year" are out.

OK, so that wedding didn't take place in Sacramento. But the marriage of Mayor Kevin Johnson to education reform advocate Michelle Rhee in Tennessee earlier this month was certainly talked about a lot around here.

Sactown Magazine has the exclusive photos, which are included in this month's issue. The folks at Sactown sent me one of those shots and it's included below.

September 29, 2011
Mayor Johnson: Don't delay hiring cops funded by federal grant

While Sacramento city officials have indicated they may hold off hiring some of the 25 officers to be funded by a recently awarded federal grant, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today that "wasting even a minute in the race to restore officers is not acceptable."

The city was awarded Wednesday with $8.1 million in U.S. Department of Justice grants. The timing couldn't have been better for the city, which laid off 42 cops just three months ago.

But both Police Chief Rick Braziel and City Manager John Shirey have said the city could hold on to some of the funding until the 2012/13 budget next June. That budget is once again projected to have a shortfall and banking some of the grant money might ease potential cuts to the police department.

September 28, 2011
Federal grants will fund 50 cops in Sacramento

photo (4)B.jpgSacramento law enforcement agencies will be able to hire an estimated 50 officers through federal grants being awarded today.

The Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff's Department will each receive enough funding to hire roughly 25 officers, federal officials said. The timing is particularly good for the city, which laid off 42 cops just three months ago.

The Sacramento City Police Department is receiving $8.1 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. The sheriff's department will receive $11.3 million.

September 27, 2011
Pivotal Sacramento arena vote before City Council tonight

The Sacramento City Council will take a pivotal vote tonight on whether to hire a team of consultants to lead the city through the early stages of constructing a new sports arena downtown. But with just a few hours remaining before the debate, it was unclear if the plan had unanimous support from the council.

City Manager John Shirey has recommended hiring a team of lawyers, investment bankers and other consultants to help the city look at potential funding sources, plan for the project's construction and help represent the city in negotiations with the Sacramento Kings and the National Basketball Association.

The total cost of the consultant team would be $555,000.

September 27, 2011
Sacramento utilities department seeks public input

The city's utilities department is seeking the public's input as it develops a financial strategy for the wave of system updates it plans to embark upon in the coming years.

An online survey asks residents to rate a handful of "principles," including the importance of the department using "collected revenues to invest and upgrade aging water and sewer pipes, reservoirs and treatment plants to maintain quality service" and being "a good environmental steward." The survey can be taken at yourutilitiesyourvoice.com until 5 p.m. on Oct. 3.

Utilities officials said they will replace 60 percent of the city's water pipes over the next 30 years and that some city streets have pipes that are over 100 years old.

September 27, 2011
Firefighters union gives big to Mayor Johnson campaign

Mayor Kevin Johnson's re-election bid got an early financial boost from an old friend.

The city's firefighter union cut a check for $10,100 to the Johnson campaign, said campaign spokesman Steve Maviglio.

Local 522's support of the mayor isn't surprising. The public safety unions have been the mayor's most loyal allies in his first three years in office.

September 23, 2011
Crime in Sacramento continues to drop, despite budget cuts

Mirroring a trend seen in most other big cities across California, crime in Sacramento is down by 18 percent since 2007 - despite four straight years of public safety cutbacks.

Police Chief Rick Braziel told the City Council this week the drop in total serious crime was the third largest in the state over that time period, behind only San Diego and Oakland. And year to date, crime is down in the city 12.5 percent over last year, Braziel said.

But with the department just three months removed from laying off 42 cops, Braziel and others are skeptical those trends will continue.

September 21, 2011
Proposal to put poker room at former Hard Rock Cafe killed

The City Council killed a proposal Tuesday night to permit a fifth poker card room in the city.

A group including the owner of the Capitol Casino on North 16th Street had sought to operate the fifth card room and proposed placing the facility in the former Hard Rock Cafe space at the Westfield Downtown Plaza.

Clark Rosa, who owns Capitol Casino, said his current card room has been a bonus to an otherwise neglected area and "if we were to go into the downtown area, we would be as great an asset."

September 21, 2011
Mayor Johnson attends United Nations event

Mayor Kevin Johnson traded his colleagues on the City Council on Tuesday for the president of Mongolia.

The mayor was at the United Nations - yes, the United Nations - for a sustainable energy forum attended by dignitaries and business leaders from around the world. Among the speakers at the event: former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey.

At Johnson's table sat several business leaders, as well as Mongolian president Elbegdorj Tsakhia and Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu who is, of course, the prime minister of Vanuatu. No word on whether the mayor was able to line up any foreign investors for a new arena back home.

September 14, 2011
It's official: Mayor Johnson running for a second term

DSC_7330.JPGMayor Kevin Johnson announced today that he is running for a second term, saying "Sacramento has come a long way, but it still has not met its potential as a city."

Speaking before a crowd at the Capitol Academy charter school in Oak Park, Johnson said he would run an aggressive campaign that will include "listening sessions" around the city and door-to-door canvassing.

So far, the only candidate lined up against Johnson is bounty hunter Leonard Padilla.

September 14, 2011
Councilwoman Pannell apologizes again for expletive

Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell has apologized - again - for aiming an expletive at a woman during last week's City Council meeting.

At the start of Tuesday night's meeting, Pannell said she wanted "to apologize to my colleagues on the council, to the citizens of Sacramento and to Ms. Margo Rose-Brunson," the Oak Park woman she called an expletive during a tense hearing the week before.

Rose-Brunson was at Tuesday's meeting to address the council. Pannell said to her, "After you've done your presentation, please accept my apology. Thank you."

September 13, 2011
Mayor: 'Sacramento is a baseball town,' could support A's

athletics.jpgWith plans to build a stadium for the A's in San Jose still dragging on, baseball fans in Sacramento will continue to cling to the prospect of moving the franchise here. Mayor Kevin Johnson certainly supports that idea.

Johnson - who was drafted by the A's as a shortstop out of Sacramento High School - told reporters today that "Sacramento is a baseball town" and that he thinks "we have a city that has an ability to support more than one professional team."

That being said, Johnson said the city's priority must be to keep the Kings in town and build a new basketball arena.

September 13, 2011
Mayor Johnson expected to launch re-election bid Wednesday

Mayor Kevin Johnson is expected to announce his re-election bid on Wednesday.

In an email to supporters, Johnson said he would be "making a major announcement" on Wednesday at the Aspire Capitol Heights Academy, a charter school in Oak Park.

It has long been expected that Johnson would seek a second term in the June primary. So far, only local bounty hunter Leonard Padilla has expressed an intent to run against Johnson.

September 12, 2011
Woman: Pannell's apology for expletive doesn't go far enough

The residual impact of the City Council's redistricting effort has gotten personal.

A 61-year-old Oak Park woman will be at Tuesday night's council meeting to demand an apology from Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell, who was caught on video calling the woman an expletive at last week's meeting.

Pannell and the woman, Margo Rose-Brunson, exchanged words during the debate over whether the UC Davis Medical Center should be separated from the council district representing Oak Park. In the end, the council voted 6-3 to draw council district boundaries that included the change.

September 7, 2011
Obama campaign aide to run against Councilwoman Sheedy

The first challenger for Sacramento City Council has emerged.

Kim Mack, who ran President Barack Obama's local campaign in 2008, said today that she is running against three-term incumbent Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy in the June 2012 primary.

"I'm running because sometimes you just need a fresh face," Mack told me. "There's a lot of work to be done in this district and I don't see it getting done."

September 6, 2011
Mayor Johnson, Michelle Rhee get married

bp kevin ring.JPGMayor Kevin Johnson and his fiancée, education reformer Michelle Rhee, were married over the weekend.

The couple was married on Saturday at Blackberry Farm, a luxury hotel in the Great Smoky Mountains outside of Knoxville, Tenn. About 40 relatives and close friends attended.

"We had a small ceremony with an intimate group of family and friends and are thrilled to be starting our lives together," the mayor said in an email to The Bee. "We want to thank everyone who has sent us well-wishes, as we are so appreciative of the support."

Photo caption: Mayor Kevin Johnson high-five's a student at Peter Burnett Elementary School during the first day of school Tuesday morning. Photo by Bryan Patrick

September 2, 2011
Protesters march in Oak Park as redistricting saga continues


In what continues to be a political fireball, roughly 100 protesters marched through the streets of Oak Park on Thursday, demanding that the UC Davis Medical Center campus be kept in the same City Council district as Oak Park.

The group included several members of the faith community, neighborhood activists and council members Jay Schenirer and Angelique Ashby. Mayor Kevin Johnson did not attend, but his mother and some of his close aides marched.

The City Council is scheduled to finalize its redistricting plan at Tuesday night's meeting. Part of that plan calls for moving the hospital campus from Schenirer's District 5 to District 6, represented by Councilman Kevin McCarty.

September 1, 2011
Mayor Johnson 'strongly thinking about' re-election bid

JOHNSON VOTE.jpgMayor Kevin Johnson is "strongly thinking about announcing plans to run for reelection soon," he wrote in an email to supporters today obtained by The Bee.

Johnson has said multiple times that he intends to run for a second term, but has never said outright that he would seek re-election next year. His email suggests he will run.

"I'm excited to get started - can't thank you enough for all you've done and continue to do," he wrote.



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 rlillis@sacbee.com

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