City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

October 31, 2011
Detroit mayor, former NBA star Bing campaigns for Johnson

dave bing.JPGHe may not have serious competition yet, but Mayor Kevin Johnson is campaigning like a guy facing a fight.

The mayor raised $20,000 on Friday night at a fundraiser at downtown BBQ joint Sandra Dee's. The guest of honor was Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who like Johnson made his name as a star player in the NBA.

"Dave has been a success throughout his life, both on and off the court," Johnson said in a written statement. "As Mayor of Detroit he has taken a challenge and created an opportunity to make the Motor City a thriving city once again. I'm honored to have his support."

October 19, 2011
Share your memories of cars on Sacramento's K Street

With cars returning to downtown's K Street Mall in just over three weeks, City Hall wants to hear your memories of driving down Sacramento's historic commercial thoroughfare.

The city has set up a Facebook page - which can be accessed here - where residents can reminisce about the days when automobiles rolled along K Street. For that matter, I'd like to hear your memories as well - leave them below in the comments.

Scenes of cars meandering down K Street will be revived on Nov. 12, when the city holds a ceremony at 12th and K to officially give cars the green light to return to the mall after 42 years. Who do you think should be the first person allowed to drive down the street?

October 18, 2011
Occupy Sacramento and City Hall at odds as protesters stay put

Setting up a potential showdown between a small group of protesters and city officials, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today the city should continue to uphold its anti-camping ordinance and clear the Occupy Sacramento group from downtown's Cesar Chavez Park at night.

The mayor said the protesters can stay in the park from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. - and that gives them "ample time" to voice their issues. "I don't think it's in our best interest to remove the (anti-camping) ordinance," the mayor said, adding he "wholeheartedly respects what (the protesters are) trying to do."

As the protest reaches its 13th day, the City Council is scheduled to debate tonight whether to let the demonstrators stay in the park overnight. And if no resolution is found, this is a conflict that could continue to simmer.

October 17, 2011
Unions seek to OK political appointments to influential boards

A candidate questionnaire offers a fascinating glimpse into the depth of influence labor unions seek to hold over local politicians.

It seems that the region's largest union - the Central Labor Council - is not just interested in playing a role in who gets elected to local office. The organization also wants a hand in who politicians appoint to influential boards and commissions.

In a form sent out by the Central Labor Council, candidates were asked if they would allow union leaders to meet with their appointees to planning and land use commissions before those appointments were made.

October 13, 2011
First candidate emerges to replace Fong on Sacramento council

That didn't take long.

Councilman Rob Fong's decision not to seek another term was public for barely 12 hours before I received my first phone call from a candidate seeking to replace him.

That candidate is Steve Hansen, a downtown advocate, who said he decided to run today. While Hansen said he chose to run independent of Fong's decision not to seek a third term, the news did "make it easier."

October 12, 2011
Why Occupy Sacramento may not get to stay in park overnight

The Occupy Sacramento protesters asking to remain in downtown's Cesar Chavez Park 24 hours a day have more than the city's anti-camping ordinances working against them. They have the contentious debate over a sanctioned homeless camp to contend with as well.

As dozens of protesters filled the City Council Chambers on Tuesday to ask that they be allowed to remain in the park without being arrested, more than one City Hall insider mentioned to me that they were concerned about the long-term impact of allowing the demonstrators to stay.

For one, homeless advocates have pushed the city to allow them to camp along the American River Parkway and to establish a city-sanctioned "Safe Ground" homeless encampment. If the city suspends the camping ordinance for Occupy Sacramento, it's certain Safe Ground would demand the same.

October 11, 2011
Sacramento police officers to be hired back after council votes to accept grant
By Ryan Lillis
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The Sacramento City Council voted Tuesday night to accept an $8.1 million grant from the federal government that will allow the police department to immediately hire 25 of the 42 police officers recently laid off.

As a result of the added manpower, Police Chief Rick Braziel said he would create teams of officers concentrating on gang and drug enforcement. Braziel said he wanted to bring the officers back within two weeks.

The 42 cops were laid off in an unprecedented budget-slashing move in June.

City Manager John Shirey had indicated he might suggest holding on to some of the grant money until next year's budget cycle. However, Mayor Kevin Johnson and some council members urged that the money be spent right away.
October 11, 2011
Occupy Sacramento to target City Council; Mayor indicates arrests of protestors will continue

Following the arrests of dozens of protestors, members of the Occupy Sacramento movement will march on the City Council tonight to demand that they be allowed to remain in downtown's Cesar Chavez Park 24 hours a day.

City laws do not allow overnight camping in the park and 35 protestors have been arrested since last week in violation of that rule. No protestors were arrested Monday night, as all demonstrators left when ordered by police officers, according to the police department.

Mayor Kevin Johnson indicated to reporters this morning that he supports enforcement of the city camping ordinance. "We certainly respect their right to voice their opinion," the mayor said of the protestors. "With that said, there is an ordinance in place that prohibits people from camping overnight and I think people realize that."

October 10, 2011
Rob Kerth removed as head of Midtown Business Association

Rob Kerth, a potential candidate for North Sacramento's City Council seat, was removed late Friday from his post as executive director of the Midtown Business Association.

According to an email obtained by The Bee, Kerth was "given notice" on Friday. No reason was given for the dismissal. He had served as head of the MBA for five years.

"Over the past 5 years, Rob has been a tremendous asset to business owners, property owners and residents in Midtown," read the email from MBA board president Jimmy Johnson. "We are very appreciative of his efforts and commitment to MBA and wish him well in his future endeavors."

October 7, 2011
Candidates entering the mix for Sacramento City Council

Some well-known names are lining up as potential candidates for City Council.

In the last few days, I've spoken with a former councilman, the head of the local NAACP branch and a north Sacramento developer about their interest in running next June.

The interest is notable, given the fact the four council members seeking re-election in June - Sandy Sheedy, Rob Fong, Kevin McCarty and Bonnie Pannell - all ran unopposed in 2008.

October 5, 2011
Sacramento city manager: use federal $$ to rehire cops now

Sacramento City Manager John Shirey has recommended immediately using a federal grant to rehire 25 police officers laid off this summer.

Shirey had indicated last week that he might recommend banking the $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice until next year's budget cycle. But at the end of Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Shirey said he made a "decision to recommend that we go ahead and hire those officers that were laid off as part of the current budget."

The City Council will debate the decision at next week's meeting.

October 4, 2011
Sacramento officials, NBA, arena developers to meet in Dallas

Officials with the city of Sacramento, the NBA, arena development group ICON/Taylor and arena operator AEG will hold their first key meeting in Dallas on Wednesday to discuss the construction of a new sports arena in the downtown railyard.

According to a memo written by City Manager John Shirey, the sides will have a "preliminary technical discussion."

"Following this discussion, we will lay out the process and timeline that formal discussions and negotiations will take place," Shirey wrote. "Our collective goal is to reach a definitive financing plan by the end of the year."

October 4, 2011
Space and science center moves forward in Sacramento

We get to report about something good happening for a change today.

The Powerhouse Science Center took a big leap toward reality two weeks ago when it got unanimous support from the city planning commission. Next up: the city preservation commission, which is scheduled to discuss the project tomorrow.

The science center is a planned 81,000 square-foot museum on the banks of the Sacramento River, just north of downtown. Most of it will be housed in that abandoned PG&E power station you pass driving on I-5 as you come into downtown from the north.

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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