City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

December 21, 2011
Mayor's supporters propose city governance changes

Mayor Kevin Johnson today proposed an overhaul of the way the city is governed.

Well, sort of.

Johnson was noticeably absent during a morning press conference at which the "Checks and Balances Act of 2012" was announced. The mayor will ask the City Council next month to place the measure on the June 2012 ballot.

The mayor's chief of staff, Kunal Merchant, presented the plan, surrounded by business organization leaders, a pastor, the head of the city's police union and other loyal Johnson supporters. Merchant argued the plan "is bigger than the mayor, this is about the city."

Part of the plan would feature granting the mayor's post more authority than it has now. However, those proposed powers would be far less reaching than those featured in Johnson's 2008 Strong Mayor Initiative.

A key added power that would be granted to the mayor under the latest plan would be the ability to fire the city manager. The mayor could also appoint a city manager, but would need City Council approval of that selection.

The mayor, not an unelected city manager, would propose the city budget and have limited veto authority over some City Council decisions.

The City Council would have final say over the budget and could hire and fire the city attorney, treasurer, clerk, auditor and budget analyst. It also could override mayoral vetoes.

The measure would also create an independent redistricting commission and a citizens' ethics committee.

Johnson needs five votes from the council, including his own, to place the measure on the June ballot. If he fails, the mayor is expected to collect signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.

Here's a link to the plan.Sacramento Checks and Balances Act of 2012.pdf

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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.

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