City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

January 24, 2012
Mayor benefits, labor loses as City Council undergoes changes

The historic transformation of the City Council could mean a shift in the balance of power at City Hall.

With the announcement Monday that Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy would not seek re-election - combined with Councilman Rob Fong's decision to also step down this year - six of the nine seats at the council dais will have different representatives from just four years ago. That's an incredible shift for a City Council that had been a safe haven for incumbents for nearly 20 years.

With so many seats changing hands, it's worth exploring who benefits.

As I reported today, the loss of Sheedy and Fong, coupled with the retirement of influential labor leader Harry Rotz, leaves the city's labor unions at a bit of a crossroads.

Time was, labor unions could count on near unanimous support from the council on just about every topic. Come November, the unions - not including the public safety groups - may only be able to count on two council members, Kevin McCarty and Bonnie Pannell, for unwavering support.

One person who could benefit from the upheaval on the council is Mayor Kevin Johnson - someone who is generally supported by business groups and disliked by big labor unions.

Sheedy in particular has been a vocal opponent of the mayor's on multiple fronts, fighting against his various strong mayor proposals and the attempt to build a new Kings arena. The arena fight comes back to council tonight, when Sheedy will ask her council colleagues to place a measure on the June ballot asking voters if they want to use public assets to help finance an arena.

Fong has also disagreed with Johnson's strong mayor plans, but has been a steady ally to Johnson on the arena work. But because Fong is considered a leader on the council, any rift between he and Johnson is often given added attention.

Political strategist Doug Elmets told me Monday that Johnson is sure to benefit from the changing council. The mayor is expected to campaign heavily for candidates he likes in the upcoming council races.

"It's clear that Kevin Johnson is forming a coalition," Elmets said. "Clearly his ability to appeal to a broad cross section of the electorate in this region has had an influence."

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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


Does the Kings' poor performance of late impact the arena work?

Ryan Lillis on Twitter

Follow "Ryan_Lillis" on Twitter

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Sacramento City Resources

City Web Sites

How to contact city officials