City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

January 17, 2012
Steinberg endorses Johnson's 'strong mayor' plan

As he gets ready tonight to ask the City Council to place his latest plan to overhaul the City Charter on the June ballot, Mayor Kevin Johnson has gained the support of one of the city's most influential political figures.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Monday he was endorsing Johnson's plan - dubbed the Checks and Balances Act of 2012 - saying it is "a solid and responsible proposal."

However, while Steinberg's support is a boost for the mayor, the local Democratic Party remains critical of the mayor's plan.

The Democratic Party of Sacramento County said Monday it was opposing the plan and would urge the City Council to vote against placing the measure on the ballot.

"While the Democratic Party supports efforts to increase transparency and ethics in government, as Democrats we refuse to be held hostage by the Mayor's latest power grab," party chair Kerri Asbury said in a statement. "If the Mayor is truly interested in transparency and ethics or redistricting reform, he would ask for them to be voted on independently. By attaching them to the Strong Mayor Initiative, he proves that his only real interest is in increasing his own power."

Johnson's plan would create an independent redistricting commission and an ethics committee.

The centerpiece of the plan, however, is a watered-down version of Johnson's strong mayor initiative of three years ago. Under the latest plan, the mayor would have the authority to fire and appoint the city manager, propose the budget and veto some City Council actions.

The City Council would have final say over the budget and the mayor's city manager appointment, could override mayoral vetoes and would have control of the city's attorney, clerk, treasurer and auditor.

"I am happy to support Mayor Johnson's proposal to update and modernize Sacramento's city charter," Steinberg said in a statement released by the campaign behind Johnson's plan. "It is a solid and responsible proposal which gives any future Mayor increased authority while maintaining strong veto override authority for the City Council."

"Most important to me, I believe Mayor Johnson will continue as Sacramento's Mayor for many years," Steinberg continued. "As a civic leader, I believe it is important to give the Mayor the tools he believes are important for the city's success. As Mayor Johnson succeeds, so does our city and entire community."

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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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