City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

July 30, 2012
Local Dems want probe of Mayor Johnson - also a Democrat

The county's Democratic Party wants city officials to investigate Sacramento's Democrat mayor.

The chair of the Democratic Party of Sacramento sent a letter to city officials on Friday asking for an investigation into the use of City Hall space by Mayor Kevin Johnson's non-profit foundations. Those groups - including his arena task force and initiatives on the arts, green technology and education - use space on the third floor of City Hall, along with other mayoral staffers.

Records sought by the Democratic Party apparently show that none of the groups have "lease agreements or any other arrangements to compensate the City of Sacramento for the office space they occupy," wrote Kerri Asbury, the party's chair.

"I am concerned that City Hall has run afoul of laws prohibiting the gift of public funds," Asbury wrote.

She added that if the city manager's office finds "that these people and/or organizations are illegally occupying space at City Hall and using City resources, I request that you perform an accounting so that those organizations may be assessed appropriate charges for the use of City property."

The mayor's campaign spokesman, Steve Maviglio, dismissed the letter as misguided.

"The last time I looked, Sacramento Democrats elected its party leaders to fight Republicans,"he said. "Ms. Asbury would be best served directing the energy from her unhealthy obsession with attacking our Democratic Mayor, college interns, and community volunteers toward re-electing President Obama and campaigning for the Democratic ticket."

As I've written in the past, leaders in the city's Democratic organizations have long disliked Johnson for reasons that pre-date his term as mayor. Many are still bitter at the city school district's decision nearly a decade ago to grant control of Sacramento High School to Johnson's non-profit St. HOPE, which re-opened the campus as a charter school with non-union teachers.

Ironically, Johnson was sent a copy of Asbury's letter as he was representing the Democratic mayors of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Democratic National Committee's platform drafting committee meeting in Minneapolis. That's the event where leaders of the Democratic Party gather to discuss the party's political platform.

And to further prove just how much of a Democrat Johnson is, Maviglio passed along a note showing that Johnson will be the featured guest at a President Obama fundraiser this week in San Francisco.

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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 rlillis@sacbee.com

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