The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

October 14, 2008
Johnson on his pledge: 'irrelevant'

 Following up on Ginger's post below, here is an edited transcript from the Bee editorial board's most recent meeting with Kevin Johnson, when the mayoral candidate discussed the pledge he signed to support a firefighters' union inititiative to lock current contract terms into the city charter. In the conversation, Johnson says he saw signing the pledge as only "agreeing in concept" to support the firefighters' campaign, even though, if you look at the document, it clearly goes further than that. Also of note, Johnson, when pressed, said the pledge was "irrelevant," in part because the firefighters had already agreed to endorse him.

Kevin Johnson to the Sacramento Bee editorial board on Oct. 6:

Q: ...You signed a paper which I haven't seen, which nobody has seen, in which you promised to keep them at their current level of staffing for engines. Explain that part of your plan.

KJ: ...They asked me, do I agree with the concept of having fire stations open and four man crews. I said absolutely, I agree with that concept. Absolutely. Taking it a step further, I could never promise to them or anybody, and I said this very clearly to the people in fire, I would never promise them anything without doing my due diligence and looking at what other cities are doing. So when it comes to cuts, when it comes to something, a charter change, a change in the charter, I could never agree to any of those things and I said that to them very publicly and amongst their union group membership...

I've never said I wouldn't touch their budget. I told them very clearly that I could never make a promise unless I study the budget, and look at the budget implications....You've got to look at the budget implications. Number two, I've got to see what other cities are doing. So they had this document that they wanted, I don't know if it's the mayor and I, to sign. My point was, I can't sign and agree to this but I will sign it based on a concept of keeping stations open and four-member crews. But even that is not a commitment I can make without doing the other, I was very clear.

Q. Why sign it?

It was irrelevant. It's an issue that no one's making but the mayor. It had nothing to do with me getting their endorsement. I had their endorsement already.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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