The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

October 23, 2009
Mayor uses smokescreen of "accountability" to keep wrongdoing under wraps

Mayor Kevin Johnson posted a truly odd response on his campaign blog Thursday to critics of his move to ferret out a City Hall leaker.. He loves accountability, he wrote in his first line. "Not one day has passed without me talking about accountability," he said. 

Now, he continued, he is asking the city council for accountability:

At the October 20 city council meeting, in a brief remark, I asked the City Manager to investigate how privileged city documents were being leaked to the media. My request puts several people in uncomfortable positions. The people who leaked the material are uncomfortable. And the media are uncomfortable. But the comfort of those people and organizations is not my concern.

Leaking, he writes, is "sneaky and dishonest." It "destroys" the government's ability to function. Really?

He further notes that the leaked documents were "written under the attorney-client privilege." Doesn't he know that the clients are under no obligation to keep documents secret? The council and mayor have the right to share legal memos with the public (and, some might even say, a duty to do so if they involve public issues).

As for the leaker or leakers, he essentially calls them cowards for not publicly stepping forward.

Johnson's blog post is an apparent response to an editorial The Bee published on Thursday:

Through his actions and words, he seems to care more about who leaked a confidential memo to The Bee detailing serious violations of city policy and federal regulations than about the violations themselves. At Tuesday night's council meeting, a steaming Johnson called for a closed-door council session attended by the city police chief. He wanted the chief there to discuss what he called "the crime" committed when a memo written by City Attorney Eileen Teichert about the Natomas permit violations was leaked to The Bee. ...This incident demands a thorough, open and independent investigation, not closed-door meetings intended to plug leaks and hide information from the public.

We're glad we got the mayor's attention.

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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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