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.

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 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.

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    

Stuart Leavenworth on Twitter

Follow "SacBeeEditBoard" on Twitter