The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

July 20, 2012
Sacramento taxpayers group comes out against charter panel
It's probably a moot point, but the Sacramento Taxpayers Association is now on record against the city's proposed charter commission.

The association had a "healthy discussion" at its board meeting Thursday before voting to formally oppose the idea, association Vice President Bob Blymyer told Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City Council.

Blymyer said that any necessary revisions to the city's constitution could be done by the council, itself, with some outside expertise. 

"Considering the city's current fiscal situation with labor costs and unfunded pension obligations, it doesn't seem in the taxpayers' best interest to set up another layer of administrative functions in hopes of improving some of the city's operations," he wrote.

Potential cost is only one concern. I've written about the likelihood that a charter commission would be dominated by special interests, not civic-minded citizens, and its deliberations would be a distraction that would further divide the city.

But council members Steve Cohn, Darrell Fong and Kevin McCarty told The Bee's editorial board this weekthat they believe the charter panel is a good idea, if only to get the strong mayor controversy off the council's plate.

They have opposed Johnson's proposals to give the mayor's office more power, in part because they say the plans were drafted in back rooms without enough public input.

But Cohn confessed that if there are only slates of candidates beholden to special interests, he may end up voting "no" to starting the commission.

Because a majority of the council has already voted to put the charter commission before voters and it would take a two-thirds vote to rescind that action, the measure appears likely to remain on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Besides deciding whether to create the commission, voters would also choose candidates to serve on it for two years. If voters say yes to the commission, the top 15 vote-getters would serve.

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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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