Close watchers of the Sacramento City Council might have noticed the intriguing way the votes lined up on the two 5-4 decisions Tuesday night, the first really substantive meeting with its three new members.
On the vote to do a national search for a permanent city manager, new councilman Darrell Fong joined Rob Fong, Kevin McCarty, Bonnie Pannell and Sandy Sheedy. Mayor Kevin Johnson, Steve Cohn and new council members Angelique Ashby and Jay Schenirer voted against it.
On billing out-of-town drivers for the cost of fire department response to crashes, Ashby, Cohn, Johnson, McCarty and Schenirer voted yes, while Darrell Fong, Rob Fong, Pannell and Sheedy voted no.
Darrell Fong pledged during the campaign that he would be independent. Though he voted with Rob Fong, Pannell and Sheedy on both issues - on the winning side on one, the losing side on the other -- he repeated that vow today.
No matter how it might appear, he's not part of any alliance, and will vote his conscience issue by issue, Fong said. He said he wanted to reassure his constituents.
"There are many more votes to come," he said.
McCarty, who said he didn't realize until driving home that he was the lone council member on the winning side on both issues, agreed that the same split won't happen going forward. He doesn't believe he'll be the swing vote on this new council.
While it might be better that a clear majority on the council makes policy, he said, he's not troubled by the two 5-4 votes right off the bat. Division, he said, "is the nature of democracy."