The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

September 21, 2011
Katehi: Replacing hospital CEO would cost more than raise

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has an interesting defense for the sizable raise given to Ann Madden Rice, CEO of the UC Davis Medical Center.

Last week, UC regents approved a $259,000 raise to $960,000 a year, money paid by hospital fees, not state money or student tuition. The justification given was that another academic hospital was recruiting Rice and offering $1.5 million.

Katehi told The Bee's editorial board today that it was "not an easy decision" to support the salary hike.

While no one is irreplaceable, she said, the cost and time of replacing Rice would be far greater than the raise.

Just hiring an executive search firm would cost $500,000, Katehi said. Then the search would take a year, and UC Davis would almost certainly end up paying more for Rice's successor. That's just the way the market is, she said.

Rice, the chancellor added, is a great leader.

It's worth remembering that Katehi wasn't so supportive of Rice earlier this year.

Rice was one of 36 UC executives who demanded higher pensions, calculated on their entire salaries, not the first $245,000 of income under a UC formula. The execs threatened to sue over the issue.

Katehi came out against the higher pensions, saying that "this demand comes at a time when our university is being asked to make many sacrifices."

September 16, 2011
Mayor Johnson gets a quick business endorsement

Well, that didn't take long.

Just two days after Mayor Kevin Johnson announced his re-election bid, the Sacramento Metro Chamber's political action committee announced its backing today.

It's no surprise: the Metro Chamber PAC also supported Johnson in 2008 over incumbent Heather Fargo.

But the endorsement could mean big bucks. The PAC is registered with the city as a Large Political Committee, which allows it to give more in campaign cash than you or me. A large committee can donate as much as $10,100 per election to mayoral candidates and $5,050 to City Council hopefuls, compared to the individual limits of $3,050 and $1,500.

In a statement, Metro PAC Chair Ardie Zahedan said that while business leaders might disagree at times with the mayor, he is a "champion for businesses and pro-business policies" and has raised Sacramento's profile, which aids in recruiting business.

"We believe Mayor Johnson is the right choice for Sacramento as we did in 2008," Zahedan said. "The mayor has the right idea of making Sacramento more business-friendly. This town was founded as a crossroads of commerce, and we need elected leaders like the mayor who understand that when businesses are able to prosper, the community is better for it."

Even if Johnson gets a serious opponent, he will get the lion's share of business support. The more intriguing question is how much labor backing he gets.

Particularly this year, he has made it a point to reach out to labor leaders in his initiatives and has pledged to act as an honest broker between labor and business.

We'll see if it pays off in Johnson's campaign coffers.

September 7, 2011
Johnson, Cohn agree on redistricting, sort of

When it comes to redistricting, Mayor Kevin Johnson and City Councilman Steve Cohn don't agree on much.

They were on opposite sides of Tuesday night's vote adopting new election maps mostly drawn by Cohn. They exchanged some rather piercing barbs during the endless debates.

But now, they apparently are both behind an entirely different way to draw Sacramento's council districts the next time, in 2021.

Cohn let it be known Tuesday night that "after what I've seen this year," he would be fine with a ballot measure to change the City Charter to give the task to an independent citizens committee, along the lines of the one that just finished drawing state legislative and congressional lines.

"Let me say, that won't the take the politics out of it," he warned.

Johnson has been out there by himself calling for such a panel. There was no time to create one for this year's redistricting, so he pushed the council to appoint a citizens advisory committee, though the council kept the final say.

The citizens panel did help significantly increase public input, but it also ended up being at the center of the battle. The committee recommended four plans, but instead of working from those, the council chose to use a map submitted by Cohn.

That was when the redistricting process went awry, the mayor said again Tuesday night. What the council majority has done, particularly by splitting Oak Park and the UC Davis Medical Center, he said, is "gross negligence."

"I certainly can't match your eloquence in speaking for your point of view," Cohn responded acidly, "but that doesn't make what I said or any of the rest of the council what they said any less true....That doesn't negate my view or what I think is right."

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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