Kevin Johnson needs to step away from strong mayor

Executive mayor is K.J.’s white whale

We hadn’t intended to weigh in on the “strong mayor” measure yet, but recent events pushed it to the front of the list.

At a public forum at SEIU Local 100’s union hall last month, reporters were excluded—except for one who snuck in early. SN&R’s Raheem F. Hosseini and The Sacramento Bee’s Ryan Lillis were denied entrance.

This might mean a number of things, but we’re leaning toward an explanation that puts the buck right on Mayor Kevin Johnson’s desk, where it ought to stop. His continual insistence that he needs increased executive power—stronger than the governor or the president—in order to make Sacramento a “world-class city” has been rejected, and not just by this paper.

But like a certain one-legged sea captain in search of an elusive white cetacean, K.J. just seems unable to let go of this idea.

He’s failed to prove that it’s necessary; his own success with the Sacramento Kings ownership is evidence to the opposite. He’s been unwilling to allow the strong-mayor system to start after he leaves office, which would be proof positive that he genuinely thinks it’s a good idea for the city and not just a good idea for him. And now, he’s giving every appearance of trying to get his electoral troops in order outside the view of the public.

Frankly, we think the mayor needs to put away his harpoon. Let others—not his surrogates, please—make the arguments for executive mayor. If this is anything more than a personal obsession, it’s time for K.J. to put the principle ahead of his own larger-than-life personality.