K.J. goes teabagger?

By the time you read this, Kevin Johnson’s strong-mayor initiative will likely be, finally, dead.

Or not. Either way, the strong-mayor campaign has certainly gotten desperate and ugly in the final stretch.

Enter Shawn Callahan, the newest tool in Johnson’s strong-mayor toolbox. He’s been doing public relations for the mayor’s front group, Sacramentans for Accountable Government, for about a month now.

Callahan is also executive director of the right-wing pro-war group Move America Forward.

His day job is bashing President Barack Obama and his fellow Muslims, bashing state workers and bashing Obama some more.

Callahan’s outfit has a lot of overlap with Our Country Deserves Better, a.k.a. the Tea Party Express, a.k.a. Republican strategist Sal Russo and Gray Davis recall activist Howard Kaloogian, among others.

Johnson’s strong-mayor campaign lawyer, Tom Hiltachk, is also a well-known right-wing operative. In his latest act of public service, he’s been hired on to help the ballot campaign to scrap Assembly Bill 32, California’s landmark global-warming law.

So Bites asked Callahan, what does Johnson’s team say about the mayor’s agenda?

“This Mayor does not always do things the way they have been done in the past,” Callahan told Bites in an e-mail.

“He has an ability to bring people together and affect change and identify our commonalities and not our differences (this was the main theme of the Obama campaign).”

Really? The Move America Forward guy just invoked “the main theme of the Obama campaign” to explain how K.J. is bringing people together? Really?

That’s about as believable as the e-mail blast Callahan sent out that same day, claiming that The Sacramento Bee had just endorsed Johnson’s latest strong-mayor proposal, call it strong mayor lite.

“Support is growing for the Mayor’s new consensus plan,” Callahan’s press release read. “Read The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board’s latest endorsement.” A link to the editorial followed.

Of course, the Bee made no such endorsement. Rather Team Scoopy said it would be a mistake for the council to put strong mayor lite on the June ballot in place of Johnson’s earlier, fatally flawed measure. There was a bunch of other stuff about compromise, accountability, politeness, blah, blah, blah.

So, Bites e-mailed Stuart Leavenworth, who leads the Bee’s editorial board, and asked what gives. Friday night, Bites got an e-mail back from Leavenworth, with a link to the Bee’s editorial board blog, The Swarm.

Nice try, mayor. … But we are not in favor of a rush to the ballot. We think that Sacramento would be well served by a mayor that has more authority to improve the city than past and current mayors have enjoyed. But we don’t support the mayor’s timetable on when the council should put together a consensus plan. That was clear in our editorial.”

Of course, the Bee’s editorial is wrong on a couple of points. No, the city doesn’t need to concentrate power into the hands of an executive mayor. And for more worthwhile reforms, like an ethics commission, term limits, neighborhood councils, campaign-finance reform, etc., a formal charter commission is probably the best the way to go. That way, we don’t have to trust this mayor and this council to get it right.

But in any case, it’s clear that Callahan was fibbing about the Bee’s endorsement. That, or somebody told him to fib about it. What’s next, a post on the mayor’s blog warning us that Rob Fong and Sandy Sheedy are hiding WMDs?