No still means no, Boss Johnson

What is it about no, no, no, no, no, no and no that Mayor Kevin Johnson doesn’t understand? Is it the part where he doesn’t get what he wants?

The city council has repeatedly rejected the mayor’s requests to put one strong-mayor scheme or another on the ballot. A citizen charter review committee found that concentrating power in the hands of an executive mayor would not help solve our problems, and would just cause more.

Yet here comes Johnson again, backed by the usual suspects—the police union, big developers and business groups—pushing a package of reforms written by the special interests, for the special interests.

This is where we all collectively roll our eyes, wondering if the mayor and council don’t have something better to do. For example, what about that subsidy for a new Kings basketball arena that—if the details were ever fully released to the public—might just turn out to be an enormous drain on our general fund for the next couple of generations?

Strong mayor will be on agenda again in mid January. But if for some reason, Mr. Mayor, with all your charm and leadership and political skill and strongness, you can’t get the votes this time, then please just let that be the end of it.

Don’t pitch a hissy fit and call your fellow council members spineless zebras, or whatever, as you did after the 7-2 shutdown they handed you last time.

And for any council member who is entertaining the notion of giving in on this—looking at you especially Jay Schenirer and Angelique Ashby—don’t turn around and say that the public doesn’t have a right to vote on that arena subsidy.

Sticking a straw into the city’s general fund and sucking away parking revenue for the next 50 years is huge. Boosters say that technically that no vote is required. That’s just weak. Every time the mayor and his flaks and his buddies over at The Sacramento Bee cry, “Let they people vote!” on strong mayor, but “no vote” on the arena, they are hypocrites.

There are more reasonable alternatives, if anyone wants to reasonable. For example, there does seem to be some public interest in the creation of an independent redistricting commission—shrewdly included in the strong-mayor package this go-around. Let’s peel that off and see if there’s support for it. Likewise, a citizens ethics committee might just fly. How about a public vote on city council pay raises greater than 5 percent? Guess so, though that sounds like a bullshit gimmick. (Again, why vote on raises but not arena subsidies?)

If he plays his cards right, the mayor may yet make a contribution to better local governance. He won’t.