Strong mayor is a weak priority for Sacramento

Just who does this drive to change the charter serve?

There’s always room for improvement, and the Sacramento city charter is no exception.

That doesn’t mean that the mayor’s aggressive “Strong Mayor” campaign should be rewarded. We believe Mayor Kevin Johnson’s claims that he had nothing to do with the proposal to put executive mayorship before the voters to be, at the very least, disingenuous. The coalition behind this measure had, if not actual input from the mayor, at least an understanding of what he wanted—and some of them, no doubt, expect a payoff for their willingness to carry water.

Mayor Johnson has refused to take “no”—or even “not now”—for an answer where the strong-mayor issue is concerned. Such persistence may pay off, or it may simply be perceived as petulance.

We’ll take a careful look at the entire package before deciding on whether it should be approved or not. But at this moment in time, it’s worth pointing out that—between the arena plan and city-charter reform—the mayor and his supporters have successfully diverted attention (not to mention political-campaign dollars) from the very real problems our city faces to instead address his signature issues.

When the city is still facing budget difficulties so large that fundraising for everything such as swimming pools and homeless services is necessary, we have to ask: Just who does this drive to change the charter serve? Should it really be a major political priority?

The answers to those questions are bound to be uncomfortable for a number of people, including the mayor.