This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
To supplement his four-member staff, newly elected Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has brought in individuals from the private sector to serve as de facto city employees. He announced Monday that these folks will fill out conflict-of-interest statements, including sources of income – an important step.
However, Johnson still has no formal process for announcing who these people are; the nature and term of their appointments (three months? six months? one year?); their hours (full time? part time? whenever?); work history, clientele and memberships.
Most important, Johnson has not addressed basic questions: Why are these de facto workers needed? For whom do they work? For Johnson personally? For the city? For a private firm, a nonprofit or a political campaign? What is the source of their income during the time they work for the mayor? Are their work products and contacts involving city business public records?
To see the problem with the shadow government Johnson has assembled, ask yourself: What do you call these people? Johnson calls them "volunteers." And his spokesman, himself part of the shadow government, calls them "executive-level interns."
But they are neither. These individuals are essentially on loan from their private sector jobs to participate in the day-to-day operations of the city.
The contrast with bona fide professional-level intern programs is clear. For example, White House Fellows are full-time employees of the U.S. government. They cannot receive compensation from any other source during their year of government service, and if outside uncompensated activity conflicts with their official duties, they cannot continue that outside activity.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.