Commentary: Johnson has weak start as Sacramento mayor

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

Kevin Johnson is not the mayor of a city with a strong mayor system – yet. And even if voters approve his initiative to change Sacramento's city charter, he will need five votes on the Sacramento City Council to get anything approved.

By taking his strong mayor initiative directly to the voters without first consulting his colleagues on the council, Johnson demonstrated a disregard for them that is almost breathtaking and is surely ill-advised. Antagonizing council members will not help establish the strong relationship that the mayor has said he wants to develop with the council over time. It will not help Johnson move this city forward.

Also, in bypassing the council and failing to give them the simple courtesy of a heads-up on his far-reaching initiative, Johnson has picked a fight that he didn't need to pick. Many of his fellow council members may welcome this proposal. Some of them have chafed under the constraints of the current council-manager form of government. While the charter change gives added power and authority to the mayor, it gives council members significant additional authority as well.

For example, under the Johnson proposal, the mayor would have the power to appoint all city department heads. The council would have to confirm those appointments with a majority vote. That's authority they have not had in the past. The council would also elect its own president, who would set council agendas and preside over meetings, much as the mayor does now.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.