KJ proposes to increase mayor’s power

Mayor Kevin Johnson plans to present a voter initiative to increase the power of the office of the mayor, the Biz Journal reports. The office would function as an executive one rather than simply another vote on the council. My hunch is that the voters will probably first want to see whether KJ can actually execute something other than sick dunks 15 years ago, but I suppose it will depend on how he sells it.

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

12 thoughts on “KJ proposes to increase mayor’s power”

  1. Well, with his history of alleged liberties in his “non-profit” work, we can safely insert droit de seigneur commentary here.


  2. Shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that he’s doing this. One of my biggest complaints about KJ during the election was that he was unrealistic about what he could achieve as mayor — I suspected he would do something like this.

    Generally, I think a strong mayor system could really benefit the city, and I think when the ballot measure starts circulating, people would do well to consider its impact both during and after a KJ administration. If he’s smart, the measure won’t take effect until after the next election. Then he can argue (sorta) that it’s about the City, not about him.


  3. Yeah that’s what I had in mind. If he can sell it as a benefit to the city, which he’ll have to do because I imagine most people will immediately be resistant to it.


  4. Hm. Doesn’t mention anything about how this would affect the city manager. We don’t have a “weak mayor” system, we have a “council/manager” system. Currently, the city manager runs the city’s day-to-day operation, makes up budgets, etcetera. I suppose I’d like to know how this change would affect the role of the person who actually runs the city.


  5. I read today’s Bee article on the front page discussing “strong mayor cities” and “weak mayor cities”. Yes…the actual newspaper.

    Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson wants the City Charter amended to a strong mayor system.

    Current: Sacramento has a weak mayor form of government. The mayor is one of nine votes on the City Council. Hiring and firing decisions are in the hands of the city manager. The mayor has no veto power.

    Proposed: The mayor would propose the city budget, appoint department heads and have veto authority. Budget and hiring decisions would need council approval.

    Ballot: There are two ways to get the measure before voters on next year’s election ballot. Obtain five yes votes of the City Council; or obtain 32,433 signatures of registered voters. Once on the ballot, a simple-majority approval is required.

    Cost: The special election would cost the city $1.2 million for a citywide vote on the proposed charter change either on the June or November ballots next year.

    Strong mayor cities: San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

    Weak mayor cities: Sacramento, Phoenix, Dallas, San Jose, Long Beach



  6. In general a strong mayor system would eliminate the need for a city manager. City managers exist because of weak mayoral systems.


  7. Having been present for Mr. Johnson’s entire speech yesterday (as opposed to the abridged version from the major Sacramento newspaper), he addressed the issue of the City Manager. He said his plan was to still have a City Manager and that the CM would work with him.

    In the Wikipedia article quoted by mezzicun, it also discusses a Chief Admin Officer, which is much like a CM.

    In LA, there is a City Admin Officer, on par with department heads and commissions, who reports to the Mayor and the City Council. http://cityclerk.lacity.org/cps/pdf/govtglnc.pdf
    In San Diego, where they’re doing a trial of the Strong Mayor system, the CM reports to the Mayor http://docs.sandiego.gov/citycharter/Article%20XV.pdf

    So, there would still be a CM to oversee the administration of the policies and laws sent from the council. It really just converts the city government to function more like other forms of government (Fed, State) where the Mayor becomes the head of the Executive branch and the councilmembers are the legislative. And look how well that’s worked so far… Oh, bad example.


  8. The weird irony is that the council/manager system was developed because cities wanted to be organized more like corporations, with a board of directors (the council) providing guidance and a CEO (the city manager) running operations. The idea was to increase the level of professionalism of city governments, and make government day-to-day operations less susceptible to political pressure.


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