Since Mayor Kevin Johnson was first elected, he's been locked in a power struggle with City Council opponents who have blocked his efforts to strengthen his authority at every turn.
This petty feud has been entertainment for select cliques of local insiders, but now it might help diminish public safety in the state capital. Critical negotiations with city cops have broken off as a result of this feud and could cause 16 police officers to lose their jobs when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
Sacramento has the second-highest crime rate in the state, and Sac PD is too small to begin with. The state capital can't afford to lose 16 more cops.
But it's going to happen because the city cop union refuses to pay into their own pensions as many law enforcement agencies already do, including the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
Up until last week, the message from city officials to cops has been one that resonates around California: There is no more money, guys. The city can't afford the perk of fully funding police pensions anymore. If the cops contributed 9 percent of their pay into their own pensions, 16 cop jobs could be saved.
Then last week, the feud with Johnson caused his antagonists to go off message and cede the moral high ground in the pension debate.
They did so by setting in motion a potentially wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars simply to block Johnson from making the mayor's job more substantial.
The move had an instant reaction the cops walked away from the bargaining table while essentially saying: "Aha! You said there was no city money, but now you've authorized a city vote in November that could trigger the spending of hundreds of thousands of city dollars to rewrite city rules and regulations."
Led by City Councilman Kevin McCarty, council members Steve Cohn, Rob Fong, Sandy Sheedy, Darrell Fong and Bonnie Pannell approved this horrendous idea by tapping into their worst impulses.
The public at large needs these people to spend their time amid double-digit unemployment by focusing on job creation, public safety and a restoration of the local tax base to fund diminished city services.
From a message standpoint, they should let the cops walk the plank of public ridicule alone if they cling to their pension perks past July 1 and cause 16 cops to be fired to balance the city budget.
But no. They want to stick it to KJ so much that they've given the cops an excuse to walk and given credence to a cop union that won't take no for an answer.
If city residents somehow approved overhauling the charter, the process would be just like the recent fiasco to alter city voting districts a two-year food fight for the "I hate KJ" crowd.
So, what can be done?
McCarty could take the high road and walk this back. He could make a motion to table this charter review thing as soon as possible, and there would be no shame in that. It would be a responsible and welcome gesture.
By doing so, he would put the pressure of public safety layoffs back where it belongs on the shoulders of the cop union. Make them and them alone wear it if they choose their perks and pay over cops getting fired.
Meanwhile, to truly settle the turf wars between KJ and his colleagues, here's an idea:
What if McCarty sat down with KJ and did what effective politicians are supposed to do and cut a deal?
KJ made a mess of trying to become a "strong mayor" with some veto power and enhanced authority over city employees. He tried to force it instead of building consensus and has been blocked at every turn since. Enough already.
Like it or not, KJ is the only city politician to be elected citywide twice. He deserves more deference because of that.
And you know what?
KJ has a good relationship with the cops and could be more useful in bringing them into the fold if his antagonists weren't always trying to neutralize him.
How about some adult behavior? Do what you were elected to do, and represent everyone's interests.
If not, 16 cops get fired and council members McCarty, Cohn, Rob Fong, Pannell, Darrell Fong and Sheedy all have their fingerprints on the scene of the crime. I would bet all of them especially McCarty would eventually pay a price for putting a feud with KJ over everything else.