City Beat

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson hired home builders’ advocate as new legislative adviser

Mayor Kevin Johnson hired a former home builders’ advocate in April to fill one of five new positions he is seeking in Sacramento’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Though the City Council has yet to approve the budget that would fund his job, the new employee, Scott Whyte, began working for the city on April 23, according to city records.

The city did not disclose Whyte’s employment details until late Thursday, nearly a month after The Sacramento Bee first requested that information.

On Tuesday, the Council will vote on a final version of the city’s proposed spending plan for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Included in that budget are five new mayoral positions – three of which were listed under the city manager’s line item, rather than the mayor’s, and have drawn criticism from some council members in recent weeks as an unnecessary expansion of Johnson’s office.

Whyte, formerly of the North State Building Industry Association, was hired to serve as city legislative affairs adviser, a new position in Johnson’s office. If approved, Whyte will be paid $85,000 per year, according to Sacramento records.

He was initially hired into a vacant position, mayoral spokesman Ben Sosenko said, as the mayor’s office awaits the budget’s anticipated approval.

An initial job listing posted on the city’s website in February described the city legislative affairs adviser as someone who would coordinate and execute “key city programs and policies on behalf of the mayor.” The job description also noted the staffer would act as a “liaison to City Council standing and ad hoc committees.”

By adding five additional staff members, at a cost of nearly $700,000, the mayor would increase his staff and spending by 70 percent in the coming fiscal year.

City Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents downtown and Land Park, proposed an eleventh-hour budget change that would have reassigned the money Johnson wanted for his new staff toward additional parks workers. That move failed in a 3-6 vote.

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