City Beat

Unions, business group take sides on Sacramento strong mayor

Another wave of endorsements for and against Sacramento’s strong-mayor ballot measure were announced Thursday.

Three unions announced that they were opposing Measure L, while two other unions and a local business group said they were supporting it.

Meanwhile, a local group that issues watchdog reports on City Hall released a study of Measure L. The report by Eye on Sacramento said the argument made by the ballot campaign that the current city governance is outdated and that their proposal is better is “exceedingly weak.” Eye on Sacramento also said its research shows that cities run by city managers are more efficient than those run by strong mayors, and that politics may have greater influence over city management decisions and city contracts under a strong-mayor system.

Measure L will appear on the November ballot and would give the mayor the authority to appoint and fire the city manager. Currently, a city manager appointed by the City Council – but not elected directly by the voters – makes most of the daily decisions at City Hall. The new system would essentially transfer those duties to the mayor.

Stop the Power Grab, the campaign committee fighting the measure, said today it had the support of the California Nurses Association, two local branches of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Local 39, the largest union at City Hall.

“Right now we’ve got a system of government that really works,” said Belinda Malone, president and political action chair of AFSCME Local 146. “Both sides of issues are heard, there’s often compromise and I believe Sacramento residents win. For the mayor’s office to have a disproportionate advantage of power, weakening the oversight of (the City Council) would ultimately be unfair to local residents’ hopes of access and equality.”

On the other side, the Sacramento Business Coalition announced it was supporting Measure L. The coalition is made up of local chambers of commerce, trade associations and business improvement districts.

“Having an executive mayor who is responsible for the operations of the city will allow for more of a responsive governance structure, contributing to greater economic growth and job creation in Sacramento,” said Azziza Davis Goines, president and CEO of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce.

Also announcing their support were the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 340 and the Northern California Taxi Union.

“It’s time for our members to be able to hold our elected officials in City Hall accountable, and that is exactly what Measure L will do,” IBEW Local 340 business manager Tom Okumura said in a statement. “This isn’t about the mayor, the City Council or the city manager, but about changing to a system that is more efficient and effective.”