City Beat

Strong-mayor campaign raises large donations from Sacramento and beyond

The campaign pushing stronger powers for Sacramento mayors is getting an assist from some wealthy public figures – in Sacramento and beyond.

Sacramento Tomorrow, the committee behind Measure L on the November ballot, has raised $498,674, according to the most recent campaign finance documents filed with the City Clerk’s Office.

A big chunk of that cash came from two donors: $100,000 apiece from prominent Sacramento-area land developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and Sacramento Republic FC lead investor Kevin Nagle.

A political committee representing Realtors gave $49,999; Laurene Powell Jobs, a Silicon Valley executive and the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, donated $50,000; and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave $45,000.

“We’re pleased to have broad support from a broad spectrum of citizens that want to move Sacramento forward, including business and labor, Democrats and Republicans,” said Joshua Wood, a spokesman for Sacramento Tomorrow. “Given that this is a complex issue that requires a substantial amount of resources to educate voters, $1 per citizen frankly isn’t a lot.”

On the other side of the campaign, Stop the Power Grab reported donations of $158,325 through this week in its fight to defeat Measure L. The local plumbers union led the cause with a $45,000 check, while the International City/County Management Association gave $34,000.

The committee also recently received $10,000 donations from Local 39, the largest union at City Hall, and the California Federation of Teachers. The Democratic Party of Sacramento County made $25,330 worth of donations by placing campaign phone calls and making signs for the campaign, records show.

“Make no mistake, this is a David and Goliath fight when it comes to money,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, who is leading the opposition campaign. “They will have as much money as they need, but at the end of the day, money doesn’t buy votes.”

A spokesman for Sacramento Tomorrow could not immediately be reached for comment.

Backed by Mayor Kevin Johnson, Measure L would allow the mayor to appoint and fire the city manager, essentially transferring many of the daily duties currently handled by the city manager to the mayor. The mayor also would propose the budget.

The City Council would have the power to confirm the mayor’s choice for city manager, and approve ordinances and the budget. Council decisions would be subject to mayoral vetoes and the council could override those vetoes with a supermajority vote.

Supporters argue the change would cut back on the layers of bureaucracy at City Hall. Supporters also say it would create a more accountable government by transferring authority from a city manager appointed by the City Council to a mayor elected citywide.

But opponents charge that it would place too much power into the hands of one elected official who could be subject to influence by powerful interests. They also argue that the current form of government is functioning well.

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