Editorials

Why city and county should cooperate closely

Darrell Steinberg, right, Sacramento City Councilman Eric Guerra, center foreground, and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna honor Cruz Reynoso, left, the first Latino appointed to the California Supreme Court, in March 2016. The City Council and Board of Supervisors plan their first joint meetings in recent memory.
Darrell Steinberg, right, Sacramento City Councilman Eric Guerra, center foreground, and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna honor Cruz Reynoso, left, the first Latino appointed to the California Supreme Court, in March 2016. The City Council and Board of Supervisors plan their first joint meetings in recent memory. Sacramento Bee file

Sacramento City Council members and Sacramento County supervisors plan to meet together three times in the next few months – joint sessions that we hope will jump-start a more productive partnership.

It’s about time. In fact, it’s embarrassing that there hasn’t been a joint meeting in recent memory. While there are countywide and regional boards that include both council members and supervisors, it’s more meaningful for the two full bodies to hold a session in public.

New Mayor Darrell Steinberg deserves credit for pushing this idea. He doesn’t want the get-togethers to be just for show, though the symbolism is important; he wants action items to come out of them.

Don Nottoli, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, agrees that he wants the meetings to go beyond “just talk” and lead to solutions on common goals.

Homelessness and affordable housing will be the focus of the first meeting, on Jan. 31. That makes perfect sense since it’s a pressing issue important to both city and county.

Depending how things go, there will be joint sessions in late February and late March; tentative topics could include youth issues and economic development. There are many, many other issues of shared concern, including marijuana legalization and transportation.

But for this to work, closer cooperation must go beyond elected officials to top administrators throughout both organizations. Many of those relationships have been frosty for years, turf protection and personality conflicts.

Just to be clear, no one is talking about consolidation of overlapping agencies and services, though there is potential savings there. Though there were rumblings during the Great Recession as both city and county sought to cut costs, very little came of it. Political merger is even less on the radar; voters decisively rejected the idea of a metro government in 1990.

But that doesn’t mean elected officials and bureaucrats can’t work more collaboratively. These joint meetings are an overdue start.

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