Sex and Ethics in Sacramento City Hall The Good-The Bad-The Ugly

Many companies, organizations require their new employees to read or take a small course in sexual harassment at the time of hire.  For many organizations the course is mandatory for every employee.

While the course is mandatory for governmental employees it isn’t for many elected officials.

This oversite has cost governments hundreds of millions of dollars.   Earlier this year the groping of two female aids by an Assemblyman has cost the taxpayers of New York more than a half a million dollars

In California,businesses with more than 50 workers are required give sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors every two years.  This includes Legislators and their staffers.

 Sacratomatoville:  In a  November 2013 memo to council members, Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez, told the City Council  “elected officials are not generally considered employees of the city and therefore are not required to complete the training.”

However, all elected supervise employees on behalf of the city,” the memo continued. “This office strongly recommends that all electeds receive the training required under AB 1825. The fact that training was received would put the city and the elected in a better position to argue that the city had taken reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct harassment and discrimination.”  

 Just three council members were included ( Allen Warren, Jeff Harris and Rick Jennings) in a list of elected officials who have undergone training offered by the city. That list, compiled by the City Clerk’s Office, was obtained by The Sacramento Bee through the Public Records Act.   From the Sacramento Bee 

The Good

A few weeks ago, Council Member Steve Hansen asked the city auditor to review the city’s sexual harassment policies.  This request ruffled some feathers on the board. There are many influential organizations within the city requesting an Independent Council free of ties to the city.

Despite negative press in resent months the city seemed to be well…….


Tomorrow, the City Council will vote on a “good government” package that includes the creation of an ethics commission, an ethics code an commission tasked with drawing the boundaries for City Council Districts

In the proposal, elected officials would be required to take sexual harassment training every two years and would place restrictions on nepotism.   Newly elected officials would take ethics training within 60 days of taking office.

The Bad


The ethic commissioners (made up of administrative law judges, law school ethics professors, professional arbitrators and judges with expertise in elections) The commissioners would serve four-year terms and be appointed by the mayor, with confirmation from the City Council. The Mayor created the ” Good Governance Committee”  The committee met privately and are not subject to government transparency laws. Some members on this committee have been accused of a form of harassment by city employees.

Transparency and the Mayor have been at odds during his term .  There isn’t an indication this will change any time soon.  An independent ethic commission free from ties with city government (The Mayor and City Council ) is the only solution for Sacramento.


Perhaps a first in history of the City of Sacramento
First Mayor Johnson was accused of sexual misconduct with a city staffer
The accuser and her attorney are silent and are no longer pursuing a lawsuit against the city.
Then Vice Mayor Allen Warren was accused of sexual misconduct with a city staffer a Former City Supervisor has been accused of sexual harassment with the former staffer suing the city and finally a harassment compliant against Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby.
Warren and Ashby sat on the Good Governance Committee.

Mayor Johnson has possibly more ethical violations then any Mayor in the history of the City of Sacramento.    So if we sound a little skeptical about who Johnson would appoint we have to look at his his- story as mayor.

From improperly reporting travel expenses, to failing to report over $3.5 million in donations he solicited for charity organizations.  The mayor has paid thousands in fines to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
In 2012, The Associated Press  the said that it had identified 25 cases in which the mayor failed to file timely reports on donations to a non profit made at his request.

In 2013, Sacramento’s Big Box Ordinance was repealed.  The city said it was losing tax dollars to other communities.   At City Hall, those opposed to the change out numbered supporters  2 to 1.   Organized Labor,  Neighborhood Associations and the Stonewall Democrat’s (the city’s largest Democratic organization)  were against the repeal. 

According to the Bee,  Wal Mart has donated $800,000 to Mayor Kevin Johnson and his charities.  Jay Schenirer foundation received $50,000.  Councilwoman Angelique Ashby summer camp program received $7,000. Darrell Fong received $5,000 for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and the largest recipient was Michelle Rhee, the mayor wife received 8 million for her Students First Program.

At first glance ,the council members receiving donations from Wal Mart might have abstained, thus eliminating the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The results of the audit requested by Steve Hansen revealed, that the city’s sexual harassment policy had not been significantly updated in years, although some changes had been made.   We also learned more than 130 supervisors hasn’t taken the state-mandated training.

There was a time when Sacramento conducted business as a small town.  In many ways, it still does.   The problem is, it isn’t  a small town and it will never will be again.   The new commissions could be positive for the city.  But only if they are independent.   The new commissions must be free of ties to individuals in government so it may act as an independent body. Men and women of different age groups who reflects the city’s diverse population.   Sacramento doesn’t have to rebuild the wheel, as there are many independent commissions throughout the state.