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.



The Sacramento Kings in Seattle may be the best gift for Sacramentians

After reviewing the Entertainment and Sports Center(ESC) Term Sheet. The Sacramento Kings moving to Seattle may be the best gift for Sacramentians.  The 2013 sheet is overly optimistic with perfect storm forecasts.  It  has several unsubstantiated claims for growth and insufficient  traffic/parking studies.

 In a city facing deficits this  year, the questions becomes is the ESC a good deal from Sacramento?

  A look back……

March 06, 2012

The Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 on March 6 2012  in favor of a nonbinding term sheet to finance a new sports and entertainment complex in the old railyard on the north side of downtown Sacramento.

2012 Terms:  The City of  Sacramento would contribute $255.5 towards the cost of an$390.5 Arena in The Railyards.  The Sacramento Kings $73.25 million-Anschutz Entertainment Group(AEG) $58.75 million with $3 million         coming from sponsorship’s.   Under the conditions of the 2012 term sheet the city agreed to build a new parking garage (14.5 million)

The lions share($230 million) of the cities contributions would have come from the leasing of the cities parking lots  those lots contribute 9 million dollars to the city’s General Fund.  The lease  term was 50 years .  Not all the garages are paid for.  The city owed 52 million on those lots and that  debt would  have   to be satisfied before they were leased.   The city would be partially responsible for cost overruns for the arena and  half the repairs .

 Replenishing the General Fund:  One third of the nine millions would come from ticket surcharges

Benefits, The City Say’s the ESC would:  Keeping the Kings would save eight hundred jobs.  Saves Natomas from blight. Would Create between 1200 to 5000 new jobs

41 Days after the council approved the 2012  Term Sheet

City of  Sacramento Press Release

April 26,2012

Ongoing Structural Budget Imbalance of $23.1 Million Must be Addressed in the Next Two Years
Today Sacramento City Manager John Shirey released the Fiscal Year 2012/13 Proposed Budget. The
Proposed Budget is balanced and addresses a projected $18 million shortfall for FY2012/13. The Proposed
Budget includes the elimination of approximately 286 Full-Time Equivalent positions and does not include use of the General Fund Economic Uncertainty Reserve.
“This is not the budget I had hoped to recommend to address next year’s structural budget deficit,” said
John Shirey, City Manager. “We continue to work with our employee groups to find solutions that would avoid the need for the elimination of positions and consequently programs and services to our community.” The ongoing General Fund budget gap is the result of both expenditure increases mostly attributable to contracted employee salary increases and the continued decline in property tax revenue, the city’s single largest discretionary revenue source.
The total budget proposed for FY2012/13 is $1.06 billion. This includes $365 million for General Fund
operations and capital projects, and $690.5 million for the operation and capital projects for the City’s
Enterprise Funds and other fund activities. The recommended budget supports 3,791 authorized full time
equivalent (FTE) employee positions. The General Fund totals $365 million and 2,777 authorized FTE

The City’s structural budget deficit in FY2013/14 is an estimated $7.4 million budget gap. Over the past
six years, the City has eliminated approximately 1,200 positions and addressed an estimated $219 million ongoing budget gap.The public hearing process will begin at City Council on May 1 and is expected to go through June 12. All community members are invited to attend. Please visit for regular budget updates and current information. To view the Proposed Budget please visit:

Mayor Kevin Johnson
District 1: Angelique Ashby
District 2: Sandy Sheedy
District 3: Steve Cohn
District 4: Robert King Fong
District 5: Jay Schenirer
District 6: Kevin McCarty
District 7: Darrell Fong
District 8: Bonnie Pannell


Sacramento Entertainment and Sports Center @ Downtown Plaza 

(March 23,2013)

Term Sheet

2013 Terms:  The City of Sacramento would contribute $258 million towards the $447 million dollar arena.   The Investor Groups contr bu tion to the ESC $189 million.

The Lion Share ($212 million) would come from future parking revenues.$38 million from land the city owns. The balance would come from taxes and city funds.  The city would gift 3700 parking spaces under Downtown Plaza to the Investment Group. and pay towards the cost of  signage for the ESC.

 Replenishing the General Fund:  Tickets surcharges, parking revenues and arena profits.  Under the profit sharing agreement the city at a minimum would receive a million dollars that would go into the general fund.

Benefits, The City Say’s the ESC would: Help development on K Street, Old Sacramento and Capitol Mall.  Benefits Previous City Investments  on K Street (the 700 Block and the Convention Center.  Generates potentially large stream of tax revenue for City services as a result of ESC and additional private development.

On March 26, The Sacramento City By a 7-2 vote, the council approved a non-binding “term sheet”


The Meat and Potatoes of the Arena Deal


Economic Boom for Downtown?

If the plans of the term sheet is approved by the city.   The city will give the Investors  land parcels  downtown, Natomas and other areas of the city.    The Investment Group would eventually develop the land Adjacent to downtown plaza.  The development would  include, Retail, office, hotels, and Residential , The city would collect new property taxes from those developments.     However, there are no time-frames set for the development, which means that land could remain vacant for…….

“The City of Sacramento has not conducted impact (Parking) study”

Currently there are 37oo parking spaces in Downtown Plaza.   The plaza is estimated to lose 1000 spaces due to construction of the Arena.   The Agreement calls for 1000 spaces held for premium seat holders. Leaving 1700 spaces for a mix of Kings fans and mall shoppers.    The nearest parking is under  I-5 at Old Sacramento and near the Crocker Art Museum.

Historically, the majority of people who attend events in arena and stadiums, eat, and shop in those venues.     

The arena is likely to create parking shortages downtown, effecting  local businesses.

The City assumes more people will use public transit.   In Sacramento, most routes end  by 10pm.    The light rail in its current configuration would be overwhelmed.   Regional Transit (RT) Operating budget is in the red.

The term sheet calls for An Arena comparable to other NBA facilities including the Amway Center in Orlando, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Chesapeake Center in Oklahoma City and the Pepsi Center in Denver. Some venues, American Airlines arena in Miami and  Madison Square Garden  have smaller theaters generating  more foot traffic.

Most business suffer a drop in transactions when the principal tenant is closed .   After the NBA season is over, all of the Arenas mentioned  above arenas are often dark for  a week or more.        How do the surrounding business benefit when the arena is dark?    Note: Sacramento will be the first Arena in an existing mall.


In a perfect world, city leaders  would negotiate the best deal possible for the citizens they represent.   Despite the list of investors, the current term sheet is a cut and paste affair.  With much of the same terms at the 2012 sheet with the city’s contribution being the same.

Most of the funding will come from the city’s parking garages… Including those the city doesn’t fully own?

The city believes it will get nearly a third of money from surcharges.  The projection is based on ticket sales of many years ago when the Kings were selling out.    The surcharge would not be applied to suites during Kings games.

The City will not receive revenue from parking during Kings Events. (and share revenues during non-kings events)

If approved the, city would  limit events at Sleep Train (a non compete clause) after the ESC was built.



Sacramento is a medium size city with nearly a half a million citizens..  Unlike, similar cities of  its size Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City Austin, Portland and Seattle.   It doesn’t have a large corporate presence to absorb hiccups created by the leaders of the city.

In an attempt to keep the Sacramento Kings, it has over and understated what the city can afford.  When it comes to development the city doesn’t have a positive history.

In  1996, the newly expanded Sacramento Convention Center  opened.  Leaders said we must have it, the older center wasn’t competitive.    The city believed the expanded center  would bring visitors to the city and to K Street mall.   The center did not see a major increase in business.   Leaders believed the problem was, there weren’t enough rooms to support the center.   Nearly ten years later,backed by the city,Sheraton Grand opened next doors.  The Sheraton was successful,  however, today the  Convention center continues to look for business. Sources say the Center is not profitable.

Last year, the city approved a term sheet for an Arena at the Railyard, shortly thereafter the city laid off nearly three hundred workers including Fire and Police staff.

The term sheet has more holes than J Street.  Leaving taxpayers to fill them.  If the perfect storm fails the city will have to borrow more money or issue new bonds at a higher rate of interest.

More than 9 million dollars are at risk, the city is making a Three Hundred Dollar Commitment at a time when the city cant pay its bills.  

The Sacramento City Council approved the nonbinding term sheet after less than three days…..   By all appearances it’s a done deal.

Newspapers, Newsgroups and bloggers can see the holes and potential damage that might be created by approving this deal.   After a week ,no one from I street has publicly questioned theTerm Sheet.

Could a 300 million dollar debt bankrupt Sacramento?


This complex deal needs to be placed on the ballot and approved by local citizens.