Street Cars: Trump Delays funding on Sacramento’s next White Elephant

Image result for white elephant

white elephant (def)  a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.


 2015, Supporters of  Sacramento’s measure B told us.  Sacramento would  benefit all our neighborhoods by improving mobility between midtown, downtown, and West Sacramento with an affordable transit system that is authentically Sacramento.   Measure B would improve our economy. Streetcars create a vibrant local economy, which means more small businesses and more jobs in downtown and midtown.  The streetcar project will help create 12,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic development over 20 years and will allow seniors, students, visitors, workers, and central city residents to go car-free.

Those opposed to Measure B said, the streetcar project would operate at an enormous annual loss. Ticket sales are expected to cover about 20% of cost of operation; the other 80% will require a subsidy.  The shortfall will likely come from the City’s General Fund, reducing local services such as parks, bike lanes, street repairs, the homeless, and police.  It runs on, or near, the same Streets served by existing light rail and buses.

November 2015: Measure B, didn’t receive the required ( two thirds) required to pass the tax increase.

Despite its failure, Mayor Steinberg and other city leaders continued to press on. The voter rejected project received funding from the state and a 100 million dollar  commitment from Congress.  The Riverfront streetcar project grew in size, from 3.3 miles to 4.4 miles ending at West Sacramento’s City Hall.

The arguments against the project in 2015, continues to be true in 2018.  The proposed route continue to be served by buses and light rail.   While there are more housing along the routes, no one has identified need.

What we do know!

If completed, the route will require a subsidy.   Regional Transit, is looking for riders.

In the last 12 months, Regional Transit has seen more than 2 million fewer bus and light-rail trips compared to the year before, a 10 percent loss. That adds up to a more than $800,000 deficit in fare revenue.  The hope was the Golden 1 Center would attract more customers, but a year after opening and a year after rate hikes, RT just isn’t seeing the impact (CBS Sacramento January 2018)

Nearly four years ago, Regional Transit opened the Green Line from Downtown to Richards Boulevard (Township 9)   Today the line carries fewer than estimated 200 passengers a day is a drain on RT.

Sacramento along with Albuquerque, Dallas, El Paso, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Orange County, Reno, Seattle, Gary,Indiana, St. Petersburg ,Florida and Tempe Arizona.  Recently learned, the funds approved by Congress in March is being held up by President Trump’s Federal Transit Administration.

Thank you, Donald?

It isn’t clear why the Trump’s administration halted transportation funding. If his administration re evaluated the methods used for cities to qualify for funding, then this is a positive move for tax payers.   If the project is completely funded, Sacramento’s Riverfront  street car line will be a financial drain on Sacramento and the cities served by RT on day one.

Its only taxpayer money, the project doesn’t have to make fiscal sense.  Fiscal independent studies aren’t important, history or profitability isn’t important (Sacramento Convention Center) If Des Moines have one, well our city should have one too.



Sacramento’s Next Mayor should be….

Yes Mary Elizabeth, there is a mayoral contest in Sacramento. No, Kevin Johnson has not returned to Phoenix, he is still Sacratomatoville’s big boss.

A nice lady is running, her name is  Angelique Ashby  a councilwomen  representing the Natomas area, her foot slipped of the brake as she announced she was running for mayor before the dust settled around the current mayor.

A local man named Darrell Steinberg is also running, he was a member of the State Senate and like Ms’ Ashby was on the Council.   Steinberg has become the consummate politician. He was lining up his ducks, before announcing his candidacy. While Ms Ashby was making hair and clothing choices, Steinberg had assembled an army.

Mary, there are other candidates but I am limited to 400 words.

Steinberg has become a slick politician which may not play well  in year where there is a lot of anger towards the establishment candidates. However he is well liked  and well known and respected .  Ashby seems personable which may make her attractive to core voters, she doesn’t seem confident which may actually work for her. However closely aligning herself with the Arena may be a mistake, as many core (older) voters do not support city dollars going towards the Arena.

Who would I vote for?

Sadly, Mary Elizabeth neither.

There isn’t real leadership coming from City Hall and there hasn’t been for quite awhile (at least 20 years) No one,not a  Mayor or a council member has expressed outrage at the cities business image or rankings. For years, Sacramento has been near or at the bottom of national business polls.   Which translates to jobs.

 Sacramento have spent MILLIONS to attract or retain professional sports franchises and little to  develop an environment attractive to business.  As West Placer county and West Sacramento’s  Business community continues to expand.  Sacramento’s growth seems  depended on the housing industry.

The city can’t fix, what they don’t acknowledge    Last year, one council member, Steve Hansen broke ranks and went public ,declaring the city’s Sexual Embarrassment Policy was broken.

Mary Elizabeth,

Ashby and Steinberg are two competent individuals, they both promise to make the city better. The problem, they were and are part of the problem . This bears repeating, you can’t fix, what you don’t acknowledge.  .  Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to fix the problem.

Happy 18th, make sure you register to vote!

CityFella (you know)

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.


Steve Hansen removes the Cone of Silence from Sacramento City Hall

One can hear a pin drop at City Hall. The Silence hasn’t gone unnoticed by the local press.  It began in May, after a city employee filed a claim against Mayor Kevin Johnson, accusing him of sexual harassment.

Click Link for Story

 A few days ago Vice Mayor Allen Warren was accused of sexual harassment by a former city aid

Click Link for Story

One day after Allen Warren’s complaint, Elsie Fong a (former supervisor with the Department of Utilities) was accused of sexually harassing a female subordinate.

An former employee said ,Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby
denied an employee medical and family leave benefits.and is suing the city.

District 4 City Councilman Steve Hansen   says the city isn’t doing enough to prevent sexual harassment after three cases of allegations.  He wants the city auditor to evaluate the city’s policy over the next 30 days.

At last night council meeting, the mayor and some of the other council members would have preferred Hansen meet with the council before talking to the media.

The allegations began May, if this was another public entity, such as school board,  there would be demands for an independent inquiry.

The resent events are unprecedented, never in the history of the City of Sacramento has three members of the city(The Mayor, the Vice Mayor and Mayor Por Tem)  accused of harassment (within months of each other)

Delia Chacon complained to the city about Allen Warren and Estrellita Ilee Muller filed her claim with the city clerks office and it was the council who voted 7.0 in a closed door session to reject Muller’s claim against the city.

 What are the consequences for city employees and elected officials?

Hansen says, the city’s policy is outdated. A paragraph on the city’s human resources website has a link to read more, but the link doesn’t seem to work.

“Our policy doesn’t say we have no tolerance for this behavior, it doesn’t explicitly say that it’s illegal which it is,” . “San Jose’s policy is 11 pages long, but it also deals with if an elected official does something that is inappropriate how to report it.”

Outside  of City Hall, The League of Women Voters, Sacramento Democratic Party and the Eye on Sacramento are calling for a creation of an independent city ethics commission.  Many cities have formed ethics commissions.

The mayor and some members of the council are miffed by Hansen’s actions.  How dare he talk to the media!  The mayor says he supports ethics reform.  Angelique Ashby and Allen Warren are on the city’s good governance committee.

At last night meeting, it seemed to be more about protocol than repairing the system.  District 8 Councilman Larry Carr said he had a problem with asking the city manager to implement a policy before the council sees it.  Image and Conflict of Interest is lost on  District 7’s Councilmen Rick Jennings who believes Ashby and Allen(who are accused of harassment) should not be asked to step down from the good governance committee.

It is clear, the current system is broken and breeds corruption.  The sentiment last night seemed to be, forget public perception, protect our colleagues. The only solution is an independent body.

Secrets and the Cone of Silence

There are eight council members, two of the eight have been accused of harassment. Citizens are talking,wondering what’s going on?     Missing is the outrage and embarrassment for city!  No one has come forward not a single council member has said,we need to look into this.    Transparency is simply 12 letter word.  Steve Hansen, a party of one has lifted the cone of silence off Sacramento’s City Hall.    At last nights meeting he said  “We can’t just let things get swept under the rug”    


” Real Councilmen of Sacramento” DRAMA @ City Hall Its ” WARREN vs HANSEN ” “The Sacramento Bee says TESTY!

The Housewives of Atlanta has closed shop for the season Sunday, No more purse swipes, no bad hair days.  Its been awhile since there has been real drama on “H” Street.  A while since Mayor Johnson as thrown a tantrum.

Apparently there was some real drama on Tuesday…………… Here is a piece from the Sacramento Bee

Councilmen and Sacramento Vice Mayor Allen Warren and Councilman Steve Hansen (Picture SacBee)


Councilmen Steve Hansen and Allen Warren had a spirited exchange over Hansen’s criticism of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s proposal to boost his staff more than 70 percent in one year.

Hansen: “That money needs to be spent not only in priority neighborhoods but making sure we sustain quality of life and services –”

Warren: “We’re not spending the money tonight.”

Hansen: “I understand that. I understand what the item is –”

Warren: “So, the purpose is what?”

Hansen: “But I am speaking. And it’s my prerogative.”

Warren: “The purpose is what?”

Hansen: “Mr. Vice Mayor, it is my prerogative to speak as long as I have the microphone, and unless I have finished, please do not –”

Warren: “Or I stop you.”

Hansen: “You cannot. Mr. City Attorney, while I am speaking, I don’t believe it’s the vice mayor’s prerogative to quiet me.”

Click to Read Sacramento Bee’s full Story

Can you say Rough Room?

If this were the housewives a purse may have been thrown

Wait, Wait, What’s Going on?

The Mayor wants to hire five people for his office at a cost of nearly $700,000.
Steve Hansen took issue with the request, as well as the fact that one of those jobs, a legislative director, has already been filled – weeks ahead of the council’s debate Tuesday and more than a month before the spending plan is likely to be approved.

Allen Warren, the vice mayor, interrupted Hansen to say it was unfair to attack the mayor’s budget without him in the room.
It seems most of the Council members learned of the mayor’s request on Sunday via the Sacramento Bee and Tuesday was to talk about the spending plan.
Mayor Johnson’s staff said he was traveling and could not attend the meeting.

Steve Hansen vs Mayor Kevin Johnson?

“Council chambers Pre-Heated”

KJ’s supporters suggests Steve Hansen is trying to cement himself as anti-mayor.   Hansen tells the Bee “I’m with the mayor 95 percent of the time. The idea that people find intrigue here is amusing to me because I’m just who I am and I haven’t changed. If something’s not right, I’m going to say it. My job isn’t to go along to get along.”

Some say there is heat in the room. Freshman District 4 Councilman Steve Hansen was instrumental in killing “Strong Mayor” for ever.  Strong Mayor was a major defeat for Mayor Johnson who spent more than six year attempting to get more power to run the city’s day to day operations.

In 2013, as Johnson put the finishing touches on a financing deal for a new Sacramento Kings arena, Hansen was a bit of a holdout.He suggested a pivotal City Council vote on a funding term sheet be delayed to give the public more time to consider the proposal, a move that angered some in Johnson’s inner circle. Hansen also pushed for local arts groups to receive a boost in funding if the arena deal was passed. (SacBee)

Its only Money

Steve Maviglio, one of Johnson’s closest political advisers, questioned Hansen’s long-term strategy.    “Taking the mayor on over .01 percent of the budget?

Hey Steve, 700,000 for five positions .

Or 11 Police Officers or 10 Fireman or 13 Paramedics or 22 clerks or 13 Park Personal

Stay Tuned for Drama, DRAMA

Time for this CityFella to return to City Hall. Where there are Questions?Questions? QUESTIONS?
 Will Kevin Johnson add to his staff or is he doomed to share the City’s Box in the New Arena with the same old faces?   Can Steve Hansen drive his point home or will members of Crown Downtown make him an offer he cant refuse?
And what about KJ’s defender Allen Warren? can he drive KJ’s SUV?
I will be in row 4 with the Kodak Instamatic Camera and a discreet box of Cracker Jack’s
Stay Tuned


Puffing outdoors in Sacramento

Remember the days when there were smoking sections in Restaurants?  Smoke so intelligent, it knew to stay it its section.

Today, there are fewer and fewer places where a smoker can smoke.  In California, there are cities where you cant smoke outdoors.

In California and a number of states it is against the law to smoke in restaurants and bars.  However, smokers are allowed to smoke outside.

My city representative Councilmember Steve Hansen is leaning towards a citywide ban on outdoor  smoking in the cities Restaurants and Bars.

According to the American Lung Association in California, 73 cities in the state prohibit smoking in all outdoor dining areas; 42 restrict outdoor smoking with some exceptions.

Steve Hansen told the Bee ;“I’ve heard from a lot of people who think it would be meaningful and that they would eat out more often if they went there knowing there wouldn’t be smoking,”

I am a non smoker, militant in some circles and yet I have mixed feeling on an ordinance that would restrict smoking outdoors    In my perfect world no one would smoke anything anywhere.

In Sacramento, you cant smoke in building, in and around hospitals.   Sacramento State now has  limited smoking on Campus.

Twenty years ago non-smokers had few rights, today its the smokers.  If I where having a meal outdoors and a smoker lit up near me, my meal would be ruined.   With that said, I would not support a measure that would limit outdoor smoking.

Your thoughts?


P is for Pannell : Sac’s Big Box Ordinance Repealed

bod·y lan·guage

(Psychology) the nonverbal imparting of information by means of conscious or subconscious bodily gestures, posture, etc.

Bonnie Parnell was angry at last night’s City Council meeting.  The body language of the five term council member projected rage at times.  Her position was clear however her vote was curious.

The council chambers was packed.   Supporters of the current ordinance outnumbered  those who wanted the ordinance repealed by more than 2 to 1.   Organized Labor,  Neighborhood Associations and the Stonewall Democrat‘s were against the repeal.

In an odd turn, perhaps to appease the chamber crowd. District 3’s Steve Cohn mildly suggested an amendment to allow big box stores in areas (food deserts) without supermarkets.  He shared details  of an economic meeting  he and the city manager attended, They learned revenues (taxes) from super centers are much less other entities….then downplayed the findings.

District 3 Kevin McCarthy skillfully challenged the city’s’ claim of losing 1.6 million dollars in taxes. By asking how they arrived at those figures.   City staffer Scot Mende admitted it was calculation.

Freshman Council Person (District 4) Steve Hansen has replaced Angelique Ashby (District 1) as the Mayor Voice as he firmly rejected any amendments to the ordinance.

A citizen who was in favor of the repeal got a little more than he bargained for from Bonnie Pannell.

Wal Mart was a tenant in the Southgate shopping center in Pannell’s District.  He said the shopping center went down hill after Wal Mart left and  moved into Florin Towne Center ( Sacramento County)  she quickly gave the citizen a history lesson.   Wal Mart is still the lease holder in that now empty space at Southgate, insuring no other anchor can use the space.

After a few hours of citizens testimony the vote was 6-2 With Kevin McCarthy and Darrell Fong voting against and Bonnie Pannell abstaining.

Region Builders who spearheaded the Big Box Repeal, flexed their mighty muscle last night. Next Stop for RB is Strong Mayor 3