Measure L: Sacramento's Tarnished Mayor Wants Even More Power

Measure L: Sacramento's Tarnished Mayor Wants Even More Power

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has leveraged his past NBA basketball career into political success. This Nov. 4, he is asking the voters of California’s capital city to approve Measure L, which would concentrate power in his office. He is being supported by his wife, noted school reformer Michelle Rhee, who has defended the measure in public debates. Yet Johnson’s record provides ample reason why he should not be trusted with more control.

Johnson was involved in one of the first and most notorious cases of corruption in the Obama administration. In 2008, as Michelle Malkin recounted in 2011, the Inspector General in charge of monitoring AmeriCorps, the Clinton-era service program, “concluded that Johnson and aide Dana Gonzalez had squandered hundreds of thousands of a nearly-million-dollar grant earmarked for his non-profit youth organization, St. HOPE.”

Instead of being prosecuted for mismanaging over $845,000, Johnson was able to secure a deal with the U.S. Attorney in Sacramento–who happened to be a Democrat–that allowed him to pay back half of the AmeriCorps grant. But the story didn’t end there. Shortly after Barack Obama took office in 2009, Walpin was fired for no reason, and the administration set about defaming him, claiming that he was “confused” and “disoriented.”

In a further irony, the Obama administration official who delivered the bad news to Walpin was none other than Norman Eisen, an Obama bundler who, during the previous administration, had styled himself as an anti-corruption activist. (His organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), is now run by leftist David Brock.) Michelle Obama then installed one of her cronies as a “senior adviser” to AmeriCorps. 

Walpin was cleared, and sued to regain his job–only to have his lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge who ruled that the law did not allow him to challenge his firing. This had all the marks of a Chicago-style cover-up.

In the past, Johnson had also been caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct involving minor girls, which he paid $230,000 to settle. (He was never prosecuted in what Walpin later called “he said, she said” case.)

The fact that he keeps getting out of trouble may have encouraged Johnson to pull another stunt–this time having Rhee advocate locally for Measure L even though she is apparently not registered to vote in Sacramento. 

Johnson has been pushing for more power for years, arguing for a “strong mayor” form of government even as a candidate in 2008. He had to withdraw an earlier, more ambitious proposal after receiving no significant public support. As the left-wing California Progress Report noted in 2010: 

Opponents of the measure questioned why a mayor who had never attended a single city council meeting would ask to rewrite a city charter he’d never read in order to replace a form of government he never observed with one written by his own attorney to empower an office he had yet to hold with more authority than any mayor before him says is needed.

Proponents of Measure L actually claim that Johnson’s proposal–which he calls “full democracy,” though it will invest him with massive executive power–will make Sacramento’s government “More independent from politics as usual.” 

Opponents, however, note: “During his first six years in office, Johnson has demonstrated that he doesn’t really care about transparency in government.” 

Indeed, Johnson’s alarming record speaks for itself.

Image: AP

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak


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