They’re sworn to serve and protect California’s Capital City, but the latest political move by the Sacramento Police Officers Association has many concerned that members of the city’s police union are focused on serving themselves.
“The Sacramento Police Officers Association is endorsing Measure ‘L’ which is the strong-mayor,” union president Dustin Smith announced Thursday evening.
“It’s a classic example of ‘i scratch your back…you scratch my back’. The police union has had an issue with the city manager and suddenly they’re endorsing strong mayor? I’m assuming they’re going to try to get favorable contract negotiations in the future,” Julie Murphy, co-chair of the Masrhall School – New Era Park Neighborhood Association told FOX40.
Community groups like Murphy’s are worried that a strong-mayor endorsement by police means the public loses out on transparency and ethical governance.
“There’s not going to be the level of accountability that we have now with a professionally run city,” she said.
The strong-mayor proposal would make Sacramento’s current CEO – City Manager John Shirey – a CAO or chief administrative officer, appointed by and serving under the mayor.
“We’re going to replace, under this proposal, professional management with political management,” District 4 Councilman Steve Hansen said.
Hansen is leading the charge against the effort to make Kevin Johnson a ‘strong mayor’ with the ‘Stop the Power Grab’ campaign.
“The politics, I don’t think will allow us to make the right fiscal decisions for the city,” Hansen said.
The union’s strong-mayor endorsement comes after a bitter court battle between the city and police over pension contributions.
“The end result was a 12% (contribution) for nine% raise, which was a bit of a wash,” Hansen said.
“I think it’s a little bit of tit-for-tat and I frankly don’t think it’s right,” he said.
A union memo sent last week calls City Manager Shirey’s attention to his own pension ‘appalling,’ considering what officers were facing.
Still, Dustin Smith says the strong-mayor concept is good for the city for reasons that have nothing to do with his union.
“This isn’t a Shirey-specific issue. This isn’t a Mayor Johnson-specific issue. This is really about what kind of government would be best for the community and raise that level of accountability,” Smith said.
According to him that accountability would come from most of the city power resting with an elected official instead of a city manager voters didn’t select and would have to persuade a majority of the city council to remove.
Smith had previously signed onto the ballot argument as an individual.
This endorsement represents what his entire union wants to see happen at the polls in November.