K.J.’s just-released emails show alternate city government reality
New documents reveal how the mayor used city staff for political maneuvering and attempted power plays
In July of 2013, Kevin Johnson had just prevented the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle. His days were busy shilling influential locals to buy season tickets, and maneuvering to prevent signature gatherers from putting an arena-subsidy referendum on the ballot. But, on July 26 of that year, the mayor—who often likens himself as Sacramento’s CEO—also found time to fly to Atlanta and play human-resources director and personally conduct an exit interview of a low-level worker with the National Conference of Black Mayors.
It’s true: New emails acquired by SN&R last week, as part of its recent legal victory against the mayor, reveal the lengths to which Johnson and his staff went to mop up blowback from his takeover at NCBM.
The more-than 70 emails and documents, which the mayor worked to keep secret for more than a year, don’t appear to contain any incriminating criminal evidence or “smoking guns” regarding Johnson or his ascension at the mayors group. But they do reaffirm a contentious, costly and time-consuming conquest of the Georgia-based nonprofit.
Perhaps more importantly, these Johnson communications also show how the mayor uses public city staff and his private employees to advance his political ambitions.
“Having a second, or alternate, bureaucracy that’s outside the government system … I think that’s unusual,” is how Peter Scheer, with the Northern California-based First Amendment Coalition, described Johnson’s administration at City Hall.
And they also function as a template for how a 21st century politician can use private email, such as Gmail, to skirt transparency, a case study that First Amendment and freedom-of-information experts refer to as a new frontier for elected leaders in California.
Scheer argued that Johnson’s use of private emails should be a concern.
“I think that’s inappropriate,” he said of his widespread use of Gmail accounts to avoid scrutiny from Sacramento News & Review - K.J.’s just-released emails show alternate city government reality - News - Local Stories - July 28, 2016: