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Mayor's Staffing Proposal Draws Fire During Heated City Council

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Allen Warren and Steve Hansen talk after the two argued over whether Hansen should be allowed to criticize Mayor Kevin Johnson's budget proposal when Johnson wasn't there to defend himself.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Things between two Sacramento City Councilmen got heated Tuesday night.

Steve Hansen argued against parts of next year's budget proposal that would give the mayor five new employees.   

"This is not the time to staff up at the top," said Hansen. "This is the time to add line-level workers so we make sure we accomplish the people's businesses."

That's when Councilman Allen Warren interrupted.
"But, Mr. Hansen, can I stop you for a second? Let me just say it would be ..." Warren started.

But Hansen kept going. 

"Now hold on, now hold on," said Warren

"I'm not done," Hansen answered.

"Hold on, but I have the, what they call, the chair," said Warren.

"I have the microphone," said Hansen.

"And I just asked to take it" said Warren.

Warren said the council shouldn't attack Mayor Johnson's budget proposals when the mayor wasn't there to defend himself.

But, Hansen continued to make his argument.

"Money needs to be spent not only in priority neighborhoods, but making sure we sustain quality of life and services," said Hansen

"We're not spending the money tonight," said Warren.

"I understand that, I understand what the item is," said Hansen.

"But, the purpose is what?" asked Warren.

"But I am speaking and it's my prerogative," answered Hansen.

"But the purpose is what?" asked Warren.

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

"Or I stop you," said Warren.

"Mr. City Attorney, while I am speaking, I don't believe that it's the Vice Mayor's prerogative to quiet me," said Hansen.

Sacramento City Attorney Jim Sanchez told Warren he did not have the right to silence Hansen and Hansen finished. Sanchez also told the council the mayor's office has violated the city charter if it has already hired full-time staff for new positions without council authorization.

If the city council approves, Mayor Johnson would add two people to work on goals he outlined in his state of the city address as well as a legislative director, intergovernmental staffer and community liaison.

Ben Sosenko with the mayor's office says three of the positions were not intended to be new.

"The positions we believed would be coming from the city manager's side were already-budgeted and already-created, vacated positions," said Sosenko. "The city manager chose to create a budget that added positions."

The city manager's office says Sosenko is "mistaken."

Besides Sosenko, the mayor's staff  consists of an administrator, policy specialist, special assistant, an executive assistant and a chief of staff.

If the council approves the budget June 9 the cost for the mayor's staff will increase by about $700,000. It's currently about $1 million. 

Councilman Jeff Harris said he would not support the proposal if he were to vote today.

Warren and Councilman Larry Carr said they were surprised by the budget items and did not see justification for them. But they and Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said they would wait for Mayor Johnson to make his case before they make up their minds.

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