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Wag the dog: Sacramento style

Have you heard about the new group called “Sacramento 2020”? They’re a “diverse coalition of Sacramentans (who are) putting voters first in the political process (!)” What an exciting concept, right? If only there were a way to find out the names of the people which make up that “diverse coalition”, but alias, there is none. Trust me, I’ve tried.

I attended a poorly advertised “public workshop” on Saturday morning that was reportedly designed to gain “community input” about Mayor Kevin Johnson latest attempt to enact a “strong mayor”-type of government in Sacramento. I say poorly advertised because there were only about 20 people in attendance, and about a fifth of those 20 were only informed at the last minute by another community advocate who thought the timing and method of outreach for the meeting was a bit odd, to say the least. Think about that for a second; there are over 450,000 people in Sacramento, but the members of the mayor’s staff who are charged with engaging with the community are only able to get 20 people to come out for a meeting? Anyways…

At the entrance to the meeting room was a sign-in sheet that had a logo on its header for the group “Sacramento 2020”. Besides the folks attending the “workshop”, there were only two other people in the room; Kunal Merchant, the Chief of Staff to the mayor, and Raihane Dalvi, his assistant. So it’s safe to say that one of these two people provided the sign-in sheet. Both of these people, by the way, are on the city’s payroll.

So, fast-forwards to today. I get the following press release announcing that two former mayors are endorsing the “Checks and Balances Act” which would give the mayor more control of the city council and the authority to hire and fire the city manager. The logo at the top of the page? Oh yeah, that’s “Sacramento 2020”. As I read this note, one paragraph really caught my eye:

“The plan enjoys broad support from Sacramento 2020, a diverse coalition of Sacramentans dedicated to creating more accountability, ethics and transparency in local government. The coalition recently released survey results showing strong levels of public support for the plan.”

So again, I’m left wondering, who is “Sacramento 2020”? Who are the people who make up its "diverse coalition?” And why can’t I find a list of its members anywhere online? No matter how hard I look?

For example:

Their own webpage, sacramento2020.org, makes no mention whatsoever as to who runs the site. It does, however, contain links to their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Their Facebook page, facebook.com/sacramento2020, has no listed administrator and no contact information, but several members of the mayor’s staff have “liked” the page, and three out of the four pages that this Facebook page promotes are groups founded by the mayor; For Art’s Sake, Greenwise Sacramento, and Think Big Sacramento.

The first account that their Twitter (@sacramento2020) followed was @TinyTortuga, the twitter of Raihane Dalvi, the same mayoral assistant mentioned above.

The sacramento2020.org website itself is owned by Danny Rentschlcer, who in turn runs RR Advertising, a firm that does web design work for some of Kevin Johnson’s other groups, including For Art’s Sake.

And despite my repeated requests to Kevin Johnson’s staff for a comment on this matter, I could not get so much as a one-word reply out of both Joaquin McPeek, the mayor’s press secretary, or Kunal Merchant. I also sent an email to Chis Tapio, the person who sent me the press release, to no avail.

So who is “Sacramento 2020”? We’re only left to assume since no one will admit what appears to be evident; they’re members of the mayor’s staff who are attempting to drum up bogus buzz in support of K.J.’s latest power grab, and they obviously don’t think you’re smart enough to figure it out.

Prove them wrong, Sacramento.

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