‘Mayor Steinberg’ a disaster-in-waiting for Sacramento

July 10, 2013

By Katy Grimes


Sacramento’s City Council has historically been a revolving door into state politics.

Do the names Phil Isenberg, Bob Matsui, Debra Ortiz, Lloyd Connelly, Darrell Steinberg, and Dave Jones, ring a bell? Each of these politicians started on the Sacramento City Council and then ran for state Assembly, Senate, or Congress in Matsui’s case. Jones is now the State Insurance Commissioner after serving in the Assembly.

The only good news is they leave Sacramento in pursuit of higher office. But now, Sacramento may get one of them back.

Making Sacramento worse

Senate Pres. pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, has not only floated the idea of running for Sacramento District Attorney, he is now considering Mayor. I’ve heard the rumor but preferred denial to acknowledgment. Until now.

Steinberg has an extraordinary record to run on. “He has done more to harm Sacramento and its residents during his tenure as Senate Pro Tem than perhaps any legislator in history,” a politicly astute friend told me yesterday. “He’s in the pockets of the unions, actively hostile towards democratic rights and open government, and a doctrinaire hard-core left-winger.  He would be an utter catastrophe for Sacramento.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

“Why can’t he just go away and get a real job in the private sector?” another friend asked.

In Steinberg pondering run for Sacramento DA, I wrote:

Steinberg, 53, has worked as an Employee Rights Attorney for the California State Employees Association prior to running for public office in 1992. Since then, he’s spent all but two years holding political office: Sacramento city council member, 1992-98; state assemblyman 1998-2004, then the state Senate from 2006 until now. He’s term-limited out of office in 2014. It’s the common musical-chairs routine, staying in office but switching seats because of term limits.

The CSEA, a public employee labor union, is affiliated with the SEIU, and represents more than 141,000 state employees.

His biography says, “Prior to state public service Steinberg worked for ten years at the California State Employees Association as an employee rights attorney, and as an Administrative Law Judge and mediator.” But the dates are not listed.

His bio on the Sacramento Bar Association reads differently: “For the six years prior to his election to the Assembly in 1998, Darrell Steinberg balanced his duties on the Sacramento City Council against the demands of his legal career, first as an employment lawyer and later as an administrative law judge and as a private arbitrator and mediator.”

It is important to note Steinberg also has taken out a committee to run for Lieutenant Governor. It is obvious that he is not going back to the private sector, either way, despite his affiliation with law firm Mackenroth, Ryan & Fong.

Raise your glass to ‘Mayor Steinberg’


However, imagining ‘Mayor Steinberg’ could be a fun drinking game. Players must toss a shot of Tequilla every time a member of the public yells at ‘Mayor Steinberg.’

Steinberg, who has been safely tucked into the protective bubble of the State Senate since 2006, and the Assembly since 1998, would be giving up the protective layers of staff and labor union protection if he moved to city council as Mayor. With council meetings every Tuesday evening, members of the public regularly sign up to speak to to the council, and frequently wag their fingers at the Mayor and council members, upset over some impending policy.

Steinberg has not had to deal with the public much since he won his Assembly seat in 1998. His public contact is carefully scripted and controlled by staff.

However, all fun aside, the idea of Steinberg as Mayor is not a good one. He would bring with him a level of statism the likes of which this city has never seen.

Steinberg is responsible for shafting Sacramento in the October 2009 water bond package. It included major changes to the law that required 20 percent local-regional water conservation goals in every region of the state. It established strict enforcement against ‘illegal appropriation of water.’ It established new requirements for ground water penalties. And this bill is why Sacramento residents, who live on two rivers and the Delta, will be on water meters while cities in the Southern part of the state will not.

Say goodbye to suburbia

Steinberg, the father of SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, is responsible for the requirements for most new housing to be built at 20 or more to the acre –  at least five times the traditional quarter acre per house. This would radically restructure urban areas, forcing much of the new hyper-density development into narrowly confined corridors, all near light rail stations — and all under the auspices of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Steinberg is pro-labor union, and has actively worked to expand public and private unions throughout the state. He currently is pushing his bill, SB 25, which would triple the size of the shrinking United Farm Workers by targeting six large, non-union farms in the state.

He is currently supporting all of the gun control measures currently in the Legislature, including increasing the depth of background checks on gun purchasers and all ammunition purchases, outlawing “assault rifles,” which aren’t actual assault rifles, and all of the other anti-gun bills violating our Second Amendment rights.

A Steinberg mayoral term would be disastrous. He would bring with him the modern liberal assault on Constitution-based values, while creating a growing, unaccountable city government, as he did with the state.

Someone pass me the Tequilla.

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