Only the mayor and Councilman Robbie Waters voted yes.
Councilman Rob Fong said Johnson’s 18-month-long strong mayor campaign isn’t the same as a public vetting.
Fong: “I don’t think the case has been made that a) there’s something wrong with the current form of government. Now, there may well be, and I’m happy to have that discussion, but I want the public to have that discussion with us.”
After realizing he didn’t have the votes, Mayor Johnson spoke for more than half an hour. He fired off detailed criticisms of each council member who opposed him and said the council has denied citizens the right to vote.
Johnson: “We have basically said no, and silenced the voice, and said no longer can we participate in this discussion until the gatekeepers up here are ready. And I just don’t feel that’s the best of our democracy. I just don’t believe that. But I have to support it because it is the governance structure that we’re in.”
Johnson’s proposal was a step back from his original “strong mayor” initiative. That measure drew criticism as an over-reaching power grab. The latest proposal was more in line with other major California cities. It’s unclear whether Johnson will continue to push for increasing his powers, or if he’ll now shift his focus elsewhere.