Inside City Politics
Mayor Darrell Steinberg calls Daniel Hahn the “best police chief” in the United States. The praise comes with a hyperbole warning. The U.S. has about 12,300 police departments, which means maybe Steinberg overlooked someone better than Hahn.
Or not. This time, the mayor could be right.
It’s not easy to win support from a mayor who tries to withhold funds from your police department. But that’s Steinberg. He wants it both ways. The mayor can gush about his favorite police chief while arguing against requests for police hiring, training and internal affairs.
Like a truck speeding downhill with imbalanced brakes, the plan by Mayor Darrell Steinberg to cure homelessness by giving a roof to every unsheltered person is poised to jackknife and skid out of control. The rubber is already starting to burn.
The Steinberg plan, revealed in January, rests on three cornerstones. First, the proposal requires all eight City Council districts to identify and prepare shelter sites for homeless people. This expectation spreads the pain and creates a veneer of egalitarian sacrifice.
Second, the proposal is designed to limit neighborhood objection. Sure, City Hall is conducting outreach. But Steinberg envisions one decisive City Council vote in June to launch his $100 million housing balloon. It’s all or nothing.
A unique alliance between the police chief and his boss is changing how Sacramento Police operate. For Chief Daniel Hahn and City Manager Howard Chan, the partnership is essential to systemic, progressive improvements in the city’s law enforcement.
Chan and Hahn say police reforms, which include reimagining the way officers are recruited and trained and respond to everything from gun violence to traffic stops, are made possible by the relationship. Reforms won’t succeed without it.
Darrell Steinberg is a smart, sophisticated guy. He has a law degree from UC Davis and decades of legislative experience. Sacramento voters figured they were getting a pro when they elected him mayor in 2016. He won a second term without serious opposition last year.
So it’s a mystery why Steinberg has been unable to muster nothing beyond the most elementary, simplistic response to the deepest challenge of his mayoral tenure—the homeless crisis.
Simon’s Bar & Café is not the oldest saloon in Sacramento. It’s not the biggest or most fancy. Simon’s is something else—a place that for the past four decades embodied and embraced Sacramento’s identity as a political town.
Despite efforts to diversify and pretend otherwise, Sacramento lives on politics. Without the legislators, staff, lobbyists and consultants who fill the Capitol and shape the work done there, Sacramento would be something like Fresno. Simon’s would never succeed in Fresno.
Bustling, innovative, homey—words you wouldn’t think to describe alleyways. But in Sacramento, this defines these urban corridors.
Nestled among the busy streets of Sacramento’s “grid” are 21 alleys whose names represent many of the city’s characteristics. Not only have the names made for easier directions, but also created opportunities for businesses to uniquely use their spaces.