Kevin Johnson's Mayoral Campaign May Have Hit A Snag

A lot of people perked up and took notice last week when former Cal and Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson announced that he was running for mayor of Sacramento. Johnson is known as a philanthropist, having devoted himself to several urban renewal projects around Sacramento (his hometown) since his retirement from basketball in 2000. He founded the St. Hope Academy in 1989, a nonprofit "faith-based" community development corporation. He's taking on three-term incumbent Heather Fargo in the municipal election that will be held in June, which some are already calling a mini Hillary vs. Obama showdown. It is anything but that, however.

Johnson is already facing a few thorny issues. First, his commitment to urban renewal apparently does not extend to the properties he owns (as Will wrote back in October). Johnson apologized after The Sacramento Bee ran a story about Kynship Development, a for-profit company owned by Johnson. Nearly half of Kynship's 37 properties have been cited for health code violations over the past decade, and we're not talking about minor stuff.

For months, the remains of animals — sheep and goats that neighbors suspect were dumped by someone butchering them for meat — have turned up with gut-churning frequency on the empty weed patch. Neglected lots attract problems, especially in lower-income areas. On the 33rd Street parcel, the animal remains molder alongside garbage, discarded construction materials and jagged bike parts as children play nearby. Kynship Development also owns two rental homes nearby. One has had sewage bubbling up in the backyard and waste backing up in the washing machine, while the other is infested with mice, according to tenants and a city report.

But more potentially damaging are old allegations of Johnson's inappropriate behavior with a teenage girl 10 years ago in Phoenix, for which he was ultimately never prosecuted.

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The alleged sexual contacts, Turley wrote, had occurred in the summer of '95, when Kim was 16 and Johnson was 29. He quoted Kim Adams extensively in his demand letter, including this account: "He [Johnson] said I could sleep in his room or the guesthouse and I chose the guesthouse. . . . We got into the bed and he took all of my clothes off and all of his but his shirt. He was on top of me touching me all over—my breasts, butt, in between my legs, and stomach. Then he took off his shirt. I didn't really know what to do—I was very confused because I thought we were friends, but I didn't know what else to do than to go along with it. . . . He told me to pinky-promise not to say anything and when I asked why, he said I knew why."

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Johnson, saying the case did not meet the agency's threshold of "reasonable likelihood of conviction." Hey, I have nothing against the guy. But this is politics in the Eliot Spitzer/Mark Foley Era, and stories like this are red meat. KJ may have a future in politics, but I wouldn't bet on him here.

The Summer Of '95 [Phoenix New Times]
Investigative Report: Neglect Taints A Star's Legacy [Sacramento Bee]
Kevin Johnson Has Little Use For Your Meat [Deadspin]