It looks like the custody battle for Sacramento Kings arena referendum petitions that had Chris Hansen’s dirty fingerprints on them is over, and despite Hansen’s vow to stop them from being submitted, they’re going to be submitted:
STOP announced Tuesday it had received the signatures from an Orange County political consultant named Brandon Powers, who had arranged for the petitions to be gathered with $100,000 from Hansen. The campaign is in the process of verifying the validity of the signatures, said STOP spokesman John Hyde. He said the goal will be to collect 30,000 signatures, enough to provide a buffer for those that may be found invalid by county elections officials…
STOP said it would deny Hansen’s request to return the petitions.
“These petitions represent the will of 18,000 people who took the time to provide their signatures and express their desire to put this tax subsidy to a vote,” Julian Camacho, president of STOP, said in a statement. “We believe it would be wrong – ethically and legally – to deny them that right.”
There is a bit of weirdness here, in that Hansen violated campaign finance reporting laws, and the only punishment he’ll get for it is to pay a fine of … well, more than half his campaign donations, so that’s a pretty sizable chunk of change. More to the point, though, as Camacho notes, it’d be tough to argue that the 18,000 people who had the misfortune to sign Hansen-provided petitions instead of some other petitions should be disenfranchised just because of who bought the paper they put pen to — you’d have to start questioning whether there are people who passed up non-Hansen petitions because they’d already signed Hansen ones, etc., and that’s a road you really don’t want to go down.
Anyway, it looks like Sacramentans will get to vote on the proposed $334 million in arena subsidies sometime next year, in that time-honored American tradition where it’s totally considered legit for both sides to try to spend each other into the ground. (Even people with no connection to the vote! The Supreme Court says so!) The pro-arena forces are bound to have a massive spending advantage here, but let’s also remember the 100-to-1 rule, which says that sports facility proponents need to outspend opponents by at least 100-to-1 to have a decent shot at winning a public vote. Gentlemen, start your wallets.