Sacramento arena petition battle getting ridiculous in too many ways to fit in a headline

There were a bunch of developments in the Sacramento Kings arena saga this week, and fortunately Sactown Royalty has summarized most of them for us. But I’m still going to summarize them even more, because that’s how the Internet rolls:

  • The counting of petitions to put the arena deal up for a public vote in June, already complicated by such matters as the mayor’s pro-arena group trying to demand that the petitioners pay to have the petitions counted, got even more complicated with the report (also from the same pro-arena group, the crazily named The4000) that the petitions were issued in five (or maybe eight) slightly different versions. This is either a major crisis that will require going back to the beginning and doing a recount, or a minor issue that in past petition cases hasn’t caused any problems at all, depending on who you ask. Or, more likely, grounds for a lawsuit.
  • If you’re wondering how the petition validating is going otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln, of the first 8,518 signatures to be checked, 67.7% were deemed valid, somewhat ahead of the 62% validity rate needed for the ballot measure to go through.
  • There could be an initial ruling soon in a lawsuit claiming that the city illegally offered under-the-table inducements to the new owners of the Kings to help get them to buy the team, with the plaintiffs currently trying to depose city councilmember Kevin McCarty on the subject. Which seems like a reach, but we’re talking about a battle here that’s currently turning on petition typos, so really, anything is fair game.
  • Meanwhile, Craig Powell of Eye on Sacramento writes that the city is trying yet another tack to get around a possible June vote, by pushing up the sale of arena bonds to 14 days before voters would go to the polls. That could be difficult — as the Sacramento Bee has previously noted, petitioners could always go to court to try to delay the bond sale until after the vote, and “it’s also difficult to imagine that the bond could get through the legal and underwriting process with a ballot measure pending” — but we’ve certainly seen these sorts of shenanigans before.

In sum, then, the arena battle is still a great big steaming mess, and everyone could save a lot of time and legal fees by choosing a simpler method of resolving it. Like, say, arm wrestling.

15 comments on “Sacramento arena petition battle getting ridiculous in too many ways to fit in a headline

  1. On point one, there was a pretty interesting exchange between the Bee and the pro-vote group yesterday.

    STOP actually described the variations to the City on Dec 9 — that’s how The4000 got hold of this information. But the majority of these are simple formatting differences — the content was not affected in any way. I think The4000 is holding a flawed position on this point.

  2. Yikes, that’s kind of bad. The purpose of the enacting clause is to have a short summary that someone signing can read quickly that’s not a block of legal-ese. If there’s no enacting clause that leaves the form signed quite a bit more open to the (already alleged) paid petition gatherers stating everything/anything under the sun to get you to sign.

    I thought it was more likely that some different versions circulated prior to the exact wording of the initiative being nailed down, which would be a violation in my state of WA actually – you have to file it online and get the wording approved before it can be circulated for signatures. They’re quite particular about the initiative being signed not differing from one form to the other… it’s mostly the same is a bad excuse.

  3. an attorney with a prominent Sacramento political firm noted that the petition forms fail to include an “enacting clause,” which is required under state law. Different versions of the petitions also have different dates on them.

  4. Man, this seems like an awful lot of fuss over a basketball team that’s 39-76 over this and last seasons.

  5. How is the eminent domain going for the piece of land they did not secure (yet said they did in May 2013) going? Is the City of Sacramento still moving forward on that? Has the current owner of the Kings been reimbursing the City of Sacramento for their time and expense? Or does that $$ get paid once the City is done with their eminent domain actions?

  6. Treebird: The eminent domain suit was filed yesterday evening. The private side put down a 1/3 down payment ($4.3M), as required by law. I’m pretty uncomfortable with the idea of the private group paying for what will be a piece of city land; I bet doing that saves the private side $13M pretty quickly, since they wouldn’t have to pay property tax on that land.

  7. Here’s the article about the eminent domain suit, filed on Thursday:

  8. They’re restarting the petition count:

  9. The anti-vote group is having a press conference at a cemetery.
    We're here. At @The4000Arena press conference to respond to news of County separating the STOP initiative petitions.— Crown Downtown (@CrownDowntown) January 11, 2014

  10. It seems unlikely to me that an attorney involved in the process sent an electronic communication instructing the city to “pay up” to cover the increased cost of the team given demand from ‘seattle’ (or Chris Hansen as he is sometimes known).

    Dorso surely would have known any printed or electronic communication could be used against him or the deal he was promoting/assisting with.

    Then again, it’s not like there have never been any incompetent and arrogant lawyers called to the bar in the past, so anything is possible.

    I’m interested in what would constitute an “illegal” under the table subsidy in this regard, given that essentially the entire arena funding model and Ranadive & Co’s purchase of the club are based on massive municipal subsidy. Is it the fact that these alleged “other” subsidies are not public that makes them illegal? If so, wouldn’t the entire deal be illegal, since it hasn’t been fleshed out enough for any member of the public (or, in all likelihood, council member or city employee) to know exactly what it contains.

    It isn’t an accident, of course, that people push for votes on these things before the ink is even on paper. They would never get most of the clauses they get approved in if they wrote them down first…

  11. C’mon Sacrament…Kevin Johnson saved the Kings from being in Seattle…yes its going to take public funding but its not the end of the world. Lets all get behind this..nits creates jobs and the kings get their long deserve arena ..this is getting annoying.

  12. I heard St. Louis is now in the running for an NBA team, thanks to that recent deal with those brothers.

  13. I don’t think the Spirits case had anything to do with why St. Louis doesn’t have an NBA team. (Though the complete disaster that the Spirits were financially — a young Bob Costas once got in trouble for accurately describing their pathetic crowds — undoubtedly does have something to do with it.)

  14. The press conference in the cemetery prompted Marcos Breton to write this truly asinine column: