Sacramento clerk rejects Kings arena petitions, everybody warms up their lawyers

Turns out that getting people to sign multiple different versions of a petition is a problem after all: Sacramento city clerk Shirley Concolino ruled on Friday that she was rejecting the petitions to put a vote on the Kings arena plan on the June ballot, because of the multiple-versions thing, and the failure-to-include-required-legal-language-saying-this-will-be-enacted-into-law-if-approved thing, and the statements-ending-in-incomplete-sentences thing. “I’ve never seen a petition with as many flaws as this one,” Concolino said.

Of course, Concolino’s boss is Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, something that ballot measure advocates noted in protesting her ruling. Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal will almost certainly now challenge the petition rejection in court; the Sacramento Bee cites some legal experts as saying judges tend to interpret petition rules strictly, others that they’ll let things slide if they’re not major, so it’s anyone’s guess how things proceed from here. Except that unless things are resolved soon, there’s an excellent chance that Sacramento will be able to sell arena bonds before anyone can vote on anything, which could make the whole issue moot.

Meanwhile, the Bee this weekend ran another story about that economic impact report Kings arena boosters issued last month, this time burying the bit about how more than 90% of the impact would just be cannibalized from spending elsewhere in the city way down in the 22nd paragraph. Actual additional economic activity: $25 million a year, according to the report. Even that’s questionable (Stanford economist Roger Noll says it’s more likely $10-15 million a year), but if we take the report at its word, this means that the city of Sacramento would be better off taking its arena money in suitcases of twenties and handing them out on the streets of the city. (Especially when you consider that Sacramento residents are more likely to spend money locally than Kings players or owners, making for a higher multiplier.)

It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a headline — “Even Kings supporters don’t see much new economic impact” — but instead we get
“City says Sacramento arena would be economic powerhouse; subsidy critics disagree.” Because far be it from journalists to actually try to say whose math is correct.

12 comments on “Sacramento clerk rejects Kings arena petitions, everybody warms up their lawyers

  1. I loved the fact that the Bee put an article on the front page of the paper that showed why we’d be better off walking away ASAP. These numbers say it all:

    $11.5 billion — The economic bonanza that supporters will say be generated over 35 years by the new downtown sports arena.

    $2.7 million — The estimate of new tax revenues the city will receive a year from the project.

    $19 million — The cost to Sacramento a year in principal and interest payments.

    1.6 million — The estimated number of visitors a year that the arena would bring into downtown Sacramento.


    It’s the $2.7M part that kills it. We’re actually going to be borrowing $304M, and frankly, I think the amount we borrow is the figure that should be used when calculating the size of this subsidy. If it costs us $90M to lend $212M, that means we have overhead, and that’s part of the costs.

    A $2.7M annual return on an investment of $304M is appalling. I don’t think you’d find a capitalist alive who would do that. Most would want their initial investment back in 10-20 years, not 100+ years.

    So stupid. They tout figures that should be making them walk away. And we elect these people. WTF?

    (And why would a new arena bring in 1.6M people? Please show the math on that claim.)

  2. I’m not happy with STOP at this point, either. That really was pretty incompetent on their part. I’ll be so surprised if this decision on the part of the clerk is overturned.

    It’s a clown battle on all sides. The proponents are clowns; the politicians are clowns; and the opponents are clowns.

    And we’re supposed to root for one group or the other. I think the best solution is to move outside City limits, and watch the clowns burn the town down from a safe distance.

  3. There’s already an effort to recall one of the Sacramento City Council members who has worked to stifle the vote and who has been dishonest about his arena dealings. For more information email

  4. MikeM, Look in the renaissance report. They are predicting 177 events per year taking place over 189 days (49 of which are during the day, during the week – where will these people park?). They are assuming that the nba games will sell out and “large” concerts will sell out. In other words – it’s all pure bunk.

  5. 177 events per year = They’re pulling out the Hamilton County playbook and following it step-by-step.

    Say, just who was John Shirey’s previous employer anyway?

  6. I guess Chris Hansen’s luck is turning around. He accidentally paid for so many signatures that were not destroyed when he plead for STOP to “do the right thing”… and now they’re being thrown out for the sloppy work in putting them together.

    *presuming that the forms Hansen paid for were consistent

  7. The4000 held a press conference today, in which they apparently forgot why they’re called The4000 (hint: That’s how many jobs the arena would create).

    Now they’re up to 11,000. Can we sue them if this turns out to be incorrect? I sure hope so.

  8. MikeM,
    But those 11,000 jobs are different from the 4,000 jobs. These are temporary and include grocery clerks that have to be hired to feed all of these new people. But, wait ….. there are no grocery stores downtown.

  9. The talking heads on KCRA have said opposite the Bee’s position. They say that if the petitions are pretty close (not an exact quote) judges tend to side with the whole “will of the people” idea. I don’t really know how TV stations would make more money with an arena.

  10. Folks, let’s remind ourselves this is an issue of saving democracy for Sacramentans. Granted, the proof-readers of the petition printings may have missed omissions (hey, how about putting a dunce cap on those who botched the actual printing!), but there’s enough past legal decisions to support a STOP lawsuit to dumpster the City Clerk’s rejections, regardless of minor printing errors/omissions. So open up your check-book and make a donation to STOP’s likely legal effort. Or shall we just concede defeat to the Billionaires without a fight?

  11. They released drawings last night.

    Apparently, striking architecture in Sacramento means The Jiffy Pop Arena.

  12. Jiffy Pop Corn …. I LOVE IT!!!

    I have seen comments describing it as a colander, a vegetable steamer, and a UFO.

    Jiffy Pop Corn is the BEST!!! Sacramento has nicknames for many of the buildings down town – the Ban Tower, Darth Vader, Emerald City, etc. If enough people start using it, it will catch on.