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September 08, 2006

Kings: We'll take our ball and go ... somewhere

Supporters and opponents of the proposed $500 million Sacramento Kings arena project held dueling press conferences on Wednesday: Critics announced the backing of several local elected officials, proponents brought out giant red, white, and blue balloons.

The pro-arena rally was upstaged by its own guest of honor, though, when Kings co-owner Joe Maloof stunned listeners by declaring that he might not build an arena at the downtown railyards site even if voters approve a sales-tax hike in November: "If for some reason it can't happen at this site, we may have to consider alternative locations in Sacramento," declared Maloof. "And we will do that."

While this was no doubt a negotiating tactic to press for a better deal in acquisition of the railyards site, it was still an odd moment to announce it, and handed opponents a ready-made line to respond to. "One of the main points proponents have made is that this will really help downtown development," said city councilmember Steve Cohn. "Unless they can guarantee the arena will go in the railyard, which is not guaranteed, it's hard to make that argument."


I'm from Sacramento, and work not very far from the proposed arena site. If you go to the proponents' website, the site toggles between photos of "how it looks now" and "how it will look."

But what they don't tell you is that Q&R will never make it look like the "after" picture. It will require billions more dollars to make it look like that. Part of it MAY look that way, but only a small part. Many have been tried to develop the old railyard for 20 years that I know of, and these pro-Q&R folks want us to think that they're the folks who can get this done.

I think they're snake-oil salesmen.

But what I get out of the article is this: They want to raise taxes a total of $1.2 billion over 15 years, and spend $600 million of that on one project. If you study Proposition 218 (passed in 1996 by a 56-44 margin), it requires a 2/3 majority vote when you specify how the money will be spent. Money that goes into the general fund will not be available for specific purposes. It seems to me that if you can pass a sales tax hike (someone might do that to solve chronic deficits that a county has, for example), even if just 1% of that hike is for a specific purpose, you have violated the law; such a tax hike would require a 2/3 majority, by law.

But now the proponents are telling us, "We don't know where it will be; we don't know how much it will cost; you get to pay for overruns; trust us."... And I can't see how any rational person would go along with that.

That was a great article yesterday.

Read the comments on the article, too. People don't understand Prop 218, or why it was passed (by a pretty large margin), or why the measures appear to clearly be illegal.

There will be major heartbreak for the proponents if it passes by 52-48, and then the courts throw it out. But the wording that the Supervisors passed and the wording of Prop 218 make, I think, such an outcome very likely. I think the wording in the measures make this illegal already, but courts regularly rule on intent, and we all know what the intent is here.

Posted by MikeM on September 8, 2006 12:14 PM

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