by Ken Gimblin
SACRAMENTO–The campaign by the anti arena group STOP or Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed To Pork which looked like they were picking up some momentum this past summer as it looked as they would have enough signatures to put a disclaimer on the ballot before any new sports or entertainment facilities could be built, that would ask the voter if they apporove public monies to pay for such new buildings.
The campaign was required to present 22,000 signatures to be turned into the Sacramento registrar of voters, so far 14,012 withdrawal cards of the 15,277 forms that had been turned in by the downtownarena.org/Crown Downtown have not been counted. What hurts STOP’s campaign even worse is that there are a good number of reported unregistered voters who will be dropped out of the petition drive if that can be verified by the county registrar.
As of Monday 9,576 were counted as valid voters well short of the 22,000 needed to make the disclaimer a requirement on June ballot. It was also reported that some of the voters that signed the petition were not in the boundaries of Sacramento when the signatures were checked by the register’s office. Also it was said that some of the 34,000 signatures that were turned of those signatures the names might have been of voters names of who didn’t even sign the petition in the first place.
According to Jill LaVine Sacramento county registrar not only were there people who might not have signed the petition or did not live in Sacramento but they also may not have signatures that match against their registered signature in previous balloting or their registration cards on file with the county, “We will verify the voter was an eligible voter in the city limits, at the address listed, on the dates the petition was circulated, and the signature matches. If there is a withdrawal on file, it will link up and that signature will be noted as ‘withdrawn,’ said LaVine.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson also said that STOP will be resposible for the bill for the time and labor from the office of registrar. At one time STOP looked like they would have enough signatures to get the disclaimer on any future ballots but with all these factors now involved the Mayor and the city are planning one final crushing blow to STOP’s efforts by deferring the costs of the registrar’s office to the non-profit group, “(STOP) are not folks who have Sacramento’s best interests in mind. For me this isn’t what it appears to be, this initiative is like a trojan horse, it’s like a bait and switch.” said Johnson in a recent interview with the Sacramento Bee.
Johnson said that Sacramento was misled into thinking that STOP got these signatures legitimately, “we are ready to fight especially attacked from outside our community, we’re not going to be fooled. We’ve been here before.” Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen who tried to buy and move and build a new arena for the Kings in downtown Seattle. Later the NBA ruled that Sacramento should keep it’s team if they can get a new arena built by the 2016 season. Since Hansen lost his bid for the Kings and later he spent $100,000 of his own money for the petiton drive to get the facility subsidy disclaimer on the coming June ballot in Sacramento.
Hansen who would have had another shot at an NBA team in Seattle lost his credibility after it was found out that he was behind the campaign to undermind the Kings aspirations to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento.
Worse Hansen was fined by the registrar of voters for campaign violations to the tune of $50,000. STOP continued the campaign taking the signatures. STOP’s president Jullian Camacho says the mayor is misleading the public over his fight against the signatures, “he’s grasping at straws, if there are outside interests, they are centered at Region Builders (a pro arena group) not in STOP’s organization. Moreover the mayor’s statement is highly indicative of the misinformation that’s plauged this effort, an effort by local folks to be more involved in the long term direction of the city.” said Camacho. STOP turned in roughly 40,000 signatures on Tuesday at the city clerks office.
Ken Gimblin is covering the NBA for Sportstalk radio