Kings downtown arena: STOP withdrawal signatures signals momentum for Kings arena

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 If there is a withdrawal on file, it will link up and that signature will be noted as ‘withdrawn,’ said LaVine.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

Kings new arena: Local businessman donates 25K to keep subsidy question on ballot

 by Ken Gimblin

SACRAMENTO–Local business tycoon Chris Rufer has put up $25,000 in donated money to the campaign to stop the Sacramento Kings downtown arena which would place a subsidy question on the June 2014 Sacramento ballot. While the City, local government, and many supporters of the Kings proposed new downtown arena at Westfield Mall is under plans the opposition could turn out to be a wild card as they’re fund raising is starting to take on a life of it’s on.

Rufer whose business is in Sacramento is taking the opposing view. In addition to Rufer’s donation there are two groups working to oppose the arena build in downtown and they both have raised tens of thousands of dollars in their campaign to oppose it.

The groups are fighting to keep an intiative on the ballot that questions if public sudsidies should finance any new proposed sports or entertainment facilities in Sacramento. So far the group STOP Sacramento Taxpayers opposed to Pork and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal have stepped up raising nearly $40,000.

A group who is in favor of the subsidy has delivered collecting cash and checks in the amount of $26,000 and this group is fighting to keep the question of public subsidies being used off the ballot. The price tag for a new Sacramento downtown arena subsidy is $258 million.

The Voters for a Fair Arena Deal have raised $8,500 and STOP has raised $31,473 both groups who are pushing for the opposition to the new arena and putting the question about public funds being spent towards any new such subsidies need 22,000 signatures on the petition to get the queston on the ballot. The 22,000 signatures needed are due by mid December.

The campaign’s credibilty was in question over  the summer when Chris Hansen who wanted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle funded the signature gathering effort to get the question on the ballot spending $100,000 and having a Los Angeles law firm manage the campaign. STOP said they had no idea that Hansen funded the campaign and Hansen later ended up having to pay a $50,000 fine for violating California campaign disclosure laws.

Rufer is the founder of a company group called Morning Star which is a tamato producer which profits $350 million annually. Rufer’s company now controls 40 percent of the tamato processing in America. Rufer had issues in his company when a former Morning Star executive Fredrick Scott Salyer was sentenced to six years in prison for rackateering and price fixing charges. Rufer said in court papers that alledgedly Salyer cheated the company by bribing executives from competing companies at Kraft foods and Frito Lay, Salyer also alledgedly bribed Rufer’s personal assistant to steal confidential company data.

Ken Gimblin is covering the Sacramento Kings new arena build for Sportstalk Radio

Kings arena: anti arena group to ally with non-union contractors

by Ken Gimblin

SACRAMENTO–The new ownership of the Sacramento Kings might have to dig in at the ballot box politically this coming June as a anti arena group has geared up to oppose the new arena proposal. The new group Voters for a Fair Arena Deal will not be working with Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed To Pork or STOP. Non-union contractors who appeared at one of the Kings rallies at the Westfield mall the site of the proposed new Kings arena are joining the protest against the new arena and plan to support VFAD.

The non-union contractors are upset that they were not included in any process of the new arena build, the new arena is expected to be built by only union labor.VFAD is separating itself from the better known group STOP due to questionable petition gathering by STOP and how signatures were gathered by STOP were in question. Also STOP’s involvement with Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen who paid $50,000 to have signatures gathered by STOP. Hansen who lost his bid to move the Kings to Seattle might have been seeking a way to stop the Kings from building a new arena in Sacramento if it were put to a vote regarding public funding.

Hansen later said he had nothing to do with paying the $50,000 for the signature gathering after receiving heavy criticism by city and NBA officials behind closed doors sources say to put a ballot measure to have any new public funding for any new sports facilities built in Sacramento to be voter approved first.

The public’s share of subsidizing the new Kings arena downtown is around $258 million. Hansen later backtracked after realizing he might have damaged his chances to buy, build a new arena, and own an NBA team in Seattle. VFAD is going forward with the petition campaign saying they want the public funds policed for new sports facilities which should be voted on by the Sacramento voters.

The non-union contractors who will not be involved in any of the construction work are willing to contribute to the ballot measure effort by donating $15,000-$25,000. VFAD will not be joining STOP to work in concert with getting the measure on the ballot distancing themselves from STOP because of what is considered questionable campaigning in obtaining the petition signatures and their involvement with Hansen.

Community activist Craig Powell from the group Eye on Sacramento said, “we are not opposed to the new arena, we are not opposed to the public subsidy for an arena. What we are in favor for is a subsidy we can afford.” Craig has said that the price tag of $258 million in public subsidies is too much and will do damage to the city budget.

Ken Gimblin is covering the Sacramento Kings for Sportstalk with game day reporters Tony Renteria and Charlie O

Kings arena: public subsidy losing support as voters want to withdraw signatures

by Ken Gimblin
SACRAMENTO–The anti Sacramento arena group Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed To Pork or STOP have admitted that of the over 22,000 signatures to put a ballot measure asking voters should the city use public subsidies for any new sports facilities and this would include the new Kings arena project at the cost of $258 million are not sure of those signatures whose are legitimate.
Stop’s spokesman John Hyde said of the signatures, “we really have no idea who these people are” and admitted that some of the forms that STOP had signed might have been submitted by people who never signed STOP’s petition in the first place. If it turns out to be so this will further damage STOP’s credibility as they were involved with Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen who lost his bid to buy and move the Kings out of Sacramento to Seattle and now there’s questions as to the signatures of the petitions that their holding.
Hansen was fined for missing the registration deadline of filing the petitions for the ballot measure and had to pay a $50,000 fine to the department of elections. Hansen has since disavowed his involvement with the petition campaign despite sources saying Hansen had paid a Los Angeles law firm Loeb and Loeb to organize and represent the campaign.
Upon learning of Hansen’s dealings voters who signed the petition are now moving to have their names removed from the forms according the Joshua Wood of DowntownArena.org. Withdraw forms were submitted to the city clerk’s office. The city clerk is going through some 1,500 signatures to see if they are valid if proven to be valid it would increase the withdraw volume up to 3,100.
Wood said that the great number of withdraws are unprecedented and that it’s a reflection of Hansen’s involvement with the signature campaign and then backing out and saying he wasn’t a part of it and apologizing for being involved in the campaign. Hansen thought the better of it after the NBA said they were not please with his actions and that his credibility with the league was near shot over this in any future bid to get an NBA team.
The city council agreed to a subsidy on public funds back in March by barrowing off any future sales tax that will pay back the public funds from arena parking and city public parking, also from ticket and concession sales made at the new downtown arena.
Ken Gimblin is covering the Sacramento Kings with Charlie O and Tony Renteria for Sportstalk radio