In another twist in Sacramento’s arena derangement syndrome, a petition drive to put a public subsidy for the proposed Sacramento basketball arena project to a public vote, has been rejected by the Sacramento City Clerk.
Friday, the city clerk announced that she rejected the petitions, along with 34,000 signatures, on the grounds some of the petition versions did not comply with election code.
“Due to technical issues identified in the submitted petitions, I find the petition noncompliant with significant provisions of the California Elections Code and the Sacramento City Charter, and therefore insufficient to move forward,” Shirley Concolino, Sacramento City Clerk, said in a press release.
Yet, just last week, the Sacramento County Registrar certified there were enough verified signatures on the petitions to qualify the measure for the ballot.
The signatures were collected by STOP, Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal, to put the decision of whether a public subsidy for the new arena project downtown, should be on the ballot in the city of Sacramento.
“The4000, a group representing the new downtown arena plan responded to Friday’s decision by saying, ‘For STOP, this has never been about a vote and democracy; it has always been about tricking voters and stalling the arena with a two-part vote designed to blow up the project,’” reported Fox 40 news.
The4000 is a group headed up my Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player. “The downtown arena is an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation project with a profound potential to generate catalytic economic benefits for the downtown, city and region,” The4000 claims.
In the letter Concolino sent to STOP about her decision, she cited the nine different petition versions as being problematic. Concolino said even though the petition’s signatures are valid, they were gathered before STOP officially filed their notice of intent with the city clerk’s office.
“During my review I identified that nine different petition versions were submitted,” Concolino said in the letter. “While this in itself is not cause for rejection, it substantially increased the complexity of processing, reviewing, and evaluating the sufficiency of the petition. Among the nine versions, some differences are minimal while others are more substantial. The number of versions is not necessarily a determining factor; but each version still must comply with the Elections Code. And many of the petitions do not conform to the Elections Code because they have different language than what is contained in the Notice of Intent.”
Last week, members of STOP told me they had a top elections attorney in the state review the petitions, and were told they complied with the law.
STOP and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal can file a civil lawsuit in state court and let a judge decide. I hope they choose this route. The city has overreached once again in its attempt to prevent taxpayers from having a vote on this subsidy.
It’s not about building a new arena; this is only about whether on not taxpayers get stuck with a nearly $400 million public subsidy.