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Regional Sports and Entertainment Facilities in the Urban Core Attract Costly Political Meddling: Sacramento Kings as a Case Study

Any fiscal conservative who joins a bipartisan coalition to advance a common cause needs to be wary about becoming one of the Left’s “useful idiots.” A classic example is now unfolding in Sacramento, where sports fans and corporate interests are clamoring for exceptional efforts – including a $258 million public subsidy – to retain the region’s one major league professional sports team, the Kings of the National Basketball Association.

Emotionalism and financial self-interest are overwhelming critical thinking about mundane issues such as opportunity costs, municipal debt finance, property rights, regional transportation planning, and the role of government in redistributing capital. And the selected location for the new arena was a strategic error that may send the Kings packing to more lucrative pastures.

Either by design or by default, the new arena is planned for downtown Sacramento, rather than a suburban site or even next to the current arena. As a result, the arena and anticipated development around the arena are being subjected to costly political meddling, led by downtown’s State Senator Darrell Steinberg and his political… Read More

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Governor Brown Signs Union-Backed Senate Bill 7 and Continues Erosion of Constitutional Checks and Balances

What’s the point of having a constitution if the government punishes The People for exercising their rights guaranteed in it?

Article XI, Section 3 of the California Constitution gives the state’s 121 charter cities the authority to govern their own municipal affairs. In recent years, city councils have proposed charters and voters have approved charters in order to circumvent costly and unnecessary state mandates imposed by the California State Legislature on local governments. Many of these mandates are pushed into state law by union lobbyists.

In 2012 the California Supreme Court upheld a right practiced by dozens of charter cities. The court ruled that charter cities could establish their own policies concerning government-mandated wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”) for public projects funded exclusively with city funds and private projects getting city financial assistance.

To stifle this little local rebellion, State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Republican Senator Anthony Cannella introduced a bill in 2013 sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. Senate Bill 7 cuts off… Read More

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New America: Parent tossed from public meeting for speaking

“Is this America?” the father of school-aged children asked as he was forcefully removed from a was forcefully removed from a Baltimore County School District meeting during the question-and-answer portion of the forum.

The parent, Robert Small, concerned about the school district’s plan to use Common Core standards in its curriculum, dared to verbally question school board officials after being told they would only take written questions from the parents, the Baltimore Sun reported this week

“However, Small began speaking out against the district’s use of Common Core, prompting a security guard, who was also a police officer, to approach him and order him to leave,” the Sun reported. “’Let’s go!’ he said sternly.”

“When Small didn’t immediately comply, the officer began pulling his arm and pushing him towards the exit. Some audience members gasped at the cop’s use of force.

“’Don’t stand for this,’ the father said as he was dragged out. ‘You are sitting here like cattle! Is this America?’” Elected officials everywhere do this

Elected officials are increasingly closing off the public, all across… Read More

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Steinberg’s “enviro reform” hidden under Sacto basketball stadium

The California Legislature ended the 2013 legislative session Thursday by passing hundreds of new bills. Most of the controversial bills were passed along party lines. However a bill from Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, granting a Sacramento arena development an exemption from the state’s strict environmental laws, had plenty of help from state Republicans.

Reform or worsen?

Steinberg insists he’s only trying to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. SB 743, is a gut-and-amend bill by Steinberg is titled, “Environmental quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento.”

That’s the long way of saying this is not really a CEQA reform bill. It’s a face-saving way out for Steinberg who has been awkwardly intertwined for more than 13 years with the haphazard development of a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento.

On its way to the Gov

This isn’t a one-off bill. Exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act were granted… Read More

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Legislature uses anti-gun laws as diversion

How convenient. Instead of focusing on criminals released the last two years under AB 109 and now committing new crimes, the California Legislature is diverting citizens’ attention by taking up gun control. AB 109 was the prison “diversion” law that dumped thousands of criminals from state prisons onto local jails, many subsequently being released into the general public.

A hearing in the Assembly Public Safety committee Tuesday advanced the diversion while making the majority Democrats seem “tough on crime.”

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence was one group that testified at Tuesday’s hearing. It advocates more gun control, while saying, “We all deserve to live in communities free from the fear and threat of gun violence.”

For a group to make such a definitive statement about public safety, there is oddly nothing on its website… Read More

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Politicians seek special enviro deal on arena

This is Part One of a two-part series.

The unusually speedy approval of a new NBA arena for the Kings basketball team in the heart of downtown Sacramento leaves many details and unanswered questions on the table, including how this arena project possibly will be completed and ready for opening by 2015.

Approved by the Sacramento City Council, the latest plan uses overstated revenue projections, grossly overstated projected attendance numbers and city-owned parking garages to sweeten the finances. As with all of the previous schemes to keep the Sacramento Kings in town in a luxurious arena, neither city officials nor local news… Read More

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‘Guns as a public disease’

SACRAMENTO — California politicians have added more anti-gun laws, but have yet to offer any real violent crime solutions.

Anti-gun lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly have been busy with legislation aimed at guns and ‘gun violence,’ whatever that is.

Is ‘gun violence’ similar to ‘SUV violence, knife violence or drug violence?’ After all, SUV’s, knives and drugs are responsible for killing many people each year, according to lawmakers’ definitions.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks 16 ounce sodas kill.

Another ridiculous bill, SJR 1

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday by Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, urging Congress and President Barack Obama to enact a comprehensive gun violence prevention policy, including prohibiting the sale of military-style assault weapons, “high-capacity magazines,” and encouraged strengthening criminal background checks.

But mostly, the resolution is another silly California finger-wagging measure aimed at shaming the rest of the country into following the Golden State’s tarnished lead.

It is apparent Wolk and colleagues are feeling emboldened by President Barack Obama’s… Read More

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CEQA needs an overhaul, but don’t count on it

In the wee hours of the night, at the end of the last legislative session, language was added into a bill to push forward reforms to California’s 40-year old environmental policy, the California Environmental Quality Act.

The reforms were sponsored by the CEQA Working Group, a business-labor-government coalition. Intended to reduce frivolous environmental litigation and duplicative government oversight, the reforms ended up being part of a smoggy deal.

Before anyone could stop them, the Democratic leadership swooped in on the bill and changed it.

SB 317

Because of California’s stringent environmental laws and project-killing local planning requirements, nearly all public and private projects in the state are legally challenged under CEQA, even when a project meets all other environmental standards of state law.

SB 317, co-authored by Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, a gut-and-amend bill, would not have actually changed CEQA, but instead would have introduced a companion law to dictate how CEQA is enforced. The new legislation would have restricted certain types of lawsuits, and would have exempted some projects from CEQA… Read More

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