The battle over a new arena for the Sacramento Kings is about to enter an uncomfortable stage. STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork) will, in all likelihood reach the required 21,165 signatures needed to place the arena subsidy issue on the June ballot. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the war is over between the pro and anti-arena folks, or that this initiative will ever make it to election day.
According to Sacramento City Clerk Shirley Concolino’s official press release, the petition validation process is just getting started. There is more to vetting the petitions than just signature verification.
City Clerk Statement Regarding Ongoing Petition Signature
“It is anticipated that the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters will reach the 22,000 signature verification threshold today. In my role as the City’s Elections Official, I feel compelled to remind the community that simply reaching this threshold does not conclude the petition validation process.” – Shirley Concolino, City Clerk
As the Elections Official of the City of Sacramento, the City Clerk has the responsibility and sole authority to accept or reject petitions per the CA Election Code and the Sacramento City Charter. The City has contracted with Sacramento County to validate the petition signatures. The County is the City’s agent only for the purposes of signature validation. A valid petition signature is the signature of a registered voter living within the Sacramento City limits. In light of complexity of the petitions, a full count of the signatures was requested.
The County has until January 28th to complete the full count. No later than this date, the County will present the clerk with the signature verification findings. From that point, the City Clerk as the City’s Elections Official is required to confirm that all election code and city charter requirements have been met, and only then can the petition be deemed sufficient or insufficient.
The final certification of the election lies with the City’s Elections Official, the City Clerk.
Mayor Kevin Johnson followed the above statement, with one of his own via his Facebook Page.
As the City Clerk has made clear, this is merely a procedural step in part of a longer process. Based on everything we have learned: from the way the initiative was purposefully written to delay the entire project as opposed to a straight up or down vote; to the failure to disclose the chief financial contributor behind the effort; to the fact that the vast majority of the money for this initiative comes from sources opposed to Sacramento; to the issues raised about the nature of the petitions; I have serious concerns about the integrity of the process. Plain and simple – this initiative is a Trojan Horse. For Sacramento, there is a great deal at stake: 4000 jobs, transforming downtown, and keeping the Kings in Sacramento. And given what is at stake, coupled with the troubling questions related to integrity of these ballot petitions, the nature in which they were collected, and the true intent of those who are behind the effort, I believe we should take a hard look at the petitions and consider all of the available options to protect the public.
And Kings President Chris Granger also added this statement this evening.
Sacramento Kings statement from President Chris Granger
“As we have stated in the past, we love Sacramento and are committed to doing all we can to support the City’s efforts to develop an entertainment and sports complex that will help revitalize our downtown. The Kings appreciate the support we have received from the community and know that the organization is fortunate to have the best and most loyal fans in all of the NBA. We share the many concerns expressed by the Mayor, The 4000 and others in Sacramento regarding the anti-arena campaign and are prepared to work to support their leadership.”
According to multiple reports, there are as many as nine different drafts of the petition that were signed and submitted to the City for approval. And much of the funds to finance the petition signature drive have come from outside of Sacramento, including a large chuck of the money from Chris Hansen, the Seattle native who attempted to purchase the Kings and relocate the team last year.
Adam Silver will be in Sacramento on February 5 to attend the Kings/Raptors game and get a progress report on the new arena from the Kings new ownership group. Silver will be sworn in as the new commissioner of the NBA on February 1. He will take the reigns from longtime commissioner David Stern, who is retiring after 30 years in office.