Each day, the chances are growing slimmer that the construction of a new Sacramento arena will be stifled by a vote. A Sacramento Superior Court judge appears headed to rule in favor of those pushing to build a new home for the Sacramento Kings.
Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal filed a lawsuit after city clerk Shirley Concolino invalidated the signatures gathered in their effort to push the arena issue to a vote. A myriad of flaws were cited in the city clerk’s dismissal of the signatures, including the omission of campaign leaders’ names in a notice of intent published in last summer’s Sacramento Observer newspaper, as well as the failure to include an enacting clause on the nine different versions of the petition.
In a hearing Friday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley heard cases from both the pro- and anti-arena sides and isn’t expected to make his ruling until next week. However, Frawley’s comments all but suggested that he’s prepared to back the city of Sacramento’s right to use $258 million of public subsidy to fund construction of a new downtown arena.
“The judge was very thoughtful in the way he went down on the line with the questions that we have raised and the questions raised by the petition,” City Attorney Jim Sanchez said after Friday’s hearing. “And again because of that, we feel very confident that the judge will consider all of the things we have raised and we’re looking forward to his decision next week.”
Brad Hertz, the lawyer representing the public subsidy opposition, argued that the problems with the petitions were not damaging to the signature drive’s overall intent. However, Frawley did not appear to agree with Hertz’s sentiment, stating “collectively, there are so many errors” with the way the petitions were formatted.
If Frawley rules in favor of the city, it would likely signify the end of the oppositional push to delay the building of a new Kings arena. However, Hertz suggested that his clients may consider an appeal if the judge rules against them.
“They want to fight for the rights of the 23,000 (people who signed the petitions) and really all the citizens to be able to vote on the arena,” Hertz said after yesterday’s hearing. “I assume they will give me green-light, full-steam-ahead authority and so we’ll pursue this as long and as hard as we can.”
A ruling is expected to be made on the issue either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. An appeal by either side on Frawley’s decision will have to be made by March 7 if the issue is to make the June ballot.