Judge throws out lawsuit from opposition against Sacramento Kings arena

Updated: Thursday, 10:20 am PT

Sacramento Kings arena grand entrance (Resized)

That loud thud you may have heard Wednesday afternoon was the opposition to a new Sacramento arena hitting the floor for a 10 count.

As expected, Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley denied the suit against city clerk Shirley Concolino and the Sacramento City Council brought on by STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork) and Voters For A Fair Arena Deal.  According to the Sacramento Bee, the opposition will not be appealing the decision, meaning the suit’s dismissal effectively paves the way for the construction of a new downtown arena in the heart of Sacramento.

Here is an excerpt from Frawley’s ruling.

The court concludes that it is appropriate to review the substantive validity of the proposed ordinance because the issue was raised as an affirmative defense in Respondent’s Answer and by the Complaint in Intervention, and because a writ of mandate will not issue when it would be useless, ineffective, or of no practical benefit to the petitioner. In addition, case law establishes that pre-election review is appropriate where, as here, the challenge goes to the electorate’s power to adopt the initiative in the first instance.

The court further concludes that the proposed ordinance should be excluded from the ballot because the proposed ordinance conflicts with the City Charter, and is therefore beyond the power of the voters to adopt. Adoption of the proposed ordinance would be a futile act.

In addition, the court finds that the volume and magnitude of the proponents’ procedural errors undermined the integrity of the electoral process, thereby precluding application of the substantial compliance doctrine.

STOP has admitted to mistakes in its petition drive, but disagrees that those errors constitute its complete dismissal. Upon receiving the news, the organization stated its disappointment with the process.

Today’s decision allows the city to silence 23,000 certified voters and all Sacramento citizens who demand a voice on their city’s future. At the same time; its example diminishes the civil and constitutional rights of all California citizens.

It is deplorable that our city’s leaders have put special interests ahead of the voters who elected them. They make a mockery of democracy. They may get away with it for the time being, but voters will not soon forget the arena subsidy scandals. We call on Sacramento’s disenfranchised voters to express their outrage to their City Council; and we call on our elected representatives to begin listening to their constituents. It is not too late for the city’s arena deal to receive the public scrutiny and debate that it deserves.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has worked tirelessly over the last three years to not only retain the Kings, but aid in the building of a new arena, released the following statement.

I’m pleased with the court’s ruling and thank our City Clerk and City Attorney for their full court press in protecting the integrity of the initiative process. Time and time and time again, outsiders have tried to undermine the right of Sacramento to control the destiny of our Kings, our downtown, and our future. Time and time and time again, we have stepped up to the challenge and stood tall. Today is no exception. Make no mistake: Sacramento will not be denied. We will build this arena, we will chart a new course for our economy, and we will move forward as a city. Construction begins in September 2014.

STOP’s petition drive and lawsuit were the last major obstacle standing in the way of a new arena at the Downtown Plaza mall.  New Kings owners purchased the property for $35 million in January and hope to break ground on a revolutionary new arena this summer, with completion set for October 2016.’

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.