City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 29, 2011
Few details emerge on Sacramento's arena plans

Regional leaders met again today on the Kings' future. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the meeting was the presence of developer David Taylor, who is leading a City Hall-sponsored study of what it would take to build a new arena.

The key element of that study - the cost and how it would be paid for - is still being worked out. But Taylor did provide the group with some other details.

Mayor Kevin Johnson said Taylor told the officials an arena here should be in the 650,000-square-foot range. Power Balance Pavilion is 442,000 square feet. Sacramento doesn't need something on par with arenas built in L.A. or Orlando - but it does need something bigger than its current facility, Johnson said.

April 28, 2011
Sacramento City Hall to cut 80 cops, make other harsh cuts

Roughly 80 police officers will lose their jobs under the city of Sacramento's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

In addition, six fire department rigs will be shelved at any given time on rotating brownouts, up from two now. All but three of the city's 15 community centers will be closed.

The cuts are part of City Hall's plan to close a $39 million gap for the 2011/12 fiscal year that starts July 1. All together, as many as 300 city employees face losing their jobs. Look for more details on the cuts in tomorrow's Bee.

April 27, 2011
With Kings' fate still unclear, NBA turns its attention to Anaheim

After spending the past week researching Sacramento's viability as a home for the Kings, the NBA began turning its attention to Anaheim this morning.

Members of the league's relocation committee spoke with Anaheim Arena Management, officials told The Bee's Dale Kasler. The Orange County Register reported the Maloofs, who own the Kings, were expected to take part in the conversation as well.

A team of NBA staffers, led by the league's top marketing official, are still in Sacramento looking at $10 million in corporate pledges made to the Kings for next season - if there is a next season. The Maloofs have until Monday to seek relocation.

April 25, 2011
Sacramento corporations to make deposits on pledges to Kings

In a sign the region is moving one step closer to keeping the Kings in Sacramento for another year, Mayor Kevin Johnson is coordinating a meeting between local corporations and NBA representatives on Tuesday during which companies will agree to make deposits on their sponsorship and ticket commitments to the Sacramento Kings.

With the deposits, officials are seeking to solidify $10 million in corporate pledges gathered by the mayor and the local business community.

Details of the meeting are still being worked out, but it is expected to be held Tuesday morning and be followed by a press conference. At least 30 business representatives are expected to attend the meeting.

April 21, 2011
Landmarks, firms color Sacramento purple today

Some downtown landmarks are showing their colors as a delegation from the NBA begins a tour of Sacramento today, trying to determine whether the city is a viable pro basketball market.

At the Sheraton Grand Hotel, soft purple lighting lit up the large windows looking out on to J Street. Inside, the bar will be serving purple sangrias on purple napkins.

A few blocks away, the pillars of the iconic Memorial Auditorium were lit in purple Wednesday night. And at the U.S. Bank Tower on Capitol Mall, the LED lights were also aglow in purple.

April 20, 2011
Johnson, region's leaders confer on keeping the Kings

By Ryan Lillis

Two dozen elected officials and business group leaders met with Mayor Kevin Johnson, at his request, today to get an update on the effort to keep the Kings in town. While no specific role was laid out, the regional leaders agreed the city of Sacramento should not be alone in the fight.

The meeting comes the day before officials from the National Basketball Association are expected to arrive in Sacramento today as part of a league fact-finding effort to determine whether the Kings should be allowed to move to Anaheim.

April 20, 2011
Kings fans urged to wear purple Thursday with NBA in town

First there was "Here We Stay." That was followed by "Here We Build," "Here We Sit" and even "Here We Burkle."

Now, Kings fans are spreading the word about "Here We Purple." It's a movement to have Kings fans throughout the city wear purple on Thursday, the day an NBA delegation arrives in Sacramento to test the region's viability as a pro basketball market.

Like the other campaigns, this one is being spread through social media such as Twitter. The hashtag #HereWePurple had been mentioned in more than 100 tweets by 9:30 this morning.

April 19, 2011
Regional leaders to meet on effort to keep Kings in Sacramento

Thumbnail image for 20110315_ha_johnson3086.JPGMayor Kevin Johnson will meet with regional political leaders on Wednesday in an attempt to show the NBA that Sacramento isn't alone in the drive to keep the Kings.

Details of the meeting are still being worked out, but it is expected to involve representatives from across the six-county region. A delegation of NBA officials in town later this week will also be introduced to some of the regional leaders.

"(The NBA) is going to want to know what's different this time than the previous times when we've tried to do a new entertainment and sports complex and failed, and I think there's a political will and leadership," the mayor told reporters this morning.

April 18, 2011
NBA will be in Sacramento Thursday to explore Kings' fate

The NBA will be in town Thursday and Friday to discuss recent efforts to keep the Kings and explore Sacramento's viability as a pro basketball city.

Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett and NBA attorney Harvey Benjamin are leading the league's examination of which city - Anaheim or Sacramento - is the best fit for the Kings. Bennett is chair of the NBA's relocation committee.

The Kings have until May 2 to ask the league's permission to move to Anaheim. The deadline was set last week following the NBA Board of Governors meetings during which officials from Sacramento and Anaheim made their cases for the Kings.

April 18, 2011
With Clay Bennett in charge, are Kings fans doomed?

He's reviled in Seattle, beloved by hoops fans on the Great Plains. But what will Clay Bennett's legacy be in Sacramento?

Bennett, the owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is chairing the NBA's relocation committee as it explores which city is the best fit for the Kings - Anaheim or Sacramento. Bennett and other NBA officials are expected in California later this week to see whether Anaheim's proposal for the team needs more work and whether Sacramento's recent efforts are enough to keep the team here.

Many Kings fans are inevitably shrieking at Bennett's role in this. After all, he moved the Seattle Sonics to Oklahoma City just three years ago, a move many fans in the Pacific Northwest still consider a case of larceny.

April 14, 2011
Mayor Johnson doesn't think the NBA is done with Sacramento

By Ryan Lillis

Minutes before the Kings took the court for perhaps the final time in Sacramento, Mayor Kevin Johnson sounded defiant. It was a markedly different tone for a guy who just weeks ago said the process of losing the team felt "like a slow death."

"I just don't believe it's the last game here, that's the bottom line," he told me Wednesday night in a tunnel underneath Power Balance Pavilion. "I figure we're a resilient community and we're going to figure out a way to get it done."

Does he have the answer? We'll soon know. The mayor is meeting today with a group of NBA team owners to pitch Sacramento as a viable pro basketball city.

April 13, 2011
Sacramento businesses try to show corporate support for NBA

As the hours tick down on the effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento, business interests are trying to put together millions of dollars in sponsorships and partnerships for an NBA franchise in town.

Matt Mahood, the president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, sent out a plea on Tuesday asking for those willing to commit at least $100,000 to suites, blocks of season tickets, sponsorships or naming rights for an NBA team. Mahood said he had received "soft commitments" of around $5 million as of Tuesday and is hoping to raise $10 million.

Showing a corporate commitment to the NBA will be a key element of Mayor Kevin Johnson's pitch to the league on Thursday in New York. Johnson said he will try to convince the league's owners that Sacramento is a viable NBA market.

April 12, 2011
Massive solar panel field opened in south Sacramento

City and business officials unveiled a massive solar panel farm in south Sacramento this morning.

The 12,600 solar panels will generate 40 percent of the power at Depot Park, a sprawling industrial complex between Fruitridge and Elder Creek roads that employs 3,000 people. Nearly 100 clean-tech jobs were created by the solar panel project.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, whose "Greenwise Initiative" played a role in the development of the solar complex, said it was the largest solar project in the city. It is also one of the largest ground mounted tracking solar projects in the state, according to the mayor's office.

April 12, 2011
Mayor and arena expert will tout Sacramento to NBA

Thumbnail image for 20110315_ha_johnson3086.JPGAs he tries to convince the NBA this week that Sacramento is a city worthy of a pro basketball franchise, Mayor Kevin Johnson will be joined by the guy at the forefront of the latest effort to build a new arena in town.

Tim Romani, president and CEO of the ICON Venue Group, will accompany the mayor during his presentation to the NBA Board of Governors in New York on Thursday. ICON is working with Sacramento developer David Taylor on a City Hall-sponsored arena study due out next month.

"I want the NBA to know that even though we've had failed attempts in the past (at building a new arena), I think it's a new era in Sacramento," the mayor told reporters this morning. "Whether the Kings are here or not, our commitment is to go forward with a new facility in the next four years."

April 11, 2011
Does the new Second Saturday work?

How did Second Saturday work for you this weekend?

There are some new rules in place for the monthly art walk in midtown aimed at addressing the concerns of neighborhood residents. Mostly, I just noticed more cops.

Two new rules getting some pushback state that vendors can only sell handmade goods and that they must pack up by 8 p.m. The goal is to bring Second Saturday back to its artistic roots, separating the art lovers and families from the young crowd hitting midtown later in the evening.

April 8, 2011
Beware The Claw: Readers defend their beloved steel friend

I haven't found an issue that burns people in this town more than The Claw.

Since reporting earlier this week that the City Council is moving toward a ballot measure that would require residents to use green waste bins, I've received no fewer than 30 angry phone calls and emails from city residents defending The Claw like it was a member of their family.

One guy from Curtis Park left me seven messages this morning. When I called him back, he called me "a rat" and accused me of dismissing the importance of The Claw to elderly residents who can't bend over and place lawn trimmings in waste bins. He didn't want to hear that I am not a member of the City Council and have nothing to do with the big decisions at City Hall.

April 7, 2011
Sacramento names Bill Edgar interim city manager

Sacramento City Hall has enlisted a pair of familiar faces to help guide it through the next few tumultuous months.

In a unanimous vote, the City Council voted Thursday to appoint former city manager Bill Edgar as the interim city manager for the next six months while a permanent candidate for the job is sought. Edgar was city manager from 1993 to 1999.

Most recently, Edgar chaired a council-appointed Charter Review Committee formed in the wake of Mayor Kevin Johnson's strong-mayor proposal. In contrast to the mayor's proposal, that committee did not recommend sweeping changes to the way the city is governed.

April 7, 2011
City letter demands more specifics on Kings loan
By Tony Bizjak

Positioning for a potential lawsuit, Sacramento officials sent yet another letter to the Kings today, accusing the team of being evasive on how it will pay its $77 million city loan, and calling for a meeting between team owners and city leaders.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the city wants the Kings to detail how and when they will repay the loan if they leave town. The city also wants the Kings to set up an escrow account for payment.

"I hereby request direct, non-evasive and unambiguous written responses," Dangberg wrote.
April 7, 2011
Is Phil Jackson becoming a hero to Sacramento Kings fans?

Kings fans may have to alter their opinions of Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

The guy who once called our city a "cow town" continues to come to the defense of Sacramento as it appears more and more likely to lose the Kings to Anaheim.

Jackson told former Bee sportswriter Sam Amick on Wednesday that he thinks having three teams in the Los Angeles market sets a bad precedent for other big-market teams. What's more, he said it would be "disheartening" to see Kings fans lose their team.

April 7, 2011
Ruling: City Hall, attorney must pay 'strong mayor' legal fees

Sacramento City Hall and the attorney who drafted Mayor Kevin Johnson's halted "strong mayor initiative" are on the hook for more than $114,000 in legal fees to the labor boss whose lawsuit killed the initiative last year.

In a tentative ruling issued Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court, attorney Tom Hiltachk and the city were ordered to split $114,158 in fees to the attorneys for Bill Camp, head of the Central Labor Council.

Camp had filed a lawsuit in 2009 seeking to block the strong mayor initiative, arguing the measure went beyond a mere amendment of the City Charter and therefore could only have been proposed for the ballot by the City Council or a charter commission. Johnson had proposed the initiative and a council vote had placed it on the ballot.

April 6, 2011
Sacramento wants cops, firefighters to contribute to their pensions

The city of Sacramento could save millions of dollars every year by requiring its public safety employees and top management officials to contribute to their retirement funds, an auditor has found.

A report released today by city Auditor Jorge Oseguera shows the savings could reach $7.4 million a year should police officers, firefighters and managers contribute 4 percent of their salaries into the CalPERS system.

Those employees currently do not pay anything out of pocket toward their retirements. Most other city workers contribute 4 percent of their salaries toward their pensions.

April 6, 2011
Anaheim mayor: Sacramento campaign to keep Kings is futile

The mayor of Anaheim has a message to those trying to reverse his city's decision to issue bonds and lure the Kings to town: Don't bother.

Mayor Tom Tait told Eric Carpenter of The Orange County Register that a signature drive to get a referendum on the ballot to reverse the bond decision "is not a good use of time and resources."

"We've been very clear from the beginning that any NBA deal would be privately funded," the mayor said in an email exchange with Carpenter. "Our actions as a city council last week assured that protection to our taxpayers."

April 5, 2011
Mayor isn't worried about city's loan to Kings

Thumbnail image for 20110315_ha_johnson3086.JPGMayor Kevin Johnson isn't too upset that the Maloofs have refused a demand for written assurance that the Kings' owners will repay a $77 million loan to the city if they bolt for Anaheim. He's certain the loan will be repaid.

Still, as the mayor told reporters this morning, "it's not in the best interest of the Maloofs to not make good on paying here in Sacramento and expect to be embraced by another city in Anaheim." And should the team decide not to pay, the mayor said he expects "lawsuit after lawsuit."

How worried are you that the loan won't be repaid?

April 5, 2011
Former city official in permit scandal fined by FPPC

The state's political watchdog has slapped a $2,500 fine on former Sacramento city building official Dan Waters, who worked on a patio permit at a Natomas sushi restaurant where he co-owned a cigar bar.

Waters "violated the Political Reform Act by attempting to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he had a financial interest," according to a Fair Political Practices Commission decision.

According to FPPC documents, Waters - the son of former Councilman Robbie Waters - formed LEWA, Inc., with Ken Le, the owner of Oshima. LEWA is a cigar bar.

April 1, 2011
Campaign seeks to delay Anaheim bonds that would lure Kings

In the quest to keep the Kings, a group of Sacramentans are about to do what this town does best: pick a political fight.

Funded by a small group of local business owners and a former Sacramento councilman, campaign workers will be on the streets of Anaheim soon collecting signatures for a ballot referendum aimed at holding up that city's decision to sell bonds to lure the Kings to town.

The Anaheim City Council voted Tuesday to issue a $75 million bond package that will be repaid by billionaire Henry Samueli, who operates the city-owned Honda Center.

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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