City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 26, 2012
More than 100 public safety workers laid off in Sacramento budget plan

The city of Sacramento is proposing to lay off roughly 62 firefighters and 45 police personnel to address a budget situation that is among the most dire the city has ever faced.

The public safety layoffs are part of a plan to address a $15.7 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 in the city's general fund, the portion of the budget that pays for most basic services. The cuts also include hits to parks maintenance and recreation programs.

"This is not the budget I had hoped to recommend to address next year's structural deficit," City Manager John Shirey said.

April 25, 2012
Padilla convinced he'll win Sacramento mayor's race, but will have a job for Johnson

Leonard Padilla now seems convinced he'll be Sacramento's next mayor. But he graciously offers to reserve a job for Kevin Johnson.

The well-known bounty hunter and five-time mayoral candidate said as much in an email exchange with an NBA fan relations rep. Padilla sent out a copy of the email exchange today.

Padilla has objected to the public financing of a new downtown sports arena, a thought he shared with NBA Commissioner David Stern in a recent note. The NBA thanked him for his response - touching off the following statement from Padilla:

April 25, 2012
Influential Sacramento firefighter union makes endorsements

The coveted endorsement of the city firefighters' union was handed out for most of the City Hall races this week.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, SMUD director Rob Kerth (council District 2), attorney and non-profit director Phyllis Newton (District 4) and Councilman Kevin McCarty were granted firefighter support in their races in the June primary.

Interestingly, however, the union opted not to endorse either candidate running for the City Council seat in Meadowview's District 8. Neither incumbent Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell nor her challenger, former NAACP branch president Betty Williams, are supported by the union.

April 24, 2012
Mayor and Maloofs still talking, but time running out on reviving Sacramento arena deal

Mayor Kevin Johnson and Kings co-owner George Maloof spoke again this morning and have decided to meet in person within the next few days in what will likely be a make-or-break session.

The mayor told reporters this morning that the next sit down will probably determine whether the city's collapsed arena deal is back on, or if "we don't have the makings of a deal." Asked how confident he was that a deal would be resurrected between the city and its NBA team, Johnson said he was "hopeful rather than confident."

A Maloof spokesman told The Bee's Tony Bizjak that the meeting would take place in Sacramento on Thursday morning. But aides to the mayor said they had not confirmed their schedule.

April 23, 2012
Former Sacramento councilman files PRA with Anaheim seeking Kings-related communications

The paper battle surrounding the Sacramento Kings' future continues.

Former Councilman Robbie Waters has filed a rather large Public Records Act request - WatersAnaheimPRA.pdf - with the city of Anaheim, seeking communications between that city and the Kings; the company that runs Anaheim's Honda Center; the economist hired by the Maloofs to dissect the collapsed Sacramento arena plan; and several other parties.

Waters' record request follows a massive request filed by Maloof family attorneys back in March that sought communications between the city of Sacramento and 53 other parties. City officials criticized that request as a sign of a fracturing relationship between the city and the Kings' owners.

April 20, 2012
Councilman McCarty can't guarantee he'll serve full term if re-elected

Councilman Kevin McCarty is running for re-election, but he's not promising voters he'd serve his entire four-year term if he wins.

McCarty relayed that message to The Bee's editorial board Thursday. He is running for a third term in the district representing Elmhurst, Tahoe Park and other neighborhoods on the city's southeast side.

But McCarty also narrowly lost a bid for the state Assembly in 2010 and still has his eye on the Capitol. If a few dominos fall his way - state Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is termed out in 2014 and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson is thought to be eyeing that Senate seat - McCarty is expected to make a run at the Assembly again.

April 20, 2012
Sacramento council campaign gets big cash infusion from business interest group

A powerful business interest group has poured $30,000 into the campaign for Betty Williams, the former NAACP branch president trying to unseat Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell in south Sacramento.

Better Sacramento is paying for field walkers and lawn signs to support Williams, according to a campaign finance report released Thursday. That cash infusion represents a huge investment in a district where only 5,000 people voted in the 2008 primary.

The contribution is also a sign of how contentious this campaign is becoming.

April 19, 2012
NBA great Robertson to get key to the city in Sacramento

Mayor Kevin Johnson isn't breaking all ties with the Sacramento Kings franchise.

Johnson will present basketball hall of famer Oscar Robertson with a key to the city at City Hall on Friday. The public event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the first floor foyer.

Robertson played 12 seasons, including from 1960 to 1970 for the Cincinnati Royals (the Royals would later move to Kansas City and then Sacramento). His No. 14 jersey has been retired by the Sacramento Kings.

April 19, 2012
Councilwoman Pannell says she will serve one more term if re-elected

Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell said today this will be her final campaign.

Pannell, 63, who joined the council in 1998 following the death of her husband, Sam, told The Bee's editorial board that if she wins re-election in the June primary, her next term will be her last.

Pannell is facing Betty Williams, the former chair of the local NAACP branch, in the June primary. Her district covers Meadowview and other parts of south Sacramento.

April 19, 2012
NBA's Stern: 'Cooling off period' might be best in Sacramento arena effort

NBA Commissioner David Stern said today that it might be best for the city and the Maloofs to go through a "cooling off period" in the arena saga.

In a meeting with the Associated Press Sports editors, Stern added it was "unfortunate to not be able to deliver on what was a very promising situation." He had nothing more to add on the arena situation, according to AP reports.

April 19, 2012
Councilman: Even with arena deal gone, Sacramento should still explore squeezing more out of downtown parking

Following the collapse of the city's arena deal, the proposal's most ardent opponent says the city should still explore generating cash out of its parking operations.

Councilman Kevin McCarty told me this week the city is "sitting on an untapped asset to potentially make this city millions annually."

Mayor Kevin Johnson and City Manager John Shirey had proposed monetizing downtown parking - either through leasing those assets to a private firm or creating a city-run parking authority - to generate as much as $250 million for the proposed downtown sports arena.

April 19, 2012
Update: Sacramento mayoral candidates' forum held tonight

Mayor Kevin Johnson will not attend tonight's candidates forum in River Park after all.

"Due to ongoing events related to the arena, the mayor will be unable to attend tonight's event," Johnson's chief of staff, Kunal Merchant, told me. "We look forward to the opportunity to speak with the group at another date."

The River Park Neighborhood Association sent out a press release this morning stating that Johnson and candidates Leonard Padilla and Jonathan Rewers would attend a candidates forum. It sounds like only Padilla and Rewers will be there. The forum is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Fremont Presbyterian Church, 5770 Carlson Dr.

April 18, 2012
Two Sacramento council members delay funds for after-school reading programs

A grant intended to fund afterschool reading programs for kids has been caught up in the funhouse that is City Hall.

Councilwomen Bonnie Pannell and Sandy Sheedy on Tuesday delayed the acceptance of a $250,000 state grant for literacy and gang prevention programs at the Boys and Girls Club, upsetting some of their colleagues.

Pannell's objection stems from the fact that Lisa Serna, who runs the day-to-day operations for the City Council offices, was listed as a contact on a staff report detailing the terms of the grant. Serna was appointed to that job by Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has said he will not support Pannell's re-election bid.

April 17, 2012
Sacramento city manager: Vital arena-related work will go on

City Manager John Shirey said that just because the city's arena deal has collapsed, it doesn't mean City Hall will ignore other key projects linked to the deal.

Shirey told the City Council tonight the death of the latest arena plan "doesn't end everything," especially in regard to the city's ongoing development of the downtown railyard and developing 100 acres of city-owned property around Power Balance Pavilion.

On the railyard, where the arena would have been built, Shirey said "this setback does not mean we're giving up on" that site. He called it the "largest and maybe the best infill (development) opportunity anywhere in the country."

April 17, 2012
Mayor: Sacramento should continue arena effort even without Kings

With the Sacramento Kings out of the city's arena equation, Mayor Kevin Johnson wants the city to spend the next two to three weeks exploring building a new downtown sports arena, "with or without an anchor tenant."

At a morning press briefing at City Hall, the mayor said that facility might be a scaled-down version of the $391 million facility initially proposed for the Sacramento Kings. He said it could be designed to accommodate expansions.

"This is bigger than basketball," he said. "I still believe that."

April 16, 2012
Live chat: What's the future for Sacramento arena?

April 13, 2012
Live chat replay: Today's arena developments in NY

April 12, 2012
In letter to Maloofs, mayor says Sacramento will not renegotiate arena deal

In a sharply-worded letter to the Maloof family, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson told the Kings owners late tonight that a handshake agreement agreed upon for the financing of a new arena is not up for negotiation.

Read the letter here

Johnson is headed to New York to meet with the Maloofs and NBA officials, as the city's arena deal remains a focus of the league's annual owners' meeting. The Maloof family has said it has concerns with aspects of a deal agreed upon in February in Orlando, Fla.

But the mayor said the city isn't budging on that deal, which was hammered out with the help of NBA Commissioner David Stern.

April 12, 2012
City: Maloofs' records request created perception they want arena to fail

City officials said this week that a massive records request submitted by the Maloof family has created a perception that the Kings' owners are trying to derail the arena process.

In a letter from the city attorney's office, the Maloofs' attorneys were told the records request created a "perception that this is an attempt to undermine the good faith efforts of so many people and organizations, including the Kings' fans."

The Maloof family filed a seven-page records request, asking for correspondence between the city and the NBA, arena operator AEG, the arena development team and several other groups. City officials said they are still working on their response, but are asking that the Maloofs withdraw their request.

April 12, 2012
Maloofs respond to criticism of Sacramento business leaders

The Maloof family said this morning they were "saddened and disappointed" by criticism launched their way by local business leaders who are asking the NBA to find new ownership for the Sacramento Kings.

Minutes after a dozen business leaders released a letter urging the NBA to force the Maloofs to sell the Kings, the family sent out a statement saying they "share in the community's frustration on forging a workable agreement on what it is ultimately a $400 million transaction that will impact the region for many years to come."

The statement, issued by family spokesman Eric Rose, said "the goal of the Sacramento Kings' organization remains to open the 2015 NBA season in a new arena in Sacramento, and we look forward to working with the city on making that goal a reality."

April 11, 2012
Big volunteer effort planned Saturday at south Sacramento park

A massive volunteer effort is planned for Saturday at one of south Sacramento's largest parks.

Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell's office and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are organizing the outing at North Laguna Creek Park, a 22-acre park on Center Parkway in Valley Hi.

Pannell's office said as many as 800 church olunteers are expected. With dwindling parks budgets, the city has come to rely on volunteers to keep parks clean.

April 10, 2012
Hours remaining in campaign to save Sacramento pools

With just a few hours left in the fundraising campaign to save city pools this summer, organizers are still short of their goal.

The Save Our Pools campaign has raised about $840,000, including a dollar for dollar match by Save Mart supermarket. Save Mart will match donations up to $500,000.

If that number is reached, the campaign will have raised $1 million - enough to open half of the city's 12 pools this summer.

April 10, 2012
Bounty hunter, mayoral hopeful Padilla: arena deal bad for Sacramento

Now we know what Leonard Padilla thinks of this arena deal. And so does the NBA.

Padilla, the famed bounty hunter who is running for mayor this spring for a fifth time, sent a note to NBA Commissioner David Stern saying that he "will make every effort as a candidate for mayor and as mayor to prevent any public funding for the arena."

"I sincerely believe that if the NBA, the Kings, AEG want an arena in Sacramento, be my guest and build it without any public funding," Padilla wrote.

April 9, 2012
Update: Fundraising drive for Sacramento pools approaches goal

A fundraising campaign to keep city pools open this summer has gained momentum in recent days, but is still short of its $1 million goal.

The Save Our Pools campaign, launched by Save Mart supermarket, had generated $818,561 in donations and pledges as of 1 p.m. today. That figure includes a match by Save Mart of donations the store has received.

Save Mart and city officials are holding an all-day phone drive today. Donations can be made over the phone at (855) 895-POOL (7665). The pledge drive ends at 7 p.m., but donations will also be accepted Tuesday via text message at 80888, at the Save Our Pools page on Facebook and at the campaign's website.

April 6, 2012
Public workshop scheduled for Sacramento arena project

City officials have planned a public workshop to discuss the arena project on what will likely be a pivotal day in the process.

The public event is scheduled for Thursday, April 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the first floor lobby of City Hall. City staffers plan to discuss the proposed arena site in the downtown railyard, integrating the arena with the planned intermodal transit hub and linking the project to historic features of the railyard.

That same day, the owners of the Kings will be in New York at the NBA's Board of Governors meeting, where a dispute over who should pay pre-development costs for the arena project will be discussed.

April 5, 2012
Records request another sign of strained Kings/city relationship

The Public Records Act request filed by attorneys for the Sacramento Kings is as big as they come. And that isn't a good thing when it comes to the brittle relationship between the team and city officials.

Attorneys made a whopping 53 requests last month. A full copy of the request can be found here: KingsPRA4-5.pdf

Among other things, the team wants emails, letters, notes, phone conversation transcripts, contracts and memos. They want those communications related to talks between the city and several other parties, including the NBA, arena operator AEG, the owner of the downtown railyard, Goldman Sachs, the city's sports and parking consultants, and the arena development team.

April 4, 2012
NBA's Stern 'more hopeful than ... confident' in Sacramento arena talks

NBA Commissioner David Stern cast a somewhat cautious tone today when discussing Sacramento's arena situation with reporters in Salt Lake City.

According to a report by The Salt Lake Tribune, Stern said he was "more hopeful than I am confident right now" on Sacramento's arena effort. He also made it clear how important next week is to that effort, when the league's owners will meet in New York.

"We'll be having the Maloofs in to talk with some group of them and we'll see where it's going," he said. "Very, very hopeful that it gets on track, because the owners have a respect for the Maloofs. And I think the owners also have an enormous respect for what Sacramento has done over the years in supporting an NBA franchise. And it's always been our first preference -- particularly when government agencies or states are helpful -- to keep a team where a team is if they're playing in a good facility."

April 4, 2012
Sacramento City Attorney Teichert resigns

Sacramento City Attorney Eileen Teichert, one of City Hall's highest-ranking officials, has resigned.

In a letter to Mayor Kevin Johnson and members of the City Council today, Teichert said she has been "presented with an opportunity to continue my career as a municipal lawyer with an excellent organization closer to my family in Southern California." Her letter can be found here: TeichertMemo4-4.pdf

"Although I will miss the many talented and dedicated City officers, staff and elected officials, I must pursue this opportunity," she said.

April 4, 2012
Amid tough times, two Sacramento parks get a boost

Of all the city services hammered by the economic downturn, parks may have taken the biggest hit. But two neighborhoods got a big boost this week that will help ease that cycle.

The city received $5.6 million in state grants to build a new park in the Fruitridge Manor neighborhood of south Sacramento and to renovate McClatchy Park in Oak Park.

The news in Fruitridge Manor was particularly sweet. It's one of the few neighborhoods in the city without a park and residents have been fighting hard for years.

April 3, 2012
With feud simmering, Sacramento council vote on arena begins

Amid an acrimonious backdrop at City Hall, the Sacramento City Council has begun a meeting at which it will decide whether to move ahead with crucial pre-development work needed for a new downtown sports arena.

Live Twitter updates from The Bee's arena team: City Council arena vote

While the council is expected to approve the work, members of the council are also expected to voice frustration with the family that owns the Sacramento Kings over a dispute regarding who will cover the pre-development costs.

Mayor Kevin Johnson voiced his own anger earlier today, when he lashed out at the Maloof family during a press conference, calling their statements that the family never agreed to pay for pre-development costs of a new arena "disingenuous." The mayor also accused the Maloofs of "tactics and antics that are not becoming of a true partnership."

April 3, 2012
Steinberg: Maloofs looking for 'every reason not to proceed' on arena

By Tony Bizjak

In a strongly worded statement this afternoon, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the owners of the Kings are off-base in comments this week that the city is unlikely to meet environmental review deadlines in time to get an arena built.

"The Maloofs seem to be looking for every reason not to proceed as opposed to looking for ways to make it work," Steinberg said in an email to the Bee.

The senate president pro tem was reacting to a letter sent to the city Monday by a Maloof attorney, arguing that the city was trying to wedge too much environmental work into too short a time frame. City officials have acknowledged they are in a hurry to conduct an environmental review on the arena by next spring to begin construction in order to meet a Kings' deadline to have the arena open by September, 2015.

In the letter, Kings' attorney Scott Zolke said the team owners have serious doubts about whether the city can qualify for an expedited judicial review, under the terms of AB 900, authored by Steinberg. Steinberg's law, written in part to smooth the way for a downtown Sacramento arena, allows certain infill projects to qualify for expedited legal review in court, if challenged.

"The Maloofs are wrong about the timing of the CEQA and appellate review process," Steinberg wrote. He concluded: "We stand ready to work with the city and the appropriate state agencies to ensure the project can qualify for expedited review but we need some willingness from our partners to start the process."

April 3, 2012
With council vote looming, Mayor Johnson lashes out at the Maloofs

By Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak

Mayor Kevin Johnson lashed out at the Maloof family today, calling their statements that the family never agreed to pay for pre-development costs of a new arena "disingenuous."

Hours before the City Council is expected to approve the start of crucial pre-development work on the $391 million arena, the mayor accused the Maloofs of "tactics and antics that are not becoming of a true partnership."

"We as a city can't be jerked around," he said. "We can't keep having this issue flare up."

April 2, 2012
No I-5 deck, but Sacramento still wants better downtown-river connections

It's been the dream of city planners for years: covering I-5 in downtown with a massive deck and eliminating a noisy barrier between the center city and the Sacramento River.

While plans under discussion aren't quite as grand as they once were - planners once tossed around the idea of a project costing more than $100 million - City Hall does want to hire a firm to come up with some design ideas that will increase flow from downtown streets to the riverfront area.

The City Council will be asked on Tuesday to approve a $799,178 contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff for design plans that could eventually include a bridge over I-5 at N Street, extending 2nd Street out of Old Sacramento, creating a new "gateway intersection" into Old Sacramento from Capitol Mall and building new sidewalks. A lot of that work is designed to improve access from the Crocker Art Museum to Old Sacramento.

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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