The Swarm

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March 11, 2010
Mayor Kevin Johnson, critics make nice on arena report

You never would have known from today's Sacramento City Council meeting that the very legitimacy of the arena task force that made its report was under attack.

Some council members were upset that Mayor Kevin Johnson formed the volunteer group on his own, and complained that it was confusing the public. The spat became part of the drama surrounding his at-times testy relationship with his most vociferous critics that has been on display for all to see.

But today it was all goodness and light. The task force leaders said over and over again that they didn't want to step on any toes and that any decisions were up to the council. And the entire council profusely thanked the task force for its work.

Council member Rob Fong and Johnson even joked with each, much to the amusement of the standing-room-only crowd in the council chambers. Fong mentioned that he had been to Madison Square Garden and TD Garden in Boston, cited as models for combining the arena with a planned transit hub.

"How about those who played there?" kidded Johnson, a former NBA player.

It helped that Johnson reached out, having the task force unveil its recommendations at a public meeting to the entire council, not just to the mayor as originally planned.

And, of course, it helped that the task force came to the conclusion that Fong and another vocal Johnson critic, Sandy Sheedy, wanted: that the city should negotiate first with the group led by developer Gerry Kamilos, who is proposing a three-way land swap in which a new arena would end up in the downtown railyard.

Councilman Steve Cohn said that he was pleasantly surprised at the detail in the task force report and how helpful the information was. As for the bickering over the task force's formation, he said: "I would say it's water under the bridge."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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