The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

June 8, 2010
Pro-cityhood group apologizes, foes seek investigation

The broader questions about the proposed incorporation of Arden Arcade aside, the two sides are going at it hammer and tong over how the pro-cityhood group is going about its business -- and what that might mean for a new city.

After more than four years, cityhood supporters are on the cusp of getting incorporation on the Nov. 2 ballot. With the blessing of the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission, only a typically pro-forma vote from county supervisors stands in the way.

Stay Sacramento, the main group opposing incorporation, has been pressing for the Arden Arcade Incorporation Committee to disclose its financial backers. And now that it has, Stay Sacramento called today for the Sacramento District Attorney and California Attorney General to launch an "immediate and complete investigation" into two of the newly revealed contributions: $20,000 from the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District and $10,000 from the Arden Manor Recreation and Park District.

"This is a gross misuse of our taxpayer dollars," Mike Duveneck, chairman of Stay Sacramento, said in a statement. "It is absolutely deplorable that the community park districts would give funds intended for maintaining our neighborhood parks and providing athletic programs for children, families and seniors to a political organization attempting to form a city."

Noting that donations also came from several waste disposal companies, Duveneck added, "This cityhood drive is not about better government, it is about buying political favors as indicated by the total lack of transparency this group has been operating under."

On Monday, The Bee reported that the incorporation committee and the Arden Arcade Cityhood Study Team, an affiliated nonprofit group, have failed to register with the state attorney general's office and have failed to file all their federal tax returns.

The incorporation committee's chairman, Joel Archer, just issued a statement to The Bee this afternoon that apologized for what it described as "technical mistakes" committed by volunteers who are ordinary people, and that pledged to comply with the applicable laws.

"The supporters of cityhood would like to apologize for our lack of technical knowledge regarding every aspect of the monumental project we have undertaken. If this seems amateurish, it should. Volunteers running the group do appear to have made some technical mistakes, which are being corrected. These weren't professional bureaucrats or politicians, they were stay-at-home dads, small business people, retired workers and community volunteers who refused to accept the ongoing failure of the county trying to find a solution while county politicians, political operatives and bureaucrats tried to silence and divert them. As citizens committees, these entities have had volunteer members, without pay, throughout their existence," the statement said.

"We regret not understanding every form or fee required to maintain absolute compliance. This is a simple mistake made by ordinary people, unused to the inundation of paperwork involved in the most expensive incorporation process in California's history. The Incorporation Committee is, in fact, not tax exempt, while the Study Team was an IRS 501 (c)(3). Neither group was formed as a charity, but we will be verifying with the AG's office as to our exact requirements and submitting our $25 fee and registration as required. We have also been correcting the IRS Form 990s because they were done incorrectly by folks who had never previously seen such forms. It is an untruth that cityhood supporters have sought to deceive anyone or willfully ignored our legal obligations."

Return Wednesday to www.sacbee.com/opinion to find out what The Bee's editorial board thinks about the controversy.

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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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