FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sacramento Under Attack

by SETH SANDRONSKY

“Outside interests are trying to attack our city,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. He will protect Sacramento residents as before from the bids of Anaheim two years ago and Seattle in early 2013 to lure away the NBA Kings.

Who are the attackers now? What makes them a threat?

The answers are clear. Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal oppose a publicly subsidized downtown arena/entertainment venue without a public vote.

On Dec. 10, the two groups delivered signed petitions to the Sacramento city clerk to put the proposed construction project before voters in June 2014. The city subsidy amounts to $258 million of construction bonds.

City parking revenues in the future would finance the bonds that represent 58 percent of the price tag to build a $448 million downtown arena for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. That bond figure does include interest payments.

Yes, Mayor Johnson, a two-term Democrat and retired NBA star guard, knows a thing or two about “outside interests” in Sacramento. His non-profit groups take cash from the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Wal-Mart, the union-free global retail giant based in Arkansas.

Try $500,000 from the WFF between Jan. 19, 2012, and June 5, 2012, to Stand Up for Sacramento Schools, the 501(c)(3) non-profit school reform group that Mayor Johnson launched four years ago. That half-million dollars is a small fraction of the more than $158 million the WFF invested last year to “infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system by increasing the quantity and quality of school choices available to parents, especially in low-income communities”.

Apparently, competition is the key to better learning and teaching. Accordingly, low pay and poverty that plague the working poor, scores of whom include Wal-Mart’s 1.4 million American workers, is a problem only public K-12 schools can solve.

We turn to Craig Powell, president of Eye On Sacramento. The group opposes a public subsidy for a pro basketball facility.

Who benefits from the proposed public investment in a private asset? According to Powell, among the big beneficiaries are Goldman Sachs, the billionaire and multi-millionaire owners of the Kings, Vivek Ranadive, et al., and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, bond counsel.

Goldman Sachs is the “too big too fail and go to jail” firm whose actions propelled a huge housing bubble that burst and crashed the economy in 2008. Absent taxpayer aid since then, the company’s executives would be accountable for their actions.

Instead, they live well. Their comfort is due not to market forces but Uncle Sam’s rescue with truckloads of public greenbacks.

If a new Sacramento pro sports arena is such a great investment opportunity, why is a taxpayer subsidy on the table? If liberty to take risks and reap rewards defines the so-called “free market” of entrepreneurs competing to serve consumers, why require tax dollars?

A public vote could answer such civic questions. There is a term for such citizen action: political democracy.

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento-based journalist. Email sethsandronsky@gmail.com

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Sam Husseini
Why We Should All Remain Seated: the Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
Dmitry Kovalevich
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus as Fear and Loathing Grip Europe
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail