Is Sacramento still indomitable?

On billionaire-whale validation, terrorism and NBA arenas, and Mexican-Irish themed fundraisers

We were supposed to be well on our way to building a Sacramento Kings arena right now, wondering how we managed to hold on to the team for just $250 million in taxpayer money.

But apparently, the NBA board of oligopolists needs more time to choose between Seattle and Sacramento. Who should have the privilege of subsidizing pro-basketball profits? Seattle is a richer market. But Sacramento’s willing to put their general fund on the line.

Funny that the Sacramento City Council was given part of a weekend and one and one-half working days to consider and then vote on the deal, vague as it is. The NBA owners group have decided they need until May to make up their minds.

Whatever happens, we’re really winners already. As Councilman Steve Hansen put it before casting his vote to approve the tentative deal, “We have four billionaires essentially who have said Sacramento is worthy. It’s been a long time since someone has validated us in this way.”

Sacramento’s motto is “Urbs Indomita,” or “The Indomitable City.” But who are we kidding? We ought to just translate Hansen’s words into Latin and slap them right inside the city seal: “Billionaires think we are worthy.”

Speaking of toadyism: anybody remember Mayor K.J.’s SacramentoFirst Citizens’ Task Force? That was a panel of experts (of sorts)—business people, developers and political types—whom the mayor brought together to vet arena proposals and then recommend one to city council. Had no authority whatsoever, but people seemed to think they were important at the time, and the council went along.

Back in 2010, the Sacramento First brain trust panned one proposal to build an arena at Downtown Plaza, saying they were “skeptical about the ability to reuse parking beneath the Westfield Downtown Plaza, given public safety and terrorism concerns on the part of the NBA and other tenants.”

Seems they spoke to “many experts” who said that underground parking facilities are discouraged at NBA facilities because they aren’t safe.

That was only one reason the task force recommended against the Downtown Plaza site. The main one being the site was then owned by Westfield Group, who had no particular plans to do anything with the decrepit mall. Ultimately, the task force recommended the multipart land-swap proposal then being pushed by developer Gerry Kamilos. To absolutely everyone’s surprise, the Kamilos plan bombed.

Today, no one seems to remember or care about the terrorism thing with Downtown Plaza. These things have a way of shifting from sales pitch to sales pitch. They are shifty. Maybe the terrorism thing was nonsense. Maybe the city’s best and brightest didn’t know what they were talking about in 2010.

Not like they do now in 2013. Today, it’s obvious to everyone how much better the Downtown Plaza is compared to the rail-yards site. Always has been. The new deal’s points are clearly much better than the last deal’s points. The deal is a lot less risky for the city, for one thing. In fact, the whole deal is better in every way, compared to the last deal. And the one before it and the one before that. Can’t wait to see what the next deal looks like.

Sac city school board member Patrick Kennedy usually throws a big political fundraiser every St. Patrick’s Day. But this year, after he and several board colleagues right-sized several low-income areas out of their neighborhood schools, Kennedy decided it was best to hold off a bit on the money-grubbing politician routine. “I feel it would be inappropriate to the affected families for me to hold a celebration so closely on the heels of the school closures,” he said in an email to supporters back in March.

It’s much classier that Kennedy is holding a “San Patricio,” Mexican-Irish themed fundraiser next month instead. It’s on May 14, at Track 7 Brewing Co., and just $35 to get in, $500 to be a “friend” and $1,500 to be a “sponsor.” Everyone who’s anyone in Democrat circles will be there. Well, not everyone. And probably not many people from the neighborhoods whose schools were shut down. They’ll be too busy trying to figure out where the hell their kids are going to go to school next year.

It’s not entirely clear to Bites that Kennedy actually needs to raise campaign money. He had no opposition to speak of when he ran for re-election last summer, no opposition at all the first time he ran, and he’s not up for election again until 2016. That’s more than three years away. And it’s a school board, not Congress.

But, hey, at least Kennedy waited a respectful period of time between closing those schools and sucking up those campaign dollars. Otherwise, it would have been sort of crass.