Life after Maloofs

The Maloofs suck. There, everybody feel better now?

But how about John Shirey and John Dangberg, our two highly paid city executives? And our mayor, Kevin Johnson?

It seems likely, as reported out by SN&R over the last couple of weeks (see “Let’s fake a deal?” by Nick Miller, SN&R Frontlines, April 19; and “Back to the (arena) future” by N.M., SN&R Frontlines, April 26), that these fellows knew full well that the Maloofs were balking at the proposed arena deal, and knew exactly why they were balking, but chose to keep that under wraps, “for political reasons.”

And even if the Maloofs hadn’t had such profound (and oft repeated) doubts about the term sheet, it’s not like there ever was a real financing plan. Sure, the arena was maybe going to be paid for with money diverted from the city’s parking system, we knew that much. But that parking-privatization scheme was still months away from being finalized and voted on.

In other words, we all knew there was no deal, not yet. Still, city council members and most local media went along, for political reasons. If thinking about that makes you uncomfortable, just remember, the Maloofs suck.

Bites watched from the Bitescave last week as the mayor announced that, after two more days of negotiations, man to Maloof, the arena was still dead.

At the press conference afterward KCRA’s David Bienick asked if K.J. had spent as much time negotiating with the city fire and police unions recently as he had with the Maloofs.

After all, the cops and firefighters are right now being asked to make major concessions in their pension benefits in order to balance the city budget and stave off another brutal year of pink slips and slashed city services. These negotiations are going to have a much bigger impact on the city in the immediate future. The not-so-immediate future, too.

The mayor replied, “That’s not what I do. That’s what the city manager does.”

The next Bites heard from Johnson, he was posting pictures of himself at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, D.C., posing with a series of celebrities: Bo Derek, Charlize Theron, Alicia Keys, Kelly Ripa, Elle Macpherson, Woody Harrelson—one of these things is not like the others—the Twitpics just kept coming. It must have been hard work corralling all those stars.

So, in some things at least, the mayor is indefatigable. Indeed, he’s suggested that the city may go ahead and use city-parking revenue to build an arena without the Maloofs.

One problem: There’s a “noncompete” clause in the bond agreement for the existing Kings loan. If the city goes ahead with any plan to build a new sports facility, anything that could hurt revenue at Power Balance Pavilion, the team is off the hook for the balance of its loan. That’s about $67 million. Details!

In any case, for now, the city has suspended its request for proposals from companies to “monetize” the city’s parking system.

That’s not stopping councilman and arena skeptic Kevin McCarty from pushing to wring more value from parking. He wants to use the money, get this, not to subsidize millionaire sports-team owners, but to pay for city services and invest in projects with a more direct public benefit.

Rather than privatize parking, he thinks the city can raise more parking revenue by investing in new technology, like mobile apps, and tinkering with prices, like dynamic metering that charges more for spaces in high demand. “We’ve known for a while that our parking was an underutilized asset” that could bring millions more to the city every year, McCarty says, suggesting the city could spend half of the new revenue ongoing city needs and invest half in new economic development.

Bites wouldn’t mind a new Mondavi Center-sized performing-arts space; one that integrates nicely with the transit center being planned in the rail yards now.

That would not suck.