Enough with all the secrecy about the "whales."
The Sacramento City Council, on a 7-2 vote Tuesday, authorized top city staff to begin formal negotiations on financing a downtown sports and entertainment arena with an investment group interested in purchasing the Sacramento Kings.
But with whom are they negotiating? Neither Mayor Kevin Johnson nor City Manager John Shirey have said who the "whales" are, and other City Council members either don't know for sure or aren't talking. Such continued secrecy should be offensive to Sacramento taxpayers, especially now that city money is being used on consultants to help with the negotiating process.
For weeks it's been reported that Johnson has recruited 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle to make a bid for the Kings and prevent the Maloofs from moving the team to Seattle. So, yes, the public has some unconfirmed idea who is involved with the negotiations.
But unconfirmed is not good enough. It could be that there are other partners besides Mastrov and Burkle. City residents need to know all the wealth that is on the other side of the negotiating table, so they can judge the ability of these partners to pay a share of costs the city may be asked to bear. While city officials have hinted that the mayor will unveil the whales Thursday at his State of the City address, that has yet to be publicly confirmed, and residents shouldn't have to wait that long.
The Bee's editorial board supports the council's decision Tuesday to push ahead and determine whether a fair financing arrangement can be struck for a downtown arena. If the public investment is reasonable, the project could be a boost for downtown, the city and the entire region. And if it keeps the Kings in Sacramento, so much the better.
But city residents shouldn't have to wait until Thursday night - right before the Friday deadline for a Kings purchase proposal to be submitted to the NBA - to find out for certain who has a stake in this deal. A lack of transparency has soured Sacramento on the current owners of the Kings. Further murkiness won't help the team's would-be owners.