In another escalation of Sacramento's growing arena war, arena supporters this afternoon called on an Orange County political action committee and its Sacramento affiliate to reveal who is financially supporting a petition drive to put the city's arena subsidy plan on the ballot.
In the press statement issued by a coalition of pro-arena businesses, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce President Roger Niello is quoted saying he wonders if someone from Anaheim is behind the effort to put the $448 million arena deal to a public vote. Anaheim officials unsuccessfully attempted to woo the Sacramento Kings two years ago. At the time, a group from Sacramento launched a petition drive in that city in an attempt to foil that city's plans.
"I am troubled by the fact that there is an Orange County group trying to influence our region without being open and honest as to exactly whom they are," Niello said in the press release issued by DowntownArena.org, a group of business and building industry interests. "I have to wonder if there is some connection with Anaheim of past efforts."
Sacramento city officials recently signed a deal to build a downtown arena to keep the team here, under new ownership. Under that deal, the city of Sacramento has pledged to commit $258 million worth of bonds to the project, backed mainly by future downtown parking revenues. The city would own the arena, which would be built at Downtown Plaza.
A local group that calls itself STOP, Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, teamed up last month with Orange County-based Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods to launch a petition drive in hopes of placing the subsidy deal on the June 2014 ballot.
The Orange County organization has refused requests by The Bee to identify its principals or its financial backers. A Los Angeles-based spokesman for the group this week sent The Bee an email saying he doesn't know who is heading his group or funding it. That spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment Thursday. A local representative, political consultant Tab Berg, also could not be reached immediately for comment.
Julian Camacho, one of the members of STOP, a small group of Sacramento activists, said he is happy the Orange County group has volunteered to fund the election effort - which includes paying petition gatherers $1.75 per signature - but declined to offer any details about the group.