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Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and wife Michelle Rhee respond to cheers from the sold out crowd on Wednesday night, October 30, 2013, the NBA season opener between the Sacramento Kings and the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena.

Mayor Johnson goes after anti-arena subsidy group

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 - 12:58 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 - 8:24 pm

As the campaign seeking a vote on Sacramento’s arena subsidy prepares to turn in its petitions, Mayor Kevin Johnson went on the offensive this morning, saying those behind the ballot measure “are not folks who have Sacramento’s best interests in mind.”

“For me, this isn’t what it appears to be,” the mayor said in an interview with The Bee. “This initiative is a Trojan horse, it’s like a bait and switch.”

Johnson said an analysis by pro-arena interests determined that 94 percent of the money that supported the signature-gathering campaign came from people and groups outside the city of Sacramento.

“Our community is ready to fight, especially when attacked from outside our community,” the mayor said. “We’re not going to be fooled. We’ve been here before.”

The largest funder of the signature effort has been Chris Hansen, the hedge fund manager who attempted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle earlier this year. Hansen provided $100,000 that was used to collect signatures; those petitions were eventually transferred to Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP), the group spearheading the ballot measure campaign.

Julian Camacho, president of STOP, said “these accusations by the mayor are groundless.”

“He's grasping at straws,” Camacho said. “If there are outside interests, they are centered at Region Builders (a pro-arena group), not in STOP’s organization. Moreover, the mayor's statement is highly indicative of the misinformation that’s plagued this effort, an effort by local folks to be more involved in the long-term direction of this city.”

Camacho continued that, "talk is cheap, but the results are in.”

“At STOP, we want to pay tribute to the people of Sacramento, especially the beautiful women of Sacramento who are devoted to the long-term growth of the city," he said.

STOP plans to turn in roughly 40,000 signatures it has gathered at about 3 p.m. today. Those signatures will be filed with the City Clerk’s office.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at

Read more articles by Ryan Lillis

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at

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Note: The City Beat blog switched blog platforms in September 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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