City Beat: Downtown arena supporters want Hansen to throw out signatures

08/21/2013 12:00 AM

10/06/2014 5:29 PM

Sacramento's arena boosters want Chris Hansen to do more than apologize for financing an effort to derail the project. They want him to shred the signatures his money funded that could send the arena plan to the June 2014 ballot.

Members of the DowntownArena.org campaign made their demands in a letter to Hansen sent Monday.

Hansen, who tried to buy the Kings this spring and move them to Seattle, was revealed last week as the secret financier of a campaign to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would require voter approval of sports facility subsidies in the city. He made a $100,000 contribution to the campaign on June 21 through the Los Angeles law firm Loeb & Loeb, campaign finance records show.

Hansen said in a statement on his website Friday that he regrets making the donation. He added that he wishes "the city of Sacramento and Kings fans the best in their efforts" and that "they have my commitment not to have any involvement in their arena efforts in the future."

DowntownArena.org said in its letter to Hansen that it appreciates Hansen's message but that his apology "would mean nothing if (he) allowed the signatures obtained utilizing the funds (he) provided to be submitted by those seeking to STOP our downtown arena from being built."

The paid signature-gathering campaign was run parallel to an effort to collect signatures by Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, or STOP.

Right now, it's unclear who controls the petitions gathered by the paid campaign workers. Olson Campaigns of Tulare, the firm that organized the crews that collected signatures in Sacramento, has not returned inquiries from The Sacramento Bee seeking information on the petitions.

Brandon Powers, the Orange County political operative who served as the intermediary in the transfer of funds between Loeb & Loeb and the petition drive organizers, also has not returned phone calls.

STOP, led by downtown activists and using volunteers to collect signatures, is continuing its effort to gather 22,000 signatures from city voters by mid-December.

STOP has said it has more than half the signatures it needs to force a vote on the arena.

Sales of tobacco to minors in Sacramento have plummeted in the nine years since the City Council enacted strict rules on retailers, city officials said.

Bob Rose, a code enforcement manager with the city, said that between 8 percent and 10 percent of retailers were discovered selling tobacco to underage decoys this year. That's less than half the number found to be selling to minors when the council adopted a tobacco ordinance in 2004, Rose said.

"We're pleased with the outcome," Rose said.A recent sting found that one out of the 15 stores inspected sold tobacco to minors.

CITY BEAT

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