STOP anti-arena signature collectors caught misleading voters again
In the case of anti-arena group STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork), their continued use of the word ‘tax’ when describing their opposition of Sacramento’s plan to build a downtown Entertainment and Sports Complex has been a controversial topic.
That plan will provide $258 million toward the cost of an estimated $448 million Entertainment and Sports Complex and will be derived primarily from a parking monetization plan — not a tax.
While folks on opposite sides of the issue will likely blame semantics it is a distinction that, along with a lengthy list of criticisms and public snafus, will threaten to cut STOP’s legs out from underneath them if they successfully force a public vote on their proposed initiative.
Their proposed initiative would theoretically require a public vote on any plan to provide public funds for a sports arena. They need 22,000 signatures by mid-December to qualify the initiative for the June 2014 ballot.
This picture showing a signature collector using a sign that says “STOP NBA TAX” is the most recent one to surface in which incorrect terminology is being used by STOP, an anti-arena group that has said publicly that they are trying to keep the NBA out of Sacramento.
The NBA has no taxing authority no matter how much opponents of arena subsidies will claim it is a semantic difference.
When talking about the controversy and criticism surrounding STOP, it has been an avalanche of bad news this summer for the fledgling outfit. Among the major complaints, the group has been criticized for their lack of transparency regarding who they are, who is pulling the strings and who is funding their operation.
Most of the group’s main stakeholders are located outside the city of Sacramento in places like Seattle and Southern California.
Their campaign has been financed almost entirely by Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen, who attempted to steal the Kings in a widely criticized (and failed) deal with the infamous Maloof family that previously owned the Kings. It was the Maloofs’ law firm, Loeb and Loeb, that assisted Hansen with his contribution to the group.
Hansen was fined and admonished by the Fair Political Practices Commission for concealing his contributions to STOP, and NBA sources tell SacMidtown.com that his actions have hurt his chances of owning a team in the future.
The NBA and its players have received over $3 billion in public funds since 1990, and while economists have softened on their stance that there are no measurable economic benefits to arena subsidies — the move by Hansen to hinder what the league views as a “model offer” of public funds was a bad look for them on an often-touchy subject.
Hansen has made statements to the effect that he wants STOP to withhold the signatures that he paid for, but has yet to put forth any real pressure on the group to dissuade them from being used.
In Sacramento, political pundits have agreed that news of Hansen’s involvement with STOP was a major blow to their campaign.
“Now there is an obvious pall cast by this surreptitious outsider funding this campaign,” political consultant Rob Stutzman told the Sacramento Bee.
STOP has also seen its partners come under scrutiny for everything from claims of improperly conducting their petition campaign to their past criminal records and mental health. Monica Harris, owner of Momentum Political Services (who handles signature gathering for STOP) has an extensive criminal history and one of her employees currently plead guilty in U.S. District Court for mortgage fraud.
Political consultant Tab Berg, who handled public relations and other matters for STOP, abruptly distanced himself from the campaign after it was revealed he had not been forthcoming with the public about his relationship with the group during the Hansen scandal.
Combined with constant reports of incorrect information being given to citizens in the attempt to gain signatures, and all of the controversy surrounding STOP in general, the massive groundswell of pro-arena forces in Sacramento will have no shortage of imagery to provide during a theoretic voting drive — assuming the signatures STOP collects are valid after any claims of impropriety are assessed by various election and judicial authorities.
All together, sources close to the situation are supremely confident that STOP will not be able to impact Sacramento’s plans to build the arena. The only real question is whether or not they’ll continue pushing the envelope with how they present themselves.
UPDATE: A reader pointed us to a recent story done on the signature gatherer in the photo, Bryan Barton. Fox 40 in Sacramento ran a story on his endeavors as a pickup artist, which included complaints about harassment of women and him being forcefully removed from at least one shopping mall in the area.
Short URL: http://sacmidtown.com/?p=3037