STOP anti-arena signature collectors caught misleading voters again

AB PicThe definition of what is a tax and what isn’t a tax will likely be a hotly contested one for all of time.

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.

Reports of STOP misleading the public have become commonplace to the extent that thousands of Sacramentans have requested STOP NBA Taxto have their signatures withdrawn on the basis they were mislead.

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.

 

About Aaron Bruski

Aaron Bruski moved full-time to Sacramento in 2013 after spending much of the past decade traveling between both halves of the state for business and basketball. As the owner of site sponsor ABIS Employee Benefits and Insurance Services, Bruski has nearly 15 years experience in the health care field, but that's just the beginning. Having spent the last seven years as a basketball writer for NBC Sports, his work has appeared at ProBasketballTalk.com, Rotoworld.com, USA Today, and Yahoo! Sports. Bruski's work covering the Kings relocation saga received critical acclaim as he was the first journalist to report that the Kings were likely to stay in Sacramento when the rest of the basketball media had punched their ticket to Seattle.

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Posted by on Sep 20 2013. Filed under Downtown Arena, SMT Featured Stories, Story Stream, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

13 Comments for “STOP anti-arena signature collectors caught misleading voters again”

  1. Chad HOwery

    Great article, Aaron.

  2. Chad Howery

    Great article, Aaron!

  3. […] anti-arena STOP folks simply can’t stop misleading voters. […]

  4. Bryan Barton

    Aaron,

    I am the person in the picture.
    Your article has many errors and omissions that I believe you would like to share with your readers.

    1- I am not a member of S.T.O.P. My sign has in no way been approved by them. I am an independent petition gatherer. Although I may join them in the future as I continue to see them attacked in the press.

    2- The person who took this picture also took video of me. If you have not seen the raw footage you should definitely take a look at it and post it to let your readers know what really went down.

    3- That was the BACK of my sign! I used it for a couple days, the front of my sign now says “Demand a vote on the Arena”

    4- If a cities “parking monetization plan” is not a tax then I don’t know what is. Many Sacramento voters think that NBA players (who make an average of 5 Million dollars a year) don’t need a any corporate welfare.

    Although we can disagree on the fourth point. I believe your readers deserve to know the truth about this “incident”.

    Thank you very much,
    Bryan Barton

    • Joe B.

      1. If your sign has not been approved by STOP…why are you using it? So, you claim you’re not a member…just an independent signature gatherer…do you even live in the city of Sacramento? If not, what business do you have collecting signatures on an issue that involves Sacramento and that you obviously know nothing about?

      3. The back of your sign? Considering all the bad press this issue has got don’t you think you’d want to stay away from anything on a sign that would add further fuel to the fire? Sorry, I don’t buy it…what? can’t afford a new hunk of cardboard?

      4. Why do you think a parking monetization plan is a tax? Who is being taxed exactly? From what I understand, the city is borrowing against future parking revenues? Who in their right mind believes this is a tax? Oh, that’s right…uninformed STOP petition gatherers…

      Suggestion…get a real job…

  5. Ron Klint

    Bryan,
    In response to your points:

    1- It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of STOP or whether or not your sign was approved by them. The signatures you are gathering go DIRECTLY to their effort.

    2- I haven’t seen video so N/A

    3- Doesn’t matter if this was “the back” of your sign as you claim and now it’s changed. So you’re tossing out any signatures you gathered while using that sign?

    4- Go to http://www.cityofsacramento.org/arena/pdfs/ESCquickfacts.pdf for the details on funding of the ESC which will be OWNED by the City. The City of Sacramento is contributing 258 Million (58%) for a facility that will be 100% theirs. The Kings Ownership Group is contributing 190 Million to be a TENANT for roughly 48 nights a year on avg. A similar ESC in San Jose (HP Pavilion) hosts on avg. 190 events a year. The City reaps profit from ALL events. Kings Ownership Group is also investing 100’s of Millions in Development of the surrounding area.

    4- That’s my .02 and I’m sure we won’t agree

    Thanks

    • Nate

      1- Um, yes it does, because you’re article title is : “STOP ANTI ARENA SIGNATURE COLLECTORS CAUGH MISLEADING VOTERS AGAIN”

      2- Lies

      3- Front of sign is not misleading. NBA has been involved in tax subsidies all around the country, as well as this. A direct levy tax is not the only form of tax subsidy.

      4- You’re not debating a public subsidy for a for-profit business, just deceiving facts.

  6. Jan Bergeron

    “STOP, an anti-arena group that has said publicly that they are trying to keep the NBA out of Sacramento.” I’m not saying you’re lying, but I don’t believe this.
    Who in STOP said that? Name, who, when, where? Since the NBA is already in Sacramento, it’s too late to keep them out.

    We who want s publilc vote on the public funding (from whatever sources) of the arena are not anti-arena. I’d be happy to have a privately funded arena (they have the money) within walking distance of my home. But I also want “world-class” police services, street lighting, etc. so that walk will be safe. (If you’ve ever been robbed on the street with a gun shoved in your kidney you’d want better public safety, too.

    • Mike Riordan

      Jan,

      The STOP member who was caught on camera talking about hoping to delay the arena long enough for the NBA to think that Sacramento is not worthwhile and leave is named Mike Edwards, and he said it while collecting signatures for STOP at the Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago. You can find the video on youtube, titled “Mike Edwards” posted by Joshua Wood. He is/was their Director of Volunteers and has spoken on camera to news crews on STOP’s behalf before.

      As to your concerns about public safety, I hope you realize that this is the very reason why you should support the arena! The arena will produce revenue for the city that can be used to support public safety. It is not a “cost” that the city is paying for an arena, it is an investment that will bring a return to the city’s budget. You don’t have to take my word for it or that of the professionals who crafted the plan, the police union itself has publicly stated its support of the downtown arena because it recognizes it as an important revenue source for the city (you can find articles about this by searching the web). Why would the police union support something that was against their interests?

  7. Tyler

    All STOP is doing is costing the city money by having to print up literature to explain how full of sh*t they are. They have zero chance of winning on the ballot. It’s just a waste of public funds.

  8. Rob

    Great article, it is so disgusting to see these people try to destroy Sacramento by lying, misleading and using scare tactics on voters to get a signature. STOP did state that the objective was to get the NBA to leave Sacramento. It was Micheal Edwards, who is on the STOP board who has stated this multiple times. I care about the city I have been born and raised in and plan on educating voters on the truth so that those that have signed the petition will withdrawal their name!

  9. Nate

    What a deceiving and misrepresented article. Clearly some personal bias and benefit here as a NBA/Kings fan. Stay out of the reporting business.

  10. Paul

    Should have known the creepy mall stalker was apart of the STOP collective.

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