For a year, I thought I had gotten rid of the ants that like to invade my kitchen after big rainstorms, thought that last round of poison stakes had eliminated the stubborn colony that had flourished along the driveway. But no, there was a swarm of ants on the counter Monday morning after the weekend deluge, turning the butter dish into a writhing brown mess and seeking treasure in the toaster.
They just keep crawling back — kind of like arena promoters in Sacramento.
Yep, the folks who thought they could feast on the city’s parking revenue instead of hiring cops and firefighters are regrouping as rumors swirl about a Kings’ move to Virginia Beach or Seattle.
“The door is still open, there’s a deal to be had downtown,” Mayor Kevin Johnson said in a Sacramento Bee story today. “I don’t think the grass is greener anywhere else but Sacramento.”
Last week, the Bee’s editorial board, the official voice of the paper, sounded the trumpets for an arena comeback:
“Keep the Kings here, but not at any price,” an editorial headline said Friday, attempting to sound both bold and responsible.
“Don’t even think about getting into a bidding war to keep the team,” the editorial warned the city’s leaders.
No, just get back to work shoving a railyard arena plan down the throats of city taxpayers, the editorial suggested, taxpayers who again and again have rejected subsidizing the Maloof family and the ambitions of local politicians and developers.
The arena deal that failed last winter, the one calling for $255 million in city money, “was more than fair, and it could be resurrected,” the ever-optimistic editorial board said.
More than fair ….
Dwell on that phrase the next time the undermanned police force doesn’t investigate a burglary at your home, the next time you read about job layoffs, the next time you see trash littering your favorite park.
More than fair ….
Could that possibly imply that the city had done all it could to keep the Maloofs and the NBA happy by offering to pay 65 percent of the estimated $391 million cost of an arena at the railyard? Admittedly, that’s not as generous as Virginia Beach’s 90 percent public subsidy plan, but still, $255 million ain’t chump change.
The Bee editorial board would do well to read the recent New York Times investigative report headlined “The Empty Promise of Tax Incentives – Governments Give Up $80 billion a Year, but Jobs Still Vanish.” The article recounts the plight of cities across America that gave big subsidies to corporations in return for jobs that either never materialized or disappeared during the recession. Many local governments didn’t bother to track how many jobs were created and those that did were unable to say whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.
These sorry tales will sound familiar to Sacramentans, who were promised thousands of new jobs and a wave of downtown development in return for jumping off a financial cliff. The scare tactics will also be familiar. Big corporations threatened to leave town or send jobs overseas if local officials didn’t fork over big bucks.
“Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages,” the Times said.
“For local governments, incentives have become the cost of doing business with almost every business,” the Times said. “Awards go to companies big and small, those gushing in profits and those sinking in losses, American companies and foreign companies, and every industry imaginable.”
The Kings have gobbled up a fair amount of public money already, still owe the city a good $65 million and have given fans six losing seasons in a row. The arena plan was a boondoggle from the start and would have benefited only the Maloofs and Sacramento’s power elite.
But sports folks love comeback tales, and it’s little surprise the arena plan is rearing its ugly head again, as I predicted in May.
But thanks to the Bee, we have been given more than fair warning of the follies ahead.