Back in the day, I was given the task of trying to dissuade a friend from jumping off a rocky precipice in the Berkeley hills. David, as I shall call him, was standing at the edge of a 100-foot drop-off. He was slowly raising and lowering his arms as though he had wings.
“I can fly,” he announced as I slowly approached. “I know I can fly.”
David was gazing at the bay and San Francisco spread out beneath a blue sky dotted with lazy white clouds. I was looking at the rocks and shrubs jutting out below.
“All I have to do is jump and I’ll be as free as a bird,” said David, who had ingested a delusion-enhancing drug. I could hear the exhilaration in David’s voice as he bent his knees and raised his arms. He spoke with such conviction that for a split second I fed off his energy and half-believed in his vision.
That gave me an inspiration. Why be negative and issue dire warnings? I could buy into his fantasy instead of bumming him out. No need to get him agitated and thinking he had to prove me wrong. “Hey, David, you can fly,” I said. “No doubt about it. But why go through all that exertion? Just go back on the grass and watch the clouds.”
David pondered the thought and then said, “Groovy, man, groovy.”
This memory surfaced yesterday as I pondered yet another accusation by a Kings’ fan that I’m a negative guy, just a downright naysayer. Why couldn’t I be positive about building a new arena for the team at public expense?
Well, try as I might to buy into fantasy, it’s hard to see the positive side of pushing cash-strapped Sacramento off a financial cliff. Giving away city parking revenue for 50 years when the city is almost $2 billion in debt is irresponsible. Believing a new arena will infuse economic life into moribund downtown Sacramento has no rational basis. Tearing up Downtown Plaza because a billionaire recommends it is nutty. Substituting backroom deals for transparent city development is harmful. Subsidizing the wealthy at the expense of the working class is unfair.
Saying no to the delusional hype touted in behalf of the arena is actually saying yes to economic fairness, sound financial planning, improved schools, parks, libraries and city services.
Now, if we could just get Mayor Kevin Johnson and his developer buddies to think positive, act wisely and pull the city away from the financial cliff. That would be an all-star move.