There's been standing room only for Kings' games, but Thursday was the first standing room only crowd for those who want to get in the same of building a new throne for Sacramento's NBA team.
They're contractors – passionate about what they do.
"We're currently doing all the furniture for Levi stadium for the San Francisco 49ers," said Dwight Jackson of the Metro Contract Group.
Today (March 6, 2014), the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento Kings ownership, and construction manager Turner held a contractor outreach meeting to "start a conversation" with companies interested in potential work opportunities in building the new $447 million Entertainment and Sports Center in downtown Sacramento. More than 250 people registered for the event, and many attendees had to stand in the back of the room.
A substantial number of these companies were construction-related firms. I overheard several conversations in which contractors were discussing the requirement to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions as a condition of work. People were unsure about what this union deal meant for their companies if they won a contract.
I suspected that the formal presentation at the contractor outreach meeting would evade references to the more reprehensible provisions of the Project Labor Agreement (aka "Community Workforce and Training Agreement"). I also expected that copies of the Project Labor Agreement would not be provided to attendees of the meeting. (Six months after the deal was announced by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson at a September 4, 2013 press conference, the public still does not have access to the union deal.) And in fact the outreach event did not provide copies of the Project Labor Agreement. During the question-and-answer period, I asked when the Project Labor Agreement would be available for the public to see. Attendees were told that it will be on a web site soon, perhaps in a few weeks.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to appeal a court ruling that would send the agency to trial on whether its planned bullet train can live up to performance requirements required under state law.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny this week denied the rail agency's motion to dismiss part of a lawsuit filed by Kings County and two of its residents, farmer John Tos and homeowner Aaron Fukuda. Kenny's ruling Tuesday set the stage for a potential trial later this spring.
On Thursday, the rail authority said it will ask the Third District Court of Appeal for a writ to overturn Kenny's ruling. "We disagree with the March 4 Sacramento Superior Court ruling and are preparing to seek a review by the Court of Appeal," said Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Just a week ago, the city of Sacramento overcame a huge legal hurdle to its proposed subsidy for the new Kings arena at Downtown Plaza. Now officials are trying to navigate through another turbulent courtroom issue: control of the final piece of real estate needed to build the $448 million arena.
A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered the city and owners of the vacant Macy's men's store at Downtown Plaza to submit additional legal briefs on the question of whether the city's eminent domain lawsuit should be moved to another county. Judge Robert Hight said he's likely to rule Monday.
While the issue is procedural, both sides are taking it very seriously. The store owners want the case moved, perhaps to Alameda County, questioning whether they can get a fair trial in Sacramento. The city says moving the case could interfere with its timetable on the arena project. The city is scheduled to finalize a development agreement with the Kings in April and sell bonds a month later to finance its proposed $258 million subsidy.
In no other profession could the leadership of an organization survive throwing away $20 million with nothing to show for it except catastrophic defeats.
Yet this is exactly what local and statewide union bosses have managed to accomplish since 2006 in San Diego, culminating in the embarrassing defeat of David Alvarez two weeks ago in the race for San Diego mayor.
Despite dumping more than $4.2 million into the race and outspending Kevin Faulconer by $1 million, the union candidate lost by more than 5 percent in a city where only 28 percent of voters are Republicans.
A leader of one of the political campaigns that attempted to force a public vote on Sacramento's arena plan said this morning that the group will not appeal a judge's ruling that struck the measure from the ballot. But the other group said there's a small chance it would pursue an appeal.
Craig Powell of Voters for a Fair Arena Deal said the decision has been made not to appeal Judge Timothy Frawley's ruling Wednesday that signature petitions handed in by the group and Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) included too many errors for the petitions to be valid.
Powell said the decision was made after Frawley indicated in a hearing on Friday that the petitions had significant flaws.
Chris Rufer didn't set out to become the main money man in the most divisive political campaign Sacramento has seen in years. It's just that, as a registered Libertarian, he says he passionately believes the public shouldn't spend a dime to help pay for the construction of a new Kings arena.
With little fanfare, Rufer, a wealthy 64-year-old agribusinessman, has contributed more than $93,000 to the political and legal campaign against the city's proposed $258 million subsidy for the downtown arena. As of Dec. 31, only one person had given more: Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager who secretly donated $100,000 while trying unsuccessfully last year to move the Kings to Seattle.
Rufer, founder and owner of a successful Woodland tomato processor called The Morning Star Co., said it comes down to personal philosophy.
Allowing all contractors to bid will ensure competition, avoid excessive cost
Project labor agreements (PLAs) have never been used on Sonoma County public projects. In fact, on Sept. 18, 2012, the county board of supervisors considered a similar policy that was never enacted. The county subsequently awarded a $22.7 million contract for the Sonoma County Airport Runway project without a PLA.
On Jan. 14, after more than three hours of public comment, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors backed a proposed policy for PLAs on public construction projects of more than $10 million that will decrease local opportunities for 84 percent of construction workers. While some would have you believe PLAs are a good thing, research and experience shows they result in reduced competition and increased costs.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to advance a controversial policy that would establish union rules, benefits and oversight on large county construction projects.
The move, which awaits formal approval later this month, was a clear show of the greater political muscle unions have with the newly composed board, which took up the change after a slightly different group of supervisors turned it back in 2012.
Proponents found their strongest support Tuesday in Supervisors Shirlee Zane, Mike McGuire and Susan Gorin, who secured revisions sought by unions that broadened the draft policy even further.