Kings Fans Hated Her


“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…”   Leo Tolstoy

In 2008, no one was surprised.  Building a new home for the Sacramento Kings was priority one for new Mayor, Kevin Johnson. The former Phoenix Sun point guard, was not going allow the only professional sports franchise leave town.  Two years earlier, the citizens of Sacramento overwhelmingly rejected funding for a Arena in the Railyards.

The Maloofs unhappy with the city, starting shopping the Kings around.

The location for the new arena was a small parcel the city owned in the undeveloped Railyards.

Many members of the business community, the Maloof family who owned the Sacramento Kings, the National Basketball Association was on board.     Now it was the city’s turn, the team needed a substantial financial commitment from the city, 232 millions dollars toward the construction of the new Arena in a cash strapped city.

Much of the funding would come from parking revenue.  Revenues that was flowing into the General Fund which was in the red.

With the location in the Railyards decided, all the pieces where quickly coming together to prevent the Maloofs from moving the Kings out of Sacramento.   The location in the Railyards was touted as a jump start development in the Railyards .

Sacramento was  cash strapped.   Sacramento fortunes has depended on real state, and Sacramento like most cities in the country Sacramento faced a short fall as real estate sales slowed and  values plummeted.  There were cuts in every city department. Massive layoff’s in the cities Police and Fire departments. Community Centers and area swimming pools were closed during the summer months and despite all this ,the city was willing to risk it all to keep the Kings in Sacramento. And one thing  was thing the city didn’t want, was vote on the Arena.  The National Basketball Association set the clock.  Sacramento  had to have a money plan for the Arena by March 2012

Enter District 2 Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy

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Sandy Sheedy (photo Sacramento Press)

Sandy Sheedy was born and raised 70 miles north of Sacramento in Colusa. Sheedy sat on many influential boards in Sacramento.  Including the Sacramento Planning Commission, Sacramento Sacramento County Civil Service Commission. Elected to the Sacramento City Council representing district 2 in 2000. she fought hard for her district, one of the poorest districts in the area.

As Councilwoman, she served as Chair of the City Council’s Code Enforcement Ad Hoc Committee. During her tenure a fire station was constructed in North Sacramento, she successfully fought for parks, street lighting and repair streets in her district.

October 2011

October 2011: Sheedy conducted arena poll. Sheedy used $8,000 of her own campaign funds to pay for the poll .   Those participating in the poll supported  a public vote for the proposed Arena in the Railyard.

This poll outraged Mayor Johnson, fans and business supporters of the new arena.  This single bold move made Sandy Sheedy  enemy number one!

A Think Big representative immediately called the polls questions misleading. (Sacramento Press)

Think BIG is a regional initiative launched by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to facilitate construction of a new entertainment and sports complex (“ESC”) that promotes job creation, economic growth, cultural development and civic pride across the greater Sacramento metropolitan area. 

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Obstructionist- Misleading-Wrongdoer-Phony-Anti Arena-Anti Progress

These are just some of the words used by the local media to describe Sandy Sheedy

October 26, 2011 Marcos Breton  Sacramento Bee: Sandy Sheedy not fooling anyone with arena poll   This is the story of a politician touting a phony poll on a controversial topic meant to stir people up for no good reason.  Sacramento City Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy says her poll shows that city residents want an up or down vote on the financing of a new arena in the downtown railyard. In reality, Sheedy’s poll is horse manure disguised as public policy. It’s not about letting the people decide. It’s about trying to undermine the top initiative of Mayor Kevin Johnson because Johnson is undoubtedly running a candidate against Sheedy next year. This is vendetta-driven. Since she helped Johnson get elected in 2008, Sheedy has turned into his chief nemesis. From my vantage point, Sheedy wanted deference from KJ and a seat in his inner circle. But the Lord Mayor don’t play that. 

I’m not even going to get into the leading questions in Sheedy’s poll or that arena supporters have polling numbers that show strong public support for an arena, but Sheedy has been setting a divisive tone lately. In a public meeting this summer, Sheedy and some cronies lambasted private citizens who worked very hard to help the process of redrawing council districts. It was ugly and it’s no wonder that candidates seem to be lining up to run against her.
October 28,2011 Sacramento Kings fan Robert Landon Jr   Filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission against Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy alleges election law violations stemming from a recent poll authorized through her office.  He believe Sheedy may have  violated sections of the Political Reform act of 1974 . Related to telephone advocacy and misuse of a public figure’s official position.  By paying for a telephonic “push poll” with campaign re-election funds and failing to advise the people called that the poll was paid for by her campaign, Sheedy violated the act.

 Early on Sandy Sheedy, wanted more public input on the Arena plan

Ultimately she wanted a public vote on the Arena.   This angered Johnson ,the group Think big and others King supporters in the area.  It was clear, no one wanted a public vote.

Wall of Intimidation: During the last round or public hearings, the rooms were filled with Sacramento King Supporters, many of whom booed those who did not support the arena.


Not Everyone Hated Sheedy 

October 26, 2011 cool DMZ ( Think Big not thinking about the little people? Not too proud about that headline. Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy’s poll  about the use of City funds to bankroll the new arena showed overwhelming public support for going to the ballot box, the Bee reports today. However, Think Big Sacramento, the Mayor’s initiative aimed at making the arena happen, calls the poll suspicious. Apparently they have their own poll that contradicts Sheedy’s:

Chris Lehane, head of the mayor’s Think Big Sacramento commission, pointed to a poll his group commissioned in August that found majority support for selling some city land, and for leasing city parking garages as part of a potential financing plan.

Supporting putting it to a vote and supporting some of those uses don’t seem to be diametrically opposed, but I’d have to see the questions on both polls. The Bee doesn’t supply those. Johnson political adviser David Townsend went even further in dismissing the poll. “Voters have lost such confidence in government that they think they should vote on anything,” Townsend said.

Yeah, we suck at not letting the government do what it wants. Marcos Breton thinks otherwise. I’ll take his point about the political wranglings. But I don’t think it’s out of the question that after what happened in the past, public support for this is not necessarily as firm as thought by those who drink Think Big’s Kool-Aid.The more the NBA lockout presses on, pushing for Sacramento to “Think Big” about dropping a chunk of change the size of Amare Stoudemire’s ego while dismissing public’s interest in this matter out of hand is not a winning approach.

October 27,2011 Paul Clegg (Game to 100com)  Sheedy respects public on Arena funding Blogger and a former Sacramento Bee editor and writer Wrote: There’s a good reason why thousands of people have gathered to protest in parks from New York to Sacramento: They’re angry at getting excluded from a political process that has stealthily and systematically taken their money and given it to the rich. Part of this wealth transfer has come through the public funding of sports stadiums.  So let us praise Sacramento City Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, who has had the decency  to ask local voters whether they want a voice in any public funding of an arena. City voters made their view known loud and clear in 2006 when they decisively rejected a sales tax hike to fund a Kings arena.   Seventy-one percent of the respondents to Sheedy’s poll said the council should refer any deal with city financing to them for a final say, the Sacramento Bee reported .

The powerful arena coalition shows remarkable contempt for local residents. Eighty percent of voters rejected public funding for a Kings arena when the economy was booming. It’s gone bust since then. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Foreclosure signs are everywhere. There’s little sign of economic improvement any time soon. They don’t want independent economic analyses, which likely would show the folly of building a downtown arena. They prefer to  criticize Sheedy for getting the public involved in how its money is being spent.
And still, the mayor and his allies race full-speed ahead on an arena project while advancing spurious economic reports touting a gold mine down the road. They don’t want any serious public input  that would bring this misuse of public money to an end.Adding insult to obfuscation, Bee columnist Marcos Breton yesterday chose to do a hit piece on Sheedy and accuse her of political grandstanding while he blithely ignores the contemptuous machinations of the arena crowd. He praises the politicians who have sought ways to grab the public’s money without bothering to ask for public approval.“These are policy questions, land-use questions and finance questions,” Breton says. “They are the calls elected officials are elected to make.”Ah, yes – a $387 million project, before all the cost overruns and unanticipated expenses, is defined as a little land-use and finance question we voters need not worry our heads about. A columnist should know that a  rip-off by any other name remains a rip-off.

November 3,2011 Isaac Gonzalez ( An incomplete timeline of the events surrounding Sandy Sheedy’s arena poll Seedy just found out how touchy people can get around here when you start asking the wrong questions. Good for her. Last week the Sacramento city councilwoman released the results of a poll she commissioned, showing that voters are deeply skeptical about the public financing of a new Kings arena. A majority of the 600 people polled said they are opposed to selling off city property to fund the complex; a much larger portion, 71 percent, said they thought the public should get a vote on any plan for public funding.

The opinion writers at The Sacramento Bee dutifully rushed to the defense of the half-gelled arena proposal, and the man behind the plan, Mayor Kevin Johnson.    Marcos Breton called Sheedy’s poll “horse manure.” The Bee’s editorial page said Sheedy’s suggestion that the public vote is an “unhelpful sideshow.”

The opposite is true. In fact, it is helpful to taxpayers to know that this arena plan is specifically designed to avoid a public vote on the use of public money. The Bee should be helping to highlight that fact, not obscure it. As for all the blowback, Sheedy says, “It sounds to me like somebody’s scared to ask the people what they think.

Certainly the language on some of the questions is a bit stark. For example, survey respondents are told that the city could sell public land to “pay for an arena rather than basic city services.” That’s a false choice. We’re not going to start selling city land to meet payroll. Bites hopes. The mayor’s office also sent out its own critique of the poll, saying the poll is misleading when it refers to a car-rental tax—which got dropped from the plan earlier this fall—or to the “sale” of operations of city parking facilities.  When pressed, Sheedy acknowledged there’s a difference between “selling” parking operations and the long-term leases that are being proposed. Though with a 50-year (or longer) lease, that difference could be quite subtle.

Once upon a time, the mayor thought nothing was more important than the public’s right to vote. That was when Johnson wanted to wage an expensive ballot campaign to pass his strong-mayor initiative. Likewise, political junkies remember that K.J.’s campaign adviser, David Townsend also did some dirty work last year for PG&E, on a ballot measure that would impose strict super majority vote requirements on efforts by public power agencies like SMUD to form or expand. What was that campaign called? Oh yeah, the “Taxpayer Right to Vote Act.”

The mayor’s people point out that there’s a qualitative difference between amending the city’s constitution, and what is essentially a glorified development subsidy.hey’re right, of course. Still, it’s interesting to note when people find it convenient to evoke the rhetoric of a right to vote, and when they don’t.

“It’s interesting for them to say that we don’t ‘need’ a vote. This is the largest amount of money we’ve ever spent on anything. It’s the people’s money,” Sheedy argues.

Conveniently enough, there really isn’t time for a public vote. The next regularly scheduled election is in June, and the deadline for the city to have an arena-financing plan in place is March 1.At least, those are the rules and the timeline that the NBA has given the city. And so far Sacramento has been pretty good about doing what the NBA has told us to do. Why stop now?


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 January 2012 : Sandy Sheedy announced she would not seek a fourth term.

The public attacks on Sandy Sheedy was unlike anything I’ve seen my the twenty plus years following Sacramento politics, many of the attacks were personal.

Sheedy told friends she wanted to spend time with her family.

“Ted and I have given over 30 years of public service and it’s time for us to do this together,” she said, referring to her husband, Ted Sheedy, a former county supervisor. “It’s time get back to my family.” I’m not leaving because there are people running against me,” she said, describing the field of challengers who have lined up against her as “very weak.”

“When a Sheedy goes to run for office, they go to war,” she said.  I have “completed everything I set out to complete” when she first ran. She is particularly proud of the ongoing operation of the Robertson Community Center in Del Paso Heights, specially the center’s teen center, and improvements to Del Paso Boulevard made under her watch.”The district is in good shape,” she said. “They just need to keep it in good shape.”

March 2012

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The Mayor had the votes, seven for and two against. Council Member from District 6 Kevin McCarty, and Sandy Sheedy representing District 2

Before the Vote, Sheedy made one last appeal to her colleagues on the board .

She sent a policy paper titled  Stop! Think Consider? to her fellow council members.

The policy paper starts with a quote from an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, “Few fields of empirical economic research offer virtual unanimity of findings. Yet, independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no significantly positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.”

Stockton built a new arena in 2005 but has lost millions on it as it struggles to fill it for events. The city is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Defending his position, Kevin McCarty said: For me, it’s unconscionable to put all new parking monies toward the Arena with so many other pressing City needs. In my Council District 6, all three swimming pools are shut down. My community centers and libraries are open only a few days a week and staffed at skeleton levels.

All youth sports programs were eliminated last year citywide. Park maintenance and code enforcement staffs can’t provide adequate service levels, and more than 200 police and fire fighter jobs have disappeared in recent years.   And in less than 3 months, there will be more layoffs as we make another $25 million in budget cuts.

The plan backfills the City’s General Fund for core city services and magically adds up to $9 million. That dollar amount is not guaranteed and is based on assumptions. For example, I’m concerned about the $4 million annual projected income from ticket surcharges. What happens if we have another lockout or strike, or poor attendance year-after-year due to a badly performing team? Our neighbors in Stockton and Oakland lost big because of overly optimistic income projections for arena and stadium deals. Instead, why not insist that the Kings, AEG or the NBA guarantee the $4 million annual backfill?

I am not an automatic “no vote” on public funding for an arena, but it has to be a better deal for our City and its residents. We deserve a bigger bang for our buck.

The sports blogs and the local media including Sacramento Bee’s Marcus Breton attacked McCarthy calling him  a “Weasel”  Up for re-election McCarthy had a target on his back.   However, the harshest attacks were reserved for Sandy Sheedy.


JUST a formality 


May 2012


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Councilmember Steve Cohn tells CBS13 he’s already decided to vote yes on the railyards arena. The measure is expected to pass, but not with full support.

 No one was surprised  by the May 2012 vote, (7-2) in favor of building a new arena.  Major Johnson’s  With the vote the city has  committing 232 million dollars towards a new home for the Sacramento Kings in railcards.

“Long live Sacramento, and long live the Kings!” shouted  Mayor Johnson 

“I want to thank you on behalf of my family and our organization for taking the next step forward,” Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof told the council. “We look forward in working with you throughout this process and we are excited about this. We appreciate your efforts. This is a great day for Sacramento.”

Its a done deal, the city has done it part, the entertainment giant AEG committed nearly sixty million dollars towards and the Sacramento Kings committed 73 million.   There were hugs, and high fives in sports bars all over the city.

Sandy Sheedy told reporters: This city is on the verge of insolvency. As far as I know, we still technically qualify for bankruptcy under federal law,” said Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, who opposed the plan. She added the project “will scoop up every nickel and dime” left in the city’s budget.


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But there was a problem in North Natomas.  The Maloof family didn’t have 73 million dollars.   This was a closely guarded secret.  The Mayor and the owner hugged in Sleep Train Arena.   What Mayor Johnson and Kings fans didn’t know, the owners were trying to sell the Kings.  Hopefully to an owner who would keep them in Sacramento.

The Railyard Area deal collapsed.  The family mislead Sacramento and the NBA.   Sandy Sheedy ranking fell to number three or four as Kings fan had less than love for anyone named Maloof.


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It takes courage to stand alone.  For some individual’s its easier to go with the tide,sacrificing beliefs and values .  We see examples of this today, on a national level. Politicians choosing careers over country.

Unlike, many of her colleagues of the council Sandy Sheedy fought for all Sacramentians.  For the ninety five percent who will never attend a Sacramento Kings Game and for the other 85% who may never attend an event.  She dared going against the tide and questioned the long term financial impact the Arena would have on a financially strapped city.

She knew her  position would be unpopular with the Mayor and many in the business community.    I don’t think she was prepared for the personal attacks.

The Golden One Center has been opened for a year.  The reviews are excellent.    Like the Arena it replaced, its new and shiny with all the latest technology.  Sacramento’s 2016 economy is much improved, however, the financial for  plan Golden One is much like the plan back in 2012 and like 2012, Sacramento’s has many obligations including a massive pension fund which currently  is unfunded to the tune of over 700 million dollars.

The owners of the Sacramento Kings signed a 35 year lease.  In the new world order, very few NBA organizations own the buildings they play in.   In 2026, Golden One will be ten years old .  The iron clad contract could be challenge for the city as owners of Golden one. Technology is rapidly changing.  Based on the history of other NBA franchisees, The Kings Organization is likely to demand the owner of Golden One (The City of Sacramento) to make these upgrades so the organization can be competitive.     The City’s financial status is unimportant to the needs of the franchise.

Sacramento City Attorneys are no match for the Attorney’s of the National Basketball Association.

As a citizen , I hope the building will benefit the city.

Over time I think history will be kind to Sandy Sheedy, the woman who challenged Sacramento’s Status Quo.

The public and personal price she paid was enormous.  Mr’s Sheedy, fought hard for all Sacramentians  Individuals like her are rare.  Sandy Sheedy Thank you.