“Space X” Elon Musk is an immigrant from one of Trumps S***hole Countries

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On Tuesday, the nation was temporarily distracted from the State of our union and watched the successful launch of Falcon Heavy, the world most powerful rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp (Space X) wants the reduce the cost of space travel. One day it hopes transport humans to other planets.

The Founder and CEO of the company is Elon Musk is an immigrant from South Africa. He is also the CEO of Tesla, the company that single handedly made electric cars cool.  On the top of Falcon Heavy was a Tesla Roadster.

The 46 year old billionaire became a US Citizen in 2002









When America shopped at Sears J.C Penney’s and Macy’s at the Mall

There was a time in America when people lived just outside the Central City. The Central City was the hub for retail and entertainment.

Over time families left the Central  City for larger and less expensive homes in the suburbs and one by one,retail followed them.    I can clearly remember when J.C. Penney’s closed in downtown San Francisco.

The first large shopping center in the United States designed around the automobile is The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. opened in 1923.

In the early days developers built single anchor shopping centers  with one department store surrounded by several smaller stores and eateries on the edge of subdivisions.

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In America, Anchor stores are typically department stores. There are Regional Department stores and National Deparment Stores  (J.C Penney’s, Macy’s and Sears)  Capwell’s was a Regional Department Store located in the East San Francisco Bay Area. 

As more people moved to the suburbs the shopping center grew in size.  Intially there was some resistence from the national department stores to move into shopping centers as  tennant.  Shopping centers/malls pay a percentage lease, where rents are based on a percentage of the gross receipts of tenants.  Most of the single anchor shopping centers were anchored by Regional department stores.     Sears  built stand alone stores in  large neighborhoods and in the suburbs.    Other National Department store chains built stand alone stores along busy highways in the suburbs.

The Rise of the Regional Mall and The Fall of Downtown

A regional mall is, per the International Council of Shopping Centers, in the United States, a shopping mall which is designed to service a larger area than a conventional shopping mall. As such, it is typically larger with 400,000 sq ft (37,000 m2) to 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2) gross leaable area with at least two anchor stores and offers a wider selection of stores. Given their wider service area, these malls tend to have higher-end stores that need a larger area in order for their services to be profitable but may have discount department stores. Regional malls are also found as tourist attractions in vacation areas.  (wiki)

By the early seventies Regional Malls were replacing single anchor opened air shopping centers.

These were mammoth complexes often a half a mile long.  Unlike the older shopping centers,these were placed next to major highways and interstates.  These super regional malls have three or more anchors.

The Regional Mall was responsible the death of retail in many American cities. The mall was sanitized for your shopping experience.   Unsavory individuals were escorted away by mall security in perfectly pressed shirts.   The Mall replicated the central city,  additional to  shopping, one could do their banking, drop of their laundry, mail their letters and get their shoes repaired. See a movie, skate, grab a fast meal or eat in a resturant.  Nearly everything  you can do in the Central City you could do in the climate controlled enviroment.

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SunValley Mall (1960’s) Concord, California(Google)

SunValley Mall was one of the first SuperRegional Malls in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In opened in 1967 with 1.3 million square feet of shopping.   It is nearly twelve times larger than the El Cerrito Plaza. 

While there are Regional Department Stores, nearly every mall had one or more of the Big Three, National Department Stores. J.C. Penney’s, Macy’s and Sears. Department Stores were complete back in the day.  In addition to the standard fare Appliances, Electronics, Radios, Records, there were beauty Salons and Restaurants inside the Department stores in the larger malls.  Sears and Penney’s would repair your car as you shopped.

For decades, Sears is where America shopped.  J.C. Penney’s was distant second.  Macy’s was the upscale store.

There were Sears stores in nearly every small and medium town.   If you lived to far from a Sears  retail store you shop at home with the Sears Catalog.  Where one could find anything from Baby Clothing to Tractors.   A stamp and a check and within weeks the items would be delivered to you home .  The Sears Christmas  Wish Book  was a must have.  Filled with toys, and Christmas Ideas

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While J.C Penney’s and a couple of Regional Department Stores offered Retail Catalogs.  Sears offered many specialty Catalogs. Today, Sears still have catologs and small stores throughout America .

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Marketers believed the public would drive if the prices were low enought.  In 1962 Wal Mart opened its first Store in Rogers. Arkansas.    The same year K-Mart opened its first store in Garden City, Michigan.   Target opened its first store on Roseville, Minnesota

The Rise of the Discounters

In the 70’s, Wal Mart broke the mold.  Many of their stores were built before the  subdivisions.  The land was cheap and there was no competing stores for many years.    They didn’t use the Regional Mall models and built on proposed large roads. Marketers believed the public would make the drive if the prices were low enough.

K-Mart, Wal Mart and Target had stripped away business from the Big 3.  By the mid eighties K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Target had surpassed everyone but Sears.

By the 90’s  Wal Mart, and Target were the number one and number two retailers in the nation.  K-Mart didnt with the times and they lost sales to Target and other discounters.  In 2002 , K-mart filed for Bankruptcy protection.  J.CPenney’s and Sears were closing stores all over America.

The discounters has changed the way America Shops.  Lured by lower prices many Americans where bypassing the Mall and heading to Wal-Mart and Target and other discounters. The Regional Department stores were hit particulay hard. Many stayed in the Central City.

Fresh from bankrupcty. Discounter K Mart set their eyes on Sears.   November 17, 2004, Kmart’s management announced its intention to purchase Sears for $11 billion.  The two chains formed Sears Holdings.       Critics of Sears,  say with rapid diversifcation, the retail side of the company suffered.   At its peak, there were more than 20 subsidiaries from Hardware and Travel Agencies, Home Care Store and Sears Rental Cars

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Between 1990 and 2008 more than 40 Regional department stores closed across America. As sign of changing times.     Regional chains like Mervyn’s in the West, Pizitz in Alabama, Zolkower Department Stores in Michigan, Emporium Capwell in California, Davidson’s in Atlanta, dissappeared.    Many of these stores were anchors in shopping malls across America.

In 1992 Macy’s filed Chapter 11.  At this time Macy’s owned I Magnin and Bullocks.  In 1992 Macy’s closed two thirds of the Magnin and Bullocks stores.

1994 saw a merger of Macys with the Federated Department store based in Cincinnati Ohio.   Weakened, many Regional chains merged with Federated Department Stores. In 95 Fedeated Merged with the Broadway Stores ( Emporium, Capwells and Weinstocks )  .  By 2001, they merged with  Hawaii based Liberty House stores .  In 2003, Federated close the large Davidsons chain based in Atlanta.      In 2005, Federated bought the May Department Store chain.  Meier and Frank in Oregon. Hects, Filene’s Davidson and many others.  One by one 330 stores became Macy’s stores    By 2007,  These regional stores had anchor stores also located in the same mall as Macys.  In 2007, Federated Deparment Stores the second largest chain in the nations was renamed “Macy’s Group”    Duplications in the mall resulted in closures. Some of these stores became Macy’s Men or Macy’s Furniture.

The new world order


At their peak Sears had more than 4000 stores ,it was where America shopped, by the end of this year there will be less than 1000 Sears and K-Mart stores.  There were more than 2200 stores bearing James Cash Penney in America and at its peak Rowland Hussy Macy’s had more than 1200 stores  by the end of 2018 there will be 600 Macy Stores in America.’

Off priced stores like T.J. Maxx, Ross and Marshells opened in older shopping centers and shopping centers where there was an existing discounter.     Not only did these stores chip away at Traditional Deparment stores they also han an effect on the national discounters .

In the mid 90’s few people had heard of Amazon and E-Bay. E-commerce was a notion in the late ninties. Many traditional brink and morter stores opened E-commerce departments however their focus was on tradiitonal sales.

Today, Amazon com is far an away the largest E-tailer its sales is larger then Sears, Macy’s and J.C Penneys combined.

More than 5000 stores closed in 2017.  The mighty Wal Mart is facing completion from the net and other discounters like Dollar Tree and Dollar General who plans to open 900 stores this year.  Wal Mart is opening fewer Supercenters and building smaller stores. The company just announced it will be closing 269 Wal-Mart and Sam Clubs by March.

In 2018, another 1000 stores will close, most of them in Malls

Dying mall Regency Square

The wall where this vending machine is was once the front door of a Macy’s 

Once an Macy’s, Sears, or J.C Penney’s closed their doors the mall can expect an 30% drop in foot traffic.   Within a year 30% store near the anchor  will close their doors.  If the anchor is in the heart of the mall the effect can be devastating.    Money magazine predicts more than 25% of America’s malls will close within the next five years.


Macy’s Sears and J.C Penneys: The Future


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Macy’s, Sears and J.C Penneys have a presence in nearly every mall in America. Buildings ranging in size from 76,000sf to over 250,000sf.  Real Estate holiding nearly impossibe to sell,  Macy’s with many stores in the Central City is in a better position to sell its holdings.

Survival means smaller stores and a strong Net presence.  The stores will need to appeal to a rapidly changing demographic.

Macy’s saw its holiday sales increase by 1.1 %    While Macy’s marketing is fresh there stores are stale.   Macys’ with real estate holdings central city is probably in the best position financially.

With the exception of its large flagship stores in New York and San Francisco. The company is closing their downtown stores. Most of its other downtown stores may be closed in the next five years . Macy’s plans to close 11 stores nationwide by Spring.

A Unique Experiment

To compete with off price stores like Ross and Nordstrom Rack.  They have opened a few BackStage Stores inside some ot the existing stores.  The are no sales figures available for BackStage.

The bright note for Macy’s ,is its E-sales, which is up 29%.  However the increases by its E-Sales could not stop the slide from its brick and morter stores.

Sears is bleeding in every direction.  Where Macy’s and J.C Penney’s saw small increases this year.  Sears sales has dropped by as much as 17% The stores did not change with the times.  Sears says it will close 39 stores by April.  Sears is still the place where America buys its Appliances, Tools, and Mattresses.  However, the rest of the retailer is a mess.   It wants to downsize,  It would like to open smaller Appliance stores. But unlike Macys it doesnt have extensice real estate to sell.  Unlike Penney’s there hasn’t been changes within the stores.    The once mighty retailer didn’t change with the times.  This is true of  K-mart. In 2018, Sears still have Catolog Stores in this Internet world.

Experts thought J.C Penneys was going to go to Department Store heaven by 2013.  A New CEO tried to resphape Penneys and retail.  The results were disasterous. He was replaced, and a new CEO was installed.   The stores have a bright and fresh look to them.   While the sales slippage has slowed, Penney’s still suffer with the same problems the plague the industry.   While Macy’s E-Sales department is very sucessful,  Penney’s E-sales are flat.    J.C Penneys downsizing started before Macy’s and Sears.  J.C Penney’s  opened more new stores  in the big box  format than Macy’s and Sears.

Two years ago, Perhaps in an attempt to get Sears Customers.  J.C Penney’s began selling Major Applianaces, the last time Penney’s sold appliances was 1983.  During the Holiday season J C Penney’s sales increased 3.4% the highest of the big three.   There are no planned closers for the first quarter of 2018,

J.C Penney’s, Macy’s and Sears are apart of the fabric of America.  All the stores are one hundred years old.  Generations of Americans have shopped at these stores.




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 (sacrag.com) 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 (ransackedmedia.com) 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.











Having a rough time finding work? or keeping work. Could it be da Ganja? da Weed? da marijuana?

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The US unemployment rate is currently 4.2 percent.  It a very good time for those looking for work?

Are you filling out applications, sending resumes and not getting a call after the interview?

Do you smoke? 

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You may have an Epic resume with stellar references and a Oscar winning smile.  .  An oder can undo the best resume, even with an Oscar winning smile.  That oder could be too much perfume, and over powering body spray and Hygiene.

Occasionally an  interviewer MIGHT suggest the applicant use  less or no cologne or a body spray.  However an applicant smelling of alcohol or marijuana will likely hear, “thank you for applying, we are reviewing several applicants “

Heartbreak: You got the job.  You’ve been working there for several weeks  You love every one there and seem to  get along with everyone and one day without warning or discussion, your let go.

The Nose knows.  You smoked a little weed on the way to work.   Marijuana isn’t any different then any other smoke.  It gets in your hair, your clothes, and perminates your skin.  Like a person who smokes tobacco, the smoker doesn’t smell a thing however non smokers can.  That tobacco or ganja may be front and center during your interview.  Front and center in the workplace.

If you the new guy,  and if you seem to be smiling more than normal your supervisor may walk by or start a random conversation.   If they detect  ganja or alcohol after the first meeting you may be subject to further scrutiny.  If your task include driving, customer service or working with machinery may be viewed as a liability particularly if the Oder is brought to the attention of a manager or supervisors.

 After a few passes within the your first few weeks with the company , a drug test isn’t needed . The company can simply let you go . In most states, your not eligible for unemployment insurance if you have worked less than 90 to 120 days.

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Recreational Marijuana is Legal in my State!

Lets’s dispel with some of the myths.  While it is legal in many states to smoke ganja. Employer can legally fire you for using at work or before work. Not any different from anyone  who drinks on the jobs or coming to work impaired from a Sunday of beer.   They can demand a drug test and terminate you for having it in your system.

What if? 

You were using it for Medical purposes?  

If you think the card you bought at the dispensary will do it? Slap yourself  hard three times.

In 2016, a federal district court in California reaffirmed that an employer, in this case Kohl’s department store, maintains the right to discipline employees even where the marijuana use is recommended by a physician: “It does not violate [California’s laws against workplace discrimination] to terminate an employee based on their use of marijuana, regardless of why they use it,” the ruling said.

I’m not stupid, I would never smoke at work, can they still test me?  

The simple answer is yes: An employer can fire you if weed is found in your system. Doesn’t matter if its in Colorado or Oregon

In 2010, Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic.,was fired from Dish in Colorado after a random drug test. He worked for Dish for three years and smoked at home to help control seizures. In 2015, the Colorado Supreme court says the employee was not protected under the state’s “lawful activities statute.”

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There are a few thing happening here.  Marijuana does impair people from doing many functions.   You may have had a bud an hour before work, and while you may think your in control others around you may not.  A salesman lost a million dollar account because the client said he entered his office smelling like pot and acting funny (smiling).    Yes attitudes toward weed has changed, and at one point small amounts will be legal in all 50 states.

Many professional progressives who support legal marijuana ,are against marijuana in the workplace.  No more that someone smelling of alcohol. 

Showing up smelling of marijuana at an interview with a non smoker can almost guarantee you will not get a follow up interview.

Showing up at the workplace, smelling of marijuana could lead to a random drug test and termination.

Be Smart

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Don’t smoke weed, ganja, marijuana, in your car.  Its get into your headliner, carpet, seats and on to your clothes.   If you have smoked in your car have it deep cleaned and from that day forward make it a non smoking car. 

Don’t smoke in the same room as your clothes.

If you normally smoke before work, smoke before taking a shower.

Don’t smoke on your lunch break

If your communing with a smoker, consider alternative transportation.  Your not a criminal, your simply trying not to bring undue attention to yourself by way of smell and demeanor  and keep your job.

Remember just because no one has asked you to do a random drug test, doesn’t mean it wont happen one day so be smart.






Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon and other Business Leaders could change U.S Gun Control Laws

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Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of Republicans support tightening gun laws.

In an Oct 2017 Quinnipiac poll ,conducted after the Las Vegas Massacre. Sixty percent of Americans supported tightening of Gun Laws. 36 percent opposed.  73 percent supported a ban of devices that allow owners of semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully Automatic rifles.(Bump Stops)  

A majority of voters who identify as Republican — 62 percent — said that such gun modifications should be banned. An even greater percentage of voters who live in households where there is a gun favor outlawing the devices.

Background checks have wide support among Americans at 94 percent, the Quinnipiac poll found. Even among those in gun-owning households, 93 percent are in favor of background checks.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents say they support a ban on the sale of assault weapons, as well as a prohibition on the sale of high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. *

Not much has changed since the Sandy Hook Massacre in 2012, where 20 six year old students were killed by a lone gunman with an automatic rifle.  Before 2012,  the majority of Americans supported Gun Control.

After Sandy Hook, many states have weakened gun control laws.  Reducing or eliminating background checks. In some states, individuals with mental conditions and have used a firearms in a domestic dispute are legally allowed to purchase a firearm.

A block of Senators (56) from states were gun ownership is high, have routinely voted against every piece of gun control legislation proposed.

There have been several massacres since Sandy Hook, involving Automatic Rifles.

Those opposed to gun control believe limiting one gun,opens the door for the eventual elimination of all guns. 

“Based on the inaction’s of our elected, nothing is likely to change”

With one exception Business

Amazon is looking to open a second Headquarters.  Amazon has promised to invest $5 billion into the local economy and will eventually will create as many as 50,000 jobs.  Cities from Coast to Coast are clamoring to get this prize of the largest Internet Retailer in the World.

It would be a boon to Mega Cities like New York and Los Angeles and a game changer for cities like Des Moines and Sacramento.   Cities from coast to coast are competing for Amazon’s attention.

What would get the attention of states with liberal gun control laws is Business publicly avoiding those cities.   Business effectively changed Transgender Bathroom Laws in North Carolina, many companies have avoid states who are unfriend to the LGBT community including the NBA who moved relocated the coveted all star weekend from Charlotte to New Orleans.  Losing the weekend  resulted in a 60 million dollar loss to Charlotte and surrounding area.

It isn’t a perfect world, in California, the weapons used in San Bernardino Massacre  in 2015, were legal when they were purchase. however, the modification made to the firearms were illegal .

In California if you are convicted of possessing an Assault style firearm you can receive one to three years in Jail and a fine from $1000, to 10,000.  If you are accused of using the assault weapon or .50 BMG rifle, you face an additional and consecutive three to ten-year state prison sentence.

The reality is, the public and their employees are in danger in a state that has virtually no gun control law and allows the sale of firearms who only purpose is mass destruction.  It may be problematic attracting talent  and intimidating to Amazon employees who have transferred to state like Texas where open carry is permitted.

Business could effectively change gun laws and save lives.  The issue is not to take guns away, from hunters. homeowners, and gun fans.  It is simply to remove one type of gun, a gun that’s not used for hunting in Montana or Vermont.

Jeff Bezos and other business leaders would join the majority of Americans who want gun control and the removal of Assault weapons. The impact of Amazon and other major companies rejecting cities in states without waiting periods and sufficient background checks gun control would have a major impact.  Mr Bezos, are you listening?


*The survey polled 1,482 voters and has a margin or error of 3 percentage points.

Amazon Corporate Headquarters 535 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109




Zzzzzz Your next-NEXT car will be Electric!

Yes, your next NEXT car will be electric.   A report from research firm,Bloomberg New Energy Finance says by 2022,” the report says, the cost of ownership of battery electric vehicles will fall below that of an internal combustion engine vehicle.  Bloomberg projects by 2040 25% of the cars globally will be electric.

In 2016, nearly 160,000 electric vehicles was sold in the US . Last year Toyota sold nearly 390,000 Toyota Camry’s

Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than an internal combustion vehicle.

The current challenge for electric car production is the availability of batteries which currently accounts for one third of the cost of the vehicle.

California Clears The Air

Automobiles are responsible for more than 40% of air pollution.

Air pollution exposure can trigger new cases of asthma, exacerbate (worsen) a previously-existing respiratory illness, and provoke development or progression of chronic illnesses including lung cancerchronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.

1.2 million die each year in India to diseases related to Air Pollution.  In China over 2 million people die annually.

In 1967, The State of California established the Air Resources Board(CARB).  One of the goals of CARB is maintaining air quality.  One of CARB’s responsibilities is to define vehicle emissions standards.  California is the only state permitted to issue emission standards.  Other states can choose to follow CARB standards   There was a time when Automakers  built two engines, one designed for California and the other for the other 49 states.

A few years ago CARB set a mandate for cars sold in the state. By 2025,15% of all cars sold in California must be zero polluting vehicles.  These would include, Electric, fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen.

Naturally there was resistance by auto manufacturers.  How committed was the state to implement this programs in 2006 there were a few charging stations and no hydrogen stations.

To build an electric vehicle from the ground up would cost the industry billions without a guarantee of acceptance by the public.

To meet this mandate, Auto manufactures modified existing vehicles adding an electric motor.  The problem is these cars had a very limited range(most were less than 100 miles) and to completely charge the cars took 8 hours or more.  The electric vehicles were based on a compact or subcompact platform, the average cost for these electric cars was $40,000 (before state and federal incentives) The manufactures lose money on each electric sold.   As for styling ,automakers seems to be dragging their feet, building something to meet the requirements.

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The worlds best selling electric vehicle in the Nissan Leaf.   The Leaf was introduced in 2011 and more than 250,000 Leafs has been sold worldwide.   The current Leaf has a range of 107 miles.

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 Tesla Brings Sexy

Founded in 2003 The Palo Alto, California based Tesla started building electric vehicles in 2008.,  A two seat Roadster with a range of 200 miles.  It was the first production automobile to use the lithium-ion battery.

In 2012, Tesla introduced the model S.

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  Unlike the other automakers,the S was built from the ground up as an electric vehicle.  The batteries are larger and is a part of the cars structure. thus having a considerable longer range (265 to 351) than other electric vehicles .

The S was an instant hit.  With a price range from $80,000 to $100,000 its style attracted buyers who would normally purchase premium luxury cars from Mercedes Benz, BMW and Jaguar.

In 2015, Tesla introduced the model X, SUV.

Tesla has a network of high-powered Supercharges located across North America, Europe and Asia for Tesla vehicles.  Software within the vehicles navigation directs Tesla to charging stations.  The company also operates a Destination Charging program, under where shops, restaurants and other venues are offered fast chargers for their customers. As of  December 2016, Tesla has nearly 1000 stations globally, and 6,400 and charging locations. 

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Tesla Supercharing Center, Rocklin, Ca

Earlier this year, Tesla briefly surpassed Ford and General Motors in market capitalization for a couple of months, making it the most valuable American automaker.

An Electric World?

The Government of Norway intends to ban internal combustion engine cars fueled by gasoline or diesel by 2025.

  Sweden, Japan and the Netherlands do not have an official mandate, however,their governments are  looking at 2025.  Implementation in Japan and the Netherlands would not be difficult. In the Netherlands 6% of the cars sold are electric.  In Japan 14%

China, home to some of the world’s most polluted cities has a mandate similar to California requiring manufacturers to sell a minimum of 8% “new energy vehicles” by next year.  Virtually every car company argued the time table was too aggressive. Even though sales of the low or zero emissions vehicles are higher than in most other countries, except Norway, they still account for less than 3% of the Chinese new car market.

There are now strict limits on the number of new vehicles that can be registered in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, but qualified NEV models are exempt, encouraging buyers to shift. With some of the world’s most polluted cities, some observers believe China could call for an outright ban on internal combustion technology in the not-too-distant future.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       India wants all its cars to be battery powered by 2030 — and that means it not only wants to end the sale of internal combustion vehicles but convert or replace all other vehicles already on the road by the end of the next decade, a goal few see possible.

France and Germany, the ban is expected to be far more contentious. Auto manufacturers in both countries have condemned the moves by their respective governments to ban the internal combustion engine, saying that it would make the economy less competitive. European automakers have lagged behind Japanese and American ones in both hybrid and all-electric car technology, as conventional

European gasoline based and diesel cars already have high fuel economy. In response to so-called range anxiety, in which an electric car’s limited range may leave the driver stranded on the motorway, the Holland administration is expected to pair the proposed phaseout with national investment into charging stations as well as additional investment into TGV lines, to make it easier to travel long distances in France without a car.

Germany may also push to end sales of gas and diesel cars by 2030, but there is strong opposition, especially since half of its electricity comes from coal. Yet German automakers are launching major drives to electrify and that could help build momentum for a switch.

Volvo Leads the Way

In July, Volvo told the world ,all the models it introduces starting in 2019 will be either hybrids or powered solely by batteries.

Volvo headquartered in Sweden, is owned by Geely Automobile Holdings of China, which already produces battery-powered cars for the Chinese market. The decision by Volvo to focus on electric vehicles could ultimately give it and Geely a head start if, as many analysts expect, sales of battery powered cars begin to take off. China is already the largest market for electric vehicles.


With the American automakers focus on the very profitable SUV’s  will they have the billions necessary to build electric vehicles?  Currently every electric vehicle sold in America loses money.

Last year General Motors introduced the Chevy Bolt, the first car built from the ground up as an electric vehicle.   The car has been well received by the press.  Car and Driver says the Chevy Bolt ” is so cutting edge that it makes all other affordable electric vehicles seem irrelevant.”  At 238, it has more electric range than any car on the market with one exception, Tesla. It actually has a greater range than the highly anticipated Model 3


Nissan just announced their next generation Leaf will have a range of 150 . Hiroto Saikawa CEO of Nissan says a Leaf with a range of 300 miles is possible within 3 years.


Unlike Tesla, this car is affordable. its very quick and roomy AND it starts at $38,000 (before incentives) $40,000 less than the current Tesla model S.   If there is one problem with the car, its the styling.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV


It not ugly or Toyota Prius Quirky.   Tesla gave buyers a reason to trade in their BMW’s and Mercedes . One would expect more from the General.

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Waiting in the wings is Tesla’s people’s car the  Model”3”. Tesla began building the car in its Fremont, California plant in July.    Pricing for the “3” begins at $35,000(before incentives), if its the “3′ you want, you’ll have to get in a very long line as 450,000 people have placed deposits on the “3”.  Based on Tesla’s track record the 400 thousandant should receive his “3” by 2020   Tesla has an Apple like, cult following and those people are willing to wait.

Game Changer?

With all the luxury manufacturers taking aim at Tesla. Jaguar, a company known for its stately vehicles, is introducing a compact luxury electric SUV called the I-Pace( Est arrival is first quarter 2018).  Its engineering comes from Tesla’s play book.  The batteries anchor the car with two electric motors, one at each axle.  Jaguar says the range of the I-pace is estimated at 220 miles.

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The SUV, will be built in Austria and the platform will be used on other Jaguars as the company says half of its vehicles  will be electric by 2025  The cost for I-Pace begins a tick under $100.000.

If $100,000 seems hefty.  Tesla sells to variations of the Model S for $100,000 and the Model X SUV sells for over $100,000.    If Jaguar is remotely successful, expect the automakers to quickly follow suit.

Perhaps with the assistance of Tesla’   Tesla build a Gigafactory, outside of Reno Nevada.  Panasonic is currently building car batteries in a section of the uncompleted building and Tesla will eventually build cars there.

  Cummins, known for diesel trucks recently introduced its first application for inthe first electric commercial truck

The truck has a range of 100 miles and is capable of hauling a 22-ton trailer.  Cummins electric power train is being targeted at urban delivery vehicles (like a beer truck or food delivery truck) as well as for short haul trips in and around ports and other terminals. It can be recharged in about an hour at a 140 kWh charging station, and Cummins’ goal is to get that down to 20 minutes by 2020, reducing down time for its business customers. Production begins in 2019.

There are challenges ahead for the industry.  There isn’t a standard for charging. In Most charging stations uses Level 2 J1772 charger.these will work on all electric cars. Those charging stations are fairly slow, often requiring hours to fully charge your vehicle.  If you own a Tesla you can drive from coast to coast due to their network of superchargers where owners can charge their cars in as little as 30 minutes. Those charger are exclusive to Tesla vehicles.

The other challenge is much greater.  Is  our national electrical (grid) prepared for an  increase of electric usage?  As a result of individual scharging their vehicles at home?

Your next-next new car is likely to be an electric car.  With ranges considerable more than the cars of today.

Like your cell phone, charge it and drive.


Tourism is killing Venice, but it’s also the only key to survival for the Italian City

'Tourism is killing Venice, but it's also the only key to survival'
Throngs of tourists flood the streets of Venice. Photo: Venezia Autentica
By Catherine Edwards/The Local
Venice has topped travellers’ bucket lists for centuries, but in recent years the city has struggled to cope with mass tourism, while tension has grown between visitors and locals.


By the 17th century, a trip to Venice had become a rite of passage for upper class northern Europeans, who flocked to the lagoon city as part of the Italian Grand Tour. Writers and artists drank in inspiration from the city where imposing architecture was reflected in glittering waters and Venice became a symbol for Italian romance.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the city is groaning under the weight of tourism.

Cheap flights, huge cruise ships, and the city’s Instagram appeal attract so many travellers that on a given day, there are more visitors than residents in the Veneto capital. It’s the type of tourism as much as the sheer amount that causes problems: the majority of visitors don’t stay overnight in the city, meaning most of them spend their time and their money in the same small areas.

Small businesses and artisans’ craft shops have been replaced by identikit souvenir stalls and fast food restaurants to cater to day-tripping bargain hunters. In recent years, Venetians have staged frequent protests against the mass tourism which has pushed up rents and forced many families out of their hometown.

But could the visitors hold the key to Venice’s survival?

“Venice is a one-industry city; it relies on tourism, like our bodies rely on food to survive,” says local resident Sebastian Fagarazzi.

“But in order to thrive, you need to have the right kind of food; the right kind of tourism. The wrong kind can mean death.”

Sebastian Fagarazzi’s family had to close down its textiles shop due to the pressure created by mass tourism; he says all his friends have left the city. Photo: Venezia Autentica

Fagarazzi and his partner, France-born Valeria Duflot, have launched Venezia Autentica, a social enterprise with the aim of promoting responsible tourism and supporting local business in the city.

Frustration with visitors has grown to the point that last summer, angry locals plastered the city with flyers reading ‘Tourists go away! You are destroying this city’, but the couple believe not only that tourists could help save Venice, but that a large number of them want to do so, and would if they were given the tools.

“Tourism is the problem, but it’s also the only solution,” Fagarazzi tells The Local. “Everyone protests [against excessive tourism], but no one has done much to try to have an immediate positive effect.”

Crowds mass at the Rialto Bridge. Photo: Venezia Autentica

Duflot met her partner on a visit to Venice before later making the city her home and remembers the difficulty she had in finding out about the real side to Venice, beyond the tourist hotspots and gondoliers.

“When I spoke to locals and met Sebastian, I learnt a lot about the city and enjoyed my time there much more. But at the start,it’s very hard to get that information and to know how to have a positive impact,” she says.

The 30-year-old came up with the idea for Venezia Autentica when walking down the city’s main street one day. To one side, she saw a crowd of cruise ship tourists; to the other, a group of young Venetians, carrying flags and singing local songs.

“In a flash, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could get these two groups to understand each other? I know other people care about the impact they have on Venice, and if just a small proportion of the visitors thinks like that, then we can have a huge impact, particularly as the Venetians now are so few,” Duflot explains.

Valeria Duflot first came to Venice in 2014 and now calls the city her home. Photo: Venezia Autentica

The pair are sceptical about recent measures introduced by city authorities aimed at protecting the city’s heritage, including bans on new hotels and takeaway food joints in the historic centre.

“They’ve basically closed the stable door after the horse has bolted,” says Fagarazzi. “It should be the city authorities who regulate tourism – you can’t expect visitors to do in depth research; after a 40-hour working week, you come on holiday to relax! But it’s meaningless political manouevring. The bans only apply to new establishments when there are hundreds already, and there will be exceptions when it suits the authorities.”

One thing missing from the new measures is any concrete proposal of support for Venetian-run businesses or local residents, such as tax exemptions for entrepreneurs or housing support for young people.

The two Venetians hope their business will offer some support to local entrepreneurs and artisans by highlighting their shops to visitors and educating tourists on the expertise and long hours that go into making a typical mask, for example.

A Venetian artisan works on a mask while a young girl watches. Photo: Venezia Autentica

Fagarazzi is acutely aware of the pressures local businesses face: in 2015, his family was forced to close its popular clothing shop in the city centre, after facing increasing pressure linked to the effects of mass tourism.

At the age of 32, he says the majority of his friends have been forced to leave because they can no longer make a life in Venice – “and it’s my generation that makes babies!”

“People worry that Venice could disappear because of flooding, but it actually could disappear much sooner,” Fagarazzi comments. “Without the Venetians, it’s not Venice. Time is running out.”

The local population has dropped below 55,000, less than half the figure of 40 years ago, as Venetians find themselves priced out of their hometown. What’s more, it has one of Italy’s oldest populations; despite the fact Veneto is the country’s second wealthiest region, youth unemployment is extremely high.

The couple hope that by supporting local artisans, they can help them stay in business and create opportunities for young Venetians to continue living in the city and carve out rewarding careers.

A lace-maker sits at work outside her shop. Photo: Venezia Autentica

On their website, they offer information about the city, guidelines for responsible tourism, and a selection of local restaurants and artisan shops that have the ‘Authentic Venice’ seal of approval. All have been personally tried and tested by the couple, their family and friends; as Fagarazzi says, “we need to be sure that it’s a consistently good experience -a business which makes Venice proud”.

Aside from following the online guide, there are a few clues tourists can look out for when hunting down a true Venetian experience. Duflot explains that there is no particular neighbourhood to go to for artisan shops, but there are some red flags to look out for.

“If you see someone standing outside a restaurant beckoning you in, or menus with pictures and flags of different countries, walk in the other direction!” she warns. “And in ‘artisan shops’, if you see any kind of massive sale or very cheap products, it won’t be good quality – which can be dangerous too.”

On the other hand, a true artisan shop will likely have a clear specialization in one kind of product; a craftsman at work – or signs that they’ve been working; and prices that reflect the fact that the simplest mask, for example, takes around seven hours to create.

“But the best litmus test is always to ask the salesperson about the craft. A seller of mass-produced souvenirs might badger you to buy things or repeat the same catchwords like ‘Murano glass’; an artisan will be able to tell you everything about what they do. Their eyes will light up,” says Duflot.

A mask-maker shows off her creations. Photo: Venezia Autentica

The pair say they hope that would-be visitors aren’t scared off Venice by the stories of anti-tourist sentiment, but also that they will take more time to learn about the city.

“It’s not a theme park to tick off your bucket list; it’s a real, living city with people and struggles which visitors should appreciate,” says Fagarazzi.

To get a glimpse of Venetian life and better understand the city, he advises visitors to venture off the well-trodden tourist trail and explore side streets and quieter piazzas. Not only does this ease the pressure on the city’s main thoroughfares, it’s also more likely to lead to a unique shop or experience.

“As a Venetian I’m envious, because I don’t get to experience the magic of getting lost and finding that incredible shop you’ll never find again. It’s like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter – sometimes you stumble across the very thing you’re looking for, totally at random,” he says.

“Venice has always been very welcoming to all kinds of people,” adds Duflot. “Here, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – just treat Venetians and their city well.”