The Sacramento Convention Center: Bad Money

Image result for new sacramento convention center


An Old Updated Joke

A man walks into a Pet Store he is immediately drawn to the sounds of a parakeet.  Who resides in this large elaborate cage.   It was love at first sight, he had to have the bird.

The price was unimportant, he buys the bird and a small cage.

Arriving home, he clears a special place in the center of the room for the cage.   He was excitedly awaiting for the bird to sing..  But the bird sat in silence on its perch.  Hours passed. Perhaps it was the new surroundings?  After a few hours the owner, thought the bird would be happier if the cage was similar to the cage in the pet store.   

So he grabbed his keys and drove to the pet store and bought the large elaborate cage that was on display at the store.  Even in it’s familiar surroundings the bird remained silent.   He returned to pet store with his cell phone and at great expense bought every item in the cage and with his cell phone he took a picture so he could correctly stage the cage.    Within minutes the cage looked exactly like the one in the store and yet the bird didn’t sing.     So the owner walked away from the cage and left the bird alone.   After a few hours, the owner was exasperated and screamed at the bird.   I have given you everything, why wont you SING!  The bird slowly opened its mouth and said, FOOD!


In mid seventies, The City of Sacramento opened the Convention Center.  Leaders said the Center would generate millions of dollars for the city.   Unfortunately, that didn’t go as planned, the center was losing money.  Some believed a hotel of size, near the center would help generate business.

In 1988, the Hyatt Regency opened, it would be the largest hotel in the city with 503 rooms. The City of Sacramento subsidized the project.

Andy Plescia, deputy executive director of the city/county agency refers to as “a $13.3-million investment that’ll return about $28.5 million to local government within the decade.”  Those returns will come in the form of tax revenues, a lease-back parking arrangement involving the city government, the city/county agency and the developers, and from expected land sale profits (under the terms of the 55-year ground-site lease, developers may opt to buy the property outright after the ninth year). Sam Burns, director of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, thinks the Hyatt Regency will help attract another 25,000 convention delegates a year and generate $1 million in room tax for the city and $25 million for the local economy.

Once again, with the new hotel the convention center didn’t come close to generating those ambitious numbers for the city.   The good news the city did eventually make a profit after the hotel was sold.

In the nineties, the money losing center was expanded again.  Operators said, the  convention center was too small and not competitive with other centers.  According to”Eye on Sacramento” the City loaned the Center 7.5 million to cover negative cash flows.

 Convention center operators said the center said it needed another component to become profitable. The twenty five story Sheraton Grand opened 2001 across the street from the center.  With all the expansions and additions, what the center needs was CUSTOMERS.

*In the last 17 years, the Center has lost an astounding $268 million taxpayers dollars!  $51 million in the last three years!

At 87% Sacramento currently spends nearly twice as much of its hotel taxes on the Convention Center than other cities. (The average is 45%) San Francisco’s spends 11%.

The Sacramento Convention Center is Sacramento’s “White Elephant”. Despite all the additions remains a drain on the city.    With 87% of the hotel taxes going to the city, Sacramento has virtually no funds to promote tourism.

Eye on Sacramento says:  City staff  presented the council with a staff report that relied heavily on the city’s primary convention center consultant ,the firm of Conventions, Sports and Leisure International (CS&L).  City staff cherry-picked data and findings from the CS&L study, but failed miserably to provide council members with crucial findings in the CS&L study that clearly states that an expansion of the Convention Center is not needed nor justified  given market conditions.

In short, the city council was mislead by its staff into believing that its principal conventions center consultant was solidly in favor of the proposed expansion,when, in fact, it was opposed to it.

If this is true, then there are larger issues in City Hall.  

The Vote to expand the center last December was unanimous!   Mayor and council members approved Two hundred forty million dollars to expand the Convention Center.  Which included adding a large ballroom to the plans .  The convention center will be closed for 18 months so work can be done quicker than initially planned and to renovate the Community Center Theater. 

The city reiterated that its general fund will not be used to pay off the debt.  That’s far from the truth.  If the convention center is unable to make its payments, the city has to cover the shortfall.

From the renderings, the new center and theater will be beautiful.  Mayor Steinberg said: We are going to have a convention center and a community center theater that is equal to the vision of our great city.   

Sacramento is a great city, over five hundred thousand people live within its boundaries.  Like any other city Sacramento has many other needs.  Cities build convention centers to generate income for the city.

As a business model ,the Sacramento Convention Center is a poor investment with little or no benefit to the majority of its citizens.  If the Convention Center was operated by a private entity, the owners would have longed walked away from the project.

It is no secret, The Sacramento Convention Center is a drain on the city and yet those charged with expenditures in the city unanimously approved spending 240 million dollars towards upgrading and expanding something that had never worked.    In a city who’s budget is already at its limits due to increased pension costs.   

City leaders often get it wrong. If they have one in Anaheim, we want one too.  Prestige at any cost to the city.  It doesn’t have to make sense, as long as we get one, just reach into the bottomless taxpayer cookie jar.    The Sacramento Convention Center is a forty year old joke, that’s not funny.  They’ve done everything imaginable to make it competitive with other convention centers in the state, and based on its history, it will be state of the art and has everything except CLIENTS.


*Eye on Sacramento


Debra Messing would rather share an elevator with Trump than Susan Sarandon

Debra Messing, Donald Trump and Susan Sarandon



Debra Messing would rather be trapped in an elevator with President Donald Trump than with Susan Sarandon.

The “Will & Grace” star revealed her preference in response to a viewer call on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.”

“I think Trump,” Messing, 50, said.

Cohen pointed out that Messing could use the opportunity to go over policy changes with the POTUS “because she’s a very convincing person,” which she agreed was why she chose him over her Hollywood political nemesis.

“I think that if I had a moment alone with him [I could change his mind],” she said.

Messing and Sarandon, 72, have been at one another’s throats since the 2016 presidential election.

The actress was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton and blamed Sarandon, a Bernie Sanders supporter, for the Democratic nominee’s loss to Trump.

In November 2016, Messing accused Sarandon of voting for Trump, which Sarandon denied.

Last month, Messing told Sarandon to “shut the fuck up” about Trump in response to a Variety interview that she hadn’t yet viewed in full.

I wanted to tap the bumper


I carefully squeezed to the right of the Honda avoiding some discarded wood on the curb.

As I looked in the Honda, a young woman was texting on her phone. It was clear as I went by, she didn’t give a shit that she was blocking traffic. The world would simply have to wait!

She looked up at me as I passed by texting. BITCH! I said to myself !! It’s not just about you!

A white Chevy truck attempted to follow me but was too wide. Behind the truck was six other cars. I was hoping the girl in the truck would drag her ass out of the car. BITCH!!!

Live a little, its only $75,000 a night

Of course, its in New York City

It’s  10,000 square feet of luxury, five bedroom, four fireplaces, six bathrooms and two wet bars, if your dry.   The living room, with 26-foot ceilings, is located in the corner tower of the building and is large enough to be converted into a full-sized grand ballroom. Outside, there’s a 2,500-square-foot rooftop terrace that overlooks Central Park.

An atrium leads out to the 2,500-square-foot terrace.

The Mark Hotel  was built in 1927.    The interior underwent a major renovation from 2006 to 2009. While the historic exterior was untouched, the entire inner workings of the building were replaced, with interiors rethought by famed designer Jacques Grange.

Master Bedroom 

Master Bath

At seventh five thousand dollars an night, nearly everything is at your disposal.  A round the clock room service, complimentary bicycles.  Guest have the option to charter a 70 foot sailboat and pedicabs to hire.

A chef kitchen, should you want to entertain.

Your own library, should you need a literary escape

Treat yourself, Invite Beyonce and Jay-Z

For those weary travelers wanting more than a box.  The Penthouse at the Mark Hotel in New York City, could be what you need.  At $75,000 per night ,its in the most expensive hotel room in America.


Why are Africans in Morocco Praying to Reach Europe?

Sub-Saharans in Tangier pray to be ‘lucky ones’ who reach Spain

The popular Morocco-Spain route comes with danger, as authorities carry out raids and the navy fires on migrant boats.

Migrants and refugees often ask Father Martinez of the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral for assistance and prayers [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]
Migrants and refugees often ask Father Martinez of the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral for assistance and prayers [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

Tangier, Morocco – Nestled in Tangier’s backstreets, Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral rises above the fracas of heated market trading as Archbishop Santiago Agrelo Martinez leads an impassioned service.

Most of his congregation are sub-Saharan Africans planning to reach Europe.

As the service ends, Martinez is surrounded by worshippers pleading for assistance with medical bills or employment.

Others simply ask for a prayer for friends who recently attempted the crossing to Spain but have since disappeared.

“Our desire is that emigrants have a family unit through the church to which they can always go, as if it was their own home,” Martinez tells Al Jazeera.

“The most difficult thing is to see them humiliated every day, begging in the street, suffering in fear and not knowing when that hell will end,” he says. “I cannot help feeling their situation as mine.

“In this house, we somehow take care of everything for them: food, clothing, body hygiene, physical and mental health, housing, the schooling of children, the development of personal skills and assisting them with getting jobs in small companies in Tangier.”

For the first time since the refugee crisis began in 2015, the Morocco to Spain route has become the most popular path for asylum seekers attempting to reach Europe’s shores.T

Up until September 10 this year, a total of 34,994 people made the perilous journey, dwarfing numbers for the Libya-Italy and Turkey-Greece routes with 20,210 and 20,827 respectively. This figure is also already treble that of 2017.

According to some reports, Moroccan authorities believe 50,000 migrants are currently based in Tangier and its surrounding area.

The Morocco route is not without its own specific danger.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International blasted Moroccan authorities for a “shocking” crackdown on sub-Saharans.

Since the end of July, the Moroccan police together with the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces carried out major raids on the neighbourhoods where refugees and migrants live in several cities, with particular intensity in the northern provinces of Tangier, Nador and Tetuan, which neighbour the Spanish borders, said the rights group.

“This shocking crackdown on migrants and refugees in Morocco is both cruel and unlawful. It represents a worrying backslide for a government that in 2013 introduced new asylum and migration policy commitments to bring Morocco into compliance with international standards,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

An estimated 5,000 people were swept up in the raids since July, piled on to buses and abandoned in remote areas close to the Algerian border or in the south of the country, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). The group monitored the number of buses that left from Tangier, Tetuan and Nador and calculated an estimate for the number of people seized.

New arrivals sleep rough on Tangier boulevard [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

And those who end up attempting the journey to Spain are also put at risk at sea.

On Tuesday, a Moroccan woman was killed and three other people were left wounded – one critically – after the country’s navy opened fire at a speedboat carrying migrants.

The Moroccan interior ministry said in a statement that a naval unit operating in the Mediterranean was “forced” to fire on the boat because its Spanish driver “refused to obey” orders.

On Wednesday, Alarmphone, a network of activist and migrant groups providing a 24-hour hotline for refugees in distress at sea, said it had assisted eight boats in distress coming from Morocco, one of which was returned to the north African country.

The majority of Martinez’s congregation live in the adjacent kasbah area of the city.

Alhassane Keita, 42, has called it home since he fled Mali in early 2013 when fighters advanced to within 20km of his city Mopti.

“If I stay in Mali there is no work, no future and no security,” Keita tells Al Jazeera.

“I want to go to Europe to work, I’m happy to do all the jobs that Europeans don’t want to do; I just want to be safe.”

Alhassane Keita says he does not have a future in Mali and is willing to do low-paid work in Europe as long as he is safe [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

Asylum seekers take advantage of lax housing regulations in the kasbah, living cheaply, crammed into decrepit homes.

There are so many sub-Saharan refugees and migrants in the area that Moroccans have begun referring to it as “Petit Dakar”.

Another kasbah resident, 16-year-old Mohammed Jallo, fled Sierra Leone when he was just 13. His parents were murdered in a revenge killing linked to the country’s bloody civil war.

He had worked for three years on a Chinese-run construction site in rural Algeria before coming to Tangier.
“I came through the desert to get to Algeria,” he recalled.

“The journey is not easy and many people die – I saw people die with my own eyes.

“Sometimes we walked for 90 or 100 hours at a time with only a couple of hours break each night.

“The traffickers will just leave you in the desert if you cannot keep walking, with no food and water.

“Libya is too dangerous these days. It is at war so we are coming to Morocco instead.”

Mohammed Jallo, 16, fled Sierra Leone seeking safety at the age of 13 after his parents were killed [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

An Al Jazeera report in January 2018 documented that migrants and refugees were still being sold as slaves in open markets in Libya, despite international condemnation.

Others continued to be held against their will by armed groups until their families paid ransom money.

Further migrants had avoided entering Libya after hearing news reports that NGOs were stopping rescue operations off its coast due to security fears, and as the Libyan coastguard was allegedly leaving asylum seekers to die at sea.

Italy’s recent decision to refuse entry for both rescue boats and merchant ships carrying refugees and migrants leaving Libya also had an effect.

Ahmed, not his real name, is a Tangier local and smuggler and agreed to speak to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity.

He said that he sends over two small boats a week each carrying 62 people and charges between $900 and $1,150 per person meaning that he can earn up to $500,000 a month.

Migrants and refugees often meet in the newly set up cafes, such as this one for Senegalese arrivals in Tangier’s old town [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

Using sub-Saharan middlemen, he seeks out refugees and migrants who meet in the recently established Senegalese or Eritrean community cafes.

Once a fee is agreed, the asylum seekers are transported to forests near remote beaches from where they set sail in the middle of the night.

When asked whether he is concerned about the Moroccan police, he laughed and explained that he pays off certain officers to ensure safe passage for his boats.

In 2015, Morocco introduced year-long renewable residency permits, allowing migrants to move to Morocco and work legally while saving up to travel to Europe.

In addition, after the 33 years of exclusion from the African Union ended, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI introduced 90-day visa-free travel on arrival to many sub-Saharan nationals.

For Malick Diallo, 20, these policies enabled him to fly directly to the country from Senegal and save up the money needed to attempt several crossings by working as a labourer in Tangier.

Back at Our Lady Cathedral, as news filters through that 400 asylum seekers, attempting to reach Spain from Morocco, have had to be rescued in just one weekend, a young Liberian man, Daniel, implores Santiago Agrelo Martinez to pray with him.

“The Almighty has told me it is time to make the journey to Europe,” he says.

“Pray with me that I am one of the lucky ones.”



Something old and different for Friday 9-28-2018 (yes, there’s video)


Spotted on the streets of Sacramento 

A vintage 1955 Buick Century Cailfornia Highway Patrol Car 20180914_073145-353455096.jpg

These cars were specificly built for the CHP.

They had the Special 48 coupe body, Century engines and Roadmaster brakes  (This was back in the day when GM built different engines and parts for each divison) They were among the first cars (Code name: Century 68) built specifically for police use. The half of cars were equipped with a three speed column shift manual transmission.  The other half was built with a less reliable Dynaflow automatic transmisson.


Like all, 1955 Buicks, the (Century 68) featured updated styling with “tower” tailights and a large “widescreen” front grile.  Century models carried, like the top-of-the-line Roadmaster, four portholes alongside their front fenders to denote the high-output of their V-8s.  The Century series was Buick’s performer, combining the Special’s lightweight bodies with the Roadmaster’s 322-cubic-inch OHV V-8.   The 9.0:1-compression-ratio engine inhaled through a Carter four-barrel carburetor and produced a gross-rated 236 horsepower at 4600 rpm.

“A Beast”

According to the April 1955 issue of Highway Patrolman Magazine, “During dynamometer tests, the car developed 148 horsepower at the rear wheels and reached a wheel speed if 108 mph against the 4-horsepower drag of the machine.  At this point, the test was terminated abruptly when the rubber tread spun off the tires of one of the rear wheels that was being tested.


A Star is Born! 

Highway Patrol: Best of Season 2 (2-DVD)

“Highway Patrol” was on the air for four seasons from 1955 to 1959.  It still airs in syndication.
 It is said, there are only a couple of the Century 68 on the road, one wonders if the car spotted in Saramento is one of the two?

This Episode “Lady Bandit’s doesn’t feature the Century’s with the exception of the opening. 


Sources: MotorTrend, Wikipeda