SacBee Editorial on Financial Deal for Arena

Published in the Sacramento Bee Newspaper

Now that the kickoff pep rallies for a new arena are over, it’s time to put away the pompoms and take a more sober look at the proposed arena financing deal, which is starting to show a few cracks.

First, let’s dispense with the scarcely believable claim that the arena isn’t all about the Sacramento Kings. Every time proponents try to spin that yarn, the deal becomes less credible. This is a basketball arena for the Kings; and like the former Arco Arena, other promotions will get a chance to use it.

I recently met with a representative from Think Big Sacramento, the mayor’s regional arena group, who invoked the Sprint Center in Kansas City more than a dozen times. That arena was built with a menu of funding sources – including a rental car tax that required voter approval. So, if Think Big is trying to allay concerns over the end-run around voters, perhaps they shouldn’t invoke a deal that was actually approved by voters.

Redirect random energy to reinvigorate economy

Published in the San Francisco Business Times and the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal

Physical science tells us that energy is never created or destroyed, it just changes form.  Unharnessed, energy can be random, even meaningless. Uncontrolled, it can do a lot of damage. But if applied correctly, energy can accomplish great things — like creating electricity that runs a hospital, for instance.

The past few weeks offer a political example of this physical law.

Recently, I was at a luncheon and found myself chatting with a Democratic local-elected official in Sacramento. She was encouraged — even inspired — that the governor was actually using the power of his office to tackle real issues and get things done. Then she talked about plans to organize “Democrat Women for Arnold” to raise money and to support Gov. Schwarzenegger, who happens to be a Republican.

But it was different under the dome: Later that same week, Democratic state Sen. Jackie Speier of Hillsborough complained that “The governor is trying to make the Legislature meaningless,” when Schwarzenegger announced deals with key players willing to accept cuts to help balance the state budget.

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The first law of political motion

Published in the Sacramento Bee Newspaper & the Grapevine Independent

Many people see politics as an unfathomable mess, a sort of alchemy in the 21st century. But a comparison of physical laws to politics will yield surprising results. It turns out that politics follows the same rules we learned about in high school physics. Take Newton’s First Law of Motion, which says an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force. Politically, it can be read as “government keeps doing the same thing unless forced to change by an outside force.”

The Legislature has been “at rest” for over a decade, with only occasional bursts of movement — and most of those have been cautious half-measures. Most of the energy in the Capitol is focused inward — a whirlpool of self-promotion, special interests and positioning
for the next rung up the political ladder. A body at rest isn’t necessarily inert, particularly when talking about government; instead it’s
a state of frenetic paralysis that is focused inward, rather than moving the state in any particular direction.

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