Paul Jacob

Moreover, the people of Sacramento don’t want to pay for a new arena. They voted down a tax increase back in 2006 that would have gone toward that purpose. With 80 percent voting NO.

But as Mark Paul predicted correctly a year ago, “[E]xpect Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his allies on the council to do everything they can to avoid making voters part of the conversation.”

Thankfully, even with all of California’s problems, citizens in the Golden State still enjoy the power to take matters into their own hands to forge a solution.

At least 23,000 citizens objected by signing petitions to put this lavish subsidy to a referendum vote. Yesterday, a judge ruled that the measure would be kept off the ballot: errors in the wording of the petition “disqualified” it.

Sadly, the people of Sacramento will not get to vote on the issue.

Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP), the disheartened group pushing the referendum, issued a reasonable press release, which stated, “We call on Sacramento’s disenfranchised voters to express their outrage to their City Council, and we call on our elected representatives to begin listening to their constituents.”

But in a prepared sore-winner statement, Mayor Johnson called the petitioners “outsiders” who “have tried to undermine the right of Sacramento to control the destiny of our Kings, our downtown and our future.”

To be clear, Johnson doesn’t mean the right “of the people” to control their city. No. He means his right to dictate for Sacramento even against the will of the majority.

That sort of trash talk isn’t limited to the mayor. The leader of a group working against a public vote on the arena giveaway went out of his way to attack local businessman Chris Rufer, charging that “Rufer’s funding . . . is supporting STOP’s effort to steal 4,000 jobs, steal a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform downtown and makes him an accomplice in Seattle’s attempt to steal the Kings.”

Who’s stealing? Those spending their own money so people can vote? Or those against a vote because they want spend other people’s money?

The real thieves are apparent: the city has filed a lawsuit to take land from current businesses in downtown Sacramento to flip that property to the Kings through yet another abuse of eminent domain.

While a big fan of the game of basketball, Mr. Rufer, CEO of The Morning Star Company, the world’s biggest processor of tomato ingredients, wrote a letter to a local paper explaining, “What makes me a Libertarian is the fact that I don’t believe in coercively imposing my personal beliefs on others or expecting anyone else to subsidize what I personally like to do.”

“I’m against subsidy, period. It’s simply a moral argument,” he told a Merced Sun-Star reporter. “If it was a subsidy for a fish pond, I’d be against it.”

Mr. Rufer is right: forcing one person to subsidize another is immoral. Subverting democratic process to force nearly half-a-million folks living in Sacramento to subsidize a few wealthy businessmen merely adds cruel insult to that unjust injury.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.