Following a ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley to deny placement of the arena initiative on the June ballot, John Hyde and R.E. Graswich announced the conclusion of their debate series.
This announcement brings to an end three months of successful town-hall style debates on public subsidies for the downtown Sacramento arena. Looking forward, Hyde and Graswich will explore opportunities to assist the community in understanding the inner workings of the public-private arena funding partnership.
“Our goal from the start was to make sure people had a chance to hear passionate and knowledgeable information about the arena ballot measure,” said Hyde, former spokesman for STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork), which sought the initiative.
Graswich, former Special Assistant to Mayor Kevin Johnson and author of a new book on the Kings, Vagrant Kings, said, “Each debate gained momentum. No matter which side you were on, we were able to expand the knowledge base and get folks beyond Twitter wars and into the facts.”
Hyde and Graswich held debates at public libraries in North Natomas, Pocket and Land Park in December, January and February. Former Sacramento City Council members Lauren Hammond and Rob Fong and former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness moderated. The January and February debates drew capacity crowds, with former Mayor Anne Rudin attending the Land Park event.
Hyde and Graswich decided to conduct the debates after noting a lack of public discussion and understanding about arena issues. They felt town-hall style debates and question-answer sessions would help residents navigate the project’s unique complexities.
Now that the debates are completed and the ballot initiative is dead, Hyde and Graswich said they will plan informative outreach on the arena project, perhaps with neighborhood groups and service organizations. “We’re going to take a couple of weeks and figure out how we can help,” Hyde said. “Even though the arena isn’t on the ballot, it’s still a tremendously important long-term issue for the citizens of Sacramento.”