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City of Sacramento and its Red Herrings

Editors' Notes: Some people are calling for Del Paso Park to be turned over to the County. That proposal will no doubt raise a hue and cry from the City of Sacramento. Anticipating that, our Newsroom Elves thought it would be helpful to provide some insights for understanding the noises you might hear about the issue. This article is part of their work.

We've all heard the expression “Red Herring”.  It is a piece of information that distracts people from an important truth, or leads them to mistakenly expect a particular outcome.  The term comes from the use of a smelly fish - a smoked herring - by hunters to train their dogs to follow a desired scent.  A hunting dog needs to be able to follow the scent of a single animal without being distracted by other interesting scents. To test the dogs' abilities, the trainers would drag a smelly pickled fish across the trail the dogs were supposed to follow in an attempt to mislead  the dogs.  The term “red herring” eventually became a colloquial description of a plausible way to distract from the reality of a story or a tale.  The City of Sacramento routinely misleads with a boat load of “Red Herrings”.

For example, the City of Sacramento in 1999, approved a plan to secure a steady stream of income by entering the bond market. Because a city governments can tax it's citizens and guarantee loan payments with land it owns, Bond Agencies are able to rate and then sell municipal bonds. To get bond money, the City of Sacramento has encumbered some of its land through a “Master Lease” Contract. That strategy has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue flowing into the City of Sacramento's coffers. Designating a City-owned property - like, say, Del Paso Regional Park - as backing for a bond is important for assuring bond holders that the money used to finance the bond will be paid back to the bond holders with interest by the tax payers. And being held against bonds, the property pledged by the City is tied up that for a very long time. Except, in real life, that's a 'Red Herring".

May contain: animal, fish, sea life, herring, food, mullet fish, and seafood
A Red Herring is more than just a pickled fish, it's anything that diverts attention from the issue at hand.

In reality, the City of Sacramento doesn't ever really consider a piece of its property as being "off market" just because it has previously claimed the property as being held in trust for the bond holders. You see, when the City of Sacramento wants to do a “project” like rent or lease property it uses for bond purposes, it has a straightforward procedure whereby the property can easily be moved out from under the obligation to bond holders. In fact, the "Encumbrance of City Property through Bond Indebtedness" is routinely managed by the City Council, typically as a consent item, whereby the bonding agent is notified, and the property in question is moved out of the “Master Lease”. Correspondingly, new property that is acquired can be moved into the program using the same process. See the example, below, which describes the removal of land at Del Paso Park so Rapton Honda could move its dealership to where the Skeet Shooting Range used to be.

It's one thing when moving the assets in or out of the bond encumbrance is a deliberate objective of the Powers That Be - the City Council, the Mayor and their handlers like the Downtown Sacramento Power Elite. However, if anyone other than the Powers That Be want to solve an issue for businesses or residential neighborhoods and their proposals do not align with the leadership's agenda, the bond encumbrance (a red herring) is thrown out as an obstacle that “cannot be overcome”.  As a result, the "Red Herring"  tactic misleads ordinary people - anyone other than the Ruling Class - and discourages them from going down the trail towards a positive change in their neighborhoods and communities. This gambit has been played so often and for such a long time that both the City of Sacramento's residents and unincorporated County's residents have come to expect these “Red Herring” imaginary roadblocks/excuses from the City of Sacramento. Experience has taught that engaging with the City of Sacramento means the old saying, “Trust but Verify” has to be replaced with “Verification builds Trust”. Remember that the next time you hear the Powers That Be pontificate that your concepts are without merit.



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