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A Microsymphony Plays a Song For Arena Opponents On Their Tiny Violins and Violas and Cellos.

If this were a presidential election year, the two big party conventions would just be wrapping up. The candidates would be gearing up for the fall stretch, big-time political consultants would be telling their families they'd see them on Veterans Day, and hundreds of young female campaign staffers would be waking up with morning sickness after a week of utopian debauchery. (Or so I hear. Them poli-sci majors, them wild.)

It's not a presidential year, though, so the schedule may not seem so apparent. So know this: the arena battle is about to ramp up in a big way.

The Sacramento Bee's Terri Hardy cracked out a story this weekend comparing the pro and con sides. The main thrust is that each side is working hard to get the message out there, but doing it in different ways.

While the pro side lays out how their campaign will work - fundraising from pro-economy groups, campaign leadership by Sacramento PR giant Doug Elmets and Rivercats CEO Warren Smith, a big outreach program including mailers, billboards, radio appearances, forums, advertising - the con side is being very hush-hush, and even misleading.

Hardy writes:

In contrast to the Yes campaign, Sacramentans Against the Arena Tax are running a decentralized and bare-bones campaign. Assemblyman Dave Jones, who's leading the effort, said he has 500 volunteers.

"This is a grass-roots campaign of ordinary Sacramento voters throughout the county," Jones said of his team. "They're doing phone banks and walking door-to-door, telling people this is a bad idea."

Jones said the campaign has no hierarchy coordinating its efforts. However, Jones confirmed that Los Angeles political consultant Parke Skelton, who ran his Assembly race, is part of the team. "He is volunteering to help us with the campaign," Jones said.

On Thursday night, Sacramentans Against the Arena Tax volunteers congregated after-hours at a law firm on Capitol Avenue for a phone bank. Volunteer Tamayo, who recruits the callers, said the campaign has had several such events. Using lists gathered from volunteers of like-minded residents, as well as neighbors and friends, they're reaching out for support and for funds.

That's so... American. Right? Nice framing job there Dave Jones. And make sure everyone knows Dave Tamayo is volunteering his time, right? Let's change his name to "Volunteer Tamayo" in deference to Hardy. Awesome.

So it's a decentralized campaign with no real hierarchy... right.

A Bee reporter and photographer, who planned to see the volunteers in action, were barred from the building on Jones' orders, according to campaign worker Melanie Ramil. Jones told a reporter earlier in the day that permission from building owners was required, which The Bee obtained, to no effect.

No hierarchy at all. Very decentralized. So, budding politicos, here's a recap of Jones' strategy: play the victim, play the underdog, express outrage that anyone would spend money to promote their cause, make your group sound as cavalier and anti-establishment as possible. I know the people of Sacramento are smart, so I'm confident they'll see through the Assemblyman's charade.

One last bit from Hardy's story: that excerpt I bolded above. The main political consultant being used by the con side? A guy from LA who ran Jones' assembly campaign. The Maloofs are being framed as the billionaires from out of town who want to come and raise our taxes. But the core of this group is Sacramentan - Darrell Steinberg, Rob Fong, Roger Dickinson, just about every local chamber and several city councils, Elmets, Smith, strategists from both the Republican and Democratic parties and half the local PR shops. What's the con side got? One assemblyman, one city councilman, a handful of volunteers, a Los Angeles political consultant, a state taxpayers association, and R.E. Graswich. Which side do you trust to represent the interests of Sacramento?