The fight to keep the Kings in Sacramento took a political turn yesterday when California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wrote a letter to Fred Klass, Director of the California Department of General Services. Sam Amick, who had hinted in recent weeks that politics might become part of the equation, was first to report the story at USA Today.
The letter, which was distributed to several media outlets, is as follows:
January 22, 2013
Fred Klass, Director
California Department of General Services
707 Third Street
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Dear Director Klass:
I read with distress recent media accounts reporting that Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, is actively engaged in discussions and may now have a general agreement to purchase NBA's Sacramento Kings -- a franchise which has generated significant jobs and revenue for both our region and the State of California for 27 years -- and move it to another state.
If true, I am troubled that a company and a CEO that has for so long enjoyed a prosperous and beneficial working relationship with the State of California and its taxpayers would blatantly engage in activities which are clearly and measurably detrimental to our State's job and revenue base - not to mention use profits earned through business with our State to appropriate a California-based asset.
As a legislative leader with direct budget authority, I'm obviously concerned about what impact these events might have on state and regional revenue, as well as our recovering economy.
I would appreciate your help - as the director of the department in charge of most state procurement - in obtaining some information that in light of these reports is certainly relevant to California taxpayers, particularly those in the Sacramento region.
- How many technology contracts and at what total cost to state taxpayers does Microsoft Corporation currently have with the State of California?
-In total dollars, how much has the State of California paid Microsoft Corporation for its products and services over the last 10 years?
- Can you send my office terms of contracts and representations made by Microsoft Corporation regarding their contracts with the State?
-To your knowledge, does any other state in the United States pay more annually to Microsoft Corporation for products and services than the State of California?
- What is Microsoft Corporation's record of performance with the State of California?
As a state legislator, I am well aware that I have no direct role in the day-to-day management of the State's technology procurement processes, but I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region's leading private assets.
Thank you in advance for your time and assistance in responding to this information request. Please do not
hesitate to contact my office to discuss this issue in more detail.
Senate President pro Tempore
State of California
6th Senate District
cc: Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Secretary Anna Caballero, State and Consumer Services Agency
Steinberg is a former Sacramento city councilman and has been a staunch advocate for keeping the team here since rumors surfaced of them possibly leaving back in 2011.
I'm not the most politically savvy person, and while I think that while Steinberg's letter is well intended (and we need all the support we're going to get), I think the only thing that's going to keep the Kings in Sacramento is simple dollars and cents. Mayor Kevin Johnson is working on just that, assembling a mix of both local and outside investors in order to provide a competitive offer that would be hard for the NBA to turn down. The Mayor will be holding a press conference today at 2 p.m. to announce the local part of the ownership group. If you can, you should try to attend and show your support.