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Commentary: Arena Debate a Matter of Trust

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The central disagreement in the arena debate is, "What's the cost to taxpayers?" The people who don't want it say it'll cost too much; the people who do want it say the cost won't be that high.

Someone's just not getting it. The real hurdle isn't the cost; it's trust. No one trusts elected officials and even business leaders to give a straight story. These people want something, they're striving for ways to get it, and they'll do anything or say anything to sell it. At least that's the perception the client has, and we are the client. Right or wrong, that's our perception, and we simply don't trust the sales pitch because we simply don't trust the messenger.

Not to invoke the old "shooting" option, but this is one of those cases where it really is the messenger's fault. I don't necessarily mean Kevin Johnson or Darrell Steinberg or Ted Gaines or Chris Lehane or anyone else you've heard speaking on behalf the arena project. It's those countless messengers of the past who routinely over-promised and under-delivered.

So really, when you think about it, the biggest hurdle facing today's political messengers are their political ancestors.

When I was in 6th grade, this boy ran for student president. He got up there and quite candidly said that it wouldn't really matter if he became class president because he's just a 6th grader and the teachers aren't gonna listen to anything he has to say. The next kid got up there, pounded the pulpit and delivered her speech with the excitement of a wire-to-wire horse race. The auditorium erupted in thunderous applause. We were sold. She won the election in a landslide, but she was as nondescript and ineffective as the boy who said it wouldn't make a difference if he had won.

I wonder today, if politicians were truly as honest as that 7th grade boy, would we vote for them or support them? I dunno, because as much as we hate the sales pitch, we still continue to fall for them.
Bruce Maiman

  Bruce Maiman is a former radio host who lives in Rocklin.

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