Jeff Ackerman: Call Sydney to ask about loan for Ca-lee-for-knee-ah
Unemployment in Sacramento County topped 13 percent last month, the highest in 20 years. The state is on the verge of economic collapse. A weekend of heavy rain caused widespread flooding. And the state will rest its future on a Nutmeg or Moonbeam for the next four years (can’t you just feel it?).
But it took a mall fire to get the lame-duck governor to call for a state of emergency. Roseville’s Galleria Mall, which sucks untold sales tax dollars from Nevada County, was torched last Thursday by a young man who is probably nuts, but soon-to-be-famous. Macy’s, it appears, took the brunt of the smoke and fire sprinkler damage and it looks from the mall map as if Victoria’s Secret might have lost more than a few of those things we buy our wives and girlfriends because we … care.
Maybe that’s what really got the Terminator’s attention. “I am no girlie man, but I do like the way those nightgowns feel. So smooth and silky,” he told his aides. “We must do something!”
Then he got on his Red Phone and dialed up his emergency response team and ordered an official state of emergency, which usually means that taxpayers will be picking up a large chuck of the costs.
Don’t get me wrong. I love malls. Really. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my wife and kids, “Hey! Anyone want to go to the mall?”
Owners of the Roseville mall – which measures more than a million square feet (I got lost there once) – live in Australia and say it is costing them $90,000 of income every single day that mall is closed. Simple math says they are pulling down around $32 million annually. They hope to have at least parts of the mall open by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year. It got its nickname when an estimated 5,000 black eyes were dished out across the country as shoppers slugged it out over a limited number of PlayStations. I was hit over the head by a Chatty Cathy one particular Black Friday.
I understand that a lot of people who worked at the mall will be off for at least a few weeks now. That’s why their employers ought to take care of them at least until they can collect unemployment. That’s why those businesses have fire insurance. And, as I said, the mall owners – Westfield Group out of Sydney – have more money than our bankrupt state. That company is worth an estimated $61 billion and is the largest retail property owner in the world.
In fact, maybe they could loan Ca-lee-for-knee-ah a few bucks. I’m getting tired of watching Arnold – who told me he was going to clean up Ca-lee-for-knee-ah – beg the feds for money. Makes him sound like a girlie man.
The city of Roseville says the fire may cost it so much in sales tax dollars that city employees might be forced to work on Groundhog Day next year and the city manager may not get a bump in his $237,000 annual salary.
There is a great chance that shoppers will still shop this holiday season, with or without the mall. Some shoppers may actually shop in town this year, which may not make Roseville happy, but would help to keep cops and firefighters employed (our local municipalities have been running on fumes). You don’t need to go all the way to Roseville to find silky underwear.
I don’t recall the governor calling for a state of emergency in Grass Valley when Weaver Auto and Truck Sales closed its doors, costing the city a huge slice of its sales tax dollars. Nor do I recall him calling for a state of emergency when the other new car dealers closed up or moved, leaving Grass Valley with a budget deficit it is still trying to close.
In fact, there was a fire at a Mill Street business just a few weeks ago and … not a peep out of the Terminator.
I did hear from a local guy who was supposed to pick up his engagement ring down at the mall on Thursday (he’s getting married in three weeks) and couldn’t get in because the nut job was in the middle of being nuts. He finally heard from the store manager who said he’d be able to get that ring in plenty of time for the wedding.
Talk about a state of emergency. Nothing worse than arriving at the alter with no ring.
I really do hope the mall reopens soon so Ca-lee-for-knee-ah’s leaders can call off this state of emergency and return to more routine matters. Last I checked we had a budget that was about as balanced as a North Korean newscaster.
Jeff Ackerman is the editor/publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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