By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Conventional thinking: It's not that we're obsessed. Just because we ask everyone who comes through the door what they think of the city's fast-track plan to spend half a billion dollars to get into the hotel business doesn't mean we don't have lives.
It just means our lives are dull.
Be that as it may, we're determined to keep hammering away with questions about City Hall's convention center hotel deal, in our usual non-biased fashion, posing completely neutral questions like: "So that convention center hotel flimflam, is that a stupid idea, or what?" (Dallas Observer News, we report AND we decide.)
Our latest victim was state Senator Royce West, whom we spoke to for this week's feature story, which has nothing to do with the hotel. Like many local politicians, West has pledged his unwavering support to the project.
We wanted him to tell us why it makes sense to use public dough to build and own this sucker.
"The reality is that the city believes that is the best way to finance this to get it done. The reality is that we've got to have a convention center hotel. We gotta have one," he said. "People don't want to come to Dallas in August and walk outside." (There's a tourist motto for you.)
Got it? We need a hotel because we need a hotel. The fancy word for that sort of argument is tautology. The less fancy word concerns cattle effluent.
Of course, the city's real answer is that no private developer wants to pay to build the thing all by their lonesome, and rather than subsidize a private developer, the city should instead use its cheap credit to build it ourselves and reap the profits. Sure. And if someone wanted you to invest in a three-legged racehorse, it makes much more sense to buy the animal outright, so you don't have to share the winnings.
But neither West nor anyone else outside city staff delves into the business aspect. All we hear is how badly the city needs a hotel because...because...um, it's hot (surprise!) in August. Can't ask conventioneers to actually step outside their air-conditioned rooms.
Perhaps West and other hotel fans should give a call to convention center guru Dr. Heywood Sanders, who tells us "the inevitability of the hotel failing is pretty clear." Take a look at Las Vegas, he says, which had declining attendance last year and this year.
"They've got real problems," he says. "And if they've got real problems, then everybody's got real problems."
Wow. And it's not like it's hot in August in Las Vegas.